May 9, 2009

Alum Sponsors Chimes Concert in Late Friend's Honor

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In order to welcome the newly selected members and bid farewell to the departing seniors, the chimesmasters held their annual special concert during finals week followed by a dinner on Monday. While maintaining traditions, the concert and dinner provided a new service as they were sponsored by a Cornell alumnus in the honor of his friend and fellow Cornell alumnus who died last August.

Edward Trethaway ’49 was looking to pay tribute to his late friend Reed McJunkin ’32 since his death on Aug. 10, 2008 — just under two months shy of his 100th birthday.

“I thought it would be fitting to do something … for Reed McJunkin,” Trethaway said.

After graduating from the College of Engineering, McJunkin remained active in Cornell affairs as an alumnus. In addition to serving as the president and trustee of the J. M. McDonald Foundation — which, according to its website, is dedicated to providing educational programs for individuals with physical and mental disabilities in upstate New York — McJunkin also served two terms on the Cornell University Council and as president of the Cornell Club of Cortland County. Additionally, McJunkin was a “retail executive and gentleman dairy farmer” who donated his award-winning Guernsey cattle herd and farmlands to the University in honor of Cornell’s dairy farm, according to material provided by Trethaway.

While the two did not attend Cornell at the same time, Trethaway and McJunkin first met at a homecoming in 1946; Trethaway was a sophomore at the time and McJunkin was attending as an alumnus. Both Trethaway and McJunkin were brothers of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity, and their friendship began to grow as they both remained active in the fraternity community as alumni.

In 1958, Trethaway explained that the fraternity was in need of a new house and both he and McJunkin helped raise money to build the new house on the corner of University Ave. and Stewart Ave.

The chimesmasters played six songs during their special concert, four of which were requested by Trethaway in honor of McJunkin — “Last Night on the Back Porch,” “Moonlight Roses,” I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen,” and “Under the Bamboo Tree.”

“I was just trying to pick songs that had some significance to Reed as far as I knew,” Trethaway said.

Trethaway noted that one of McJunkin’s favorite weekend activities was going to the bars after the football games to sing songs similar to the ones played by the chimesmasters Monday night.

With Trethaway’s special requests, some chimesmastes had to put in more work than usual, according to Marisa LaFalce, project coordinator. For instance, the first song, “Last Night on the Back Porch,” was specially arranged by Sam Birmaher ’10, one of the chimesmasters.

During a special dinner sponsored by Trethaway, the two new chimesmasters, Ivana Thng ’12 and Claire Tse ’12, were presented with certificates signed by President David Skorton. The current president traditionally signs the certificates of the newly inducted chimesmasters, because, according to LaFalce, the first chimesmaster was appointed by Cornell’s first president A. D. White.

LaFalce said the annual dinner was a rare opportunity for all chimesmasters to get together. She said that even though the new members are tutored by veterans, the newly appointed ones had not met all of the previous chimesmasters.

“It’s one of the few times where we get together,” Wayne Kim ’09 said.

Birmaher said that it was a nice way to bring together all the people who were leaving and joining the community of chimesmasters.

While the chimesmasters might be confined to the upper stories of McGraw Tower, Trethaway said that the chimes are an important part of every Cornell student’s experience. He added that McJunkin was no exception. Since he certainly enjoyed the chimes during his time on campus, Trethaway thought it was appropriate to sponsor the concert in his honor.