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Charter Class Reunions: Keeping the Faith

January 29, 2022

The decades go by, and memories get hard to retrieve. Was there a 5th-year reunion in 1977, I wondered, or only the one I could vaguely recall: our 10th, in 1982? My first child had been born the year before, and I had photographic evidence of him playing in the dorms. I wanted to know more: what really took place then? How did the Charter Class deal with the dissolution of our unique alma mater?

This is when cross-class alumnae connections, and our access to the Hamilton College Archives proved their value to me. The current archivist, Jeremy Katz, quickly responded to questions, saying “… it looks like Reunion Weekend changed from fall to summer in 1981.” While a fifth-year cycle is somewhat established, it’s clear that the College gives special attention to the 10th, 25th, and 50th year anniversaries. So there was no gathering five years after Kirkland’s first class graduated.

The first Charter Class reunion was not only its 10th – it was a gathering for all classes, organized by a dedicated cohort whose names have become ever more familiar to those of use who pitched in later on. A video of the 1982 Reunion Dinner, was captured and ultimately digitized in the archives. It runs a full hour and a half, but for the impatient among us, here are some highlights:

00:05:37 Dean Inez Nelbach takes the mike

00:21.35 Elaine Weiss ’72 reads a letter from Sam Babbitt, who calls us “….gifted, fortunate deviants, with a role to play….”

00:40:58 Jane Whitney ’71 introduces and interviews facilities manager Joe (“Man on the Hall”) Mason.

00:45:30: Nancy Gay Bargar introduces a tribute to Comfort Richardson, who then gets up to speak.

There’s a ton more: Ann Baker Pepe ’77 reported on a data from a survey of Charter Class members; Constance Stellas ’72 elaborates on the “qualitative” insights; Jane Whitney returns to prompt and provoke stories from other alumnae (including this author, but you’ll have to hunt for that).

Was it a unique moment? The beginning of a tradition – or the extension of a long-hallowed one? This portrait probably only includes the ’71 and ’72 graduates, reflecting Hamilton’s tradition of class year affiliation. But over time the feeling that Kirkland alumnae are all one cohort has grown. I look forward to 2022 as another moment to reinforce that.

Kirkland College 1982 Charter Class Reunion

It must be noted that some of those in the video, and listed above, have since passed away. But please also note those who are, once again, are working to coordinate a landmark Kirkland Reunion (looking at you, Prof. Kerner!). And we can all remember what committees could be like at a school that encouraged independent thought. Fortitude recommended!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Douglas Raybeck permalink
    January 30, 2022 11:38 am

    Thanks for the fine reminder. I recognize nearly all in the photo, including the remarkably well dressed Joe. Sorry to have missed this, but I was a bit more than 10,000 miles away in Kelantan, Malaysia.

  2. mcintosh301 permalink*
    January 31, 2022 12:05 pm

    You MUST find an hour or so to watch the video of the 1982 reunion. It’s priceless—and timeless.

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