Saturday, October 15, 2016

In Memory of SinClair Orendorff

In memory of our longest serving president, Dr. SinClair Orendorff...

Former NWC President, SinClair Orendorff and Stefani Hicswa

The following is an excerpt from my comments at President Orendorff's memorial service:

Dr. Orendorff led Northwest College through great periods of growth and development during the time he served as our president. For over two decades he upheld high academic standards and had a strong vision for the college as a residential campus with an emphasis on transfer. He was also instrumental in moving NWC through accreditation issues when the college was on probation in the late 1960s. 

Before I applied for the Northwest College presidency I met SinClair for coffee.
I learned more about the college in that couple of hours, than I had in all my other research combined. That day, I also learned of our shared passion for student success. This legacy was evidenced in his attendance at the Yellowstone Building dedication.

His contributions to this college will be remembered long into the future and his legacy of student success will live on because his heart and soul will always be connected to
Northwest College. 

The following poem about Dr. Orendorff was written by faculty member Burt Bradley:

SinClair Orendorff by Burt Bradley

He looks like an old country doctor,
bespeckled, a little bent, grandfatherly.
His voice effuses kindness,
tinged with an Oklahoman twang.
Patient, slow, eighty-one--
I can’t imagine him six or seven,
buck-teeth, Coca-Cola bottle glasses,
a preacher’s son for heaven’s sake
having to fight through six schools.

Unlikeliest to succeed, he become
a doctor...of education, his wisdom
in understanding people, he could
read them like a book; his teaching
methodology: how to listen,
to their words, and to their heart,
his sure hand on the pulse of their character.
So when he talks about himself,
it’s not his name or deed one hears,
but Bob Bever, Bob Fagerburg,
Bob Nelson, Dan Oliver, Herb Wohlberg,
John DeWitt, John Hinkley, Al Simpson,
names he utters reverently, sometimes
removing his glasses to wipe his eyes
glistening with memories.

He wasn’t the first President,
he wasn’t even the first choice,
He didn’t build the foundation,
or lay any of the bricks,
but walk through this college
from sixth to seventh streets,
between Absaroka and Division
and feel his presence,
the muscle, fiber, the common
sense, the integrity, the virtue
of earnestness and laughter.

He’s a humble man,
who won’t talk much
about the two purple hearts
or how he carried a  fellow soldier
out of harm’s way under enemy fire.

It’s always about others,
about the college. Really,
he says, the success
of this institution was we
hired good people
and let them do their job.

On paper it says he’s retired. And
even he will pretend, murmuring
I don’t want to be in the way.
But this most unlikely to succeed
doctor of education, this president
of the college-not just half its life,
but for life, saw she was in trouble
declared, “I don’t want to be out of
the road, even if it means they
have to run me over.” His Golden Rule:
have a little patience, wait
a moment and have a little more,
and listen until you understand.

A doctor of education, president
of a college, this man who has forgot
more than most know,
who forgets nothing, ...
And what he remembers is
what none of us should forget.

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