Deceased February 25, 2016

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50th Reunion Book Entry

In Memory

Stowell Symmes, 82, passed away in Williamsburg, Va., on Feb. 25, 2016. He struggled with dementia, but had the devoted care of his wife Janice (Lynch) and he died quietly at home with her at his side. Stowell hailed from Winchester, Mass., where he and Jan met in high school. Following their college graduations (she from Tufts), they were married in 1957. Stowell and Jan raised four children: Stephanie, Jeffrey, Gregory, and Jonathan.

Stowell chose Amherst, notwithstanding that his father was a Williams man, and remained devoted to his alma mater and the friendships made there through his life. He was an honors graduate with a major in economics, a member of Chi Psi, and a four-year basketball player. He volunteered as class agent for many years following his graduation, served on reunion committees, was a frequent attendee at reunions (until recently), and enjoyed keeping in touch with classmates and friends. He was very proud that his daughter, Stephanie (Symmes) MacArthur ’80, was one of the first class of women accepted to Amherst and his son, Greg Symmes ’86, followed shortly after. His grandson, Robert, received his degree from the fairest college in 2009.

Stowell was a born teacher, and loved to hold forth when he found the right audience. After earning a master’s degree in education from Wesleyan University, he started his career as a history teacher at Watchung Hills Regional High School while living in North Plainfield, N.J. Yearning to make a wider impact, and to return to his favorite subject of economics, Stowell then began a long career as an educator at the Joint Council on Economic Education in New York City. He headed a national program to improve teaching of economics for grades K-12 and authored several books and teacher guides.

Following his retirement in 1996, Stowell and Jan moved to Williamsburg, Va. Outgoing and warm, Stowell enjoyed volunteering at Colonial Williamsburg and bringing nature closer to neighbors in Ford’s Colony by accepting leadership roles in the Trailblazer’s Club. He loved tennis, and was a highly competitive if somewhat unorthodox player, often switching to his left hand to reach impossible shots.

Stowell’s good humor, generosity of spirit, and love of family and friends is a legacy that will not be forgotten.

Stephanie Symmes MacArthur ’80
Gregory Symmes ’86

50th Reunion

Three major decisions made after leaving Amherst have given shape and substance to my life: Choice of a spouse, Career path and Selection of a retirement location.

Stowell Symmes
In 1957 I married my "childhood sweetheart" Janice Lynch, Tufts University '56. At that time, while I was earning an M A T degree at Wesleyan University and Jan was teaching math in Connecticut, we tied the knot. Marrying Jan has been a blessing. Our marriage is now 48 yrs. old and counting. We have been fortunate to bring four wonderful talented children into this world: Stephanie, 46; Jeffrey, 44; Gregory, 41; and Jonathan, 38. All did very well at college: Steph '80 and Greg '86 attended Amherst, while Jeff (aerospace engineer) and Jon (physicist) did not apply, preferring engineering schools over liberal arts.All four earned advanced degrees and Steph found an Amherst man, Alan MacArthur '81 for a husband. All are married with children giving us 13 grandchildren and four adult "in-laws" to love and enjoy. A special bonus for us is the knowledge that grandson Robert Symmes MacArthur chose to enter Am­herst this fall, class of 2009. Three generations of Symmes in 50 years.

Stowell Symmes
With a Master of Arts in Teaching degree in hand ( 1958) I entered the world of work teaching Economics and U.S. history at a regional high school located in Watchung, New Jersey. I had developed a deep interest in the discipline of economics from Amherst Profs, Jim Nelson and Colston Warne who fed my desire to teach the basic concepts of the discipline to young students. I became a specialist in economics curriculum development at the secondary level and picked up some contracts with publishers for writing textbook materials. Six years later I was offered a position on the faculty at Montclair State College where I not only taught economics to future teachers but also organized graduate credit courses in economics for active teachers across the state of New Jersey. That led to an offer to join the staff of the Joint Council on Economic Education, a national non-profit organization based in New York City, with affiliates based at universities across the country. For the next 31 years I designed and managed programs to increase the number of school districts that had economics as an explicit part of the curriculum in their schools. Time spent working on a doctorate at NYU ended in an ABD. It was hard to balance demands of raising a family with full time JCEE work and a few contracts with textbook publishers on the side. I had the pleasure of working with top-notch economists and finding ways to present their ideas to average teachers and students. I feel that my work made a positive difference in significant numbers of teachers' performance, while generating a reasonably good level of income for our family. An Amherst education certainly shaped my career path.

Stowell Symmes
Living in Williamsburg since 1996, under the guise of being "retired," I find myself aggressively engaged in a wide range of activities most of which were not part of my life immediately after Amherst and thereafter. My retirement is going fine and Jan and I have found volunteer work that satisfies and gives balance to social engagements, tennis, pinochle, travel and dining out. The College of William and Mary offers access to classes for seniors and to hear speakers visiting campus. The Virginia Symphony performs often as do other music and theater groups. We live in a community where our families like to visit and thanks to Jan we engage in numerous family gatherings where cousins get together. We are able to reciprocate and become connected to their growing years. Twice we have had all 23 of us together. On the downside, my life has been marred with a few medical problems that I never had to deal with before: hip replacement in '94 and flu driven viral myocarditis in '96 before I retired; later doctors at University of Virginia Health System found I had had viral pericarditis and needed a pericardiectomy in '00. We do have confidence in the YVA medical staff. On balance I am okay and do get out and about although visits to doctors have become increasingly invasive. Fortunately, Jan is in very good shape, although she needs a little help from expensive medications to remain so. In spite of medical negatives we both believe moving to Williamsburg was a very good decision. We look forward to the 50th and hope to see a big turnout.