Spotlight on Alumni Faculty: Richard Enemark

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.