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Custom Class: post-landing-hero

May we all flirt a little more, read a little more, go adventuring a little more, and put in the work to make the day-to-day special.

Linda Hampton, former administrative assistant to the Upper School principal and a beloved Rowland Hall employee since 1989, passed away December 25 following a sudden diagnosis of pancreatic cancer in August. Though our community continues to reel from Linda’s loss, a January 5 Celebration of Life service in St. Margaret’s Chapel on the McCarthey Campus provided some much-needed comfort and laughter—something Linda, the life of the party, would have wanted us all to have. Here are three sets of remarks from Linda’s family and friends, as read at the service. Lightly edited for style.

Jacob Hampton ’04, Linda’s son

When I started thinking of ways to highlight who mom was as a person, one of the first things I thought of was the day she stood us in the hallway and said, “Today is the day you learn that the words 'mom' and 'maid' are not synonymous.” Being direct was a hallmark of her personality.

She was one of the most genuine people I knew. She told me she once volunteered to discuss dress-code issues with one of the Upper School classes and ended up threatening that she’d start showing her underwear if they kept showing theirs. She was fiercely independent and stubborn when she had to be. Years ago she needed some work done on her sprinklers and balked at a local company’s quote. They explained the price was so high because they’d need to bring in a backhoe to dig a hole large enough to work in. She asked for the size of the hole and then proceeded to spend the day digging it by hand, no doubt throwing her back out in the process. Years ago her washing machine broke. She went to a local home-improvement store and asked one of the employees some questions to try to figure out the problem. He said her husband or one of her sons could probably do it for her. I wasn’t there, so I don’t what her response was, but I do know she worked on that machine until it was up and running again (probably more out of spite than anything). 

She used to love singing and dancing in public because it embarrassed us, and now I find myself carrying on the tradition with my wife as my primary victim.

But she wasn’t all gristle and sarcasm. She had such a strong, goofy, fun side to her, and that’s the side we saw most. She took us to Disneyland when I was 12 and my brother was 16. We went two more times after that, always reveling in the chance to act like three-year-olds together. She loved taking long walks with us and would spend the whole time talking about absolutely anything. She never shied away from serious or tough topics, including the eventuality of her death. We spent countless hours watching the Chiefs disappoint us so, so many times. These were our formative moments for the art of cursing. In the final weeks of her life, I always knew she was feeling pretty good if she cursed a few times during a Chiefs game. She used to love singing and dancing in public because it embarrassed us, and now I find myself carrying on the tradition with my wife as my primary victim.

We were together a lot, and we were lucky to be so unconditionally wanted and loved by someone at all times without fail. She gave us a perfect home.

Mom said she wanted today’s memorial to be focused on memories and stories that make us smile or laugh. And I have plenty more I could share. But the most important memory I have of mom isn’t any one specific event or tradition. It was simply the feeling of being home with her. She told us she was so happy we weren’t interested in doing many extracurricular activities growing up because she was selfish and only had 18 years of us in the house. But it wasn’t selfish; it was so good for us to be with her. We were together a lot, and we were lucky to be so unconditionally wanted and loved by someone at all times without fail. She gave us a perfect home.

Before I finish, I need to fulfill a request that my mom desperately wanted me to do for her. She told me to tell everyone who reached out to her during these last few months: Thank you. Thank you for making her feel special and loved. She knew at the end how many people cared for her. And for that I’m so grateful.


Lee Thomsen, former Upper School principal and Linda’s former boss

We all know how much Linda loved books, and writers often articulate better what we mean to say, so I quote from George Saunders’ book Lincoln in the Bardo—a beautiful meditation on sadness and loss. 

“His mind was freshly inclined toward sorrow; toward the fact that the world was full of sorrow, that all were suffering; and therefore, one must do what one could to lighten the load of those with whom one came into contact, because, in this state, he could be of no help to anyone and, given that his position in the world situated him to be either of great help, or great harm, it would not do to stay low, if he could help it.” 

For those of you who worked in the Upper School with me, particularly in the office, you know that I tried to live by the mantra, “If that’s the biggest problem we have today we’ll take it,” but today is not one of those days, because it wasn’t supposed to be this way. Linda, seemingly was always a part of Rowland Hall and always would be. When I arrived 15 years ago, it seemed like she’d been here forever, and when I left three years ago, I assumed she would be here forever.

Let’s choose to remember those qualities that were so essential to who Linda was—generosity, honesty, hard work, and integrity.

Those of us who adored Linda are devastated today, but we also know she’d be pissed if we moped around too long. So, in service to Saunders’ words let’s choose to remember those qualities that were so essential to who Linda was—generosity, honesty, hard work, and integrity.

Among those things she loved: The Chiefs, books—especially dark mysteries (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Silence of the Lambs, the darker the better). This because, of course, she had studied criminal justice in college. 

She loved pie; guys with big, burly forearms; a well-cooked French fry; musicals; dance and choir concerts at Rowland Hall; Kansas City barbecue; and of course, DOGS. And sometimes those loves overlapped.

I knew Linda mostly during the Diesel era. I’ll never forget one weekend when the Upper School was running one of the musicals. Because both my girls were in it, Linda knew I would see it at least two if not all three nights. So, Friday morning, she asked me how the show had gone the night before, and she ended asking, “Did Alan go last night by any chance?” to which I answered, “Yes.” She said, “Good! Because I really want to see the show, but I can’t leave Diesel alone from 7 am to 10 at night. I’ll run home and smuggle him into the show. Alan would kill me if he caught me doing that.” Sure enough, come show time, there was Linda in the first row of the balcony of the Larimer Center, with Diesel tucked inside her jacket. But then she left at intermission. When I asked why she said, “Diesel started singing along with the big group number right at the end of the first act, so I couldn’t risk staying.”

Linda was a no-BS person. She disliked meanness and untruth. One day when someone was rude to Angela at the front desk, Linda was ready to go out there and rip that person a new one.  

She HATED when a parent would call and excuse their child from a test or something else when she suspected they weren’t really sick. And forget about anyone saying Doug Wortham’s class was “too hard.” 

The other night Abby reminded me that when she graduated from Rowland Hall, Linda said, “I have a graduation present for you that I want to bring by.” And, of course, what would you think Linda would give a student going off to college? A book, right? But no, the gift was a can of pepper spray, because Linda told her, “The world can be a very hard place.”

She ADORED our children—she watched with parental pride as kids came, grew into themselves, graduated, and moved on.

She ADORED our children—she watched with parental pride as kids came, grew into themselves, graduated, and moved on. The Bynum boys, Micha Hori, Jamie Pierce, Sofia Diehl, just to name a few—she had a soft spot for the singers and dancers and admired their talent and grace.

For faculty and staff kids, she was their “school mom.” Frequently taking the afternoon shift for our kids who took the shuttle from the other campus, clamoring into the office to grab a piece of candy. She’d get a special sparkle in her eyes when she got a hug from Hazel, Meg, my two, or the Tschabrun girls. I’m sure she carried on the same for Ingrid and Dave and the next generation.

And she loved all things Rowland Hall. Yes, she would occasionally complain that too many of us would gather in the office and talk and laugh making it impossible for her to talk on the phone or get any work done, but she kept that candy dish filled knowing that we’d keep coming back, and she kept real half-and-half in the faculty-room fridge so we didn’t have to use that powdered gunk.

And…she loved her boys. Zach and Jake—she was so proud of everything you two accomplished, and she loved her travels with you. The generosity you gave by spending her last days at home with her was a reflection of her generosity to others that she instilled in you. When I visited with her, the only time she cried was at the thought of leaving you behind. All of us appreciate how you kept us connected to her through Caring Bridge these last several months and how you took care of your mom.

Finally, to close, back to George Saunders who reminds us to keep the happy memories in our hearts.

“What I mean to say is, we had been considerable. Had been loved. Our departures caused pain. Those who had loved us sat upon their beds, heads in hand... We had been loved, I say, and remembering us, even many years later, people would smile, briefly gladdened at the memory.”


Director of Ethical of Education Ryan Hoglund and Upper School psychology teacher Diane Guido

We’ve had the pleasure of working alongside Linda for 20 and 25 years. We want to first express gratitude to this community for taking care of its own through this difficult and poignant process. Thank you to Jeremy, Ann and operations, Linda’s family—Jacob, Emily, and Zach—and all of you in this community who have rallied to provide support, labor, and financial assistance, all to preserve Linda’s memory, dignity, comfort, and final peace. Tough love was Linda’s spirit and you have honored her well. 

Linda was always easy to love, would talk your damn ear off, and was as generous as one could be.

In addition to being Salt Lake’s most notorious zucchini square dealer, Linda was a mentor and friend we could all count on. Her Lutheran tradition believes salvation comes through grace, but we all in this space know she would achieve peace through works as well. Linda was always easy to love, would talk your damn ear off, and was as generous as one could be.

The blessing of our friendship, as it was with many of you here, was the magic in the mundane, day-to-day routines with Linda. Schools are labor-intensive places and behind the scenes are cycles, a hamster wheel of yearly to-do lists, tasks, checklists, and grind. Linda humanized the process. Annual events such as back to school and graduation would have happened without Linda, but she always gave them her touch—she knew those days were important to students and families. She made the mundane special. In fact, she insisted on it.

For example, while cleaning out student folders one summer, she came across sets of pre-digital school portraits that showed kids growing up year to year. Instead of seeing it as the detritus of student record-keeping, Linda insisted we mail them to each family. So we spent two days in the summer mailing these photos back to each family. As a parent now, I understand how powerful that gesture was.

Linda was the personification of tough love. Manners, hard work, and refinement were the bars she set for teens and adults alike. 

No dog or baby that came into the community made it past Linda’s caring heart. This is evident by the cross-stitch birth announcements hanging in many of our children’s rooms, and the coloring wall outside her cubicle. 

When my daughter Meg was born, Linda was a sweet hand—just as enthusiastic as I was with Meg’s arrival—and offered sound advice to a nervous and joyous parent. Mostly ways to make sure she feared for her life.

While Linda loved the Chiefs and dachshunds, those loves pale in comparison to the love she has for her two sons, Rowland Hall alums Zach and Jacob. Their travels to Ireland, Disneyland, and Disney World—and their road trips through the Black Hills and the Badlands—were epic.

While Linda loved the Kansas City Chiefs and dachshunds, those loves pale in comparison to the love she has for her two sons, Zach and Jacob, who graduated from Rowland Hall. Their travels to Ireland, Disneyland, and Disney World—and their road trips through the Black Hills and the Badlands—were epic. Linda always spoke about that drive through Spearfish Canyon as one of her favorite memories with you two boys. How beautiful that canyon was. She said it was her idea of heaven.

When you all went to the Star Trek convention (in, I think, Las Vegas), Linda was shocked you spent three days there without leaving the convention center. “A real testament to their upbringing,” she joked. I didn’t have the heart to explain to Linda the decadence that is cosplay culture. Your secrets are safe there.

When Zach got certified to do SCUBA, Linda wanted to as well. She joined me and students at the crater in Heber once, and talked about one day returning to dive with Zach. Linda loved the water. 

When we honored Linda for 30 years of service to the school this past fall, I asked Jacob what it was like to have his mother on campus. He said: “For a lot of teenagers entering a new school, having their mother in the main office would be some combination of embarrassing and terrifying. For me it was a blessing, as it gave me the chance to spend more time with the person most responsible for making me who I am. I'm extremely proud of what she's done.”

Zach mentioned: “I remember the sailing interim trip where I was the only guy on a boat full of women, including my mom! It wasn't bad though. I had a great time. I too am grateful for the opportunity to spend time with mom at Rowland Hall and even fondly recall going into the office during the summers to hang out or help with the bookstore.”

As much as Linda could be a fun-slayer for teenagers, she was a fun-starter for adults.

As much as Linda could be a fun-slayer for teenagers, she was a fun-starter for adults. At her and Diane’s 50th birthday party, I can neither confirm nor deny the existence of a great picture of their anatomically correct birthday cake. Diane is petrified in the picture, and Linda looks like she’s in it to win it. Linda was naughty, and never missed the opportunity to point out a double-entendre that would make all of us blush.

Linda spoke fondly of her childhood in Missouri—from what a role model her father had been growing up (Linda inherited her love of home improvement and her fix-it attitude from him), to her antic-filled tales of college, where she studied criminal justice. She had a voracious appetite for true-crime fiction. She and Diane would game the holiday book-exchange to pick each other and each secure a stack of the-gorier-the-better books. 

Diane and I were blessed to see her awe in Sorrento, Italy—the way she giggled through seeing the David, her silence as we walked Pompeii (well, except for the low-level swooning over our hot male Italian tour guide).

My favorite ritual we shared was the occasional beer on the porch with she and Diane on a lazy summer day or impromptu afternoon, joking, debating, or just catching up. We could sit for hours with the conversation easy...and one-sided mostly. Near the end of her life, Diane and I sat one afternoon with Linda. Linda was no-nonsense that she was going to die and was as sweetly resolved and brave as you would expect her to be. 

Linda was a superhero, and I’m glad I got to see her save the day more than once.

We mere mortals joked that Linda was superwoman. We even had her wear a cape when we honored her for 30 years of service to the school. But Linda was a superhero, and I’m glad I got to see her save the day more than once. 

What makes death so difficult are dreams and plans unfulfilled. In Linda’s honor I hope all of us flirt a little more, read for pleasure more often, share a drink with friends on the porch, take the time and put in the work to make the day-to-day special, and take a selfish adventure—a crazy adventure—that you have been putting off for responsible reasons.

People

Honoring Linda Hampton

May we all flirt a little more, read a little more, go adventuring a little more, and put in the work to make the day-to-day special.

Linda Hampton, former administrative assistant to the Upper School principal and a beloved Rowland Hall employee since 1989, passed away December 25 following a sudden diagnosis of pancreatic cancer in August. Though our community continues to reel from Linda’s loss, a January 5 Celebration of Life service in St. Margaret’s Chapel on the McCarthey Campus provided some much-needed comfort and laughter—something Linda, the life of the party, would have wanted us all to have. Here are three sets of remarks from Linda’s family and friends, as read at the service. Lightly edited for style.

Jacob Hampton ’04, Linda’s son

When I started thinking of ways to highlight who mom was as a person, one of the first things I thought of was the day she stood us in the hallway and said, “Today is the day you learn that the words 'mom' and 'maid' are not synonymous.” Being direct was a hallmark of her personality.

She was one of the most genuine people I knew. She told me she once volunteered to discuss dress-code issues with one of the Upper School classes and ended up threatening that she’d start showing her underwear if they kept showing theirs. She was fiercely independent and stubborn when she had to be. Years ago she needed some work done on her sprinklers and balked at a local company’s quote. They explained the price was so high because they’d need to bring in a backhoe to dig a hole large enough to work in. She asked for the size of the hole and then proceeded to spend the day digging it by hand, no doubt throwing her back out in the process. Years ago her washing machine broke. She went to a local home-improvement store and asked one of the employees some questions to try to figure out the problem. He said her husband or one of her sons could probably do it for her. I wasn’t there, so I don’t what her response was, but I do know she worked on that machine until it was up and running again (probably more out of spite than anything). 

She used to love singing and dancing in public because it embarrassed us, and now I find myself carrying on the tradition with my wife as my primary victim.

But she wasn’t all gristle and sarcasm. She had such a strong, goofy, fun side to her, and that’s the side we saw most. She took us to Disneyland when I was 12 and my brother was 16. We went two more times after that, always reveling in the chance to act like three-year-olds together. She loved taking long walks with us and would spend the whole time talking about absolutely anything. She never shied away from serious or tough topics, including the eventuality of her death. We spent countless hours watching the Chiefs disappoint us so, so many times. These were our formative moments for the art of cursing. In the final weeks of her life, I always knew she was feeling pretty good if she cursed a few times during a Chiefs game. She used to love singing and dancing in public because it embarrassed us, and now I find myself carrying on the tradition with my wife as my primary victim.

We were together a lot, and we were lucky to be so unconditionally wanted and loved by someone at all times without fail. She gave us a perfect home.

Mom said she wanted today’s memorial to be focused on memories and stories that make us smile or laugh. And I have plenty more I could share. But the most important memory I have of mom isn’t any one specific event or tradition. It was simply the feeling of being home with her. She told us she was so happy we weren’t interested in doing many extracurricular activities growing up because she was selfish and only had 18 years of us in the house. But it wasn’t selfish; it was so good for us to be with her. We were together a lot, and we were lucky to be so unconditionally wanted and loved by someone at all times without fail. She gave us a perfect home.

Before I finish, I need to fulfill a request that my mom desperately wanted me to do for her. She told me to tell everyone who reached out to her during these last few months: Thank you. Thank you for making her feel special and loved. She knew at the end how many people cared for her. And for that I’m so grateful.


Lee Thomsen, former Upper School principal and Linda’s former boss

We all know how much Linda loved books, and writers often articulate better what we mean to say, so I quote from George Saunders’ book Lincoln in the Bardo—a beautiful meditation on sadness and loss. 

“His mind was freshly inclined toward sorrow; toward the fact that the world was full of sorrow, that all were suffering; and therefore, one must do what one could to lighten the load of those with whom one came into contact, because, in this state, he could be of no help to anyone and, given that his position in the world situated him to be either of great help, or great harm, it would not do to stay low, if he could help it.” 

For those of you who worked in the Upper School with me, particularly in the office, you know that I tried to live by the mantra, “If that’s the biggest problem we have today we’ll take it,” but today is not one of those days, because it wasn’t supposed to be this way. Linda, seemingly was always a part of Rowland Hall and always would be. When I arrived 15 years ago, it seemed like she’d been here forever, and when I left three years ago, I assumed she would be here forever.

Let’s choose to remember those qualities that were so essential to who Linda was—generosity, honesty, hard work, and integrity.

Those of us who adored Linda are devastated today, but we also know she’d be pissed if we moped around too long. So, in service to Saunders’ words let’s choose to remember those qualities that were so essential to who Linda was—generosity, honesty, hard work, and integrity.

Among those things she loved: The Chiefs, books—especially dark mysteries (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Silence of the Lambs, the darker the better). This because, of course, she had studied criminal justice in college. 

She loved pie; guys with big, burly forearms; a well-cooked French fry; musicals; dance and choir concerts at Rowland Hall; Kansas City barbecue; and of course, DOGS. And sometimes those loves overlapped.

I knew Linda mostly during the Diesel era. I’ll never forget one weekend when the Upper School was running one of the musicals. Because both my girls were in it, Linda knew I would see it at least two if not all three nights. So, Friday morning, she asked me how the show had gone the night before, and she ended asking, “Did Alan go last night by any chance?” to which I answered, “Yes.” She said, “Good! Because I really want to see the show, but I can’t leave Diesel alone from 7 am to 10 at night. I’ll run home and smuggle him into the show. Alan would kill me if he caught me doing that.” Sure enough, come show time, there was Linda in the first row of the balcony of the Larimer Center, with Diesel tucked inside her jacket. But then she left at intermission. When I asked why she said, “Diesel started singing along with the big group number right at the end of the first act, so I couldn’t risk staying.”

Linda was a no-BS person. She disliked meanness and untruth. One day when someone was rude to Angela at the front desk, Linda was ready to go out there and rip that person a new one.  

She HATED when a parent would call and excuse their child from a test or something else when she suspected they weren’t really sick. And forget about anyone saying Doug Wortham’s class was “too hard.” 

The other night Abby reminded me that when she graduated from Rowland Hall, Linda said, “I have a graduation present for you that I want to bring by.” And, of course, what would you think Linda would give a student going off to college? A book, right? But no, the gift was a can of pepper spray, because Linda told her, “The world can be a very hard place.”

She ADORED our children—she watched with parental pride as kids came, grew into themselves, graduated, and moved on.

She ADORED our children—she watched with parental pride as kids came, grew into themselves, graduated, and moved on. The Bynum boys, Micha Hori, Jamie Pierce, Sofia Diehl, just to name a few—she had a soft spot for the singers and dancers and admired their talent and grace.

For faculty and staff kids, she was their “school mom.” Frequently taking the afternoon shift for our kids who took the shuttle from the other campus, clamoring into the office to grab a piece of candy. She’d get a special sparkle in her eyes when she got a hug from Hazel, Meg, my two, or the Tschabrun girls. I’m sure she carried on the same for Ingrid and Dave and the next generation.

And she loved all things Rowland Hall. Yes, she would occasionally complain that too many of us would gather in the office and talk and laugh making it impossible for her to talk on the phone or get any work done, but she kept that candy dish filled knowing that we’d keep coming back, and she kept real half-and-half in the faculty-room fridge so we didn’t have to use that powdered gunk.

And…she loved her boys. Zach and Jake—she was so proud of everything you two accomplished, and she loved her travels with you. The generosity you gave by spending her last days at home with her was a reflection of her generosity to others that she instilled in you. When I visited with her, the only time she cried was at the thought of leaving you behind. All of us appreciate how you kept us connected to her through Caring Bridge these last several months and how you took care of your mom.

Finally, to close, back to George Saunders who reminds us to keep the happy memories in our hearts.

“What I mean to say is, we had been considerable. Had been loved. Our departures caused pain. Those who had loved us sat upon their beds, heads in hand... We had been loved, I say, and remembering us, even many years later, people would smile, briefly gladdened at the memory.”


Director of Ethical of Education Ryan Hoglund and Upper School psychology teacher Diane Guido

We’ve had the pleasure of working alongside Linda for 20 and 25 years. We want to first express gratitude to this community for taking care of its own through this difficult and poignant process. Thank you to Jeremy, Ann and operations, Linda’s family—Jacob, Emily, and Zach—and all of you in this community who have rallied to provide support, labor, and financial assistance, all to preserve Linda’s memory, dignity, comfort, and final peace. Tough love was Linda’s spirit and you have honored her well. 

Linda was always easy to love, would talk your damn ear off, and was as generous as one could be.

In addition to being Salt Lake’s most notorious zucchini square dealer, Linda was a mentor and friend we could all count on. Her Lutheran tradition believes salvation comes through grace, but we all in this space know she would achieve peace through works as well. Linda was always easy to love, would talk your damn ear off, and was as generous as one could be.

The blessing of our friendship, as it was with many of you here, was the magic in the mundane, day-to-day routines with Linda. Schools are labor-intensive places and behind the scenes are cycles, a hamster wheel of yearly to-do lists, tasks, checklists, and grind. Linda humanized the process. Annual events such as back to school and graduation would have happened without Linda, but she always gave them her touch—she knew those days were important to students and families. She made the mundane special. In fact, she insisted on it.

For example, while cleaning out student folders one summer, she came across sets of pre-digital school portraits that showed kids growing up year to year. Instead of seeing it as the detritus of student record-keeping, Linda insisted we mail them to each family. So we spent two days in the summer mailing these photos back to each family. As a parent now, I understand how powerful that gesture was.

Linda was the personification of tough love. Manners, hard work, and refinement were the bars she set for teens and adults alike. 

No dog or baby that came into the community made it past Linda’s caring heart. This is evident by the cross-stitch birth announcements hanging in many of our children’s rooms, and the coloring wall outside her cubicle. 

When my daughter Meg was born, Linda was a sweet hand—just as enthusiastic as I was with Meg’s arrival—and offered sound advice to a nervous and joyous parent. Mostly ways to make sure she feared for her life.

While Linda loved the Chiefs and dachshunds, those loves pale in comparison to the love she has for her two sons, Rowland Hall alums Zach and Jacob. Their travels to Ireland, Disneyland, and Disney World—and their road trips through the Black Hills and the Badlands—were epic.

While Linda loved the Kansas City Chiefs and dachshunds, those loves pale in comparison to the love she has for her two sons, Zach and Jacob, who graduated from Rowland Hall. Their travels to Ireland, Disneyland, and Disney World—and their road trips through the Black Hills and the Badlands—were epic. Linda always spoke about that drive through Spearfish Canyon as one of her favorite memories with you two boys. How beautiful that canyon was. She said it was her idea of heaven.

When you all went to the Star Trek convention (in, I think, Las Vegas), Linda was shocked you spent three days there without leaving the convention center. “A real testament to their upbringing,” she joked. I didn’t have the heart to explain to Linda the decadence that is cosplay culture. Your secrets are safe there.

When Zach got certified to do SCUBA, Linda wanted to as well. She joined me and students at the crater in Heber once, and talked about one day returning to dive with Zach. Linda loved the water. 

When we honored Linda for 30 years of service to the school this past fall, I asked Jacob what it was like to have his mother on campus. He said: “For a lot of teenagers entering a new school, having their mother in the main office would be some combination of embarrassing and terrifying. For me it was a blessing, as it gave me the chance to spend more time with the person most responsible for making me who I am. I'm extremely proud of what she's done.”

Zach mentioned: “I remember the sailing interim trip where I was the only guy on a boat full of women, including my mom! It wasn't bad though. I had a great time. I too am grateful for the opportunity to spend time with mom at Rowland Hall and even fondly recall going into the office during the summers to hang out or help with the bookstore.”

As much as Linda could be a fun-slayer for teenagers, she was a fun-starter for adults.

As much as Linda could be a fun-slayer for teenagers, she was a fun-starter for adults. At her and Diane’s 50th birthday party, I can neither confirm nor deny the existence of a great picture of their anatomically correct birthday cake. Diane is petrified in the picture, and Linda looks like she’s in it to win it. Linda was naughty, and never missed the opportunity to point out a double-entendre that would make all of us blush.

Linda spoke fondly of her childhood in Missouri—from what a role model her father had been growing up (Linda inherited her love of home improvement and her fix-it attitude from him), to her antic-filled tales of college, where she studied criminal justice. She had a voracious appetite for true-crime fiction. She and Diane would game the holiday book-exchange to pick each other and each secure a stack of the-gorier-the-better books. 

Diane and I were blessed to see her awe in Sorrento, Italy—the way she giggled through seeing the David, her silence as we walked Pompeii (well, except for the low-level swooning over our hot male Italian tour guide).

My favorite ritual we shared was the occasional beer on the porch with she and Diane on a lazy summer day or impromptu afternoon, joking, debating, or just catching up. We could sit for hours with the conversation easy...and one-sided mostly. Near the end of her life, Diane and I sat one afternoon with Linda. Linda was no-nonsense that she was going to die and was as sweetly resolved and brave as you would expect her to be. 

Linda was a superhero, and I’m glad I got to see her save the day more than once.

We mere mortals joked that Linda was superwoman. We even had her wear a cape when we honored her for 30 years of service to the school. But Linda was a superhero, and I’m glad I got to see her save the day more than once. 

What makes death so difficult are dreams and plans unfulfilled. In Linda’s honor I hope all of us flirt a little more, read for pleasure more often, share a drink with friends on the porch, take the time and put in the work to make the day-to-day special, and take a selfish adventure—a crazy adventure—that you have been putting off for responsible reasons.

People

Explore More Alumni Stories

AJ Oliver skiing in Timeless.

Rowland Hall and Rowmark Ski Academy alumnus A.J. Oliver ’07 and Marcus Caston—a Rowmark postgraduate skier from 2007 to 2009—grace the powdery screen in Timeless, the latest Warren Miller Entertainment movie getting skiers stoked for winter. 

Though Marcus has been in several Warren Miller movies, Timeless is A.J.’s first. Both Rowmark alums have turned skiing into their livelihoods and are backed by big-name sponsors such as Patagonia, Head, Helly Hansen, and POC. A.J. is currently a ski instructor at Big Sky Resort and an outdoor guide in the off-season—read his recent profile in the Ogden Standard-Examiner. And Marcus has a robust résumé that includes several magazine covers—read his 2017 Ski magazine profile.

A.J. and Marcus expect to be at the following local showings of Timeless. Catch them before or after the movie and tell them hi, from Rowland Hall and Rowmark. 

Jeanne Wagner Theatre, Salt Lake City
Thursday, October 24, at 7 pm
Friday, October 25, at 6 and 9 pm

Eccles Center, Park City
Saturday, October 26, at 6 pm

The duo also stopped by the Rowmark office October 23 for a Q&A with staff, including Rowmark Director Todd Brickson. Watch the video on the Rowmark Facebook page, or read the highlights below, edited for length and context.

A.J., how did Rowland Hall shape you?

A.J.: The education that you get here is second to none. It really prepares you for when you go to college. I remember sliding into freshman year pretty comfortably and not feeling like I was overwhelmed or underprepared. I went to Rocky Mountain College in Billings, and it was very natural moving to a small liberal arts school from Rowland Hall because the curriculum is similar.

And how did Rowmark shape both of you?

Marcus: When I was here as a PG I was just focused on skiing and that was my life. It teaches you how to buckle down, focus on one thing, and work hard.

A.J.: Rowland Hall prepares you in some of the same ways, but being in a program structured like Rowmark, you learn to hold yourself accountable and get out there and do the work, and that's the only way you're going to get where you want to go. And so that sticks with you moving forward—that sense of self-accountability.

What’s your favorite Rowmark memory?

Whenever we get back together there's definitely a sense of camaraderie and a bond that doesn't go away.—Rowmark/Rowland Hall alum A.J. Oliver ’07

A.J.: [Laughs] I might get Todd in trouble, but trust-falling off the top of the short bus at Bear Lake. Man, that's a fall—right off the top of the ski rack. That one sticks with me for sure.

Marcus: The people I got to ski with. You become family, you spend all your time together throughout the winter traveling, and you get to know one another. And that's something that at the time you take for granted, but you don't really have that in life—a group of people you go out and ski with and spend time with every day.

Do you keep up with people from your cohorts?

A.J.: Absolutely. This week in particular has been exciting. I’m looking forward to a few days at home and seeing old classmates and teammates. Whenever we get back together there's definitely a sense of camaraderie and a bond that doesn't go away.

What was it like to be in a Warren Miller production?

Marcus Caston skiing in Timeless

Marcus Caston skis in Timeless. (Photo by Cam McLeod)

Marcus: I went to Chamonix, and I’ve always wanted to go. It’s legendary in the ski world. If you’re a skier, you know Chamonix has the biggest and steepest mountains, so it’s known for its extreme skiing. I was pretty nervous going into it just because you build it up in your head, and the hype is real. It’s steep, and it’s icy, and it’s scary. But lucky for me, conditions weren’t in for the steep stuff, so I got to kind of ease my way in a little bit. And being in Europe is always great—it’s just a cool ski experience. Skiing is life over there—they’ve got it down: huts and good food up on the mountain.

A.J.: It was a blast. It was an all-new experience. It was super cool to call Marcus after growing up skiing together and kind of dreaming if this would ever happen. It’s cool to be on the big screen together. I got to go to the Monashee Range in British Columbia and ski with another PSA [Professional Ski Instructors of America] instructor, Brenna Kelleher, who is a sibling of another Rowmark alum, Keely Kelleher ’03. And then Glen Plake tagged along on our trip, so that was a blast. It was super fun to ski with a guy who’s such an industry icon and to learn from him and draw from his experience.

Tell us about Glen Plake.

A.J.: Glen Plake is the most famous mohawk in skiing.

Marcus: He was a mogul skier. He was in all the original Greg Stump films and a bunch of Warren Miller films. He’s the guy who kind of started what we do. He’s the man.

You grew up watching him. So what was it like to actually ski with him in a movie?

A.J.: It was everything I’d hoped it would be. He is everything that he exudes on camera—that’s not an act. He is just a to-the-core skier and he loves it.

Marcus: I was pretty jealous [laughter]; I didn’t ski with him. It’s funny—the director called me up and said, ‘We’re going up to Canada. Do you know A.J. Oliver?’ I was like, ‘No way. Yes. How do I get on this trip?’” I never did.

A.J.: You were thinking you might be able to be the tripod guy there for a minute.

Marcus: I was trying to go hold bags just so I could go hang out.

What were your favorite parts of filming Timeless?

I was with these two World Cup slalom skiers, they were skiing these big mountains for the first time, and that was really cool. I look up to them.—Marcus Caston, Rowmark PG 2007–2009

A.J.: Skiing with Glen was definitely a takeaway. Just being able to be around him and draw from that experience. It’s super cool to hear his stories and all the places he’s been. The Monashees are cool, though. It was some new terrain and that’s always fun. It’s a blast getting to do stuff you haven’t done before. It was fun to explore the Monashees, because those are the Rocky Mountains. They know how to do it in Canada.

Marcus: I got to film with Erin Mielzynski, who races World Cup for Canada, and Mattias Hargin, who is a Swedish World Cup slalom skier—he won the Kitzbuehel slalom and just recently retired. This was their first film shoot, too. So I was with these two World Cup slalom skiers, they were skiing these big mountains for the first time, and that was really cool. I look up to them. Mattias is a good freeskier. Erin grew up in eastern Canada ski racing on this little hill. She never goes freeskiing, so it was really cool to see somebody who, skiing is their entire life, and they get to experience the sport in a different way. So that was the highlight of my trip for me, was to watch Erin experience a different side of skiing.

Why should people see this movie?

Marcus: It’s the kickoff to winter. Some people have been coming out every year for 50 years—it’s tradition. There’s something for everybody. It’s a great adventure, there’s amazing cinematography, and it’s just fun.

A.J.: Seeing a Warren Miller film really embodies the community that is our industry. Any time that we can have a nice social gathering around skiing, that’s always a good thing.

What are your future skiing goals and plans?

That’s one of the great things about this sport. If you do it for life you get addicted to that pursuit of always getting better.—A.J. Oliver ’07

A.J.: That’s always a tough one to answer because it’s the ever-changing answer. Things are always evolving. But in five to 10 years, hopefully I’m still teaching skiing and trying to get better. That’s one of the great things about this sport. If you do it for life you get addicted to that pursuit of always getting better. So my goals for five to 10 years from now are to still be learning and growing, and hopefully spending as many days on snow as I can.

Marcus: I’m down with short-term goals.

A.J.: Like, what am I going to eat for breakfast? [Laughs]

Marcus: If you’re like, ‘In five years I’m going to be right here,’ then you might have an opportunity that you miss. Whereas if you’re living in the moment, you may take more in.

A.J.: Goal-setting with Marcus and A.J.

What do you do in the off-season for training and for fun?

A.J.: I try to wrap my training and my fun up in the same activity. I’ve been trying to stay in shape and not have to go to the gym. In the off-season I do a lot of mountain biking. I ride my horse a fair amount, which isn’t the most aerobic thing in the world. But when you’re hiking around the woods and running around the backcountry all summer, that usually keeps you in shape.

Marcus: Horseback riding is good for your legs, though, right?

A.J.: Yeah, it is a lot of lower-body strength. I also do a little bit of rock climbing when this guy will drag me.

Hiking and climbing are also really good mentally. Skiing can be scary, so if you can scare yourself every once in awhile in the summer, it’s not so scary when you get back on skis.—Marcus Caston

Marcus: I do a lot of hiking and climbing. It’s nice to stay outside and in the mountains. Hiking and climbing are also really good mentally. Skiing can be scary, so if you can scare yourself every once in awhile in the summer, it’s not so scary when you get back on skis.

What advice do you have for Rowmarkers and other young skiers who want to do what you do?

A.J.: The biggest thing is just staying in it—having the resolve to be in skiing and the industry and not have anything else be an option. If you’re in it for long enough, people decide to do other stuff and they fall away. But if you’re committed to it, things are going to happen for you. It’s definitely a small and welcoming industry if you have the drive to be part of it.

Marcus: Love skiing and love whatever it is you do. Making movies is not easy. It’s hard and it’s cold. Sometimes it gets really tough—you can be sitting there waiting for the light for two hours. I was in Norway a couple of years ago and we were on top of this mountain and the clouds came in. We had to build an igloo, and we sat in this little igloo, freezing for six hours because we couldn’t see anything. You just have to remind yourself why you’re there: because you love skiing and everything that comes with it—the traveling and all the people. And that’s not just for skiing, that’s everything. Just love what you do. And advice to Rowmarkers would be enjoy it now because life gets harder...It’s still fun, but not as fun.

A.J.: Don’t take it too seriously now because you’ll have plenty of time to be serious when you get older. Have fun.


Top: A.J. Oliver skis in Timeless. (Photo by SkyScope)

Rowmark

Sara Matsumura playing volleyball.

Haverford College senior Sara Matsumura ’16 added to her impressive list of achievements on September 9, when she was awarded the Centennial Conference’s Player of the Week after being named Most Valuable Player of the Ford Invitational only two days earlier. Then, on September 16, the NCAA announced that Sara was ranked third in Division III in total digs and seventh in service aces.

“I am over-the-moon ecstatic,” Sara said about the start of her senior season.

Despite the recent attention she has personally received, the Haverford volleyball co-captain remained focused on her team. “It is amazing to see all of our hard work coming to fruition and so motivating to see everyone reaching and playing at their full potential,” she said. “I feel a lot of appreciation for the group of girls I get to play with."

I am over-the-moon ecstatic. It is amazing to see all of our hard work coming to fruition and so motivating to see everyone reaching and playing at their full potential.—Sara Matsumura, Class of 2016

Kendra Tomsic, Sara’s former coach and Rowland Hall’s director of athletics, was not surprised to learn of Sara’s focus on teamwork. “Sara never cared about individual stats or accolades—she loved her teammates and celebrated their accomplishments as if they were her own,” she said of Sara’s time playing for the Winged Lions. “Her unmatched work ethic, positive attitude, fiery spirit, enthusiasm, heart, and passion for the game were an inspiration to her teammates and coaches.”
 
Kendra also praised Sara’s athletic prowess. “Sara is undoubtedly one of the most talented volleyball players to come out of our program. Her stats were tops in nearly every category, and she was instrumental to our winning several consecutive region titles,” she said. “I am so very proud and excited, but definitely not surprised, that Sara has continued to excel and has made such an amazing impact on her Haverford College team.”
 
Sara credited Rowland Hall for preparing her for success at the college level, both on the court and in the classroom. “The endless support I received from Rowland Hall’s coaching staff gave me the confidence I needed to gain an I-own-the-court mentality. As a back-row player, that is essential and has definitely been tested when facing strong teams,” she said. “Rowland Hall also prepared me to balance school and volleyball, as academics is our top priority at Haverford too.”
 
These balancing skills, first gained at Rowland Hall and then strengthened at Haverford, are essential to Sara’s success. When she isn’t excelling on the court, the chemistry major is researching microplastics and bioplastics for her senior thesis. After graduation, she plans on taking a gap year to work at an environmentally focused company, then earning a PhD in environmental engineering or chemistry. Armed with an arsenal of skills she has gathered as a student-athlete, we have no doubt she’ll continue to do great things, and we can’t wait to see them.

Update November 12, 2019: Sara was selected for a first-team spot for the 2019 All-Centennial Conference volleyball teams; this is the third consecutive season Sara has been named to an All-Centennial squad. She was also named to the Centennial Conference All-Sportsmanship team for the fourth consecutive season, becoming the first player in program history to earn that distinction four times since the introduction of the plaudit to the conference's postseason awards in 2009. Read the news release.

Update November 14, 2019: Sara was selected to the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division III All-Mid Atlantic Region team. She is the first Haverford player to garner all-region honors since 2015. Read the news release.

Update November 19, 2019: Sara was named an All-America Honorable Mention. She is the first Haverford player to be included on the list since 2015 and the tenth in program history. Read the news release.

Congratulations, Sara!


Top of page: Sara Matsumura playing in a Haverford College volleyball game. (Photo courtesy David Sinclair)

Alumni

Claire Wang in front of US Capitol
Winged Lions on the Rise—title page graphic featuring six alumni.

Editor's note: this is one of six profiles republished from Rowland Hall's 2018–2019 Annual Report feature story, "Winged Lions on the Rise." Millennial alumni are finding their voices and already shaping their fields and communities—from physics to film, music to medical innovations, and environmental policy to conservation-minded real estate. Learn how Rowland Hall impacted them, and how they’re impacting the world. From left, Jared Ruga ’06, Claire Wang ’15, Phinehas Bynum ’08, Jeanna Tachiki Ryan ’01, Tyler Ruggles ’05, and Sarah Day ’06.


In her daily fight against climate change, Claire Wang’s weapons of choice include her bicycle, travel utensils, and reusable water bottle.

But the 21-year-old’s real arsenal is her character: her empathy, intellect, and contagious optimism that she wields to mobilize peers, negotiate with institutions, and drive environmental progress locally and nationally. Now, Rowland Hall’s first Rhodes Scholar graduates to the global stage.

There’s no choice but to be hopeful. We have a collective obligation to keep working towards a better future. Giving up would be a selfish act.—Claire Wang ’15

In Claire, the daunting problem of climate change finds a formidable opponent: the former nationally ranked Rowland Hall debater loves what she does and refuses to be discouraged. “There’s no choice but to be hopeful,” she said. “We have a collective obligation to keep working towards a better future. Giving up would be a selfish act.”

Claire was always interested in science and environmentalism; after coming to Rowland Hall in seventh grade, relevant curriculum furthered her interest in climate advocacy, while debate turned her into a policy wonk. In high school, she started volunteering for Utah Clean Energy through a school connection. “That was the moment I realized that I love this work and I want to do it for a living,” Claire said. “Rowland Hall was really supportive of that.” As a senior, she co-organized a press conference—held at the McCarthey Campus and covered by local news outlets—advocating against new fees on solar panels. And just before she finished high school, the Sierra Club asked her to help plan a national youth-led movement for renewable energy.

Claire Wang speaks with a broadcast news reporter at a 2015 press conference on solar panels, held at Rowland Hall.

Claire graduated as valedictorian and accepted a full ride to Duke University, where she majored in environmental science and policy. As a freshman, she worked with college administrators to secure Duke’s official support for renewable-energy policy reform. Then, Duke Energy—a large utility company unaffiliated with the university—announced plans to build a natural-gas plant on the university’s campus. It was the first of eight small-scale gas plants planned for the Carolinas. Claire spent two years fighting the campus plant proposal, and the university suspended the plans in spring 2018. Since then, none of the other North Carolina plants have entered the planning process. “Turning the tide early with the first plant ended up being really impactful,” Claire said.

Claire thrived in community campaigns at Duke and beyond—she even won prestigious Truman and Udall Scholarships in recognition of her work—and envisioned a career in national policy. But a 2018 study-abroad program on climate change and the politics of food, water, and energy spurred a shift. She visited a hydroelectric dam in Vietnam, and an ethnic-minority community displaced because of that dam. She also learned about how extreme weather impacts farmers, from drought in Bolivia to hail in Morocco. Now, Claire wants to reduce financing for fossil-fuel infrastructure, especially in developing countries. “We're not going to be able to achieve a livable climate future without cutting those back,” she said.

Eschew the conventional belief that salaries define successful careers. “Instead, focus on the impact you have on the world,” Claire said. “What you do with your life is not just a job—it’s a legacy.”

That global perspective drove Claire to apply for the Rhodes Scholarship—the oldest award for international study, covering graduate school at England’s University of Oxford. When she learned she’d been selected, Claire was elated, but incredulous. “It was a mix of nervousness, excitement, pride, and a general sense of, ‘Wait, did this actually happen?’”

Claire will be at Oxford for two years, starting with a one-year master’s in environmental change and management. She expects to land in policy, perhaps working for the government or an international group. Regardless, she’ll be doing work that’s meaningful to her, and she encourages other young people to follow suit: eschew the conventional belief that salaries define successful careers. “Instead, focus on the impact you have on the world,” she said. “What you do with your life is not just a job—it’s a legacy.”


Top photo: Claire in front of the United States Capitol. Over the summer, Claire interned with the Natural Resources Defense Council as part of the Truman Scholars' Summer Institute.

Alumni

Phinehas Bynum performs in Candide
Winged Lions on the Rise—title page graphic featuring six alumni.

Editor's note: this is one of six profiles republished from Rowland Hall's 2018–2019 Annual Report feature story, "Winged Lions on the Rise." Millennial alumni are finding their voices and already shaping their fields and communities—from physics to film, music to medical innovations, and environmental policy to conservation-minded real estate. Learn how Rowland Hall impacted them, and how they’re impacting the world. From left, Jared Ruga ’06, Claire Wang ’15, Phinehas Bynum ’08, Jeanna Tachiki Ryan ’01, Tyler Ruggles ’05, and Sarah Day ’06.


Phinehas Bynum makes “whizbangs and gizmos” to automate mundane things in his Minneapolis house. A motion sensor on his washing machine messages him when the washer stops. Between loads, he composes and plays music in his DIY home-recording studio. It’s a delightful showcase of his two biggest passions.

Phinehas—Phin, for short—holds a music and computer science degree from St. Olaf College in Minnesota. By day, he works for software company Jamf on a technical-implementation team that teaches and trains clients. But the renaissance man has also been a lifelong singer—performing with the likes of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir as a fourth grader, the renowned St. Olaf Choir as a college student, and operas around Minneapolis, including the Minnesota Opera (MNOp), since college.

You can make someone's day better by fixing their computer, or by singing them a song. And both of these involve compassion, creativity, logic, and technique.—Phinehas Bynum ’08

“I was just about born singing,” said Phin, whose parents prophetically gave him a name that means, among other interpretations, mouth of brass. “Every time you say ‘Phinehas’ a trumpet gets its wings,” the alum quipped. Naturally, young Phin also dabbled in reverse engineering. “Mama and Papa stepped on clock springs and screws on the daily because I took everything apart to see how it worked,” he said. “Computer science was an extension of tinkering for me because you could change how something worked just by telling it to change, no take-apart required.” 

Phin has deftly balanced singing and computing, which he said similarly fulfill him. “You can make someone's day better by fixing their computer, or by singing them a song,” he said. “And both of these involve compassion, creativity, logic, and technique.” And he continues the balancing act, in part, because of Rowland Hall. “I was always encouraged to spend time doing what I was passionate about, and that goal has stuck with me,” he said. “Ultimate frisbee, robotics club, cross country, choir, jazz band—most of the things I am doing now, I was also doing in some form in high school.”

Actors on stage in front of orchestra.

Phinehas Bynum, second from left, stars in VocalEssence and Theater Latté Da’s March 2019 production of Candide. (Photos by Bruce Silcox, courtesy of VocalEssence)

Now, Phin’s arts life is expanding. The singer made his theatrical debut in March to rave reviews. Two Minneapolis arts organizations collaborated to present Candide, a reimagining of the Leonard Bernstein operetta. Phin landed the titular role. Tickets to the five-night, 505-seat show in the heart of downtown sold out early, so the final dress rehearsal became a sixth production. Phin called the performance—his largest to date—transformative. He described his character as an optimist whose misadventures make him wiser instead of bitter. “I'd consider myself a stubborn, but quiet optimist,” Phin said. “It was core-shaking to inhabit a character who lives his optimism completely on the outside, and it challenged me to let the rest of the world, the audience, see that element of me.” His months of practice paid off. In the Star Tribune, critic Terry Blain praised Phin’s performance: “Bynum cut a convincingly boyish figure, his light tenor imparting a touchingly artless quality to songs.”

Since Candide wrapped, Phin has spent more time making his own music—an exploration of jazz, pop, and electronic. He’s recording an album, a longtime dream that combines his musical and technical pursuits. He’s also excited to sing with MNOp again. “I get to sit in a room of wonderfully passionate and diverse folks and bring feelings and ideas and notes and rhythms off a piece of paper and into reality,” he said. “It's the best.” 

Phin credited Rowland Hall for a solid foundation, and expressed gratitude to teachers and administrators—particularly the late Linda Hampton, a beloved Upper School staffer who attended nearly all of his performances. “Linda called herself my ‘biggest fan,’” Phin said. “I’m blessed that my musical endeavors have always been supported by my family and friends, but Linda will always have a special place in my heart.”

Alumni

You Belong at Rowland Hall