Graduates of Kurn Hattin Homes for Children Return to Westminster for Alumni Centennial Weekend

Without a doubt, the best moments of my childhood are here. When I think back on it now, they were planting seeds, and when you plant a seed and nurture it properly, it grows.
~Andrew Berends (Kurn Hattin, Class of 1972)

The Elisha W. Culver Alumni Weekend (named for Kurn Hattin's first Alumni Association President, a member of the Class of 1912) was held August 1-3 and celebrated two momentous occasions—the 100th anniversary of the Alumni Association's formation and the 120th anniversary of Kurn Hattin's founding.

The weekend's festivities also included a special dinner ceremony in honor of Kurn Hattin alum Richard Taylor "Dick" Nash, Class of 1942, world-renowned jazz trombonist and recipient of the first-ever Kurn Hattin Alumni Achievement Award.

Click to see the slideshow of some familiar smiling faces and the weekend's memories in the making.

Kurn Hattin alumni from as far back as the Class of 1942 and from as far away as Los Angeles returned to campus to reunite and reminisce with classmates and staff, and the hills of Westminster were filled with memories of childhood friends, cartwheels in the grass, farm chores, square dances, sewing classes, sledding, swimming, band practice, elbow grease, and beds made just so.

Attendees gathered in the lobby of the Mayo Memorial Center, greeting old friends with warm smiles and hugs and sitting down to thumb through old Kurn Hattin photo albums and catch up on the news of one another's lives.

The weekend featured campus tours led by current students at the Homes, free time to explore campus and reminisce, and a private showing of the new Kurn Hattin traveling historical exhibit, entitled "A Legacy of Caring: 120 years of Adapting to the Changing Needs of Children and Families,"—a collection of photos, documents, and audio-visual material from Kurn Hattin's archives, dating back to the school's founding in 1894 through the present-day.

The weekend culminated in a special event held at the Saxton's River Inn--a dinner and ceremony in honor of Richard Taylor "Dick" Nash, Class of 1942, recipient of the first-ever Kurn Hattin Alumni Achievement Award. The award recognizes a graduate of the Homes who has gone on to make significant, lasting positive contributions to his or her community and to the world. Now a world-class jazz trombonist, Dick came to Kurn Hattin Homes for Children at age 11 after losing both parents to illness. He picked up his first trombone in the Kurn Hattin band and, after graduating, eventually went on to become one of the most recorded trombonists in history. His unmistakable, smooth trombone sound is featured on all of Henry Mancini's albums, as well as thousands of motion picture and television soundtracks, including Breakfast at Tiffany's and the John Wayne film Hatari. Also in attendance were several members of Dick's extended family, including his two sons, Grammy-nominated saxophonist Ted Nash and founder of Nash Guitars, Bill Nash.

Kurn Hattin's Director of Development, Kim Fine, presented the award, saying "Dick Nash is a wonderful personification of the values and principles that are the cornerstones of our mission at Kurn Hattin—resilience, hard work, dedication, self-reliance, humility, and generosity, to name a few."

During the ceremony, Ted Nash presented his father with a bound book of letters written in the 1930s between Kurn Hattin's then director, W.I. Mayo and Dick Nash's guardians, as well as original letters written by Nash as a young man. The letters, which had been preserved in Kurn Hattin's archives, thanked Kurn Hattin for having given Nash his start in music. In his acceptance speech, Dick gave an emotional thanks to Kurn Hattin and everyone present saying, "This award means more than all the others because this is where it all began."

A heartfelt thanks to all the graduates who came back "home" to make this weekend so memorable. And if you couldn't make it, know that you were missed, and we look forward to seeing you next year!

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