“When the hours of Day are numbered, 

And the voices of the Night 

Wake the better soul, that slumbered, 

To a holy, calm delight.” 

(From “Footsteps of Angels” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, a member of the Bowdoin College Class of 1825) 

During the recent 55th Reunion of the Bowdoin Class of 1964, class member Rick Black recited the full poem during his remarks at the memorial ceremony for departed members of the class. 

The setting proved ideal. Under gray skies at Whittier Field, Rick stood in front of the exquisite new Polar Bear sculpture, created by internationally renowned sculptor Robert Hooke, another classmate. (The inscription at the base of the Bear reads, “Scenting the Wind. Gifted to the Class of 1964 and dedicated to those students at Bowdoin who through self sacrifice and teamwork have represented well the competitive athletic spirit of the College. Sculpture – Robert Hooke ’64”). 

Rick’s thoughtful wise remarks noted that dear ones who have left us are never completely gone. They return as “shadows from the fitful firefight” and “dance upon the parlor wall.” His remarks were sometimes interrupted by some jovial give-and-take between Rick and our irrepressible classmates. Then David Kilgour and I read the names of the 42 departed classmates, one of whom (Dick Bail) had died just three days before the Reunion. A true humanitarian, Dick had received the Bowdoin Common Good Award in 2014. 

During the service, classmates Art Ostrander and Rob Jarratt, led the crowd in singing “Bowdoin Beata,” “Now the Day is Over” and, at the end, “Rise Sons of Bowdoin.” 

The memorial ceremony marked the end of a long weekend filled with the inevitable (and often ribald) stories. “Do you remember …?” Our class, bless its generous heart, has never been one to hold back our affection for each other and for Bowdoin. Fifty-six members, most accompanied by spouses or partners, attended the weekend, a record for 55th Reunion classes. Somehow, we always manage to break giving and attendance records. It should be noted that a few classmates generously donated funds to reduce the cost of attending for all returning members; many others said they would have contributed had they been asked. 

Bruce Lutsk and Roger Tuveson, the two superb Co-Planning Chairs of our Class Reunions, have been most instrumental in keeping the class together and engaged. Because of their yeoman efforts, Bruce and Roger each received “Foot Soldier of Bowdoin Awards” at the Reunion..

My own life has been greatly enriched by being a member of this class at this College, a happenstance sparked by the decision by Amherst College to place me on their Waiting List, way back in the spring of 1960. My wife Tina and I will be buried in the Pine Grove Cemetery, just a few yards to the west of the new Polar Bear statue. I will be there ever ready to emerge as a “shadow from the fitful firefight” to cheer on Polar Bears throughout the ages. 

And we will do so in the spirit of our fellow Polar Bear Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, whose poem “Footsteps of Angels” ends with the following: 

“Oh, though oft depressed and lonely, 

All my fears are laid aside. 

If I but remember only 

Such as those have lived and died!” 

David Treadwell, a Brunswick writer, welcomes commentary or suggestions for future “Just a Little Old” columns. [email protected]

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