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Setting the Scene

There is another story to tell about Withey Chapel (“How Monmouth Was Made,” fall 2019) that I think should be added to its history. In 1964, members of the Monmouth College theater group and our favorite professor, Lauren “Woody” Woods, took over the chapel and renamed it the Chapel Studio Theater. It was a perfect little venue to produce plays for a limited audience back then. It was an intimate space for sure: I believe we were able to squeeze in 24 seats for each performance.

Marilyn Egolf Rocky ’65 and the late Michael Fisher ’66 in a 1965 production of The Bald Soprano that was performed in Withey Chapel.

Most of the audiences were students from various acting classes or there by personal invitation from Lauren Woods. As I can recall, some of the plays we did were The Bald Soprano, Death of a Salesman, and The Glass Menagerie.

Across the hall from the Chapel Studio Theater was the Wilson Hall Bowling Alley. It was the perfect place to do makeup and store costumes for each show. No one within the college administration seemed to care if we used the chapel or the bowling alley. For two years, that was a special place for the drama group. Our only other venue in those days was the little theater on the lower level of Wilson Hall. It was a totally different time in the history of the school.

There was one little problem we had doing our shows in the chapel though. The chapel is right behind and next to the former ladies’ room (now the men’s room) on Wilson’s lower level. Every flush clearly resounded during each play. The actors got used to it, but the audience always had a chuckle!

Marilyn Egolf Rocky ’65

Withey Chapel, Two Takes

One of the creepiest places on campus, but in a charming way.

@HarlonJugo via Twitter

One of my favorite spots on campus.

@jellybellyspinelli via Instagram

Remembering Kenneth Stunkel

I was saddened to read of the passing of Dr. Kenneth Stunkel (“Remembrance,” summer 2019). What a great man and educator he was! I have many enduring memories of Dr. Stunkel, but two stand out. The first is the very first class that I attended in September 1976: Western Cultures, co-taught by Dr. Stunkel and Dr. Prescott Evarts. How fortunate to be taught by two such esteemed titans of academia at Monmouth. The way they worked together was truly inspiring! And, of course, both had such incredible senses of humor as well as intellectual brilliance.

My most enduring memory of Dr. Stunkel, however, occurred in late 1978. I was then a reporter and editor for The Outlook. For our final issue each semester, we put out a special edition called The Lookout in which we satirized current happenings at Monmouth and around the world. Just one month earlier, in November 1978, the events at Jonestown in Guyana occurred. Foolishly, I guess, we decided to satirize this in The Lookout. I wrote the article and decided to make Dr. Stunkel the Jim Jones–like figure at Monmouth. Dr. Stunkel always had that larger-than-life persona and lots of charisma, so I felt he was a perfect fit.

In the article, the avid Monmouth followers of Dr. Stunkel and his cult, “The Guggenheim Peoples Temple,” met a similar tragic fate as those at Jonestown. It was a fairly funny article that was generally well received by the Monmouth community. However, my biggest concern was how Dr. Stunkel would react to it, especially since he was being compared to Jim Jones. We found out shortly after when Dr. Stunkel wrote a letter to the editor. He totally played along with it, and his humor in the letter certainly surpassed and even enhanced the humor of the original article. It was one of the funniest things The Outlook has ever published, and I still chuckle thinking of it. It shows what kind of person he was and just how funny he was. He never took himself too seriously.

This led to an even longer collaboration with Dr. Stunkel, when soon afterward I became editor-in-chief during the second semester. I asked him to become a columnist for the paper, and he did for the remainder of that semester. His “Gadfly’s Corner” column enhanced The Outlook whenever he wrote one. And he wrote it most weeks, even continuing for the entire 1979–80 school year. It certainly raised the intellectual level of our college paper.

I graduated in May 1980, so I have no idea if he continued with this column. I hope that he did. His columns were always witty, perceptive, and extremely well written. They were probably over the heads of most of us college kids. I always suspected he was writing them more for his colleagues than the students. Whatever his reasons, I was always thrilled when he sent us a new “Gadfly’s Corner.” What a coup for our paper!

Dr. Stunkel was a giant of a man. He will be sorely missed and never ever forgotten by those of us who knew him and were taught by him.

Dan Stern ’80