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Fanfayre honors history and achievement

By Alexander Blum '13 on June 11, 2012 09:34 AM

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Cricket Parmalee '67, Babson Award recipient. Photo by Leah Nash

Reunions 2012 traveled backward and forward through time at the Fanfayre ceremony celebrating outstanding alumni, staff, and faculty.

John Sheehy '82 presented his the epic oral history of Reed College, Comrades of the Quest, an volume of "almost biblical" dimensions that was, he said, the closest thing Reed has to scripture. Despite its size, he noted that the "director's cut" would be about 30-percent longer: "Reedies appear almost incapable of expressing themselves in a single sentence when a full paragraph—or a full dissertation—will do just as well."

Cricket Parmalee '67 received the Babson Society Award for her contributions to the Oral History Project and the related Reed Stories Project—the alumni stories collected by both projects have contributed to the making of Comrades. Jay Hubert '66, alumni board president, who presented the award, described Cricket as a certified "storytelling master" who has delighted Reed audiences with stories painstakingly collected from generations of alumni.

After accepting the award, Cricket recounted a favorite story, that of George Joseph '51, who visited Reed as a prospective transfer student. He met professor Dorothy Johansen '33 [history 1938–69], who showed him where the library was and told him, "the rest is up to you." Leaving this meeting, George came out the north exit of Eliot—the same steps where Cricket stood as she unwound the tale—and saw a couple in the woods "doing something that I had never seen done outdoors before." Impressed by these two experiences, George decided that "Reed was the place for him."

Finally, honorary alumni status was granted to retirees: Professor Steve Arch [biology 1972–2012], Professor Steven Black [biology 1989–2012], college librarian Vickie Hanawalt [1987–2012], and President Colin Diver [2002–2012]. Arch, who taught at Reed for 40 years, recalled a student evaluation shown to him by an official in administration at the end of his first semester that read simply, "Fire Arch."

Looking back on his distinctive career at the college, Arch concluded, "I'm really glad he didn't fire me."