We wish to honor our cherished CHA and Springside teachers and other school personnel who are no longer with us – and could use your help. Any contributions of photos and notes about these individuals will be greatly appreciated.
Daniel W. Charles, 63, of 1711 Wolcott Drive, Chestnut Hill (Philadelphia), died in his home Wednesday morning. He had been under the care of a physician for the past eight weeks.
Born in Manor Twp. [Lancaster County], he was the son of the late Harry D. and Heddie Flory Charles. His wife, Mary Helen Becker Charles, died July 4.
For the past 30 years he was a history teacher at Boys Academy, Chestnut Hill. He was a member of St. George Episcopal Church, Chestnut Hill.
He is survived by a daughter, Carol, wife of Donald Toust, Langhorne, and one grandson.
He is also survived by two brothers and two sisters: H. Omer Charles, Millersville; J. Lloyd Charles, Lancaster; Marian C., wife of Landis C. Kreider, Stevens; and Mrs. Rhoda Shenk, Lititz.
— Lancaster New Era (Lancaster, PA), 1 Nov. 1973, Thurs.
[Webmaster's note: Besides the obvious misnomer of “Boys Academy,” the article misplaces St. George Episcopal Church, which is actually located in Ardmore, PA. The home address is also printed wrong; it should be 711-B Wolcott Dr., which is off of Valley Green Rd. very near to CHA.]
On Oct. 31, 1973, DANIEL W., of 711 Wolcott Drive, Chestnut Hill, husband of the late Mary Helen Charles (née Becker), and father of Carol Poust. Services Sat., 10 a.m. at Jacob F. Ruth’s, 8413 Germantown Ave., Chestnut Hill. Int. Whitemarsh Memorial Park. Friends may call Fri. eve., 7-9. Memorials may be sent to the Chestnut Hill Hospital, (Parking on premises).
— The Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, PA), 1 Nov. 1973, Thurs.
(classmate comments are invited)
Albert B. Conkey Jr., 86, a musician and former Chestnut Hill Academy faculty member, died of pneumonia Sunday at the Hanover (N.H.) Terrace HealthCare.
Born on 17 April 1913 in Lakewood, Ohio, Mr. Conkey retired to New England in 1978. For 38 years, he was on the music faculty at Chestnut Hill Academy in Philadelphia and served as head of the creative-arts department. He founded the Chestnut Hill Community Orchestra and Chorus and served the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill as organist and choir director for 18 years.
Mr. Conkey wrote musical composition for community and school groups. He was also a music critic for several publications. His many musical contributions were recognized in 1971 when he was named Chestnut Hill Man of the Year.
He received degrees from the University of Chicago and the Longy School of Music at Bard College in Cambridge, Mass.
Mr. Conkey is survived by his wife and fellow musician, Alice Wright Conkey; a sister, Jane C. Sundheim; daughters Margaret, Jane, Laura, Frances C. Trafton and Mary Adelaide Mankins; 10 grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.
According to his wishes, Mr. Conkey’s body was donated to the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine in Biddeford, Maine. A memorial service will be scheduled.
The family suggests that any memorials be contributions to the Damariscotta Lake and Watershed Association, Damariscotta, Maine 04543.
— The Philadelphia Inquirer, 10 Feb. 2000.
"Al Conkey was more than a teacher, he was also a good friend and mentor. I visited him and his wife, Alice, a number of times at their home in Erdenheim. They had a pair of Steinway grands facing each other, which as you can imagine dominated their living room. It was a real treat when the two of them played a concerto for me on the two pianos."
— Ian Mills, music student, Glee Club and Octet member.
(classmate comments are invited)
Alexander M. Dowbenko has won the Shuttleworth Award four times. That the classes of ’71, ’72, ’73, and ’74 would independently vote to recognize him with this award is a monumental tribute. The Shuttleworth Award is perhaps the most prestigious honor that CHA students can bestow upon a faculty member. The winners are reserved a prime place in CHA’s history.
Alexander Dowbenko is a legend at CHA. From his arrival in 1958 to his departure sixteen years later, he had a unique influence on his students who seemed to be under the impression that "Dowby" was at CHA just for them. He was. Gifted with the ability to make big problems seem small and small problems non-existent, Mr. Dowbenko never lost faith in his students and their abilities to achieve their goals.
As his students grew older and went onto the Upper School and college, they continued to seek out his advice and counsel. When asked who his most influential teacher was, teacher and Shuttleworth Award winner Stan Parker ’68 replied, “Al Dowbenko – my third grade teacher. He was always there for me when I was in trouble.”
— CHA News (date unknown).
(classmate comments are invited)
Christopher Richard Lowell, beloved husband, daddy, step-dad, teacher, student, historian, mentor, adviser, friend, linguist, drummer, chef, Francophile, ham, mensch, actor, director, and international performer took his final bow on Bastille Day, July 14, 2020.
Born October 11, 1942 in New York City to parents Richard and Norma, he studied French and theatre, earning degrees from Dickinson College and Colgate University. Lifelong scholar, teacher, and actor, Chris mentored countless students and actors.
In his last fifteen years, he brought the life, philosophy, wit, and accomplishments of Benjamin Franklin to audiences across the United States and France. Chris’ interwoven passions for France, theatre, history, and language arose from a deep affection, a fascination, for people.
While his passions drove him to pursue excellence in every undertaking, his deeply humanist side was what made him a generous actor-director, careful and insightful historian, and beloved teacher and mentor, well beyond the collective forty-two years he spent on faculty at Cazenovia High School (Cazenovia, NY), Chestnut Hill Academy (Philadelphia, PA), Fountain Valley School of Colorado (Colorado Springs, CO), Lycée Amiral Ronac’h (Brest, France), Williston Northampton (Easthampton, MA), and the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (Colorado Springs, CO).
He will be remembered for his quick wit, easy laugh, embrace of all things cultural, the quality of his relationships, and the intense personal presence he devoted to everyone, years after professional responsibility dictated. For those in his life, he forever offered his heart and house. Chris’ family will treasure the boundless love, inspiration, encouragement, support, and culinary delights he provided.
He will be greatly missed by all, especially by his surviving wife, Sue; his kids, Laura, Barbi, and Jennifer; his step-kids, Burton and Clara; and his nine grandkids.
A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date when an in-person gathering can offer more joy than risk.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Chris’ memory may be made to the UCCS Theatreworks (Colorado Springs), Fountain Valley School of Colorado, or Pikes Peak Hospice Foundation.
— The Gazette (Colorado Springs), July 19, 2020.
“He was an excellent colleague and very quick witted. I remember once he laid into a student who had mocked an easily mockable fellow teacher, the Latiniste Ignatius "Lou" Stojowski. What a performance. We (there were a couple of other teachers there) were all stunned because it was a bit out of character for Chris to be enraged. When he had finished, we all stood stunned and chastened. And then, after a pause he walked away in a perfect imitation of Lou’s walk. His verbal mimicry was the best I ever knew. Another teacher, Stan Szczurek, was from middle Europe (I think possibly Czechoslovakia). Stan spoke excellent English with the slightest of accents and Chris had a bit where he played Stan explaining that he didn't have an accent with his accent. We, fellow faculty at a time when unprofessional behavior ran rampant, were amused.
He was truly a dedicated teacher at a time of mightily low salaries. Over the years post-CHA, I ran into him at occasional national teacher conferences. Once he tried and almost succeeded in recruiting me to a school in Colorado. He is a colleague I will always remember with fondness.
I recently remembered Chris Lowell’s definition of an expert as, ‘A son of a bitch from out-of-state with slides.’ They would drone at us at various conferences.”
— John McIlvain (faculty), 24 July 2020.
“In addition to his acting ability, Chris was an excellent rackets man, especially squash which I'm sure he helped coach. He was a member of a strong Language Dept. that included Jonathan French, Ted Wright and Ted Rorer. Good memories of Chris.”
— Jim Talbot (faculty), 24 July 2020.
“Chris was a terrific friend, colleague, and mentor to me. I have so many wonderful memories of Chris, both during our time together at CHA and long thereafter. I was fortunate enough to be a colleague of his in a collegial French department consisting of Chris, Ted Wright, Jonathan French and me. We had a great time together both professionally and socially.
Nothing I can say here will do justice to the friendship that Chris and I enjoyed, and I am terribly saddened by his passing. Here are a couple of vignettes that I will share with you. After leaving my teaching role at CHA, I attended Wharton to get my MBA. I was in a marketing class and was charged with developing an advertising campaign for a consumer product. I recruited John McIlvain to produce a 30-second TV spot and, of course, recruited Chris to be the actor in the piece. The film was a smash hit and helped me secure a good grade in the class.
A while later, my wife and I had moved to Washington Crossing, and I had endured an athletic accident (squash ball direct hit in the eye — long before protective eyeware was found to be a good idea). The protocol for the injury was to have patches on both eyes and to lie perfectly still, flat on one’s back, in bed for one week. One evening during the ordeal there was a knock at the door — and there was Chris Lowell, who had driven out to Bucks County, one hour away, for a supportive visit. I was blown away by his thoughtfulness.
In the many years since then, Chris and I have stayed in touch, often exchanging emails to catch up on what was going on in our lives. I hadn't heard from him lately and am chagrined that I hadn't reached out to him in the past several months. He was indeed a star and I cherish the moments we had together.”
— Ted Rorer (faculty), 24 July 2020.
“I remember well his good sense of humor, his acting ability, and his amazing gift for accents.
When I was putting together a slide show of my natural history photographs for Creative Expression Night, I asked Chris to provide a narrative of a boring teacher droning on and on. In retrospect, I realize that could have been an insulting request, but he didn't take it that way and rose to the occasion magnificently. As the tape deck rolled (yes, in the days of reel-to-reel), he droned on for 15 or 20 minutes without a script and with all kinds of self-mocking pretention and funny double-entendres imbedded in his off-the-cuff narrative. It was just what I had hoped for, and better.
About ten years ago, he contacted me to see if I could help him find acting jobs in Philadelphia where he could impersonate Ben Franklin. I regret that I was never able to do so (since there was already quite a supply of such actors in Philadelphia). But I enjoyed catching up with him by phone. He was a good teacher and a very caring person.”
— Bob Peck (classmate), 24 July 2020.
“Watching Christopher Lowell play Shylock in Theatreworks’ 2011 production of ‘The Merchant of Venice’ under the tent at Rock Ledge Ranch was transformative for me. I had never really understood Shylock before. Indeed, I had never understood Shakespeare as clearly before. When Shakespeare’s words came out of Christopher’s mouth, it was like they were being translated into a language I could instantly comprehend.
I was happy to award Christopher my final Denver Post Ovation Award for Outstanding Actor in a Drama. Christopher was a titan in the Colorado Springs theatre community. Word came down today that Christopher has passed away, and we are all the poorer for it. While he played bad guys like Shylock as if he was wearing a second skin, as Murray Ross once put it: ‘In another life, he might even have been as lovable as Ben Franklin’ (another favorite role). R.I.P., Christopher.”
— John Moore Theatre Coverage, 15 July 2020.
(classmate comments are invited)
McGlinn James F., 73, Tafton, PA died at 2:45 p.m. on Saturday, December 22, 2007 at Reading Hospital, in the company of loving family, after battling lung cancer since May of 2007.
Born in Reading, PA on November 15, 1934, he was the son of the late John F., Sr. and Elizabeth (Ganly) McGlinn. Jim attended Reading Central Catholic High School and graduated from St. Vincent Preparatory School, Latrobe, PA in 1952. He graduated from St. Joseph’s University, Philadelphia in 1957.
After serving in the U.S. Army Reserves, he was employed by Chestnut Hill Academy, Philadelphia as a teacher, coach and athletic director for 28 years. Subsequently, he owned and operated Liberty Bell Communications in Chestnut Hill, PA.
Spending summers as a camper at the former Camp Lenape on Fairview Lake in Tafton, PA in his youth, Jim continued on as a counselor and head counselor, spending a total of 25 years at the camp. A recreational pilot, Jim served for a few years as president of Wings Field, a social club for flight enthusiasts near Philadelphia.
Jim’s love of nature and the Pocono Mountain area led him to retire in Tafton along Lake Wallenpaupack. A member of St. Veronica’s Catholic Church near Tafton, he was a lector and a Eucharistic Minister.
He was an active member of the Tafton Fire Company, serving for a time as president and on the board of directors. He also was active on the Lake Wallenpaupack Lakewatch Association, serving on its board. He was also Flotilla Commander, U. S. Coast Guard Auxiliary 15-04, Scranton, PA.
Jim also enjoyed ten winters in Bonita Beach, FL. He is survived by a sister, Betty Anne McGlinn-Strobel, Whitfield; and two brothers, John F. McGlinn, Jr., Naples, FL and Terrence J. McGlinn, Sr., Sinking Spring, PA. Fourteen nieces and nephews also survive him.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Thursday at 10 a.m. in St. Ignatius Roman Catholic Church, Whitfield. Entombment will be in Gethsemane Cemetery. Friends may call Wednesday from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in Edward J. Kuhn Funeral Home, Inc., 739 Penn Avenue West Reading, and Thursday from 9 to 10 A.M. in St. Ignatius Church.
Contributions may be made to the McGlinn Cancer Center, c/o Reading Hospital, P.O. Box 16052, Reading, PA 19612 or to the Tafton Fire Company, P.O. Box 5, Tafton, PA 18464. Online condolences may be recorded at www.kuhnfuneralhome.com
— The Philadelphia Inquirer, 27 Dec. 2007.
(classmate comments are invited)
E. Perot Walker, 89, a teacher who fired the imaginations of generations of students at Chestnut Hill Academy, died April 7 of complications associated with Parkinson’s disease at Cathedral Village, a retirement community in Roxborough. Before moving to Cathedral Village about five years ago, Mr. Walker had been a long-time resident of Lafayette Hill.
Former students say Mr. Walker seemed to have stepped right out of Central Casting and into the classroom when he started teaching at Chestnut Hill Academy in 1948. Actually, he had stepped out of the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in history in 1938 after growing up on the Main Line and graduating from the Haverford School. He taught at private schools in Ohio and New York before joining the faculty at Chestnut Hill Academy, where he first taught fifth grade, then sixth, including Latin, biology, and general studies. He retired from full-time teaching in 1979 but continued to teach as a substitute for another 10 years.
“His class was a greenhouse,” said Christian Thompson, 38, a sixth-grade student of Mr. Walker’s, who is now an editor of Bloomberg News. “His discussions were erudite, his patience was inexhaustible. His best material was history and literature, and he took us, a bunch of 12-year-old boys, on a fantastic trip through awakening and knowledge.”
Mr. Walker, habitually dressed in a gray suit and bow tie, operated in a funky, wonderfully unsterile classroom that was, at one time or another, cluttered with Victorian paintings and portraits, a cuckoo clock, a live parrot, a roll-top desk, and other artifacts that reflected his travels, readings, and beliefs. “It was like a museum,” Thompson said.
But he was more than a conservative dresser whose classroom was a warehouse for show-and-tell items. He was the kind of teacher who made an impression; who influenced the lives of his students. “I was going to bring my new wife to meet him,” Thompson said. “Mr. Walker made me the man I am today.”
Outside the classroom, Mr. Walker was active with the Morris Arboretum. He belonged to the St. Andrews Society and the Society of Colonial Wars. He is survived by a brother, Nicholas, and a sister, Helen Kenefick. His wife of more than 40 years, Elizabeth, died in 2000. Services were held at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Memorial donations may be made to Chestnut Hill Academy, in care of Betsy Longstreth, director of development, 500 W. Willow Grove Ave., Philadelphia 19118.
— The Cliff Island Seagull, Summer 2002.
“Perot was the most influential teacher, especially our nature awareness classes in Carpenter Woods for all the birds.”
— Paul Warren (classmate)
(classmate comments are invited)
Theodore Craig “Ted” Wright, 85, died on December 8, 2012 at Wesley Enhanced Living at Stapeley in Philadelphia after a long illness.
Ted, son of Mary Craig and John Stapler Wright, was born in Trenton, NJ, graduated from George School (1945), Haverford College (B.A. in French, 1949), and earned a Master’s Degree in French from Yale University (1956).
Before and after serving in the U.S. Army stationed in Germany, where he coordinated U.S. military and civilian educational programs, he taught French and coached football and baseball at George School, St. George’s School (RI), and Peddie School (NJ).
Ted had a 26-year career at Chestnut Hill Academy serving as French teacher, Foreign Language Department Chair, Director of College Counseling, and football, baseball, squash, and basketball coach. He received the Landreth and Athletic Director’s Awards, a Trustee Fellowship, was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame, and was an Honorary Alumnus. He then worked with Lincoln Investment Planning as a CFP until 2001, when he suffered a stroke. In recognition of his productivity at Lincoln, he received numerous President’s Club Awards and was a member of the Hall of Fame.
Throughout his life Ted’s passions were his family, friends, a menagerie of family pets, nature, sports, theater, chess, word play, and all things French. He was an avid reader of English and French prose and poetry, and loved all kinds of music. For many years Ted was active on stage at Stagecrafters and Playcrafters community theaters, and was in faculty shows at CHA. He loved spending time at and restoring “The Wright Place,” a family residence for over 130 years in Island Heights, NJ, and appreciated his relationships with former classmates, students, colleagues, and fellow Stapeley residents who continued to visit him.
Ted is survived by his four children, Suzanne Wright of Philadelphia; Elizabeth Craig Wright of Richmond, VT; Stephanie Denson, wife of John Denson, of Indianapolis, IN; and Christopher Wright of Wayne, PA; grandchildren Taylor and Hannah Denson; brother John S. “Jack” and sister-in-law Tove Wright and their large family in Sweden; former wife Nancy Wright of Bellville, TX; and his devoted companion of many years, Judith Brndjar of Macungie, PA.
A memorial service was held at Haverford Friends Meeting (855 Buck Lane, Haverford, PA) on Saturday, April 6, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. Memorial gifts may be sent to the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education in Philadelphia, PA or the Francisvale Home for Smaller Animals in Radnor, PA.
(classmate comments are invited)
Mary Ellison Hastings of Boothbay Harbor died peacefully in the company of her family on Friday, Jan. 4, 2013, at Miles Memorial Hospital in Damariscotta after a brief illness.
Ellie was the daughter of Dr. Richard T. Ellison and Mary Cunius Ellison of Chestnut Hill, Pa., where she was born in 1921 and graduated from Springside School in 1938.
She attended Wellesley College for a time, and then worked as a lab technician at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital.
After the war she was married for several years to Henry C. Hastings. In 1954, Ellie returned to Chestnut Hill where she raised her two sons Rip and Jeff, working at Chestnut Hill Academy from which both boys graduated in the 1970s.
In the 1990s Ellie moved to Maine, first to Bath where she lived for several years, and then in 2000, to St. Andrews Village in Boothbay Harbor, where she became a fixture of the local needlework scene until her death.
She was an artist in cross stitch, counted thread and needle work of all types. Countless children have worn her baby sweaters, soldiers and marines have worn her knitted helmet liners, and dozens of all ages are comforted by a prayer shawl that she made.
She holds the hard-earned distinction of Master Craftsman from the Embroidery Guild of America and she has filled the world around her with the work of her hands and shared her skill and passion by teaching others.
From the time she was a girl, Ellie spent the summer on Squirrel Island, which ever since has been her spiritual home and family. Ellie is survived by her brother Tom, his wife Jean and their children and grandchildren; by her son Jeff and his children Drew, Nick, Will and Sophie; and by her son Rip, his wife Beth and their children Emily, Andrew, Zach, Molly and Lucy.
Ellie wanted to be remembered along with other Squirrel Islanders at the first chapel service this July (2013) on Squirrel Island. In the meantime, if you wish, the family suggests you remember her with a contribution to the Squirrel Island Preservation Foundation (One Monument Square, Portland, ME 04101) or your favorite Squirrel Island organization or activity, c/o Rob Hopkins, P.O. Box 85, Boothbay Harbor, ME 04538.
Arrangements are entrusted to Simmons Harrington and Hall Funeral Home, 975 Wiscasset Road, Boothbay, ME 04537.
(classmate comments are invited)