It is said that the shoemaker goes without shoes.

Sharon Rippey, our selfless cobbler from down the road in Deansboro, devoted herself for almost a quarter-century to making the rest of us at Hamilton—alumni, alumnae, parents, students, colleagues, friends of College athletics, and everyone else besides—feel seen, appreciated, recognized, honored, and loved.

This ambassador of her beloved Hamilton Arboretum—with the eye-twinkle of a woodland sprite—has she been truly seen and loved by us in return? Has our recognizer-in-chief been fully recognized? Not until today.

Sharon is shoeless no more.

Now is time for this self-effacing, heaven-sent messenger to receive a small measure of the warmth and light with which she has irradiated everyone in the always-expanding blast zone of her affection and attention. Scant recompense, we concede, for one who has served our community so faithfully for two and half decades.

She spent her youth in South Africa and came to Clinton by way of Baltimore. With poetic justice her middle name, Thandeka, means “loved by all” in Zulu. But here, we called Sharon “The Mother of Us All,” with an appreciative nod to the embrace she has given to the vast expanse of her Hamily: from the oldest Half-Century grads; to the youngest alums just breaking into the Class Leadership Council; to her assiduously tended cohort of Kirkland women; to her fleet of student interns, whom she tutored patiently in the ways of doing things right for Hamilton.

Events were her apotheosis, the bigger the better. Fallcoming and Parents Weekend, sometimes separate, sometimes conjoined. The global reach of Alexander Hamilton birthday celebrations, with their “party in a box” supplies ready for shipment to wherever in the world two or three or more Hamiltonians might be gathered.

And then there were her masterworks, Reunion Weekends, Sharon’s enduring legacy to the College. She conceived and executed the mammoth Bicentennial Reunion in 2012, three All-Kirkland Reunions, and everything in between and much more as well.

She made a tapestry of reunions, weaving together social, educational, and philanthropic strands into an integrated whole—the “happy observance of reunions,” as it became known—that bound alumni and their families to the College ever more tightly and kept them coming back again and again.

We reflect today, admiringly but a bit wistfully, on the uncommon arc of Sharon’s long Hamilton career—from media relations to donor relations, to leadership giving programs, to her ultimate and sustained berth in alumni and parent relations. All this: These roles, her deeds, and the pure joy of life she strewed profligately in her wake—from this day forward, “Memory still shall close enfold.”

Our most radiant recollections of Sharon impel us now to say, with full hearts and in one voice, on this hilltop and in every place she has ever waved the Hamilton pennant:

Mother, all-loving thou hast been.
Our own sweet Lady, thou.


Office / Department Name

Alumni & Parent Relations

Contact Name

Jacke Jones

Director, Alumni & Parent Relations

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