As the Classes of 1964 arrived at HWS over the weekend to commemorate their 50th Reunion, it was clear there was much the alumni and alumnae had to celebrate. The Classes received a special recognition for their extraordinary commitment to the Colleges and their status as alums is just one of many ties each class has had to the HWS community.
The Classes are responsible for establishing eight endowed funds, including the Classes of 1964 Endowed Chair, which already has been awarded to three HWS faculty members. In addition to these contributions, 25 members of the Classes have also included the Colleges in their estate plans as supporters of the Wheeler Society, which is a record-setting number for HWS.
In all, the Classes of 1964, through their contributions to the Annual Fund, endowment and capital projects, have committed nearly $12 million to the Colleges over the course of their lifetimes.
“From the very start of my time at HWS, the Classes of 1964 have been very memorable ones,” said President Mark D. Gearan in a toast to the 50th Reunion class. “On every level of this institution, everywhere I turn is a marker for what you’ve done-your philanthropy, sending us your children and supporting us.”
The Classes of 1964 began to arrive on campus Thursday, June 5 to share with current students, recent graduates and each other memories of their four years at the Colleges. Common threads between stories were recollections of the dynamic culture in which the classes were undergraduate students.
“There was always a lot going on,” says Peter Diefendorf ’64, P’09. “We all remember the day when President Kennedy was assassinated-I was having lunch at the Oaks before my afternoon class. And before that, the Cuban Missile Crisis.”
Thursday evening and Friday morning allowed the two classes an opportunity to catch up with one another in Comstock Lounge and Reunion Headquarters at Scandling Campus Center. Martha Rapp ’64 shared with her former classmate Diana Woll Zurer ’64 news of her business, The Bitchen Kitchen, which supplies cookware for practical as well as renowned chefs like Emeril Lagasse. Zurer, who worked for the public school system in Washington, D.C. and a non-profit that trains early education teachers, was visiting campus with her husband, James Zurer ‘63.
“We met during my freshman year, and we were married in 1963. We were back here just last year for his 50th reunion,” Zurer explained.
On Friday evening, the Classes of 1964 reconvened for cocktails and dinner at the home of President Mark D. Gearan to commemorate the 50th Reunion milestone.
“I found all the people I remember, including my first-year roommate,” reflected John Manley ’64, P’93. “I remember he waited tables for William Smith’s dining hall, and he asked if I’d sub for him during exams–it was a whole new world for me. I learned a lot.”
“It’s wonderful to be back now, because people are much more relaxed,” said Manley’s roommate, John Scarlett ’64. “I remember the first month of college in 1960, I sat across from Liz Regan ’64. She set me up on a date with her friend, but I called Liz back and asked her out. We’re celebrating our 50th anniversary this November.”
Guest speakers at the dinner included President Gearan, recent graduate Wes Traub ’14 and Dana Williams ’16.
“Now comes my next step: life after HWS,” reflected Traub. “What made this possible were connections I’ve made at HWS, and I’m honored to become part of a network of alums looking out for each other.”
“To be here with you all tonight who clearly share this same love of the Colleges 50 years later is a blessing,” said Williams. “I hope that 50 years from now, I can stand where you are and know that the Colleges’ commitment to providing students with this unique education was the same 50 years ago, today, and 50 years from now.”
“We thank you most sincerely, and I hope that you take away pride in HWS and the people whose lives you’ve changed,” said Gearan.
Indeed, the Classes of 1964 in particular have offered the Colleges extraordinary volunteer service and substantial financial investment in annual support, scholarship, faculty support and physical contributions to the campus. Saturday’s Lunch and President’s Reunion saw the special recognition of both classes, who received the Alumni Association’s Association’s Distinguished Service Award and the Alumnae Association Elizabeth Herendeen Odell Award, respectively. This was the first time an entire class had been awarded either honor.
“Needless to say, the Colleges owe a lot to these Classes, as almost every advancement enjoyed by Hobart and William Smith through the years can be connected, in some way, to them,” announced Assistant Vice President for Alumni Relations and Annual Giving Jared Weeden ’91.
In addition, the Hobart Class of 1964 was awarded the Founder’s Cup for having the highest percentage of attendees from their class at the reunion. The class, which had 43 percent in attendance, set a new record for the Colleges.
The 50th Reunion class gathered once again Saturday evening in the Vandervort Room for a remembrance ceremony of classmates who had passed away. The event concluded with anther class dinner, which also took place in the Vandervort Room.
Relive Reunion Weekend 2014 with the Colleges at http://www.hws.edu/alumni/activities/reunion.aspx.