The Colgate Scene
July 2003

Letters
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Remembering Bob Levine '62

. . . I recall my cherished friend Bob Levine.

Bob and I met the first day of our freshman year at Colgate University in September 1958. We were not roommates but shared the same second floor of the seemingly ancient East Hall. As each newly arrived student circulated, indeed circled each other, I remember that we were opposites in appearance. I was wide-eyed friendly folk from the Midwest; Bob was a New Yorker, but reticent. What caught my attention was that he was ever-observant of things around us; he was never provocative, but inquisitive and thought-provoking.

In college and for the next 40 years, he and I shared an excitement for current news and information. Indeed, it was Bob who introduced me to and helped me understand what I would later call the culture of "New York Timesism." He helped me understand the importance of that daily as an essential supplement to an eastern education, to the political fast track. As he recorded in his prolific and rich scholarship and I have lived, politicians make or break the lives of people and thus the content of societies.

With our different geographic roots and upbringings, Bob and I nevertheless connected. From our initial meeting to our last at a Miami Airport motel restaurant with his beloved Karen in March 2002, he had this constant eagerness to talk and share observations of the world around us. Four years ago, he visited us at our home in Prague, Czech Republic. We talked at length about our respective professional endeavors; we talked intimately about our own lives, our high and not-so-high points, our children. I shall never forget the scene of our dear border collie and he becoming loving friends, riding and walking closely together during our day trip to the medieval silver mines at Kutna Hora. Both were such sweet creatures. He asked my wife to take a photograph on his camera of the two of us at the 600-year-old mine museum, and he specifically requested to include our dog, his new best friend.

We shared a love of the relativity of cultures and history, of exchanging achievements in our respective fields of endeavor, of communicating. Bob was the indefatigable Colgate class secretary, never missing an issue to report on our comings and goings since graduation. I had the honor to review his eye-opening book on Cuba's Jewish community for the Colgate alumni publication.

If I were to highlight a predominant character trait, it was that of a caring communicator. This is the Bob Levine that I knew and loved, and shall always cherish.

. . . Like many others in the Colgate community, I was saddened to learn of Bob Levine's death. Although Bob and I were only acquaintances on campus, he and I became much better friends when he was in Rio de Janeiro on a Fulbright and I was a Peace Corps volunteer in the Rio de Janeiro favelas. When I admitted to him how much I missed my alma mater, he gave me his collection of about a dozen post cards of the Colgate campus which he had been keeping. They were worn from repeated and loving handling when he gave them to me. It was obvious how much he loved Colgate, and how generous he was, too.

A season to remember

. . . Stepping onto the freshly manicured field at Bulldog Stadium felt like a dream. [Perhaps] it was the 16 hours of travel, or maybe it was the fact that my teammates and I were standing across the diamond from softball icon Lisa Fernandez and the nine-time national champion UCLA Bruins. I've dreamed of playing in the NCAA tournament since I watched Fernandez, a gold medal Olympian, lead the Bruins to a national championship in 1992, when I was just 11 years old. On that sunny California day at Fresno State's $3.2 million stadium, my fantasy materialized as the announcer read the names of my 16 teammates and I alongside those of Natasha Watley and Keira Goerl, the next generation of UCLA legends.

Prior to the game, a Fresno State professor jokingly informed me that we were horribly unlucky for having drawn the Bruins in the first round. I just smiled and told him we were thrilled by the challenge. Maybe that's just the Colgate in us. Our team does not boast a single scholarship player and we hail from a small liberal arts institution where our toughest opponent is often the central New York weather. We did not, however, doubt for one second that we belonged in that field of 64 teams vying for a national championship. UCLA defeated us as they had all but four teams they faced this season, but we held our own and represented Colgate with class. Later that night we faced Long Beach State under the lights. We went eight innings with the 49ers, who were making their 14th appearance at the tournament. We played a hard-fought, errorless game and pitcher Kate Howard came through with a strong five-hit effort, but Long Beach ended the struggle with three hits in the eighth inning.

As I unlaced my cleats for the last time I was overcome with emotion. For four years I played the game that I love for one of the finest institutions in the country, and I could not have asked for a better finale. I lived a dream with 16 of the finest female student-athletes that I have ever encountered. I could not have been more proud to wear a Colgate jersey, and although I wore it that for the last time that day, the Colgate maroon will always be a part of me.

The next morning I flew back to Colgate, and after four flights and some lost luggage, I joined my classmates in the torchlight procession around Taylor Lake. That Sunday as I mingled amongst the other graduates before commencement I ran across one of my most respected mentors, assistant coach Jim Ciccone. I thanked Coach C. for coming, but he just grabbed my hand and told me he would not have missed it for the world. It was at that point that I realized just how much I was going to miss this place. Colgate gave me more than I could have ever have hoped for, a championship ring, a fine education and infinite number of memories. Go, 'Gate!

(Brickell played second base for the 2003 Colgate softball team.)
Thanks to fellow ACBOD members

. . . The last four years were made much more interesting by the opportunity to work closely with the Alumni Corporation Board of Directors. Looking back, we very much appreciate the opportunity we had to get more insight into the Colgate community. I thought I would be most interested in financial work and fundraising and was surprised that the bulk of my activity and enjoyment came out of working with students and the faculty. The bright young people were real evidence of fine leadership in development and a very good omen for the future of Colgate and our country. They contribute to motivating and retaining a stronger faculty.

I came away with a tremendous respect for my fellow board members, their fellowship and their energy in the service of Colgate. The information we shared concerning the problems and opportunities for the school was always candid and explored all sides of an issue. If I can be of any help in discussing concerns you might have with Colgate, please reach me by email at edwardj@supportplus.com or call me at home at 781-449-4321, and I will do my best to help you or find someone who can do it better than I can.

As I write this letter, our class is over 70 percent in supporting the Annual Fund and our class scholarship effort. A lot of us love Colgate and understand that it is a very special place.

Our very best wishes to all of you.

A teacher remembers

. . . Edward (Eddie) Halperin '99 died on March 6, 2003 after a valiant fight against an especially aggressive form of pancreatic cancer. At the time of his illness he was in his last year of law school at Cornell University, where he had made a sterling impression, as he had in the course of his career at Colgate.

Eddie will be remembered as a wonderful young man: highly intelligent, friendly, helpful, characteristically good-humored and positive in attitude, while deeply aware and concerned about social issues. In my class, The Philosophy of Law, Eddie was always involved in thinking through the practical as well as theoretical implications of the topics being discussed, and in tracing the consequences for human beings and for American life generally.

He had a sensitive intellect, aware of complexities, thoughtful and respectful of ideas, and invariably humane in his judgments. Eddie would listen carefully to the various arguments, and, in a typically ameliorative mode, attempt to reconcile their apparent discrepancies. I respected highly -- as did his peers in the class, his remarks and insights on difficult materials. I thought, as did many others, that he would make an excellent lawyer and ultimately a fine judge.

We are all the losers by his too-early death.

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