Alumnus of the Year
The Alumnus of the Year Award is given in recognition of a Blair graduate's outstanding and dedicated service to the School.
- 2019: Robert Van Stone ’69
- 2018: Richard Rubin ’68
- 2017: Robert M. Fuller ’42
- 2016: Keith Rauschenbach ’76; Cornelius E. Sigety ’76
- 2015: Robert G. Sigety '75
- 2013: John E. Alden Jr. '63; John D. Case Jr. '63
- 2012: Mark Gottesman ’62; James H. G. Naisby ’57
- 2011: David H. Bugen ’66
- 2010: Stathes J. Kulukundis ’60
Bob Van Stone’s love for Blair Academy stretches back to his childhood. His mother, Virginia, was the School’s longtime registrar, and, as he grew up on campus, he appreciated Blair’s warm and welcoming community. When he joined the class of 1969 as a freshman “day boy,” his regard for the educational opportunity the School provided only grew. “Blair made me who I am,” Bob has proudly claimed, and, fortunately for the entire Blair family, he has expressed his gratitude and love for the School that gave him his start in years of dedicated service.
Bob’s engagement with Blair as an alumnus is multifaceted, and he approaches every activity or event with heartfelt enthusiasm and Buccaneer pride. As a member of 1969’s 45th and 50th reunion committees, he devoted hours to class outreach and built excitement for the reunions through calls and meetings with old friends. He was instrumental in fundraising and organizing the “day boys” around the 2010 naming of Underwood Field in honor of beloved former faculty member Charlie Underwood. And Bob is a mainstay at Alumni Weekend every year, where he delights in engaging with alums from each class and runs the ever-popular Blair Cup Golf Scramble with a deft hand.
Never hesitating to say “yes” when asked to help move the School forward, Bob is a longtime member of the 1848 Society Committee and has served on the Alumni Board of Governors (BOG) since 2010. As BOG president for the past two years, he has been a patient, quiet, inclusive and open-minded leader who has successfully engaged alumni from every decade on the BOG and in alumni events across the country. That he has accomplished all of this—and more—while building a successful career in the financial industry speaks volumes about Bob’s commitment to Blair Academy and to the value he places on his own Blair experience.
Happily for the School, Bob’s wife, Marian Darlington, shares his love for all things Blair. Together, they cheer on Buccaneer athletic teams during meets, matches and games at home and away, and they are core members of the newly formed Greater Philadelphia Regional Chapter. They generously share their philanthropy with Blair, as well, and have become members of the John C. Sharpe Society of planned givers. Through their estate and lifetime gifts, Bob and Marian will establish the Virginia Van Stone Memorial Scholarship in honor of Bob’s mother and her 40 years of service to Blair.
This nod to Bob’s past is a gift that will benefit students of the future, and it helps ensure that the place Bob considers “home” will always be the welcoming School he found it to be. As he celebrates his 50th reunion, surrounded by his Blair family, we are proud to recognize Bob Van Stone as the 2019 Alumnus of the Year.
Richard Rubin is a true-blue Blair enthusiast who shares his excitement about his alma mater with every member of the School community he has the pleasure of meeting. He has done so as a two-term Alumni Board of Governors (BOG) member (1994-2000 and 2010-2016); as BOG vice president; as a dynamic class representative since 2008; and as a reunion committee volunteer for 1968’s 40th, 45th and 50th reunions.
Outside of his “official” roles, Richard is also happy to create and solidify Blair connections among parents, alumni, faculty and friends. He’ll make a call or send an email, orchestrate a get-together, or hop in the car to visit a classmate or attend a reception. His kindness, sincerity and sense of humor make him a consummate ambassador, while his inclusivity and passion for Blair inspire others to deepen their involvement with the School he holds in such high regard.
Richard’s dedicated service to the class of 1968 is especially noteworthy. He has worked hard over the years to keep his classmates united and informed about the School, and his thoroughness and attention to detail are legendary among all who have worked alongside him. In addition, Richard was a key facilitator in the conceptualization and realization of 1968’s 50th-reunion gift: The Class of 1968 Society of Skeptics Endowment Fund. The class raised $103,332 to underwrite a portion of the annual operating cost of the lecture series. Richard’s dream is that this class gift will motivate his classmates and others to contribute to this uniquely Blair program, someday creating an endowment large enough to fund Skeptics in its entirety. It is a big dream, but with Richard behind it, “someday” may soon be here.
A successful attorney and devoted husband and father, Richard has accomplished much on Blair’s behalf over the past 50 years. As he celebrates this milestone reunion with the classmates he knows so well and about whom he cares so deeply, Blair is proud to name him the 2018 Alumnus of the Year.
Bob Fuller’s longstanding and deeply held loyalty to Blair is nothing short of remarkable. Over the seven-and-a-half decades since his graduation, he has supported his “prep school”—which he attended for two happy years—as a generous donor, a devoted class representative, a member of the Board of Governors, an enthusiastic fundraiser and an energetic Blair ambassador. His work on behalf of the School and his classmates has mostly been carried out quietly and behind-the-scenes, and we are delighted to shine the spotlight of recognition and gratitude on this unsung hero as he proudly celebrates his 75th Blair reunion.
Bob enjoyed his student days on the hilltop and established enduring friendships with classmates and faculty. His Blair experience meant so much to him that, following World War II military service and his 1949 Lehigh University graduation, he jumped into alumni involvement in the 1950s, even as he and his wife, Marian, were raising their daughters and he was becoming established in his investment and insurance career. To this day, participation in Blair activities has remained an important part of Bob’s life, and the School has benefited from his many efforts.
Bob has been an exemplary class representative since 1983. In that role, he has kept his classmates connected and informed, and he has led fundraising initiatives for each major reunion. Together with Marian, he has been a mainstay at Blair events, and he has proudly carried the 1942 pennant in many Alumni Weekend parades. Bob’s joyful engagement with his grandson, R. Hunter Lippincott ’99, and Hunter’s classmates speaks volumes about his ongoing love of the School, as does his generous annual support of the Blair Fund.
Bob’s dedication to Blair and selfless service to his classmates distinguish him as one of the School’s most loyal alumni. He is most deserving of our deep gratitude and the 2017 Alumnus of the Year Award.
A deeply loyal and steadfast Blair alumnus, Keith Rauschenbach has given back to his alma mater in myriad ways: He has fostered great Blair friendships and relationships through his close connections to classmates and hospitality to the entire School community; he has provided unstinting financial support and sought to inspire philanthropy in others; and he has faithfully served the School as a member of the Alumni Board of Governors and Board of Trustees. As he has assumed greater and greater leadership roles, Keith has kept Blair’s vital institutional history in his heart and mind in helping to make the decisions that guide the School’s future. His stewardship of tradition, his thoughtful consideration of how the School is moving forward and, most of all, his love of Blair, have made Keith’s generous service exceptionally valuable.
Keith enjoyed four years on the hilltop as a day student from Newton, New Jersey, and after earning a BA in political science from Westminster College in 1980, he began a rewarding career in management at TIAA. He steadily advanced in his professional life, yet he maintained his ties to Blair and stepped up to his first School leadership role in 1993 as a member of the Alumni Board of Governors. His vigorous advocacy of the School and willingness to pitch in on any project, coupled with his understanding of the importance of growing Blair’s philanthropic support and his dedication as Board of Governors president from 1997 to 2001 clearly marked him as an up-and-coming leader; in 2008, Keith was elected to the Board of Trustees.
The Education and School Life, Advancement, Budget and Investment Committees have all benefited from Keith’s analytical thinking, business expertise and attentive care, but it is in his work on the Governance Committee that he has really shone. A member of this critically important committee for four years during his first Trustee term (2008-2013) and its Chair since his second term began in 2014, Keith has invested a great deal of time and thought into decisions regarding Board composition, School leadership and planning for the future. His thoroughness and personable nature have proven to be tremendous assets to his work, as frequent, in-depth conversations with a cross-section of the School’s constituency have given him great insight into the community and led to confident recommendations for the future. Under his leadership, the Governance Committee has also increased its Trustee mentorship, in an effort to ensure that each Board member’s expertise is being used to maximum effect. With Keith at the helm, the Committee has taken concrete steps to ensure that Blair’s Board comprises the people and skill sets needed to preserve and grow all that is best about the School.
As he celebrates his 40th reunion in 2016, we are pleased to recognize Keith’s many contributions to Blair Academy, including leadership and service on the Board of Governors and Board of Trustees, and significant financial support of the Blair Fund and capital projects. In addition, he and his spouse, J.R. Cassidy Jr., are members of the John C. Sharpe Planned Giving Society and, together, share warm hospitality with the Blair community. Keith Rauschenbach truly merits the 2016 Alumnus of the Year award.
Neal Sigety’s enthusiastic service to Blair began during his senior year when he took on the role of prefect with “confidence and good sense,” a “consistently helpful and cooperative” attitude and “exemplary citizenship.” Since then, he hasn’t looked back. Over the past 40 years, Neal has remained connected to his classmates, engaged with and tremendously supportive of the School, and ready, willing and able to help promote Blair and its educational mission. Even better, he does all of this with compelling energy and warmth that inspire others to join him in the cause, representing the best of Blair leadership in his every endeavor.
With a century-long family legacy at Blair, Neal followed in the footsteps of his brother, Rob ’75, and many other relatives when he entered the School in 1974. “A fine student and an equally fine person” during his Blair days according to Director of Studies Richard Malley, he assumed class leadership immediately upon graduation when he became 1976’s class representative. Many, many class letters, outreach phone calls and emails, Class Notes columns in the Blair Bulletin and memory-filled reunions later, Neal has become one of the School’s longest-serving class reps. Even as he built a successful career in real estate investment and management, married, and raised a family with his wife, Virginia, Neal continued to generously support the Blair Fund and capital projects, and remained devoted to the School.
When the Sigetys’ eldest son, Ned ’16, began his Blair career, followed in quick succession by Brad ’18 and Nina ’19, Neal and Virginia soon became two of the School’s most whole-hearted advocates. Involved, interested and excited about the entire Blair experience, they have shared their love of the School by hosting receptions, welcoming students into their home during breaks and weekends, making frequent trips to campus to cheer on the Bucs, and volunteering at Peddie Day, Parents’ Weekend and any other event that brings people home to Blair. Their spirit and friendliness have motivated the involvement of many other parents, while their can-do attitude, philanthropic leadership and dedication as co-chairs of the Parent Fund Group (PFG) have fueled fundraising success.
In their key leadership role as PFG co-chairs for the past two years, Neal and Virginia have been effective ex-officio members of the Board of Trustees; in 2015, Neal was elected to the Board as a full voting member and currently serves on the Advancement, Buildings and Grounds, and Education and School Life Committees. As a Trustee, Neal, who holds a Harvard University MBA, brings business expertise, clear and compelling vision for the continuing evolution of campus, and an innate ability to discern the heart of the matter at hand. Blair’s students benefit from his commitment to excellence in education and desire to ensure they leave Blair well-prepared for future success.
Having served his alma mater with distinction for four decades, Neal Sigety is most deserving of the 2016 Alumnus of the Year award. It is with great pleasure that this honor is presented to a member of the Blair family who revels in his own family’s connection to the School and who continues to extend a warm family welcome to classmates, parents and all who hold the School dear.
Rob joined the Board of Trustees in 2003 and immediately assumed a critical leadership role as Building and Grounds Committee Chairman. The unexpected passing of Jack Turpin ’62 had left a vacuum in this vital area of School and Trustee leadership, yet it was a position that Rob was uniquely qualified to fill. A graduate of Duke University with an MBA from Harvard University, Rob founded and served as president of The Piper Group, Inc., a real estate development firm. He graciously accepted the call to lead without hesitation, bringing to the Board a wealth of experience in land development, property management, construction and farming.
Under Rob’s leadership, Blair planned and completed a number of important and ambitious projects, including the impressive Park Street grounds complex dedicated in 2014 and the new dormitories set to open in 2015. His thorough approach to the work of the Building and Grounds Committee is best characterized by his thoughtful consideration and keen observations. He listens closely, asks the right questions and visits campus often to ensure his understanding of the School’s practical needs. A smart and humble man with a good sense of humor, Rob works diligently behind the scenes to help the School make wise and informed choices for its building strategy, and, as such, he is a true steward of Blair’s beautiful campus.
Furthermore, as the father of Katie Sigety ’16 and Will Sigety ’18, Rob enjoys through his children the positive impact of building projects on Blair’s community. As a loyal alumnus, parent, leader on the Board of Trustees, and generous benefactor of the School in partnership with his philanthropic and actively involved family, we are proud to recognize Robert G. Sigety as the 2015 Alumnus of the Year.
John Alden is a man you can count on to get the job done. Since his graduation from Blair five decades ago, he has worked tirelessly on behalf of the School—generously giving of his time and professional expertise to advance Blair’s mission. Whether serving as a Trustee or class representative, chairing a reunion committee, or galvanizing his class behind the Class of ’63 Faculty Chair fundraising initiative, John’s devotion to the School and his classmates runs deep. A “five-year man” at Blair, John emerged early as a leader. He was co-captain of the varsity track team, president of the Student Council and recipient of the coveted Headmaster’s Prize. He graduated from Cornell with a BS in hotel management and received his MBA from Harvard in 1972. After a successful career in the hospitality business, John became the chief financial officer and assistant treasurer for the Berkshire School in 1993.
Wherever John’s career has led him, though, he has remained deeply loyal to his alma mater. His wife, Sherry, often by his side, is also a loyal and integral part of the Blair community, traveling to numerous events and stuffing more envelopes for the class of l963 than she probably can remember. John first joined the Board of Trustees in 1975 and was elected as an Emeritus Trustee in 1990, his service to the School now spanning nearly four decades. John has brought expert business acumen and a specialized knowledge of school issues and financing to the governance of Blair Academy, helping the School to take its rightful place among the finest boarding schools in the nation.
John has also urged his class forward in its unprecedented attempt to establish a Faculty Chair, deftly orchestrating a diverse group of comrades into a fine-tuned machine, united behind the shared vision of creating a lasting legacy at Blair. His tenacious efforts and generosity as a member of the John C. Sharpe Society, coupled with his deep devotion to his classmates, have resulted in one of the most significant class gifts in the School’s history. John, for your generosity, leadership, and longstanding devotion and loyalty, we are proud to honor you today as the 2013 Alumnus of the Year.
Jay Case believes in Blair and champions its mission. As a member of the John C. Sharpe Society, former president of the Alumni Board of Governors, and head of the Class of l963 Chair Committee, Jay possesses a deeply felt connection and commitment to the School. The son of a Blair Trustee, he entered Blair as a new junior in 1961, and he credits the School with helping him to develop the discipline and focus he needed to be successful in life. He went on from Blair to earn a BA from Hofstra University in 1968, followed by a JD from Suffolk University Law School in 1971. After 27 years as a successful judge and entrepreneurial financier, Jay retired in 2012.
Fortunately for Blair, Jay never lost sight of his alma mater and the significant impact it had on his life. During his two years at the School, he participated in the Glee Club and choir and was also a member of the JV and varsity football teams. In fact, it was from his humble vantage point on the football bench that he gleaned a valuable lifelong lesson: everyone has a role to play. Decades later, Jay penned a spirited letter to his classmates, exhorting them to consider the value of their contribution to the School. In it, he wrote: “the weight of your gift does not matter as much as its exercise.” In Jay’s case, however, he has become one of the most generous donors in his class.
Finally, Jay is a man who understands the enduring value of a Blair education. His daughter, Virginia, attended Blair for four years, graduating in 2003, and he credits Blair with making a “palpable difference” in both of their lives. Over the years, Jay has remained committed to ensuring the School’s future success so that others may benefit from that same “Blair experience.” Jay, as you celebrate your 50th reunion, we are delighted to have this opportunity to recognize your significant generosity, commitment to the Class of 1963 Chair and devotion to your alma mater as we honor you as Blair’s 2013 Alumnus of the Year.
A class representative extraordinaire since 1969, Mark has served his class and the School enthusiastically, generously and with an irresistible sense of style and humor. He has cemented his classmates’ bond of friendship and kept them connected to the School through poignant, humorous class letters and personal outreach. Mark has spearheaded several successful class fundraising initiatives, helping to create a meaningful Blair legacy for the class of 1962. Universally respected, a gifted communicator and a caring, gracious friend, Mark has manifested and fostered the Blair spirit of community for his classmates from their days as students right through to this, their 50th Reunion.
Despite a few freshman-year “mischievous misdemeanors,” Mark was a golden boy on Blair’s campus. A natural leader, he played varsity tennis and served as Dramatics Club president, International Society vice president and co-sports editor of The Breeze. He was 1962’s top academic student all four years, and Henry Cowan praised him as an “excellent student who takes great pleasure in doing work which approaches perfection.” Mark received prizes in math, Spanish, biology and Latin, capping his Blair career as valedictorian. He was named to the dean’s list at Amherst College, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in English in 1966, and he continued his education at MIT, where he earned a master’s degree in city planning.
A successful real estate developer and urban planner, Mark and his wife of 45 years, Janet, a high school counselor, raised their daughter, Amy, and son, Michael, in Newton Centre, Massachusetts. Mark whimsically chronicled life in “Suburbia” in his annual letters to the class of ’62, regaling classmates with tales of visits to the Volvo dealership, mishaps with the recalcitrant snow blower and the aches and pains of growing older amid news of the School and pleas and exhortations for Blair Fund gifts—that is, as he subtly put it: “MONEY.” These epistles were so inspired, irreverent and downright funny that in 1996, Dennis Peachey, Mark’s classmate and friend, placed a bound copy of The Gottsman Chronicles for the Class of 1962 in Timken Library. Dedicated to “All Blair Academy Class Representatives,” these letters are a testament to Mark’s class communication par excellence.
A generous benefactor of Blair and of nonprofit organizations in his community, Mark’s philanthropic vision and leadership has inspired the class of 1962 to fund several meaningful gifts to the School, including Peachey Plaza in 2008. This year, in honor of their 50th reunion, Mark led his class in establishing both the Class of 1962 Scholarship and the Class of 1962 Teaching Fellow, two of the School’s most significant reunion gifts ever. He has generously supported Blair over the years and encouraged his classmates to do the same.
Mark has worked diligently to “rally the troops” for each of 1962’s major reunions, and his efforts have been rewarded in the spirited, memory-filled revelries that he and his classmates enjoy when they return to the hilltop. Their camaraderie extends beyond Blair as well, and Mark’s frequent communication has certainly helped his classmates remain united and in touch with one another wherever they have found themselves throughout their lives.
“Class Representative” merely begins to describe what Mark has been to the class of 1962—he is a loyal friend, an inspirational leader and a unifying force that has kept his classmates connected to one another and to Blair. His exemplary service to his class and creative leadership have set the bar high for class representation for all Blair alumni. For more than four decades of dedicated work on behalf of the Class of 1962 and Blair Academy, we are proud to recognize Mark Gottesman as the 2012 Alumnus of the Year.
Jim Naisby is a man of action. When he sees a job that must be done or a need that he can fulfill, he goes to work—assessing the situation, crafting a plan and carrying it out. This “hands on” approach to life is, no doubt, the secret of Jim’s success as an entrepreneur, as a devoted husband, father and grandfather, and, of course, as one of Blair’s most loyal volunteers and benefactors. Jim works energetically on any project that will benefit the School, from volunteering at an event to marshalling fellow alumni for a fundraising initiative. He is a leader, a doer and an ambassador for Blair wherever he goes, and all of this stems from his heartfelt belief in the importance of education and his abiding love for the School.
In everything Jim does at Blair, Diane, his lovely wife of more than 50 years, is at his side, supporting Jim’s work as well as Blair. In 2004, the Naisbys moved back to New Jersey after living and raising their family in Great River, Long Island. Since then, Jim has served enthusiastically on the Alumni Board of Governors and as 1957’s class representative. While managing his thriving business enterprises, Jim finds the time to visit campus frequently and, as a result, has become well versed in the progress the School has made since his own student days and aware of the challenges Blair faces to secure its financial future. In true Jim Naisby-fashion, he has taken what he has learned and gone to work for Blair.
As class representative for 1957, Jim keeps his classmates in close touch with each other and with the School through letters, phone calls and faithful Class Notes updates. Whenever Jim and Diane travel, they make it a point to visit classmates and friends from other classes, too. Jim orchestrated the planning for 1957’s 50th and 55th reunions, re-energizing and re-engaging his classmates for their 50th reunion when they raised funds to dedicate the scoreboard at Hampshire Field in memory of beloved former football coach Steve Kuk. Jim’s service on the Board of Governors, where he is currently vice president, has also been outstanding. He lends a hand to everything from Peddie Day parking to strategic planning, and he motivates others to join him in his efforts with a smile and a gentle word of encouragement. In all of his work, Jim’s genuine care for his fellow alumni and for Blair shines through.
Together with Diane, Jim has provided for the School’s future by making a generous estate gift to Blair. With the realization that great teachers are at the heart of a great institution and that the special relationship between teachers and students is one of Blair’s most valuable assets, the Naisbys’ gift will establish an endowed teaching chair to help Blair attract and retain the finest faculty members. This legacy will benefit both faculty and students well into the future, and it is as practical and pragmatic as Jim himself.
Jim’s many accomplishments as a Blair alumnus come as no surprise when you know how involved he was as a student. He played varsity football and baseball, sang in every musical group on campus and rose from coffee boy to manager of all student waiters. Assistant Headmaster Harold F. Walker praised him as “a fighter both in and out of the classroom.” It is no wonder, then, that to this day, Jim continues to fight the good fight for Blair in any way he can. Jim’s leadership of his classmates and fellow alumni and steadfast loyalty are deeply appreciated by all of us at Blair, and as he celebrates his 55th reunion, we are delighted to recognize Jim Naisby as Alumnus of the Year.
Modest and unassuming, David Bugen’s underlying strength of purpose, innate generosity and moral resolve have generated success in his career, his philanthropy and his personal life. A leader in the financial planning industry, a visionary humanitarian, and a devoted husband and father, David personifies the very best qualities that Blair hopes to instill in its graduates.
David entered the School as a freshman in 1962, an “earnest, conscientious boy,” according to his advisor, who “attacks every task with determination.” Academically, he was drawn to history and economics while participating in extracurriculars ranging from The Blair Breeze to the International Society to varsity wrestling and soccer. In his senior year, David placed third in the New Jersey state wrestling tournament, and he later reminisced that wrestling practice was one of his best memories of School life. “A leader among the boys,” his senior year advisor noted, David had made “a real contribution to the community and [was] a credit to the School.”
David matriculated at Rutgers University, earning both a bachelor’s degree in economics and a master’s degree in finance. Through hard work and knowledgeable application of his financial expertise, he has established a highly successful career as a financial planner and has been frequently named as one of the top wealth advisors in the United States by Money, Worth and Mutual Fund magazines. Yet even as he has advised his clients on the management of their assets, David, together with his wife, Barbara, have quietly and purposefully directed their own philanthropy to causes they hold dear.
One such cause is education. In 2008, David and several colleagues established the Afghan Girls Financial Assistance Fund to aid young Afghan women who seek a college education in the United States. The benefactors realized a need existed for such a fund when then-Blair postgraduate Shamila Kohestani ’08 had to return to Afghanistan because she did not have the resources to attend an American college. David and his partners not only secured a place for Shamila at Drew University, but through ongoing efforts now support an additional 10 young Afghan women at private schools and colleges in the United States. These women will eventually return to Afghanistan to assist in the rebuilding of their country.
David and Barbara’s support of education has also found its way home to Blair Academy. Together they established the Bugen Family Scholarship in 2009 which is designated to aid those young men and women who work hardest, put forth the greatest effort and make the most of their talents during their time at Blair. When their daughter, Sarah, became a member of Blair’s Class of 2010, David and Barbara joined the Parent Fund Group and supported her Blair experience as active volunteers. David serves on his class reunion committee and is a dedicated 1848 Society caller. His expert assistance with the strategic planning process is deeply appreciated as is his realism, reliability and unfailing loyalty to Blair.
David, as you celebrate your 45th reunion, I am pleased to recognize the resolve, the vision and the genuine goodness that have led to your personal and philanthropic success—success that has reflected back on the School that gave you your start. Congratulations to Blair Academy’s 2011 Alumnus of the Year.
Leadership, innovation and deep commitment to Blair ideals characterize Stathes Kulukundis’ service to Blair Academy. A former Trustee and current member of the 1848 Society Committee and class of 1960’s 50th reunion committee, he is always thinking about how he can make a difference at Blair and turning those thoughts into actions that bear fruit. Stathes lives and works in the United Kingdom—an ocean away from Blairstown—but he is so attuned to the needs of the School that sometimes you would swear he is just around the corner. His extensive knowledge of Blair, finely-honed business acumen and intrinsic generosity inform his remarkable work on behalf of the School, and his many contributions are profoundly appreciated by all who have the privilege to work alongside him.
Stathes came to Blair for his junior and senior years, entering the School in September 1958. He was a well-rounded student-athlete, participating in activities ranging from varsity football to glee club. “I am quite delighted with Stathes’ achievements at Blair this fall,” noted Headmaster James Howard in a letter to Stathes’ father in 1959. He matriculated at the University of Pennsylvania, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1965, and began a long and successful career in international shipping. He and his wife, Koula, have three children.
Stathes’ alumni involvement with Blair gained momentum when he was elected to his first term on the Board of Trustees in 1995. He served until 2001 and was re-elected to serve from 2002-2008, rarely, if ever, missing a Trustee meeting and raising the level of civility, wisdom and commitment among Board members during his tenure. A member of the Development and Budget Committees, Stathes became highly knowledgeable of the School’s finances, and he has worked tirelessly to raise alumni awareness of the School’s needs ever since.
As a member of the class of 1960’s 50th reunion committee, Stathes has assisted in coordinating class gift and outreach efforts. His suggestion to the committee to fund an endowed scholarship as a 50th reunion gift was embraced as the perfect way to support the School’s educational mission while, at the same time, establishing a class legacy. With the help of his focused and enthusiastic personal outreach, the scholarship was fully funded. Stathes’ response to praise of his efforts was characteristically modest: “We are certainly having some fun on the Class of 1960 reunion committee…My efforts are only a small part of the sum total—a lot of people are working very hard on this.”
In addition to his reunion committee work, Stathes also serves as a Blair ambassador to the United Kingdom and European alumni communities. He has hosted several receptions in London, spending significant amounts of time organizing and planning these very successful events. For the past two years, he has connected with many alumni as a member of the 1848 Society Committee, eloquently and persuasively making the case for Blair.
Stathes’ service to Blair Academy is characterized by selflessness, generosity, grace and dedication to the School’s mission. He is hard at work behind the scenes, leading his class and indeed, all alumni, by the fine example he sets. We are proud to recognize Stathes J. Kulukundis as the 2010 Alumnus of the Year.
- 2009: Hobart Van Deusen ’54
- 2008: The Class of 1963
- 2007: Gregory Ulysses Auger ’67
- 2006: Robert Edward Kiley ’51
- 2005: Don Jay Smith ’65
- 2004: Michael A. Habermann ’41
- 2003: James Youngelson ’53
- 2002: James D. Krugman ’65
- 2001: Robert H. Bolte ’58
- 2000: Louis Schelling Jr. ’45
Hoby Van Deusen, class of 1954, is one of Blair’s most dedicated volunteers and supporters. A loyal donor for many years, Hoby sharpened his focus on the School during his 50th reunion when he sensed that Blair’s continued progress would depend upon increased alumni involvement. Since that time, five short years ago, Hoby has set the standard for energy, ability and effectiveness among class representatives, faithfully serving not only his own class but also the larger Blair mission through his service on the Board of Trustees.
Hoby entered Blair in the fall of 1952, following in the footsteps of his father, Hobart M. Van Deusen ’29. His teachers described him as an “excellent student” and “very conscientious worker,” while the 1954 ACTA noted that this “loyal Blair man” wrote excellent poetry. He matriculated at Dartmouth College, graduating in 1958. Hoby later pursued a successful career in banking, earning a master’s degree in business administration from New York University in 1965 and advancing to vice president and head of the estate department at Chemical Bank. Subsequently, he became the director of planned giving at Columbia University. While living in an historic home next to The Taft School in Watertown, Connecticut, Hoby served as vice president of the town’s Historical Society and helped to establish a local historic district.
Hoby and his wife, Nancy, next moved to Lakeville, Connecticut, where their house, White Cloud, sits on a hill that overlooks The Hotchkiss School. Despite moving from one boarding school town to another, Hoby’s heart remained in Blairstown, and he turned his attention to his alma mater. Retired and not quite as involved in local issues, Hoby offered to lead his 50th reunion class committee in 2004—and lead he did, in the truest sense of the word. He was the driving force behind the organization and success of that reunion, personally contacting and reconnecting with every member of the class. He “seized the opportunity to do more than just write a check,” and as a result, class giving and reunion attendance made extraordinary gains. In 2004, Hoby won the inaugural Alumni Volunteer of the Year Award in recognition of his outstanding work. Following his 50th reunion, he also became 1954’s class representative and joined the Alumni Association Board of Governors, becoming president in 2007 and serving ex-officio on the Blair Board of Trustees.
In all of his Blair pursuits, Hoby is joined by Nancy, also a retired banker as well as the former director of development at Rumsey Hall School. Nancy is as enthusiastic an ambassador for Blair as Hoby, and together they have been deeply generous in their support of the School. Today we recognize and honor Hoby’s great devotion to Blair Academy. He is willing to go above and beyond in his service to the School. This year he adopted the class of 1943, which was in need of a class representative, and also helped spearhead the organization of the Class of 1954 New Horizons Scholarship. Hoby’s infectious enthusiasm and genuine interest in others have significantly impacted Blair’s efforts to revitalize alumni outreach. For his great commitment and dedicated service to Blair Academy, I am delighted to present the 2009 Alumnus of the Year Award to Hoby Van Deusen.
This year the Alumnus of the Year Award represents a departure from tradition as today we recognize not a single individual but an entire class that has had an incalculable influence on this School and its future. From the moment the Class of l963 entered Blair Academy, their spirit, personalities, dedication, and yes, occasionally, their pranks and stubborn independence, changed Blair—perhaps as much as Blair shaped and changed their lives. Selena Howard, better than anyone, can attest to the character—and shenanigans—of the Class of l963, as she undoubtedly remembers “the boys” who became the men who sit in this audience today. Similarly, Dennis Peachey ’62, who served as a prefect on Flight Deck when they were juniors, remembers them—even then—as an unusually close knit and loyal group, a characterization which holds as true today as it did then.
Over the years, members of the class of l963 have gone on to serve Blair Academy in a manner that far surpasses their numbers. There is no other class at Blair with four such long-serving and influential members of the Board of Trustees: John Alden, Brian Clayton, Mitch Jennings and Jeff Seubel. Mitch Jennings, who cannot be with us today, has served as both Vice Chair of the Board and head of the Investment Committee. Much of Blair’s current financial strength and stability are due to his extraordinary stewardship of the School’s resources. Jeff Seubel was critical to the financial management necessary to make the new Activity and Athletic Center a reality. John and Brian have devoted hours of their time to the Buildings Committee as the plans were drawn, revised and ultimately led to the building you see now under construction.
It is the spirit and dedication of the entire class, though, that makes this class worthy of emulating. When Monie spoke at Chapel this fall about giving, she shared photos and stories of four of her favorite donors, and one was your classmate, Conrad Jones. She talked about his heartfelt loyalty to Blair and the joy he finds in helping others. Your class is full of characters and character. Many have gone on to have distinguished careers in business and public service. Fortunately, Carter Crewe’s emails have helped hold you together. You have sent children and now grandchildren back to your alma mater to be educated. You have never forgotten your School or each other.
Finally, five years ago at your 40th reunion, you did what no other Blair class has ever done: You committed to raising a million dollars by your 50th reunion to fund the first ever Faculty Chair to be given by a class. Now, five years later, you have raised over $500,000 and are well on your way to meeting that goal. As Jay Case told me this winter, the class of l963 believes that it was the teachers they had at Blair that inspired them; your willingness to commit to providing the same inspired teaching for the generations which follow you will make Blair a better school forever.
For your great leadership, for showing other classes and other alumni what it means to be committed, loyal, active and engaged alumni, I present the 2008 Alumni of the Year Award today to the Class of l963. Congratulations and thank you.
For some Blair alumni, it is the arrival of their first child as a Blair student that sparks a renewed sense of loyalty and interest in the School. For Greg Auger, the recipient of this year’s Alumnus of the Year Award, the loyalty was always there, but the deepening affection, appreciation and excitement of being part of Blair grew when his oldest son, Greg, entered Blair in September 2002 followed the subsequent year by his son, Alex. Since that time, Greg and his wife, Margaret, have become two of Blair’s most enthusiastic and irrepressible supporters, true believers in the alchemy that takes place daily between students and teachers at Blair. Less than two weeks ago in this theater, Greg and Margaret watched as Alex received the Franklin Award just prior to his graduation. It is not an exaggeration to say that the Augers, like a growing number of Blair families, have become inextricably woven—across generations—into the fabric of Blair Academy, helping to shape and build the future of the School.
Greg first entered Blair in 1963 from Washington, D.C. where his father was a well-known and successful restaurateur, owning “Blackie’s House of Beef,” the site of many Blair gatherings. Greg had to battle some early homesickness and, as was noted by his housemaster, while not terribly athletic, his lively personality, cheerful spirit, and solid work in classes led to such respect and popularity that Greg was elected “President of Insley” his senior year. Originally forced to sit at the front of each class to see better, Greg ultimately established his trademark of stylish, big eyeglass frames, which made him instantly recognizable around campus.
After Blair, Greg’s journey included some studying in the late ’60s, followed by international work and travel, before settling down in the mid-’70s to earn his degree from George Washington University, from where he later also earned an MBA. After returning to Washington to help run the family business, he met and married Margaret Wixted, an unusually positive and dynamic woman, who has become as passionate a Blair advocate as any alumnus. Partners in the truest sense, she and Greg have worked side-by-side in their expanding restaurant and hotel business while raising their three children.
Over the years, many of us—including many in this room today—have been the recipients of Greg and Margaret’s gracious hospitality in Washington, D.C. where they have hosted frequent Blair receptions and dinners. Since their sons’ arrival on campus, their involvement has grown. They have opened their home to students from all over the globe, and for five years, they have served as members of the Parent Fund Group, which last year raised over a half-million dollars in support of the School.
As the class of 1967 began its preparations for its 40th reunion last spring, Greg decided to embark on a unique and personal project: to call each member of the class of 1967 to catch up with them—not to raise money or even encourage them to come back for the reunion—just to talk, to remember their Blair years together. His personal involvement and connection is just one of the reasons for the resurgence and renaissance of this great class of l967.
Greg Auger has been and continues to be a loyal alumnus, supportive, gracious, hospitable and generous throughout his post-Blair years. He loves Blair—loves the School for his experience and for his children’s—and cares deeply about his Blair friendships. We honor him today for that loyalty, that involvement, and for that love of Blair with the 2007 Alumnus of the Year Award.
One of our most engaged and active Blair alumni, whose involvement has ranged over many years and many areas of Blair support and governance including eight years as a Trustee of the School, Bob Kiley represents the ideals of service and loyalty to Blair Academy. His leadership of the class of 1951, along with fellow class rep Bud Rose, has led to an unusually loyal class and an enthusiastic series of class reunions, highlighted as always by Bob’s beautiful tenor in his rendition of the Blair Alma Mater. Indeed, a Blair gathering feels incomplete without his singing “The Blair Love Song,” encouraging all of us to join in the chorus.
Coming to Blair in the fall of 1950 after three years at Seton Hall Prep, Bob followed his brother, Joe, who is a member of the class of 1950. After his year at Blair, Bob went on to Lehigh, graduating in 1955 and joining the Army where he was a 1st Lieutenant. Bob joined the insurance industry and continued his education at The American College, earning a CLU degree in 1962 and going on to establish himself with Prudential Financial where he rose to be managing director, overseeing the northeast region. His business career included many years of involvement and leadership in prestigious insurance-related groups and organizations. In his personal life, Bob married Lynne Pfaff, and they have two daughters, both of whom came to Blair - Susan ’80 and Patricia ’82.
In 1980, Bob became a class representative, a role he has faithfully served in for the last 32 years. He spearheaded the first Alumni Day award, the “Class of 1951 Attendance Award,” thus emphasizing the importance of involvement. Further, after serving seven years on the Blair Alumni Board of Governors, three of which as its president, Bob was elected to the Board of Trustees in 1984, serving until 1992. In 1988, Bob and Lynne established the Kiley Family Scholarship Fund, which he continues to support, reaching out personally to Blair students today. He is also a member of The John C. Sharpe Society.
While his Blair career is marked by service and leadership, it is Bob’s commitment to the joys of Blair fellowship that we will all remember most fondly. As one of the founding members of the Blair Fishing Group, Bob now serves as its secretary and chief organizer, bringing together Blair alumni, friends and faculty across generations to enjoy and share the loyalty and friendship of being part of the Blair family. For a lifetime of dedicated service, generous support and outstanding leadership, we are happy today to honor Robert E. Kiley as the 2006 Blair Academy Alumnus of the Year.
It is ironic that the 2005 Alumnus of the Year once played in a blues band in college. Nothing about our honoree would suggest that he ever gets the blues, since his personality is highlighted by a cheerful, positive and infectious enthusiasm making him among the most popular of Blair alumni, long after the goal of being well-liked has faded like the pages of the ’65 ACTA. Yet he comes by his reputation honestly. Constantly connecting his class to the School, building an adult life of friendships formed during his years at Blair, this year’s recipient is among the most diligent and committed alumni we have ever honored, as he has moved far beyond class popularity to Blair-wide respect for his loyal service to this School.
Originally moving to New Jersey from Georgia, Don Jay Smith — universally known as “Smitty” to his Blair friends and classmates — came to Blair from Glen Ridge, New Jersey. He entered in the fall of 1962 after his mother caught Don in — as she said in her letter to Dean of Admissions Mike Bois — “a weak moment,” and he agreed to try boarding school. Once at Blair, Don became a favorite of the faculty and students. Mr. Trommald wrote that Don was a dorm leader in South and was also an “excellent drummer and much in demand at school dances.” Through his Insley Hall and East Hall years, Don continued on his purposeful way — the term “well-adjusted” was used by Mr. Paul — and was elected President of the Student Council as a senior. Though his last year was disrupted by a bout of mononucleosis, Don nevertheless gained entry into the University of Virginia and headed there in the fall of 1965. Though Don wrote Henry Cowan complaining of the many “distractions” of college life, he nonetheless earned both his BA and MA there, before returning to New Jersey to found Wordsmith Communications Group, a successful and award-winning marketing firm, and to marry Linda with whom he helped raise three children. Together Don and Linda have been acknowledged leaders in preserving, promoting and enriching the arts community in the greater Morristown area.
Upon his return to New Jersey, Don began his long service to Blair and to the Class of 1965. A member of the Blair Alumni Board of Governors, Don was that group’s president from 1983 to 1987, at which time he joined the Blair Board of Trustees, serving a six-year term. Throughout this period, Don promoted Blair in the Morristown area, solicited support from his classmates for the Sesquicentennial Campaign, and served as one of the founders and staunch members of the Blair Fishing Group. Smitty continued to enjoy close Blair friendships through these years of service and still today works closely with the School on issues facing his class and his generation of alumni. Don Jay Smith stands as a model of selfless involvement in and commitment to Blair Academy and the class of 1965. As his class members return to Blair for their 40th reunion, it is especially fitting to take this day to honor Don Jay Smith as Blair Academy’s Alumnus of the Year.
It is fitting, though purely coincidental, that the man we honor here today was 60 years ago moving across the beaches of Normandy after being dramatically introduced to a country he would for many years call home. In France, and specifically in Paris, he would study, marry, raise children, and embark upon a business career that would take him to many countries, learning even more languages, and eventually returning to a home within miles of Blair. Once resettled in northwest New Jersey, Mike began building a strong connection with Blair, first through his role as class representative and then as a member of the Blair Alumni Board of Governors. A prior recipient of Peachey Awards for Class Representative of the Year and Outstanding Class Correspondent, Mike Habermann is one of the most loyal and visible of our Old Guard group, visiting campus frequently to stay in touch with Blair friends and to check the progress of his many Blair projects.
Michael Habermann entered Blair in the autumn of 1938 from Guttenberg, New Jersey, as a new sophomore. His father’s many letters to Headmaster Breed reveal the full range of every parent’s concerns and hopes as young Mike moved from a struggling student to a quite successful senior, who graduated in 1941 prepared to enter the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. However, as it did for many of his Blair class of 1941 classmates, World War II intervened, sending Mike from college and on to D-Day. After the war, Mike continued his education at Georgetown University, graduating from the prestigious Foreign Service School, and from there he returned to France for graduate work at The Sorbonne. Marriage to his late wife, Marguerite (whom Mike called in an alumni questionnaire, “the prettiest French girl in Paris in 1948”), and four children kept Mike’s adult years happy and busy, particularly as he lived and worked in Canada, Mexico and Brazil before retiring to Hackettstown, New Jersey. Through it all, Mike gave steadily to the Blair Fund, sustaining his support of the School from wherever he lived at the time.
In the early 1990s Mike took over the class of 1941 representative responsibilities and thus began a new career as a remarkable leader not only for 1941 but also for many of the Blair classes enfolded in the Blair “Old Guard” group. Mike serves as class representative for all Old Guard classes who do not have a representative. Even so, his own class has consistently maintained one of the highest percentages of Blair Fund participation, and this year, the class of 1941 leads all classes regardless of size. However, perhaps what most distinguishes Mike’s commitment to Blair is his continuous searching for new and creative ways to support the School that he loves. Mike has endowed both a prize for a Blair student to study French each summer in Quebec and a library fund which adds annually to the Timken Library French literature collection. In recent years, he has also established multiple planned gifts, which will ensure that Blair benefits from his generosity for many years to come. In short, Michael Habermann never stops giving to Blair and always serves as an ambassador for this School wherever he goes. It is with much gratitude and profound respect that we award the 2004 Alumnus of the Year Award to Michael A. Habermann.
James Youngelson entered Blair Academy in 1949 and was an active class leader during his four years here. After attending Princeton University, serving in the Army, and receiving his law degree from Harvard University, Jim emerged as one of the most conscientious and outstanding class representatives in our alumni body. Working closely with his class, he has reported on their activities, encouraged support of one another and the School, and today has lead them back to our beautiful campus for the 50th reunion of the great class of 1953. Jim’s leadership has been marked by humility, humor, and a deep personal attachment to his many friends. Though he has served Blair in many ways, his loyalty to his class stands as a sterling example for all class representatives, demonstrating that personal devotion and commitment ultimately forge the bonds upon which a healthy and vibrant school is built.
In 1967, Jim was invited to join the Alumni Association Board of Governors and became President of that group in 1970. Since 1973, Blair has been fortunate to have Jim as a loyal member of the Blair Academy Board of Trustees, a leader who has quietly given of his time and energy without the expectation of recognition. In the early 1970s, Jim was privy to the debates with Jim Howard about Blair becoming coeducational. In an effort to produce a better quality education for Blair students, the decision was made to accept young women as the School moved forward. During his tenure as a member of the Board, he was also instrumental in leading a Trustee committee to increase the School’s commitment to financial aid. Most recently, in his role as an Emeritus Trustee, he led a committee which worked closely with the Presbytery of Newton to create a new covenant between Blair and the Presbyterian Church.
Moreover, throughout the years, Jim and his exuberant and wonderful wife, Terry, have continued to serve Blair by helping our faculty in a variety of personal and professional ways, always giving back to the School which set Jim on the road to his adult success. It is with great pleasure that today-June 7, 2003-the School honors James Youngelson, on the occasion of his 50th reunion, as our Alumnus of the Year for 2003.
A Trustee, a former member of the Alumni Association Board of Governors, a parent and now past parent, Jim Krugman has seen Blair from nearly every perspective and in each has been one of the most supportive, influential and inspirational Blair leaders over the last 25 years. Most recently, Jim challenged and inspired the newly graduated Class of 2002 to start their new lives as Blair alumni with the largest gift to Blair ever given to the School by a graduating senior class. Jim challenged them by attending a special dinner for all seniors and speaking candidly and passionately about their stake in Blair’s progress and their obligation to those that follow them. He inspired them by promising to match their giving three dollars for every one given by the class. On graduation day, the class of 2002 presented Blair with its gift of $2,002 dollars supported by over 90 percent of the class.
Jim Krugman came to Blair as a new junior in the fall of 1963, encouraged if not actually forced by his father to try boarding school. To the Blair admission office, Jim was “acceptable on present evidence,” and seemed “well-mannered and nice enough,” but would probably “prove to be a disappointment in English”-observations which seriously underestimated Jim’s impact on Blair and vice-versa. In his two Blair years, Jim was frequently cited for his maturity and leadership, as well as a fine academic record. Elected to the student council, Jim also wrote for The Breeze, was on the debate team (a skill he still enjoys), and—though Henry Cowan worried that Colgate was “shooting rather high”—Jim graduated Blair and attended Colgate.
From his early days as a lawyer and continuing in his later career as an entrepreneur, Jim was enthusiastically involved and characteristically generous in his Blair involvement. Moreover, Jim was creative in his support of Blair, hosting dinners and lunches, helping form the Blair Fishing Group, offering challenges and seed money, taking on leadership roles and using those roles to inspire and encourage others. One great example of Jim’s leadership and vision emerged several years ago. Wanting to balance Blair’s strong athletic identity with an artistic vigor, Jim proposed and funded the creation of the Blair film project (now called the Blair Media Department), an initiative that has resulted in an exciting and artistically advanced program in all aspects of film production. Finally, as a member of the Blair Board of Trustees, Jim has been instrumental in supporting faculty in a variety of both tangible and symbolic ways, putting their needs and well-being at the top of Blair’s list.
For his many years of Blair involvement, for his intelligent and inspirational leadership, and for his deep and affectionate loyalty to Blair and the people who are Blair, Jim Krugman richly deserves to be, and we are proud to name him, the Alumnus of the Year.
Reflecting his sense of commitment and service, Robert Bolte’s strategic planning leadership ranks as one of the most important contributions by a volunteer in School history. Given the green light by his fellow Board members, Bob spent this year working with the Headmaster, the administration, and a diverse and enthusiastic Strategic Planning Team to develop and present to the School a plan for Blair’s future. Bob ranks among a very few alumni who give in time, imagination, effort and resources to reflect the loyalty he feels for Blair.
Once described by a Blair faculty member as “a boy with a pleasing personality…sincere, responsible and dependable. Well-accepted by boys and faculty members, his influence in the school community has been a contributing one,” Bob was a great member of his Blair class. Following graduation from Bucknell, Bob entered the business world-Proctor & Gamble, Gillette, and finally a long stay with the Clorox Company, which brought Bob and his wife, Ann, to the Bay Area and where he served as vice president. Bob’s specific corporate work in strategic planning gave him great experience to help guide the School in creating its own long-range plan. And following his retirement in 1999, Bob rolled up his sleeves and started giving back to the School that supported him during his Academy years.
For many years prior to Board membership and strategic plan leadership, Bob Bolte has chosen to support Blair. In his words, his time, experience, and financial support represent “my way of thanking the Blair family for the nurturing and stimulating education they gave me. It is exciting to participate in building a pathway to the future by helping to provide others with the benefit of a Blair education.” He acknowledges the continuation of a legacy begun by his father, William Bolte, who in 1967, wrote to then-Headmaster James Howard thanking him for “the splendid job you and the staff at Blair did in furthering the education of my son, Bob, during the two years he was there.” In this letter, William Bolte added that his son was now “an educated person, even by my rigorous standards, with broad interests, an inquisitive mind and normal self-confidence.”
Bob’s father was right, but he did not know then that his son would go on to use his education so selflessly. Bob and Ann have served the communities in which they have lived through their active philanthropy toward a variety of community programs. Now, Bob—with Ann’s blessing and support—has returned to Blair, first to support Blair’s progress, and then to lead this School in our vital and exciting strategic planning. Bob Bolte’s involvement and leadership represent the most important value in his stewardship of Blair—he sets a great example for us all. Bob, we honor you today as the 2001 Blair Alumnus of the Year. On behalf of the board of Trustees, the students and faculty, we offer this testimony as our thanks.
Lou Schelling ’45 attended Blair for a postgraduate year and has since served as a model for strengthening the bonds of friendship. He has shown a remarkable commitment to the school, providing a forum for classmates and friends of Blair to refresh and share their recollections. His loyalty has strengthened the loyalty of others.
A Princeton graduate and Navy veteran of World War II, Lou is a family man in every sense of the word. Devoted to his wife, Joan, he is proud of their long, happy marriage and the loving, warm relationship that exists among members of his family. Daughter Beth and son Steven, along with grandchildren Timothy, Thomas,Kate and Max, are great joys.
Blessed with a keen intellect, Lou graduated cum laude from Blair, where he was devoted to the game of chess and described as “a flash in physics class.” His strength of an intellectually curious mind reflects the interests he pursued. His invention, the Tide Timer, is indicative of Lou’s entrepreneurial spirit. During his 30-year career as president of an industrial hardware business, Schelling Hardware Company, Lou never let business keep him from friends, family and conversation.
Living most of his life in New Jersey, Lou was able to extend his knowledge of Manhattan, devouring the pages of The New York Times, and staying fit by skiing in Vermont and jogging one-and-a-half miles each day. His mastery of the art of cutting, splitting and stacking his own firewood (as much as 10 cords in some years!) seems a most appropriate analogy to his role as class rep for the graduates of 1945. In that capacity, Lou has been a unique energy source. He has organized notes from his peers and steadfastly supplied Blair with alumni news and information.
Indeed, Lou, as representative for the class of 1945 and as past President of the Blair Academy Alumni Association, we applaud you. Your special knack for organization is best exemplified by the famous “oyster dinners” you have hosted through the years both in New Jersey and Massachusetts. On one memorable occasion, three of Blair’s Headmasters were present to enjoy the conversation and camaraderie that is the hallmark of these events. You have been terrific about making Blair a part of your life, the real value of loyalty. For your unsurpassed devotion, Lou Schelling, we honor you today as the 2000 Blair Alumnus of the Year. On behalf of the School, thank you.
- 1999: John D. Rea ’74; Robert A. Neff ’49
- 1998: Anne E. Cramer ’75
- 1997: Craig U. Dana Sr. ’60
- 1996: George T. Stern '39
- 1995: William R. Timken ’53
- 1994: Anthony J. Maltese Jr. ’55
- 1993: Alfred S. Dally Sr. ’43; Mitch Jennings ’63
- 1992: Ralph N. Meerwarth ’50
- 1991: Arthur T. Hamlin ’29
- 1990: John C. Bogle ’47
As a student at Blair in the early 1970s, John Rea was involved and industrious. His family history at Blair seemed to give him an added loyalty and willingness to serve. He did not rest on his family laurels, though. He insisted on paving his own way in the shadow of his illustrious, respected, and much loved grandfather, F. Ernest Rea; his father, The Reverend Robert E. Rea ’43, for whom a memorial scholarship is named; and his brother, James Rea ’71. Service to Blair has always been John’s motto. Whether as a Blue and White Key member or a prefect in East Hall, he did his best for the good of the School. John’s ideals have served the School well over the years.
John has never been that far from Blair at any time in his life. A devoted and dynamic class representative since his graduation, he has faithfully reported on the class of 1974. Returning to the School in 1980 as Blair’s accountant, he became the business office manager in 1981, continuing his dedication to Blair and his willingness to work hard. The community felt his loss in 1984 when he followed a career path to an MBA program at Lehigh University, achieving a goal he wrote about in a resume from 1978. However, John could not stay away for very long, returning to work at Blair as a part-time consultant from 1988 to 1992, when he took over the position of controller. He became business manager in 1995, adding assistant treasurer to his titles before his decision to leave Blair again this May. John, will be missed. A guest in many faculty homes, an outgoing faculty member to students and a friend to all, John Rea is part of the fabric of Blair history.
So now, although we acknowledge that it is once again time for you to move on and grow, we anticipate your continued participation in Blair life. We honor you for your “tangible and visible support” of the School, for your steady and competent leadership in the business office, for your professionalism, and for the enthusiasm and loyalty to the school that is imbedded in your blood. You will be remembered, too, for the key role you have played, building the community of Blairstown. You have given so much of yourself to Blair. So, John, we honor you today as a 1999 Blair Alumnus of the Year because you have always honored Blair. In the words of the John Rea ’74 Scholarship Fund, established in March of this year, we recognize and celebrate your loyalty and service to Blair. Thank you.
In today’s bullish and hectic world, Blair is fortunate to have loyal individuals who give to others without expecting recognition. These generous souls are usually talented, intelligent and modest people who act for the benefit of the community, not for reasons of self-promotion. Bob Neff ’49 is such a man. Blair has long benefited from his continuous, unselfish and enthusiastic support.
As a student at Blair, Bob was involved in leadership positions and did his best to enrich the community. Serving as the managing editor of the ACTA and the Vice-President of Stylus, Bob also was known for his basketball, his cartoons and his piano playing. Cornell University followed Blair, where Bob majored in engineering physics and government and where he achieved his law degree in 1956. After active duty as a captain in the United States Air Force, Bob’s two oldest children came along, Robert A. Neff, Jr. ’79 and Philip Adam Neff ’83. At this time, Bob decided to become an active part of Blair again, joining the Blair Council Steering Committee and the Alumni Association Board of Governors.
Since graduation from Blair, Bob has continued to make a difference at Blair and in the lives of many Blair students. While Bob’s most recent public role as a Trustee is soon coming to an end, we at Blair know for sure that Bob will stay involved in the School. Bob served two terms on the Board of Trustees: 1976 to 1989 and 1993 to 1999. We thank him for his careful and dedicated work on the Nominating Committee.
Bob’s most important and least known activities center around the students he has brought to Blair and the scholarships he has supported in order to help students stay at Blair. Truly a Blair ambassador, who has been instrumental in helping admission over the years, Bob established the Captain August Martin Memorial Scholarship as early as 1968. His work to establish the Henry Heguy Memorial Scholarship in honor of the father of one of his Blair classmates, Tom Heguy, who also worked at Seaboard World Airlines where Bob was a vice president, continued his list of accomplishments. His ability to so effortlessly donate trips or jaunts to his summer home in Michigan for the Parents’ Auction, his willingness to create ways to help others, his steady devotion to Blair, and his perseverance and positive spirit more than qualify him to be honored as one of Blair’s great alumni.
For those reasons, Bob, we honor you today with a 1999 Alumnus of the Year Award. On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the entire Blair community, thank you for your commitment to Blair’s growth. Your support and dedication are greatly appreciated.
In the vanguard of women graduates in Blair’s new era of co-education, Anne Cramer was first marked with success when she was named valedictorian of the class of 1975. A member of the well-established Pennsylvania Cramer family, Anne followed her brother and cousin to the School. Once here, however, she set her own course, leaving the Blair golf course to her father. Anne’s love for sports were of the more physically active variety—mountain biking, skiing, windsurfing—and it is not surprising that she matriculated at Dartmouth, a rural, liberal arts university where she could pursue her studies as well as her love of the outdoors. In keeping with her outstanding academic work at Blair, Anne graduated from Dartmouth with honors and went on to take a degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School also with honors. Following law school, Anne established herself in a prominent Burlington, Vermont, law firm where in due course she was named partner, and in 1997 her name was added to the firm title. Highly regarded for her legal work in various areas, ranging from employment and hospital law to anti-trust work, Anne Cramer has in all respects brought honor to Blair as one of our most distinguished graduates.
Always loyal to the School, Anne joined the Blair Board of Trustees in 1992. From the beginning, she displayed a commitment both to the School and to the workings of the Board itself. Eager to improve Trustee orientation, Anne served on the Nominating Committee of the Board, later becoming that committee’s chair. Evincing a strong sense of purpose and leadership, she challenged the Board to be ever conscious of the issues of Board membership selection and service; she raised important issues of representation of eras and constituency, diversity in experience and perspective, and a candidate’s ability to serve and support the School. Anne’s thoughtful approach to Board membership has led to a better process, one which has broadened and strengthened the Blair Board of Trustees. Furthermore, for the last two years she has also undertaken the responsibility on the Board of leading and directing the crucial Trustee Challenge—part of the Sesquicentennial Campaign.
As the first woman named as the Alumnus of the Year, Anne Cramer continues her role as a dedicated graduate whose success within and outside of the School has earned the respect and appreciation of the larger Blair family. Since Anne is one of our youngest Board members, the School looks with anticipation and gratitude to the growing leadership role she will undoubtedly play in the new century. Today we are pleased to honor you, Anne, as the 1998 Blair Alumnus of the Year.
From the moment you stepped on campus in 1958, Blair has been the fortunate recipient of your increasing wisdom, your unflappable and steadfast devotion, and your clear, thoughtful vision of what Blair is and what it can be. You ran your heart out for the School then, capturing the state title as a member of the 1958 cross country team, and, though not quite as literally, you are doing it still.
From befriending a local ten-year-old boy as a Big Brother while you were a student at Blair to your current tenure as Vice Chairman of the Board and Chairman of the Buildings Committee, service has been the hallmark of both your. professional and your personal life. It is in your role as Chairman of the Buildings Committee that you have affected the most profound and enduring change in Blair Academy. Bogle Hall, Tracy Hall, Armstrong-Hipkins Center for the Arts, Timken Library and the new dormitory will all stand as proud monuments to your astute leadership.
You and Mandy moved your family to Blairstown in 1981, creating a welcoming home which became a beacon for Blair students as your son, Craig Jr. ’87, and your daughter, Susan ’92, moved through the School. Between the dogs and the kids, 83 Stillwater Road was always abuzz with life, warmth and vitality.
Concurrent with the challenges Blair faced in the construction of its first new academic building in over half a century, you faced your challenges professionally and personally: accepting a judgeship, supporting your son through a devastating accident and its aftermath, and having him graduate from your alma mater. Through it all, you remained “calm.. .in the height of chaos. ” You stated your own philosophy best when you wrote, “...whatever we do we would be well-advised to take the time necessary to make it [Bogle Hall] not just good, but the best that it can be...”
And that, Craig, is why we honor you today. For taking the time—a nearly incredible amount of time—to make Blair Academy not just good, but the best it can be. I am pleased and proud to present you, on behalf of the Board of Trustees and the entire Blair community, with the 1997 Alumnus of the Year Award.
Current students may only know him as a part of the autumn Blair crowd, devoted to football and our Saturday home games. Yet those of us who know George T. Stem as an alumnus, a Trustee and a parent of two Blair graduates know, too, that he has done as much as any one person to steer Blair toward enviably solid financial ground and has helped lay a strong foundation for the School’s growth into the next century.
George came to Blair for a post-graduate year from South Orange, New Jersey, initially preparing for entry into Lehigh University. George changed his mind throughout the course of the year, however, and when it came time for him to leave, it was to assume his place at the University of Virginia, graduating with a BS in engineering. After serving as a 1st Lieutenant in the Air Force, George earned his graduate degree from the Newark College of Engineering.
It was after joining the business world that George met and married his first wife, Flora. With her, he settled in Morristown and raised two sons, Andrew ’73 and Gary ’76. A gifted entrepreneur, George has created and sold several businesses, gradually honing his expertise in research engineering and solidifying his reputation as one of the most respected in the field.
In addition to a long history of financial support of the School, George has also served his alma mater as a member of the Alumni Association Board of Governors, the Parents’ Association Executive Committee, and since 1977, the Board of Trustees. It is here, as Chairman of the Budget Committee that George has made the greatest impact on Blair. Known to his fellow committeemen as the “Chief Balancer of the Budget”—or in a few difficult years, the “Prophet of Doom and Gloom”—George’s careful analysis of each line item has, in large part, been the reason Blair has enjoyed a balanced budget for nearly all of his tenure. His reasonable expectations of economy, balanced with his sensitive understanding of the needs of an educational community, have steered Blair on a steady, certain course, with George Stem as the pilot of an increasingly complex budget.
Losing both a parent and his wife within a short time, George handled the difficult periods in his life with the same grace and sense of responsibility which makes him such an esteemed member of the Blair community. It pleases me and all of his friends to see his remarkable vigor and character. For that, we must thank your wife, Carolyn. And for the many years of devoted service and guidance, we must thank you. We present you along with our respect and affection with the Alumnus of the Year award as a token of our sincere gratitude and appreciation.
Though the current generation of Blair students knows William R. Timken by way of Timken Auditorium, his classmates, his fellow Trustees, and his many Blair friends know Bill as among one of the most loyal and enthusiastic of Blair alumni. Along with a handful of other such men, Bill has profoundly shaped the future of this School through his generosity, his leadership and his vision for Blair.
As a young man from North Caldwell, Bill Timken was initially reluctant to attend boarding school, fearing that it would be “like a prison,” as he told his father. However, Bill passed his entrance exams impressively and began a two-year Blair career during which his grades rose consistently. A standout on the Blair varsity tennis team, Bill went on to Colby College where he continued to play tennis, do well in school and improve his life by meeting his future wife, Judy.
After college, Bill and Judy returned to New Jersey where Bill began his career in business working on Wall Street. Consistently successful, Bill eventually joined Hambrecht & Quist as a general partner in 1969. Though he was torn about leaving the East Coast, his friends at H & Q ultimately persuaded Bill and Judy to move to the San Francisco area, and Bill has anchored the West Coast for Blair ever since.
Throughout his life, Bill Timken has affirmed his loyalty to Blair through his service as a Trustee, his support of our many projects and dreams, and, with Judy, his wonderful hospitality and graciousness to Blair alumni and friends. Whether entertaining Blair guests at his Lake Tahoe home with a ride in one of his classic wooden boats, hosting a luncheon in downtown San Francisco, or flying to Los Angeles to support a visiting headmaster, Bill Timken has served Blair, the students, and the faculty of this School with unwavering devotion. Enthusiastic and perceptive, Bill always seeks what is best for Blair, showing concern for the values of the School as much as the progress he engenders. Today, we honor William R. Timken as our Alumnus of the Year and thank him for a career of service to his School.
One of the most loyal and beloved of all Blair alumni, Anthony J. “Tony” Maltese represents the epitome of “The Blair Boy” which has characterized this School since the turn of the century. A native New Jerseyan, Tony applied to Blair in the spring of 1953 because—in his own words—of “Blair’s scholastic reputation and my desire to attend a good college.” However, if you know Tony as well as his Blair friends do, you know that Tony also wanted to play sports, so it is no surprise that his Blair career is highlighted by outstanding sports success in both football and wrestling. As a football player, Tony had “the greatest run in Blair history,” according to the preeminent authority on Blair football, the late Femando Marcial. Yet even as Tony helped Blair to an undefeated season on one of the strongest football teams in New Jersey high school history, his greatest sport was wrestling. During his senior year, Tony was the wrestling team captain and the state champion for his weight class. Throughout his adult years, Tony has remained an outstanding proponent of Blair sports, particularly wrestling, and has always encouraged the coaches and teams as they have forged a dynasty on the national high school level. However, Tony’s love for Blair goes far beyond his particular interest in sports. If Blair needs anything, Tony is always there.
Now a member of the Blair Board of Trustees, Tony has offered invaluable guidance to the important Buildings Committee, as he has continued his commitment to and involvement in Blair. Supported by his wonderful wife, Cynthia, who frequently accompanies Tony to Blair events, Tony has emerged as one of the most influential and loyal Blair alumni of his era. He continues to keep close personal ties to both students and faculty, always finding a way to show he cares. We honor Anthony J. Maltese today as the 1994 Alumnus of the Year, yet Tony is an alumnus to be emulated every year.
A veteran Trustee of Blair Academy, a member of the important Buildings, Budget and Executive Committees, a long-time class representative for 1943, and a loyal Blair man in every respect, Al Dally entered Blair in the fall of 1942, accepting a scholarship that he has hundreds of times repaid so that other students could enjoy the advantage he had. At Blair, Al was the center for the basketball team, played baseball, served on The Breeze board and was a Wearer of the “B.”
Following graduation, Al went to earn bachelor of science degree at Franklin & Marshall, joining his father’s slate company in Pen Argyl, Pennsylvania. Together with his late wife, Sally Ann, Al raised two children, Jane Dally and Al Dally Jr., a member of the Blair class of 1981.
A well-known and highly respected businessman in the Lehigh Valley, Al has honored his Blair education by serving others and by using his success to support his community and his School.
Today, Alumni Day 1993, it is with great pleasure and gratitude that the Trustees, alumni, students and faculty of Blair honor Alfred Dally for his devotion, service and love of his classmates, his fellow Trustees and most of all, Blair.
A dynamic Trustee who has led the highly successful Trustee Challenge program to support the Blair Fund, provided many New York opportunities for Blair alumni to gather, and helped guide the Blair endowment as Chairman of the Finance Committee, Mitch Jennings entered Blair in the fall of 1962 for his senior year. A member of the football and swimming teams, Mitch graduated from Blair and entered New York University where he earned a bachelor of arts in English literature. Joining the Wall Street firm of Bear, Stearns & Company, Mitch immediately began what has been a life of business success and active service for worthwhile causes and institutions. Between Mitch’s involvement and that of his wife, Elizabeth Dater, they together serve many important organizations in the New York metropolitan area.
At Blair, Mitch first joined the Alumni Board of Governors in 1978 and was elected to the Trustees in 1988. As a Trustee, Mitch has combined valuable understanding of the financial issues facing the School with great enthusiasm for the daily life of Blair students, some of whom he encouraged to apply. Through service and care, Mitch Jennings has been a devoted and invaluable member of the Board of Trustees.
Today, we honor William Mitchell Jennings Jr. with our highest form of annual recognition. For his long involvement with Blair, his dependable counsel to the School, and his unfailing willingness to assume vital leadership roles, we, his fellow Trustees, alumni, and the students and faculty of Blair, express our heartfelt appreciation.
A distinguished New Jersey businessman who, with active involvement and loyalty, has supported education throughout his life, Ralph Meerwarth spent his senior year at Blair, filling that year with academic achievement and extracurricular success. A writer for the ACTA and The Blair Breeze, Ralph was a member of Blair’s swimming, baseball and ski teams, as well as a singer in the choir, and a member of the White Color Club. From Blair, Ralph went on to Lehigh University from which he graduated in 1954 with bachelor of science degree.
A devoted husband and father, Ralph keeps active overseeing his successful manufacturing company, watching his daughter, Tracy, play tennis and lacrosse, and enjoying golf with his wife, Lurenna. It was golf with an old friend and Blair Trustee Amold Zimmerman that began Ralph’s strong commitment to Blair Academy. He honored Arnold’s father, S. Arnold Zimmerman, by naming a chemistry laboratory for him in Bogle Hall, and Ralph has consistently supported the Blair Fund, which goes to enrich the daily lives of the faculty and students at Blair.
With disarming modesty and quiet vision, Ralph Meerwarth creates opportunities for Blair to serve generations of students who have followed his educational path in coming here. This fall Blair shall dedicate the new athletic addition to Ralph and his family, naming the complex for his daughter, Tracy. Today we honor Ralph Meerwarth for his demonstrable love of Blair, a spirit that has led and will lead others to join him.
Arthur Hamlin came to Blair as a student in 1926 from Great Meadows, New Jersey. His diligent work on The Breeze board, Press Club and the ACTA Board began paving the way toward his illustrious career. After graduating from Blair in 1929, he went on to receive a bachelor of arts degree in 1934 from Harvard and his bachelor of science degree from Columbia University in library sciences in 1939.
Arthur’s life has been rich in experience with service to the Naval Intelligence and the Army Military Intelligence. He has been awarded two Fulbright Scholarships, the first in 1958 when he was Lecturer at the University of Pavia, Italy, and the second in 1966 as research scholar in Birmingham, England. His career led him through positions as assistant librarian at the University of Pennsylvania, university librarian and professor of bibliography at the University of Cincinnati, and finally as director of libraries and professor at Temple University.
In addition to his librarianship, he has found time to author numerous historical works and articles on librarianship and book collecting. In 1987, he began the arduous task of researching the attics and cellars of Blair Academy on his four-year journey of writing Blair Academy: A Sesquicentennial History.
Blair Academy takes this opportunity to express to you the gratitude of your classmates, fellow alumni, faculty and staff for your talent in bestowing upon us the history of Blair through your perseverance, your humor and your love of this great School.