Deceased January 25, 2013

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50th Reunion Book Entry


In Memory

On Jan. 25, 2013, Ray Dresser, a class leader, passed away from complications of a rare abdominal melanoma cancer. He came to us from the small community of Sturgis, Mich., and participated promptly and fully in the life of the college—as drum major of the marching band, cross-country runner, basketball player and golfer. A fine student, versatile athlete and loyal classmate, Ray loved Amherst, but his heart was always in Michigan, as were his roots.

Gretchen, the love of his life, was an alumna of the University of Michigan, which became Ray’s second alma mater. He earned his law degree there, as his father had, and then joined his father’s Sturgis law firm. Ray practiced business law and estate planning throughout his life, earning respect and distinction. He served as an officer and director of the State Bar of Michigan and as chair of the Probate and Estate Planning Council. In 2006, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm bestowed upon him the prestigious Community Foundation Philanthropy Award. And the State Bar of Michigan gave him its highest award for contributions to his profession and community. Ray was further honored when his son John later joined him in the firm, continuing the family tradition.

Sixty years ago, in the card room of Amherst’s Beta House, Ray was a winner at poker, nines and booray; you couldn’t read his hand. In similar fashion, his easy amble never predicted his relentless running pace. And it took several of his wry rejoinders before one recognized the quick mind behind the slow, thoughtful response. But there was no mistaking the genuine warmth in his ready smile.

A staunch supporter of Amherst, Ray served as our class president and a ringleader at our reunions. We’ll miss him greatly.

Ray’s family was the center of his life. To Gretchen, his wife for 58 years; their children, John, Amy and Marcia ’84; and their grandchildren, the class sends its deep sympathy.

Rich Gray ’53

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50th Reunion

raymond dresser.PNG The past 50 years since graduating from Amherst with the Class of ' 53 has been very fulfilling and fortunate for me. The lessons learned at Amherst have served me well. I considered it an honor to have had the opportunity to receive my undergraduate education from Amherst and I have carried the degree with a sense of pride.

After graduating from Amherst it was also my good fortune to attend the University Of Michigan Law School. My wife, Gretchen, who is also a Michigan graduate, has been very supportive of me in whatever I have chosen to do. Both of our families have long University Of Michigan connections and traditions. Her father received his M.D. from Michigan and my father received his Law Degree from Michigan. Coincidentally, her father headed the State Medical Society the same year my father was President of the State Bar of Michigan.

Gretchen and I will celebrate our 50th Anniversary in 2004. Our three children, John, Amy and Marcia (and grandchildren), have been a joy to us. Jolm practices law with me as I did with my father, in Sturgis, Michigan. Our daughter, Amy, is a market research executive in Chicago (Kalamazoo, BA, Notre Dame, MBA) and our daughter, Marcia, (Amherst, '84), after a business career has chosen to be a stay-at-home Mom in Sturgis.

I have been in the private practice of law in Sturgis emphasizing business and estate planning matters. I am still active in the practice although my client selection is much more limited, my days are shorter and my vacations are longer. (Maybe I'm retired and don't know it.)

My philosophy has been to give back to those who have made a fulfilling career possible - my family, my community and my profession. It is always a difficult challenge to keep those in balance and it is not up to me to say if I have or not.

I raised my family and practiced law in a small community. It has been my personal challenge to do those things performed by and with the same standards of large city firms. Our firm has aimed to provide sophisticated services to our business clients in a small town atmosphere. It has been my privilege to serve my profession as an Officer and Director of the State Bar of Michigan including serving as Chair of the Probate and Estate Planning Council. Much to my surprise, I was awarded the highest honor the State Bar of Michigan gives to an attorney for his contribution to the profession and his community. The co-winner that year was a past president of the American Bar Association. This reinforced my personal challenge that one can make an Impact even though "the river doesn't run through here."

When talking about community, I believe community includes the Amherst community. It has been very rewarding to me to preserve my old friends and contacts at Amherst yet at the same time see new ones blossom and mature.

Community is also, obviously, where one lives and works. If you take pride in that community then you want to give back as much as you can in time and resources to grow that community as a place to work and live. This means industrial growth, recreation centers, parks, camp facilities and involvement. I am looking forward to a joyous 50th Reunion and an outstanding effort by the Class of '53 to add to the resources of the College.

Raymond H. Dresser, Jr.
Amherst College Class of 1953