By Patrick Mooney
Just in time for the holidays, Wagner College has another Seahawk love story. I visited Boston to host an alumni dinner before the holidays. I had time to sit with a lovely Wagner couple, Peter ’66 and Elaine Gailer ‘66 Recklet to ask them about their time at Wagner and their lives since then.
How did you and Elaine meet?
Peter: “I first met Elaine while I briefly dated one of her roommates during freshman year. While neither of us remembers how things started the following year, we started eating breakfast and dinner together with mutual friends. After a few months, we both realized that this was not going to be a short-term relationship. We enjoy telling people that although we’ve been married 54 years, we’ve been eating breakfast together for 57.“
How did you both choose Wagner?
Peter: “As a high school junior, I determined that I wanted to be a teacher. My godmother, Mildred Heppner, a graduate of Wagner (class of 1940) and teacher, actively promoted Wagner with my parents.”
Elaine: “I wanted to become a nurse. The profession at that time was developing college degree programs as an alternative to traditional hospital-based training. My parents, who had never attended college, encouraged me to enroll in a college program. Since I grew up in a Lutheran church in Queens, New York, Wagner was a natural choice.”
What careers did you pursue with your degrees from Wagner?
Peter: “I had a few ‘careers’, first as a public school teacher for 5 years. I then switched to the real estate title insurance industry and “climbed the ladder” for 20 years in sales and management positions. Then I became an independent consultant for title insurance organizations. Most recently I finished my career in biotechnology. I spent 8 years in manufacturing quality assurance and database application development.”
Elaine: I knew early on I wanted to pursue a career in nursing. Wagner’s nursing program gave me a great foundation in both clinical and research work. I started in hospital nursing and then transitioned to an OB/GYN practice and then two family practices. Then I took a position as program coordinator for a 4-year research project at Yale University. The Infant Health and Development Program was a clinical trial designed to evaluate the efficacy of comprehensive early intervention in reducing the developmental and health problems of low birth weight, premature infants.
For the last 11 years of my career, I worked with two health care firms in Boston as a project manager for health care-related application design. IDX Systems Corporation (now merged with GE Healthcare) and Partners Health Care (rebranded as Mass General Brigham).
Who were some of your favorite Wagner professors?
Peter: Some of my favorite professors were: Dr. John Bacher, history professor, Dr. Francis Wayland history, and John ‘Bunny' Barbes who was my track coach.
Elaine: I really learned a lot from Professor Donald Krug (sociology), and my nursing professors Janet A. Rodgers and Dr. Jane Bacher.
Do you have any friendships from Wagner?
Elaine: I have maintained lifelong friendships with my roommates: Phyllis McClelland George ‘66, Jean Ahner Neimeier ‘66, Naomi Klc Pockell ‘66, the late Kathy Berg ‘66, and the late Linda Pecsok Auzenne ‘66. I also keep in touch with fellow Nursing students Betty Wallace Koenig ’66 and Lissa Dawson Barker ‘66.
We both had close friendships with classmates who became Lutheran ministers: the Rev Cliff Gerber ‘65 and the late Rev Robert Busch ’65.
Do you have fond memories/experiences at Wagner?
Elaine and Peter: “We really enjoyed attending our 50th Class Reunion in June of 2016 and recalling so many memories at Wagner from 1962 to 1966. We remember gathering in the Guild Hall lounge, on February 7, 1964, for the Ed Sullivan Show to see the Beatles' first US performance. We remember the debate about allowing women to wear jeans in the library.”
“We also remember the great athletics teams: the undefeated football season – of 1964 and Wagner basketball beating nationally ranked NYU in December 1963.” Peter played soccer and ran track and Elaine earned her ‘Block W’ as the statistician for the track team.
“We wouldn’t say this is a fond memory but certainly memorable – the assassination of JFK – like everyone else we will never forget exactly where we were when we heard the news, gathering in the Hawks Nest to watch the TV and hearing Walter Cronkite confirm the terrible event.”
Do you have interesting hobbies or favorite activities?
Peter: “Now in retirement, I enjoy gardening, golf, small boat cruising, and trips with Rhodes Scholar such as Red Sox Spring Training, Chicago Architecture, and Cuba & Key West.
Elaine: “I really enjoy singing – since childhood – in church choirs. I was a member of the Fairfield County Chorale, based in Westport, CT for 11 years, and am currently with the Heritage Chorale, based in Framingham, MA, for the last 31 years. I also enjoy working with my hands: cross-stitch, knitting, crocheting, and origami.”
How many children and grandchildren do you have?
Elaine and Peter: “We love spending time with our 2 daughters and 4 grandchildren.”
As members of the Anchor Society for your consecutive giving to the College, why do you donate back to Wagner?
Elaine and Peter: “We believe it’s important to support the college and allow students to receive both an excellent education as well as a memorable college experience.”