Category Archives: Cornell University


Tonight, I  will join my classmates in Ithaca, New York , via the internet, in their celebration of the  60th anniversary of our graduation  from Cornell University in 1958.   This will be the third and last night of their gathering and I look forward to greeting as many old friends  as possible via Facetime.

At the Memorial Service yesterday, my piece, An Alumni Hymn, was sung. 


EPSON scanner image
EPSON scanner image

My Class CoChair, Dick Haggard, tells me that the piece was well  received and that it is likely that it will become a standard Cornell song. 



One of the more ticklish aspects of doing a family history is how one treats one’s own activities.  Well  here I take the plunge and announce that my piece, Cornell Sketches,  was played on the Cornell University Chimes last Friday, May 11, 2018.  The bells and the keyboard  are at the top of the Library Tower as pictured above, a 161 step climb for performer s and visitors.  The Senior Chimesmaster, John Lee,  worked patiently with me as I prepared lead sheets of the seven sections.  Any faults in the outcome are due entirely to my poor grasp of elementary music theory. 

In an earlier article, I gave a history of Cornell Sketches.  Here is the back cover of the CD of my original keyboard setting for your guidance.

NN.cornell sketches cover 2

As you will see, the 21 bells do not require 21 lengths of rope but a large keyboard. If you want to see more of the Chimes, just do a  search for Cornell Chimes.



Williams, that is, as a surname.

The first was a Miss Williams, teacher of English at Woodside Senior Secondary School in Glasgow, Scotland.    She is remembered by me, then a proverbial callow youth, as a glamorous personage;  even cloaked in the long black master’s gown of the time.   My recollection is confirmed by old school magazine photographs which I will not share here!

Moving ahead about six years, another of that name appeared on the scene –  Herbert H. Williams, Dean of Admissions at Cornell University.  I still have his letter of acceptance addressed  to  me In Japan where I was serving in the U.S. Army.    I was only three years an immigrant in my new country and was thrilled beyond belief at my good fortune.  The GI Bill in those days was very generous and covered more than half of expenses at one of the most prestigious colleges in America,  But I still had to make up a  deficit. 

Enter the third Williams,  David B., then Director of Financial Aid.  During my four undergraduate years, I earned  most of my shortfall in that office, helping other students get jobs on and off campus.  (David subsequently became head of the international student office where he did an outstanding job.)

I have to confess that the fourth is a bit of a stretch:  Ralph Vaughan Williams.  Yes, I know his name is an unhyphenated double-barrelled type.  But that Williams was a visiting lecturer and conductor while I was at Cornell.  Thus  I saw and heard the great man, a familiar name from childhood.    In the land of Copeland and Gershwin, I was proud of  my musical heritage in his person. 

The last of the name I can recall being eligible to be added to this list is Henry G. Willams, Director of State Planning, State of New York.   I was fortunate to join his office to participate in development of the new federal Coastal Management Program.  That marked the beginning of  a successful second career, this time in the public sector, in an unusual venture joining federal, state and local governments in efforts to improve New York’s 1,500 miles of coastal assets.  

So I thank all you Williamses for making my life more exciting and fulfilling!bb(Sorry Esther, Serena, Venus, Emelyn, et al.)