About Us

Some years ago, a group of aging men planning their fiftieth college reunion decided to do something more than drink beer and share old stories. They had heard President John F. Kennedy deliver his last major public address less than a month before a shot fired in Dallas suddenly ended his life. He had delivered a direct, personal call to civic engagement, linked to an appeal for the liberal arts and their role in questioning and humanizing the use of power. The president’s words, and the events following that speech, changed their lives.

1964 Classmates at 50th Reunion


In discussions surrounding their 50th Reunion, The Amherst Class of 1964 considered the changes that had occurred in the previous 50 years.  What had been the impact of their generation?  They chose the theme, “The World We Inherited; the World We Will Bequeath” to stimulate both discussion and action.

Growing out of the reunion there was a strong sense that despite the many significant advances that had occurred in those 50 years, serious issues had developed, particularly within the areas of politics, environment, and education.  President Kennedy’s words heard by the Class of ’64 became a call to action.

Just 27 days before his death, in what is now viewed as his most “majestic” speech, President Kennedy spoke at Amherst College at the groundbreaking for the Robert Frost Library. He challenged students to a life of public service, extolled the importance of the arts and reflected on the work of Robert Frost and the relationship between poetry and power. Kennedy spoke of privilege, of inherited wealth and inherited poverty. “Unless the graduates of this college and other colleges like it who are given a running start in life – unless they are willing to put back into our society, those talents, the broad sympathy, the understanding, the compassion – unless they are willing to put those qualities back into the service of the Great Republic, then obviously the presuppositions upon which our democracy are based are bound to be fallible.”

Gene Palumbo and Steve Downs, both appear in the film.
Charles (Smokey) Stove and Steve Smith, members of the Board of Directors of Reunion '64

Members of  the Amherst College Class of 1964 are shown in one of several discussions concerning the issues with our political system.  Other major topics considered were how to address environmental issues, fix our educational system, and repair our healthcare system.

Identifiable in the picture:

Standing in the rear: Peter Wintersteiner, Rip Sparks

Seated around the table and facing forward: Bob Benedetti, Neil Bicknell, Mitch Meisner, Mark Sandler, Joe Stiglitz, Charles Stover.

Democracy Group Discussion at Reunion
Group at "Poetry and Politics" Program at Amherst. Pictured Left to Right: Neil Bicknell, Ted and Jan-Worth Nelson, Roger Mills, Kit Stover, Judy Bicknell, Charles Stover.

Reunion ’64, Inc. Committees and Board of Directors and Management

Robert Benedetti (Director and President), Neil Bicknell (Director and Vice-President), Charles Stover (Director and Secretary), Stephen Smith (Director and Treasurer), Roger Mills (Director).  Other committee members include: Judy Bicknell, Dick Joslin, Jan Worth-Nelson, Ted Nelson, Mark Sandler and Rip Sparks.

Contact Us

Contact us via email to jfkthelastspeech@gmail.com  We appreciate you noting errors or broken links and suggestions of additional topics for this website.



Neil & Judy Bicknell

Stuart M. Johnson

William Ziegler

Charles A. Lewis

Roger Mills

Stephen & Elizabeth Smith

Richard & Ruth Sparks

Jesse Brill

David Bunting

Unni Cooper in memory of R. John Cooper ’64

Smitty Lanning

Cyril M. Hetsko, MD

Richard Joslin

George de Rizner

Dwight & Kristen Poler in memory of R. John Cooper ’64

Peter Rubinstein

Sandler Family Fund

Frederick Moon

Charles & Katharine Stover

Robert Benedetti

Steven F. McWhorter

Daniel L. Weissberg

Peter Wintersteiner

Harry Knight

Jim Leidich

Ted Nelson

David Pellegrin

Paul Stern

Bernard Witholt & Renske Heddema

Joe Wilson
Stan Sloss
John North
Michael Achey
Steve Downs
Tom Jacobs
Howard Jones
David Lake Jr.
Bill Nadel
John Orders
David Pearle
Doug Reilly
Sommers Family Charitable Trust
Terry Segal
Ray Battocchi
Bancroft Greene
Roger Hirschberg
Brad Collins
George Wanlass
Peter Kleinman
Peter Easton
Ken Garni
Phil Allen
Gerald Patrick
Carol Salas
Jim Giles
Andy Burkhardt
Joe Moran
Daniel Rosen
Carl Levine
Dick Barth
Elizabeth Cook
Rich Devir
Norm Groetzinger
Bob Knox
Bob Frank
Rich Mannal
Tony Mason
Ed Harris
Bob Krughoff
V. Jane Schneeloch
Patti Smith
Geoff Stoudt
John Emert
Rich Podell
Tim Wheeler
Jack Remington
John Perkins
Larry Stirtz

“The men who create power make an indispensable contribution to the nation’s greatness, but the men who question power make a contribution just as indispensable, especially when that questioning is disinterested, for they determine whether we use power or power uses us.”

– President Kennedy at Amherst College

Photo Credits:

Gene Palumbo and Steve Downs. Judy Bicknell photo.

Charles Stover and Steve Smith. Judy Bicknell photo.

Democracy Group Discussion. Judy Bicknell photo.

Group at “Poetry and Politics” Program at Amherst. Jan Worth-Nelson photo..   Pictured left to right: Neil Bicknell, Ted Nelson, Jan Worth-Nelson, Roger Mills, Kit Stover, Judy Bicknell, Charles Stover