2012 Fall Newsletter

Message from the Chair

W. Terrence SpillerThe search for the origins of speech is one of the most challenging quests in the scholarly world; in fact, it is sometimes referred to as “the hardest problem in science.” When did the use of words begin? How did words then grow to be so powerful? I was thinking about the importance of words when I was reminiscing about Clifford Chapman, who passed away this past June. Clifford was one of the most wonderful arts and community supporters imaginable — he was extraordinarily generous with his treasure, his time, and his spirit. He was a gentleman who was kind to all, and he had a special soft spot for musicians and students.

The two words that came to my mind when thinking of Clifford were gratitude (for his many kindnesses and generosities) and grace (for he was graceful and elegant). Gratitude and grace share some of the same Latin roots, gratia (favor, esteem, good will) and gratus (pleasing, agreeable); all are apt terms for describing Clifford.

Clifford and his surviving partner, Don Shidler, seemed to share a simple mission in life — do as much good as possible. Like so many others in our community, we’ve benefited from their generosity — and, when we think back to Clifford, we’ll keep President John F. Kennedy’s words in mind: “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

W. Terrence Spiller, Chair