Outside Stern Hall, a new sculpture has been placed beneath a tree in remembrance of the late Meredith Aldrich, the creator of Children’s Hours School in Geneva and the late wife of Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and Sociology T. Dunbar Moodie. In Aldrich’s honor, friends and colleagues had gifted the tree and the plaque at its base, which are now accompanied by a statue of her and Moodie’s beloved dog, Tilly.
“One of Meredith’s most ardent wishes,” Moodie recalls, “was that her ashes be scattered at our house on Martha’s Vineyard and that I have an effigy made of Tilly to be placed there with her.”
When Moodie approached Professor of Art and Architecture Ted Aub to see if he knew of anyone who would be able to make the sculpture, he “was honored and delighted” that Aub offered to do it himself. Aub also created a second casting of Tilly’s effigy, to remain on the Colleges’ campus under Aldrich’s memorial tree.
“They adored the dog and I was happy to do it,” Aub says.
As Tilly got older, Moodie recalls, “her hearing deteriorated and she could not pick up directions from my voice. Passing students would steer her toward me. She became a campus character.”
Indeed, although Tilly passed away in March of 2014, the fond memories she gave to Moodie, Aldrich and the HWS community live on.
After living in South Africa, Moodie and Aldrich had adopted the custom of afternoon tea, often inviting students for what soon became a regular event, with Tilly waiting at the door to greet guests.
“That put my students in touch with my wife and some of them became tea-time regulars,” Moodie says. “Meredith called our time at VerPlanck Street ‘the Tilly years.’ She walked all over campus with us and was always there for tea. Sometimes she came to class with me.”
Aub recalls the challenges in recreating Tilly’s fur and capturing her many quirky characteristics. “She had slightly funny proportions,” he says. “It took a lot of molding and sketches.” But after two and a half years of sketching, molding and sculpting, Aub finished work in September 2015, when a small ceremony was held to unveil the cast bronze statue that captures Tilly’s floppy ears and favorite stuffed duck.
“Thanks to Professor Aub, it is a true work of art,” says Moodie. “For those alums that remember Meredith or Tilly or me, I hope it will hold special memories. Many students who welcomed the little doggie while she was still around also exclaimed how much they were missing their own pets at home. It comforted them to give her a hug. Perhaps the Tilly statue at the Meredith tree can perform something of the same function for them still. If so, I shall be happy. Meredith would be very happy too.”