On this day in 1926, my father, Kennard Frierson Stephenson Jr., was born. He grew up in Loudonville, New York, but spent his summers in Rensselaerville, where he met my mother, Ann Elmore, daughter of Katharine Huyck and Lee Elmore and great niece of Preserve founder Jessie Van Antwerp Huyck. My parents met at the Huyck Preserve—at the old boathouse, one of the swimming areas at Lake Myosotis. They were on the social committee and helped to plan parties for the young people. My father was rather shy and not particularly social, so it’s a surprise that he was in such a group. But if it weren’t for that committee, I might not be here, today. In June 1950, my parents were married in Rensselaerville. My dad had already served overseas in the Army and was in the process of getting his graduate degree in chemical engineering from Princeton. In fact, he was studying for exams when I was born in 1952. By December 1960, I had become the oldest of six children.
We moved a lot growing up because of Dad’s job, but Rensselaerville and the Huyck Preserve were the constants in our lives. We all enjoyed hiking the trails, picnicking at the falls, and swimming and canoeing on Lake Myosotis. We learned to swim at the lake. My brothers learned to fish there, too. My dad served on the Preserve’s board of directors in the 1960s and was secretary at one point. But even after his official duties ended, he remained interested in Preserve activities. He would pepper me with questions when I was on the board (1982-2014), and always had helpful advice particularly when it came to matters where his engineering expertise could be put to use—like with projects concerning the dams (at Lake Myosotis and Lincoln Pond) and the community septic system for which the Preserve provided land for the leach field. He was always intrigued with what the researchers were doing and would ask lots of questions about their work, too.
My dad died in 2012. If he were alive today, he’d be enjoying the tranquility of the Preserve and taking in the splendor of the Falls. He’d also be going to the Thursday night lectures and the Science Symposium, no doubt, so he could hear the scientists give firsthand accounts of their research. And he’d ask questions. Lots of them.