Memories of Joe Platt, Page 3

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Richard Silver '62

I came to HMC in 1958 as a member of the second class. I was spoiled: Joe Platt was accessible and friendly, even while wielding the necessary authority of the president of a college. It was then being formed and tested, but would rise to greatness under his leadership. Late in our freshman year, Bob Styerwalt ’62 and I were able to get time in his home with a tape recorder, and recorded a batch of his songs, which I later learned have become very well-known among HMC friends and alumni. I recently digitized the recording and made a music CD from it.

After I had been working a few years as an engineer at Procter & Gamble I was able to recruit among the rising HMC graduates, and also sponsored two Engineering Clinic projects. It has been a privilege to know Joe Platt and to celebrate his life among us. It really “ain’t the money – it is the principle of the thing.”

Emily Gleason

Ann Arbor, MI

Dear Jean,

How saddened I am by the news of Joe’s passing. What an extraordinary man and, above all, what a very fine person Joe was. I well remember Joe’s beautiful bird photos, among his many unique accomplishments. Alan and I felt very blessed to have known you and Joe during our Rochester years.

With sympathy and happy memories,

Mack Gilkeson

Emeritus prof of engineering

In earlier memorial remarks that I submitted, I left out some important specifics, which may be useful documentation for Joe as he reaches the Pearly Gates.

Recently, Harvey Mudd College, with a trio of engineering faculty members, has been awarded the prestigious Gordon prize for 2012, honoring the Engineering Clinic and the HMC design program. Joe Platt’s contribution, of course, was significant to the creation of HMC’s Clinic program five decades ago.

During the early 1960s, while working on program development, lowly associate professors Alford and Gilkeson were invited to periodic meetings with Joe Platt and his Dean, Gene Hotchkiss, at which time arguments for and critical questions about a then revolutionary program were fully aired. Then, when it came time for funding Clinic development, Joe and George McKelvey successfully acquired the necessary money for the start of the venture. Another example of Joe Platt’s effective leadership.

John Murray '61


In September 1957 Joe welcomed the first HMC class of forty-eight freshmen. Most of us were moving away from home for the first time and he made us feel comfortable and part of a family.

At the 1957 Christmas party Joe played his guitar and lead us in songs from his unique “songbook.”

The president of the college taught a physics section.

He encouraged me to pursue a career in business and probably helped me secure my first job.

He greeted me as an old friend whenever we saw each other.

Joe had a continuing interest in my career and family including sincere condolences when my wife Barbara died suddenly.

He welcomed my current wife, Margi, and made her feel like she had always belonged to the HMC family.

Joe continued his legendary music by leading a campfire sing along at the 2004 alumni weekend.

He was pleased and excited when we were able to visit him during the Founding Class’s 50th reunion and present him with reunion gifts.

Katie Cervenka

Rice University, Houston, TX

I am heartbroken to learn of Joe’s passing. I worked with Joe in the late 1990’s. He was involved with CGU’s School of Education; I worked in development. He was always so generous with his time, and we often had great fun sharing stories. We discovered, after he asked my maiden name, that we were distantly related. I brought him an old scrapbook I had inherited from my Oregonian grandfather – – and sure enough: Platts. He let me borrow an old scrapbook of his – – sure enough: Bashes. Thereafter, he always referred to me as “cousin” with that ever-present twinkle in his eye. Chief among my memories of many Platt kindnesses: Jean and Joe, when I was groggy in the early days of motherhood, brought me the lovely gift of a Jean-made silver spoon, which I cherish to this day. I left California 12 years ago, but I’ve thought often of Jean and Joe with great fondness.