Class of ’67 Celebrates 55th Reunion at Williams

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If you weren’t able to come to Reunion, you were missed.  If you were there, we write to celebrate and recap our wonderful time together.  We had over 55 classmates and 35 partners/spouses show up at one point or another during the four-day event – it was the largest 55th attendance in the records for the past ten years!  We were headquartered at Dodd House, the former Williams Inn.

Here are some highlights:

As the 55th Reunion is much more low-key than the 50th, there were fewer class events, which in turn left us plenty of extra time to visit with one another, attend all-college presentations, and explore the campus.  After a Thursday night dinner together, we met on Friday morning for a session on “The Choices We Made,” about dealing with post-Williams options as influenced by the draft in the spring of 1967 as we prepared to leave Williams.  George Lee, Warren Suss, and Chris White spoke with humor and honesty about the paths they chose after graduation and how those paths led to additional and often unexpected paths. Moderator Larry Ricketts told his story as well, and other class members added their stories to the mix in the Q and A.  We are such an interesting and varied group!

Friday afternoon, many of us went to hear Williams President Maud Mandel speak to alums at the theater.  It was a lively and informative presentation, about navigating Williams through the pandemic, and dealing with strategic plan issues for the future.  Rick Ackerly and Mark Piechota were among the questioners of Pres. Mandel during the Q and A. 

After dinner Friday evening, there was a brief class meeting.  One of the purposes of our class gift for our 50th Reunion was to aid in faculty recruitment, given the large number of retiring faculty members happening at the time of the reunion.  Ted McPherson has paid attention to the College’s efforts in this regard, and he gave a brief report.   While the gifts are discretionary, the College provided Ted some examples of how the funds were used. 

Ron Bodinson spoke about a family collection of presidential campaign memorabilia (buttons, posters, and the like) going back to the 1950’s started by his father that he is interested in donating to the college under the auspices of the Class of ’67.  This is still in the very early stages, and Ron just wanted to give us a heads up.

Allan Stern talked about the Class Zoom Sessions, which everyone felt were a great success.  He thanked the Planning Committee, which consisted of the three co-presidents (himself, John Hufnagel and Jon Vipond) and also Ken Willcox, Harry Tether, and Larry Ricketts.  He expressed the hope that the Class Zoom Sessions would continue on after reunion and asked for classmates to suggest ideas for future sessions. Many ideas surfaced over the balance of the weekend.

We gave gifts of orchids to the Alumni Relations staff who worked so hard to make our reunion a success.  A special gift – of really good wine – was given to Christine Robare.  Answering a call for staffing help, Chris came out of retirement to be once again the go-to person for our class in its reunion year.  She had shepherded us through our Oxford trip in 2016 and our 50th Reunion in 2017 and knew us only too well.

In the official part of the class meeting, we elected class officers for the next five years.  Larry Ricketts proposed that the current slate of class officers continue on in their present configuration.  This motion was approved by acclamation.  The officers are:

            Co-Presidents                         John Hufnagel, Allan Stern, Jonathan Vipond
            Secretary                                  Ken Willcox
            Treasurer                                 Bob Tyre
            Head Class Agent                   Harry Tether
            Planned Giving Officer         Al Gortz

The next day saw the alumni parade, led by the 50th reunion class.  The Class of ’67 gathered at Dodd House and walked up the hill to Park Street, then east on Route 2 (Main Street) and back to the Sawyer Quad, where the annual alumni meetings are now held.  See parade photos here.

In front of the President’s house, a young woman who had just graduated stopped several in the class to thank us, as she was a Class of 1967 Scholarship recipient during her four years at Williams.  She was going on to medical school, which she said would not have happened without our help. 

At the alumni meeting, the 25th and 50th reunion classes made their gifts.  President Maud Mandel spoke with pride about the new grant system at Williams which will no longer require any financial aid students to work during their college years and which will replace any loans in their tuition packages.  No post-graduation debt will be incurred.  She also spoke of the College’s plans to begin building a new College Art Museum on the site of the old Williams Inn which has now been removed. 

Pres. Mandel also announced that she was headed off immediately after the meeting to receive an honorary degree at Amherst.    This announcement was met with loud boos.  But the boos changed to cheers and applause when she promised to present the Amherst president with a bill for the fines for the library books stolen in 1819 and to bring back a check for those fines, now — through the miracle of accrued interest — totaling over three million dollars.  

After lunch, most of the class gathered again to hear a discussion of “Was I a Ten-Percenter?”  Ron Bodinson, Scott Baker  and Rick Ackerly led off the discussion by giving their thoughts on the still-burning question of the Ford Foundation Program and its impact on our class.   John Hufnagel was moderator.   A very lively Q and A session ensued, and continued on even after the meeting broke up.

Saturday night’s dinner was held at the beautiful new Williams Inn at the bottom of Spring Street.  The reception was held outside on the terrace, and we were mixed in with other reunion classes.  At dinner inside we were seated with the class of ’62.  Our class received copies of a printout with the names of the sixty-one ’67 classmates who have died since leaving school.  Our classmate Tom Ehrich composed a poem of remembrance which he read to the whole group.

We met in a valley
by Tom Ehrich

We met in a Berkshire valley
now strangers
soon comrades
strapping lads bounding to glory

We stayed a time in the valley
reaching far
aiming high
climbing beyond our early selves

We moved on to farther places
dreams got real
tests harder
we flew, we crashed, we flew higher

Lives took surprising form out there 
choices made in real-world chaos 

Death took sixty-one in mid-flight
our roommates
our teammates
one in five, twenty percent, gone

In time all of our wings will fold
large striving
small tending
will have worked together for good    

God will smile as dust reclaims us
for we tried
gave our best
and now, in God, we Rest In Peace

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