Mercyhurst Magazine Spring 2014

Remember when they were students There is something to be said for sticking around to see your alma mater change and grow and its graduates grow right along with it. It’s a great place to be when asked to write a refection piece on alumni of Mercyhurst who are now Trustees of our university. It’s been a walk down memory lane, looking back on them as students, young adults and successful professionals. Some vignettes are serious, others lighthearted, and still others about them and me together. Each is true. My appreciation to these Alumni-Trustees who allowed me to recall memories of them. What good sports they were! And so the story begins, as I celebrate a common thread among us – our love and loyalty to our alma mater.

By Mary Daly ‘66

TRUSTEE MARY ELLEN DAHLKEMPER ’73 President, Mercyhurst Prep School, Erie, Pa. • Trustee since Dec. 15, 2005

She graduated in 1973, a member of our frst freshman class of women and men. They considered themselves “pioneers.” Mary Ellen Dahlkemper was part of the infamous class that insisted on being the frst to have an outdoor graduation. There was no Plan B and it poured. They were brave pioneers, all right. Between squishes and splashes, the graduating class ran to Saint Luke Church in soaked gowns and curled mortarboards only to listen to the worst graduation speaker ever. There’s never been another outdoor graduation or outside speaker at an Erie graduation. We thought we had all but erased that graduation from Mercyhurst memory until October 1997 rolled along. Seems workmen were taking up the hardwood fooring in Weber Hall that had absorbed the leaps of ballet dancers for a quarter-century to restore it as the library great room. There they discovered small pieces of masking tape on black tile with names on each, lined up like ducks in a row. They were names of the graduates of 1973. Mary Ellen had returned to Mercyhurst in 1996 as director of our adult college and graduate programs. I was probably one of her many calls that day. “I found my name, I found it!” she squealed in a voice you might expect had she won the Powerball jackpot. “You must see it. I’ll meet you there,” she insisted. Sure enough, there it was and probably still is, now covered by carpeting. Mary Ellen’s mark is on Mercyhurst, in more ways than one.

TRUSTEE ROSEMARY D. DURKIN, ESQ. ‘77 Shareholder, Stark & Stark, Attorneys at Law, Princeton, N.J. • Trustee since Oct. 16, 1997

You couldn’t miss Rosemary Durkin as a young student. She stood out with her faming red hair and she married classmate Jef Best, also a carrot-top. She was feisty, determined, fun-loving, and had already decided to follow in her Aunt Catherine’s footsteps as an attorney. Catherine Durkin ‘36 was a charter member of the 1963 lay advisory board that later became the board of trustees. She left a big footprint on the Mercyhurst landscape when she retired in 1987. Ten years later, it was Rosemary’s turn to take up the baton. She is as dependable as a trustee as she was as a student. She took on the job of writing the governance history of the institution and its frst nondiscrimination policy, and is currently in the thick of trustee leadership on the question of whether Mercyhurst campus police should carry frearms. She’s never left Mercyhurst since graduation in 1977. In fact, Rosemary and Jef might hold the record among us. They’ve missed only two Homecomings. Like mother (and father), like daughter. Rosemary’s daughter, Deirdre, who graduated from Mercyhurst this spring, is engaged to a ‘Hurst classmate. A few months ago I was at an Irish shop in South Bufalo and saw a plaque that reminded me of the Best-Durkin family. It reads: “A face without freckles is like a sky without stars.” I said to the store owner, “This is perfect. Wrap it up!”


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