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Author Topic: Ken Strange  (Read 3703 times)
SherryHall
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« Reply #195 on: April 09, 2019, 07:42:12 AM »

Tim Alderete

 I am very sorry for the loss to your whole Dartmouth family.
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SherryHall
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« Reply #196 on: April 09, 2019, 07:42:44 AM »

Brian Thomas Fletcher

Very well said. I know it’s extremely tough but the memories will last forever and give comfort. He was/is a great, great man. I think about Duck very often, and I know you will think about Ken very often - this is a good thing as it is a testament to their impact, kindness, and protectiveness. Ken’s world was better bc you were in it and vice versa. He was and will always be proud of you.
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SherryHall
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« Reply #197 on: April 09, 2019, 07:43:26 AM »

John Hughes

Andre - I didn’t know Ken remotely as well as you or all the great Dartmouth debaters he coached. But your words hit home for me, reminding me how I felt when we lost Ross. What I always thought was awesome about Ken was how he genuinely was interested in helping even his competitors. He made a debater from nowhere Montana feel like I belonged. And along with Bill Russell became one of my favorite judges. I was lucky enough to attend the Dartmouth RR twice, and came away knowing he had created something special. My favorite tournament for sure. Seeing your post and others like it is a powerful reminder of how much positive influence the great debate coaches have had on so many lives. Hopefully he is gambling somewhere with Ross and Duck!
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SherryHall
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« Reply #198 on: April 09, 2019, 07:45:16 AM »

Nicole Wanzer-Serrano
10 hrs ·

I don’t know how to speak about the loss of Ken Strange. I’ve spent the past few days taking notes as I remember random stories and lessons. I’ve tried to remember all of the times he influenced what direction I would take next. In the 20 years I knew Ken, he was my coach, my boss, my teaching partner, my employee, my mentor, and my friend. For a man who never answered or sent emails, I have thousands of emails from him that include subject lines like “Facebook thing”, “F*** YOU,” “MEET AFTER RD4” which, 20 minutes later was followed by “REMEMBER TO MEET AFTER RD4”, “even more crap from Ken”, “Social Schedule,” “WHAT!!!!”, “PICTURE PICTURE PICTURE”, “”Why when everyone has a single?Huh”, “Did you know?”, “HANGOVER IN HANOVER,” “LONSTAH -fest”, “save me a seat at Molly’s,” and “miss you.”

The only person who could help me figure out how to structure all of these memories and stories into a coherent argument is Ken himself. He’d hate all the bother and credit anyone is giving him. I also know that all of these posts are so long that he’d inevitably send me a screenshot asking how to see the full post and I’d have to circle the “see more” link for him to click it. And then a month later he’d ask how to find the facebook posts because he forgot to go back to them.

So in no particular order and with hopefully good clear front loaded labels.

1. Butt pants. - For one of his birthdays, I got him sweatpants and ironed on the letters “DFU” across the butt and “Ken” on the thigh. He wore them for years - even out of the house. I regret that I never made him another pair when he told me the old pair wore out. I also regret that I never convinced him to wear them for an institute picture.

2. Birthdays. - Ken hated his own birthday, but loved celebrating other people’s (if booze was involved). He made me promise not to share his birthday with lab kids sometimes. I got yelled at once for sending a birthday card (and was told to send tequila next time). His go to celebration for anyone’s birthday was this awful Mexican restaurant because he just thought “it was more fun for everyone.” By that, he meant he loved wearing a sombrero, taking bets on how many pitchers of margaritas I could drink, and ordering tequila shots until the staff made a fool of themselves.

3. Connecting people. - He love connecting alums with alums, alums with current students, etc. My junior year, he forwarded me an email from a mom of one of our new team members. She was worried that her daughter wouldn’t have a good birthday celebration and wanted Ken to help her arrange a cake for her daughter. He connected her to me and had me arrange the party. A cake and some “refreshments” turned into a great surprise birthday party for the person who many years later would be my matron of honor.

Whenever I came across a random DFU alum, he loved telling me some random story about them in college or the institute. His memory was incredible. He never could remember how far they got at the NDT or if they debated all 4 years, but he always knew what embarrassing thing they did their first year at the Harvard tournament party.

4. College Debate - The DDI was about recruiting for Dartmouth, but also about recruiting for college debate. When I started helping him with lab placements, I asked him why he asked for high school transcripts in the application process. We seemed to have no use for them during the camp. He told me he used it as a way to gauge whether it was “cruel” to recruit the kid for Dartmouth and to help suggest other colleges. He also loved doing the “debating in college” session at the DDI. He would compile all of the email addresses for college programs and hand them out to all of the kids - even kids he was recruiting. He wanted them all to debate in college, even if it meant losing top recruits to other programs.

5. Staff dinners - Ken loved the Weather Vanes cheap LOB-STAHs and loved teaching new people how to eat a lobster. He thought the hibachi staff throwing food in the air to be caught by drunk staff members was hilarious. He said $2 margaritas that used tequila-flavored liquor were just as good as real margaritas (they aren’t). He didn’t care where people ate, but he loved having all the staff together to argue about debate arguments. He loved the back corner of the Canoe Club with the couches because it was easier to talk to each other while eating. And, although he complained about in lab, he always told me he liked it when we planned all lab meals, even if it was just time in the cafeteria. He loved getting together with people in a social setting and making debate something that was fun.

6. Institute Pictures - It was honestly better to sleep through an elective or judging a round than to sleep through the institute picture. Even after the advent of social media, Ken insisted and loved that all the old camp pictures were posted in the hallway for all the kids to see. He would choose the most responsible of the incoming first years to take the folder of printed pictures and staple them EXACTLY TO HIS INSTRUCTION on the same bulletin boards every year.

One year, a student was coming to our camp whose father had previously taught at the DDI. Ken, of course, had me respond to all emails about lab requests and relevant things to the camp. Instead, Ken scanned copies of the institute picture where the father was and sent those back via email. He loved holding on to that history and those memories and always seem to know just when to share them with others. He had a powerful vision of the DDI as a connection point for the debate community. For years, Ken also had an institute directory where the addresses, home phone numbers and (eventually) emails, so that staff and students could stay in touch. Those pictures, those back files, those directories were all Ken’s way of connecting hundreds of lives each summer to each other through debate.

7. “Delegation” - Ken gave me a warped sense of delegation. He wrote these “Who am I and What am I doing” memos for the NDT, the institute, and basically everything that had excruciating detail. Ken could anticipate every miss step you might take and would tell you how to avoid. Here is a snippet from an NDT one that explains what do to after a round ends

“Debaters: 1. Turn on your cell 2. Start filing as soon as the 2AR is over. Sorting will help you find cards judges want and get you ready to file. Start filing stuff least likely to be called for by the judges. File the rest.
3. As soon as possible, pack up your evidence. At the end of all even numbered rounds and odd numbered neg rounds, AB and CO need to have everything organized so that Jamie and Sisy can move it. 4. Return to the announcement room. You can go to another team’s room first if you want, but when everyone is done, all should get to the announcement room ASAP.”

When he no longer ran the institute, he also liked to email or ask “questions” that were all passive aggressive reminders of things he thought we should do. “Are there any guidelines for the library tour?” during the million DDI was his polite reminder that we were doing things wrong. At the time I begrudged his hatred of change (and of showing students the reference section they were never going to use), but I know he was doing it to make sure we succeeded (and to make fun of me about it for the whole summer).

8. Rom Coms - Ken loved Veronica Mars (seasons 1-3), Desperate Housewives, and Gilmore Girls. He rented and watched alone “How to lose a guy in 10 days”. But really this is no surprise because Ken LOVED gossip. He always seem to know everything about everyone. After I worked there a while, he started to treat me as the “adult” in the staff dorm in case of issues. At first I thought he was just easy going about staff debauchery, but really, he just wanted to make sure that I kept him up on all the gossip amongst the staff. Usually those stories were greeted with some comment about how none of our brains are “fully formed” until we turn 25.

9. Hard working - Ken work harder than everyone else. He never asked a staff person to do anything he wasn’t willing and already doing himself. He taught early electives. When he wasn’t teaching electives, he would watch other people’s electives to report back to lab on arguments or share the notes with our labbies. He did transportation pick ups, judged debates, and even photo copied files if that’s what the team or institute needed. Last couple of years, he stopped teaching a generic the first week of the DDI. I made a joke about him sleeping in while the rest of us did work and accidentally offended him. He then spent 30 minutes detailing all of the financial records he hard to work on during that time. Plus, the next day, he showed up to the library to check in on research. Ken never took a break if he didn’t physically have to.

During camp he taught kids that no one can sleep standing up. So, if they were tired during a lecture, just stand up. Sometimes note taking was difficult in lab because so many kids were standing up! But they were always in good company because Ken would struggle to stay awake and then stand up himself. His true secret to staying awake while judged was atomic fireballs. I made sure his briefcase had a big handful every practice debate and tournament day.

As an undergrad, it was always the winter break meeting, when we were exhausted from studying for finals, when he’d tell the story about some debate team that would do well in the fall and then poorly second semester because they wouldn’t work hard. He’d tell you that your break is a chance to sleep, but even with sleep and family time, there were a few hours a day you could do work. Finally he’d end with some version of the lesson that has stuck with me the most - your disappointment/joy at the end of the year only gets to be proportionate to the amount of work you did.

10. The greatest teacher - Ken was the greatest teacher. Many have spoken about him as a great debate mind - and he was - but for over a decade, I saw him teach a wide variety of high school students how to become better debaters. The first lab session we always went over our ground rules. Those ground rules included telling the kids that we were the bottom lab, that if you’re not 5 minutes early you’re late, and that no one would say more stupid things in lab than him. His point was simple. Our time together was finite and precious. We would all be better if we showed up with the attitude that we were there to test out arguments and find the best version of every argument we could.

We “tested” out a lot of arguments in lab. He and I developed a system of sitting away from each other during quiet lab sessions so we could argue and involve as many students. At first, we’d intentionally pick sides to make sure all the students felt like their opinions were valid and important. It was a good lab session when we could both argue for the same side against the students. Ken always seem to win the fight with an eye brow raise or by saying “this just makes NO SENSE AT ALL.”

I went into coaching because Ken told me one summer that I should. He told me he thought I was a good teacher because I wasn’t “polluted” by education classes. When I worked at another camp, he took me aside and said it was too hard to find good female debate teachers and that I should only work at Dartmouth. Ken always knew what I should do next. When I struggled so hard in college, Ken told me to just focus on finishing what I could in a given day. He showed me how to make lists, handed me stacks of lexis research when I fell behind, and tried to teach me to worry less. It was Ken who told me that everyone has challenges and not to be embarrassed, but also not to slack off. He expected hard work and effort. I regret the many times I failed him.

11. Ken loved debate - It’s no surprise that there are so many Dartmouth debaters involved in the movement to bring debate to more schools and students. Ken led by example. He refused to change the DDI application process to accept kids early because he thought it would hurt the kids who needed financial aid. He didn’t like to offer discounts or bargains because he wanted to keep the financial aid budget as large as possible. He firmly believed that equal work meant equal pay, so all lab leaders were paid the same, all lab assistants were paid the same, etc. He hired all Dartmouth debaters for the full amount of our federal work study and asked us to spend those hours doing a little photocopying and a lot of debate work. He had a copier at the DDI until well after most of the kids were paperless because he didn’t want any kid who wanted to debate on paper not to have access to it. When the DFU went paperless, he spent a ton of money shipping all of the old tubs and accordions to me in Dallas to give to the Dallas Urban Debate students. He loved when the DDI podcasted lectures and we got emails from kids who couldn’t go to camp with questions - and asked to answered many of them. His fundraising advice to me was to keep it simple - “Just tell them debate is good.”

Underview (which was Ken's least favorite "bad high school" debater thing)
There’s so much more. I have the blackboard cheat card he gave me when he taught me to play blackjack in Vegas. I promised him a New Orleans trip so he could teach CJ to play blackjack.
He loved having his dog Darcy in the institute picture. When she was old and struggling, he lifted her into the car to still get her there for the picture.
He said a clean DFU was a happy DFU, but really he meant a clean DFU was a happy Ken - and when he’d come in on Monday morning to find evidence of our weekend poker sessions, he was a very unhappy Ken with a loud voice.
During a Dartmouth RR I had to turn in a receipt for reimbursement for “party favors” for the afterparty and the receipt I turned in included my hair straightener I bought with groceries; for years he asked what we did with the “conair” at the party because he knew I couldn’t give him the full story.
He loved all artificial banana flavor things including yellow starbursts and banana taffy taffy. He always ordered the EBA healthy choice chicken sandwich on disclosure day.
It took years for me to convince him that the Brown Study and Brown Lounge were in fact *not* the exact same size.
On Wednesdays, he woke up early to make sure he got a pistachio muffin from Novack Cafe.
To my knowledge, he never loaded a single document to the DDI wiki despite me teaching him how every summer.
One summer he lost 30-40 pounds and told me he had started exercising and eating right. In further clarification that was (a) he walked from his apartment to Stinson’s to get cigarettes and (b) he had Dunkin coffee and a muffin for breakfast, Diet Coke for lunch, and a steak and baked potato for dinner.
When I was dieting and exercising like crazy for my wedding, he brought a fruit platter to lab.
He loved ice cream sandwiches and Sam Adams light.
When the college was being a pain about the DDI, Ken tried to convince me that no one would care if it was the “Dallas Debate Institute” and promised he’d teach for us for as long as necessary to make the camp work.
After my grandma died, he sent me flowers with a verbose note that said “To Nicole. From DFU”.
When he first got a cell phone, he would only turn it on when he wanted to make a call so he wasn’t too accessible.
He loved to golf and swore it counted as exercise.
He constantly emailed me with Fantasy Football roster changes I should make - and then followed up the next day if I hadn’t followed his advice.
He found some Dartmouth survey that Herb James did on Amazon, which I learned because he bought the digital document, printed it, scanned it, and then emailed me the scan.
I can’t hear the words/phrases “aloha”, “ridiculous,” and “begs the question” without thinking of his voice.
He knew a disgusting amount about the definition of the word “in.”
He knew every kid at the DDI’s name and school.
I saw him stay calm while dealing with some of the worst possible camp situations and show up ready to teach students just a few hours later.
I pronounce the word “prosciutto” as “pra-shet-ta” because that’s how Ken said it.

I’m so thankful for the opportunities, guidance, and kindness Ken gave me through the years. I can only hope my children have a teacher in their lives that have a fraction of the positive impact Ken had on me.
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SherryHall
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« Reply #199 on: April 09, 2019, 07:46:01 AM »

Chase Williams

I never had the pleasure of meeting Ken, but reading this and so many other wonderful tributes over the past few days has helped me appreciate one of the giants in our activity. Thank you for sharing, Nicole. This was beautiful.
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SherryHall
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« Reply #200 on: April 09, 2019, 07:46:34 AM »

James Herndon

I’ve been reading along. Haven’t posted. He was really important to me but was always way more important to people that were really close to me (like you and John and others) like your best friends dad that you were really jealous of because he was obviously a rock star.
The one thought I’ve been having the last few days is wondering who and where I should send the honey dipper to. I’ll never forget the two of you for reaching out to me in my biggest moment of need.
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SherryHall
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« Reply #201 on: April 09, 2019, 07:47:18 AM »

Sarah Elizabeth

 I’m so sorry for your loss, Nicole.

I was in the Gragert/Strange lab at DDI in 2003, and I planned to attend Dartmouth in fall 2004. In an odd twist, I got accepted to Stanford late off the wait list, and decided to make the move west instead of east. I remember emailing Ken to explain why I wouldn’t be coming to Dartmouth in the fall as I’d planned, and although he could have been mad or upset, he seemed genuinely happy that I’d found a good fit. It felt like he respected my autonomy to make that decision, even though my choice didn’t put my debate career first.

I’m glad to have known him, and again, so sorry for your loss.
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SherryHall
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« Reply #202 on: April 09, 2019, 07:47:37 AM »

Alma Nicholson

I am so sorry for your loss, Nicole. Ken was a great guy and an incredible life force. Your memories are precious!
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SherryHall
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« Reply #203 on: April 09, 2019, 07:48:00 AM »

Meg Howell

Wonderful memories of a great man, mentor, and friend.
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SherryHall
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« Reply #204 on: April 09, 2019, 07:48:34 AM »

Jon Paul Lupo

Thanks so much for sharing. He will certainly be missed.
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Paul Elliott Johnson
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« Reply #205 on: April 09, 2019, 09:31:55 AM »

Interactions with Ken at a tournament were always a blessing, he was jovial, hilarious, and a hell of a judge. More blessings are with us in the form of many of the debaters and coaches that Ken worked with at Dartmouth, a bunch of seemingly genial, nerdy goofs: that is, up until they absolutely annihilated you on some question which they had been thinking about since the pre-season, one which you, in your lack of wisdom and lack of proximity to Ken Strange, had only considered for the first time that morning when you looked at the pairing. At the next tournament, having thought about and worked on the question more, you would find, to your dismay, that they too had kept thinking and working on the problem. This also tended not to end well for you. I'm sure this is a testament to the kind of argument culture Ken fostered at Dartmouth. He will be missed.
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SherryHall
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« Reply #206 on: April 10, 2019, 06:40:52 AM »

Andrew Leong

R.I.P Ken Strange

Every Dartmouth debater had a “Ken impression”—which typically involved dropping one’s voice an octave and slowing down to emphasize three *words*...*like*…*this*. But years after, I’ve come to understand “impressions of Ken” in a different way. They weren’t, and maybe never were, just about the superficial qualities of deep pitch and deliberate emphasis. The deeper, more lasting impressions that Ken left upon the debaters he coached reside somewhere else, in the fundamental clay of our habits of thought and action. At any given moment, one of Ken’s former debaters is a researcher who looks at one more source because they aren’t satisfied with current work on a topic, a writer who spends one more moment to find the core of an idea or a story, or an advisor who doesn’t presume to know or do everything for a student or client, but asks one more question that will help distill the clearest and most persuasive formulations of a project or case.

It’s spring in Berkeley, abundant rain has made everything bloom. I can’t help but think of a spring in Atlanta, sixteen years ago, and the last time I saw Ken really break down in tears. John and I had lost the last debate of our careers in the round of 32, and in a Bendaryl-ed and sleep-deprived haze of exhaustion I looked at Ken and thought—“Why is he crying like this? This loss is so small in the grand scheme of things.” As an oblivious twenty-one-year-old, who despite reading arguments against the calculability of human life in every other debate, still preferred the concrete and the countable, I could not understand that the loss Ken was mourning was not the loss of one debate, but the passing of four years of shared work and experience, an ending of a period beyond which only memory would permit return. That moment, and those years, are by any measure, only small fragments of the life that Ken lived. There is no formula that could give how much one ought to weep for Ken if Ken’s love and tears for others were the measure. There is no measure. There are no words for words like this.
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SherryHall
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« Reply #207 on: April 10, 2019, 06:45:09 AM »

Madison Dallas Laird

Very sad to hear this news. His mentorship touched many lives.
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SherryHall
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« Reply #208 on: April 10, 2019, 08:32:32 AM »

From David Baker:

We will gather to celebrate Ken’s life on Saturday afternoon, June 8, 2019 in Dallas Texas.  There will likely be informal gatherings on Friday and possibly Saturday evenings—because being among friends and telling war stories is good.  More details (including hotel options) will follow soon.  For planning purposes, we will use a to-be-determined RSVP system.  Once the RSVP system is up and running, feel free to share the link.

 

Several people have generously offered to help defray costs.  Please send me a private note if you are interested in helping.  After all the bills are paid, any remaining funds will be contributed to the “Dartmouth Forensic Union in memory of Ken Strange fund” at Dartmouth College.  Please feel free to contact me (214-500-8528 cell) if you have questions or concerns.

 

Ken will be interred on Wednesday, April 17 at a private family gathering in Oklahoma City.  At 1:00 p.m. (CST) next Wednesday, please observe a moment of silence and reflection.

 

See you in Dallas.

 

My best,

 

David 
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burke
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« Reply #209 on: April 10, 2019, 09:16:38 AM »

I was floored to hear of the passing of Ken Strange. He was a titan in the debate community. I can't believe he is gone.

I was in Ken's lab one summer at the DDI. And even though I was only his student for four weeks 18 years ago, I always felt like Ken cared about me and all his camp students. I stopped by a debate tournament a couple years ago and even though I'm sure it had been five years or more since I had seen him, Ken sought me out to say hello and ask about my life and career.

A few miscellaneous memories: Ken voted against me once on "fairness is bad" and laughed when I complained that the decision was unfair; the Dartmouth Round Robin was my single favorite debate event as a student and coach, and I've heard others voice similar opinions, and I think it was a reflection of Ken; Ken gave me work detail at the DDI for writing "Antonucci is watching" in duct tape on a dorm room wall, but rescinded it on the grounds that he found it funny; Ken was always part of the best NDT panel names: Strange Green Butt.

I will remember Ken for being so kind. My heart goes out to the Dartmouth and Wake programs and to the entire community.

-Ryan Burke
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