Dick "Skip" Dunn

Profile Updated: June 4, 2022
Residing In White Rock, NM USA
Spouse/Partner Hedy
Occupation Setting up this website ;-p
Children Mark b. 1966, Lara b. 1970
Attending 50th Reunion, June 11-15, 2014



After Williams, I went to Wesleyan for a Masters in Art in Teaching (MAT). The program was coed, and another MAT student from Texas caught my eye: Hedy and I were married there and soon thereafter moved to Massachusetts to begin teaching in our prospective fields.

I taught music in the Walpole Public Schools for five years while Hedy taught art. A fellow Williams alumnus, (Phil Preston ’63), and I started a low-budget high school ski team: cut a x-c trail through the adjacent town forest, narrowed and retrofitted old wooden downhill skis laced with Coach Ralph Townsend’s mystery wax potions and still managed to win lots of races. We lived in Foxborough where the arrival of our son, Mark, and daughter, Lara, brightened our lives immensely.

We next moved to Stanford University (’71-’74) so I could pursue a degrees in Cultural Anthropology (MA) and in Educational Organization and Policy Analysis (PhD). The family thrived on campus and we became friends with a “United Nations” of families in married student housing.

Moving “back east” we came only as far as to Los Alamos, NM in 1974 where I served as a school administrator for twenty years. But Los Alamos is rather like an old New England factory town of 18,000 people. You’re a handshake or two away from knowing everyone, from community founders to Nobel prize winners of the Los Alamos National Laboratory. I sing in and direct local choirs, and remain active in the old car club.

After early retirement, in 1995 I worked as a temp during tax season for Intuit, TurboTax telephone support. That stint evolved into my own home business, Dr. Mac Computer Support, which I still operate and a limited basis.

Since the ‘70s gas crisis, I’ve been interested in solar energy and sustainability. Thus in the early ‘80s I built a solar greenhouse and hot heating system on our house. In 1998 we moved into a passive solar adobe home with a solarium backed by 80 tons of double thick adobe. In 2010 we added a 5.3Kw PV system, reducing our electricity costs to zero. UPDATE: 2020 the PV System is still going strong.

In 2004 I combined my love for efficient cars by using and advocating electric vehicles with a ’00 Honda Insight Hybrid (my daily driver, 73mpg), ’73 Porsche 914 EV (ca. 100mpge: a cheaper, shade-tree way of getting into EVs), and ‘07 ZENN NEV (245mpge).

With retirement has come more civic activity. I have served four terms on the local Transportation Board. In 2005-6 I served on a committee of Governor Richardson’s Climate Change Advisory Group which focused on Transportation.

We now enjoy these retirement activities: travel to families on both coasts and relish spoiling four (you guessed it) lovely grandchildren: two in Oregon where our daughter and son-in-law live and two here in Los Alamos where our son and daughter-in-law live. We look forward to catching up on the past half century with our friends at the next Williams reunion. Perhaps some day we’ll finish our eastward migration that stopped in 1974 when we fell into the “Land of Enchantment” in New Mexico. UPDATE: 2022 we're still in New Mexico ;-D

School Story

Memories of Williams:

• English Prof. John Ingraham Gardner aka JIGS, with his startling (for a teacher) F**king language and his Shovel stamp on our papers when we were faking it.

• Music Prof. Robert G. Barrow and four years of singing–and traveling–with the Glee Club. During Freshman orientation, I remember Bob Furey headed down to audition. I tagged along, and noticed upcoming travel to Wheaton, Simmons and Vassar. Hmmm, guess I’ll try out! Thus started my choral career, which continues to this day as a tenor in the Santa Fe based Sangre de Cristo Chorale.

• Music Prof. Irwin Shainman, whose band formations led me to enough mastery of the “Scramble” that I was able to adopt it later at Walpole High School as band director.

• Art Prof. Faison, who amazed me with his on-the-second starts and finishes to his lectures. More importantly, in History of Architecture, he taught us the three most important qualities by which to judge any building: oriented toward humans (especially entrances that draw you in), “form follows function,” and integration with surroundings. (OK—I’m a little vague on these and welcome your corrections). Now there has to be a fourth: zero-net carbon energy. I am appalled at how many buildings we have erected in Los Alamos and the country in the last 15 years that violate almost all these principles. Even the Mies van der Rohe Seagram Building in New York that Pro. Faison admired has terrible energy efficiency.

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May 25, 2023 at 5:09 PM

Steve Birrell
In Memory of a Hometown Friend

by Peter Wiley, May 25, 2023

Steve and I met on a baseball diamond in Chatham, New Jersey, in the early 1950s. Chatham –
kind of like Leave it to Beaver as rendered by Norman Rockwell -- was emerging as a commuter
town 15 miles west of New York. Steve lived a few blocks away and one block from John Storey,
another Williams (’65) compadre and Little League baseball player.

We played for the Chatham Jays. Steve was headed to becoming a tall, gangly kid with an
infectious smile and a very warm personality full of enthusiasm. From Little League we moved
on to Tri-County Baseball on the Chatham Eskies. Both Steve and John turned out to be ace
athletes captaining soccer and basketball teams at Chatham High School.

In Little League, we switched back and forth between pitching, first and third base on a diamond
that I would later learn was very close to where Polly McNeely, Steve’s wife, grew up. I also
learned later, much later, on one of my visits to the Birrell household in Williamstown that Steve
was an avid collector of family memorabilia, including box score clippings from baseball past our
past. Steve led me down to his basement office, walls covered with photos, college banners,
and other memorabilia. He pulled out a scrap book and asked me to check out a few of the Jays’
box scores, pointing out that he consistently out hit and out pitched me by a small margin, but
enough to make his point. My only comeback was that to my surprise at a Little League awards
banquet I was handed a baseball signed by the Dodgers by Clem Labine for going 8-0 one
season. Touché, Dude.

I have fond memories of those innocent days, eating lunch at Steve’s house sitting at a table
looking out into his typical, modest suburban back yard, florid with dog wood trees in a baseball
springtime. His mother served sandwiches on white bread and Campbell’s tomato soup. We
were happy go lucky kids in our suburban cocoon. We were soon to experience a few degrees of
separation due to our school experiences. I went to two private schools before Williams while
Steve attended Chatham public schools graduating from Chatham High as class president, an
early sign of his leadership capabilities. We were part of a cluster of pre-teens and teens spread
out across our neighborhood who hung out shooting baskets at a house next to my family’s,
went to church regularly, became Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, began to party together, and
experienced first kiss friendships.

I don’t recall how I found out that Steve was headed for Williams. I did find out at Pingry that
Pete Johannsen, my brilliant classmate, was going to Williams as well. Why not hook up with
Steve and become roommates, which is what we did. Freshman year we lived in Williams Hall
where Steve and I shared a bedroom while Pete drew straws for the privilege of his own
bedroom. It was party and prank time including moving Johannsen’s furniture, including his
bed, his rug, and a lamp with electricity, out on the lawn in front of the building when he was
chasing ladies at a nearby college and filling the bedroom of one of our junior advisors with
wadded balls of newspapers. Steve and I were fascinated, as most freshmen were, by Louis, the
French-Canadian janitor, whose grasp of Anglo-Saxonisms far outstretched your average marine
sergeant. It was Louis, who had to clean up after our massive water fights that left a few inches
on the basement floor. And it was Louis who had to arrange to replace the dozens of windows
we broke in snow ball fights. Steve was more focused and serious than I was including being a
regular church goer while I was exiting my attachment to the Episcopal Church. I used to leave
obnoxious notes on his dresser about our religious differences reminding him not to miss
church or chapel and with other comments I am embarrassed to repeat.

At Williams our lives diverged with Steve headed for fraternity life while I became a nonaffiliate,
a resident of Morgan Hall, and a regular at our non-affiliate dining room in the student
union with its own peculiar cast of characters including bikers, filmmakers, folkies, young men
exploring their sexual identity, politicos, a source of lousy pot from Greenwich Village, and
young faculty members who enjoyed our company. We thought we were hip – more hip than
the frat boys – and were intellectually pretentious as we dove into leftist literature and books
like Aldous Huxley’s Doors of Perception and D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

Post-Williams we renewed our friendship quite a few years later when I found out that Steve
was working in development and teacher education at the University of New Hampshire where
my brother-in-law was teaching. I wish I could trace our friendship through a memory fog from
there to regular get togethers with Steve after I moved to San Francisco, and Steve, as head of
development at Williams, was shaking his California money tree connections with a Williams
president in toe. I made it clear that I wasn’t going to be anymore than a token donor to
Williams given the college’s vast financial resources (thanks to Steve and his team). Never mind
was Steve’s response, I’d like to introduce you to President X. I think you, as a research and
education publisher, would enjoy a good conversation, which was true. We made sure we had
time over a meal, just the two of us, to get caught up about our personal lives. How kind and
gracious of Steve and what a wonderful way for me to track Williams’ steady upward track from
the Williams of the 1960s to a high-powered, progressive, diverse institution that has lived up to
its reputation as one of the best academies of its kind.

Over these years, Steve pushed me to visit Williams, which I began to do on a semi-regular
basis, enjoying get togethers with Steve and John and meeting Polly. These were years when my
admiration and fondness for Steve grew by leaps and bounds, knowing, for example, that he
and Polly devoted a good part of their life to co-parenting their grandchildren who were being
raised by their widowed son-in-law. I marveled at what it was like to live in a small educational
community in relative isolation hearing from Steve about the ways in which he took advantage
of Williams academic programing to become a unique kind of well-educated post-doc. Besides
reconstructing our past experiences and finding out the different ways in which we lived our
post-graduate lives, we talked endlessly about our families, our work lives, and our intellectual
interests including – our course -- what we were currently reading. Our lives were in many ways
different, but we found a generous and affectionate communality.

At one point Steve encouraged me to visit Williams and spend time with Professor Jeff Burger, a
Williams math professor and Wiley author, known for his student-focused pedagogy and his
senior seminar organized by and led by students. I attended his math class, which was led by
students, with him coaching a bit from the back of the room. Jeff asked me to have dinner with
his seminar students and to talk to them about a major mistake I had made in my life and how I
dealt with it. I was impressed by the diversity of this group of very sophisticated students. How
different Williams had become from what it was in the Sixties. I nervously pondered the
assignment, with lots of mistakes to choose from, and decided to say that the mistake I made
was attending Williams. I admitted that I was drawn to Williams on early admissions by stories
about hard partying I heard when I visited the campus in the winter of 1959 and not much
more. I graduated from a fairly conventional, academically boring New Jersey prep school where
a very small handful of teachers were inspiring and where I was first exposed to racism, antisemitism,
and what it was like to be white, male and privileged. At Williams I found that the
college was also struggling with its own challenges with racism and anti-semitism. I was puzzled
by the startling imbalance between brilliant professors, like Red Fred Schumann, Frank Gifford,
Robert G. L. Waite, and guest lecturers like Sir John Pope Hennesey and Norman MacKenzie,
and professors who showed up for class clearly befuddled by alcohol. Frat life seemed to be a
bastion of dangerously hard drinking and anti-intellectualism. Williams in those days was clearly
a school for the white elite, and I was the privileged brat who chose to go there for juvenile

After I said this, there was a nervous pause in the conversation. I assured the group that
Williams was a very, very different place from what I experienced in the 1960s. My most
startling encounter with the Williams experience was the public surfacing of the fact that
Williams’ frat houses were honoring discriminatory language that barred Blacks and Jews from
fraternities followed by the long struggle to take down the fraternity system.

I described how many years after graduation I was surprised to find out that William Sloan
Coffin, Williams chaplain in 1957, had the courage to raise the issue of fraternity houses as
discriminatory with Williams’ president, James Phinney Baxter. I had been introduced to Coffin’s
views about Christianity at a prep school religious conference my senior year at Pingry. At the
time I was considering a life as a Christian minister. In his memoir Coffin wrote, “When
Christians “see Christ healing the hurt, empowering the weak, scorning the powerful,” they are
“seeing transparently the power of God at work.” At the conference Sloan spoke of Rosa Park s
and the Montgomery bus boycott as examples of “the power of God at work.” I got a sample of
what Sloan was talking about as an eleven year old working on my uncle’s Long Island farm
alongside black migrant workers. At Williams, Sloan felt both uncomfortable with the isolation,
but more so with the fraternities’ blatant discrimination. He asked President Baxter what he
planned to do about discrimination. Baxter’s response was nothing. Plus he forbad Sloan to
write about his views. One house, “the Dekes,” Sloan wrote, responded by emptying “a doublebarreled
shotgun into our living room.” Sloan moved on to Yale.

What was my point? Sloan inspired me to think beyond the norms of my privileged life leading
after to Williams to years of dedication to activism in the movements that fought to secure civil
rights, end poverty and the war in Vietnam. The Williams Burger’s students were experiencing
was the outcome of years of reform and plenty of investment – thank you, Steve Birrell and
team -- that made it the diverse, progressive college that it was. My challenge at Williams, I
explained, was trying to find the right to counter my privilege with More…activism. Over dinner, Jeff,
Steve, and I rehashed my experience with Jeff’s students, another thoughtful evening of
discourse, thank you, Steve.

After Williams westward to the left coast. Steve joined the US Navy and dedicated his life
teaching, fundraising, and a wide range of community service, described in detail in President
Maud Mandel’s tribute addressed to the Williams Community. Deep down, no matter our
differences, we connected, reconnected, and reconnected again finding mutual ground to share
our affection for each other.

Steve and my most memorable get together was at the class of 1964’s fiftieth reunion. I was
hesitant to attend, expecting days of drinking and golf. I packed some good books to read and
moved in with Steve and Polly for the duration. The reunion was an amazing experience as I
found out that in different ways so many of my classmates had dedicated themselves to work
that advanced human welfare. I was exposed to days of rigorous, very stimulating academic
programming in a variety of fields that drew me to meeting after meeting. Why should I be
surprised in different ways that we are children of the sixties and clearly Williams graduated
some brilliant individuals whose societal contributions were significant. Most of all, I enjoyed
my private tour of the campus where Steve pointed out building after building that as head of
development, he had played a leading role in raising funds for. Each building had its own story
adding up to Steve’s huge contribution to the evolution of Williams as a progressive educational

President Maud Mandel’s letter to the Williams community shows the remarkable extent of
Steve’s work on behalf of Williams and many other civic organization. Could it be the work of
one person? Clearly Steve had the commitment and energy of more than one.

I broke my promise about making a substantial donation to Williams behind Steve’s back. I
wanted to do something to honor Steve’s contributions to Williams and share with him how
much our friendship meant to me. We settled on – what else? -- dedicating a book collection to
Steve in his honor, which is now located in the main library.

Somewhere in the beginning of the COVID crisis, I missed a hint that Steve was not doing well
when he responded briefly to an email. Steve has moved on to The Great Unknown. I’ll be
following him sooner than later. It warms my heart to be scribbling away about our long, long
friendship. Reflecting on our friendship over something like 70 years has I understand what a
privilege and learning experience it was to know Steve. Thank you, brother, for your loving
companionship off and on for so many years.

Dick "Skip" Dunn has a birthday today.
Oct 24, 2022 at 4:33 AM
Dick "Skip" Dunn has left an In Memory comment for his Profile.
Jul 19, 2022 at 12:19 AM

Walter Watson Wyckoff, beloved husband of Stacy Kent Wyckoff and loving father of Cesar and Thuy, passed away on June 17, 2022 following a long illness near his home in Gwynedd Valley, PA.

Walter was a quiet man who adored and deeply valued his family and friends. He was not always easy to know, but those who took the time came to appreciate and love the peace, grace, kindness and intelligence that defined him. 

Born in New York, NY. on 8 April 1941, Walter and his family moved many times throughout his youth, to places as varied as Connecticut, Paris, Geneva, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Montreal, Massachusetts and North Carolina. Having attended English language schools in Europe, the Haverford School and Andover in the United States, Walter went on to earn a Bachelor’s degree in History from Williams College and a Masters in Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania. 

In 1984, Walter launched Wyckoff Associates, an architectural practice that served small commercial and residential clients for over four decades. He also developed properties of his own.  

Walter was a staunch supporter of social justice causes, environmental issues and the arts. A life-long learner, he was a prolific reader, enjoyed playing chess and was an extremely capable tradesman. Walter was an avid skier throughout much of his life -- there wasn’t a black diamond trail placed in front of him he didn’t complete while he could. He also enjoyed hiking, sailing, canoeing and portaging the Canadian waterways.

Hard-working, disciplined, persistent and detail-oriented, Walter believed that nature was the ultimate expression of perfect design. He honored the earth in the way lived in the environment and in the way he designed and maintained his buildings, placing sustainability and care of the natural world first among all considerations. 

A memorial service will be held on 9 July @ 11am at Gwynedd Friends Meeting in 1101 Dekalb Pike, Gwynedd, PA 19454. A Zoom option is available for remote attendance. Memorial donations may be made to the Southern Poverty Law Center or The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

Jun 04, 2022 at 6:52 PM
Dick "Skip" Dunn changed his profile picture.
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Dick "Skip" Dunn has a birthday today.
Oct 24, 2021 at 4:33 AM
Dick "Skip" Dunn has a birthday today.
Oct 24, 2020 at 4:33 AM
Dick "Skip" Dunn has left an In Memory comment for Michael Reily.
Aug 23, 2020 at 1:43 PM

In November 2014 the Class of 64 gathered for Homecoming Weekend to dedicate the Mike Reily Room in the new Weston Field House.  A beautifully done video of the events can be found in our '64 Videos.

One for the speakers included in the Video is Sports Illustrated writer, Tim Layden '78, wrote a truly unforgettable story about The Forgotton Hero which can be found at


and a subsequent Sports Illustrated Q&A with Tim can be found at


Skip Dunn

Nov 02, 2019 at 8:55 PM

I tip my hat to my 10-day younger and good friend: Happy Birthday, Bob :-D

Dick "Skip" Dunn has a birthday today.
Oct 24, 2019 at 4:33 AM
Dick "Skip" Dunn has a birthday today.
Oct 24, 2018 at 4:33 AM
Nov 02, 2017 at 5:25 PM

Happp-y birrrrthh-dayyy tooooo youuuu Well, guy, I was a year older for about ten days, but I never got a chance to lord it over you ;-p

Dick "Skip" Dunn has a birthday today.
Oct 24, 2017 at 4:34 AM
Aug 28, 2017 at 3:51 PM

Happy Birthday Dave :-D

Dick "Skip" Dunn added a comment on his Profile.
Nov 06, 2016 at 1:12 PM
Dick "Skip" Dunn has a birthday today.
Oct 24, 2016 at 4:33 AM
Oct 12, 2016 at 2:41 PM

Happy Birthday :-D Where do you live in Wellesley? I grew up at 49 Elm St...

Dec 21, 2015 at 2:28 PM

Happy Birthday Laraine. I'm sorry to have missed meeting you in person at the 50th...

Dick "Skip" Dunn has a birthday today.
Oct 24, 2015 at 4:33 AM
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