Coming Together Over Chili

by Felix Grossman '56


In about 1998 or so, when I was on the Executive Committee of the Society of Alumni, one of our missions was to make the alumni more relevant to the regular college population. It was always my desire when visiting campus to spend as much time as I could with students and not just hang around with fellow alumni, which is what most members did. I would go to the pool and work out with the dive team and spend time with Coach Steve Kuster (and Coach Carl Samuelson before him) and some of the swimmers and divers. I loved to take some of the students out for dinner or have them meet us at the Orchards for breakfast. To me, an alumni weekend was also filled with getting to know the students and some of the faculty. 

I noted this to the Executive Committee and tried to get them to think about ways to promote more alumni-student relationships. Somewhere along the way I came up with the idea of the alumni providing some great chili to all students (really to everyone) at the homecoming game. Everyone seemed to like the idea, and that was that. Nothing more was said. A few months later Wendy Hopkins ’72 called me and asked if I was coming to Homecoming Weekend. I hadn't planned to. She said, "Well, Felix, we're going forward and throwing your Chili Fest.” I was flabbergasted and delighted. It has been a tradition ever since. Of course, it has developed into something quite special over the years. 

My bottom line - I am hoping that my wife, Bev, and I can be there for this year’s Homecoming game and the Bicentennial Celebrations that weekend. It should be a very special event for each and every Williams constituency — alumni, students, administration, faculty, staff, athletic teams and local residents. 

Homecoming 2021 schedule here.

Smiling While Serving

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