Colorado’s Temple Hoyne Buell Foundation,
which focuses on early childhood education,
and as co-chair of the advisory committee of
the Gates Center for Regenerative Medicine
and stem cell research in Denver.
He remains in contact with Dick Spangler
and was close with classmate Ballard
Morton until Morton’s death last year. In
May, Mr. Ritchie will return to Woodberry
to deliver the commencement address.
Through all the twists and turns of his
career, from Hollywood to the media world
to academia, Mr. Ritchie has remembered
the impact Woodberry had on his life.
“It reinforced my childhood with my
parents and grandfather. They believed
strongly in ethics, in caring, and in
always telling the truth no matter the
consequences,” he says. “I was shaped by
the whole rigorous academic experience
and the seriousness of behavior. That you
didn’t drink or cheat or lie or steal. . . . That
helped change my life in very important
ways, because none of what I have done
would have happened without Woodberry.”
BY JACOB GEIGER ’05
By the time Leroy “Buck” Close ’68 arrived at Princeton University, he’d
already visited Haiti twice, working with a
group of Catholic nuns.
But that freshman year at Princeton, he
did something that would forever change
his life. He ran away from school and headed
back to Haiti. He called his parents at the
airport to tell them where he was going.
“I’d gone previously with my Woodberry
friends Lee Griffin and Connor Cogswell,
who are both from the class of ’68 like I am,”
Buck says. “By my senior year at Woodberry,
I had a map of Haiti on the wall of my dorm
Shortly after arriving in Haiti, he began
working with the Salesian Sisters of St.
John Bosco. François Duvalier, a dictator
more commonly known as “Papa Doc,”
controlled the country with a feared force
of police — “Bogeymen” — who terrorized
and killed those who they saw as threats to
Duvalier’s reign. The presence of a young
American amid a Roman Catholic order
soon attracted the attention of the security
forces. Buck was arrested and deported
from the country. Though the police never
told him why he was arrested, he believes
they feared he was an undercover journalist
who might write an exposé about Haitian
poverty or the brutality of Duvalier’s police
and security forces.
Back in the United States, Buck enrolled in
Tulane University’s Latin American studies
program. After graduation he got a job
with Church World Service, a cooperative
mission of dozens of denominations to
provide development, disaster relief, and
refugee assistance around the world.
“I got offered a Church World Service job
in Haiti, but the Haitian government, in a
rare act of record-keeping and organization,
said I couldn’t come because of my prior
arrest,” Buck recalls.
But in December 1972, a devastating
earthquake leveled much of Managua, the
capital of Nicaragua. Thousands of people
were killed, and hundreds of thousands
were left homeless. Buck was at the
Thunderbird School of Business in Arizona
when the earthquake struck. Ten days later,
he and his wife, Lucy, were on the ground
in Nicaragua, working for Church World
Service to respond to the disaster.
Buck loved the work, and he loved the
time he was spending in Latin America.
Folks at home, however, were often puzzled.
“People kept asking me, ‘When are you
going to get a real job?’” he says.
After returning from Nicaragua, he
went to work for his family’s business,
Springs Mills, Inc. The company made
sheets, towels, and apparel fabrics under
Buck Close ’68
BUCK CLOSE ’68 AND MEMBERS OF THE 1,000 JOBS HAITI BEEKEEPING INITIATIVE.