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Alumni Remember Stafford

“I took a class from Bill when I was a student and then worked with him years later when I was doing public information work for the college. He invited me to come to his class to talk about writing. I came at it from the position that some kind of audience is intrinsic in writing. He took the stance that you had to clear your mind of any audience and put down the words. So we would carry on this dialogue. It got to be so much fun, we did it three years in a row. That was the kind of guy he was—just fun. And very good with students. He was more interested in the students than the curriculum. And many, many peopled benefited from that.”Chuck Charnquist B.S.’58

“I didn’t take a class from Bill, but he was always on campus and always had time for a chat. After I graduated, it must have been in the late 1970s, Bill spoke at a meeting of the Portland City Club. Someone asked him, ‘When did you start writing poetry?’ and he responded, ‘When did you stop? We all start writing poetry… some of us just stop before the others.’”Frank Dillow B.S. ’68, J.D.’77

“I’ve loved poetry since my grade school days. To actually have known a real poet—and such a good one and such a good human being as Bill Stafford—continues to influence my life. I reread his poetry with some regularity. I think of him always as part of what makes the heartbeat of Lewis & Clark.”Don Floren B.S. ’53

“In the 1960s, we were living in Las Vegas. Bill and Mrs. Stafford came to town for a national conference, and he called me. He wanted to learn about the ‘normal’ Las Vegas, away from the casinos and show stages. They came to our home for dinner, and it was a delightful evening. I don’t know whether he wrote anything about our people, but his visit is a valuable memory.”John Howe B.A. ’56 and Elizabeth Drury Howe B.A. ’56

“I came to Lewis & Clark in 1948 and was in William Stafford’s English 101 class. We sat alphabetically back then, and I met my wife, Donna Macklin [B.A. ’52] in his class. Later on, Bill and Dorothy moved across the street from us in Lake Oswego. We always asked Bill, ‘What is the meaning of that poem?’ And he would say, ‘What is the meaning to you?’”Frank LawrenceB.S. ’52

“My freshman year, I went to see a retrospective about William Stafford’s work in Council Chamber. It was his poetry with images of a river in the background. His voice was narrating. I was so moved that I went home to my dorm room in Forest and wrote a letter and poem to him explaining that I knew that, at that moment, I wanted to be a writer. He wrote back a very lovely note and put it in my campus mailbox. I really do thank William Stafford for my chosen path. We named our firstborn child, our son William, after him. That is what William Stafford has meant to me.”Elizabeth Fowler Ross B.A. ’93

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