Contact Us    Find People    Site Index
page header
 future students linkscurrent students linksfaculty and staff linksalumni linksparents linksvisitors links

A Legacy of Loyalty:
The Bewkes Family

Eugene Garrett Bewkes served as president of the University from 1945-1963. Bewkes Science Hall (1968) devotes one floor each to the departments of biology, chemistry and physics.

The North Country has always been a familiar place for E. Garrett “Gar” Bewkes ’72, who can remember spending time at St. Lawrence with his grandfather, President Eugene G. Bewkes, while growing up. Gene didn’t know it then, but in 1945, when he became the seventh president of the University, he was beginning a family legacy at St. Lawrence. Three of his grandchildren, Martha Ratcliffe Rix ’71, Lawrence “Larry” Jerome ’77 and Gar, attended St. Lawrence. Gar’s daughter Barrett ’06 is finishing her four years at St. Lawrence, along with a cousin, Will Kunkel ’07. ­Although Gene did not graduate from St. Lawrence, his presidency has had a profound effect on his ­family and their education.

When Gene Bewkes became president, he had visions for St. Lawrence that would dramatically change the University for years to come. One of his signature phrases was, “As a self, that place which you can see with your mind’s eye you can reach,” and he applied that to his own work with the University and to his own life. President Bewkes, working closely with the Board of Trustees, oversaw several developments on campus:

•The building of Owen D. Young ­Library, Whitman Hall, the Noble University Center and the Charles W. Appleton Arena.
•The relocation of Canton Agricultural and Technical College.
•Creation of a hospital in Canton, something St. Lawrence very much needed with the drastic ­increase in the number of students throughout the 1950s.
•Establishment of a close bond ­between the alumni and the institution by establishing the alumni office along with a permanent alumni secretary position, two ­vital additions to St. Lawrence that have grown exponentially since ­being implemented.
•Successful elimination of year-end fiscal deficits.

Not only was he well liked by both the alumni and administrators, but the students often honored him for his zealous efforts to make St. Law­rence a stronger community. They elected him into the “L” Club and ­invited him to be a member of Kixioc (part of present-day Omicron Delta Kappa).

Barrett Bewkes ’06, right, from Darien, Conn., is an English major and a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and the Singing Sinners.

It was his presidency that changed St. Lawrence and prepared it for the latter part of the 20th century, and his faithful commitment to St. Law­rence was passed on to the rest of his family, including his grandson, Gar. “He was instrumental in creating the campus we have today,” Gar says. “Our family legacy is his presidency.”

The Bewkes family has contributed to St. Lawrence in every way. Not only have they donated time and resources, but they have also given St. Lawrence their loyalty and dedication as they continue to strive for the goals that President Bewkes had for the school.

For Gar, his four years at St. Law­rence were “some of the best years of my life.” After graduating in 1972, he immediately became an active member of the alumni body. After spending much of his time with ­volunteer work, Gar was elected to the Board of Trustees. “I very much ­enjoyed this aspect of St. Lawrence,” he says.

While serving on the board, Gar was given the opportunity to help St. Lawrence in a tremendous way: he was one of four people on the presidential search committee in the 1990s that chose Daniel F. Sullivan as the University’s next president. “I found this opportunity very ­rewarding,” he says.

Larry Jerome has also played a large role as an alumnus, giving much of his time to St. Lawrence, volunteering to be a member of various reunion committees and volunteering as an admissions coordinator. He was also a member of the Alumni ­Executive Council.

Although this legacy is quite young, the loyalty shown by the Bewkes family is remarkable. They have left their mark on St. Lawrence: Eugene Bewkes, a dedicated president who revolutionized St. Lawrence and strengthened the bonds of the Laurentian community, and a faithful family who continued his legacy      not only through their volunteer commitments and efforts, but by ­creating a scholarship fund in Gene’s honor to assist students with financial needs. The family’s impact on St. Lawrence can be felt while reading a book in the library, walking though Whitman Hall, or sitting in Gunnison Memorial Chapel, ­looking at the stained-glass education window, where Gene is handing Gar his diploma in 1972. That ­impact is greatly appreciated and will continue to be for many more years to come.

St. Lawrence University · 23 Romoda Drive · Canton, NY · 13617 · Copyright · 315-229-5011