Alumni legacy donations leave behind eclectic variety of memoria

 

The bench from the “715 Molecules” table set is dedicated to Chemistry Professor and Vice President Hodge Markgraf ’52. --Alex Marshall/Photo Editor
The bench from the “715 Molecules” table set is dedicated to Chemistry Professor and Vice President Hodge Markgraf ’52. –Alex Marshall/Photo Editor

If you’ve got money to spare, drop a couple million to get your name on something. But if you’re on a budget, do something extraordinary, and people will brand your name on the nearest library. You know a dedication is successful when a name loses all association with the person and just identifies the object in memoriam of said person. Case in point: Every time I hear David Paresky ’60 and Linda Paresky mentioned, I think of sub-par dining selections and late night nutritional mistakes. Likewise, “Alfred Clark Chapin” evokes a sense of discomfort, stuffiness and musty smells. Even whole classes like ’62, ’82 and ’37 have their own personal namesakes on the Williams campus. Perhaps Ephraim Williams provides the best example. All he did was set aside land in 1755 in a town in the middle of nowhere, and now one of the best undergraduate institutions of higher learning in the country is named after him! Eager for the same renown and reputation, I embarked on a hunt to find the best way to imprint my name here after my glory days.

My first stop was the Office of Alumni Relations, where I met with Director of Donor Relations Diana Selvin. She is familiar with many different spots around campus dedicated to Ephs of the past. “You’ll see a variety of recognition signs and plaques. Perhaps the most whimsical is the dog portrait at Lee Snack Bar,” Selvin said. She was referring to  a 1979 photo of Yo-Yo, who, according to the plaque beneath the portrait, was  a “faithrul canine friend to generations of Williams students.” “The carillon [church bells] in Thompson Chapel [are] dedicated to an alumnus. If you climb up there, you will see a brass plaque near the keyboard,” Selvin said.  Looking for something a little less official, I continued to pry.

“Check near the [“715 Molecules”] bench [and table by artist Jenny Holtzer] in Science Quad,” suggested Selvin. “In addition to the bench dedicated to Chemistry Professor and Vice President Hodge Markgraf ’52, you’ll discover two trees in memory of [people affiliated with the College].” Matt Cole ’80 had his ashes buried beneath this tree. Additionally, a memorial garden at the corner of Clark Hall is dedicated to Geology Professor Bud Wobus’s late wife, Sherry.

“A tree!” I thought to myself. “If anything, I’d want a living thing in my name.” But I quickly was disappointed: “There are also other trees around campus which are memorials for alumni, although we do not do that anymore,” Selvin said.

Still on the chase, I took a bathroom break in Dodd House. But the bathroom I found myself in does not contain your average toilet; it’s the Noah Smith Drelich ’07 Toilet. Expecting a gold encased flusher? Perhaps a marble seat and lid? Nope, it’s actually just your average white porcelain toilet with a name on it. I spoke to Dodd Neighborhood President Donnie Kost ’15 about the waste disposer in question.

“It was a tradition at the inception of the neighborhood system to name a random toilet after the presidents of the neighborhood,” Kost said. “The trend didn’t exactly catch on. I didn’t brand my name on a toilet last year.”

Drelich wasn’t pretentious enough to get a marble statue in his honor. Instead he got a porcelain toilet. I don’t know who Drelich is, but he seems like an honest, hard-working American, the kind of guy you could have a conversation with about football or hot wings.

Later, I received a tip on another interesting memorial in Perry. In the common room stands a beautifully crafted fireplace dedicated to William Talcott, Class of 1865. A vestige from the old fraternity days at the College, Talcott was a member of the Alpha Delta Phi frat and had the fireplace dedicated in his honor after his death in 1893. The fireplace is made from an exquisite mahogany wood and has stood the test of time.

My personal fireplace? I could get used to that. On those cold Winter Study nights, I could go out, chop wood with my burly ax, start up a roaring fire, put on some cool jazz records, make hot cocoa and entertain a lucky lady. I quickly realized I couldn’t get my own fireplace, though. I am not currently in a fraternity and probably never will be, since they were abolished in the ’60s.

So after hours of searching, I was back where I started, as an honorless, ordinary, un-memorialized college first-year. Maybe someday I can be remembered here at the College. Maybe I’ll finally construct the Ryan Curtis Fajardo ’17 Honorary Jacuzzi and 24/7 snack bar.