The ‘P’ Stands for Poet

Ralph Thayer, Director of Maintenance for Swarthmore College, by one of the heating boilers on the campus of the school on Monday afternoon, November 19, 2012. (Laurence Kesterson / Staff Photographer)

Over the course of our college lives, we will each read thousands of emails. Some go unopened, many go unread, and most go unloved. But once in a while, an email is sent that is so important, so groundbreaking, that it must not go unnoticed. There was a member of our Swarthmore community who had a gift for composing just such emails. He is retiring; leaving us for a better, less stress-filled life. But he cannot leave without our acknowledgement of the richness his emails brought to our lives. So, we have written this poetry as a creative exploration of his words, and as a tribute to the man, the myth, the legend: Director of Maintenance Ralph P. Thayer.   


  1. From one retiree to a future retiree……

    Best of luck to you Ralph. You and your staff made my job that much smoother to do for many many years. And let’s never forget the great grounds crew either. We had great teamwork, and that’s why we all succeeded, because together, serving administrators, faculty, staff & students well, was our priority. Thank you again for all the years of great strong support and dedication to all. Enjoy retirement to the fullest.

    Jim Ellis
    Retired Public Safety Officer

  2. Thank you for your poem lauding Ralph Thayer’s gift with words. Who else but Ralph could entice us all to read, really read, the annual announcement that “The heat won’t be turned on yet even though it is cold”?
    Ralph Thayer is a man of parts, of which his gift for words is his most public. Ralph has also been a thoughtful leader, a supportive team member, a caring friend, and a true gentleman. We will miss him.

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