The Colgate Scene
January 2003

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Touched by lightning

Thank you, Chris Hedges '79, for your article about Coleman Brown who helped to inspire you, your perceptions and understanding of love and violence, and your gift to the literary world, War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning. I visited Colgate as a prospective student in 1981 and heard him preach at the University Church. While there were many things about Colgate that ultimately enticed me to hundreds of treks up Cardiac Hill, Coleman Brown made a tremendous impression on me that one day with his humanity, compassion and wisdom imparted with surprisingly simple words and collections of thoughts. Like many of those touched, during my four years there were numerous discussions in his study, a number of emotionally draining classes, and weekly Thursday night "student" meals in his home with his wonderful wife Irene. In 1995, during a return visit to Colgate, I was able to meet with him in his unchanged study, though now as a young mother overwhelmed with a new and more profound love. He continued to touch my life that day, too. I have shared his words with many new parents and it still guides my parenting today, each day. "Your children cannot be the center and purpose of your being. It is too great a burden for them to bear." Thank you, Coleman, from the whole Berenson family!

Thank you, Chris [Hedges], for your reflections, including those on professor and chaplain Coleman Brown. I also remember afternoons with Coleman, not in his office, but in his living room with his family and members of University Church -- where fellowship was a verb rather than a noun.

Kudos for quick thinking

Highest marks for the coaching and athletic department medical staff for their quick recognition and handling of the circumstances surrounding senior quarterback Tom McCune's ruptured spleen injury. To echo Coach Dick Biddle's recognition of Colgate's great good fortune in having the superb level of quality medical resources adjacent to our athletic complex, I am reminded of just such an occurrence in high school football during the mid 1950s. A young man suffering the same injury went out after a game to celebrate with friends and collapsed on the street. He was rushed to the hospital, but it was too late. The nature of the injury was not recognized. We are truly blessed to have the experience and dedication of Trainer Marty Erb and Dr. Merrill Miller, along with the Community Memorial Hospital and Hamilton Medical Center staff and resources.

To Tom McCune, thank God for the gift of your talents and thank you for your Colgate spirit. That will never leave you.

Friday, November 15 was my son Zack's eighth birthday. He has long admired Rajmohan Gandhi's grandfather, Mahatma Gandhi, having read children's books on his life and beliefs. (Zack has been a self-proclaimed "pacifist" since he was four years old!) When I learned that Rajmohan Gandhi would be coming to campus, I made certain that Zack would attend the talk with me. We arrived early to ensure that we had a good seat, and we brought two books to read and to help us get in the mood. One was titled Gandhi, and the other, Dalai Lama, both by Demi. They are beautifully illustrated children's books. As we sat waiting for the talk to begin, several of my students stopped by to chat with us, and they looked at Zack's books. At some point, we thought it might be appropriate (and certainly very special) to ask Gandhi if he would sign the book about his grandfather, Mahatma Gandhi.

When Gandhi entered the chapel and sat down alone, I thought that would be a good time to introduce ourselves -- even though we were going to have dinner with him. In introducing Zack, I mentioned that it was his birthday. That is when Gandhi moved from shaking Zack's hand to opening his arms, as if inviting Zack into a hug. Then, Zack showed him his two books. Gandhi was impressed with the beauty of the illustrations and the content of the story about his grandfather. He asked Zack if he had read the book, and Zack responded that indeed he had many times, along with the book on the Dalai Lama. When Gandhi expressed his surprise that children in the United States are reading such interesting books about his grandfather, Zack (instead of asking him to sign the book) asked him if he would like to keep it! Zack inscribed it, "From your friend Zachary Mitchell, To Dr. Gandhi." In thanking Zack, Gandhi said that it was wonderfully kind of Zack to give a gift to him on his birthday, when he (Zack) should be receiving gifts.

It was a birthday that Zack will long remember.

The epitome of a good man

It was with great sadness that I noted in the November Scene the passing of Capt. Jere D. Gilmour, USN (Ret.) V'42. Jere was a very special kind of fellow who took the good with the bad with an attitude that he could lick anything. His battle with cancer, which took many years, was an example of fortitude under extremely trying conditions.

I first met Jere at a Colgate Club of Long Island picnic around 1950. Jere sidled up to me and asked if I were the Lt. j.g. George Greene that appeared on the Navy rolls. I answered in the affirmative and started a friendship that spanned over 50 years, first as a student of his in the Naval Reserve Officers School in Freeport, Long Island; through scouting events all over Long Island and Navy gigs too long to list. Through it all, Jere epitomized what a good man should be: an excellent father, husband and friend; an exemplary naval officer, a top [Boy Scout] scout executive and a fine Colgate man. A better friend could not be found.

Jere worked his way through Colgate before World War II, sailing ore boats on the Great Lakes. He entered the Navy from Colgate weeks after December 7, 1941. He sailed convoy duty in the North Atlantic and was in the invasion fleet on D-Day and lost his ship at Normandy. He was transferred to the Pacific Theater, where he finished the war serving on destroyers. Called back for the Korean War, he served three years as an executive officer of a destroyer bombarding the North Korean coast. He served in the Naval Reserve for many more years and served as a guide for visitors to the destroyer at the South Street Seaport in New York City, an attraction that he and I were both founding members of.

He was a very successful insurance salesman and was active in many Long Island organizations. He and his wife, Peg, raised two sons and a daughter, and proudly surveyed six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

His loss is a blow to all his many friends. I will never forget his contributions to my life, his community and his nation. May he sail on forever with fair winds and following seas.

A splendid afternoon

President Rebecca Chopp and her husband, Fred Thibodeau, opened Watson House on Thanksgiving Day to faculty, administrators, townies (like me) and most importantly, students who were unable to return home for Thanksgiving dinner.

It was a splendid afternoon in every way. Having been a U.S. Army cook and baker, I am aware of how difficult it is to prepare a first-class dinner for 60.

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