The Cumulative Value of a St. Albans Education
William Nutting ’55 and Ogden Nutting ’52 have made a STRIVE Campaign gift to support the chaplaincy and the religious studies program at St. Albans. William recently returned to campus to comment on the gift.
Cathedral services, daily chapel, homilies by the headmaster, Christian history and theology—all were part of a St. Albans education in the 1950s. But so were many things. Ogden Nutting ’52, who came in Form I, and his younger brother Bill Nutting ’55, who arrived in Form C, enthusiastically embraced student life.
Ogden edited the Albanian yearbook; served as sports editor for the News; assisted in the Cathedral as a server; and joined the Government Club, where he argued against segregation, and the Religious Club, which discussed high school honor codes his senior year. He also captained the tennis team, played basketball, and served as class treasurer, and a prefect.
Bill had many of the same interests: playing basketball and rising to captain of the tennis team, joining the Religious Club, hustling to get ads as business editor for the News; and editing the Albanian for the Class of 1955, a class “in which every boy is free to pursue his own interests in harmony with the group,” according to the yearbook.
And then there was coursework. Bill still appreciates his teachers’ diverse approaches to teaching: Lower School teacher Stanley Sofield’s relaxed and low-key manner (“But you still learned.”); English teacher Ferdinand Ruge (“Such a character” with those “wonderful idioms”); Assistant Headmaster John C. Davis (remembered for his religious instruction and Sacred Studies course); and Dean Stambaugh (“I was not artistic, but he got me to learn and to participate.”). Recalls Bill: “My years at St. Albans were extremely happy and wonderful.”
“In this era of challenges and uncertainties, religion remains critical.”
—Bill Nutting ’55
Only now, however, does Bill fully appreciate the value of the religious aspects of the school that managed to permeate his very busy life as a teenager. “As adolescent kids, we were running around having a good time, playing sports, chasing girls, loving cars—all those fun things. We weren’t necessarily concentrating on the religious side of the school,” says Bill. “Most of my impressions and takeaways have developed over time. The full impact of the St. Albans School experience has come through reflection and maturity.”
Bill suspects the same is (and will be) true for many of today’s students: “There’s nothing like being in the Cathedral. But how many boys are really affected by it spiritually?” he asks. Recently, Bill attended a chapel service at St. Albans and was impressed by the quality of the student homily. In his day, the headmaster or a faculty member delivered homilies. But even with a student speaking, Bill wasn’t convinced the boyswere listening. “I couldn’t see if they were paying attention—but maybe that’s because you seated me in the front row! Next time I’ll sit in the back,” he chuckled.
In 2000 the Nuttings created the Nutting Family Fund to help underwrite the production of the Saint Albans News. The gift celebrated not only their years working on the News, but also a family interest in publishing. Although Bill and Ogden were born and raised in Washington, D.C., the roots of the Nutting family go back to West Virginia, where they have published the Ogden Newspapers for several generations. Bill remained in Washington following Williams College and Harvard Business School, going into the investment business, but Ogden, also a Williams graduate, relocated to Wheeling, West Virginia, where he is chairman and publisher of the Ogden Newspapers.
Now, the brothers are focused on supporting the school’s religious studies program and the chaplains through the creation of the Nutting Chair in Chaplaincy and Religious Studies. “One very special aspect of St. Albans was the atmosphere created by being part of the National Cathedral and being on the Close,” Bill recalled. “The cumulative value of having been at St. Albans, which comes to you with time, is not just about a good education. It’s about life—how to lead one’s life, how we should behave. That’s what is taught here.”
“How to lead one’s life, how we should behave—that’s what is taught here.”
—Bill Nutting ’55
Their gift will help ensure that boys today will grow up in a similar environment—an Episcopal church school, with chapel talks, Cathedral services, and religious studies—of their own faith and others. Someday, with help from the Nuttings’ gift, the cumulative effect of that education will no doubt help guide them through life. “In this era of challenges and uncertainties,” says Bill, “religion remains critical.”