When a colleague brought a battered piece of wood into the office of Associate Vice President for Advancement and Alumni Relations Jared Weeden ’91, he was initially puzzled. “It had Hobart College carved on the back but there was a name that we couldn’t initially decipher,” explains Weeden, of the two-feet long, piece of wood that was found floating at the north end of Seneca Lake.
After a closer look, Weeden realized the name carved was that of James Francis Grandolfo ’91, his Sigma Chi fraternity brother. “Not only that, but he was my housemate during our junior year,” says Weeden, who has stayed in touch with Grandolfo. Since earning his J.D. degree from Brooklyn Law School, Grandolfo has been living in Hong Kong and serving as a partner for Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, LLP, a global securities group.
The discovery also led Grandolfo and his wife, Sabrina, to host the first formal HWS alum event in Hong Kong. At the gathering, which was attended by alums, students and friends of the Colleges, Weeden presented the battered board to his host—and in doing so cleared up a few questions.
“This was likely the wooden paddle that my big brother [in the fraternity] made for me,” says Grandolfo. “This would mean that it was made in 1990.”
How did the paddle get in the lake? While Grandolfo does not recall, Weeden believes it may have something to do with tradition. “It wasn’t too uncommon for a fraternity member, in playful disgust, to throw the paddle in the lake after it was given to him, later to retrieve it. Every so often, one would get away.”
Following its 30-year sojourn in Seneca Lake, the paddle now resides in a place of honor in Grandolfo’s dining room, nearly 8,000 miles from HWS. “I might have it framed and hang it in my office,” he says.