You Never Know How Important a Student Will Become

Charles E. Brown Lamson Learning Commons

Charles Brown
Charles Brown

The time was September, 1974.  Kenneth Duguay was a student in my computer class on the second floor of Memorial Hall.   Of all my 7000+ students over a span of thirty-six years, his hair had the brightest shade of natural orange.   He was a serious student, sharp as a tack.  Here was a student that a teacher could predict would become very successful in life.

Kenneth’s father, Leonard Duguay, owned a grocery store in Ashland.  The building is gone now; the site is occupied by the Ashland Branch of the Meredith Village Savings Bank. Diagonally across the street from the grocery store, next to the George H. Whipple Park, lived Albani and Irene  Vaillant.  Their daughter, Elaine, a teacher at Keene High School, was looking for a buyer for her car, and Kenneth showed interest in the purchase. During their discussion, she mentioned that her supervisor had suggested that she take some computer classes because a computer lab was being constructed at her school.  “Why don’t you take Dr. Brown’s computer class at Plymouth State this summer?” asked Kenneth, “He writes his own texts.” (This was seven years before Computer Science became a department at Plymouth State.)

Elaine signed up for the BASIC (Beginners’ All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) class that I taught that summer of 1975.  She seized every word of the lectures and after classes spoke of the data processing program being planned at Keene. In December when she was in Ashland for her Christmas vacation, Elaine invited me to bring a portable computer terminal (dial-up) and demonstrate it at her folks’ house.  At age 35 I had never visited a young lady and her family in their home.  I almost chickened out!  At that time, after ten and a half years of engineering school (three degrees), one didn’t see many young ladies taking engineering classes.

Correspondence between Keene and Plymouth about computer topics followed, and Elaine enrolled in my summer 1976 COBOL (Common Business Oriented Language) class.  She had been asked to teach a computer class in Keene that autumn.

To make a long story short, we were married in August of 1977.  Kenneth was the head usher. How a chance remark by a former student can change a life!

And, by the way, I was right about Kenneth.  He went on to become a bank vice-president!