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A start at my "Autobiography"
Selected stories by Dick Whitney

UMass Chorus class and Richard Gere 



I fondly look back upon my College days at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Ma. I attended classes there from the fall of 1969 until graduation day in May of 1973. While I received my Bachelors degree in Astronomy from UMass, one of the classes that I took faithfully those four years was chorus. Not that I was an outstanding singer, but I was a male voice and could at least carry a tune.

We met each Tuesday evening from 7-9PM in a small white building up on the hill beneath Orchard Hill (see photo above). The photos on this page were both taken in 1969; the construction in the foreground was that of the start of the Arts building near the pond. I recall a number of things from my experiences in Chorus. The most memorable to me was our rendition that Fall 1969 semester of Leonard Bernsteins Chichester Psalms. The Concert Chorus was directed by Professor Alan Harler. The photo below was taken by my father during the December 1969 performance. That is my near the back row (upper left), with the very short hair and long tie. Prior to this performance, we sang it in a synagogue at Smith College, and I think most everyone involved remembers these performances.

Years later, Jeff Kendall - a friend and neighbor of mine began discussing his days at UMass, and happened to mention that he was in the chorus. He is the tallest one in the photo below. Upon comparing notes, we both realized that we were in the Concert Chorus together and suddenly realized why we had looked familiar to one another when we had "first met". We actually sat next to one another an my friend said "Do you realize who sat next to us both??? - Richard Gere." He went on to say how Richard had told him how he wanted to become an actor. Guess he succeeded. While many of you now have heard him sing in the movie musical Chicago, I remember the days when we sang together over three decades earlier.

I recently got an email from Jeff Kendall, who wanted to clarify what Richard Gere said to him:

"During one of those breaks, toward the end of the season, and it was warm inside, I turned to the guy next to me, and asked "what are you going to do for the summer?" and Gere replied to me  "I think I'll be heading out to the West Coast, and see if I can catch on as an extra in some films..."

UMass Amherst Choral Concert - 1970

Below, a view of the morning fog from my room at 2107 George Washington Tower

1969 photo - construction of the Library building in foreground

Engineering building - That me coming from Calculus class

Mom and I in Quad area

UMass on Oct 15, 1969 - A Day of Concern (Protest of the Vietnam War)

Campus photos of 1972 - 73

UMass Teletype room in 1973

Marc Duame - My first College Roommate in room 2107

Return to UMass - 21st Floor of George Washington Tower (1969-1973)

Dick, Stan and Gary ("Moe, Curly and Larry') in Tower 5, 21st Floor

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