People behind the memorials
As a former classmate and teammate of Loyll Plinske’40, I wish to compliment Beloit College Magazine for its classic memorial to Loyll (“In Plain Sight,” fall/winter edition). Loyll was an excellent student and football player and as fine a person you will ever meet. I enjoyed all the time we spent together.
Dr. Bruno Virgili’40
The article “In Plain Sight” was such a happy surprise for me. In 1964, I married Richard Claus (originally class of 1964, with his degree ca. 1983), a great-grandson of Thomas Davidson Christie, and so was introduced early to the story behind the Eaton Chapel plaque. I can add a few details.
Most notably, during World War I, when T.D. Christie left Turkey to get help for the Armenians, his wife (Sarah Carmelite Brewer Christie) and children stayed behind at the mission school in Tarsus, holding down the fort through another year or two of violence. Also, the article mentions Sarah as being a seminary graduate; more particularly, it was Rockford Female Seminary, predecessor of Rockford College. (That is, not a theological seminary.)
I had the pleasure of knowing T.D. Christie’s son, Emerson Brewer Christie, at the end of his life. He was named for Beloit’s Professor Emerson, who gave the lad a christening present of money for his first Greek books. In 1965, I dug into Beloit’s Archives to put together a booklet of stories about his father for E.B. Christie, which he appreciated with the kind tears of very old age.
Jean Christie (Emerson’s daughter, Tom’s granddaughter), a historian, lived until 2010. She shared many Christie family stories. My marriage to Richard Claus dissolved, but my love for the family endures.
Hitler is reported to have said, pooh-poohing consequences for massacre, “Who remembers the Armenians?” Luckily, some of us always have and still do—and I’m proud of my Beloit for its share.
For those interested in Civil War narratives, the Minnesota Historical Society this year published Brother of Mine: The Civil War Letters of Thomas and William Christie, a book of Civil War letters by T.D. Christie and his brother, William, with a fine introduction by the editor.
I read with great pleasure that Chemistry Professor George Lisensky received the 2011 Janet Andersen Lecture Award in recognition of “his passion for involving undergraduate students in his research.” I can attest to the fact that this passion has deep roots; I had the honor of being one of George’s first research students. I worked with George on “The Synthesis of Linked Macrocyclic Ligands” during the summer of 1981 (along with Steve Crawford’81) and also the summer of 1982 (with Reno Novak’83). These were career defining experiences for me; George’s passion for research and his expectation that we would both collaborate and contribute to the project allowed me for the first time to truly feel like I was a scientist and not just a student of science.
The work I did during the first summer became the basis of my senior thesis. I also worked with George on a variety of projects during the academic year. One of these was submitted to the Journal of Chemical Education and became my first professional publication. It was also the first of many publications that George has collaborated on with Beloit College students. Since becoming a chemistry professor myself in 1987, I have involved many of my own students in research projects. For each student, my goal is to try to bring to them the excitement of doing research and the sense of being a scientist that George brought to me.
Christopher T. Bailey’82
Mr. Beloit Beta
Since I’m a Beta, I deeply appreciate the wonderful tribute paid to William Corlis’37 in the fall/winter 2011 issue. I was very involved with the fraternity and had the pleasure of meeting and knowing him. He has to be one of the warmest, most congenial, caring, and loyal human beings to walk the planet. We all viewed him as Mr. Beloit (Chi Chapter) Beta; an exemplary role model!
I hope there is a great response to your well-done and creative piece on “Exclusively Beloit Gifts.” I know I’m going to be purchasing Kallari Chocolate and frequenting Boston’s Beer Works and the Golden Valley Brewery when I travel to Boston and Portland this year.
A word of thanks
I would like to say thank you for Beloit College Magazine, which you have sent me since I left Beloit. I studied at Beloit in 2009-10 as an exchange student, one of the happiest memories of my life. The American people really changed me, and I learned a lot from them. I can’t tell you how hard it was to say goodbye to that beautiful and peaceful universe. Vive Beloit!
Frontignan la Peyrade, France
Not the only Beloit idiot in Asia
Joseph Chaney’85 may take comfort in not having been the only Beloit idiot in Asia (“Last Word,” fall/winter 2011). Immediately upon graduation from Beloit at the end of summer term 1965, I joined the Peace Corps. As a volunteer in a small fishing town in Malaysia, I had to purchase the necessities of life when I went to larger places (this is no longer true—on my most recent visit to “my” town, last May, I discovered a recently opened KFC outlet, of which the residents were immensely proud!). On one memorable trip to Kuala Lumpur, only with some difficulty (and considerable embarrassment) was I able to convey my wants to the keeper of a small shop that carried what would be stocked in the pharmaceuticals department of a modern supermarket. To my soft request, he asked, “thumb tacks?” and I responded as quietly as I could while trying to convey my message, “Tampax.” When he asked more loudly, “thumb tacks?” I could only raise the volume of my response, “Tampax.” My memory is that we ended up exchanging shouts of “thumb tacks” and “Tampax” until he finally produced the little blue box.
Daphne G. Fautin’65
Remembering Steve Gregg’80
Reunion is normally a time of happiness in seeing old friends and enjoying fond memories. Last fall’s Reunion was different. It was my first trip to Beloit since the unexpected death in 2010 of my dear friend Steve Gregg’80. It became a time for reflection and leave-taking; and, to ponder Beloit memories and friendships in a new, more soulful way. In the end, I found a new significance to my Beloit experience, and a new appreciation of the influence of four years of people and learning on the many years after. This letter is perhaps my eulogy of Steve and an affirmation of Beloit.
I was happy to see the recognition given Steve for his work in changing the face of Beloit in “Our Town” (spring 2011). The story brought back Beloit memories old and new. The downtown Beloit of my era—1976 to 1980—and the Beloit of today show how far the integration of college and community has come.
Steve decided soon after graduation to make Beloit a focus of his adult life. His first job in the college’s development office in 1981 began his efforts to work with both the college and the city. He played a big part in making annual fund-raising as significant as it is today. He told me of his first efforts to connect with people in the Beloit community and his discoveries of how deep some of the divisions between college and city ran, going back to the late ’60s and ’70s. A master of “meet and greet” and “pressing the flesh,” Steve had a gift of engaging in casual conversation and creating genuine personal connections. He also learned of the power of simply talking, of showing genuine interest in the person he was talking with, and especially of opening up understanding through listening. He understood the importance of finding common ground to create change.
My occasional visits to Beloit over the years were a time to catch up with Steve and with Beloit—the two have always been one for me. In 2009, Steve and I took a walking tour of the city. He explained the developments in his straightforward, self-effacing way. His position as assistant city manager allowed him to find people and means to develop projects, but one would never realize the essential roles he played from how he explained things. We visited the riverfront, Bushel & Peck’s, and the street market. We stopped to chat with local business people, and later chatted more at the pub.
The college bookstore, the art gallery, and the former library are now places where the college and city come together—something Steve helped start while working in development back in 1981.
The synchronicity between the Beloit experience and “life after Beloit” is real, if not always clear. Was Steve’s sense of community cooperation forged when he, Brett Moyer’80, and I decided to tackle Geology 100, both for its reputation and because we needed another science credit? Was the choice of career helped by our discussions about politics and economics in the C-Haus? Were perseverance and the willingness to try what, at first glance, might not look sensible, nurtured by running cross country as freshmen?
Did Coach Alf Harrer’s words of wisdom help us realize success comes even at the back of the pack? These are some of the thoughts that came to me during Reunion weekend.
For myself, I know that the intensity of the personal and intellectual experiences of my time at Beloit, and my friendship with Steve and others, still influence me. Since Steve’s passing, I appreciate in a new way that friendships as old as ours have something unique and irreplaceable.
I was able to walk the cross country course where Steve and I got to know each other as freshmen. I watched the Olde English Classic with happy melancholy. I walked the bike path named in Steve’s honor, used by the college community and the town he served so enthusiastically. I was content to ponder Steve’s life which was full and fulfilled, and I was able to achieve for myself some of that elusive closure of the loss of my friend.
But Beloit also brought me into the joy of the present. To go to the football game, take in the astronomy open house on the science building roof, get excited about buying a new Beloit T-shirt, and of course spend time at the C-Haus. There were also surprises, such as experiencing something totally new by eating at the 615 Club—how did I never know it was there? I was moved and comforted by the intersection of past and present. Above all I was content to talk to friends and classmates, often with that special intensity that “Beloit talk” can have; and, to see that the connection between my Beloit experience of the past, and Reunion weekend now, was as full and full of life as ever.
I still miss Steve. It was good to be in Beloit. And far beyond the college years, Beloit still teaches.