Remarks by Gordon Cadwgan ’63 at Reunion 2013

Editor’s note: Gordon Cadwgan ’63 presented the following remarks on June 8, 2013 at Williston Northampton School’s Reunion.

I remember reading that President Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg Address on the back of a piece of scrap paper on his way to Gettysburg on the train. Other speakers at that memorial service rambled on for hours saying little. Then last to talk Lincoln delivered one of America’s greatest speeches in 10 or 12 minutes. When he finished the crowd was silent. He thought the speech was a bust. We all know it was so powerful everyone was speechless. So I have attempted to do the same. I wrote these remarks on the plane coming from West Palm Beach—on a scrap of iPad.

Why would I want to give one million dollars to Williston Northampton to build a bigger, better science building? Heck, I could buy a big house, a boat, and a fancy car—and have enough left over to hire someone to take care of them for me! Let me tell you why I chose the former.

Number 1. I love science. I grew up during the Sputnik space race era. As kids in Rhode Island, we were experimenting with homemade rockets, fabricating the aluminum body tubes, fins, and nose cones in high school metal shop—and ordering chemicals for propellants that would put us all in jail today. We launched them in local playgrounds—hiding in the concrete block bathroom when we pushed the launch button. This hobby led to an interest in all science. I went from Williston’s Doc Phillips’ chemistry classes in this very building, to UNC Chapel Hill—graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry. After a short stint in the army, I returned to Massachusetts and got a PhD in analytical chemistry from UMass Amherst. I did my work career at Union Carbide and DuPont. I never made any great discoveries, but I had a great time working along with the scientists who did.

Number 2. Generosity, sharing one’s good fortune with others, has been instilled in me by my father and mother. My father started from nothing, but became a highly successful investment banker working in that capacity for almost 70 years. Ruth and I say he gave away more money than he earned. Think about that! My mother—when I was at UNC and in the service— would give to Williston’s annual fund in my name because she knew at some point a continuous or almost continuous giving record would be something I would be proud of. And on this topic of giving, my Dad always said “why wait until you are dead to give your money away? Give it away to good people, good causes, so that you and your family can help others and enjoy doing it while you are still alive!” Lots of common sense in that statement.

Number 3. I love Williston. It set me on the road to college and graduate school. It nurtured my creativities and honed my abilities. It kept a tight rein on a kid who had too much energy, and channeled that energy away from non-productive escapades to productive endeavors. Study, sports, activities…. all here for the taking. But wait…can you love a school? A school is a thing. Love is reserved for family, friends, and close acquaintances. Yes, you can love a school because Williston, and now Williston Northampton, is a family. Nowhere else will you find more dedicated, caring teachers and staff than at Williston. They care about their students. They want them to learn the 3R’s of course, but more importantly they want them to learn how to be good citizens in an increasing complicated and challenging world. They see in their students’ successes their own successes.

Finally, I have great confidence in—and admiration for—Bob Hill, Eric Yates, Jeff Pilgrim, and Bill Berghoff and their staff. Eric and Bob visited Ruth and me in Florida a number of times, and did a great salesmanship job. Not because they want a new science building, but because Williston wants and needs a new science building—and I can tell they love Williston too.

So that’s it. Why did we give a million dollars to Williston to build a new science building? Sounds like a perfect fit to me. I see only great things in the future for Williston Northampton. And hopefully in the future more of it will be in Science.

Thank you!


Hall of Fame Speech by Patrick Rissmiller ’97

Note: Patrick Rissmiller ’97 was inducted into the Williston Northampton School’s Athletic Hall of Fame during Reunion celebrations on June 8, 2013.

Good evening and thank you.

It is great to be back on the Williston campus this weekend – this brings back so many great memories. I’d like to start by congratulating all the other inductees tonight for this wonderful honor. I am sure that they are all just as thrilled as I am!

I’d like to thank the Williston Northampton School for a great day and event. Thank you, Chris, my brother, and Class of 1995, for your time in gathering all of the information and nominating me for this honor, as well as coming here to be my presenter. I appreciate all of your help and support.

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Baccalaureate Speech by Matthew Freire ’13

Aristotle once said “We are what we repeatedly do. Then excellence is not an act but a habit.” It’s not about what you have done in the past, but what you will do now and in the following years, to make yourself a more knowledgeable student, a better athlete, a more talented musician, or just a better individual.  Whatever you do in the following years do it for yourself, do it so that you become a better you. Whether that translates into starting a foundation and helping others, serving your country, or study for your college major, set your goals and aspire to achieve them.  Be the one to take the initiative and guide others in everything you do. Why sit back when you have to opportunity lead, the opportunity to perhaps help someone and change their lives.

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Baccalaureate Remarks by Glenn Swanson

So what is this event called Baccalaureate, this evening with the members of the senior class, their mentors, and their parents? It is historically a religious celebration dating from the Middle Ages when universities were first established.

The first Baccalaureate service was likely held at Oxford University in Oxford, England in 1432, and in some cases graduating students receiving their Bachelor’s Degree—the bacca part—had to give a speech in Latin before they received their laurels—the laureate piece. Because the universities were connected to the Christian Church and because the Renaissance was the rebirth of classical learning, the Baccalaureate appropriately combined the power of the church with the traditional search for wisdom through learning.

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