Your Letters – Winter 2018

More on Gordon Hay
The winter 2017 edition of the Record was engaging for its news from the Hill, the emphasis on leadership, and the class notes. However, it also brought a crushing notice about the death of Gordon Hay ’49.

Gordon and I met in the NU bookstore in the spring of 1967. Gordon was working for New England Life Insurance and I sat with him to discuss my needs upon graduation. I signed up with him that day. Gordon was my agent from then until his death. Even when he “retired” from NEL, he took a few files with him for his long-term clients: I was honored to be one of them. Gordon kept close tabs on me during all of those years. He came to California to meet my wife when we returned from assignment in Germany. He made sure my kids were insured. He put me on a disciplined retirement savings program while I was in my thirties. He got my wife and me signed up for long-term healthcare, far before we reached retirement age, when the premiums were reasonable. Who has the same life-insurance agent for 49 consecutive years?

He must have provided a subtle influence on my family, as two of my sons are in the insurance business. Just last year Gordon sent them, through me, a speech he heard back in the 1970s that speaks to knowing your product and providing quality counsel to clients. My youngest son just referenced both Gordon and that speech in a talk he had to give at a large insurance conference. Gordon just keeps influencing, even after his death.

Gordon was a gentleman’s gentleman. Proud of his Scottish ancestry, proud of Norwich, proud of his wife and children, his in-laws, and his grandchildren. Gordon led a full life and gave so much to so many. I was stunned and deeply saddened to learn of his passing. The Lord is in good hands with Gordon there to watch over him!

Michael Perrault ’67
Forest Grove, Oregon

Open Arms
Wonderful job on the fall issue of the Record. Thought I’d send along the photo taken by Corey Touchette, from alumni affairs, of our returning class of ’62. He did a terrific job getting us all in. We had 35 back with spouses for Homecoming but a couple had to drop out last minute for various reasons. You’ll notice there are three Vermont College ’62 grads in the photo. We’re proud to say our class welcomed our sister school into the fold, which back then was unaffiliated with Norwich. They even marched with their own blue and white Guidon, which we arranged to have produced five years ago for our 50th.

Dan Sweeney ’62
Wellesley, Massachusetts

Standing (l-r): Mike Gilbert, Steve Blakeslee, Sandra Walton (VC), Sally Dietrich (VC), Jim Terlizzi, Burt Mullen, Dick Atkins, Walt Wuehler, Ted Slader, Kirk Corliss, Don Benner, Dave Murray, Tom Nielsen, Charlie Shudtz, Dan Sweeney, Abbot Gotshall, Don Shakour, Bill Sawyer, Carl Guerreri, Maurice McWalter, Stew Walton, Dick Stone, Al Wentworth, Bob Neel, Tay Sawyer (VC). Seated (l-r): Bill Clark, Art Currier, Dick Schmidt, Tim Donovan. Not shown: Ed Schneider and Fred Breton.


A Friend Recognized

Steve Porcella was a classmate of mine who was KIA in Vietnam. The sixth episode of Ken Burns’ series on Vietnam mentions his death. I knew Steve was killed flying a helicopter medical evacuation when he crashed into the side of a mountain in bad weather. There was a doctor on the flight who was taking care of a seriously wounded soldier. The doctor, who spent five years as a POW, was being interviewed by Burns. He said, “I looked, and Major Porcella was dead.” Because they never made it to an evacuation hospital, the wounded soldier died and the doctor was captured, but I was shocked when, during the interview, he mentioned Steve by name. Any cadet who benefits from the Porcella Scholarship might want to watch episode six so that they learn something about the man behind the scholarship.

Donald Morton ’57
Newtonville, New York

Running the Dog
Thank you to everyone who responded to “Running the Dog” with reminiscences about your Dog River Run experiences. While we are still searching for the official origins of the tradition, your recollections reveal that as a practice, the Dog River Run has been around longer than we first thought, and it appears to have evolved with some regularity over time. With permission, we share these tales of the Dog.

As a member of the class of 1967, I certainly wasn’t part of the first “official” Dog River Run, but I was part of an unofficial Dog River Run. I was a rook in the fall of 1963. Very late one night before either a Thanksgiving break or a Christmas break—I forget which—the upperclassmen had the rooks fall out in formation and we jogged beyond the Dog River over the bridge and then on the way back to the dorm we went through the Dog River. I’m sure our class wasn’t the first to do this.

Ken Gray ’67
Jericho, Vermont

It was November 21, 1965, I was a rook with Mike Company. That morning we were awakened at 0530 and told we were going on a morning run. The uniform would be fatigues, field jackets, and jump boots. We ran in formation around campus, through “Disneyland,” and across the Dog River Bridge. The cadre did not cross the bridge. They told us the bridge was “out” and we would have to swim to get back across. The air temperature was about 20 degrees and the water was 35 degrees and deep! After being yelled at for a while, we started across. Getting to the other side, we were told to “form up” and start running back to Gerard Hall. When we got back there, ice had already formed on our clothes, but we conquered the “Mighty Dog!” Then we went home for Thanksgiving.
P.S. I never got a rock.

Stephen Hagstrand ’69
Shelburne, Vermont

Just to add to the historical report—the Class of 1972, which just celebrated our 45th reunion, ran the Dog River on an early morning in the late fall of 1968. That day there was ice on the edges of the river.

Leslie A. Trott ’72
Cedar Grove, New Jersey

I wholeheartedly commiserate with our “more mature” university staff members, to include President Schneider, Frank Vanecek, and retired Lieutenant Colonel Titus, on their Dog River Run. I ran the Dog during my master’s degree residency in 2010, at the tender age of 63, with medically managed atrial fibrillation. My dear wife, Christina, is always chiding me to clean up my computer desk and study, but I will not permit anyone to remove a small stone that decorates the top of my computer. It was great fun; first a blast of military calisthenics, and off we went, slipping and sliding all the way through. I stumbled and fell twice and I needed a hand up to exit the river bank. But it was all necessary. Why? Because we all want to feel accepted, to participate in a shared student experience, and to fulfill the expectations of our peers; we heed the call of tradition, somewhat like Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof. And in the end, we carry a piece of Vermont in our hearts and retain our Dog River rocks like trophies. Norwich forever!

Frank X. Weiss M’10
Bayside, New York

In the fall issue of the Record I enjoyed the article “Running the Dog.” I graduated in 1991 and I do remember running the Dog River. I thought it curious to read later about classes carrying a rock. I do not recall that tradition was observed at the time I ran it. And I also do not recall if it was exactly after Rook Week or not, but was for sure very early in the experience. I also seem to recall some discussion at that time about whether or not it was an annual tradition in that it might not have been observed every year. But we did do it.

Richard Porqueddu ’91
Middle Island, New York

Bill W. Inspires
In her introductory column for the fall 2017 Norwich Record, Jacque Day wrote about the legacy of Bill Wilson, one of the co-founders of AA, or Alcoholics Anonymous.

I have a story to tell about an experience I had while visiting the monks at the Weston Priory in Weston, Vt. On my way back home, my car developed problems so I stopped at a repair shop and they told me they would need to order a part to fix it. Since I didn’t have the money to buy the part or fix the car, I called my sister, and she sent me the money through Western Union. However, I had to find a place to spend the night, so I drove around looking for a bed-and-breakfast. I found one, and I asked them if I could spend the night. I told them that I had my dog with me and they said I could stay there and the dog could stay as well!

So, after having spent the night there I asked them how much I owed and they said there was no charge. Consequently, I asked them if there was anything I could do for them, and they told me to go out to the farmhouse and ask the manager. The manager told me that I could help him feed the sheep. The flock was out in the pasture grazing, and the barn door was wide open. The manager called out to them and yelled, “Come on in! Breakfast is ready!” Immediately, without hesitation, they stopped grazing and came in through the barn door. The manager had a few bags of grain which he wanted me to help him open and put into some troughs. I did, and the sheep began eating the grain. This whole event reminded me of John 10:27: “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me!”

I later learned that bed-and-breakfast place was the former residence of Bill Wilson.
There’s more to the story. At breakfast that morning, I noticed a strange-looking object on one of their counters. I asked the owners what it was and they said it was a shofar. According to the dictionary, “A shofar is a ram’s horn blown as a wind instrument, sounded in Biblical times chiefly to communicate signals in battle and announce certain religious occasions and in modern times chiefly at synagogue services on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.”

In any event, the experience I had at Bill Wilson’s former residence, along with a spiritual experience, led me to begin Ram of God Ministries.

Bill Burgoyne ’66
Gardner, Massachusetts

 

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