Letters to the Editor


I simply want to say how much I enjoyed reading Lisa Armstrong's article, "Healing In Haiti," in the winter edition of Holy Cross Magazine. I have worked in Port Au Prince each summer since 2007 with a small, highly transparent non-governmental agency (NGO), Konbit Football Ayiti (konbitfootballayiti.org). Along with my roommate from Holy Cross, David Dutra '74, and the financial help of many of our classmates from that year, we have brought tons of soccer and school equipment to Port Au Prince, trained coaches and players, organized teams, consulted teachers and networked with community leaders and other NGOs. Our work has focused on listening to Haitian voices developing their own communities and expanding their power in their society. It gives me pride to read about the good work of other Holy Cross grads in a country that appreciates their efforts. Thank you for this fine article.

            John Evans '74

            Housatonic, Mass.



I found out about Professor Joanna Ziegler's cancer diagnosis, as I do about so many major life events these days, on Facebook. I flipped through her Facebook page to try to find more information, hoping for a silver lining. Instead, I saw that she had pancreatic cancer. The deadliest kind. Even in the face of impossible statistics, we still hold on to hope, and so it was a shock to read her obituary in the Winter 2011 issue of Holy Cross Magazine. It's no exaggeration to say that she altered the course of my life during the spring of 1998, when I took her Modern Architecture course. My heart breaks for her, for her family and loved ones, and for the thousands of other students she touched.

            Laura M. Browning '00

            Chicago, Ill.

Editor's note: Visit this issue's Web Exclusives to read other notes from alumni who have expressed their feelings of loss and gratitude for Professor Ziegler, plus an essay from Laura M. Browning '00 about her beloved mentor.



One afternoon during my junior year, Kim McElaney '76 [director of the Office of College Chaplains, who died in May 2010] asked me to sit on the couch in her office, and we talked about what was then called the Mexico Program. Many of my friends had gone to Cuernavaca the previous year and returned with burning eyes and hearts and told stories about the people they'd met. Between my parents and work study, Holy Cross was a financial stretch for my family each semester. There was no way I could afford it.           

Kim looked me in the eyes and said, "You have to go. We have a scholarship for you." I never had to ask for help; she knew I needed it. She wanted me to have that experience, to have my world set on its side.

I remember Kim's face at many moments over the years-leading a prayer at a Pax Christi meeting, standing on the steps of the Capitol, telling someone how good her new shirt looks, speaking at my wedding. But it is her face that day in her office that stays in my mind. No one had ever done something like that for me.

How many current and former students have stories like this about Kim? She was taken-from her husband, Tim, from her family, from Holy Cross, from all who knew her-far too soon. But she is not gone; she lives inside each one of the thousands of us, people like me, who she touched.

            Gib Fay-LeBlanc '96

            Portland, Maine

Editor's note: Katherine M. "Kim" McElaney's obituary appeared in the Summer 2010 issue (In Memoriam, Page 76).



In the Fall 2010 issue (Campus Notebook, Page 7), we reported that many believe the tradition of upperclassmen helping first-year students move into their new homes on The Hill started in the 1970s, when women were first admitted to the College. The fellows wanted to make a good impression on potential dates and ponied up the muscle needed to move their new classmates into their residence halls-or so the story goes. But John "Bud" Ryan '41 of Needham, Mass., called our offices to school us on the true genesis of this kind tradition, explaining that it started well before his first year on campus in 1937: "It was the Purple Key and a couple of other clubs who did that service, helping us move in. We formed some friendships because of that little act with the men the following years that we had helped out. And those friendships have lasted a lifetime. Far from anything to do with the women and the boys trying to shine up to them. It started as a friendship move." Thank you, Mr. Ryan, for the real story!



We continue to receive passionate letters related to the cover feature of our Summer 2010 issue ("Reporting for Duty," Page 22). You can view others by visiting the on-line Letters Forum at holycross.edu/magazine/letters. I'd like to add my praise to the favorable comments that you have received on the Summer 2010 issue of Holy Cross Magazine. To us older grads, the military was most often our first "job" after graduation. In my case it began a lifelong association with the Navy. Honorable service to our country is consistent with the Jesuit ideal of "men and women for others." Your articles gave recognition to many of the fine Crusaders who served their country in one of the Armed Forces. The presence in the services of these broadly educated Holy Cross grads has enriched the officer corps and, I believe, contributed positively to the nation's reputation.

            Capt. Francis J. Doherty Jr. '53, U.S. Navy Reserve (Ret.)

            Lancaster, Mass. 


I was appalled to read the "Non-Violence Views" letters in the Fall 2010 issue. It was the warrior who beat Nazism, Imperial Japan and the Soviet Union in the Cold War, not the pacifist or conscientious objector. It was the politicians who lost Vietnam. Apparently students in more recent years have failed miserably to understand history!

Either that or they have been infected with a defeatist type mentality during their four-year sojourn on Mount St. James.

            Lou Cumming '60

            La Jolla, Calif.



Thomas G. Giroux '72 wrote to us from a fishing boat "bobbing up and down in a turquoise sea" somewhere in the Carribbean to share his memories of being a Peace Corps volunteer and wondered if other Crusaders had taken "that plunge." Are you a former or current Peace Corps volunteer and Holy Cross alum? Let us hear from you by sending a note to hcmag@holycross.edu.

In July 1979, I, along with 60 or so trainees, landed in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire in Africa, to begin our service as Peace Corps volunteers. I was posted with the Ministry of Technical Training in a village in the eastern part of the country near the Ashanti region of neighboring Ghana.

In the summer of 1981 Peace Corps decided to withdraw from Cote d'Ivoire, and I transferred as a volunteer to French Equatorial Africa and a country called Gabon. The Ministry of Education needed primary schools built everywhere and I was, again, posted near a border area-this one in the southern province of Oogué-Lolo next to Congo Brazzaville. I stayed three years in that region and I did, felt and saw more than words can convey (rain forest, Pygmies, sun and shadow).

In the summer of 1984, I again transferred, this time back to West Africa and the country of Togo. I was posted in a central-west region, again with the Ministry of Education in charge of primary school construction. I worked there until April of 1987 when I, reluctantly, ended a nearly eight-year career as a Peace Corps volunteer. I am now an "RPCV" as we say, a "returned" Peace Corps Volunteer. I have returned to West Africa many times to spend Christmas and celebrate the new year with friends there. They are not part of my past, nor am I of theirs-we are all in each others' hearts now and in the future.

I speak many other languages when I travel there [and enjoy] the warm handshakes, smiles and sincere surprise when I "drop" into villages where I have had the honor to have worked and celebrated life with the people there. It's just being human that makes everything much clearer, just simply being human, just being there.

            Thomas G. Giroux '72

            Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.



We had several responses to our request for help identifying the "mystery photo" on the back cover of the Fall 2010 issue (reprinted on the next page). As you may recall, the 8x10 photo had been discovered in the Holy Cross archives, but did not have any accompanying information or inscription on the back. A few readers wrote in, shedding some light on the bathrobed gents in the "V" formation.

Our first and best clue came from Francis X. Walsh, M.D., '63 of New Haven, Conn., who wrote to say "the man with the white wig or head cover is my father, William J. Walsh '34. The group could be the notorious 'Dorm Demons.' It is mentioned in my father's yearbook write-up that he was the leader of this group."

To the bookshelf in Assistant Editor Pam Reponen's office we marched, plucking the 1934 Purple Patcher off its perch. Sure enough, under Walsh's photo, the caption reads: "[William Walsh] first showed the stuff of which men are made as a member of the terrorizing 'Dorm Demons,' the Red Raiders of the Intramural League. As a member of this nefarious team, Willie received many honorable scars and usually looked like Johnnie when he came marching home."

Next we heard from Gene Renz '66 of Westerly, R.I. After conferring with his aunt, Marion Renz, Gene confirmed that the fourth person from the left is his father, the late E. Justin "Judd" Renz '33, grandfather of Justin Renz '93. (Also the uncle of Hilary J. Renz '71, and brother of A. Norbert Renz '36 and Hilary E. Renz '39.)

The 1933 Purple Patcher reveals that, indeed, Judd Renz was an intramural football and baseball player all four years on The Hill. His yearbook caption notes "He has been a leader in intramural athletics, a success in the classroom and a great chap to have as a friend." There was no mention of the "demonic" team, but an image almost identical to the one we are researching appeared, uncaptioned, in a photo collage at the end of the senior section.

Finally, we received word from Fred Long P99, of Provincetown, Mass., who wrote, "I believe this may be a fun photo of a Holy Cross football team back in the 1930s. I had an uncle, Walter F. Clifford '33, who was a quarterback for a team back then (not sure of the exact year), and I believe one of the players looks like him, based on the old photos I have seen." Sure enough, after comparing yearbook photos to the mystery image, we agree that the lad in the back with the football helmet looks like Clifford. Long conjectures that the students may be re-enacting a game-winning field goal kick his uncle made against Harvard.

But this final clue led us to sad news: According to Long, his uncle was "kicked in the kidney in a subsequent game and died shortly thereafter." In the Class of 1933 history, Clifford's classmates reference the incident with these words: "The continued absence of Walt Clifford, seriously ill, found us hoping and praying he would soon be himself again." On a tribute page later in the yearbook, the editors wrote "Covering a deep sincerity of purpose with a genial, good-natured exterior, [Clifford] fulfilled in every way the requisites of an ideal Holy Cross man. We miss Wally!"

Photo credit: Holy Cross Archives and Special Collections



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