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A Legacy of Loyalty:
The Browns and the Van de Waters

Foster Sargent Brown ’30, University president 1963-1969, is remembered via Brown Hall, which holds the department of geology’s offices, laboratories, classrooms and auditorium.

Marion Brown Blaisdell ’32 and her brothers, Harlan Brown ’28 and Foster Sargent Brown ’30, began their own St. Lawrence family legacy in the 1930s. Marion didn’t know John Van de Water ’35 at the time, but became familiar with him and his family when her daughter, Elizabeth “Becky” Blaisdell ’60, married John’s son, Peter Van de Water ’58.

By the time Foster Brown became president of St. Lawrence University in 1963, he had become part of a much bigger legacy. The marriage of his niece to Peter made him part of a legacy that today, between the Browns and the Van de Waters, includes 25 people who in one way or another attended St. Lawrence, whether as undergraduate, visiting or graduate students. Not only are they all part of one legacy, but both sides of the family have shown their commitment to St. Lawrence through their exquisite volunteer efforts, their leadership skills, and their ­direct work with the University.

President Brown was one of many who stepped into several leadership positions at St. Lawrence. Aside from being president, he was a member of the education faculty and served as an alumni trustee and as an Alumni Council chair. Peter Van de Water worked for St. Lawrence for several years in a number of capacities: teaching ­several history courses and becoming director of financial aid, director of admissions, director of student activities, and vice president of student affairs. He was also a member of the Alumni Executive Council along with the fundraising and the other volunteer work he continues to do for St. Lawrence. He received an Alumni Citation in 1997, and his brother John “Jack” Van de Water ’61, was a recipient of an Alumni Citation in 2003.

The list of honors and awards received by this family is almost as long as the list of volunteer activities, which includes fundraising and participating on the Leadership Gifts Committee and reunion planning committees. Members of both families also have been career advisors or admissions coordinators at some point.

Two Van de Water brothers have received Alumni Citations from St. Lawrence, Jack ’61 (left) in 2003 and Peter ’58 in 1997.  With them are, from left, Jack’s wife, Nancy McHugh Van de Water; their mother, Sarah L. Van de Water ’66; and Peter’s wife, Elizabeth “Becky” Blaisdell Van de Water ’60.

The Van de Waters and Browns have dedicated their lives to helping in what ever capacity they can, especially with their work in the St. Lawrence community. They have also had an impact on other communities. Several members of their family worked or are working in the education system as teachers, principals or counselors. Jack is dean of international programs at Oregon State University and assistant vice chancellor for international programs for the Oregon University System, and Gordon “Spud” ’66 is president of the Educational Commission on the States in Colorado. Other family members have continued their education and become pediatricians or family physicians. Sandra Mansfield Van de Water ’68, who is married to Gordon, is the chief of audiology at a hospital in Denver, Col. Some, like Peter, who is the president of the Board of Directors for the Grasse River ­Heritage Area Development Cor-poration in Canton, continue to work to preserve history and the great outdoors in different parts of the country. The list of occupations goes on, but they all have one ­common theme: helping others.

In the spring 2005 St. Lawrence magazine, Peter and Becky Van de Water describe about how they have helped Canton continue to grow, not only by volunteering at the University, but also by working with the village to bring more business and people to the area. Many other members of their family have also volunteered in their communities with the goal of improving the places where they live for the future. Looking back at the earliest part of these families’ legacies, John ’35, who was a high school teacher; Marion, who was also a teacher; and Foster were all perfect examples of goal-oriented people who were very successful, and luckily for them, the later generations carried on those same ideas and values.
Peter was once quoted as saying that he enjoys making a difference because it keeps him involved and committed. These families have not only stayed involved with and committed to St. Lawrence, but continue to make a difference in large ways that are hard to measure.

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