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The Deacon Blog

A magazine staff blog with news of alumni and the WFU community

Vision of a scientist, eyes of an artist

A recent story in The Stokes News describes Ken Bridle (MA ’85, Ph.D. ’91) as a conservationist by profession and artist by passion. Bridle, who has spent much of his career promoting conservation and appreciation of natural resources, discovered that he could put his artistic skills to work in accomplishing those same goals. He started painting watercolors that capture nature’s beauty.

Ken Bridle is stewardship director for the Piedmont Land Conservancy.

Ken Bridle is stewardship director for the Piedmont Land Conservancy.

Bridle believes his watercolors are an engaging way to educate the public about conservation..

Bridle believes his watercolors are a good way to educate the public.

“Since my graduation from WFU as a Ph.D. in biology I have had many jobs and interests,” Bridle wrote to Wake Forest Magazine. He has been working with the Piedmont Land Conservancy, where he is stewardship director, to use science to educate the public about local conservation issues.

“Recently I have begun to paint watercolors, and I find that they are also a good tool to help capture the interest and educate the public,” said Bridle.

The Visitors Center at Hanging Rock State Park in Danbury, North Carolina, (about 30 miles north of Winston-Salem), will feature Bridle’s work at a reception from 2-4 p.m. March 8.

“I appreciate my past and continuing association with WFU to help me accomplish these goals,” he said. — Cherin C. Poovey (P ’08)

Happiness is recognition from our peers


Wake Forest Magazine has been honored by its peer institutions in the 2014-15 District III (Southeast) competition of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).

“An Artful Friendship,” written by Editor Maria Henson (’82) and published in the Spring 2014 issue, received an Award of Excellence in feature writing. The touching story is about college roommates Dick Peterson (’67) and Charlie Stott (’67), who reunited after many years apart and re-established their friendship through art.

artful-friendship“When I moved back to Winston-Salem it was Charlie, the painter, who put a brush in my hand and said, ‘Why don’t you come over and paint with me?’ I had never painted before, but Charlie gave me a gift that has greatly enhanced my life and deepened our friendship through art,” Dick said.

Editor Maria Henson ('82)

Editor Maria Henson (’82)

Charlie said of the article, “Beyond the obvious story, you recognized that there was something more to our friendship. As I went missing for three months of cancer treatments, you told the story of how cancer has impacted our friendship. It’s a story that has resonated with many others.”

The alumni magazine, which is published three times a year in print and year-round online, won an Award of Excellence in print/digital publications. In addition to Henson the magazine staff includes Cherin C. Poovey (P ’08), managing editor; Kerry M. King (’85), senior editor; and Janet M. Williamson (P ’00, ’03), deputy editor. Members of Wake Forest’s creative group on the magazine production team are Hayes Henderson, creative director; Jill Carson and Kris Hendershott, graphic designers; Gretta Kohler, project manager; and Ken Bennett, University photographer. Julie Helsabeck, a freelance designer, is also part of the team.

— Cherin C. Poovey (P ’08)

A familiar sight in a faraway place

Last month Joyce and Douglas Boyette (MD ’75, P ’03) were part of a 35-member medical mission team serving in Barahona, Dominican Republic, when Joyce spotted something familiar. A young child, hundreds of miles from the Wake Forest campus, was wearing a T-shirt that read “I may be little but I’m a BIG Demon Deacon fan.”

“It really made my day to be in a foreign country and find a WFU T-shirt,” wrote Joyce, who shared her photo with the magazine. “As one can see, we were in a very poor place in the mountains of Dominican Republic.”

A little Deacon fan, photographed by Joyce Boyette.

A little Deacon fan, photo by Joyce Boyette.

The medical mission team included surgical and clinical groups, she said. The former, including Wake alum Dale Williams (MD ’82), performed 63 surgeries during the week. The clinical group saw 618 patients.

“Each year, there is a January group from mostly Greensboro and Shelby. In February, there’s a group from Winston Salem and in March, a group from Asheboro goes down,” she wrote. “I would suspect that someone from Winston-Salem donated clothes in the past and thus, the WFU shirt.”

Thanks to the Boyettes for sharing this story and for reminding us that the spirit of Pro Humanitate is far-reaching, as is the community of Deacon fans.

— Cherin C. Poovey (P ’08)

Buck Cochran (’82) and friends working miracles at Peacehaven Farm


By Maria Henson (’82)

When last I checked in on Buck Cochran (’82) for the magazine, he was learning to be a farmer. He still is. “Somebody the other day called me a Google farmer. I was Googling an answer,” he said: Was it time to harvest peanuts? That’s how Farmer Buck started — on the Internet. That’s what this former Navy officer, ex-corporate executive and ordained Presbyterian minister still does — with notable success.

Community lunch at Peacehaven Farm

Community lunch at Peacehaven Farm

He continues to learn at Peacehaven Community Farm, which he has shepherded as executive director since the nonprofit’s founding during the economic crash. The farm sits on a gentle hill adorned with raised garden beds in Whitsett, North Carolina, near Burlington. When I visited Buck in the summer of 2010, he had two full-time farm employees, a board of directors and an annual count of about 200 volunteers who gardened and tended the farm (and, on a spirit-to-spirit level, each other). They all nurtured a dream to establish a working farm with housing for special-needs adults. Of equal importance, they shared a goal of meaningful labor through which volunteers and residents could form relationships.

Buck Cochran (left): 'The impossible becomes the possible.'

Buck Cochran (left): ‘The impossible becomes the possible.’

When the world is awash in grim news, it is nothing short of breathtaking to chart the progress at Peacehaven. There you will find Wake Foresters gathered around the occasional bonfire and always fanning the flames of Pro Humanitate.

• Consider a few of the highlights from Peacehaven in 2014:

• Volunteers and staff built a playground in one day, a destination for anyone.

• Peacehaven and Habitat for Humanity of Greater Greensboro teamed to build Susan’s View, a 5,000-square-foot house on the hill for residents with disabilities.

• Peacehaven gained status as an intermediary to manage the AmeriCorps VISTA program in the area. AmeriCorps volunteers commit to serve a nonprofit or public agency full time for one year.

• The iconic barn was remodeled to provide upstairs office space, and it now features 54 solar panels to supply the nonprofit’s electricity.

• The big moment arrived: residents moved into Susan’s View and so did the home coordinator and three AmeriCorps volunteers who serve as resident assistants.

• Guilford Nonprofit Consortium named Peacehaven nonprofit of the year.

Kim Harviel Sue (’82) is Peacehaven's 'personal cheerleader.'

Kim Harviel Sue (’82) is Peacehaven’s ‘personal cheerleader.’

I visited Buck a few weeks ago and marveled at the beauty of the house, the barn’s new offices and the best sight of all — a young woman pedaling as hard as she could on a three-wheeled bicycle. “Whoa! Do you think she’ll stop before she gets to the highway?” I asked Buck, feeling a type of anxiety arise I’d not felt since my days supervising my toddler niece. He studied her and looked back at me, unconcerned. “She usually makes that turn up the driveway.” And she did.

Good job, Molly Barker. She’s one of the four special-needs adults who moved into Susan’s View in December. After the final driveway lap, she rolled the bicycle back into the barn past an array of shovels, hoes and rakes neatly stored on the wall, and then she took her leave to head home for lunch. Buck and I were left to admire those tools, which have their own Wake Forest story.

After the feature about Peacehaven appeared in Wake Forest Magazine, Buck heard from one of our readers, Joe Saffron (’89), senior director of marketing at The AMES Companies, Inc. in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. He and Buck didn’t know each other, but Joe liked what he read about the farm. What did Peacehaven need? He asked Buck for a list of tools.


Liz Bailey hugs volunteer Gabbi Murray

From shovels to wheelbarrows to hoes, the list was long. Off it went. And then it was quiet for a while. “Until one day this big 18-wheeler pulls into Peacehaven, and we’re trying to wave him off,” Buck says. “No. No. You’re in the wrong place.” The driver wasn’t. Saffron’s gifts from AMES had arrived — “pallets and pallets and pallets of stuff. It was like Christmastime here. And the thing that was so amazing — he sent us construction-grade tools that look just about as good today as they did then.”

Joe told me in a phone call this month, “Some things, you know they deserve your attention, and they deserve to be rallied around. There’s a nobility in what Buck is doing that I think is unique.”

Wall4Buck and Joe became friends. They shared a love for Wake Forest and how the University and ROTC had helped shape them for their leadership roles. Both left college to become military officers. (Joe returns every spring to campus to speak to a military history class.) Buck says he’s received emails and calls from Joe that offered encouragement “in ways I’m not even sure he knows.” Buck gets misty-eyed talking about it.

The one and only time they have seen each other in person was in the spring of 2011. Joe brought his then-12-year-old daughter Carina — her name means “dear little one” — to see the farm. She collected eggs from the henhouse, and the two of them did a few chores. Joe says he felt moved by Buck’s recounting of being called in a divine way to lead the nonprofit. “I was very inspired by that,” he said.

So the next time an AMES truck rolled into Whitsett, there was no mistaking the purpose. A truck arrived with tools that had the kind of perfection that turned heads, especially those of Habitat volunteers, Buck said. They were for building Susan’s View. “If I’m supplying encouragement to Buck and it’s helping him, then I’m doubly proud,” Joe said.

ED A&TLooking back at his time at Peacehaven, Buck said he was proudest of the way partnerships and collaborations with the larger community have come together. People show up from around the region and from colleges to volunteer. Last year the volunteers numbered 1,200. In the midst of them are Kim Harviel Sue (’82), a Peacehaven board member from Greensboro, and Liz Kenney Bailey (’82, MA ’85), and her husband, Steve Bailey (MA ’88), who both teach at Elon and, like Buck, have a child with an autism spectrum disorder. “Liz has all this great expertise around folks with disabilities. Steve is the incredible educator who brings his students out to learn. … Kim Sue is like having your own personal cheerleader out talking about Peacehaven wherever she goes,” Buck said. “We would not be where we are today without them.” And then there are his buddies who have been his friends since they met freshman year: Dave Weymer (’82, P ’13, ’14), Paul Noone (’82), Dr. Landon King (’82), to name a few, whose support has meant the world to him.

ED letter 4Buck has called the Peacehaven years “the most intense period of learning and growth” in his life. The lesson: “It’s made me believe in a very deep way the power of what’s possible when you bring folks together who share a vision. And there’s nothing that’s not possible working with people like that. The impossible becomes the possible.”

How’s that for some good news for a very new year?