A Legacy of Loyalty:
The Bewkes Family
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
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
•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
•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
•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
him to be a member of Kixioc (part of present-day Omicron Delta
|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,
was instrumental in creating the campus we have today,” Gar
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.
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
this aspect of St. Lawrence,” he says.
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
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.