The Magazine of the University of Minnesota Duluth

Volume 20, No.1, Winter 2003


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TAKING PART IN HISTORY

David and Susan Fedo
David Fedo’65, and Susan Randall Fedo ’64, attended UMD at a time when President John F. Kennedy was making headlines on a daily basis. It made a big impression when Kennedy made a swing through Minnesota and stopped at UMD. “It was the third week of September in 1963,” David said. “And the country was captured by unprecedented optimism and progressiveness. Looking back, I see that all that idealism came to an end with President Kennedy’s death and then the assassination of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King —not to mention the Vietnam War. But when President Kennedy came to UMD, we thought anything was possible.”

Kennedy had recently visited the Berlin Wall to tell the world, “Ich bin ein Berliner.” Martin Luther King made his “I Have a Dream,” speech in August and these were powerful occurrences for David, an English major and editor of the UMD student newspaper, the Statesman.

“Kennedy came into the gymnasium and got up on stage with Provost Raymond Darland. There were many dignitaries who joined him. I remember seeing the U.S. Senator from Minnesota, Hubert Humphrey, the Secretary of Agriculture Orville Freeman, and the U.S. Senator from Montana, Mike Mansfield. Kennedy was crossing the country, giving speeches about the environment.

Less than eight weeks later, Kennedy was dead. “One of our friends came up to us as we left class and said that Kennedy had been shot,” Susan said. “We didn’t believe it could be true.”

But they found out otherwise when they joined other students in the Kirby Student Center to watch the news. David said, “You can’t imagine what it felt like to sit in Kirby and watch Walter Cronkite tell us that Kennedy had been assassinated. It was probably the single most dramatic moment of our lives, and it was made all the more powerful because we had just seen the President right on our own campus.”

Even though they were college students, David and Susan Fedo felt that they were witnessing history.

A second impressionable event put them, once again, in the flow of world affairs. Susan, who was the student chair of convocations and lectures, brought the celebrated English poet W.H. Auden to UMD in 1964. “David had inherited his father’s old station wagon and that’s what we drove to pick up Auden at the airport,” she said. “He didn’t seem to mind. He got in the front seat and then bumped his head on the windshield and asked how far was the nearest open pit mine.”

David introduced Auden to the student body and later Susan and David took Auden to the Pickwick Restaurant. She said, “I was given a lot of responsibility from people like Ed Siggelkow, the UMD Dean of Students. He was one of the best read people I have ever met; he was always reading something interesting. The talks I had with Ed Siggelkow are an example of the rich life we had outside of classroom. It was wonderful. He made all of us in student government feel that we were in a special place.”

Susan and David, who now reside in Medford, Massachu- setts, a suburb of Boston, have taken their UMD experiences and put them to good use. Susan, who graduated with a double major from UMD in psychology and sociology/anthropology, went on to receive her M.A. from Ohio University and her Ed.D. from Boston University. Since then she has worked in college student affairs, was the director of the Wellesley College student center and also worked for Wellesley in non-academic student services. She now is Director of Human Resources for Wheelock College in Boston.

David was also active on campus. He acted in theatre productions, directed a play, and was a radio announcer for KUMD FM, as well as being the editor of the Statesman during his junior year. David went on to receive his M.A. and his Ph.D. from Boston University, and has a number of publications to his credit, including a book on William Carlos Williams. A true Renaissance man, he still writes and publishes poetry, when he isn’t working at Curry College, in Milton, MA, where he is academic dean and vice president for academic affairs.

David and Susan get back to Duluth at least once a year; their families are still in the area. David attended Central High School and Susan attended East. When they get back, they make it a priority to see the UMD campus.

David said, “UMD was a rich and rewarding experience for both of us. I met people who were absolutely pivotal in shaping my life, Professors Wendell Glick, Robert Owens, and William A. Rosenthal among others. They prepared us very well for graduate school. The sense of community was powerful. The quality of teaching was incredible, and we both benefited from superior teaching.”

In addition to tromping around campus, Susan and David stay in touch with UMD in other ways. David stays in touch with some of his English faculty. Because the Fedos are Friends of the Hemingway Collection in the JFK Library in Boston, they visit it often. Hanging in the library is a photograph of JFK which was taken by retired UMD photographer, Ken Moran.

Susan and David hosted a UMD event for UMD New England alumni last summer. They also attend UMD hockey games whenever they get the chance. “That’s where we met Chancellor Martin.” Susan said. “And we have become good friends.”

“As alumni, we see UMD growing so much stronger, so much better,” David said. “It’s thrilling for us: the new library, the new music building, UMD’s growing reputation, the prestige. It’s a very solid place.”

Susan said, “When we were students at UMD, we felt close to important world events. We still feel that way. UMD was a tremendous experience for us.”

— Cheryl Reitan 

 

 
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