Class of '48 returns to Hanover for 50th

by Kascha B. Semon | 6/14/98 5:00am

Divided by wartime complications but united in their love of their class and the College, approximately 200 members of the Class of 1948 -- more than one-third of one of Dartmouth's smallest classes -- reunited in Hanover this weekend to celebrate their 50th reunion.

"We saw wartime and peacetime Dartmouth ... Dartmouth was still an excellent place for us to be," former Class President Francis Drury '48 said.

While the '48s were students, the College supported a V-12 program for members of the Navy and Marines, and wartime classes included a diverse mix of civilians and enlisted men.

Both Drury and his classmate Austin Gedney '48 said, however, they did not notice a division between class members who were civilians and those who served.

Servicemen chose which class to graduate with when they returned from the war, causing some of the imbalance in class size. Some members of the Class of 1948 did not graduate until 1952, Drury said.

Drury was exempted from the service because of a medical condition, but said students all believed strongly in their "cause against Hitler."

"We all wanted to go," he said.

Despite the fragmentation caused by WWII, Hanover is still close to the heart for members of the Class of 1948; the class presented a $l million gift, which will be used to support the College, to the Class of 1998 earlier this morning.

It also annually presents the Scholar Athlete award to one female and one male athlete in the junior class who have demonstrated outstanding athletic and academic achievement. Over the years, the class has funded the rocking chairs for the Hanover Inn Porch, as well as the garden in front of Blunt Alumni Center.

Nearly 70 percent of the 341 living members of the class continue to give back to Dartmouth.

"We're all very pleased for such a disjointed class who were here at different times that so many are participating and giving money to Dartmouth and that so many are coming," James Hatheway '48, current class president, said.

Gedney and Hatheway, like many of their classmates and other Dartmouth alumni, now live near the College.

"Hanover and Dartmouth exert a certain pull," Gedney said.

Many '48 alumni did, however, leave Hanover, pursuing a wide variety of careers across the globe. According to Drury, who traveled internationally for Golf Oil while working in the energy industry, the class graduated at least 30 doctors and medical practitioners.

Dr. Samuel Katz '48, now a Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics at Duke University, won international acclaim for his work with viral and bacterial vaccines, particularly with the measles vaccine. The College will present Katz with an honorary degree during today's ceremony.

Another '48 alum, Dr. Jerald Lucey, has also been recognized for his medical research.

Robert Huke, a professor emeritus of geography at the College, worked to improve rice cultivation in Asian countries.

He may have "helped to save millions of lives," Hatheway said.

This weekend, alumni will attend a speech given by President-elect James Wright and can choose to participate in a golf tournament or to take bus tours of the transformed campus.

Chair of the Berry Library Committee, John Crane, will discuss the library plans.

A presentation and skit organized by Director of Facilities Planning Gordon Dewitt will give alumni information about the campus construction.