Phillips Academy Andover, located at Andover, Massachusetts, U.S.A. is indeed a wonderful Prep School for preparing young boys and girls to become good adult citizens. Its mottos as shown on the seal above are: “Non Sibi” ( Not For Self ) and “Fini Origine Pendet” ( The End Depends On The Beginning ). The school excels in “Humanities” and strives for “Knowledge & Goodness”. Prominent lecturers like Professors Angela Duckworth and Carol Dweck came to lecture on Definition of Character – The Heart, The Mind, and The Will, as well as Motivations, Strategies, and Creating Opportunities. The School gives equal emphasis on Academic Excellence as well as Personal Character. It encourages Inclusiveness, Diversity, Love, Caring, and Empathy. Indeed, I believe that it is a superb Incubator for training and building World Citizens. I learned that last year it had students attending from 52 different countries and 43 different states, and it has an outstanding “Learning In the World” program.
Not often talked about is the Friendships formed as students, faculties, and alumni (ae) of Phillips Andover. Thus I like to take this opportunity to introduce a special friend and classmate, George Rider, an “ Admired Jock” in Football, Hockey, and LaCross during our school years, a successful Wall Street Financier throughout his adult life, and an accomplished writer and author after retirement. He is the author of “ The Rogue’s Road to Retirement “- published in 2015, and he has a new book coming: “All Ahead Full. 88 Years in My Wake”.
George has been our PA’51 class’s long time Alumni Correspondence Secretary. I did not realize how important that role was until I started to study and do research on Friendship and Friendshipology. Due to his personal enthusiasm and his creative writing skill, his columns in PA Alumni Magazines have always been something that many classmates and myself look forward to reading with high anticipation. More than other class reports, his news stir up deep feelings joyful or sad. This actually has helped many of us know many other classmates much deeper and more appreciatively. George has been, indeed, our CONNECTOR, our GLUE, our FACILITATOR, and I must point out that he has always shown real appreciation for his “International Friends” – myself included luckily.
Last week, George sent me a section of his upcoming book- a section titled: “SOME ENCHANTED AFTERNOON “ Friendship “YOU’VE GOT TO BE CAREFULLY TAUGHT”. He started off with “ I pinch myself, as I am reminded about how lucky I am. —— thoughts turned to Andover and four “International Classmates” directly affected by WWII. ” Presented below are portions of what George wrote about Billy MingSing Lee, George Strzetelski. Frank Yatsu, and Steve Yamamoto.
“ Billy came to America as the “lucky son of a prominent HongKong movie producer”. ——In Billy’s third year, his father’s business collapsed, Andover came to Billy’s rescue and granted him a full scholarship and a job washing dishes in the Beanery ( Kitchen & Dining Halls ). —–He went on to captain Andover’s soccer team and starred at Yale —– has become an avid advocate of “Home Stays” in both US and China —–his current project: ”To Promote Friendship – Be A Friend”.
“ George Strzetelski was born in Warsaw, Poland. George’s family resources had been wiped out —-but with luck and the help of his mother’s hairdresser, who also had wife of Andover’s Headmaster Dr. Claude Feuss as a customer——George was awarded a scholarship to Andover and also a job in the Beanery with Billy. —— George later worked his way through Duke University and Boston University School of Law.”
“In 1947, the term Political Correctness had not yet been hatched. The war and its aftermath were still front and center at the time when as 15 year-olds, we were just starting to grasp the significance of what had just happened, and were beginning to question why.”
“Frank Yatsu, first Asian American to become a trustee of Brown University—— at 8 years old was transported to a desert camp in Arizona which held 17,000 internees. —Frank expressed: “I was too young at the time to understand the political and cultural significance of the internment of the Japanese Americans, but the contrasting juxtaposition of interment and my attending Andover have made me realize the greatness of America- that it can learn from past prejudices and injustice to seek a more perfect union”. ——-Senior year, Frank was Head Waiter at the Beanery as well as President of our Student Council.”
“ Of all the wonderful, enduring friendships I made at Andover, Steve Yamamoto’s story and how he arrived at Andover is the most compelling. —–Steve came from a family of three generations of naval officers –all Admirals. ——-in 1944 , when he was a 7th grader in Tokyo, attacks by B-24 and B-29s became more frequent —— they moved to a remote area along the Japan Sea coast. —— This first indiscriminate firebombing of Tokyo on March 10, 1945 claimed 8000 lives. Steve recounted, “ I vaguely remembered being with my father over the bombarded area from our yard. —-This was his farewell visit before going on his last naval mission with the Japanese navy. He was 42 when he died. ——- dropping of a “new type of bomb” on Hiroshima on August 6 —- August 15th recorded message by the Emperor —-Japan had surrendered—— There was a sense of relief that there would be no more air raids and no more black curtains to keep the house dark on hot summer nights.”
“ Steve’s mother spoke fluent English and got a job as a receptionist at what was to become the U.S. Embassy.—–On the basis of verbal aptitude test scores, school transcripts, and a few letters of recommendation, Steve was given a full scholarship to Andover. —– He came to Andover in the fall of 1950 from a still Allied Occupied Japan —– “I was oblivious to the possibility that there might be hostile reception in America. I encountered none when I arrived in San Francisco, and during the long bus ride to Washington D.C. a passenger even gave me one dollar for spending money.” ——- a classmate arranged a blind date for Steve to attend a tea dance with Shirley Young an Abbot Academy senior. She was Chinese. ” Shirley had every reason to refuse to be my blind date because of what had happened to her father in Manila during the Japanese occupation. Yet she agreed to come. I was mortified when she told me about what happened when we met. We parted “friends” and saw each other on occasion at Yale.” Many classmates may have assumed that Admiral Yamamoto who led the Pearl Harbor surprise attack was Steve’s father or grand-father, but we embraced Steve without prejudice. We later found out that they were indeed both Admiral Yamamoto but not the same person. “
As Class Secretary ( Alumni Correspondence Secretary ), George Rider has served as our communicator and made special efforts to induce many classmates to stay in touch and contribute to his columns. He received a “Message of Gratitude for Classmates” from Steve, prior to our 60th Reunion: “Thank you again for all your friendship. My Andover Year was very pleasant, rewarding, and an auspicious beginning of my very exciting life both in the United States and Japan.” Yamamoto received a full scholarship from Yale, graduated in 1955, Summa Cum Laude, A PhD from Yale also in Physics. Did his thesis on nuclear physics. —After 20 years of living and working in America, he returned to Japan with his wife Keiko and children. ——-In 1969 he accepted an offer from Tokyo University ——– Retired at 60 and was made professor emeritus.
Rider concluded in that chapter of his new book: “ My father used to say that Friendship is the finest ship that sails ! My four years at Andover were the defining years of my life. ( Indeed, Fini Origine Pendet ). Sharing the educational experience and the trials and tribulation of maturing, with classmates rich and poor, foreign and homegrown, standup individuals coping with situations common to all during our years together at Andover, has left an indelible imprint on me. Reflecting and Remembering in the afterglow is a dividend I will never cash ! My good fortune continues ! “
I like to take this opportunity to point out that Friendships initiated at Andover were thus further extended and nurtured. Classmate George Rider’s contribution as our Alumni Class Secretary has benefitted us all immeasurably. Giving his time, his skill, his heart and spirit for bringing out and sustaining Goodfeelings, and High Spirit among us Old Friends is truly a much appreciated and admirable NON SIBI ( Not for Self) Accomplishment .
Thank you, George ! Thank you, Phillips Academy Andover !