Dear Classmates:

I don't know how many of us had already set our sights on the career we would eventually follow before coming to Rutgers.  Not many years before arriving on the Banks I entertained the idea of studying Wildlife Management at the University of Montana and, had I followed that path, I would now be retired from the Smokey the Bear fraternity. 

When I first thought of attending Rutgers my imagined target was Microbiology.  In the fall of 1957 I had even considered bypassing college altogether and enrolling in a management development program at Procter & Gamble.  That seemed a reasonable and less stressful idea, but when my high school friends started applying to college I figured I should give it a try, too.  So I applied to Rutgers and Rider and was accepted at both New Jersey Schools.

If memory serves (and increasingly it doesn't) we had until the second semester of our Sophomore year to declare a major.  I don't really remember why I chose Journalism but do remember when I told my English professor, Dr.Charney, of my choice he said: "That's too bad.  I thought you could write" 

All of this comes to mind because we just lost Digby Diehl, a classmate who could and did write - probably more and more visibly than many of our other classmates who did -- and, to relate to this rather long preamble, he obviously had that objective in mind for a long time before our Sophomore year.

Digby was the son of a writer -- a well-known newspaper and magazine contributor and eventually a corporate PR man who ended his career as a publishing executive in Northern New Jersey.  Clearly that influenced his son's chosen profession.  Looking at Digby's 1958 Boonton, NJ  high school yearbook you can see, if you discount "magic" and "hypnotism",  the direction he would probably take.  (image below)

When he got to Rutgers he almost immediately became involved with the Targum and WRSU, continuing the direction he had set probably years before. 

I didn't know Digby at Rutgers although he like I lived in Frelinghuysen but, unlike him, after that Sophomore decision, I roamed the halls of Van Nest, home of the Rutgers School of Journalism. But although many of my fellow Journalism graduates who numbered fewer than one dozen did, and who, indeed, have fulfilling and even headline making careers in the profession, Digby built his from a platform based on his major: American Civilization. 

After our June 1962 graduation I went off to UCLA Grad School.  It seems Digby went there too although I'm not sure we were contemporaries.  I wish we had been and that we had gotten together.  I could have used a friend in LA.  As grad students, he went on  to eventually graduate; and I, having quickly discovered I wasn't really a serious student, did not. The Cuban Missile Crisis and unexpected portent of fatherhood suggested other plans were more appropriate for me.

I contacted him after graduation only once when I tried to entice him to travel east to our 50th reunion.  We had an interesting back and forth email conversation for a week or so, but I was unsuccessful.

In reading about him while referencing his death on our website (an extra-presidential task I've had for a decade and a half) I came away wishing even more that I had known him.  I envy those of you who did.

That he died with Alzheimer's, an affliction with which I and my family are all too familiar, I hope he still had memories of his time at Rutgers.  From what I've heard, those who knew him then do and won't forget him.

Read more by Pasadena Weekly writer Mary Reinholz here: