Volunteer Spotlight: Ralph Bolton '61
Most alumni know first hand that Pomona people tend to pop up in unexpected places, and with miraculous connections to other alumni. Ralph Bolton, class of 1961, lives in a world populated with these Pomona people and Pomona connections. Of course, what else would one expect of someone who not only graduated from Pomona, but has also been teaching Pomona students for more than 30 years?
Bolton has been a professor at Pomona since 1971, specializing in human sexuality, medical anthropology and AIDS prevention issues. His research interests eventually led him to investigate the life of gay poet and Santa Fe socialite Witter Bynner. Bolton eventually purchased Bynner’s Santa Fe estate, the Inn of the Turquoise Bear, where Bolton recently hosted several alumni for an afternoon of Pomona fun—New Mexico style.
For this gathering, Bolton wanted to simply get together with alumni and hoped to find others with some connection to his house or Bynner. Both of these desires were met, as a healthy number of New Mexico alumni gathered, one of whom had actually met and interviewed Bynner.
Not only did Bolton manage to meet a group of alumni, but during the gathering, he was also reintroduced to one of his former students, who reminded him of a field trip 13 years earlier. “I took my AIDS Pandemic class into Los Angeles to see someone who at the time was considered to be a guru for AIDS patients. I’d forgotten about that.”
What Pomona connections are still missing in Bolton’s life? Well, certainly not “the ubiquitous number 47,” as Bolton calls it. Since he now teaches only in the spring, Bolton and the other Pomona alumni in New Mexico spend a lot of time near the continental divide, found at Exit 47 on the interstate. It also seems fitting that Bolton would choose this year to initiate an alumni gathering, as it was 47 years ago that he began this life of connections by applying for admission to Pomona.