A Big Red Bond

Henry P. "Hank" Palmer, Jr. ’47 P’71 and his wife Audrey can see the Washington & Lee University athletic fields from their house in Lexington, Va., -- the very same athletic fields where Jess Castelo ’14 played lacrosse for the W&L Generals.

When Palmer learned that alumna Jess Castelo '14 attended W&L, he reached out to introduce himself. Castelo, former captain of the girls’ lacrosse team at Lawrenceville, was a sophomore at the time and happily accepted the Palmers’ invitation to connect. Despite the decades between Palmer and his guest, time disappeared as they connected over a common Big Red bond.

Palmer says he enjoyed talking with the young alumni about his experiences as a Lawrenceville student in the 1940s. He recalls attending Chapel every morning and a music appreciation class in the Bath House where students had to name the composition, the movement and the composer on various records played by the instructor. Audrey shared stories of working at the circulation desk in the John Dixon Library before moving into the new Bunn Library.

Castelo says she enjoyed hearing about Palmer’s experience at Lawrenceville, and while it was different in some ways as an all-boys school at the time, they did find common interests.

“His wife worked in the library there and we talked about that, and he would show me pictures and go through different pictures,” she said. “He talked about the new Head Master and staying up to date with the current events. He went back for his reunion weekend and walked at the front of the line. I haven’t even had my reunion weekend,” says Castelo, who celebrates her 5th Reunion this spring. She also says Palmer was able to meet her father, Bob, who is a Lawrenceville graduate from the Class of 1978.

Palmer and his wife Audrey enjoyed cheering for Jess and her teammates and were frequent attendees at Castelo’s lacrosse games. The Palmers even traveled to Castelo’s playoff game in Roanoke, Va.

“He would have the game roster and printouts – he was invested in the sport and the team and my career there,” Castelo says. “That was pretty cool and meaningful that he would travel.”

Their friendship grew and before Castelo graduated from W&L, she gave Palmer a framed photo of the two from one of her games, and Palmer gifted her a vintage Lawrenceville stein he had obtained many years before.

“I’ll definitely keep that forever,” Castelo says.

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