Timely Gift Creates Timeless Friendship

By Andrew Gutman ’15 | Fall 2015

It was in Karen Black’s final year at Springfield College that she came to a terrible realization:  she couldn’t afford to finish school.

Black ’66 was an involved student. She worked as a residence hall counselor, helped type theses papers, and waitressed downtown. With three siblings also in college and a recently unemployed father, she didn’t see another option: “I thought I was going to have to drop out.”

Knowing the semester would be her last, Black went to inform then-dean of students Helen Werner.

“I said ‘I think I’m going to have to drop out. I don’t have enough money even working these other jobs, and I can’t ask my parents. They don’t have it,’” Black recalls telling Dean Werner.

“She just opened her drawer, took out her checkbook and asked ‘how much do you need?’” said Black. “I went from there to the financial office, just so grateful that I could finish.”

“It was easy,” Werner Hamilton G’62 remembers. “Karen was a great asset to Springfield College. She was an enthusiastic, spirited, smart young woman who had great potential and deserved the money to get by. We certainly didn’t want to lose her.”

Black graduated and began work immediately thereafter.

Years passed. Black came back to attend reunions, but she 
and Werner never managed to connect. On the one occasion that Werner was able to attend Reunion, Black couldn’t make it.

“I kept thinking about Dean Werner,” Black said. “I finally wrote to her, years and years later, and told her what an impact she had on my life.”

“I answered her letter,” Werner Hamilton said, “and we decided to meet and have lunch. It was a very long lunch, and a wonderful experience.”

The two keep in close contact, and have met multiple times since their initial lunch. While they never expected to continue their relationship past their time at the College, they aren’t complaining.

“It’s absolutely fantastic,” commented Werner Hamilton. “Way back then I didn’t know the kinds of things that would happen later, and when they did happen, I was thrilled.”