Change is a constant at universities, but so is continuity across the generations, UB President William R. Greiner told 50-year graduates during their June 14-15 reunion. Indeed, 88 members of the Classes of 1949, 1950 and 1951 gathered for a reception, luncheon, campus tours and formal classes specially conducted for them by leading members of the faculty.
"You are connected with one of the most enduring institutions known to humankind," Greiner added. "The university where you are today is part of a Western tradition that is about 1,000 years old. We could bring an alumnus back from the University of Bologna, Italy-said to be the origin of the modern Western university-and drop him down on this campus. Aside from a language difference, that individual would have much in common here with what he experienced centuries ago. It is still about faculty. It is still about students. It is still about learning."
For many of the 50-year graduates-veterans of World War II and their spouses-the reunion rekindled memories of days spent in the classroom with an esteemed group of professors, enjoying fraternity and sorority events, and having fun playing a variety of sports.
Today, the activities and civic commitments of these graduates belie their ages. Here are reflections from nine who returned to UB, 50 years after receiving their diplomas and pondering the lives that awaited them.
Ed.D. 1970, Ed.M. 1951 & B.A. 1950
Williamsville, New York
Marilyn Fiegel started UB as a 17-year-old freshman, one of only a handful of recent high school graduates in the post-war era, and one of only two female chemistry majors in her class. "When I arrived on campus in the fall of 1946," she says, "the veterans were pouring in on the GI Bill. So most members of the class were veterans, they were married and they wore their uniforms to class."
Fiegel spent most of her career teaching high school chemistry at West Seneca Central School, with a year away in Bremerhaven, Germany, where she taught high-school age dependents of U.S. military personnel. She later headed the West Seneca science department, then coordinated all K-12 science curriculum for the West Seneca school district. In 1970, she earned an Ed.D. in science education and biochemistry, with accompanying research at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. She also coauthored a half dozen junior and senior high school science textbooks.
Fiegel retired from teaching to care for her late mother, whom she would visit daily in a nursing home until her death a year ago. She began to pursue a freelance writing career while sitting with her mother, writing stories and constructing book plots. Her most recent book, a short novel, is Tenfold, described as a religious suspense thriller with psychological overtones.
Williamsville, New York
"Back then, there were 16 male students to every female, because of the influx of GIs following World War II," recalls Kenneth Malick, who had entered the military four days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and went on to serve four years in the U.S. Air Force. "So the girls had a pretty good corps of admirers."
In his sophomore year, Malick met his future wife, Gloria G., or "Geege," as she is known to her family and friends. "I was on the football squad and she was part of the group informally known as the 'Salt and Pepper Cheerleaders.'" The couple married after his junior year.
Other memories include his roles in the Norton Union Radio Club and its Saturday morning broadcasts, a men's fashion show organized for charity, and a halftime interfraternity "greased pig contest" at the old War Memorial Stadium in Buffalo. And though he was a fourth-string quarterback, "it was still a thrilling experience to be on the team; we played under the legendary Jim Peele."
Father of the actress Wendie Malick (Just Shoot Me, Dream On, Trauma Center) and two other children, Darcie and Kenneth Scott, the retired sales and marketing executive has taken courses in UB's senior audit program, and is a member of the Blue and White Club, the UB athletics scholarship fund organization. He also plays the saxophone, regularly performing as part of the Can-Am Jazztet, bringing together friends from the U.S. and Canada, where he and his wife maintain a summer home.
Ed.M. 1946 & B.A. 1937
Because of her devotion to the honorees-many of them former students and ex-GIs in what is now the Graduate School of Education-Dorothea Duttweiler traveled from her home in Rockport, Texas to attend the June 14-15 reunion.
"I didn't realize until the 50th reunion just how many of them I had also taught in high school! I had been their biology teacher at Amherst High School in the early 1940s. So it was an unexpected continuity that we all enjoyed."
An ardent naturalist, Duttweiler moved to Texas 11 years ago for the preeminent birding at the nearby Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, a wintering area for the whooping crane and, in her words, "the birding hot spot of North America." She has lectured widely on naturalist topics and remains active in the Buffalo Audubon Society.
Each summer, Duttweiler returns to "The Pileated Perch," the cabin she and her father built in rural Holland, New York. She has deeded approximately 10 acres of the Holland property-a wildlife sanctuary for more than 6o years-to the UB geology department, from which she received her degree, magna cum laude, in 1937. (She was the first woman to receive a geology degree from UB.)
Seeking to create opportunities that were not available to her as a young student, Duttweiler annually donates funds to help women attend UB's four-week summer geology field camp in Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico.
Forest Hills, New York
John Gmerek, a trumpet player and former history and government major, recalls the happy moment during commencement festivities in 1949 when Chancellor Samuel Capen gave him a silver key award for his contributions to the University of Buffalo band, which he had helped to reorganize after World War II. "We played at basketball and football games at home; we also traveled, marched and did formations during halftime," he says. "I think the band was the leading extracurricular activity on campus immediately after the war."
Gmerek enjoyed a long career in government service, working as a civilian in the defense community, both stateside and abroad. Long active in the Kosciuszko Foundation, which promotes educational and cultural ties between the United States and Poland, Gmerek now chairs its Holocaust studies committee. He was also a member of the production team that produced the 1998 documentary Zegota: Council for Aid to Jews in Occupied Poland, 1942-45. Featuring a narration by Eli Wallach, it tells the story of "Zegota," the code name for the clandestine organization sponsored by Poland's London-based government-in-exile that tried to save Jewish lives during World War II.
Over the years, Gmerek has been intensely active in establishing and furthering the New York, NY alumni chapter, which he has served as both board member and president. For many years, he was involved in fund-raising activities for the band and for intercollegiate athletics, and in 1985 received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the UB Alumni Association.
Amherst, New York
Marion Simms, a former physical education major, recalls the excitement on campus as the swimming pool at Clark Gym neared completion in the late 1940s. "It was one of the largest in the country with many innovations, one of which was underwater lighting," she reports.
"As the months went on and we all became more fishlike, we began to plan a synchronized swimming water show. Some of the PE guys participated in several numbers by lifting the girls above the water in various moves. Of course that fantastic underwater lighting was a big factor. It was so much fun practicing in the dark!"
Since those happy days in the pool, Simms has taught both physical education and academic subjects. She also has published research on the perceptual motor development of young children, coached synchronized swimming, run a truck farm and, after retiring from teaching, worked as a travel coordinator. Today, she continues to help coordinate Buffalo's Allentown Art Festival, and travels extensively, including four trips to Africa. In June, she accompanied her two granddaughters, ages 11 and 13, on a Kenyan safari.
Simms serves on the board of directors of the Blue and White Club, the UB athletics scholarship fund organization. She is also a member of the Gray Bulls, made up of former physical education majors and former UB athletes. Ever active, she plays in the University at Buffalo Golf League on Monday nights at Rothland Golf Course in Akron, New York.
"Dr. Phillips and Dr. Lyons instilled in me a sense of motivation and direction in a career," Patrick Kelly recalls of his days in the physics department at UB, in which he enrolled as a returning GI after serving in the U.S. Navy in both the Atlantic and Pacific fleets. "They had senior tutorials where you met with professors twice a week. When you have a small group of students sitting down with heads of departments, you get a lot more out of it. The tutorial was a highlight of my academic year."
After graduating from UB, Kelly was employed by several large corporations as a salesman. In 1964, he moved to California and formed his own industrial control sales engineering firm, which he headed until 2000. Parallel with his business career, Kelly became involved in politics, serving as councilman and later mayor in Hillsborough, a town of about 11,000 just south of San Francisco. For 18 years, he was a member of the San Francisco International Airport Community Roundtable, including five as chairman, where he dealt mostly with noise abatement issues. He was also chair and a founding member of the City and County Association of Governments.
Today Kelly remains involved in community affairs and various civic activities. He is a registered professional engineer in California and a life member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
Williamsville, New York
A retired social worker for Family and Children's Services of Niagara, Ellen Stancliffe has one memory that outshines all the others, even after 50 years. She and her late husband, Bill, were candidates for Homecoming queen and king in that era.
"I know Bill and I met in our freshman year in Jennie Graham's class-I think it was a course in business and retailing. He had just come out of the service." Stancliffe recalls Graham as a stickler for mathematical precision. "She insisted that we all have a firm hold of basic mathematical concepts, testing us to make sure we had attained a certain level, both individually and as a group, before we could move forward in her class. That has really stuck in my mind all these years, especially when so many young people today need a calculator to do basic math."
Since retiring from social work in 1995, Stancliffe enjoys many activities, including cross-country skiing and golf, and is a longtime volunteer at Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital. A competitive bridge player, she meets regularly for bridge with fellow members of her UB sorority, Chi Omega. Just recently, ten "sisters" met for bridge at Stancliffe's summer home in Long Beach, Ontario. "We sat around giggling, looking at the photos of our college days," she says.
Tonawanda, New York
For Charles Dingboom, memories of the University of Buffalo center on his days as a football player and later as a young assistant coach at the university, the first step in a long athletic career that continues today.
"After serving in the Marine Corps during World War II, I went to UB, where I played three years of varsity football. After graduating, I coached football at UB for three years in the early 1950s under Fritz Febel, who was Jim Peele's assistant. Then after Peele left, I was the freshman coach for one year. While still working nights at Westinghouse, I subbed at Kensington High School during the day. Then I got a job at Riverside High School, coaching and teaching. I coached football, track, swimming and tennis-but mainly football at Riverside-for 39 years, retiring from the Riverside position in 1989. I then coached football at Kenmore East High School for six more years."
Dingboom says he was privileged to know several legendary figures on the UB gridiron. "I was lucky to work with Jim Peele and Fritz Febel and with Frank Clair, who introduced a system of coaching that was widely used by the many players who became high school coaches in Western New York-he inspired us.
"As UB students, our social life revolved around Norton Union and the Rathskeller, which was located across the street. We loved the campus, especially the old buildings, and we spent a lot of time in both Norton and Hayes Halls."
Now in his 52nd year of coaching, Dingboom remains active as an assistant football coach at Nichols School in Buffalo. He is married, the father of three sons and the grandfather of seven.
"My fondest memories," says J. William ("Bill") Everett, B.S. 1950, "are of the faculty and staff, especially Robert Riegel, professor of insurance and statistics, and John Horton in history. There were so many others; Dr. Marvin Farber in philosophy especially comes to mind. I also recall Talman ("Tommy") W. Van Arsdale, director of alumni relations, who recruited me to the UB staff after I graduated."
Two years after completing his degree, Everett was back on campus as a member of the UB staff, serving in key posts over a 20-year period. "I worked under three chancellors-Dr. Capen, Dr. McConnell and Clifford Furnas," he says. "From 1952-55, I traveled the country in the university's first major fund-raising campaign since the 1920s, which built the first dormitories and also Capen Hall (now part of Cary-Farber-Sherman) for the medical and the dental schools."
After a five-year stint at IBM, Everett returned to UB in 1960 to serve as director of sports information and development and to help develop the UB football program. From 1964-1966, he was director of alumni relations. Later, he served as vice president of Tamblyn and Brown Inc., one of the country's largest fund-raising firms for colleges, health organizations and educational and art institutions. After 12 years heading diverse campaigns around the country, he returned home to serve as the Town of Amherst court administrator, retiring from that post in 1999.
Today Everett lives in Amherst and Boston, New York, with his wife, Esther Kratzer Everett, Ed.M. 1955 & B.S. 1952.