Your sweet mem'ries we'll cherish yet,
Through the seasons while on greater fields we're fighting.
A name that came up in some recent reading reminded me that Kamp Kewanee can claim among its alumni a Nobel Prize winner. Noting that we can include in our a number the recipient of perhaps the most well-recognized award that our civilization bestows led me to wondering what other distinctions have been earned by the people "we knew when." A few hours spent on the Internet and some inquiries of made of KK aficionados, led me to surprisingly large list of names, some of which I knew or knew of, some of which were discoveries for me.
So herewith I offer for whatever amusement it may give you a collection of Kewaneeans who have earned particular distinction on those "greater fields" to which the second verse (Did you know there was a second verse?) of our Kamp song refers. The choice of whom to include is somewhat arbitrary. Many of us have had solid careers in business, the professions, or the arts, of which we are justly proud. But I was looking for various forms of public recognition or presence: national, local or within professional communities.
So herewith is a start. Please send me your additions and corrections (<email@example.com>) so I can continue to make the list as full as possible.
Our Nobel Prize winner in Howard Temin who was awarded the 1975 prize in Chemistry or Medicine for his work in cellular chemistry for his discovery of reverse transcriptase. This landmark discovery was of the greatest importance in showing how cancer-causing viruses work. He also was awarded the National Medal of Science in 1992. Howard, along with his two brothers, was at Kamp from 1944-46. A strong spokesman for the dangers of smoking, he died of lung cancer at age 59, despite the fact that he had never smoked.
While no others of our number have duplicated that singular achievement, many have distinguished themselves in scientific fields. As a physicist Leonard Rieser (kamper '35-'39, kounselor '40) worked on the Manhattan Project and spent a 46 year career at Dartmouth College during which time he served for 18 years as Dean of the Faculty and Provost. He became nationally known as Chairman of the Board and President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1972-75) and Chairman of the Board of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. In both of these influential positions he was an prominent voice in trying to make sure that atomic weaponry was never used again.
Sam Latt ('49-'54), before his untimely death at age 49, was a leading research figure in cellular biology and genetics. His work was important to understanding the genetic causes of several diseases and to establishing a "bank" of genetic materials. In their memorials following his death, his colleagues attested to the unusual significance of his work.
Mike Lieberman (kamper '50-'55, kounselor '58) has had a similarly important career as a physician and in academic medicine, working a fields as diverse as environmental toxicology and molecular genetics. But he has earned equal recognition as a poet, having received a PEN Texas award for his work.
The work of Larry Spoont (kamper '39-'46, kounselor '47) as a psychiatrist was marked by the 2006 Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness. He was honored for his work in treating elders with mental health and emotional issues at home so that they might continue to live independently.
Jerome Apt (kamper '34-'37, kounselor '38-'42) had a 65 year career as a mechanical engineer, most of it in his native Pittsburgh. His work spanned many fields, but the core principle of it was the design of environmentally friendly systems. He held seven patents, including one for a leak-detection system for a nuclear reactor and another for a remote-control coal mining system that could go where miners couldn't. An achievement of another sort was fathering an astronaut, Jay Apt.
Kewanee has produced a long list of people who have made notable contributions to the performing arts. Apparently all that time spent in the Lodge, whether in a dramatic production or manufacturing what my generation called "the old Kewanee b.s.," was a good start toward a notable stage-television-radio career.
The earliest of this group ('25-'28, '30-34) was Mayer Abrahamson, who subsequently changed his name to Mike Ellis. His revitalization of the Bucks County Playhouse, one of the nation's oldest summer theaters, made him a notable theatrical producer. During his 11-year tenure (1954-64) he oversaw the staging of 45 world premieres by such playwrights as Neil Simon and S.J. Perelman and promoted the careers of many actors who became household names, including Alan Alda, Liza Minelli, Robert Redford, Dick van Dyke, Walter Matthau, George C. Scott, and Bea Arthur. Mike was also a professional magician.
Ralph Levy (kamper '29-'34, kounselor '36-'42) was one of the first Kewaneeans to head for California, where he achieved fame as a film and television producer and director. He directed the pilot of I Love Lucy, and served as producer director of The Ed Wynn Show, The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, and The Jack Benny Show, winning a 1960 Emmy Award for his work on the Benny program. Film direction credits included Do Not Disturb, starring Doris Day and Bedtime Story with David Niven, Shirley Jones and Marlon Brando.
His near contemporary and good friend, Richard Gottlieb (kamper '30-36, kounselor '37-'42, '46) had a longtime association with Ralph Edwards as producer/director for his hugely popular television shows, Truth or Consequences and This Is Your Life, for which he received a number of Emmy nominations.
Lee Kalcheim (kamper '47-'53, kounselor '54-'56) spans the television and theatrical worlds. He has written episodes of many popular TV series, including an Emmy-winning episode of All in the Family, and won a Cable Ace Award for the television version of The Paper Chase. He is the author of 20 plays which have starred such notables as Peter Falk, Jason Alexander and Ron Silver.
Robert Cohen (kamper '47-'53, kounselor '54-'58) has achieved his theatrical fame in the academic world. Professor of Drama at the University of California, Irvine for nearly 50 years and department chair for 25, he is the author of the leading textbook on acting. He has taught drama workshops and directed plays all over the world. He is the author of three plays, ten books and numerous articles on theater and acting. This huge volume of work earned him the Career Achievement Award of the Association for Theater in Higher Education.
Lew Klein (kamper '35-'43, kounselor '44-50) made an enormous impact on television and on his own community in his home town, Philadelphia. As a TV director, producer and station owner, he was in one way or another responsible for "Romper Room," "American Bandstand," and several other programs, as well as producing the Phillies broadcasts for 15 years. As a college teacher (University of Pennsylvania, Temple University) for five decades and as an active member of professional organizations in Philadelphia, he has been honored with a dozen awards. His volunteer leadership of non-profit organizations is extensive.
Many Kewaneeans have pursued careers in higher education, but an academic career of a special kind is that of Werner Gundersheimer (kamper '50-'51). A noted scholar of the European Renaissance, he served as Director of the Folger Shakespeare Library from 1984-2002.
Similarly bringing academic training, though in an entirely different field, to a leadership position is economist Donald Kohn (kamper '52-'55). A lifetime employee of the Federal Reserve System, he ended his career as Vice-Chairman of the Board of Governors from 2006-2010, one of the most challenging periods in the Fed's history.
KK may well have produced its share of plutocrats and captains of industry, but short of checking with Dunn & Bradstreet, I wouldn't know who they are. I could, however, identify two of us who have made a significant mark in the business world.
Richard C. Levy (kamper '57-'61) has made his mark in the toy and game industry. While the Furby is his best-known contribution, he has produced such licensed games as Adverteasing and Chicken Soup for the Soul. His dozen books about inventing and marketing inventions include The Complete Idiot's Guide to Cashing in on Your Inventions. He has produced more than 30 documentaries.
Though he was at Kamp for only one year (1971), we can still claim Brian Roberts, the Board Chairman of Comcast, which his father Ralph founded, and which owns 51 percent of NBC Universal and the majority of the company that owns the Philadelphia professional hockey and basketball teams. He has won major awards from the cable industry, including one for his commitment to diversity. He received the 2004 Humanitarian Award from the Simon Wiesenthal Center and has been an active participant in numerous charitable undertakings. An All-American in squash, he has earned gold and silver medals in that sport at the Maccabiah Games.
Aside from those notable athletic achievements--and in a sport that most had never heard of in our kamping days--have not often been equaled by our colleagues, even at a place that so emphasized athletics. The only professional athlete Kewanee has produced is Ronnie Watts (kamper '57-'59) who played for the Boston Celtics for two years after an outstanding collegiate career at Wake Forest. He may be better known for a series of television commercials he made with his friend Bill Russell.
Also better known for his foray into the entertainment world than as first string safety for Yale is J. P. Goldsmith (kamper '55-'60, kounselor '63-'67), whose commentaries on that epic game in the documentary When Harvard Beat Yale 29-29 are outstanding.
Though bridge and backgammon are not sports in the strict sense, we have to note the achievements of Kit Woolsey (kamper '55-'59) who is one of America's outstanding bridge players, having won several national championships and represented the United States in international competition, including winning the 1986 world team championship. His achievements have lead to induction into the American Contract Bridge League's Hall of Fame. He also excels at backgammon and in 2007 was ranked number 5 in the world. He has written extensively on both games. His bridge talent was spotted early when at 12 years old or so he was much in demand as a fourth for bridge in kounselor rest hour games.
Politics has not been a popular field for Kewaneeans. Though a couple of us have served in elective office locally, Larry Levitan (kamper '46-'49), as member of the Maryland House of Representatives and Senate for 24 years, represents KK's highest level of political success. During his 16 years as Chair of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee he was one of the most powerful politicians in the state.
Rick Vatz (kamper '57-'62; kounselor '63-'65) has not been elected to public office but he is the go-to person for commentary on political rhetoric, both in his native Baltimore and nationally on such programs as "Crossfire" and "Larry King Live." A career-long member of the Department of Mass Communication and Communication Studies at Towson State University, his specialty is the psychology of rhetoric. He is an outstanding scholar, teacher and citizen of his university, having published seminal work in his field, won numerous awards for his teaching, and been honored with Towson's highest honor for service to the university.
These men have some interesting commonalities. Nearly all were honor plaque honorees, with Mayer Abrahamson's name appearing a record four times. Almost without exception they were Kewanee loyalists, returning as kounselors after their kamper days ended and regularly attending reunions. Which leads one to wonder: Was standing out at KK a function of one's potential for outstanding achievement in many other circumstances? Does their affection for Kamp reflect acknowledgement of its significance in their lives?
NOTE: You will have noticed that I have not used Kamp nicknames, which may unfortunately leave you searching your memory to identify the person about whom I am talking. On the other hand, grown men may not want to have such monikers as "Duck," "Barrel," "B.S.," etc. revived. If anyone needs a "key," I'll provide it privately on request.