In Memoriam: Remembering Those We Have Lost

Class of 1977 40th Reunion - Class Meetingf

Saturday, June 3, 2017 - Shafer Hall Living Room

Oirene_monroe_peyton_petty_memoriam_40threunionur 40th Reunion Class Meeting was an opportunity to honor those classmates who shall remain always in our memories, though no longer with us in person. Rev. Irene Monroe read Maya Angelou’s poem “When Great Trees Fall.” Peyton Morris Petty read a quotation of St. Bernard of Clairvaux and the poem “My Work Is Loving The World” by Mary Oliver. A chime was rung. Irene and Peyton alternated reading the names of our 29 classmates who had passed away since we entered Wellesley. A second chime was rung, and the memorial service ended with a moment of silence. Here follows remarks and readings that Irene and Peyton offered. You may read more about each of our deceased classmates here. ~ We invite you to add your comments to our class discussion group on Facebook Community - Wellesley Class of 1977.

 

 

 


"In Memoriam Reflection"

Remarks by Rev. Irene Monroe

www.irenemonroe.com @revimonroe
 

"Good morning, Classmates!

 

"This is a topic that’s never easy to broach no matter how frequently one deals with it. We meet this weekend to celebrate our 40th reunion. It’s a major milestone. But beneath the surface of happy events, meeting and greeting old friends, reminiscing and reliving old times, there runs a subtle undercurrent of sober reflection. 

We come to this moment now to remember and honor those who are no longer with us. There are those here who knew some of our departed classmates. Perhaps a few of you knew them all. What an imprint their footsteps have left upon our hearts because a portion of their souls are eternally entwined with ours.

As Peyton (Morris Petty) and I call out their names you might remember the classmate’s laughter, or remember her as the classmate who sat in the next seat to you in class, or lived across the hall, or took part in the same activities.

 

"When I think of Wellesley women, especially in light of the school’s mission that states we are “women who will make a difference in the world” I think of great trees. I have often heard growing up this phrase “The tallest tree in the forest,” referring to one’s actualized or potential greatness. Maya Angelou wrote a poem titled “When Great Trees Fall” that I hope will help us think about our classmates who have died – to remember them individually, to feel how they remain as inspiration in our lives, and to go on in the days to come, honoring them with our future actions and lives, and our continued dedication to being “women who will make a difference in the world."

 

When Great Trees Fall
by Maya Angelou (1928-2014)

 

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
examines,
gnaws on kind words
unsaid,
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
nurture,
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
radiance,
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold
caves.

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly.  Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed.  They existed.
We can be.  Be and be
better.  For they existed.

 

"I conclude by saying, one way we can honor our deceased classmates is by giving them immortality.  Remembering them, as we are doing today, does that.  As long as we, the living, remembe our classmates  they’ll continue to exist. And in so doing, we grant them immortality through the memory of calling out their names."

 

Peyton then read two selections for us.

 

Love seeks no cause beyond itself and no fruit; it is its own fruit, its own enjoyment. I love because I love; I love in order that I may love.  - Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153)

 

"My Work Is Loving The World"

by Mary Oliver (1935 - )

 

My work is loving the world
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird - 
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,

Which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

 

Irene and Peyton then read the names of the 29 classmates who have passed away since we arrived at Wellesley.

 

  •     Susan Lee "Lee" Campbell
  •     Gene Chen Kirkland
  •     Cynthia Chin
  •     Shirley Christian Hill
  •     Ellen "Ellie" Cope-Flanagan
  •     Patricia Davis Lynch
  •     Wanda Douglas Thigpen
  •     Jane Dowd
  •     Melanie Eichel
  •     Carol Eliasberg Martin
  •     Catherine Latham
  •     Marcia Lewis
  •     Dolly Tai-Lan Lo
  •     Elaine Makowski Makovska
  •     Ramona Meadors
  •     Carolyn Meskell Grayson
  •     Ellen Monsor
  •     Lynda Morris Thomas
  •     Nancy Mosher McMaster
  •     Cheryl Nicholas
  •     Mary Dianne "Diana" Phelps McGinity Wyatt
  •     Kathy Santilli Hayes
  •     Ann Smith Lofsky
  •     Sheila Tewksbury Morrison
  •     Margaret Tezak
  •     Laura Turoff James
  •     Cheryl Wallace Boyd
  •     Sheila Webb Collier
  •     Elizabeth Wilson Ayres

(Note: We learned after reunion of the death of classmate, and Davis Scholar, Elsie Ahlberg Dorain.)