Barbara and Frank Lesher P'02, '10
When their daughter, Emily '02, departed for Dartmouth in 1998, Barbara and Frank Lesher could not foresee that ten years later they would be watching their youngest son, Ted '10, compete on the Dartmouth track and field team--much less that they themselves would be preparing to move to Hanover full-time from their home in Saddle River, New Jersey. "It just hit us one day that we love coming up to Hanover," says Frank, formerly a corporate lawyer who took early retirement when Sony relocated its headquarters to the West Coast. "Every time we leave we say, 'Too bad we have to go back to New Jersey tonight.'"
Frank and Barbara, a realtor, have also become close to a classmate of Ted's through Frank's work with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. "He's a full scholarship student," says Frank, who met the student when the local New Jersey MS chapter awarded him a scholarship. "The family situation is extremely difficult because of his father's medical condition. He's a fabulous student in every regard and his main goal in life is to find a cure for MS. I know that financial aid is one of Dartmouth's top priorities, and I think it's really important to continue to support top students who are financially needy and who will someday be contributing to society."
We sat down with Frank and Barbara in October, a few days before Homecoming.
Frank: When Emily found out she was admitted, that Dartmouth sticker was on the car the same day. She went into the earth sciences program and had an internship in a geology lab through the Women in Science Project. She's now getting her PhD from the Colorado School of Mines. And she was on the ultimate Frisbee team and got very involved with the Dartmouth Outing Club. In fact, her senior year she stayed an extra term and ran the DOC trips in September. She worked up at Moosilauke a couple of summers and met her husband there.
Barbara: She was working on Lodge Crew and he came through leading one of the trips. We were really struck by how much she blossomed from these outings, and the great friends that she made while she was at Dartmouth. We knew our youngest son had similar interests and we thought it would be a good choice for him, too.
Frank: Neither of them wanted an urban environment for college. Our middle son, Burke, did and went to Northwestern. But Emily was interested in the whole package that Dartmouth offered: the academics, the outdoorsy kids, the manageable size.
Barbara: I think the biggest difference between Ted and Emily's Dartmouth experience is that he joined a fraternity, Alpha Chi Alpha, and Emily had no interest in Greek life. He seems pretty happy with it. He's an environmental studies major and a Spanish minor. He did volunteer work and a home-stay in Bolivia for ten weeks last fall, which he really enjoyed.
Frank: The other big difference is that he's involved with a varsity sport. Emily loved ultimate but it didn't require the time that Ted has to put into track. And the nice thing about the team is that it's his second family.
Barbara: We're feeling more connected to the school now that we're involved with the Parents Fund Committee. We've enjoyed meeting the other parents and getting to know President and Mrs. Wright.
Frank: We became very involved with the parents group at Northwestern, partly because we were asked. Since we were farther away it seemed like a great way to stay in the loop with what was going on at the school. So we decided to get involved at Dartmouth. Why is it important to support Dartmouth? I was well aware through my work with Northwestern that tuition doesn't cover the cost of an education at schools like Northwestern and Dartmouth. We appreciate the excellent education the kids get here and all the opportunities they've had, whether it's a DOC management role or going to Ireland with the track team. I know it's tough when you're writing that tuition check. But the kids are so encouraged to spread their wings here, they're so encouraged to think outside of the box, and to be a participating member of the community. And because of Dartmouth's small size they can do that. They don't get lost--but they can meet friends of every stripe, of every interest, and really grow that way. There's nothing not to like about this institution, as far as I can see. When you think about all the thousands of people who have raised money in the past for Dartmouth, it's sort of an obligation in my book to keep up the excellence.