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Class Notes

Japanese Tree Lilac photo by Chris Justice '97

From the KSC Arboretum
Saving the Japanese Tree Lilac
by Jeff Garland, KSC Arborist

Our large Japanese tree lilac, Syringa reticulata, just south of Hale has anchored the landscape in that area for many years. It's one of the largest specimens of its kind in New England, as far as we know. It may have been planted during the latter decades of the 19th century as part of the original landscaping of the Italianate mansion. The tree grew slowly, survived the Hurricane of 1938 and other indignities, and has bloomed spectacularly each year in June, long after common lilacs have gone by.

Japanese Tree Lilac photo by Chris Justice '97

Now, the lilac's own maturity threatens its very existence. Its multi-stemmed growth habit results in limbs that have grown almost horizontally, with most of the foliage weight on the ends. This has caused splitting where the leaders branch from the main trunk. As with some other situations on campus, I've been able to install a cabling system, but in the case of the Japanese tree lilac, the position of the heavy branches makes this impossible. Instead, year after year I've countered the tree's growth habit by removing branches to lighten the load on the limbs. I've fertilized, pruned, and watered, and the tree has done well.

When the tree leafed out this spring, I realized we would need to take more heroic measures. I could not remove more branches without destroying the tree's natural look. Instead, using a solution we observed in similar situations at Harvard's Arnold Arboretum and in live-oak preservation efforts in Savannah, Georgia, we've installed several sturdy wooden struts to help support the weight of the limbs. We're basically fighting against the force of gravity.

Many people have shared my interest in the preservation of this great tree, and I want to say thank you for supporting my effort and accepting the tree's new look. Gravity may win in the end, but I'm hopeful the tree will continue to reward us for many years to come.

Class of 56

Mary Marcotte Gline '56 (at right) sent us this photo as a fond memory of her friend Milly Ingalls Kittredge '56 (second from left), who passed away last April. The photograph was taken by Mary's daughter at the Class of 56's 50th reunion in 2006. With Mary and Milly were Anita Stokes (left) and Dottie Binmore Greene. The four called themselves the "Sneaky Petes."

Barry Alumni House Dedication

Barry Alumni House photo by Lynn Roman

We were honored to be a part of the dedication of the new KSC Alumni Center and the Barry Alumni House, which was named in honor of our father, Fred L. Barry, class of 1936. He and our mother Jane (M.Ed. '71) would have been honored and proud of this marvelous new facility. The reception was a moving and enjoyable experience for both of us. We reconnected with people we hadn't seen in years and heard many kind words and wonderful stories.

The Alumni Association has come a long way since Fred started ramping it up in the 1960s. We can remember as kids being pressed into service helping him with the "database" that consisted of 3x5-inch index cards and the many mailings that incorporated an ancient Addressograph machine, with volunteers stuffing envelopes - all in the various cramped rooms and offices that preceded this spacious modern complex.

We wish to thank everyone who made this building and this ceremony possible: President Giles-Gee, John Moody and the University System Board of Trustees, Patty Farmer, Amy Proctor, Pauline Dionne, the entire Alumni staff, the steering and dedication committees, the architects, the contractors, and especially the alumni of Keene State College.
Sincerely yours,
John A. Barry '71
Danville, CA
James H. Barry '77
Gilford, NH

Class of 61

Class of 61 photo

The Class of 1961 Reunion committee convened at Dottie Beane Simpson's home on Lake Winnipesaukee last summer to organize and strategize for their big 50th, coming up next June. From left to right: Patty Farmer (Alumni director), Ken Goebel (Development director), Dottie Beane Simpson, Nancy Andrew Fessenden, Priscilla Canney Dutile, Jane Ross Kageleiry, Bob Saulnier, Fred Morgan, Don Sutherland, and Bob Dinwoodie.

Class of 1960 Presents Endowed Scholarship to College

Class of 1960 photo

When the class of 1960 met for its 45th reunion in 2005, they made a commitment to present an endowed scholarship to the College at the 50th anniversary of their graduation. Last June, they proudly presented a check for $42,300 to President Giles-Gee to endow a scholarship fund. Income from the fund will assist worthy students, with preference given to education majors from New Hampshire.

Their gift is a great example of strength in numbers. Starting with a kitty of just under $10,000 in 2005, the class of 1960 went to work. They collected 166 new gifts from 84 unique donors (no small feat, since the total number of contactable alumni from that class is 122!). The gifts ranged from $10 to $10,000.

What gives the class of '60 its special spirit? Class Secretary Gail Sheldon has a few theories. She's the one who mailed questionnaires to every member of the class, complied the answers into a class booklet, and made sure to post photographs of every class member who was not able to attend the reunion so their presence would still be known. Classmates came from every New England state plus Oregon, Florida, Kentucky, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. A list of their accomplishments would fill an entire magazine of its own.

"When this class read the motto 'Enter to learn, go forth to serve,' they certainly followed it," Gail said. "I think 99 percent of our class were teachers. Keene Teachers College had a great reputation, and almost everyone had a teaching job when we graduated. Some went on to become authors, librarians, religious sisters, principals, school superintendents, headmasters, business owners, professors, attorneys, judges, army officers, accountants. Today they are volunteers for schools, Meals on Wheels, CASA, Families in Crisis, Hospice, nursing homes, and many other organizations, and they are providers for children, grandchildren, spouses, and sometimes their own elderly parents."

Kay (Kathryn) West Smilo of Naugatuck, Connecticut (who loved staying in air-conditioned Pondside III), also reported on the wonderful espirit d'corps at reunion: "I knew our class was special, but it seems to become more so as we all age together. I enjoyed my years at Keene, but I believe I appreciate it all more now that I'm older and hopefully wiser. I hope today's classes appreciate what they have and what's ahead of them."

Reunion 2011 is months away, but never too soon for other classes to start thinking about the ways their class is special, reaching out to those who might be out of touch, and finding inspiration in the great class of 1960.

Sisters and Alumni

Martha Holbrook LaFleur '67 (left) and her sisters Carol Holbrook Brown '66 and Cyndy Holbrook Sivonen '66 had a wonderful visit together in Keene last summer, including a tour of the Alumni Center. All report having fond memories of their years at KSC and subsequent careers in teaching - Martha in art, Carol in math, and Cyndy in physical education.

Friends of Andrew Ragan '89
Rally to Fight ALS

Andrew Ragan '89 and Kelly Conboy Ragan '90 met at Keene State, married, and have two young boys. They live in Saratoga, New York. Several years ago, Andrew was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, a progressive and devastating neurological disease.

Although Andrew can no longer communicate clearly with his voice, he can use an Eyemax computer device to capture letter and word choices through eye movements. He has been able to converse with family and friends and write speeches, which Kelly delivers at ALS conferences and events. Last June, Kelly read Andrew's speech at an Albany, New York, ALS Clinic fund-raiser that brought in more than $100,000 for research. Kelly has been working hard as an advocate for Andrew and to help raise awareness.

Meanwhile, friends have also rallied. Dodie Gorham, Kelly's best friend from childhood, organized the first Race for Ragan three years ago. This annual race for the cure brings friends from Keene State and Andrew's Phi Mu Delta fraternity to be at Andrew's side.

Four of Andrew's fraternity brothers, Chris Stephenson '88, Rick Milczanowski '87, Bob Earle '89, and Chuck Kabat '88, created another organization, Friends of Andrew Ragan (FAR), dedicated to providing support and financial resources to help sustain the family; 100 percent of donations go directly to Andrew and his family. You can find more information on Facebook under the group Friends of Rags or at

It's been more than 20 years since many of us attended Keene State. It's truly amazing how much love and support is being provided to the family. Life is not certain and sometimes the road is unfair, but it's good to know that people we meet truly care about each other and are willing to help a friend.
– Kris Zarychta Earle '88


Classmates (all 1981) Lisa Hudgik Smigel, Margaret DePalma, Joyce Smith Snow, Janice Shaw Cavanagh, Stephanie Moravick Carter, Peggy Rydberg, and Diana Tater Regan enjoyed the Broadway show Wicked, during a summer reunion in New York City.

Alumni Center Campaign:
Moving Beyond the Building

As we all intended from the earliest days of planning, our Alumni Center at Keene State has become a true home for all alumni, and a hub of outreach for programs that represent the best we have to offer our alumni and current students. Here's a great example: when incoming freshmen were on campus for Orientation in late August, they all participated in a campus-wide legacy scavenger hunt. Clues to the game (Which dorm is said to be haunted by a ghost named Harriet? What important ceremony happens each May on the Quad?) were shared by alumni who were stationed at various key spots around campus - the Quad, Oya Hill, Brickyard Pond, Hale, Fiske, Huntress, and other prime spots of KSC history and culture.

Along the way, as they explored campus and made their way across Main Street to our building, these 18-year-olds learned what it will mean to be an alum of Keene State. We intend to engage them from the very start of their tenure at KSC, help them learn about campus resources like the Math Center and Aspire, and give them a true sense of place.

Learning the College history and culture is important, and our new Alumni Center helps facilitate that. But we have other plans and programs in the works as well.

  • Rather than throwing up our hands and saying, "It's the economy, stupid," we are proclaiming, "It's the economy - and we can help!" Student internships can lead to real jobs, and we are using the Alumni Center as a place to hold internship workshops and other networking events.

  • Spacious Centennial Hall in the Alumni Center is also the setting for job fairs that benefit students and alumni alike. On March 3, for example, we will be co-sponsoring an Occupational Safety and Health Fair to benefit employers and job seekers in that segment of our economy.

  • Meanwhile, alumni are reserving smaller conference rooms in the Alumni Center to meet with juniors and seniors for job mentoring discussions, to help our students make informed decisions on career goals and how to reach them. These small-group and one-on-one sessions are tremendously valuable.

Our Alumni Center campaign continues, first to complete the construction portion of the goal and to focus on gifts that will help us expand our programs to help alumni and students. So, please come visit our new Alumni Center. If you like what you see, make a commitment to be an active member of our Alumni Association and help connect with today's students. And, when the time is right, please consider a gift to the Alumni Center Fund Campaign. Your investment will pay great dividends to current and future alumni! Thank you.

Ken Goebel, Director of Development

Please check out to see our plans and progress.

Pumpkin Lobotomy

Foul weather did not squelch pumpkin enthusiasts at the 2010 Pumpkin Lobotomy.

Why KSC?
by Alberta "B" Patch-Slegaitis '35

Years ago, a high school senior thought a lot
About the college where she'd go.
Among factors to be considered were
"Is it worth that much family dough?"

And, is the location good for me?
How often can I get home for clothes;
For mom's great cooking, hiking, and card games;
And ice-cream sodas at the Rogues.

Will I find college to be a new home that fits?
Friends, activities, and food to my liking;
Mental, physical, and spiritual fulfillment;
And creative surroundings that are inviting.

Will it prepare me for my chosen career?
That choice takes some consideration.
Teaching junior high or primary grades
Is a decision that needs deliberation.

She finally chose Keene Normal School.

Now, as a Golden Circle member, class of '35,
She attends the KSC Alumni Reunion
And explores present-day KSC features,
Contrasting the now with the then.

First, studying the academic standards
She finds that KSC earns nationwide attention
For consistently updating the curriculum
And maintaining high staff retention.

"Is the college in tune with the times?" she asks.
And learns that KSC's commitment to multicultures
and diversity
In this global world, prepares students
As well as or better than any university.

"What studies are offered for career preparation?"
Whether it be the arts or sciences, language or teaching,
KSC meets the needs of students in these changing times
With excellent programs that are far-reaching.

"How have campus connections grown over the years?"
Achieving campus/community connectedness deserves acclaim;
Regional Golden Circle luncheons renew friendships and KSC pride;
Keene State Today, the website, and blogs highlight our college fame.

"Is the Alumni Association strongly supportive?"
Historically, KSC graduates do not sever their ties,
And the new Alumni Center is eloquent proof
That vision contributes and leadership survives.

We're proud to be alums of KSC.

2010-11 Events of Interest to Alumni

Dec. 8 - Holiday Jazz Concert and Alumni Reception
Feb. 4 - 5 - Fire & Ice Alumni Winter Carnival
Feb. 5 - Alumni Athletic Hall of Fame Banquet
Mar. 3 - Occupational Safety and Health Job Fair

(for students and alumni)

May 7 - Commencement 2011
June 3 - 5 - Alumni Reunion Weekend
June - Nov. - Golden Circle Luncheons
Sept. 30 - Oct. 2 - Parent and Family Weekend
Oct. 14 - 16 - Homecoming 2011

Be sure to check the Alumni website for news and updates.

Where in the World

Vin '57 and Carol Gatcomb Riel '59 in Norway photo

Vin '57 and Carol Gatcomb Riel '59 spent part of September on a coastal cruise of Norway. At North Cape, they disembarked to explore the northernmost point of land in Europe, marked by the sphere in the background. And Keene State Today was there, too.

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