Author Topic: Ken Strange  (Read 13222 times)

SherryHall

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Re: Ken Strange
« Reply #180 on: April 08, 2019, 07:23:28 AM »
J Walker Smith

He was my NU institute instructor the summer of ‘72. And a friend ever after. Sad news. An amazing, wonderful person.

SherryHall

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Re: Ken Strange
« Reply #181 on: April 08, 2019, 07:23:47 AM »
Mark Cotham

What a really great person. He’s one of those people who decades later his personality is still a joy. RIP my friend.

SherryHall

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Re: Ken Strange
« Reply #182 on: April 08, 2019, 07:24:12 AM »
Marna Weston

Deepest condolences and sadness in the loss of a friend in debate. I attended Dartmouth’s summer policy debate lab as a Barton Scholar and the Strange’s were incredibly warm and hospitable. This is difficult news.

SherryHall

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Re: Ken Strange
« Reply #183 on: April 08, 2019, 07:24:33 AM »
Nick Burnett

So sad to hear. He was a friend even to debaters at other programs. A great, kind, likeable fellow. He’ll be missed by many!

SherryHall

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Re: Ken Strange
« Reply #184 on: April 08, 2019, 07:24:58 AM »
Tom Fulkerson

 A good man and a limitless source of good humor.

mschnall

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Re: Ken Strange
« Reply #185 on: April 08, 2019, 08:57:37 PM »
Ken’s impact on debate and on debaters was so wide and deep as to be difficult to describe.  These reminiscences – and thank you, Sherry, for collecting them in one place – have helped to recall some mannerisms (the joyful cackle, the conspiratorial whisper, the most humble booming voice you ever heard) and some accomplishments (the championships, the NDT elim win streak).  They amply illustrate the longevity of Ken’s influence, yet I don’t know whether the intensity of his presence as a coach and a judge, as I remember it, quite comes through. 

When I was debating in college, from the fall of 1986 through the spring of 1990, Ken was finishing a ten-year period in which he coached fifteen Dartmouth teams to NDT first-round bids, and eleven teams to the semifinals of the tournament.  Fifteen first-round bids over ten years is incredible, but it was mind-boggling, in light of the level of competition and the challenges of a single-elimination tournament, that in a period in which only two teams per school could qualify, Dartmouth AVERAGED more than one team in the semis (Ken kept the streak going for three more years after I graduated).  Clearly, Ken had the opportunity to coach some truly remarkable debaters.  But other programs also had remarkable debaters, and it was an exciting accomplishment for them to reach the NDT semifinals, but not an annual occurrence.

Ken judged me many times – I can’t really remember how many – and it is possible he may never have voted for me.  Now, I was not a patient or humble debater, as I am sure some of the judges from my era (not to mention my coaches) can attest.  So it is somewhat astounding to me even now that I can’t remember walking away from one of Ken’s decisions frustrated.  Part of it, I am sure, was his reputation, and part of it his contagious love for (and mastery of) the nuances of everyone’s positions, about which several folks have written.  But a big part that I remember was Ken’s ability to frame his explanation of his decision in the terms of your own argument, rather than in some external, objective terms.  Your argument may not have prevailed, but you never left feeling it had not been understood, top to bottom. 

It was a privilege to work for Ken a couple of summers at DDI (1991 and 1992).  I didn’t teach with him, so I can’t echo the comments of others on the experiences in his lab group.  But he did assemble a staff that everyone was immensely proud to be a part of – with leading argument innovators, coaches who were in the thick of college and high school competition, and a few young, recently graduated college debaters like me (he did not, like other leading camps at the time, hire current college students).  It seemed he was still doing the same – with some help from his friends – when my daughter attended the institutes 20 years later.  It was a blast to get to visit and reminisce with Ken about the changes in debate and debate institutes, and just as much of a thrill to meet the new staff as it had been to work with the folks Ken had gathered together in the early 90s.

When I last saw Ken, at the 2015 Harvard tournament, he was on to the next adventure, coaching at Wake Forest, taking joy in a new set of arguments (and debaters) and their own strategy and nuance.  If there is a next adventure after this life, I hope that it brings Ken as much pleasure as debate in this world did.

SherryHall

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Re: Ken Strange
« Reply #186 on: April 09, 2019, 07:33:02 AM »
Lesley Wexler

RIP Ken. Dan and I agree about almost nothing debate related, but we agreed that you were always our favorite sighting on the rare occasion when we made it back to a tournament. You always had a few minutes to reminisce and relive our favorite shared moments. Mine was finding you in a CMAC chat room trolling for cards.

But I think the most telling was a big debate when you railed on MSU for a relying on a Clinton link card that didn’t say anything at all. We all looked at each other in disbelief and MSU angrily pointed out that you missed the bottom of the card because of the large blank lexis gaps. Rather than bluster your way out, you admitted the mistake and said you don’t know how you would have decided if you’d read the whole thing. And a week later, multiple cases of beer showed up at MSU’s office door.

Debate is not a game that generally rewards humility or publicly acknowledging mistakes. And you made so very few mistakes. You knew the game better than anyone and participated in it with care. But the willingness to say I made a mistake, I’m sorry, and I’ll do the best I can to fix it, knowing that the fix is imperfect, is a lesson I keep with me everyday and I think of you often.

SherryHall

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Re: Ken Strange
« Reply #187 on: April 09, 2019, 07:36:15 AM »
Marc Wilson
2 hrs ·

I have, like many others, tried to work through the emotions of losing Ken. Andre Hylton’s words, not surprisingly, hit home in big way. I found myself digging through those boxes in basement that will never be thrown away, but rarely get a look. I found some gems, various pictures from yesteryear, three different DDI Green Books, etc. Seeing these brought me some sense of joy.

Ken was a culture builder. From the day I met him as a high school kid at DDI to debating for him for 4 years and for the next almost thirty years, he stood out as one the most important influences on my life. Nicole Wanzer-Serrano stories of both DDI and the team just serve as further affirmations of what we all know across all the generations of debaters.

He loved gambling and he loved golf. He cursed and yelled at inanimate objects a lot while doing these activities. He could laugh in a way that would make others around him feel joy - and a compelling need to imitate him.

He was there for some of the happiest and saddest moments of my life.

I remember the World Bank pulling out of the Narmada Dam project and hour before the NDT finals and he pretended like it was nothing... I remember Ken hitting a deer with the debate van trying to pick Andre and me up at Logan at some crazy hour of the morning ...... I remember the kicking of the file cabinet..

The saddest memory, however, was my senior year when Ken, Andre, Donna, and I arrived back at the DFU the Tuesday morning after a week at Kentucky. The whole team was there. It fell on Ken to bring me back to his office to let me know that my brother had died in the UT debate team crash coming home from UNLV. In the daze that followed, Ken sat with me on the flights all the way to my family. For his support through that time in my life I will be eternally grateful.

As a parent now, I can only hope that my children have the opportunity to find a teacher, a coach or mentor that is even half of what Ken was to Dartmouth to me and to our whole debate community.

One of the great characteristics of the community is that we always had ties between all of our schools. I know that our friends at Wake and Northwestern in particular have grieved over the past few years. In that context, I was particularly struck by one note from someone everyone knows. She summed it up best: “The giants are gathering elsewhere, I guess.”

SherryHall

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Re: Ken Strange
« Reply #188 on: April 09, 2019, 07:37:38 AM »
Andre Hylton

Ken is gone….

Its just hard to accept.

This is not a situation where Ken was my coach way back when, and I am reminiscing about a time long gone. We always kept in touch. Even as recently as days ago, Ken, David Reymann, Steven Sklaver, Ara Lovitt and I were texting juvenile humor back and forth. We planned on visiting Ken this summer, in just a couple months. Best laid plans.

We did a retirement celebration for Ken two and a half years ago in Hanover. The Dartmouth debate alums have heard my thank you regarding debate and finances, so this part will be brief. My parents both had good jobs. Firmly in the middle class. My brother was an undergraduate at MIT when it came time for me to attend DDI. There was no way my parents could swing it financially with the MIT tuition for my brother and my Woodward tuition weighing them down. The middle class is the worst place to be when it comes to paying for education. Ken exerted a lot of flexibility to make DDI affordable for me. And again, when I attended Dartmouth College, Ken set me up with work study jobs and helped me get summer gigs at camps to soften the financial blow. I am deeply grateful.

I am grateful for Ken as a coach, judge and presence in the activity. Others have written about that articulately over the past few days. I agree with all of it.

I am also grateful for our long standing friendship. The one thing I will miss the most is the laughter. Ken enjoyed a good laugh and never took himself too seriously. We had so many funny moments. I can recall one time coming back from a tournament in our van. We drove by the Afro-American society and I saw a handful of female friends (Latia Curry, Carmen Bronston, Brandi M. Kenner-Bell, Taheerah Tee Kay El-Amin) walking out of the building to trek to the other side of the campus. We decided to give them a ride. After we dropped them off, Ken said “those were some fine sisters right there.” We must have laughed for ten minutes. There was the time that I (along with my girlfriend), housesat for Ken and Donna one weekend when I was in law school. Ken’s dog (Darcy?) ate all of my girlfriends panties out of her suitcase, and we had to go to White River Junction to get her some underwear. Ken thought it was the most hilarious thing.

Then, there was Ken’s hilarious flashy temper. Ken could get mad. Not often, but it was spectacular. Never have I enjoyed being called fuckface/fuckbag/fuckball so much. He always cooled down fast, and then felt bad that he flipped out. He kicked a tub once in anger at Marc Wilson, and then said “I think I broke my toe.” Once, after asking Lindsey Carlin Gideon to put up her bike and being ignored, he threw the bike down in a ravine behind their condo. He felt terrible about it, but the story of him going down there to fish it out was spectacular. There was the time when Robbie Ashe, in a fit of bad judgment after we won the West Georgia tournament, ordered several hundred dollars worth of shots for our table. Ken exploded spectacularly, to all of our delight.

I think I will miss most the spontaneous fun. He loved to get the gang together and go down to Jesse’s, Café Buon Gustaio or that Italian joint in White River Junction for a good bite of food and a cocktail. He loved Mexican food, and we often would find a good spot at tournaments to get some hot chips and guac and a stiff margarita. And jokes.

And he had a good sense for when dough was tight for us as students. He always picked up the tab right when you were running on fumes. Back then I naively thought that Ken, a giant in his field, was compensated at a level where that was nothing to him. I later learned that he put together a solid, but not extravagant, living by cobbling together his coaching pay with revenue for the summer program. That generosity was of his own hard earned money. A couple of years ago he was in Atlanta, and out of desire to somehow thank him for moments like these, I took him to Atlanta’s longest standing, best steakhouse (Bones). I had planned for us to blow it out, the way we used to. But Ken was slowing down at that time. He had a nice piece of fish and some veggies. The time had passed. (Plus, Groussman paid. Groussman always pays).

So, I am not really taking this well. Ken meant a lot to me and I love him. I will always picture him in his elim day outfit. Khaki pants, black Members Only jacket. Brown shoes with tassles.

This is one of the struggles in life, at some point everyone you love will either say goodbye to you or you will say goodbye to them. I will rely on my faith.

SherryHall

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Re: Ken Strange
« Reply #189 on: April 09, 2019, 07:38:58 AM »
Adam Garen

“Then, there was Ken’s hilarious flashy temper” — tempered, through the years, by people like you.

He was lucky to have you in his life, Andre.

SherryHall

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Re: Ken Strange
« Reply #190 on: April 09, 2019, 07:39:42 AM »
Kiran Talluri Dre,

a few relevant observations about why Ken's the man: 1. fairness o/w winning- He prioritized work/study time for people who needed it most. That's irrespective of your debate ability; 2. respect (every) DFUer - a jackass 05 made an unnecessary classist remark to a new freshman '06 during our first preseason squad meeting. Ken overheard and threw a pen directly at his dude's head, publicly mocked said bully in front of everybody, kicked him out of the preseason meeting and banned his food privileges for a freaking week - food court wasn't open so that ban was serious. 3. He's always teaching -surprise, I am said jackass - and, I never did that again......ever. Anybody who saw that second strike didn't either. David Marks Sandeep Ramesh Kathryn Kernoff Brian M. Smith, John Turner - remember the the pen thing?

SherryHall

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Re: Ken Strange
« Reply #191 on: April 09, 2019, 07:40:18 AM »
Marie A Dzuris

Andre, I am sorry you are struggling - adulting sucks. Lean hard on your friends, family, and any other support system. You were lucky to have him in your life for so long. He was as lucky (and I know Ken would agree) to have everyone in his life. Being older than you, I have said goodbye to a number of people - many too early. It never gets easier but your appreciation for those around you gets bigger. Love and hugs to you ❤️❤️❤️

SherryHall

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Re: Ken Strange
« Reply #192 on: April 09, 2019, 07:40:46 AM »
David Hung

Dammit, Andre Hylton - just when I manage to make it a day without tearing up, you drop a bomb like this. So many of these memories are so vivid and overlapping, it's like they happened yesterday. The time spent in the DFU, at tournaments, in the AM with the likes of you, David Reymann, Lara Swensen, Marc Wilson, and Steven Lehotsky are some of my fondest, especially knowing that we were young, likely very annoying, fanboy young buck fuckballs who you guys tolerated. You were the singular source of so many of Ken's cackles.

One memory that has stuck out to me from the '95-'96 season was that this was the year of the Evil Empire (4 First Rounds) and we had Darth Vader in the corner of all of our blocks - if I recall correctly, this was your stroke of genius. I was the work study team copy boy that year so it was my job to basically double copy every block we had (once for the Vader letterhead, once for the actual file). The fact that Ken was ok with doubling our copying costs in the name of a good joke and team unity was but one example of how he never once spared a single expense for his teams.

I'm going to miss him so freaking much and only wish I had a chance to tell him how much he meant to me. I'm sure so many others in the community do too.

SherryHall

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Re: Ken Strange
« Reply #193 on: April 09, 2019, 07:41:17 AM »
David Reymann

I will miss his laugh more than anything.

SherryHall

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Re: Ken Strange
« Reply #194 on: April 09, 2019, 07:41:47 AM »
Craig Budner

Andre - this is fabulous. While our generations don’t overlap, Ken’s behavior was clearly a constant in all ways. I’m not sure I’ve truly absorbed the loss. I came close when my son Ben (who also loves you) shared his admiration for Ken. Other than the retirement party, he only knew Ken through the stories Uncle Lenny, Uncle Kouly, Aunt Chrissy/Uncle Erik and I shared over the years. In fact, the day he died and before I learned of it, I was listening to a book that challenged the reader to think of the mentor or teacher who made the biggest difference in their life. Of course I thought of Ken. 8 hours later, I received the call from David Baker. Ken was no charmer but damn I wish he was still here to drive that scooter around a casino with us one more time.