On behalf of the Mercersburg Academy alumni body, the Alumni Council is once again recognizing long-tenured and retiring faculty and staff as part of Reunion Weekend. This year’s honorees include eight faculty and staff members, who will be celebrated at the Faculty, Staff, and Alumni Recognition Dinner that kicks off Reunion Weekend 2019 Thursday, June 6, at 6 p.m. in Ford Dining Hall.
The dinner will also celebrate seven alumni award winners; see the list of honorees and read more about them
We invite all alumni and friends of Mercersburg Academy back home for the June 6 dinner and for all of Reunion Weekend 2019. Register now!
Jeffrey Zeis (celebrating 40 years of service to Mercersburg)
Jeff started at Mercersburg in the fall of 1979 as a member of the buildings and grounds department, and he has loyally helped care for our 300-acre campus as a groundskeeper for the past 40 years. For Jeff, being at Mercersburg Academy has been a family affair, as seven other members of his family have previously worked or continue to work at the school. His father, George, worked in the dining hall for 16 years (from 1957 to 1973); his uncle, Bill Roland, spent 47 years working in the dining hall (from 1951 to 1998); his wife, Sharon, worked in the dining hall for three years in the late 1980s; his father-in-law, Junior Custor, worked as a painter on the B&G crew for 43 years (from 1953 to 1996); and his wife’s grandfather, Daniel Cowan, worked in dining services. Jeff’s son, Jonathan, has been a part of the B&G utility-maintenance team since 2015; and his daughter, Amanda, started as a utility maintenance worker in B&G last fall.Paul Galey (retiring after 29 years at Mercersburg)
Paul came to Mercersburg in 1990 from the Webb School in Knoxville, Tenn., and began his tenure at the Academy as the school minister. He served in this role until 2000, and again in 2003. During Paul’s time as school minister, the Community Gathering and Chapel programs were added to the daily schedule as times for the school community to gather in one of the most beautiful buildings on campus. Paul’s wife, the late Marcia Galey (who worked for 26 years as the administrative assistant in Mercersburg’s Health Center before she passed away in October 2018), was responsible for the creation of the poinsettia dedications that happen each year as part of the Christmas Candlelight Service. Paul served as the head of the religion department from 1992 until 2006 and designed many of the courses offered in the religion curriculum during that time period, including courses that examine both Western and non-Western religious traditions. He is a past recipient of the school’s Ammerman Distinguished Teaching Award for Religious & Interdisciplinary Studies, served as the head golf coach for 14 seasons, and in 2014 was appointed associate director of counseling services.
Over the years, Paul has shared his musical talents in numerous concerts and productions and has performed with the Factet and on the drums in a faculty band called Blue Chair. He is ordained in the United Church of Christ and has served as representative to the Theological Commission of the Penn Central Conference of the UCC. Paul holds degrees from Westfield State College and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. It is believed that Paul has officiated more 100 alumni weddings (though this count is unofficial). Paul has two children, both of whom attended Mercersburg: Michael ’00 and Bethany ’02, as well as a daughter-in-law, Rachel Kagan ’00.Bonnie Miller (retiring after 12 years at Mercersburg)
Bonnie joined the staff in 2007 as an administrative assistant for the Irvine Memorial Chapel and has also served as an administrative assistant for the housekeeping department. Bonnie assists the school minister in preparing for the weekly Chapel services, as well as coordinating the other student and community programming in the Chapel. She compiles information for the weekly bulletin and other printed materials. Bonnie has helped coordinate many weddings, including those of a large number of our alumni who return to campus to be married. Laurence "Mitch" Mitchell (retired after eight years at Mercersburg)
Mitch began with the Mercersburg security team in 2010 and retired in August 2018 after eight years of service. While Mitch typically worked the weekend shift and other available day shifts, he would happily cover any shifts for any of his colleagues who needed help. Mitch was always the first person to call if anyone on the security staff (which provides 24/7 coverage for the campus, 365 days a year) needed a replacement for any reason—even in a snowstorm. Before coming to Mercersburg, Mitch was a lieutenant and supervisor in the Franklin County prison system.Debbie Rutherford (retiring after 42 years at Mercersburg)
Debbie first joined the faculty in 1977 as a Spanish teacher and has also served as the school’s director of counseling. She was appointed assistant head of school in 1991, and became Mercersburg’s first associate head of school in 1997. As associate head of school, Debbie oversees the school’s residential program and student counseling services. She has served alongside three of Mercersburg’s seven heads of school: Walter Burgin ’53, Douglas Hale, and Katie Titus. She was among the first faculty members to work with Mercersburg’s Peer Group program when it began in 1985, and has also served as a dormitory dean, department head, teacher, coach, and adviser, in addition to her administrative duties. Debbie is past chair of the Commission on Secondary Schools of the Middle States Association and is a graduate of Saint Mary’s [Ind.] College and Middlebury College.
Debbie’s husband, Frank, is a member of the Class of 1970 and has served on the Mercersburg faculty for 43 years; he is also retiring this year. (The school’s recently renovated health center is named the Rutherford Health and Wellness Center in the couple’s honor. ) Mercersburg is a family affair for the Rutherfords: their three sons, Matt ’03, Paul ’06, and Stephon Fullerton ’06, are all alumni of the school, as is their niece, Amelia Goebel ’09.Frank Rutherford '70 (retiring after 43 years at Mercersburg)
Frank attended Mercersburg for three years as a student, graduating in 1970. He was a member of the Irving Society, a dorm prefect, manager of the varsity football team, and a member of the basketball and track & field teams (he set three school records in track & field). Frank continued his career in track & field as a standout athlete at Lebanon Valley College, where he competed in the NCAA Division III National Championships. Frank returned to his alma mater in 1976 as a science teacher and has served in a number of roles over the last four decades. He holds Mercersburg’s Archibald H. Rutledge Chair and is a past recipient of the Zern Excellence in Teaching Award.
Frank previously served as the school’s registrar and director of instructional technology, and has also worked with outdoor programs and coached cross country, basketball, swimming, field hockey, and track & field. Frank holds a bachelor’s degree from Lebanon Valley and a master’s from the University of Delaware. He and his wife, fellow faculty member and 2019 retiree Debbie Rutherford, are the parents of three alumni and also have an alumni niece.Boyd Straley (retired after 57 years at Mercersburg)
After 57 years, Boyd called it a career when he retired in August 2018. Boyd began working at Mercersburg in June 1961 and served in the school’s buildings and grounds department. He left the Academy as one of the longest-tenured employees in the school’s 126-year history. Boyd’s Academy connections, however, go back even farther than the start of his employment with the school. He was born on the school farm in a house that was eventually demolished during the widening of Pennsylvania Route 16, and his family was in charge of the school farm when it provided a significant portion of the food supply for the Academy’s dining hall.
A graduate of James Buchanan High School in the borough of Mercersburg, Boyd held a number of positions in the facilities and buildings and grounds department over the years, making him a familiar face to staff, faculty, and students alike. His responsibilities included an interim stint as assistant buildings and grounds director in place of his mentor, longtime faculty member Preston Amspacher, when Amspacher was away from the school on medical leave. Chip Vink ’73 (retiring after 39 years at Mercersburg)
After graduating from Mercersburg, Chip studied abroad under the auspices of the English-Speaking Union before graduating from Franklin & Marshall College. Chip has worked at Mercersburg since 1980—first as an English teacher and then for 11 years (1989 to 2000) as director of admission before returning to the classroom full time. Chip serves as the head boys’ varsity squash coach and has also coached football, tennis, and baseball. He has also been the head of the English department, a college counselor, and an adviser to Blue Review
(the school’s student-produced literary and fine-arts journal).
Chip, who also holds a master’s from Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf School of English, was the Mary Keeler Lawrence Distinguished Teaching Chair from 2007 until 2014, when he was appointed the school’s Regenstein Chair in British Literature. He served as chair of the school’s Conduct Review Committee for several years. Chip and his wife, Debbie, have two sons, Nathan ’94 and Heath ’99; his sister-in-law, Robin Grove Vink ’73, and nephew, Ethan Vink ’13, are also Mercersburg alumni.
In June 2017, emeriti faculty members Brent Gift, Earle Grover, Karl Reisner, and Dave Tyson were recognized as a part of Reunion Weekend for each having 40 or more years of service to the school. Last June, 10 current and retired faculty and staff were saluted for 40-plus years of service, including Lois Keller, Tom Rahauser ’74, Doris Reeder, Bill Roland, Debbie Rutherford, Frank Rutherford ’70, Cecelia Stansberry, Boyd Straley, Gene Yeager, and Shirley Zeger. During Reunion Weekend 2018, the Alumni Council also recognized retiring faculty and staff members Zeger, Doree Brinson, Dave Cline, Marilyn Houck, and Pandy Yeakle.Pictured L-R: (top row) Paul Galey, Bonnie Miller, Laurence “Mitch” Mitchell, Debbie Rutherford, (bottom row) Frank Rutherford ’70, Boyd Straley, Chip Vink ’73, Jeff Zeis.