Emily Putnam '26, a graduate in piano and organ, celebrated her 97th birthday in August 2001, and most reluctantly missed the September dedication of the new Fisk organ at Finney Chapel. Although she no longer plays the piano, she continued to teach it well into her 80s in Tarboro, N.C., where she was also a church musician for many years. (Emily only recently retired from teaching the church children's choir.) She lives in a retirement community in Tarboro and continues to keep in touch with Oberlin through its publications.


Thomas Williams '30 studied voice at Oberlin when Frank Shaw was Dean of the Conservatory. Thomas was also captain of the baseball team, and he recalls that at his senior recital, his teammates donned tuxedoes and sat in the front row. After four years as Dean and Instructor of Voice and Theory at Dakota Wesleyan University (Mitchell, S.D.), Thomas enrolled at the University of Michigan where he earned a Master of Music. He also pursued further graduate study at the School of Sacred Music at Union Theological Seminary. Knox College (Galesburg, Ill.) was Thomas' next stop, where he was Professor of Voice and Choral Music, chairing the department for 25 years and doubling as Director of Admissions. After his retirement in 1970 he was Music Director at the Congregational Summer Assembly (CSA) in Frankfort, Mich. He received a Citation for Distinguished Service from CSA in 1994. Dakota Wesleyan in 1998 awarded him an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts.

Now in his 32nd year of retirement, Thomas says he enjoys each day, dividing his time between Portland, Ore., and Frankfort, Mich., and continuing engagements as guest conductor at Welsh music festivals.


Edwin E. Heilakka '48, a Trustee of the Theodore Presser Foundation since 1973 and a member of the board of directors of the Theodore Presser Co., was a trumpet major. He remembers his class in Dalcroze Eurhythmics: "We eurhythmicized in our stocking feet in the Rice Hall basement room. Tiny splinters were often class interrupters. I trust the class now has a good hardwood floor."

Ed became director in the Division of Music Education in the Philadelphia School District and served on the board of directors of the Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Musical Academy, Young Audiences, Inc., and Settlement Music School. After retiring in 1980, the director of the Curtis Institute of Music invited him to be librarian of the Curtis Symphony Orchestra and the pit Opera Orchestra. The offer's piece de resistance: Ed was also to be curator of the just-acquired Leopold Stokowski Collection, then housed at Curtis. For 16 years world-renowned "Stokyites" visited the collection while Ed edited transcriptions and prepared copies for recording and performance in the US and abroad.

In retirement, Ed orchestrates works for friends, occasionally conducts community bands, and, he adds, "I always do my wife's bidding." Mary Jean (Mapes) Heilakka graduated from the College with a degree in education in 1946.

Dorothy A. Williams '48 was Head-mistress at the Bishop's School in La Jolla, Calif., from 1975 to 1983 and served Bishop for a total of 20 years. In October 2000, she was honored at Bishop's Eighth Annual Founders Day for enriching the school, its community, and her own profession through her contributions and by exemplifying the values of the founders. A Conservatory graduate in piano (Dorothy's aunt, Marian Williams, taught music education at the Conservatory from 1928 until 1956), Dorothy began her career at Bishop's when she was named Direc-tor of Residence in 1962, after earning a Master's of Education at Columbia University. When she retired in 1982, the students offered a special spring concert of music and dance in her honor, recognizing her special love of music. Dorothy remains a familiar and beloved figure on the Bishop campus.

"She was one of my inspirations to come to Oberlin!" says Sarah Coade Mandell '87 of Los Angeles, who studied double bass at the Conservatory after graduating in 1983 from Bishop's School.


Richard Mendes '59 sang at Carnegie Hall on June 10, 2001, with the Manhattan Philharmonic, conducted by Peter Tiboris, along with two other Oberlinians, Liz McDonald '58 and Richard's daughter, Rica Mendes-Barry '96, from the Westchester Oratorio Society. The singers presented Beethoven's Ninth Symphony along with choral groups from Calif., New York City, Newark, N.J., and from the New York State University at Buffalo. Says Richard, "It sounded awesome!" During rehearsals, Rica, a soprano, sat next to her dad in order to hear how he sounded as a tenor. "I guess I passed," he says. For his part, "I almost jumped the first time she sang out. Strong voice!" Richard, an economics major at Oberlin, sang in the Glee Club, lettered in fencing, and is now a self-employed business consultant.

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