By Vassar Quarterly

Thumbing through Memories

It’s been over forty years since my wife [Andrea Giannetti Whitton ’69] graduated from Vassar, and we still enjoy an occasional visit to the campus. But you gave us a special trip down Memory Lane with the Spring/Summer [2010] edition of the Quarterly. The photographers you invited back to Poughkeepsie each captured a personal and imaginative concept of the Vassar they knew or the Vassar they rediscovered.

In my case, the quartet of photos of Sunset Lake by Lauri Robertson ’75 helped to recall my first date on campus, picnicking with the woman I would propose to eleven months later on that same hillside overlooking the main campus. We’re still a couple, still enjoy reunions together with the Class of ’69, and look forward to seeing Andrea’s classmates and my friends sometime in early June 2014 for our 45th.

Thanks for the armchair tour of one of America’s prettiest campuses.

Bob Whitton

Ridgefield, Connecticut 


I found your highly creative “photography” issue for the Vassar Quarterly fascinating, and I enjoyed it all. There is an appealing half-page photograph of Susan Kuretsky ’63 that I have open on a table to continue to study. She comes across as both joyful and thoughtful at the same time. Very much descriptive of the real Susan, I think. 

Bernice Lippitt Thomas ’49

Bellevue, Washington


The spring/summer “Day in the Life of Vassar” issue is marvelous! The idea to present photographs by alumnae/i professional photographers is terrific, and laying them out without captions makes them look their best. I didn’t mind flipping back and forth to find the captions—it made me appreciate the photographs more.

Pamela Cottier Forcey ‘46 

Louisville, Colorado   


I just wanted to drop you a quick note to say how much I love the Spring/Summer issue of the Quarterly.  The photography is vibrant and emotional, and it really captured the mood and personalities of life on campus now.  I think it’s one of my favorite issues.

Ufasaha Yarish ’94

Brooklyn, New York

Vassar Generations

I recently read the Quarterly column by President Hill [Winter 2010]. It was about a current student at Vassar who had many relatives who had attended the college. At the foot of the article, she asked whether there were other students with unusual alumnae/i connections to the college.

My daughter, Emily MacLeod ’12, just finished her sophomore year at Vassar. Emily does not have many Vassar relatives. However, her Vassar heritage goes back to the early years of the college. 

Her great-great grandmother, Lydia Shotwell (married name, Beebe) was in the Class of 1870. Lydia’s younger sister, Emily Shotwell, for whom our Emily is named, was in a subsequent early class. Emily’s great-grandmother, Ruth Beebe (married name, Hastings), was in the Class of 1911, and Emily’s grandmother, Lydia Hastings Stevens, Class of 1939, also is a Vassar grad.

Emily and I attended her grandmother’s 70th reunion last June, and it was wonderful to see Emily and her 90-year-old grandmother sitting together in the parlor in Main while her grandmother reminisced about her Vassar days. 

Perhaps there are other students at Vassar whose heritage there goes back almost to the founding of the college. Thought you would like to know about one of them.

Elizabeth Stevens

Providence, Rhode Island


I’m writing this in response to President Hill’s column “Countdown to the Sesquicentennial,” which appeared in the Vassar Quarterly [Winter 2010]. I’m not from a large Vassar family—only I went to the college—but that does not diminish the impact of the achievement.

It’s thanks to my mother that I went to Vassar at all, though I didn’t appreciate this for a long time. 

My mother’s parents came from Finland. My grandfather was a copper miner in Michigan’s Copper Country and my mother a governess. At one time, she was a governess in the home of Governor Kohler of Wisconsin. A daughter in this family had gone to Wellesley, and my mother decided her daughter would go there, too.

We were poor, but this did not deter my mother from her dreams of college for me. As a Finn, she had sisu, tough determination, a quality Finns admire and often exemplify. 

When I was in the seventh grade, we moved to Wilmette from Chicago. My mother wanted me to go to the best public high school in the area and believed I had a better chance to go to college from there than from the Chicago public schools. 

We lived in two rooms; my mother felt it was better for us to have our own place than live in the “back halls” of a mansion where she would be a servant. 

I was ashamed of my mother because she was a babysitter for wealthy people, even as she was planning and sacrificing for me.

In my senior year, we were asked where we would go to college. Many Ivy League schools were mentioned, but to me, my mother’s dream of my going to any college was unrealistic. During that class session, though, my mother’s dream, plus my good academic standing, got me to decide that I would at least apply. I truly expected nothing. 

In May, when I was accepted to all the places I had applied to, it was a dream to me, and a dream come true to my mother. She decided on Vassar, in part because that was the only school that did not require Latin as a prerequisite. 

It was beyond her dreams. I believe my mother was happier than I was, and she had a right to be; she had laid the groundwork in an “impossible” situation.

Melinda Johnson Burger ’ 61

Chicago, Illinois

My whole family has played soccer for generations in a little upstate New York town that is known for its soccer teams, so, of course, when I went to Vassar I was going to play soccer. I played wing on the Women's Varsity Soccer team from the fall of 1979 to the fall of 1982. 

My son Ben Scaglione '11 showed proficiency at a young age.  His dad and I encouraged him by driving him all over Vermont and Upstate New York to play on teams all year long. What a thrill for me and my whole family to have him play at Vassar with Coach Andy Jennings, who came to the Vassar Athletic Department when I was a junior. Ben has played all four years as a striker on the Vassar Soccer team and his games have become my "family's reunions." 

Being a "sports legacy" at Vassar must be a rare, but growing, phenomenon. I wonder if there are families like mine.

Angel Marvin '83

Elizabethtown, New York