Ways To Give: What Other Alums Are Saying

Estate Planning

John Crane ’65

John Crane ’65 (R) with husband, David Chambers

John Crane ’65 (R) with husband, David Chambers

Now in my eighth decade of life, I realize just how essential St. Johnsbury Academy was as a launch pad for my life.


I was fortunate to grow up with four brothers on a farm in East St. Johnsbury. Our parents were deeply committed to education. In fact, they labeled our childhood piggy banks “College Money” from the beginning. Dad, Ed Crane, was a farmer and civic leader and Mom, Ruth Crane ’42, was a self-taught naturalist who became registrar of the Fairbanks Museum. They emphasized knowledge, skills, and values, all of which aligned perfectly with the Academy’s approach to education.


Knowledge. The early 1960s were a time of great educational change as emphasis shifted from rote memory to discovery as a principal approach to teaching. The Academy teachers were exceptional in embracing these new methods: Lucille Byrne with the “new math”; Clara Tandy with the “new biology”; and Bill Stowe with the “new Physics”. My Academy experience prepared me well for my next step in life, Dartmouth College where I majored in mathematics.


Skills. The Academy instilled in me a love of studio arts and the sorts of skills the studio arts require. For me, these skills took a great leap forward with Ray Frey, from whom I took two years of art classes. He taught me that art was more about training the eye than about training the hand. He also taught me how to criticize the work of others constructively and, more importantly, how to be open to receiving criticism myself. Two of life’s great lessons. These interests continued to develop and have become particularly important during my retirement—first in printmaking and then, more recently, in fiber arts—knitting, designing patterns, spinning yarn, and becoming knowledgeable about the many different breeds of sheep in the world.


Values. As citizens in a democracy, we need to act in ways that reflect “us” more than “me”. The Academy transmits this moral code—not through any particular religious tradition— but rather through the importance of civic virtues, with deep respect for the diversity of religious beliefs in the world.


In addition to the Academy, the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum served for me as an important catalyst for a rewarding career in librarianship. Just as I benefited from new ways of teaching during my Academy years, I arrived at librarianship just as information was shifting from print to digital. Dartmouth College Library, where I spent my entire career, was big enough to be interesting but small enough to be manageable during this seismic shift in the field of information management and delivery. 


The knowledge, skills, and values imparted at St. Johnsbury Academy provided a great start to my life in academic communities—both at Dartmouth and at the University of Michigan, where my husband, David Chambers, was professor of law. I was truly lucky to have been born in St. Johnsbury.


These are the reasons for my enduring and enthusiastic support for St. Johnsbury Academy!