Alumni share memories of beloved professor

Nearly one year to the day of his passing, former students of the late Professor Emeritus of Psychology Harve Rawson gathered this past weekend to celebrate his life and legacy at Hanover. Rawson died July 20, 2011.

The weekend began with a wine and cheese reception Friday evening, followed by a day of activities Saturday, including a visit to Englishton Park, the academic remediation and training center founded by Rawson in 1970.

More than 50 people spent the two days renewing old friendships and sharing memories of their beloved professor, many of whom did so at a picnic in the Science Center lobby Saturday evening.

Lisa McCloud Barnett ’88, who along with her husband, Tom ’90, has served as co-director of Englishton Park for the past 28 years, taking over from Rawson himself. She told the story of how one year at the camp, Rawson made the mistake of saying the character, “Captain English,” that he used to encourage the children to do well, had been dead for a long time.

When the staff pointed out his error, Rawson pounded his fist on a desk and uttered an expletive several times, because he realized he needed a fix for the end of the week when the staff presented awards to the children from the captain.

“He certainly wasn’t afraid to laugh at himself,” said Lisa Barnett. “He would get very aggravated and frustrated with himself. (But) he wasn’t embarrassed; he just said it was the grandfather who had died (instead).”

Tom Barnettremembered how Katherine Parker, wife of former Hanover President Albert G. Parker, was a generous donor of Englishton Park. Heshared how one day, when Rawson was enjoying an afternoon swim at the camp’s pool, and Mrs. Parker drove up to the pool, when he jumped up to greet her, he did so without his swim trunks.

“Now, I have no idea if that story is true,” said Tom Barnett amidst lots of laughter. “But Harve told it.”

Bob Bringle ’69 told the story about the time former President John Horner wrote a recommendation for Rawson, but gave him an unflattering one, calling Rawson a disappointment, among other things.

“Yep, that’s exactly what I thought,” said Rawson, according to Bringle. “The thing I’ve heard about President Horner is he writes negative letters for people he wants to keep and positive letters for people he wants to get rid of.”

Bringle added, “I hope the presidency of Hanover now has a different set of ethical values guiding it.],” to roaring laughter.

“Dr. Rawson was one of those people that made you feel as if he was yours,” said Phoebe Maximiac Crane ’69. “He treated you so specially that (you wondered) how could he possibly have the time to do that with everybody, but he did.”

Arguably the most touching memory, whose feeling was shared by all present, was one from Abby Dormire Powers ‘79.
She said how Rawson helped her during a turning point in her life, the summer after her senior year.

“After graduating from Hanover, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do,” said Powers. “But when I worked with the kids at Englishton (Park), I knew that was the career path I wanted to take.”

Rawson suggested either school psychology or social work; Powers chose the former and eventually earned her doctorate at Ball State University. She’s worked with children and families ever since.

“Dr. Rawson’s enthusiasm and tireless efforts on behalf of kids were such an inspiration to me,” she said, choking back tears. “He was the best mentor anyone could have and I’ll always be grateful to him.”