The Great Class of Dartmouth 1966
The Road Continues...

Meditation at the Memorial Service of the Class of 1966
of Dartmouth College at the 50th Class Reunion
June 11, 2016
Delivered by the Reverend Dr. Brewster H. Gere ’66

Celebrating Time

Participation in reunions is holy work. Participation in memorials services within the context of the entirety of a reunion is especially holy work.

Reunions are about time and place; about remembering experiences and the people who shared and enriched those experiences.

With the passage of time, with life experiences informing the original experience, and with encounters with those who made each experience memorable, the time becomes sacred, and the space becomes a holy place. In our hearts and minds, the life-changing experiences of a half-century ago have now taken on an almost sacramental quality. Indeed, participating in reunions is holy work.

In the Book of Ecclesiastes the writer reminds us, €For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.€ The season of our lives when we, the Class of 1966, entered Dartmouth was that of late adolescence emerging into early adulthood. Some of our actions, and thus resultant experiences€usually with comrades in arms giving us courage€could be, should be, would be labeled €adolescent.€ Other behavioral patterns actually showed that we might someday tip the balance toward becoming adults.

The time when we arrived here on the Hanover Plain€the fall of 1962€was a time of a lull before many storms that would reach gale force during our four years here. Eerily, hauntingly, those four years proved to be only a prelude to the remaining years of the decade of the €60€s. For after the Cuban Missile Crisis, the assassination of President Kennedy and the many and varied actions and reactions surrounding the Civil Rights Movement came the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy and the Vietnam War, about which we all hold our own deeply personal stories.

The place where we Class of €66 members began living this season of our lives was not quite Grover€s Corners, New Hampshire€that place many of us became acquainted with in high school when we read Thornton Wilder€s Our Town. But in some ways Hanover was a town up or down or across the river from the likes of Grovers Corners. Bucolic, with its share of local color; rough-hewn, even with the Dartmouth patina laid over it; not connected by the Interstate until the last few months of our senior year to our homes or to schools where the other gender in any great number resided€these realities led to making Hanover a holy place in many respects because of its isolation, its beauty, its rugged terrain, its location. All this worked to bring us together in common bond.

The time we were here, and the character of the place, influenced what is at the heart of this reunion€the remembering of experiences and of classmates with whom we shared those experiences. It is in the remembering of the people that past experiences come alive.

In Ecclesiastes we hear of the juxtaposition of time relative to major events that unfold in everyone€s lifetime, among them:
--a time to be born€and a time to die,
--a time to mourn€and a time to dance,
--a time to be silent€and a time to speak.

I would add to this list a time to celebrate time. In the context of this reunion, this means celebrating time we had with classmates five decades ago, our time together this weekend, and the intervals between graduation and now. This is our holy work, to celebrate these times, thankful for what we have had, hopeful for more.

Embedded in the concept of time is the reality of mortality, of our own and of our mates and of our classmates. We who are now in our eighth decade here on earth have already confronted the issues of life as being defined by death At any reunion, those who have gathered are never far from the reality of the presence of absence. The way we who are present here today give meaning to our classmates€ absence is to celebrate those times their lives gave our lives meaning. This celebrating of time with them is what makes them spiritually present with us today.

We are thankful that family members of classmates whom we remember In Memoriam are part of our community today. Judy Cleary, Debby Kaiser. Barbara Wade, Matthew and Tanya Swett, Jonathan and Rachel Drew (family members of George Berry), and Sage Chase, twin sister of David Dunlap, and her husband Dick Chase€your presence with us enriches our experience this weekend. We thank you for the gift of your presence in the absence of the one you love and who we, their classmates, remember. We hope you know of our affection for Rob, Rich, Phil, Bob, George and Dave, as for all our classmates who are now deceased, and of our support for you and your families.

Indeed, for everything there is a season, and this is the season of the year and of our lives for the 50th Reunion of the Dartmouth Class of 1966. Indeed, there is a time for every matter under heaven, and now is the time to celebrate our time with classmates now deceased who enriched our lives and the Dartmouth Community.

As we hear the reading of the names of our classmates who are with us In Memoriam, let us continue the holy work of this reunion.