Feature Stories Campus Events

Resolve to Return

Welcome in 2011 by signing up for Alumni Weekend 2011!

Scheduled for May 12-15, the event is for the classes of 1961, 1966, 1971, 1976, 1981, 1986, 1991, and 1996. The Alumni Office has blocked hotel rooms and will notify alumni when these rooms are released for reservation. At the end of January, alumni will receive the Alumni Weekend information packet and will be notified of online registration .

In the meantime, you can whet your appetite for the activities by visiting the Alumni Weekend website, where you’ll find the schedule for the weekend and can participate in a straw poll to let people know you’re coming (and to see who else from your class is planning to attend).

And as long as you’re turning the page on a new year this weekend, don’t forget the W&L desktop calendars featuring photographs from the campus. You can have new computer wallpaper for every month of 2011. Just go to the Desktop Calendar page to download the images.

Have a safe and happy New Year!

Temple Cone's New Book of Poems

Temple Cone, of the Class of 1995, has published his second collection of poems. , which was published this fall, won the 2010 Old Seventy Press Poetry Series Contest. We wrote about Temple’s first collection, No Loneliness, in 2009.

Three of Temple’s poems have also been nominated for the Pushcart Prize by the magazines in which they were published: “Cleansing,” nominated by Off the Coast; “Offertory,” nominated by Poetry Kanto; and “Oneliness,” nominated by Beloit Poetry Journal

Temple is an associate professor of English at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.

You can read some of Temple’s poems on his own website, Temple Cone, where he also blogs occasionally about topics ranging from Troy Polamalu’s Hair to Hip-Hop & Homer.

Farmer Matt

By day, Matt Strickler, of the Class of 2003, puts his Washington and Lee public policy major to work as the legislative assistant to Virginia State Senator Ralph S. Northam, a Democrat who represents District 6: the counties of Accomack, Mathews and Northampton and parts of Norfolk and Virginia Beach.

But in his spare time, Matt has become an oyster farmer on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. The Virginian-Pilotfeatured Old Plantation Oyster Company LLC, which Matt owns with a friend, Clark Mercer.

As the Pilot’s story relates, Matt studied aquaculture and sustainable development at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, a branch of the College of William and Mary. The oyster farm venture is putting that academic background into practice on Old Plantation Creek near Cape Charles, at a site on his grandparents’ estate.

Although Matt has taken a few samples of the oysters to special events in the area, Old Plantation has not sold any of its oysters yet. They anticipate that the 150,000 oysters in their first batch should reach market size this spring.

The short video below by Brian Clark of The Virginian-Pilot features an interview with Matt about his hobby. Have a look.

All in the Family

In a time when many daily newspapers are closing their doors, the Columbia Daily Tribune in Columbia, Mo., is staying open, and in the family. First published in 1901, the paper has been owned by the Waters and Watson families since 1904 and is currently owned by W&L alumnus Hank Waters, of the class of 1951. Earlier this month, the paper announced an agreement that keeps its ownership  in the Waters family for the foreseeable future.

Under the agreement, Andy Waters, a 1991 W&L graduate, and his sister, Elizabeth — Hank’s two youngest children— are buying out four other family members to take full ownership of the newspaper and publishing company on Jan. 1, 2011.

Hank will become publisher emeritus and continue writing editorials while his wife, associate publisher Vicki Russell, will become publisher. Andy Waters gives up his current title as vice president for interactive media and becomes president and general manager. Hank’s two other children will retire.

Family newspapers don’t always stay in families. That fact was noted by the executive director of the Missouri Press Association in the Daily Tribune’s article on the ownership change. Doug Crews noted that “There are times when families, several individuals, can’t agree what to do in the future. The temptation is to throw up their hands and say, ‘Let’s sell the newspaper.’ ”

The decision clearly pleased Hank. In his column on Dec. 22, he wrote: “As the current reigning patriarch, I am proud of my descendants for working out a mutually agreeable transfer of Tribune ownership.” He went on to note that his columns will continue: “Through all of this, the owners have not been able to get rid of their aging meddler, the prolific if not always brilliant writer of this column.”

Andy, a journalism and mass communications major at W&L, had been a reporter with Associated Press prior to joining the family business in 1995.

Stories of the Semester

Iowa Connection

As new Iowa Governor-elect Terry Branstad fills positions in his new government, it’s clear that we’ll need to establish a Washington and Lee alumni chapter in the state capitol in Des Moines.

First, Gov.-elect Brandstad announced that he is retaining Donna Mueller, a 1979 graduate of the W&L School of Law, as chief executive officer of the giant Iowa Public Employees’ Retirement System. Gov.-elect Brandstad is keeping Donna in the post she has held since 2003. The IPERS system is a public pension fund for state and local government workers. It has more than 300,000 members, 2,200 participating employers, and assets in excess of $21 billion. The director of the independent agency is responsible for overseeing operations, investments and benefits paid through the program. Donna previously headed the Boston Retirement Board. In addition to her W&L law degree, she is a graduate of the John F. Kennedy School of Government’s Program for Senior Executives at Harvard University.

Then, one day later, the governor-elect named Sam Lanholz, a member of the Class of 2002, as the Iowa State Public Defender. A politics major at W&L, Sam received his law degree from the University of Iowa, where he was managing editor of the “Iowa Law Review.” He is the Founding President of the Iowa Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society and an active member of the Iowa State Bar Association. He has previously served as a prosecuting intern in the Muscatine County Attorney’s Office and judicial law clerk based in Des Moines for Judge Steven M. Colloton in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Prior to law school, Sam served as Chief Floor Assistant for then-U.S. House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO). He is currently an associate attorney at Davis, Brown, Koehn, Shores & Roberts, P.C. in Des Moines.

The Iowa State Public Defender coordinates legal representation for those who come under arrest and cannot afford their legal representation. Either the State Public Defender’s offices or private attorneys who are contracted by State Public Defender’s office provide the representation for these individuals.

Six Million Barrels

Earlier this month, Heaven Hill Distilleries, in Bardstown, Ky., celebrated its 75th anniversary on the same day that it filled its six-millionth barrel of bourbon. Presiding over the celebration was Heaven Hill president Max L. Shapira, a member of Washington and Lee’s Class of 1965.

Max is the third generation of his family to own and operate the distillery, which is the nation’s largest independent, family-owned, distilled-spirits producer, and the world’s second-largest holder of aging Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey.

In an interview with Fox 41 TV in Louisville, Max admitted that the decision the five Shapira brothers made to start a company in the middle of the Great Depression was risky, but he also said that the benefits of running a family business are significant.

Said Max: “It provides us with the flexibility to run our business as we think it should be run over the long term. We are indeed here for the long term. The bourbon industry is all about thinking into the long term and the future. We age our product years and years, so the long-term perspective is what’s important to us.”

Watch the Channel 41 broadcast here.

Max represents the third generation of Shapiras in the business. Three years ago, a fourth generation entered the picture when Max’s son, Andy Shapira, of the Class of 1996, joined Heaven Hill as director of sales analysis.

Heaven Hill produces and markets national brands in every category of distilled spirits. You can see their category leaders on the website. The company was also voted best distiller in the U.S. in both 2008 and 2009, the first time a distillery had won that award from Whisky Magazine in consecutive years.

It's the Real Thing

For Washington and Lee alumnus William Frank Barron Jr., things always did go better with Coke.

A member of W&L’s Class of 1952, Frank belongs to a family that was the Coca-Cola bottler in Rome, Ga., for 85 years. His grandfather started the company in 1901, and, according to “Your Friendly Neighbor”: The Story of
Georgia’s Coca-Cola Bottling Families
, the Barrons’ operations in Rome and Cartersville once boasted the highest per-capita consumption for Coca-Cola in the country.

Frank joined the family business in 1956. When the franchise was sold in 1986, he kept a treasure trove of Coke memorabilia. Earlier this year, he gave much of that material to the Rome Area History Museum, where it has become part of a permanent exhibit that documents not only the history of Coca-Cola but also the history of one of Rome’s preeminent families. A feature story in the Rome News-Tribune describes the exhibit as containing “hundreds of old glass bottles, chairs, signs, hats, a camera, radio, toys and a slew of other products bearing the distinctive Coca-Cola colors and logo.” In all, the collection boasts more than 1,000 items. Frank did set aside a few special items for himself.

After all, he and his family had a special relationship with the beverage. As he told the Rome News-Tribune, “Coca-Cola is such a unique product. There is almost a love affair that people have with it. It reminds people of their youth. It was cold and tasted so good. It was a treat. It’s a great memory for so many people. These things . . . this stuff . . . it takes you back.”

Who Is Alexis Hawley?

The answer: A Washington and Lee law alumna who competed on “Jeopardy!” earlier this month.

The question: Who is Alex Hawley, a 2009 graduate of the W&L School of Law?

She finished second on the “Jeopardy!” program that aired on Dec. 15, 2010. An associate in the Labor & Employment Practice Group of Seyfarth Shaw L.L.P., in Chicago, Alex received her undergraduate degree from Dartmouth and is from Winter Park, Fla. Alex (named for television villain Alexis Carrington of “Dynasty,” as we discovered in her introduction) was leading her two opponents at the first commercial break but finished third, $1,000 out of second place, after Double Jeopardy! The eventual champion correctly answered the Final Jeopardy! answer, while neither Alexis nor the third competitor was correct with their responses.

Believe it or not, you can see the entire play-by-play of Alex’s appearance online at a website devoted to “Jeopardy!” But before you peek, see whether you would have answered the Final Jeopardy! question correctly. The category was British Royalty. The question: “From the Latin ‘the greatest,’ this form of address was introduced by the narcissistic King Richard II.”

Decorating Hermés

When Hermés New York began looking for a different design for the holiday windows of its Madison Avenue store, they turned to Washington and Lee alumnus Charlie Baker, of the Class of 2004. Charlie’s work, which uses twigs and felled trees from the beaches of Long Island, is featured in an article in Thursday’s New York Times. (Thanks to Caitlin Hagan ’05 for her tweet calling attention to the story.)

Charlie, who studied landscape design at the New York Botanical Garden, has his own company, Baker Structures, which specializes in patios, gazebos, arbors, pergolas, gates and decks. He has become known for using unpeeled cedar sculptural driftwood, reclaimed lumber, stone and plant materials to create his designs. After his work was featured in Connecticut Cottages and Gardens last summer, Hermés called.

The assignment, according to the piece in the Times, was to create a design based on a line of porcelain plates and teacups. That led Charlie to develop what he called a “crazy everything-growing-together-into-something way.” You can see two of the windows on the Times website at this link and this link. Anyone who happens to be shopping in New York this season, please snap a photo of the windows and send it our way.

A Spanish major at W&L, Charlie comes by his artistic talents honestly: his father is a New York-based fashion and fine-art photographer, and his mother owns and operates Martha Baker Landscape Design in Greenwich, Conn.