Building a Permanent Home for the Gregory J. Grappone ’04 Humanities Institute


Ken Burns, Honorary Campaign Chair

Susan M. Connelly ’92, co-chair Beverly D. Grappone, H.D.’21, co-chair Robert J. Grappone, H.D.’21, co-chair Elizabeth J. (La Malfa) Kelly ’83, co-chair Michael J. Riegel ’92, co-chair

Gary M. Bouchard, Ph.D. Ashlee C. Demers ’08 President Joseph A. Favazza, Ph.D. James F. Flanagan P’23 Kathleen M. Kayros Rev. Iain G. MacLellan, O.S.B., ’78

“The humanities, in all their varied forms, offer us profound and inspired expressions of our shared humanity.”
Ken Burns, Filmmaker

Dear Friends,

The great Russian writer and teacher Leo Tolstoy once observed that “only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow. This same necessity of loving,” Tolstoy went on to say, “serves to counteract their grief and heals them.”

These words speak not just to the life and strong love of Gregory J. Grappone, ‘04, but to the way in which my friends Robert and Beverly Grappone, H.D.’21, have transformed their grief from Greg’s passing into real healing for their family and their community. They have seized upon Tolstoy’s wisdom, determined to make the humanities, which so enriched their son’s life, available in an inspiring way to as many people as possible. They are doing this on the campus of Saint Anselm College, where, as a Great Books major, Greg studied and came to appreciate some of the most profound works of literature ever written.

In early 2015, Bob approached me and asked if I’d like to join him and Greg in a daily reading and shared interpretation of that date’s page from Tolstoy’s A Calendar of Wisdom. I said yes, and it became our daily catechism, a loving father and son—and an interested friend—trying to make sense of this moment, channeling the transcendent vision of this great Russian teacher.

Greg was sick, living in Seattle with his wife and daughter, and receiving treatment there. Though his exchanges with us took into account his enormous suffering, he never wallowed in any self-pity. He challenged our assumptions, ratified the timeless advice in Tolstoy’s writing, and strove daily to see beyond his earthly affliction.

All too quickly he was gone, but Bob and I decided we would go on, a bereft father and friend, sustaining the memory of Greg—and our own flawed souls—with our early morning ritual, never missing a day.

The humanities, in all their varied forms, offer us profound and inspired expressions of our shared humanity. As a friend to Greg and a friend to the Grappone family, I am honored to help lead the way in creating a permanent and living memorial to his memory in the Gregory J. Grappone ’04 Humanities Institute at Saint Anselm College, knowing that it will inspire generations of people to share in Greg’s humanity, and seek the wisdom and understanding he discovered and brought to others.


Ken Burns, Filmmaker