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Remembering Roger Spaulding ’33

. . . On the second to last page, marked Deaths (July Scene), there was "Roger Benham Spaulding ’33." I wanted to cry, but my 70-year-old tear ducts sometimes don’t function. Instead, I made a pot of coffee, like Helen used to do, and drank cupfuls of memories of an important friend in my life.

I last wrote Rog a year ago, on July 14, 1996, a joint letter to him and Everett Case inspired by a gift of a book of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (The Yearling) letters, some telling of her 1920s newspaper days in Rochester, where Rog and Helen had reported for the Rochester Times Union, and one from 1950 saying that Everett Case had given her credit for getting Robert Frost to accept an honorary degree from Colgate.

I heard back from Prexy, in a 90-year-old hand from one he described as "your oldest friend," but nothing came from Rog, with whom I usually spoke at least a couple times each year. I kept telling myself to call him, and kept not doing it. Now I can’t.

A bunch of Rog’s people last saw him at a special reunion with him and Helen in 1993. We all had worked on student publications during the two years that Rog taught us the difference between professionals and flacks. The Maroon, with Tom Turley ’48 as editor, was named "All American" in 1948. Rog wanted us to get that. He insisted we be it, whether we got it or not.

There were many instances when Rog said we had to decide whether we were part of the university’s public relations operation or journalists. One that many of us remember was when Andy Kerr’s successor was being named. Athletic director William A. Reid, a monumental figure about to retire after spending the war communicating with Colgate athletes around the world, wanted to control the announcement of the new football coach.

He planned to have the story break first in The New York Times and other New York dailies. Rog wanted the story to be in the Maroon first. He wanted the story in the Times and elsewhere to begin: "The Colgate Maroon today announced that Ohio State University football coach Paul Bixler will be named head football coach at Colgate University."

My memory is hazy about the details. Maybe Rog gave the story to us, after learning it at a faculty meeting. Maybe we got a tip just hanging around the gym. Anyway, we learned that Bixler was coming, and went to Rog to ask what we should do. He suggested we talk to Reid, and then run it.

We talked to Reid, and he told us it would be best for Colgate if he released the story. We allowed him to talk us into this and walked out of his office, loyal Colgate sons. Rog said we’d failed. When we met in 1993, no one needed to say out loud what kind of lesson it had been to have Bill Reid wrap us around his finger. Some of us said it had been so painful that we had spent 40 years telling how we’d broken the Bixler story first! Then we laughed until tears came.

When Rog moved to Harvard to do fundraising, eventually becoming a dean at the Harvard School of Public Health and raising the money for a complete transformation of the school, I went there to work with him. It was like being back in the Maroon office in the Student Union. Rog sat at a beat-up Remington, writing two-finger copy, the curved pipe in his teeth sometimes steadied by his chin. When I complained about someone I was dealing with, he’d remove the pipe, flash a twinkling eye and say, "Gee, he speaks well of you." Gentle, smart, persuasive, hard working, Rog always had another way for you to think about.

He towered over five-foot Helen and took loving care of her during years of sickness and difficulties. In recent years, Rog could hardly walk, and their Boston suburb home became too much. They moved to Missouri to be near their daughter Susan, and she drove them all back to Colgate in 1993.

A clutch of us became journalists because for two years Rog and Helen Spaulding helped us learn what the challenge and potential of that life could be. It flattens me to have lost such a friend.

David S. Davies ’49
Trenton, NJ

. . . The death of Roger Spaulding was a shock.

I first met Roger when he returned from the South Pacific to become director of student publications.

I went out for the Maroon in my junior year and in a few months quit. Roger grabbed me just before I left the Student Union and asked why I was leaving the paper.

"It’s too sloppy," I said. "But quitting doesn’t solve the problem," he answered. "To hell with it," I replied. "Listen," he barked, "I want you to stay with the paper. Get your hands dirty, don’t just walk away from things. That’s an order!"

Coming from a major in the Marine Corps, delivered to a former private, the order set me straight and sent me on my life’s course.

In 1946 if you asked me who were great men I would have looked to the world stage and answered Churchill, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, MacArthur, etc. Nowadays I look around me.

Roger Spaulding was a great, great man.

Tom Turley ’48
Osterville, MA

Editor’s note: Tom Turley was editor of the Maroon in 1947–48. After obtaining a masters degree in journalism from Boston University in 1950 he was a reporter for the Pawtucket (R.I.) Times, worked for The Associated Press from 1951–1961, was a news editor with The New York Herald Tribune from 1961–1966, then worked for CBS News from 1967–74, and NBC News from 1975 until his retirement in 1987. At NBC he was a news producer for the Today program.

Missing ’52s

. . . As excellent as the food is, or the accommodations, or the entertainment, or the academic and social offerings, the single most important and meaningful ingredient of a class reunion is the members who attend. I know and appreciate the effort that goes into promoting attendance. In the case of the Class of 1952, I feel we had a respectable turnout with many there whom we hadn’t seen in years — Jim Courtney and Bob Rockwell as two wonderful examples.

My plea, my gripe, my heartache, as you will, is that more good men didn’t, or couldn’t, be there. I will name a few of those who are special to me but each classmate, I am sure, could make his own list. I particularly missed Dick Debs and Craig Bright, our two class valedictorians, who surely benefitted immensely from their Colgate years. Also on my missing persons list are fraternity brothers Chuck VonMaur, Dave Schuler, Rod Pugh, Windy Campbell, John Howard, Dick Jandorek, Don Kenney, Ly Merrow and 4 Mugger, Al Horowitz. It would have been perfect if all of them had been there.

The presence of the following, to name only a few, would have also gladdened everyone: Mario Turter, Don Stewart, John Spadone, Al Sealls, Roy Plaut, Tom Ohlweiler, Al Moore, Karl Kluckhohn, Phil Ching, Al Burland, Tom Armstrong, Bob Bowser, Dan Fountain. These occasions for us to gather come too rarely.

Let’s do some personal contacting before our 50th and break the record for number of classmates attending. We shared four critical years of our lives together and, at least in my mind, we mean a lot to each other.

Our 45th was great. Our 50th can be even greater.

Ralph Jones ’52
Ithaca, NY

’52’s Swinging Mates

. . . A highlight of every reunion of the Class of 1952 has been the "stage production" of the Swinging Mates (wives of ’52 classmates).

This year at our 45th Reunion there were five original sets of lyrics to the tunes of "Hello, Dolly," "You Gotta Have Heart," "Cabaret," "Thanks for the Memories" and "The Best of Times." The words were terrific and really brought back our Colgate days, memories and our shared good times and friendships. The Swinging Mates were great once again.

Patti Donovan, wife of John ‘Duke’ Donovan ’52, has been the leader, songwriter and chief Swinging Mate for all of these reunions. She gets the wives together, rehearses them and always presents the shows at our class banquet. At our 45th Reunion this year, Patti also wrote a poem, Class of 1952.

Patti is a special member of the Class of ’52 and we can’t express our appreciation and thanks enough to her for the great job she has done for us over the years. I know the show for our 50th will be the best of all.

Richard S. Merrill ’52
Manlius, NY

Response to affirmative action

. . . Colgate’s Professor of Psychology Jack Dovidio’s recent defense of affirmative action, "Is affirmative action still needed?" (Colgate Scene, July 1997) needs to be exposed for the logically laughable contretemps it is before anyone — say a Colgate student — takes it seriously.

The two moral legs this essay of Dovidio’s hobbles on are egalitarianism ("Everyone should be treated alike and everyone is alike") and bias-lessness ("No one should be biased"). In the way of introduction Dovidio tells us that his "own research has mainly examined the prejudice of Whites toward Blacks and this will be the focus of the information I present" (op. cit., p. 8).

An objective critic would have to say, I think, that in this focus of his on the racial prejudices of Whites toward Blacks Dovidio is patently being biased and is contravening his commitment to egalitarianism. Ought he not, according to these directives of his, subject not just Whites, nor just Blacks, but every ethnic or racial group to the tests of racism he has applied over the years to Whites and now reports on? Surely a bias, implying guilt, and a non-egalitarianism, implying a difference, are arguably present in Dovidio’s unequal and very prejudicial treatment of Whites.

It is our own impression, though not backed by any national survey (so far as I know) or Dovidioan research, that subjected to the same tests as Dovidio’s on Whites, all other racial groups — Negroes, Asians, Eskimos, Hottentots, Indians, you name it — would turn out to be either hard racists (traditional, frank, outspoken racists) or soft racists (Dovidio’s intimidated, closet racists, which he calls "aversive racists"). So — let’s be honest — everyone is a racist at the bottom line. At least, Dovidio’s tests will predictably show this to be the case. But then everyone really believes in racism — where, anyhow, one’s own life and ethnic interrelations are concerned. It is just the obscuring, omnipresent veil of Maya, i.e., PC, that sometimes deceives us into thinking that we are an exception.

According to Aristotle, as profound a thinker on matters moral as any one, where everyone in common takes something to be a virtue or good that is the criterion of its being a virtue or good. If, then, racism is, as Dovidio’s tests will surely show, a motivation of everyone’s, however hidden, and hence a belief of everyone’s that racism is a good, then all of Dovidio’s tests, which are explicitly designed on the false assumption that racism is a vice or crime, have to have, as being dysfunctional, pernicious and not beneficent consequences, if taken seriously. It follows, therefore, that having such roots and consequences, affirmative action is not only not needed but should be at once abolished.

John O. Nelson ’48
MA in philosophy (Preceptor Program)
Boulder, CO

Cross country cyclists

. . . We recently had the pleasure of hosting three of your 1997 graduates, Nicole Talbot of Wolcott, CT, Richarda Ruffle of Burlington, VT and Meredith Laban of Norwell, MA, in our home (see People on the go). When they arrived in our small town, Sharon Springs, NY, they had been riding their bikes since June 4, when they left Seattle, WA and the Pacific Ocean on a long bike trip, hoping to make it to Boston and the Atlantic Ocean by July 27. They were looking for a place to pitch their tents for the night: in a church yard, parsonage backyard, school or campground. These three young ladies made such a good impression on us, not asking for much in the way of favors, that we invited them into our home for supper and a night’s stay. We couldn’t have asked for three nicer guests.

We learned that they were ’97 Colgate graduates. That piqued an interest on our part because our son Edward McFee is a Colgate alumnus in the Class of ’76. We had lots to talk about. We further learned that they had a real mission in their bike trip. They were hoping to raise $3,000.00 for the National Diabetes Foundation. What a noble cause.

They certainly are a credit to their families, communities and to their Alma Mater, Colgate.

Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence McFee SOF ’76
Sharon Springs, NY

Irony and Satire

. . . Sheesh! Don’t they teach English at Colgate anymore, or were Norris Ford and Marshall McKnight both dozing when irony and satire were discussed?

"Irony: the use of words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning."

So as to be clear in this matter: the purpose of my letter last March was to express, through the use of irony, my support for Pete Phelps’ sentiments, which were conveyed in a letter in an earlier issue.

So please, gentlemen, dust off your Fowler, read my letter again, and take your fingers off the trigger.

Dave Reddall ’63
N. Truro, MA


. . . My courses and professors at Colgate were outstanding. They motivate and guide me to this day in terms of strong family and interpersonal relationships and in implementing specific charitable programs to help people and improve society.

There were two deficiencies, however, and my conversations with faculty, recent graduates and students indicate to me that the deficiencies still exist and should be corrected.

First, political science faculty then and now have not honestly raised in detail the issue as to whether the performance of the Democrats and Republicans in governing has been so bad that they should be put out of business and replaced by two or more new parties. Colgate political science faculty then and now have been cheerleaders for the status quo. A nation in which 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce is not governed well.

Second, religion professors and chaplains then and now have not honestly told students about the motives and tactics of Satanists and Satanic cults and the extent to which prominent Americans in government, business, education, the media and . . . organized religion practice such murderous activities. Steve Hartshorne taught an elective on the occult but it should have been and should be explained in the basic required religion course and condemned in the strongest possible terms.

Edward T. O’Donnell Jr ’70
Wilmington, DE