Just two days after graduating from high school, Jack Dewey ’49, P’80 left home to join the Navy. The year was 1945, and the world was at war.
Fortunately for Dewey, that great conflict, World War II, ended a few months later. He would spend the next year or so aboard a cargo ship tasked with doing repair work of other vessels. Sailing around a world newly at peace, Dewey and his fellow sailors were welcomed everywhere they went. “Everybody loved us,” Dewey remembers.
When his time in the Navy was over, Dewey came to Babson. In the fall of 1946, he joined other returning veterans eager to settle into civilian life. That group of students, the Class of ’49, swelled enrollment at the school and brought a new vitality to the institution.
In the decades that followed, they also established a robust scholarship fund that continues to make an impact on Babson students today. “We think the scholarship program has succeeded beyond our wildest dreams,” says Dewey.
As was typical of the Greatest Generation, Dewey and his fellow students didn’t dwell on their war experiences while at Babson. Sure, they might relay a funny story from their time in the service, but otherwise, they were ready to focus on their studies and start their careers. “I can never remember anyone talking about war or battles,” Dewey says. “It was past.” Dewey was one of 253 men to earn their degrees in 1949, and he went on to work at Liberty Mutual Insurance for 40 years. He also remained involved with Babson for decades, as Bill Cruickshank ’49, H’99, one of Babson’s biggest cheerleaders, would recruit Dewey to help with raising funds from their fellow classmates.
“You could not say no to Bill,” says Dewey, who in September received the Richard J. Snyder Distinguished Service to the College Award.
In 1984, the Class of ’49 established its scholarship fund in honor of its 35th reunion. Through the years, the scholarship has been awarded to nearly 250 students. “You ought to see the achievements of our scholars,” Dewey says. “I am very proud of that.”
Today, only 24 members of the Class of ’49 remain, as the relentless march of time has taken its toll. Dewey lives at the North Hill retirement community, located just down the road from Babson. Considering that North Hill sits on land actually owned by Babson, people who know Dewey like to joke: “Jack loved the College so much that he never left the campus.” – John Crawford
Editor’s Note: With great admiration and heartfelt sadness, we dedicate this story to Jack Dewey, who passed away in October.