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The University Magazine

Over 50 years, circle of friendship grows strong

In this 1996 photo are, from left, standing: Dick Pilon ’61, Phil Skidmore ’65, Dick Irland ’62, Jim Williams ’64, Bill Turri ’62 and Peter Browne ’64. Seated, from left, are John Absalom ’62, Dick Justino ’62 and Bill Sloan ’63.

Standing, from left: Pilon, Turri, Justino, Irland and Absalom. Seated, from left, are Skidmore, Williams ’64 and Peter Browne ’64. Sloan was not in the photo.

Every year on the first weekend of August, a group of alumni gathers to celebrate a friendship that began at RIT five decades ago.

Customarily, the group includes nine couples. Peter Browne ’64 (business administration) and Bill Turri ’62 (printing) both have homes in Sodus Point, N.Y., a tiny community on Lake Ontario 30 miles east of Rochester that has become the annual gathering spot. The three-day event includes rounds of golf and concludes with an all-day clambake, with plenty of time for reminiscing and catching up.

“It is unusual, I think, that this group has stayed so close for so long,” says Browne. “We do work hard at it, now more than ever. We’ve moved in all different directions, but the friendship has continued.”

In addition to Browne and Turri, the group includes Richard Pilon ’61 (retail management), James Williams ’64 (printing), Richard Justino ’62 (printing), Richard Irland ’62 (business administration), John Absalom ’62 (printing), Philip Skidmore ’65 (printing) and Bill Sloan ’63 (printing). They live substantial distances from each other – as far away as Florida, Arizona, California, New Jersey and Massachusetts – but they have stayed close.

The annual reunions began just a few years after they graduated.

“We were in Kappa Sigma Kappa fraternity, which became Theta Xi,” says Turri. “Many of us lived together in a fraternity house we purchased on Troup Street (on RIT’s former campus in downtown Rochester). We socialized, we studied together. We just did a lot of things together and I think that formed the basis of our continuing friendship.”

This year, the reunion took on a new dimension. About 150 people joined in to mark the 70th birthdays of Browne and Turri. The two used the occasion to help RIT students: They asked guests to contribute to a scholarship fund they started 30 years ago, when they both turned 40.

“RIT is responsible for where I am today,” explains Browne.

“We’ve been the beneficiaries of the relationship with the university,” adds Turri.

Both have enjoyed significant career success.

Turri, a native of Seneca Falls, N.Y., rose through the ranks at Case-Hoyt, one of the foremost quality printers in the nation. In 1985, he was named chief operating officer of Monroe Litho, and served as president from 1993 to 1995 when he returned to Case-Hoyt as president, retiring in 2001. In 2003, Bruce James ’64 (printing), then U.S. Public Printer, named Turri to the position of Deputy Public Printer, the second-highest position within the U.S. Government Printing Office. After James stepped down in January 2007, Turri served as acting public printer for 10 months.

Browne, who grew up in Williamson, N.Y., settled on a career path when he went to work for Union Central Life Insurance Co. while still an RIT student. By age 24, he was general manager of the Rochester office, and many of his clients and employees were friends from RIT. He re-located to the New York City area and continued as a manager for the company’s New York operation. In 1984, the New York agency merged with Price and Raffel Inc., and he is now president of Price Raffel and Browne.

Both Browne and Turri are members of RIT’s President’s Roundtable. Browne was honored as RIT’s Outstanding Alumnus in 1998, and Turri received that distinction in 2002.

“I have never before encountered a fund like the Turri-Browne Scholarship,” says Lisa Cauda, RIT’s vice president for Development and Alumni Relations. “The fact that these two dedicated alumni established this fund on their 40th birthdays and are still supporting it 30 years later is remarkable. Over these three decades, more than 20 students have received support from these generous graduates and their friends. It is truly selfless to invite friends and family to make birthday gifts toward the scholarship fund instead of to the birthday boys. What a great way to celebrate!”

Join the celebration

If you would like to add your contribution to the Turri-Browne Scholarship, go to www.rit.edu/tigerpride, call 585-475-5500, or write to Office of Development, Rochester Institute of Technology, Box 92765, Rochester, N.Y. 14692-8865

RIT has nearly 600 named scholarships. Annual scholarships may be established for gifts as small as $1,000, and endowed scholarships may be created with a minimum of $25,000. Gifts are always accepted to any of the scholarships across the campus.