Leading up to Burke Mountain Academy’s 50th anniversary, we’ve set out to connect with Burke alumni and alumni staff from near and far.
Richard Enemark was an English instructor at BMA from 1974 to 1980, college counselor from 1974 to 1978 (Burke’s first college counselor), and academic director from 1975 to 1980.
Richard (center) with children Forrest (left) and Faith (middle) at a dedication at Doane Stuart, the school Richard headed and from which both of them graduated.
Now living in Pacific Grove California, on the Monterey Peninsula, Richard officially retired from an extensive career heading schools and is currently teaching five classes, five days a week at the Stevenson School in Pebble Beach, California. He enjoys teaching two sections of junior English and three sections of senior English – which is the most in-class time he’s spent since teaching at Burke. He hopes no one has forgotten that he still holds the sit-up championship for Burke Mountain Academy!
And now a few words from Richard…
I will never forget coming to Burke in the early 70’s on a six-month “contract” after Warren talked me into believing that six months at Burke was far preferable to taking a plum job in New York at an advertising agency. By the way, the contract was really just a handshake with W2 (Warren Witherell); that handshake began a friendship of many decades. And I ended up staying at Burke until 1980 to teach dozens of the finest young men and women I have ever known. And, Burke set me on a career in teaching that has now surpassed 40 years. It is a career I never expected to have and which I feel blessed to have experienced.
One of the BMA memories I will never forget was when Mary Anne Ellis (Toots) took me up the chairlift to the top of the mountain for my first ever run. She kept telling me that everyone learned how to ski by starting at the top of the mountain. Two hours later, and with that one run under my belt, I guess I was able to call myself a skier.
My BMA highlights include being invited to come back to Burke to be a graduation speaker in 1984 for students I had only known as freshmen, but with whom I felt a very special bond.
A funny story was when Warren realized we needed to get our seniors (BMA’s first senior class ever) into college. He said “Rich, why don’t you take Greenie (our old Chevy Suburban), and drive these kids around to Harvard, Middlebury, Dartmouth and Williams and places like that and get them in.” And so that’s what we did, and so was born our college counseling program. We literally showed up at the front door of the admissions offices of these colleges and, remarkably, they took us in without appointments and met with every one of our students. Of course, that was only about seven kids at the time. Of course, they all were great and they all got in.
After Burke, I married the beautiful and extraordinarily talented artist, Nancy Lawton and followed her and her career in art to New York City, where many Burkies attended our wedding. So many former students from Burke wrote to me when we lost Nancy ten years ago, with such admiration for her. And I read a poem at her memorial service that Mary Jo (Mermer) Blakeslee had given me. In 1985, I finished my Ph.D. at Columbia University where I also taught for five years.Then, I went on to Andover to work at other independent schools, serving as head of three of those schools.
A career highlight as headmaster was handing diplomas to both of my children, Faith and Forrest, at their respective graduations from Doane Stuart – the school I headed for 15 years. This school also gave me a special opportunity of helping to build and dedicate a new campus, working with a terrific group of people who moved our school to its new home after 150 years, where we also built a new interfaith Chapel and a Buddhist temple, in order to better express our school’s interfaith diversity.
For nine of the years after leaving Burke, I returned frequently to the Mountain as a member ofthe Board of Trustees. I enjoyed being a part of the team responsible for preserving the Burke spirit while supporting needed changes. After retiring from heading schools, I led a foundation for two years, but returned to Monterey to resume full-time teaching – which I had not done since Burke. At that time, I joined a wonderful school in Pebble Beach called Stevenson.
I remain in close contact with Kris and John Macomber and former faculty members Jenny Frutchy, John Evans, Judy Merritt and Chris Jones. I also kept in touch with Doug and Diane Lyons and all of their children (Crawford, Noel, Jen and Joanie). Sadly I returned to Burke most recently to be at Doug’s funeral. Over these decades, I have always maintained a special relationship with the Grahams and regard each with a gratitude and affection that is enduring.
Over the years, I’ve seen dozens of Burke friends and former students, including the Dupres, Laurie Baker, Vicky Fleckenstein, Roger Prevot, Gayle Voelker, and I wish I were in touch with so many more. In fact, about 40 Burkies showed up for my surprise 40th birthday party at George and Andy Macomber’s Harbor Towers home. I will never forget that one, as I will never forget every run on the Ridge and every class in my living room in the Moulton House.