|Members of Marian “Deedee” Rickenbaugh Sweet’s family were heavy hitters in Dickinson’s history.
For Marian “Deedee” Rickenbaugh Sweet ’39, Dickinson has been a childhood playground, fodder for family stories, alma mater, and a source of pride. Sweet counts at least 10 close relatives who attended Dickinson and for them, and other legacy Dickinson families, the college is more than just a place for education—it is their heritage.
“Dickinson was part of the family. I was exposed to it all the time. There was no question about where I would go to school,” says the French and English major from her home in Norton, Mass. Sweet moved to New England, where she met her husband, after graduation.
Sweet’s father, Calvin Rickenbaugh, was the college doctor, and her mother, Kathleen Gooding Rickenbaugh, class of 1905, was a charter member of Pi Beta Phi on campus. Sweet and her two sisters, Kathleen ’35 and Margaret ’38, were all members of the sorority as was her Aunt Lydia Gooding, class of 1910, college librarian from 1918-26. At age 88, Sweet still follows Dickinson in the news and pays her Pi Beta Phi dues. She also received the Pi Phi Golden Arrow award for 50 years of membership.
Growing up on Louther Street, Sweet first saw Dickinson through the eyes of a child.
“I remember playing on campus. And riding bikes there,” she says. “I remember when Gooding Gate was dedicated. We were there as children.” As the attached plaque states, the class of 1905 gave the gate by Old East in honor of Sweet’s father.
One of her illustrious relations was her grandfather, William Lambert Gooding, class of 1874. A professor of philosophy from 1898 to 1916, Gooding lived next door to Conway Hall, which was razed in 1966 to make way for the library.
“Sunday nights he would go to the dormitories for discussions with students. And the class of 1898 thought so much of him that he was given eight silver teaspoons initialed with ’98,” Sweet says.
Also counted among Sweet’s many relations who attended Dickinson was Cornelius William Prettyman, class of 1891, who was dean of the senior class in 1917 and eventually president of the college from 1944-46.
“He lived on the same street as we lived on, and we called him Uncle Billy,” says Sweet. “He had a wonderful sense of humor and was quite a bridge player.” Prettyman, professor of German, became head of the department of modern languages in 1938.
“He wanted to improve our English language, so every class he would give us an odd word so we could develop our own vocabulary in English,” says Sweet.
Underscoring the point that Prettyman was an exceptional professor, Dickinson’s Chronicles Web site notes that “Few instructors in the history of the college were more highly respected than Prettyman.”
Dickinson itself and life on campus have changed dramatically since Sweet’s days as a student, but her memories remain fond.
“We attended all the football games. We had good lectures. We had to go to chapel every Friday because it was mandatory.” Sweet recalls that chapel was held in Bosler Hall and “above that building were two little boys, naked.” The source of much snickering, the cartouche was removed in 1940-41 and placed in storage. In 2000 it was moved to its current location in front of Bosler Hall.
Sweet’s attachment to Dickinson has not diminished with time or distance.
“I’ve always stayed interested in what’s going on there,” she says. “I cut out news clippings about it. And I’ve been to many reunions. Dickinson is my passion. I just love it.”
If you would like to share stories about your own Dickinson legacy family, please write to email@example.com or Dickinson Magazine, P.O. Box 1773, Carlisle, PA 17013.
Former Dickinson Magazine intern Catherine Santore ’01 is managing editor of BU Today at Boston University.