The Boys From Boise
A reunion was held in Boise, Idaho, on August 13–14 for Gideon
Oppenheimer ’47, ’49L’s “Boise
Boys,” a group of College alumni from Idaho who assembled
from all over the globe to commemorate the man who brought them
to Columbia. Close to 30 alumni convened to share stories of trial
and triumph since being plucked from Idaho fresh out of high school
to attend Columbia.
From 1963 until his death in 1969, Oppenheimer traveled all over
Idaho at his own expense, trying to recruit able-minded Idahoans
for the College. He hoped to introduce the challenges and excitement
of city life to young men not necessarily inclined to travel far
from home for college. Oppenheimer wanted to bring them from the
Midwest to Morningside Heights, where he had excelled, earning his
bachelor’s in three years.
Many of the reunion’s attendees had not seen each other
since their time at Columbia and reveled in the chance to get reacquainted.
Paul Casper ’69 and Jeff Fereday
’72 spearheaded the reunion effort; the featured
speaker was Eugene “Gene” Thomas ’52,
’55L, Oppenheimer’s long-time friend and associate.
Casper has been working in and around Eugene, Ore., as a manager
of recycling centers, and Fereday and Conley Ward ’69
are partners in a Boise law firm.
Attendees included Charles “Chuck” Skoro ’69,
director of the Catholic Student Center at Boise State University;
Joe Parkinson ’67, who, with his brother, founded
Micron Technologies in the late 1970s, recruiting fellow Idahoan
Larry Grant ’68 as general counsel; and Pat
Ford ’69, who returned to Idaho to found the Idaho
Conservation League and now works with an organization that protects
endangered Pacific salmon. Mike Reynolds ’72
recently was elected to the Idaho State Board of the National Alliance
for the Mentally Ill after being diagnosed as schizophrenic 20 years
ago and having since recovered.
Christian S. Ward ’69 and Christopher
Jensen ’69 have remained in New York since graduation.
Ward is a writer at Berdon LLP, a Manhattan accounting firm, and
Jensen is chairman of the law firm Cowman, Liebowitz and Latman,
where he specializes in intellectual property law.
Dale Goble ’70 is a University of Iowa
professor, specializing in environmental law; Tom Wand ’70
is an Episcopal minister in the Philadelphia area; and Terry
Carver ’68 moved to Bristol, England, to serve as
chairman of the Bristol University politics department.
Born in Berlin in 1922, Oppenheimer soon moved with his family
to Prague where, as Ward points out in a CCT article he wrote in
1991, “Gideon was a German and a Jew among Czechs”;
an outsider. Fleeing Eastern Europe in the 1930s to escape Nazi
persecution, the family moved into an apartment on Manhattan’s
Upper West Side. After finishing his law degree, Oppenheimer settled
in Boise, where he set up a law practice.
Oppenheimer’s legacy lives on, most notably in the Gideon
Oppenheimer Scholarship Trust (many of the “boys” contribute),
which offers tuition assistance to Columbia-bound high school seniors
in Idaho. Nick Clements ’04, who attended
the reunion, was a recipient. Many children of the Boise boys also
have graduated, such as Heather Jensen ’96,
an associate at her father’s law firm, and Tyler Ward
’03, who works in lower Manhattan.
Other attendees at the reunion included John Dudgeon ’66,
Ralph Comstock ’67, Jim Canning ’68,
Chris Carlson ’68, Jim Pharris ’68,
Rick Mixon ’69, Chuck Reeves ’69,
Steve Hiatt ’70, Tom Hood ’70, Bob
Sipe ’70, Jack Peavey ’71,
Richard Faylor ’72 and Ardyth Eisenberg ’69
Matthew Goldberg ’05 GS
A reunion held
on August 13–14, 2004, in Boise, Idaho, brought together
a number of Columbians to commemorate Gideon Oppenheimer
’47 ’49L. Left to right: Jim Pharris ’68,
Chuck Skoro ’69, Larry Grant ’68, Darrell Walker
’70, Jeff Fereday ’72, Rick Mixon ’69,
Tom Wand ’70, Terry Carver ’68, Jim Canning
’68, Mike Reynolds ’72, Paul Casper ’69,
Steve Hiatt ’70, Pat Ford ’69, Bob Sipe ’70,
Christopher Jensen ’69 and Ralph Comstock ’67.