Frank Mullen ’53: The Tie that Binds

by Susan Cantrell

March 25, 2004

The Class of 1953 has three new class agents: Bob Miller, Fred Warbinton, and Jack Engledow, who says of his predecessor, Frank Mullen: "When we were graduating, we had an election for class agent. I’ve told Frank over the years that I’m so glad he won. I ran, too, but thanks to the way it worked out, I got out of a lot of work."

Engledow is doing good things for Wabash, but he was so right in his assessment of the class agent’s job, at least the way Frank Mullen had defined it for half a century. Nearly every month since their graduation in 1953, Frank Mullen has written a class agent’s letter to his classmates. Even if he missed a few months a year, that adds up to about 450 letters. And he has made hundreds of calls and written hundreds of notes to his classmates, gleaning information, expressing condolences, passing along good news, and checking in on his friends. With Frank Mullen as the tie that binds them, the men of the Class of ’53 remain a group that still cares very much for each other and for Wabash.

Bob Miller, an attorney in Anderson, IN, recounts a stunning example of Mullen’s dedication to his class. The first scheduled meeting of the Class of ’53 reunion committee was set for only a few days after the 9/11 massacre in New York. Undeterred, Mullen flew out to Indianapolis on a 747, carrying, he reported, only five people. "Even that," Miller reports, "couldn’t stop Frank."

Engledow’s thought that "Frank turned the job into a crusade, making us a whole with his attention to every one of us" almost certainly reflects the fact that Mullen spent most of his working life as the development director at the Yale Divinity School and is an ordained minister. He knows how to connect with people in a way that makes them glad he did.

Last spring at their 50th Reunion celebration, Mullen’s classmates presented him with a beautiful Wabash chair bearing the citation "World’s Greatest Class Agent." Alumni Director Tom Runge ’71, an appreciative Mullen fan, reports that a few months later, "The Society of Wabash College Class agents backed up the ’53 boasting by presenting him the Warren Shearer Award, their top award for excellence as a class agent." Many other tributes came from individuals such as Warbinton, who says simply: "Frank helped keep his class together by knowing about so many people. He headed a lot of people in the right direction."

About a year ago, Mullen suffered a stroke that caused him to resign his position as class agent for the Men of ’53 and move from his home in New York to his private apartment in a Quaker retirement center in Richmond, IN. According to his old friend and classmate Fred Warbinton, he is doing very well in his new situation, getting out and about for shopping and entertainment, and making new friends to add to those he has enjoyed for so many years.

You can reach Frank Mullen at this address: Frank Mullen, 2030 Chester Blvd. #146, Richmond, IN 47374.

The three new Class Agents are more than willing to help the Class of 1953, but they know it will take all three of them to fill Frank Mullen’s shoes.

 


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