David Wentworth

"We have had 6 cats. Three of them are still with us, including one that I give 4 to 6 water infusions daily."

david and judySomewhere along the way I lost my 24 inch waist, roamed the stimulating halls of academia, chased a fantasy dream in business, and have found immense contentment, satisfaction, and joy sawing boards and playing with model trains. I have experienced agonies but many more mundane triumphs. My life has taken a zigzag course that I could never have predicted, but looking back, the big and little steps have a logical connection. I am happily curious about who I will become in the next third of my life.

I started college in pre-engineering (remember Sputnik and Mr. Wright) but soon got hooked with understanding human behavior and with building conciliation and compromise among nations and individuals. The 60s were filled with a lot of graduate school stuff and personal growth. My summer in Africa after graduation transformed me and widened my horizons. I came back to start an MBA program, but hated most of it except administration and production. The next fall after interning at the Peace Corps I transferred to MIT where my interests evolved from African development to American urban development (War on Poverty era). I spent another summer in Uganda but my thesis studied a poverty program agency.

After getting my M.S., I headed west chasing a girl (still friends). Camped atop the Berkeley hills over looking SF Bay I said, "I cannot leave", and stayed seven years in California. I worked for a while as Deputy Director of the Fresno community action agency and then returned to graduate school in Berkeley in part as insurance against the draft (think Vietnam). Those were exciting wonderful years swirling with conflicting ideas. (When people would say "Power to the people" I would tweak back, "The people live in Kansas.")  As a grad student in political science I was paid under a NASA grant and worked as a Staff Assistant to the Oakland police chief, in the heyday of the Black Panthers.

I enjoyed teaching in North Carolina and got written up as "the Tinker Toy professor" for having students divide into groups to make better mousetraps, as a way to teach group dynamics and structures. I met my extraordinary wife, Judy Anderson, at a craft show. Judy was working on her doctorate in nutrition at nearby UNC-Chapel Hill. Bill Schmidt was our best man.

david and judy

Dave and Judy at their wedding, 1976. The best man, standing behind Judy in the photo on the right is CCDS classmate Bill Schmidt.

wentworth wedding
We took jobs to be together at Kansas State but felt isolated and at the end of the world. Judy's mom was in Lima, Ohio, we had a farm with one of the best panoramic views in New Hampshire, and my dad had died leaving some family business messes in Cincinnati. We moved to Ann Arbor where Judy had an offer at U. of Michigan; it was a 4 hour 13 minute periodic commute to Cincinnati for me. Our last move was to the Lansing area in 1985 when Judy took a job at MSU, increasing the drive to Cincinnati by an hour.

After my mother died and my dad was ill with Parkinson's, my uncle manipulated him into investing in a new family business, Wentworth Brothers, Inc. The lofty goal was to produce methanol to fuel cars and power plants in a world that would be running out of oil. Uncle was brilliant as an engineer with patents on catalysts and processes for producing methanol from low grade coal (lignite), natural gas, and high sulfur coal. He was the highly autocratic and charismatic robber baron of old. (Two IRS agents investigating him ended up investing in the company.) When my dad died I was thrown in as an equal partner, and it was a hellish experience. I was caught up in the magnitude of the goal and could not think of a better challenge. We did a number of feasibility and engineering studies for chump change, but never got near building a huge methanol plant. Increasingly, it became clear to me that the economics were not there without governmental subsidies. The country was not ready for alternative fuels. I was spending more time arguing with uncle about strategy, such as more ethanol emphasis, but it was frustrating trying to reason with someone who believes, "God intends me to do this."

I have developed very satisfying escape activities at a much more mundane level. My manual skills have given me more satisfaction than some of my professional achievements, for they are often more immediate. I have designed and built 3 additions with airy windows and skylights, laid 5000 bricks in patios, remodeled 3 kitchens, installed stair railing, and worked on 5 decks. Five years ago I took up golf after 40 years and find it a fun way to channel my competitive energies. And I am now back into gardening. Although I had written over 400 pages, one thing I did not do was finish my Ph.D. dissertation. At this point, I feel only a tinge of regret.

I spend a lot of time playing with trains. I love model railroading because it encompasses so many things: electronics, carpentry, scenery, structures, operations, social contacts, research, and history. For me model railroading is an art form that requires orchestrating a variety of skills and activities. Our basement is totally trains on 2 levels and in 3 scales.

David plays with trains! Above, water scenes along the Lyman & Ammonoosuc RR in HO Scale

Life is good for us. Judy has lived with MS for 20 years and still works long hours for the state. Although she hates to hear it, she is an inspiration to friends because of her enthusiasm, persistence, and sense of humor. She keeps hearing from former students who have retired, and thus thinks perhaps one day she will retire. Judy remains involved in several sewing groups and loves her crazy quilting.

Epilogue: CCDS Memories

Fifty years. It was so long ago and yet seems like yesterday. Funny, the little things that come to mind. I remember nostalgically the white bucks, khaki pants, and striped ties, even though I now live in jeans. Who of us can forget being called "weak sisters" by Mr. McMahon in English and Latin, and perhaps we are tougher because of it. We kidded Mr. Brush about his Hillman and Crosley and unknowingly learned in our formative years the advantages of mini economy cars. Many of us listened together to Don Larsen's "perfect game" on that miracle technological advancement, a transistor radio. We started together surrounded by punched-through paper walls, but graduated with many shared experiences from the fresh new building. Our CCDS days, for good and bad, have in part made us who we are today. We each have our own specific memories.

My CCDS years were at times painful, but as I look back after fifty years, I am thankful for the supportive, stimulating, and academically rigorous environment we shared. At a time when some advocate creationism being taught and less homework I appreciate the school and teachers that fostered curiosity, questioning, and independent thinking. (Mr. Pat's animated, jerky prodding and Mr. Brush's patience and persistence in requiring us to write and rewrite and again rewrite stories are but two examples.)

Recently I asked a friend to co-chair a convention planning committee. I was soon horrified to learn we had totally opposite management philosophies and world views. He believed that once a group decision is made, there are no circumstances under which it should be reconsidered. For me it is an essential part of my being to always be willing to question and review everything. I attribute Country Day for instilling this value. I was struck that not everyone has had our CCDS education that put priority on curiosity, creativity, flexibility, and the love of learning.