Marching to the Sounds of Sgt. Pepper,
Class of 1969 Gathers to Rock and Reminisce!
A half century after we graduated into one of the most tumultuous periods of American history, a hundred members of the Williams College Class of 1969 returned to campus in early June with wives, spouses, and even a few (grown) children for our 50th reunion.
The weather was nearly perfect as members from all four corners of the Lower 48 broke with tradition (something we did frequently) and marched into the Society of Alumni meeting to the sound of the Beatles singing "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and "Hey Jude." Ephs in other classes spanning 50 years sang along.
Attired in Levis and long-sleeved purple shirts -- the official '69 uniform -- some classmates tried to beat the 80-degree heat with tie-died bandanas that recalled the motif of our 25th reunion. Some even sported the iconic Sgt. Pepper T-shirts they’d squirreled away for a quarter of a century -- or persuaded their spouses to wear them if they no longer fit.
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This was the first Reunion Weekend for Williams’ new president, Maud Mandel, who not only is the first woman to hold the top job, but also was only two years old when we graduated. Think about that. A casual inspection of the special reunion edition of the Williams Record piled on newsstands throughout campus proved that today’s Williams is just is crazy, in its own way, as ours was in 1969.
Two of our classmates received the school's most prestigious awards for their work in opening Williams to students from more diverse economic, racial, ethnic and social backgrounds.
Chuck Collins became the first African American to receive Williams’ highest recognition for alumni service, the Rogerson Cup, for his service as a philanthropist and trustee, and for his efforts to make the college more inclusive. Tom Parker, former Director of Admissions at Williams and later at Amherst (we forgive him), received the Kellogg Award for Career Achievement. In particular, he was cited for his work promoting the QuestBridge Program, which connects talented young people from low-income backgrounds 40 leading academic institutions nationwide.
Skip Comstock, chairman of the Reunion Fund, presented the college with a gift totaling $9.72 million. From those funds, $3 million will endow the Class of 1969 Professorship and $1 million will establish the Class of 1969 Scholarship, which will benefit students recruited via the Questbridge Program. Another $1.53M was raised in Alumni Fund gifts and pledges. Roughly 75% of the class made a gift that counted toward the overall total.
Reunion co-chairs Dave Low and Sandy Smith presided over a weekend of traditional and unusual events, including a concert of folk, jazz and sacred music by Fletcher Clark, and a performance of improvisational jazz by pianist Art Lande, inspired largely by his Williams friends and experiences.
There will be more to come….