Fifty Years of Eph Connections

by Herbert Ogden '69

What I treasured about Williams when I graduated in 1969 was the beauty of its natural and built surroundings, the excellence of its academics and the friends I made there. As I look back now, I find it  unfortunate that it was all male until senior year. Having attended an all-male prep school, I initially didn't realize how much better my Williams experience would have been if women had been  admitted earlier. Only when I took a leave of absence to spend a coed junior year in Munich did I realize what Williams was missing and why some of my fellow students' attitudes toward women (at least as expressed) were so problematic.  

My connection with Williams continued right after graduation in an unusual way: At graduation, I was seated next to Tom Parker '69, a fellow I knew from our freshman entry in Sage Hall. Making conversation, one of us asked the other what he was doing the next year. We found out we were both teaching at Detroit Country Day School, in Birmingham, Mich. We wound up sharing a house for two years and touring Great Britain, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway the summer after our first year of teaching. We have kept in touch ever since.

A later connection came when I agreed to coach the Williams student Law Society's mock trial team in 2013.  This was several years before I began to retire from my trial law practice, and it took a lot of time when I didn't always have a lot, but it was great fun to get to know the current Williams students. I was very impressed with the variety of classes and activities they were engaged in and marveled at how they had time to do all that and still get any sleep.  

Herbet Ogden on a Williams travel trip in Switzerland

In 2016 I experienced a Williams connection of a different sort: an alumni trip to Switzerland led by Prof. Reinhart "Bud" Wobus, a geology professor whose class I had taken 50 years earlier.  Geology was the only science I ever liked, and his geological tour of the Alps was wonderful, as was the company of other alumni. The photo is near the Matterhorn. I was happy to help out some with my knowledge of German, which I learned at Williams and taught for 10 years before going to law school. Bud then let me audit his introductory class. It had changed a lot in a half century. When I first took it, plate tectonics was merely a theory. I wonder what it will look like in another 50 years.

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