The Colgate Scene
November 2000
Table of contents
People on the go

by Rebecca Costello

Anne and Paul Beardslee
Bed, breakfast and admission
Paul Beardslee '59 and his wife Anne have stepped out of retirement -- if you can call their busy lifestyle that -- to fill a vacancy at a local college.

     They're already the proprietors of Tunnel Mountain Bed & Breakfast in Elkins, W.V., which has been featured in the Washington Post and on prominent travel websites. Anne's basketmaking business is booming -- Paul does the lashing and makes homemade stain from the black walnut tree in their yard. They're also active members of the Elkins community and volunteer with numerous local organizations.

     And now, the Beardslees, who both had long careers in college admissions, are serving as interim co-vice presidents of enrollment management at Davis & Elkins, a small liberal arts college with a campus that's "almost as hilly as Colgate!" Paul retired as dean of admissions at Shippensburg University after stints at Susquehanna University, Franklin and Marshall, Georgetown, and other schools. Anne worked in admissions at Bloomsburg State and then directed the department at Montgomery County Community College in Pennsylvania.

     Davis & Elkins, which has struggled with enrollment numbers, was dealt a blow when their vice president of admissions resigned for health reasons.

     "The president called us and asked, `may I take you to lunch?'" Paul remarks. "You know what followed!" The vice president had "put some real neat things in place, and our obligation is to make sure the bridge is there to carry it on."

     The Beardslees began their shared appointment, which is expected to last until April 2001, in August.

     "I kept joking that since at the B&B, Anne is CEO and I'm grounds-keeper, we should employ the same approach at the college," Paul laughs. "But we can complement each other. Anne's experience is in public schools, while mine is in private. She's more inclined to the detail work. She identifies the problems, I fret over them and then she solves them."

     And where they're both strong, explains Paul, "is exactly where D&E needs help -- the people contact." Getting all members of the campus into a customer service mindset is one of their first priorities. Long-term, the Beardslees have set several goals to help D&E, including a formal admission data collection system, improvement of the website and participation in a comprehensive marketing process.

     "The real challenge is arranging time and being efficient. Right now the two things that are suffering are that we've had to give up our afternoon nap," Paul jokes, "and our golden retrievers, Molly and Jessie, aren't getting as many walks.

     "We obviously feel strongly about where we are," says Paul. "In fact, when we chose the B&B, we were looking for a place in a college town. What happens to the college is important to us. If we can make a contribution, we want to do that."


Stephen Heywood, left, and his
brother Jamie
A foundation of hope
Craftsman and builder Stephen Heywood '92 had just finished constructing his first home, in Palo Alto, California. It was March of 1998, and he had recently noticed a weakness in his right hand. He had trouble gripping his nail gun, and at first it was thought Stephen had a condition involving only his right arm. But by January of 1999 he learned the terrible news that he had Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

     ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a fatal, neuro-degenerative condition that progressively paralyzes the victim as motor neurons in the spine die. Those diagnosed at Stephen's age live an average of five years. ALS is known as an "orphan disease" -- too few people have it to make it profitable for drug companies to develop therapies, and although the government supports research into the cause, it does not fund the development of treatments or a cure.

     "At least now we know what it is," Stephen said of how he reacted to the news. "I don't feel like I was overwhelmed or horrified." At that point, he and his girlfriend Wendy Stacy "were already getting pretty serious and talking about marriage."

     The Heywood family immediately rallied to do whatever they could for Stephen, who had moved back home to Newton, Massachusetts. Quitting his job, older brother Jamie, with wife Melinda, moved home as well.

     "Having your brother get a death sentence is an awful way to get perspective," says Jamie, "but once you have it, life decisions become easier. I knew I had to find out everything I could about this disease and attempt to find some kind of clemency."

     James spearheaded the creation of the ALS Therapy Development Foundation, to bridge the gap between research and a cure. Their efforts have garnered significant attention, from the Newton Tab, Boston Globe, American Medical News and The New Yorker to 60 Minutes II.

     James is executive director, Stephen handles media relations, their father John serves on the board of directors, and Melinda is treasurer.

     The foundation is changing the field of ALS research. Since its inception, several groundbreaking findings have added to the understanding of ALS and "the promise of a future cure," says Jamie.

     Acting similarly to a venture capital firm, the foundation is supporting scientific research at Harvard, Johns Hopkins, University of California at San Diego and Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. Combining the most advanced technologies in biology today, scientists are investigating gene therapy, stem cell therapy and trials of drug "cocktails" for treatment, as well as an ALS vaccine and the use of antibodies as drugs for treatment.

     Although his disease is progressing, Stephen is living life to the fullest. Last winter, he and Wendy married, and in September baby Alexander joined the family. Construction consulting projects are keeping him busy.

     "We bought a house in Newton in July and we're completely renovating it for handicap accessibility, and in the spring I will be GC-ing the renovation of a carriage house. Though I can't do the actual building myself, it's nice to be working again, and it's fun." He's looking at an electric wheelchair for mobility because "using my walker is getting dangerous."

     A remarkably brave and strong individual, Stephen is able to look beyond his own situation.

     "My brother Jamie has given me a great gift," he said to the audience at a foundation fundraiser. "It's the ability to live my life, with my friends and family, as I see fit, while knowing that my life will have meaning. I know that my illness will save other people's lives."

For more information on the foundation, go to www.als-tdf.org or call 617-796-8826.

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