Inbox

ANOTHER OLYMPIAN
I enjoyed David Driver’s article in the most recent issue of the UR Magazine about Spider Olympians [“Mensch on the Bench (and on the Mound Too),” Spring/Summer 2020] but was disappointed by an omission: He did not mention James Walker, R’76, who competed in the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games, running in the marathon for Guam.

Jim was my roommate my freshman and senior years at Richmond, and we’ve kept in touch over the years. He didn’t participate in sports at UR, although he had been a wrestler in high school; perhaps this is why he was not known to the author.

In any event, I’m sure Jim and his many friends would be happy to see this oversight corrected. He is retired and doing well, living in Bridgewater, Massachusetts.
—Lynn Conver, R’76
Essex Junction, Vermont

Editor’s note: Lynn’s note gave us the opportunity to learn about Jim’s Olympic experience. Read about it here.

THE WRONG SYMBOL
I wanted to comment on the Japanese “rising sun” background image used in the banner of your recent article, “Mensch on the Bench.”

While I’m sure you used it simply to reference Japanese culture, this image is a representation of the rising sun flags used by Japan during WWII and during its brutal annexation of Korea. For many Koreans, this flag symbolizes an era of oppression and violence where we were forced to change our names and language and were treated as second-class citizens. While fighting for independence from the Japanese annexation, many Koreans were captured, tortured, and killed by the regime that the rising sun flag represents, and it is deeply offensive to see it displayed so nonchalantly.

I understand that this is an issue that many Americans are not aware of, so my only goal with this letter was to educate, not to blame.
—Yewon Son, ’20
Fair Lawn, New Jersey

Editor’s note: We’re very grateful Yewon wrote to express this concern. We have changed the graphic in the online version of the article.

LOL, ENGLISH MAJORS
I laughed out loud when I read Professor Bert Ashe’s comment [“Quotation,” Spring/Summer 2020] telling English majors how to respond to curious people asking “What will you do with your degree?” The response, “Anything I want,” so resonated with me.

I never taught English and history in high school — my goal when graduating. Instead, I went from working as an editor at NASA in Greenbelt, Maryland, to — fast-forwarding through the years — giving officials and “influentials” tours of a nuclear plant construction site and later operating plant; becoming the executive secretary to the governor of North Carolina; and creating and managing the agritourism office in the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, one of the first such unique state offices in the U.S.

That final job was dependent on learning about how farmers could engage with the public and give people new experiences related to unusual aspects of farm life. That resulted in creating a booklet of references in this new area of agriculture. I went on to serve on the board of directors of the national agritourism organization.

This is a far cry from teaching about Milton and Chaucer!
—Martha Daughtry Colston Glass, W’66
Cary, North Carolina

THANK YOU, DR. STOKES
The article on Marion Stokes [“A Mathematics Mentor,” Spring/Summer 2020] was very well done, but there was so much more that could be shared about Dr. Stokes. I had her Freshman year 1972 in North Court at 8:15 a.m., where half the young ladies came to class in bathrobes and curlers in their hair. Dr. Stokes was an excellent teacher who made sure she made sense out of whatever she was trying to teach.

I will never forget one day when she handed out our tests about midway through the semester, and I had a test grade somewhere in the low 50s. I remember her looking at me and asking if I had time available at the lunch hour to come to her office. When I got there, the first thing she asked was whether I had studied for the test. I said yes but that I was having some difficulty understanding the concepts.  Marion Stokes had a skill set that majority of teachers don’t have: a sixth sense. 

With a couple of questions, she recognized I had developed a mental block towards the math concept. What did she do? She simply asked if she could teach me another approach to the math concept. When she started teaching me the concept differently, I grasped it immediately. At that point, she created a new test in five minutes and gave me a retest right there in her office while she finished her bag lunch. I scored 40 points higher, and she gave me the new grade and deleted my old test score. I was in awe of her kindness and still wonder why she singled out me to help.

I have never forgotten this experience. Marion Stokes, was an extraordinary professor to take the time with a single, basically average student because she recognized there was a problem. She could have easily bypassed the situation and moved on, yet she took the time to reach out. She gave me hope and a new level of confidence.

Thank you, Dr. Stokes. You were a shining star in a difficult first semester for me.
—Larry Burnett, B’76
Southport, North Carolina

GEOGRAPHY CORRECTION
I enjoyed reading in the Notes section for the class of ’51 about Barbara McGehee Cooke visiting Mary DeVilbiss Barton in my adopted hometown and current city of Lousiville, Kentucky.

However, when they “walked the bridge,” they most assuredly walked the Big Four Bridge, a former railroad bridge converted to a pedestrian walkway that connects Louisville with Jeffersonville, Indiana, not “Kentucky and Tennessee” as the blurb says. Tennessee is a solid 2.5-hour trip down I-65 from here.

As a former Spider living in Louisville, I felt obliged to bring this to your attention.
—Anthony G. Galasso Jr., ’07
Louisville, Kentucky