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Wed, Aug. 21

Talk of the Town: Prescott College boasts some notable alumni

I am a graduate of Prescott College, and the college is having a big reunion this weekend honoring the original class of 1966 and the class of 1976. I'm looking forward to seeing many old friends. It is an open reunion and alumni from other years will be there, too.

As I think about the people I went to school with there, and others who I know went there, I am quite impressed with their accomplishments. A few are well-known. Tom Udall is a current senator for New Mexico, and Randy Udall has been a key national leader in the renewable energy field.

Some have had a local impact, such as Lee Caldwell, one of the first female attorneys in Yavapai County. She was working in the Yavapai County Attorney's Office and started to dig into the complaints of people who had dealt with Ned Warren and his shady land deals at the beginning of Prescott Valley's development. Her efforts got the state attorney general to take the matter seriously and started the prosecution of Ned Warren.

Before I attended the college, I met Dr. James Stuckey, who had taken the position of president of the college without pay, mortgaged his house, and later sold his house to help the school through its early years. I first helped with some fundraising efforts for the school, then later attended and earned my bachelor's degree, went on to get a law degree from the University of Oregon, and have practiced tax law here in Prescott for many years. In my later years I went back to Prescott College and earned a doctorate.

Some other local alumni include Becky Ruffner, who founded both Primavera School and Prevent Child Abuse; attorney David Shapiro; longtime Chief Deputy County Attorney Jim Landis; Richard Ach, who ran Capitol Title and was a securities broker at AG Edwards and is now the college board chair; and Cynthia Schleicher, who ran Capitol Title for years after Richard Ach left. There are many others I'm forgetting.

Some of the more distant alumni include Kate Reschner, who went on to be budget director of Flagstaff and exposed the budget/bonds scandal in that city in the mid-1990s. Nevada Weir is an internationally recognized photographer of remote cultures who contributes regularly to media, such as National Geographic. Perhaps most distant is Kathleen Stephens, who went on to get an advanced degree from Harvard and study at Oxford, and is now ambassador to South Korea.

These are just people who graduated in the early years, mid-1960s through the mid-1970s. There are so many well-accomplished graduates since then - a few who have had considerable positive local impact - but I'll leave it to that generation to tell its story. The school has only gotten better and the graduating classes bigger in the meantime. The college now employs more than 200 people and has a budget of $18 million.

I recently saw an old photograph from a news story of the kids on the Prescott College campus in 1967. Considering this was not long before the Woodstock Festival, these kids look like a hilariously straight-laced bunch. It is a good laugh. The photo is available at

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