The Role of the Class of 1946 in the Continuing Life and Future of the Willard Straight Rock Garden
The Class of 1946, in recognition of three reunions, their 40th, 45th and 50th, devoted funds from 1983 to 1996 to the improvement of the Willard Straight Rock Garden.
In the past, a number of individuals and groups have supported the garden in various ways, but this is the first entire class to have done so. Under the Office of University Development, the class raised funds for plantings, for development of the west or lower end of the garden and for an endowment fund assuring it's continued maintenance and improvement.
In the early 1980's at a time when the class was searching for a Cornell project to support, "Improvement of the Willard Straight Rock Garden" was listed as one Special Project for the class to consider. Class officers, Mavis Gillette Sand, Samuel W. Miller, Jr., Ruth Critchlow Blackman, Elinor Baier Kennedy and Thomas Madden chose to fund a gift of plantings. Patricia Kinne Paolella accepted the office of Class of 1946 Special Projects Chairperson. She worked tirelessly encouraging the support of classmates over the years.
She states that class members welcomed the goal of upkeep of the centrally located garden which they remembered from undergraduate days.They also welcomed the opportunity to support graduate students who would be doing the work of the upkeep. They were pleased to support a tangible asset, the garden, and at the same time invest in the human potential, Cornell graduate students.
By the time of their 40th Reunion in 1986, Dr. Robert G. Mower had supervised the choice and planting of trillium, iris, columbine and other plants. Dr. Mower, Chairman of the Department of Floriculture and Ornamental Horticulture, had been instrumental in the restoration and plantings over several decades. His students had planned improvement projects and done the work of the projects themselves. He documented a history of the garden, written in June of 1991.
By their 45th Reunion in 1991, with a $15,000 goal, the class had supported the improvement of the west end patio area at the lower end of the garden. A large Llenroc Bench with a plaque recognizing the class was added and a ceremony of acceptance by the University was held on June 8, 1991. Edgar A. Whiting '29 of Willard Straight Hall, 1930 to 1970, gave the address and W. Barlow Ware '47, of the Office of Special Projects accepted the gift for the University. Also, at this 45th Reunion, the class went on to vote continued support and to work for a $50,000 Endowment Fund to assure the continued maintenance and improvement of the garden.
With continued effort by Patricia Kinne Paolella, the Endowment Fund was completed in time for the 50th Reunion of the class in 1996. A total gift of $80,859 over the period of three reunions was recognized and accepted by Susan Murphy for the University as the Class of 1946's total contribution to the Willard Straight Rock Garden Special Project effort.
During the exceptionally beautiful weather of June 10, 2001 at a reception in the garden during their 55th Reunion, class members found the Willard Straight Rock Garden the tranquil, calm, beautiful glen that Dr. Mower had envisioned. Their Endowment Fund Gift should ensure continued care so that students, faculty, staff and visitors can enjoy the beauty and serenity for years to come.