Lee Van Valkenburgh

Gosh, let’s see. So many years, so little space!

Working life since 1962: About ten years in academe . . . Ph.D in English . . . then dropped out and into working for Blue Cross-Blue Shield in Florida and Pennsylvania. At various times, I’ve been responsible for government relations, public relations, human resources, facilities and various other functions. Thank heaven for a liberal arts education--I couldn’t have faked my way through all those areas otherwise! For many years I hoped BC-BS would be the basis for the national health insurance plan we so badly need in the U.S., but I’m no longer optimistic about that.

Proudest moment: No single moment, but my wife Judy Zellner (Emory, ‘61) and I have two daughters and a son, and we’re proud of the people each of them has grown up to be. Judy has been active in helping those who most need help in our society--such as refugees and children --and next to our children, I’m probably proudest of her and the work she has done.

Memorable experiences: Holding my daughter Jeannie for the first time. The weddings of our children--memorable above all for each being quite different. Going to Spain for a few days on a whim--and finding that some of my high school Spanish came back. Coming out of the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington on the morning of September 11th and seeing black smoke rising from the Pentagon.

What was important about Pomona: Well, the people above all. The music. And though I might not have admitted it at the time, the inscriptions on the College gates sum up much of the Pomona experience. I’m sure I haven’t fully shared the riches the College gave me, but I have been fortunate to have chaired the local united arts fund, the library board and the vestry of our Episcopal church. (Bill Woodcock insisted I would end up back in the church, and I swore I wouldn’t. Live and learn.)

Favorite professor: Hard to pick one. Comp Lit with Herr Baumann may have been the best course I ever took--three times. I think fondly of Professor Theresa Fulton and her laughter during Art History lectures and of Professor Charles Holmes and his wife Marian--generous, hospitable and urbane people. Like Pete Tarlton, I remember Marty Fuller, and above all the time he sought to restore conversation to the Coop by cutting the jukebox cord with an axe--which may have cost him his job but was a brave statement.

Future: Travel some, read more books, see more of our grandchildren. Acquire the backhand that has evaded me all these years. Volunteer. Stay in better touch with my friends.

The Van Valkenburgh Clan