One of the most prestigious awards an alumnus can receive, The Distinguished Alumni Award is presented annually by the Lawrenceville School Alumni Association Executive Committee to the Lawrentian “who, through selfless devotion to the interests of The Lawrenceville School and to the activities of the Alumni Association, has contributed significantly to the welfare of Lawrenceville and who has exemplified the highest standards of The Lawrenceville School.”
This year’s recipient, Ralph C. Smith ’59, received the Distinguished Alumni Award during Alumni Weekend for his exceptional efforts on behalf of the School.
Ralph entered Lawrenceville in 1956 as a Third Former from Weston, Connecticut, where he grew up “catching his fair share of trout” on the Saugatuck River. While at Lawrenceville, Ralph lived in Dawes and Kinnan Houses and participated in various extracurricular activities, including Periwig and Glee Club. Recalling his days at Lawrenceville, an early encounter with then Director of Admissions Fred Eichelberger had a major impact on Ralph’s future studies. In Ralph’s own words, “I failed the Lawrenceville Latin entrance exam so badly that Fred refused to let me take Latin I again and put me in Spanish II Special. This move led to a major in Spanish at Princeton and a summer job on a cattle ranch in Argentina as well as an M.A. in Romance Languages at Harvard.” Ralph went on to earn an M.B.A. from Northwestern University as well.
Ralph taught Spanish and Latin American history at Lawrenceville from 1969 to 1971. He was also Housemaster of Thomas and coached soccer, lacrosse and swimming.
Ralph is a retired vice president of the Bank of Boston Corporation. He traveled throughout Latin America, first for the Philadelphia National Bank and then Bank of Boston, and was stationed in Bolivia for 5 years. He claims it was just like “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”
Ralph married his wife of 55 years, Wendy, in the Edith Memorial Chapel in 1964. Wendy is a member of the Class of 1959 of Miss Fine’s School, now known as Princeton Day School, and has a grandfather and brother who were both Lawrentians. Ralph and Wendy live in Manchester, Massachusetts, a short 15 minutes away from their children Tim and Carrie and grandchildren Jack and Addie. Tim works for The Governor’s Academy, as does Carrie’s husband, Tom. Ralph has never lost his childhood love of fishing, and he and Wendy enjoy spending a lot of time together with the children and their families, boating and fishing in the short months of summer in Manchester.
As an alumnus, Ralph is a member of the John Cleve Green Society, an Alumni Admissions Interviewer, and has been a class agent for over 35 years! He has also served as chair for his 50th Reunion and worked on his 60th Reunion Committee.
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