Alumni
1930-1949

Eleanor B. Diekerson Hoppenstedt '34

After graduation taught school for three years and married in 1937. Left teaching to work with my husband as the office manager for his veterinary clinic. We just celebrated our 65th wedding anniversary this past August 2003.

Doris Lehman Achterkirchen '36

I enrolled at Skidmore in 1933 when it was a small women's college in the heart of Saratoga. I was an art history major for one and a half years and then decided I didn't have enough talent and changed to history. (It never occurred to me to mention in art history, if that was possible then). I was active on campus. I was chairman of the Discussion Club, in college chorus, on the debate team, and in my senior year president of college government. I was married right after graduation and moved to California from New York. I cooked for the Red Cross, served on the Board of the Episcopal Church Women of L.A., and worked as an advisor in the UCLA extension advisory office for twenty years. I took art and calligraphy classes at UCLA extension when I lived in the LA area and I still take classes in water color and do calligraphy. I currently serve on the vestry of my church.

Beatrice Swartfigure Sweeney '37

Live in Saratoga Springs, NY. When I graduated, jobs were scarce; history teachers were not in great demand. I, therefore, returned to Skidmore and obtained a BS in business. Shortly thereafter, I secured a position in accounting and about one and a half years later I was asked if I would be interested in a position as secretary to the Vocational Director at Skidmore. Married in 1942 and later children occupied my attention for several years. In 1969 my history background became very pertinent when I was appointed City Historian and also became volunteer director of the local history museum. Actually the position as City Historian could be listed as a volunteer position at that time. The office had a budget of $2,000 if anything was left over at the end of the year it was the salary; one year it was $32. (There now is a salary with the office). While I was involved with the museum (for 5 years) I obtained a grant to employ a consultant to change the museum from an attic type facility to one more suited to the 20th Century. History was again important when three of us formed the Preservation Foundation. As City Historian I placed over 80 building on the National Register. Established the first City Archives outside New York City so the State Archives informed us. Placed as Head of the Committee for the Preservation and Restoration of the Casino, I prepared a grant application for funds and received $115,000 to commence the work. Wrote the Saratoga Springs section of the Saratoga County Heritage, a bicentennial history of Saratoga County. Wrote a column on local history for The Saratogian. Co-author of the Bibliography of Research Materials on Saratoga Springs. Trustee of the Walworth Museum. Whenever we traveled we always visited nearby historical sites, etc. and spent much time in Williamsburg. As a result both children became history oriented. Our son majored in history and is now a professor of history; our daughter majored in Art History. I always felt that history added interest and depth to everyday existence. I was never bored

Charlotte Maxson Moore '38

Am fascinated by your letter requesting history majors to recount subsequent adventures in the field. I am one of the lucky ones for whom, in the 1930's, history came alive as we studied under Miss Irma Reed and Miss Grace Cockroft.. Miss Reed's Social and Intellectual History course was so exciting that I sat in on it the following year. Miss Cockroft's classes in British History and International Relations inspired me to go on to Cornell to obtain a Master's degree. Then, despite the dismay of family and friends, I, who had never been west of Niagara Falls, went "way out to South Dakota" to teach History, English, Latin and piano at St. Mary's Episcopal School for Indian Girls for a salary of fifty dollars a month plus room, board and laundry! During the first months of my Dakota years, I learned that my lack of race prejudice merely eased the path to cultural understanding! I, who had been helping to care for evacuated upper class English children, had much to learn! St. Mary's, contrary to schools run by the Government, valued Dakota as well as Anglo history and culture. As a family we, teachers and students, learned much from those like Ella Deloria, the daughter of Chief Tipi Sapa. Her background included work with professor Boaz at New York's Museum of Natural History and with the department of anthropology of Columbia University where she was asked to present her work as research specialist in American ethnology and linguistics. During my St. Mary's years I received the gift of acceptance into the Dakota system of extended family relationship which greatly enriched my life, when, as the wife of an Episcopal priest, I came in contact with those who lived on Reservations. On the Rosebud we were housed in one of the homes used by faculty members at Hare School for Boys before it was decided to have them attend the public school in the tiny village of Mission. It was September. I was enjoying the novelty of living quietly without responsibility for fifty girls. The door bell rang. There stood Father Barbour, the superintending presbyter of the Mission, with the principal of the school. My husband came in to join us as we sat comfortably drinking coffee. Without ado, they presented their problem. Two new seventh grade boys, Charles and Jerry, who had come from an isolated area of the Reservation had not been able to attend school regularly with the result that they were functioning on a third grade level. The small public school had no remedial program. Would I please consider teaching them on a full time basis? I couldn't say no. They came every morning as the others set off to the village. In lieu of tuition they swept my porch and helped around the house. Together we made learning an adventure. The following September the boys entered the public school on grade level in every subject except vocabulary. Since they were Episcopalians, I used the Book of Common Prayer for spelling and vocabulary as well as its historical background. They had reached the tenth grade level. Years later Jerry came to our home in Rapid City to ask for a recommendation for joining the FBI. For a few years we left the Indian field and settled on Long Island. In part to have money to take part in the cultural life of New York City, I studied at Bank Street College and learned the history of Long Island to enrich the lives of the brilliant children in a class in the Board of Cooperative Education's program for emotionally disturbed children. Unexpectedly, my husband was asked to serve the Navajo as Vicar of Navajo Good Shepherd Mission in Fort Defiance, Arizona. The decision to leave New York was a difficult one. As we drove across the country, we practiced the only Navajo word we knew: Chidi Bi tqo meant gasoline. Soon after we arrived, eight year old Wayne whose father, had been one of the Code Talkers during the war, came to the house for "a little help, please" with his math. As the children in the area discovered that I was a teacher, and often had a cookie to spare, so many came for help that we established an after school program with the cooperation of the public school. We called it Nihi Olta,(Our School) The children dubbed it "Richment". With the help of the staff, we conducted a bilingual program. For all of us it became a truly exciting adventure in learning. When we left the Reservation, one of the girls who had been a pupil stepped into my shoes! Upon my husbands retirement as Vicar of Good Shepherd Mission, we came to Alhambra, California and settled into the first home we had ever owned.. On my very first visit to the famed Huntington Library, Art Galleries an Gardens in San Marino, I KNEW that I had to be a Library Docent. For a score of years I have added and shared beauty and depth added to the foundation I acquired as one of the history majors in the class of 1938.

Betty S. Weiss '38

I will remember my history teachers with great affection. Lo these many years: Dr. Grace Cockroft, Dr. Warren, Dr. Reed. Wonderful ladies! I have been an active volunteer my whole life time - still am. Also a world traveler - that's where history has served me well, really well. I still go abroad yearly, often with my children and sometimes alone. I have lectured by invitation, occasionally in both public and private schools on my travels. That's history. The field of travel would benefit a history major.

Joyce Lisby '41

History! It was and remains my favorite all encompassing field of interest. Career: 1941-1946 taught social studies at the Bethlehem Central High School in Delmar, NY. Married and moved in 1946 to Bennington, VT, don't laugh, I ended up teaching kindergarten in Bennington until retirement. I have never published, edited or orated. I read. I have been scourged of reading "chick" books by my friends who prefer Gabaddon and Sheldon.

Viola E. Woodruff Opdahl '45

Hurley, NY just outside Kingston. Formal education beyond Skidmore: Masters Degree from Cornell University, additional graduate credits from Marist College, Poughkeepsie, NY, State University of New York at Albany. Career: First a teacher of American and European history (Social Studies) for thirty-nine years in several school districts as well as of psychology as an adjunct of Marist College for twelve years. Also worked as a member of committees to create courses of study in the social studies at the New York State Education Department as well as writing questions for the New York State Social Studies Regents examinations. Also was one of the supervisors for Social studies student teachers at SUNY New Paltz during the late 1980's and early 1990's. Close to home vocational activities of an historic blend: an archivist for the Ulster County Girl Scout Council and the local Hurley Heritage Museum. Member of the local chapter of the League of Women Voters.

Class of '49

Was on Dean's List and took an extra course each semester plus Summer School. Thus completed 4 year program in 3. Reside in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey with husband Herb (51 1/2 years) 3 children and 5 grandsons. Further Education: MA CCNY in Clinical Psychology. Certified in Elementary Education/ Teacher of the Handicapped and Psychology. Taught at a Special Education School in Teaneck, NJ which caters to bright but learning disabled students. Most continued on to college. It was a challenging and rewarding career which enabled me to combine motherhood with professionalism. Presently, retired though I cover the Special Education Department in Englewood Cliffs on substitute basis. Also, I volunteer in the Breast Center, the Emergency Room and the Courtesy Department at Englewood Hospital.

Jane R. Kalisch '49

I graduated in June, 1949. Living at home on Long Island, I could not find a Secondary School History position. I enrolled in N.Y. State University Intensive Teacher Training Program, (Farmingdale) a masters degree program qualifying Elementary School teachers. After two successful years of teaching, I married Robert B. Kalisch, a new graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Second Lieutenant, U.S. Air Force. We traveled to Mississippi, Texas, Ohio, California, Massachusetts, Alabama and Virginia. I qualified as a teacher in all states. My husband received his Masters degree in EE from Stanford University and in Math from Trinity University. With a Masters degree, I held positions of teacher, supervisor, counselor and reading specialist at the University of Dayton, Ohio. As a volunteer, I became the first woman Naval Academy Information Officer, interviewing candidates for the Admissions Department. My husband retired from the Air Force and entered the Natural Gas Industry. Traveling all over the world in the area of International gas, I became the American wife hosting committee functions. My knowledge of history and facility in French (French House at Skidmore) were my greatest assets. I was thrilled when the curator of the Cathedral at Saint Denis took my arm and reviewed the history of the French kings (in French). I understood it all. Another experience was when I hosted the International Gas Committee wives visiting in Washington. For them, I reviewed in French the history of the United States under the Capitol Dome. My son graduated from U.S. Naval Academy and holds a Masters degree in Logistics. He is an engineer for Toyota - General Motors. As far as the next generation of students is concerned, I found that factual knowledge, technical skill and facility in a language, other than English, were key factors in my life. My knowledge of history, my teaching skills and my facility in French gave me confidence to move in any region, on any level, to support family, educational and business projects alike. At age seventy-six, I am extremely grateful and proud of the productivity attributed to a major in History, Education and Language at Skidmore College.


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