Alumni Association

University of Colorado Boulder

Recalling some stellar CU professors

By Ken Lloyd (Econ’47)

Hanging on the wall in my office is the saying, “Illigitene new carborundum.” Loosely translated this means “Don’t let the bastards get you down.” This relates to my first week at the University of Colorado, fall 1940.

I was in the arts and sciences college. Late in my freshman year I took a course in economics. This opened up a new world for me. I was already interested in political science, so I decided then and there that I would major in both economics and political science. I had some difficulty in both areas as I seemed to disagree with some professors quite often, and I found out later they were liberal Democrats. I did learn that there are always two sides to any subject. I was in the class of 1944, but didn’t get my college degree until 1947 due to a small interruption called World War II.

Some of my classes included chemistry, math, accounting, political science (it’s not really a science), constitutional law, economics of war, money and banking, psychology, European history and American literature. I had some fine professors. Here are some I remember:

CU Little Theatre

CU Little Theatre

Francis Wolle (MA’16) was the Little Theatre director. Also, peculiarly, he taught a math class that I was in. I had done some acting in high school so decided to try out for a part when I was a freshman. Surprisingly, I was given a part in a one act play with one other actor, opposite Peggy Kellerman, a beautiful Hawaiian (never could get a date with her. My acting may have killed that possibility).  Two particular events have stayed poignant in my mind ever since. Professor Wolle, a single man, asked me to come to his apartment one evening for coaching. We had a little small talk. Then:

Ken and Peggy Kellerman

Ken and Peggy Kellerman

“Take off your shirt and turn around.” He placed his hands on my diaphragm. I nearly panicked.

“Now, breathe deeply, filling your lungs. Now as you exhale, speak from your diaphragm. Let me feel it.” 

I settled down and did as I was told. What a difference in my voice — deeper and more resonant. He wasn’t attracted to me after all.

This was a one-act play, Renaissance style. I had to wear fancy, velvet pantaloons and a matching jacket. So Francis Wolle drove me through downtown Boulder to a small bungalow on Pine Street. The living room was filled with cloth in all kinds and colors, plus three sewing machines. Dr. Wolle described to the seamstress the costume he wanted made for me. She took measurements and we left. Rehearsal night the exquisite costume arrived. A perfect fit. That first night, I can’t remember hisses or boos or clapping, but I remember Peggy and the seamstress.

Sibel Wolle traveled Colorado to document dying ghost towns.

The seamstress turned out to be Muriel Sibell (MA’30) of the fine arts department and later head of the department and still later the wife of Francis Wolle. Sibell first came to Colorado in 1929 from the East and became entranced with the Rockies and the mining-era ghost towns. In summers for many years she tramped the mountains, researched the history of mining camps and drew charcoal pictures of towns and buildings. Her book, Stampede to Timberline, published in 1949, is an incredible collection of writing and pictures of more than  240 ghost towns. Most have now disappeared with the exception of a few weathered wooden planks.

I learned from this experience never to take a person for granted. Many a seeming seamstress is in truth an artist.

Muriell Sibell accumulated over the years probably the greatest collection of Kachina dolls in the U.S. She donated it to the CU Museum of Natural History where they are currently in storage.  Other educators that stand out in my college career:

I had R.G. Gustafson for freshman chemistry lecture. Big physical man. Made chemistry fascinating. Proved to us through chemistry that there was a supreme being. He became the University of Nebraska chancellor.

Then there was Warner Imig, head of the music department. I was a good singer, not great, just good so I joined the University Glee Club. Imig directed. He was easy going but able to get the best out of each of us.

Mrs. Hart and “Captain” Bly Curtis.

I had to work my way through school and since I dated little (my future wife, Peggy, was in Fort Collins) I volunteered to stay after big dinners in the community center and scrub pots and pans. Hart was the supervisor. When she became manager of the Faculty Club on Broadway, she asked me to come and work there for room and board. I readily accepted.

I cleaned off the stairs daily, dumped the trash and cleaned the poker and pool tables in the basement (the only people who played pool were us student employees). For this difficult work I received room and board. To this day I believe I had the best job at the university. And I had the best meals on campus. Sure beat working for a living. Hart had to resign because of back problems. “Captain” Bly Curtis was the head of all the dorms and took over the faculty club.  One hour later I was gone. For some reason, she didn’t think I was earning my keep. Uncle Sam wanted me about then so it was OK.

So these are some of the college teachers I remember best–that had the most effect on my life.  I thank them. I truly thank them.

In 1944 I was off to the unknown world of war.

Francis Wolle was one of Ken's favorite professors in the 1940s.

I truly enjoyed college—the classes, the sports, the political, the social—all of it. College truly helped me to grow up and expand my horizons. The coming military service would be a major change in my life. Such service was absolutely necessary if America and its allies were to retain democracies and freedoms.

So it is on to the unknown world of war.

P.S.: I truly enjoyed college—the classes, the sports, the political, the social life — all of it. College truly helped me to grow up and expand my horizons. The coming military service would be a major change in my life. Such service was absolutely necessary if America and its allies were to retain democracies and freedoms.

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