Sunday, May 18, 2008

Welcome, Swarthmore Alums

Thanks so much to Jim Sailer for getting the word out to Ken's Swarthmore classmates about this blog. I hope that many of you will share some of your memories with us whether they are funny anecdotes or serious stories. My husband and I take my boys to visit the campus at least once a year since we live fairly close, and I always lay white roses by the tree dedicated to his memory. The campus is so completely beautiful, but it certainly is a bittersweet beauty for me. I hope that Ken's Swarthmore friends and acquaintances know that you were a tremendous part of his life. While I don't know many of you, I hope that, through this blog, we can change that. Please feel free to send your memories, thoughts, pictures, or anything that reminds you of Ken to me at: My brother had an amazing ability to recognize genuine character, and if any of you reading this were his friends, then that is a testament to you. I thank you for visiting and for being his friend for a time that was much too short.

From Chris Marquardt

What a wonderful thing you did by putting up this blog. It's been a long time since Swarthmore but I do still think about your brother regularly. It's always with a mixture of joy, great sadness and also regret. Being selfish college students, as many of us were, I don't know that he understood how much he meant to pretty much anyone who knew him at Swarthmore - although I'm pretty sure he knew that his close friends loved him.

One of my fondest memories of Ken was from the night he showed up in my dorm room and grabbed me for a race around the campus in the golf cart he was using to ferry an injured football teammate around after the teammate badly broke his leg. I had been goading Ken (in a half-joking way) for a week to let me ride with him and do donuts on Parrish lawn. He always smiled and laughed in a good-natured way that made it clear that he thought I was being funny but that he wasn't inclined to pull any antics with college property... Until he did show up in the middle of the night when I had a room full of classmates, but the both of us tore out of the room and did donuts on Parrish lawn, laughing like goofballs all the way until he dropped me back at my door.

He had the best way about him.

Then I also remember the picture of you and he as kids that he stuck on his door before he left Swarthmore for the last time. He loved you very much.

Monday, May 12, 2008

From Grace Bulger

What a beautiful site this is. I do still think about Ken, and I wanted to share my college memories of him with you... I met him in the fall of his freshman year, when I was a junior. I was heading back to my room in Wharton, where a bunch of my friends were hanging out, and I saw Ken wandering down the hall. He looked lost -- I think he was trying to find someone's room -- and on a whim I introduced myself, grabbed him and swept him into my room with my friends. He looked kind of shocked at suddenly finding himself -- a freshman! -- surrounded by all these "older women" talking at once and firing questions at him. Of course, being Ken, he took it all in stride, and hung out with us for hours. It was memorable for me, because Swarthmore was not always the friendliest place, and going from total stranger to buddies in this way was pretty unusual! From that moment on, he was a friend -- just a great, genuine guy I was always happy to see and chat with at parties or on a walk from the dorm to the dining hall. We weren't the closest of friends, but I really liked him. Even though I was older, he always had that older brother energy to him -- you could tell he genuinely liked women and would always have your best interests at heart -- and now I know why. He's very, very lucky to have had a sister like you. I wholeheartedly agree with the counselor about your dreams. I think he'll always be knocking for you, just on the other side of that wall... I wish you the best.

From Marc Rowen

Thanks for setting up the blog to remember Ken. With the benefit of time, I can now think about his suicide without anger, although the sadness and sense of loss have remained the same over the years. I met Ken my junior year at Swarthmore. We were pretty good friends, but all the same, I never got to know him too well. One of the great things about Ken was that he could make you feel like you were great friends even if you didn't know each other well, in fact. He was the type of guy who five minutes after meeting you has his arm around your shoulder and you're sharing an inside joke, but at the same time there's just so much more there, and likely very very few people got to see it all.

We hung out a bit during the couple years we overlapped at Swarthmore and caught several Grateful Dead shows together. I don't know if I'm coloring my memories at all, but I thought we had pretty much the same sense of any event, I remember laughing a lot when we were around each other. We took a couple road trips to Delaware to hit up parties with his high school buddies, and one of them was the night I'm pretty sure I've laughed the hardest I ever have. I hope I was able to inject as much happiness in his life as he did into mine.

Each Dead show I went to after his death was bittersweet. Several times I thought that I would catch a glimpse of him there. When Jerry Garcia died, part of my sadness at that time came from realizing that my strongest -- and happiest -- link to Ken just broke in some ways.

My world is dimmer for his absence; I can't even imagine what it must be like for you and your family. I wish you all the best, and thanks again.

From Julian Levinson

My name is Julian Levinson and I went to Swarthmore College from 1986 to 1990. Your blog site is incredibly moving and meaningful. I really hardly knew Ken at all, but since I do have one memory of him I thought you might want to hear it. I was eating dinner in the dining hall with a group of friends right near the back door, which athletes used when they came to dinner from practice. This door locked so we had to keep getting up to let people in. Ken was coming in from football practice (?) along with some others and somehow he thought that I had not wanted to open the door for him or that maybe I was impatient with him. He looked at me and said in a slightly hurt or even plaintive voice that he was not one of those jocks. He wanted to be sure I understood this. I was surprised by this and also touched by his sensitivity. At the time I think I assured him as well as I could that I didn't think this -- I really didn't have any opinion one way or the other. But it really came out of the blue. When he died I of course reflected much more on this moment, realizing that he must have felt incredibly misunderstood by everybody and extraordinarily eager to present himself as he really was.

I'm very touched by your devotion to Ken and to his memory. My thoughts are with you.