Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Auto reply: Out today, living

Between-Lines-ElliotCatching up with Elliott Mazzola ’09 (in photo) isn’t easy. Often it can take several emails and a few pokes on Facebook to get him to respond. And, when he finally does, you might get something back like this:

“Hi, Sandy, sorry for the delay. I’ve just come back from the Cannes Film Festival and I am moving to Berlin tomorrow, where I will be skydiving for the summer.” 

Or, the adventurer, who lives in France, will just show up in the Wheaton Communications Office in Norton, Mass., on a random October afternoon, as he passes through town on his way to California to rack up some hours skydiving in preparation for maybe one day trying out BASE jumping (from a fixed object, using a parachute to break the fall).

I should have known what I was getting myself into when I put out the call in an issue of the magazine asking “extreme alums”—those who go to the extreme for adventure and exercise—to share their stories with us, and he immediately responded with:

“I heard you are seeking stories about adventurous lifestyles or something like that. I’ve been living in the French Alps for two years. I recently completed the Haute Route, an eight-day expedition from Zermat to Chamonix that crosses 20 or so glaciers. I also ran a 100km ultra-marathon here last summer and recently got my skydiving certification. If this is what you are looking for, I’d be happy to chat.”

Yes, indeed, Elliott, that is exactly what we are looking for.

This issue of the magazine features a story about Mazzola. The way he embraces life and the thrill of it all is truly inspiring, and he says he learned to do that right here at Wheaton. (By the way, we are still looking for other extreme alums, so don’t be shy, email us.)

Also, in this issue, of course, is our cover story focusing on President Ronald A. Crutcher, who is leaving Wheaton at the end of this academic year. Starting on page 18, you will find a Q&A with the president, photos capturing his years here at Wheaton, and comments from students, faculty, alums and trustees paying tribute to him and noting his contributions.

As for me, I like to recall his fun side, which I’ve seen on several occasions since starting here as editor of the magazine in 2007—that impressive collection of bow ties; those colorful sweaters that would give Bill Cosby a run for his money any day; the way that the very presidential president seems game for silliness when a good cause is involved, like enticing seniors to contribute to the Wheaton Fund. Remember his dip in Peacock Pond a few years ago when seniors met a Wheaton Fund participation challenge? There was also the time he sat in that dunk tank waiting for seniors to drop him into the water—again in support of the Wheaton Fund.

I have enjoyed watching the unspoken connection he has with students when he plays his cello with them, like he did during the first Sophomore Symposium in Haas Athletic Center and on numerous other occasions.

But, the loveliest moments I have seen during my time here are the ones in which his very gracious and equally stylish wife, Betty Neal Crutcher, is at his side. She has been a constant—with him at meetings and events, large and small—offering support and serving as his partner in mentoring students, connecting with alums, and making visitors feel welcome in Eliza Wheaton’s home, which is their living space as well as a gathering spot for the entire Wheaton community.

We wish them both well in their life after Wheaton.