WESTERN NY REUNION SUMMARY, AUGUST 6-8, 2021
Front Row on the ground: Don Vander Ploeg, Bill Pollock, Karen Basmadjian, Carolyn Kraft Pollock, Ken Kraft, Gordon Kraft, David Bowdle, (Alice Meloy’s husband),Tom Pollock, Alice Meloy, Merry Kraft, (Russell’s wife), Russell Kraft ** Second Row on chairs: Leah Pollock Vander Ploeg, Deb Spohr Martin, Penny Pollock McFarland, Pam Parr Turner, Cleo Prohme Messinger, Joyce Gordon Thompson, Jeannie Jordan Byer, Gwen Adair Haspels, Jean Stultz, Emylyn Dohner (Gordon Kraft’s wife) ** Standing First Row: Paul Clark, John McFarland, Ellen Wilson,(Paul Wilson’s wife), Sue Kraft, (Ken Kraft’s wife), Charlotte Weaver-Gelzer, Susan Oliveri, (Ed Nicholas’ wife), Gloria Holcomb, Ron Pollock, Jean and Tom Bower, John Haspels, Bob Kraft, Heidi Smith Ob’bayi, Wayne Smith ** Standing Far Back: Paul Wilson, Gib McGill, Ed Nicholas, Patricia and Steve Jamison, Mark and Susan Nolin Shopland ** Missing from photo: Tim Martin who left early, Glenn Jamison who came down late, and Ginny Pollock Towle who met us at the park.
IT SEEMS LIKE REUNIONS ARE ANTICIPATED, lived out, and then all too soon relegated to treasured memories. I am grateful for all 3 phases, but once again we find ourselves saying, “There wasn’t enough TIME.” As the pieces came together with Karen Ezell handing the web site, Steve Jamison handling the money, Paul Clark giving astute advice from previous years of organizing, Tim and Debbie Martin making nametags, Bill handling technical projects like map making and power point arrangements, and Jean Stultz as my cheerleader, it was a great team. From the first arrivals (Paul, Jean and Gib McGill) who got to the Country Inn and Suites BEFORE I even had time to hang up Jean’s “Ahlan wa Sahlen” sign, to the last good-bye, the joy of being together, especially after such a long isolation, was poignantly evident. Our group pretty much took over the lobby, and the dining area, and with each new arrival, the welcoming grew warmer. (The weather did too!) Wayne Smith and his daughter, Heidi Ob’bayi from Washington State, were the last to pull in, about 9:00 pm, although Jean Jordan Byer got the prize for the most flights – 5! Help abounded in preparing the salad for dinner, and the pizza was ravished, although maybe not as much as the baklava! It was so wonderful seeing former roommates, classmates and friends making beelines toward each other with hugs and laughter. Spouses seemed to be easily welcomed into “the family,” – at least that’s the feedback I received from a few! It was gratifying to hear Arabic words and phrases, and be able to recall them. We should have given a prize for the person with the best Arabic, as Karen Basmadjian admitted that Gib’s was better than hers! Even though we didn’t have house parents to remind us of bedtime, I was a bit amused that this “senior” group seemed to head to bed fairly early, and the lobby cleared out about 10:00. A few lingered in the hot tub.
We could not have ordered a more lovely day for our Saturday excursion to Letchworth State Park for viewing overlooks, museums, and of course, waterfalls. Before leaving for the park, we gathered for a group photo, which sadly, Glenn Jamison missed. For those wanting more visiting time and less hiking, we gathered at the Trailside Lodge, where lunch was also served. Sandwiches were supplemented with nostalgic foods from our past – dates, figs, mangoes (dehydrated), mango and guava juice and halvah. From there we caravanned to Bill and Carolyn Pollock’s unique passive solar underground home, built between 1981-1985. The more techy of the group learned about low-voltage switches, the air-to-air heat exchanger, heat pump hot water heater, whole house dehumidification system, Clivus Multrum composting toilets, thermal window shades, etc. while the rest enjoyed the gardens, the clerestory windows that let light into the 40,000 mosaic tiled atrium floor, handmade kitchen cabinetry, etc.
Back at the motel we readied for a lovely dinner next door at the Genesee River Restaurant. From white cheese and aish balady, veggies and hummus, to a’ads soup, couscous, kofta, cabbage rolls, cucumber salad, chicken, and mousse for dessert, we were well stuffed, but thankfully did not fall asleep during Karen Basmadjian’s power point. We were so honored to have Karen, the PR and Alumni Relations “guru” from Schutz join us and assure us that the school, although radically different from the Schutz we knew, still uses the motto, “Schutz is family.” From a high of 285 students, this upcoming year has a lower enrollment with more families moving to Cairo. We were impressed by the dozens of colleges which gave acceptances to the 15 graduates of 2021, and most are heading to London. (We are waiting for Karen to let us know how to access the link to her presentation, which hopefully can be added to our web site.) Karen also told about and showed us physical upgrades to the facilities, plus plans for future years. The next part of the program gave special recognition to our attendees. The Pollock family won awards for 100% attendance (6 siblings), and logged in with 63 student (and teacher) years at Schutz.) The Kraft family also had 100% attendance with 5 siblings and 40 student (and teacher) years. The Smiths and Tom Pollock got awards from coming the farthest (WA and CA), although Karen obviously came the farthest internationally. There were prizes for first timers, (Cleo Prohme Messenger, and Ken and Russell Kraft. The class of 1968 had the largest representation with Gloria Starbuck, Charlotte Gelzer, Alice Meloy, Ron Pollock, Steve Jamison and Paul Clark. The prize for the spouse who came kicking and screaming the most, went to Don Vanderploeg, and couples who met at Schutz and married were us (Bill and Carolyn Pollock), and Gwen Adair and John Haspels. Those who were both students and teachers included Bob Kraft, Leah Pollock Vanderploeg, Susan Nolin Shopland, Gloria Holcomb, and us. Jean Stultz declined her prizes for most senior member, and the one who has been to most reunions. Coming from 15 states, the states with the most representation were NY, PA and MA. A humorous remark I heard after, was a quote from Paul Wilson. He said, “We should have received a prize for being at a table with NO Krafts OR Pollocks!” Paul, a gift is “in the mail….”
Tom Bower gave a brief summary of his Alumni in Residence plan, whereby folks go over and take on more of a mentoring role, rather than teacher. He and Jean plan to initiate that in January 2022. Leah Pollock Vanderploeg told of the upcoming team going to Ethiopia the end of this month to build a library for a Bible School in Gambela for the Anuak people. Her team will include her husband Don, Bob Kraft, Jack Jordan, Ron Pollock, and his son, Adam. Pam Parr Turner gave a summary of her newly published book, The Unchosen Road. Paul Clark, board president, followed with a brief business (annual) meeting, and he and Steve Jamison, (after giving the treasurer’s report), graciously agreed to stay on in their positions. Paul has served 9 years, and probably the same for Steve! THANK YOU!!!! (A reminder: If you availed yourself of books in the conference room and didn’t get a chance to connect with Steve to give a donation, it’s not too late! He will gladly accept faloose to keep the treasury solvent!)
Sunday the farewells began, admittedly with a few tears. I did hear from Alice Meloy that she had “almost enough time” to visit with everyone she wanted to. In the midst of packing up, I kept thinking of all the things I wished I had asked certain folks, and hoped my memory wouldn’t explode from all the new information gleaned in casual as well as intentional conversation. We are certainly an interesting group of adults and the kinships renewed, or newly formed, are precious. In a thank you note from Charlotte Gelzer, I will accept the compliment that this event had the same “feel” as reunions at the beloved Stultz Farm, so that this one might be considered a close cousin. Well said! Looking forward to Emerald Isle in May 2022! We’ll just pick up again as if we saw each other last week. That’s what family does.
By Carolyn Pollock