Posts tagged ‘Vicki Glembocki’

Remembering Ben Strohecker

Strohecker opener SeptOct 1997

When I heard the news this week that Ben Strohecker ’50, the founder of Harbor Sweets in Salem, Mass., had died, I immediately thought about what a delightful man he was—how much the employees at his candy company loved him, how gracious he was when we profiled him nearly 20 years ago, how he turned to writing books for children later in life. Ben also was a life member of the Alumni Association and a regular reader of The Penn Stater, and over the years, when we’d do something in the magazine that especially pleased him, he’d send us a box of chocolates out of the blue.

Ben’s death also made me think immediately of Vicki Glembocki ’93, ’02gour former associate editor, whom we had sent to Massachusetts to report and write that profile of Ben back in 1997. I knew he had made an impact on her. So I asked Vicki if she’d be willing to write a short remembrance of him. An hour later, she sent me this:

In my career so far, there is only one article I’ve written that I wish I could go back and re-write, and that is the profile I wrote for The Penn Stater in 1997 of Benneville Strohecker. Before I even flew to Marblehead, Mass., to interview Ben, as he was known, I’d decided what his story was: a Reading, Pa., kid heads to Penn State, gets a degree in arts and letters, and then founds a chocolate factory, Harbor Sweets, in New England, because what else could one do with a name like “Benneville Strohecker.” Only one other name might be better suited … Willy Wonka. Am I right?

I was right about Ben, who passed away at the age of 88 on April 19. He was born to make chocolate, a sweet man with a sweet calling who made sweet things happen. For years, he sent me a box of Sweet Sloops during the holidays because I must have eaten 32 of those hand-made almond buttercrunch toffees while I was interviewing him. And he remembered that. Because that’s who he was. And that made for a perfect story.

But the thing that made Ben Strohecker an extraordinary man was not his Wonka-ness, as I discovered while we ate lobster rolls for lunch at his sailing club on my last day in Marblehead. He told me there about how, at 70 years old, he had changed, how he used to be racist, how he used to be sexist, how he used to be homophobic and then, thanks in part to his wife, Martha, opening his eyes, he realized, simply, that he was wrong. In fact, he had become an activist for AIDS awareness. I remember sitting there, looking at his kind face, hearing the humbleness in his voice, and feeling inspired: If this guy can change, can’t anyone?

But I didn’t write that story. I wrote the Willy Wonka one. Years and years later, I called Ben to tell him how sorry I was that I missed the opportunity to tell the real story about him, the one he deserved. And he laughed, then told me he’d retired and was painting and was writing children’s books. Because, well, of course he was. Then, a few days later, I went to my mailbox and found inside a box of Sweet Sloops.  —VG

You can read an April 27 article in the Salem, Mass., newspaper about Benneville Strohecker’s life here. And that story that Vicki wrote for The Penn Stater is available in PDF form here.

Tina Hay, editor


April 29, 2016 at 9:42 am 2 comments

A Freeh Report Reading List

Penn State Trustee Ken Frazier ’75 chaired the investigative task force that hired Louis Freeh.

As the Penn State community continues to reel from the release of the Freeh Report, the national media has been busy weighing in on the findings and the fallout. Following the coverage can be overwhelming, but here are some articles from the past four days that are worth a read:

Guides to the Freeh Report

“A Guide to the Penn State Investigation”: From The Chronicle of Higher Education, an annotated summary of the report’s most significant findings.

“Analysis: Freeh report sheds new light on Jerry Sandusky scandal, but needs context”: Sara Ganim ’08 breaks down the important revelations, and identifies some of the report’s shortcomings. “It’s not the whole picture,” she writes.

The Paterno Statue

“After Report, Calls to Remove Paterno Statue at Penn State”: From The New York Times’ “The Lede” blog, a collection of Facebook and Twitter comments calling for the removal of the Joe Paterno statue immediately after the report’s release.

“Penn State denies decision made on Joe Paterno statue”: An update on the future of the statue and other landmarks bearing Paterno’s name and image.

Paterno’s Legacy

“Joe Paterno, at the end, showed more interest in his legacy than Jerry Sandusky’s victims”: “Everything else about Paterno must now be questioned,” writes Sally Jenkins, the Washington Post reporter who interviewed Paterno before his death, in one of the harshest pieces out there.

Paterno Won Sweeter Deal Even as Scandal Played Out“: A New York Times report on Paterno’s retirement contract, which it says was worked out long before Paterno announced his retirement last Nov. 9.

“A Failed Experiment”: At, Michael Weinreb ’94 reflects on Penn State’s moral culture, concluding, “The Grand Experiment is a failure, and the entire laboratory is contaminated.”

NCAA and the Death Penalty

Amidst handfuls of articles weighing the pros and cons of the NCAA-imposed “death penalty” at Penn State, here is a take from each side: 

“Should Penn State Football Get the Death Penalty?”: Slate’s Josh Levin advocates for a temporary shutdown of Penn State football.

“In calls for justice at Penn State, NCAA death penalty would be injustice”: Columnist David Whitley takes the opposite stance: “When it comes to punishment, Penn State will have an unprecedented amount without the NCAA getting involved.”

Penn State Pride

“‘We Are Penn State’ and What That Means Today”: John Milewski ’79 on accountability as an alum.”For me, the burden of being Penn State includes taking responsibility for being part of the myth machine that brought us to where we are today.”

“I Went to Penn State—But Don’t Pity Me”: Vicki Glembocki ’93, ’02g on finding comfort—and pride—among fellow Penn Staters.

“Ashamed for Joe Paterno and Penn State’s leaders, but still proud of my school”: A strong alumni voice since November, LaVar Arrington ’00 believes supporting Penn State is the way to rebuild. “A big mistake would be making this all about loving or hating Paterno.”

What articles/links do you recommend? Share them in the comments below.

Mary Murphy, associate editor

July 17, 2012 at 8:21 am 7 comments

Penn State Night at the Emmys

Ty-BurrellHe was nominated for an Emmy Award last year, but this year Ty Burrell ’97g actually won the thing.

Burrell captured an Emmy last night for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy, for his role as the dorky dad Phil Dunphy on the ABC sitcom Modern Family. The show itself also won for Best Comedy, and Ty’s on-screen wife, Julie Bowen, won for Best Supporting Actress.

You can see the entire list of Emmy winners here. Note that it includes another Penn Stater: Don Roy King ’69, director of Saturday Night Live, won an Emmy for Outstanding Directing. Not a bad night for Penn Staters, huh?

By the way, King will be speaking at Penn State next spring.

We did a profile of Ty Burrell in the magazine back in Jan-Feb 2010. That story got its start when I was trying to recruit Vicki Glembocki ’93, ’02g to write a story for us on some other topic, and she wrote back: “How about Ty Burrell??? Are you watching Modern Family? I can see the subhead: How does a guy become the most lovably annoying dad in America?”

Vicki usually knows what she’s talking about, so I took her up on the offer, and I’m glad I did.

You might enjoy reading Vicki’s tale of what it was like to meet Burrell, and that’s also where you can download a PDF of her story in The Penn Stater about him.

Tina Hay, editor

September 19, 2011 at 8:28 am Leave a comment

‘Amy’s Story’ to be Told in New York


Joe Myers ’98 and his colleagues in Penn State Public Broadcasting must be thrilled with the attention that their 2010 documentary, Telling Amy’s Story, is getting. The film, which Myers directed, has already aired on more than two hundred PBS stations nationwide, and tomorrow night it will be screened in New York City for the first time—with Meredith Vieira hosting the event.

Telling Amy’s Story is the sobering true story of a State College woman, Amy Homan McGee ’91a, who was trapped in an abusive relationship—and who was eventually shot to death by her husband. Vince McGee was convicted of first-degree murder and is now serving a life sentence.

In the film, police detective Deirdri Fishel (pictured above) recounts Amy’s tale, and those who knew Amy—her mother, her coworkers, a police sergeant, and others—talk about the warning signs they saw in Amy’s relationship with Vince. Filmmaker Myers also scored a coup when he persuaded actress Mariska Hargitay of Law & Order: SVU to speak at the beginning and end of the documentary.

The New York screening on Tuesday night comes on the eve of a national event called “It’s Time to Talk Day,” which focuses on raising awareness about domestic violence.

Penn State has an extensive website devoted to Telling Amy’s Story, including a trailer you can watch and information on how to purchase the film. The hope is that civic groups, domestic-violence programs, employers, and others throughout the country will take advantage of the opportunity to learn from Amy’s tragedy.

We’ve got a story by Vicki Glembocki ’93, ’02g about the making of Telling Amy’s Story forthcoming in our January-February issue.

Tina Hay, editor

December 6, 2010 at 5:15 pm 1 comment

Hauling in a Little Hardware

We’ve been so swamped this summer that I haven’t had a chance to share the news that the magazine has won some more awards. Heck, I haven’t even had a chance to tell the magazine staff—or the boss—about some of these. Anyway, here’s the scoop:

—We won the Public Relations Society of America‘s “Bronze Anvil” award as the top magazine in the country. (Why it’s called the Bronze Anvil when it’s for first place, not third, has always been a mystery to me.) I have to say that we’re always a little ambivalent about winning an award for public relations efforts, because we don’t think of The Penn Stater as being a stereotypically PR-oriented magazine, full of happy talk about how great everything is at Dear Old State. But we’d like to believe that our (more…)

August 20, 2010 at 11:46 am Leave a comment

Two Unrelated But Cool Stories

We like to keep an eye on what former Penn Stater magazine staff writers are up to these days, and this week brought interesting articles from both Jason Fagone ’01 and Vicki Glembocki ’93, ’02g.

Jason has a story at about some guys who are trying to engineer a car that gets 100 miles to the gallon. According to Jason’s Twitter feed, he’s working on a book about this subject.

And on a lighter note, Vicki has an occasional blog called “Blunt Force Mama,” and today’s posting—about taking her 2-year-old daughter to see fireworks for the first time—is pretty funny.

Tina Hay, editor

July 1, 2010 at 6:44 pm Leave a comment

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