The Kirchner triplets graduated from William Smith College in 1942 and haven’t spent much time on campus in the 67 years since. Though they don’t expect to see many of their former classmates (no more than 80 in total) this weekend, they are happy just to see each other. Originally from Lowell Park, N.Y., the three sisters are now spread out across New York and Pennsylvania and typically only get together once each year, so this weekend is their personal reunion, as well.
Marguerite Kirchner Miller ’42, Catherine Kirchner Roth ’42, and Frances Kirchner Hornberger ’42 came of age during the Depression and were lucky enough to be connected with the Colleges through a high school French teacher. Their teacher was friends with the Dean at the time and the triplets managed to get a “three for the price of two” deal on a scholarship to attend William Smith. Marguerite says their class called themselves “The Pearl Harbor Class.” Her college sweetheart, along with many other Hobart students at the time, left to fight in World War II. They married when he returned.
Her two sisters also met their husbands at Hobart. Marguerite’s husband was a Sigma Chi brother, Catherine’s was a member of Kappa Sigma, and Frances’ belonged to Kappa Alpha. “We were alike in a lot of ways,” says Catherine, “but we all married very different men.”
Among the ways the women were similar was the hobbies in which they participated. All three played intramural field hockey and were active in other sports and activities on campus. Catherine and Frances played tennis and Marguerite and Catherine were in a dance group. They sang together in the Colleges’ chorus and Catherine was a member of the Chapel Choir, which is how she met her husband.
Marguerite uses the words “big” and “laid-back” to describe the social scene during their time at the Colleges. Though they can remember a time when first-years had a curfew of 10 p.m., they all share fond memories of formal dances, fraternity parties, and Spring Weekend. They also remember good times downhill skiing and camping with the outing club.
The last time that the triplets were all on campus together was at their 50th reunion in 1992. At that time, the changes that they noticed the most were the size of the campus and the new buildings. Although Miller and Blackwell, the dorms in which they lived, are still around, they were surprised to see Scandling Center. When they were William Smith students, the dining hall was located in the basement of Comstock and every student had an assigned seat. Today, their surprise at how much has changed is still evident. “It seems so different. I almost got lost,” says Frances. They are looking forward to taking a full tour of the campus to get reacquainted with their alma mater. However, it is clear that some things haven’t changed in their eyes. “The lake is beautiful, as usual” Marguerite beams.
The Kirchner sisters were roommates each of their four years on campus. Catherine reflects that it was difficult to be individuals when they were always considered part of a group, but she wouldn’t have had it any other way. Though the sisters, once identical, went in their own directions after graduation and formed their own unique identities, they can be found wearing matching dresses on the Quad this Reunion Weekend.
The photo above was taken on Thursday evening at President Gearan’s home during the 50th PLUS reception.