—————————————————————— The Past . . . ——————————————————————

  Ralph Lam

  Electronics Technician

Email address:

Visit Ralph's Web Site:

———————————————————— . . . and The Present ————————————————————


Ralph at 42.



Ralph, Rue, and Trevor (now 9 years old).


——————————————————— 1978 Reunion Questionnaire ———————————————————

  1) The important people in my life (spouses, partners, children) are...  
My wife of 18 years, Rue Wingo Lam (accente ague over the “e”), my 9 year old son Ralph Trevor Keegan Piers Lam (Trevor). 
  2) I went to Westtown because…  
I was a member of London Grove Friends Meeting (my great grandfather, “Pop Pop Strode” {William David Strode}, is buried there) just outside of West Chester Pennsylvania, and was very active as a young “Quaker” for many years.  I attended Ithaca General Friends Conference every other year, went on mountain retreats, attended local conferences, participated in peace marches in Washington D.C., etc. etc.  I met families who sent, or were sending their children to Westtown.  Also, I met current students of Westtown at some of the conferences. Westtown was in the general vicinity of our Meeting. It seemed to be within the greater “heartland” of Quaker activity, the main hub being at 15th and Arch streets in Philadelphia. Some of the older kids from London Grove Meeting were attending, or had graduated; therefore, Westtown was in the background of my life for quite awhile. I think that my parents expected Westtown to have a superior approach, giving special attention to bright students. Since I had a hard time adjusting socially at public school after being moved up from 6th to 7th grade over Christmas vacation, my 8th and 9th grade scores were in the low B’s. The general consensus was that I needed to be challenged with the addition of some specialized attention. While considering attending Westtown, it become apparent that Westtown had a great Arts facility. I was planning on being an artist, so Westtown was looking good. I grew up in Southern Chester County. My home was only forty-five minutes away from Westtown. This was O.K. with my parents. Looking at the big picture, it all seemed to fit. As it turned out, my grades had just started to climb at public school after being accepted at Westtown, but the wheels were already in motion, and it seemed like an adventure. The approach to liberal arts at Westtown was about the same as at my public school from what I can remember, but my visual arts experience turned out to be all that I had expected.
  3) My occupation is a Electronic Technician for Security, Life Safety, and Audio systems and Westtown prepared me for it by …  
I think that Westtown prepared me for my position by leaving me with the ability to appreciate the presence of intelligent people in my environment, and their contribution to a project.  Other than that, Westtown hasn’t contributed much to my current position since I took my entire prerequisite, and higher math at college. 

I work for Audio Systems of Florida doing work for Disney, and other major institutions.  I am involved in all phases of projects including surveying for retrofits, blue printing, installation, and trouble shooting and repair of existing systems.  My skills include layout, low voltage integrated wiring, networking proprietary systems, programming, and use of my knowledge of electronics/electrical engineering. I have recently been made the Test and Inspection Coordinator for life safety systems that are under contract with our firm along with my other duties.

  4) My life’s greatest moments and challenges (to date) would be …  
Wow…this could be so many things I’m sure. One day I realized that I was the male unit of a great little family with a secure future, and a wonderful Wife, and Child.  Meeting Rue has been the single most important event in my life. Her contributions to my development are immeasurable. The birth of a child is big on almost anyone’s list of course. The day that my son was brought home from the hospital, and when it was clear that he was “here to stay” was the greatest shared moment in both of our lives.

My greatest personal moment was walking down the aisle at the Delaware Tech graduation ceremony wearing the Phi Theta Kappa sash while my family watched me from the audience.

The greatest physical challenge was perhaps the Adventure with the Oil Survey Crew.  It involved traveling the Appalachian mountain range in 6 states; climbing, hiking, carrying heavy coils of cables, setting up “geo-phones” in remote mountain side locations, working 14 hour days in the rain, and snow, (this might be why I’m in Florida now) and living in motels. It is not the work for a 42-year-old!

The coolest professional moment in my life was not the most difficult, or complicated. It was when I recently engineered a wireless security system for works of art I had seen in books my whole life. You could still smell the paint on some of them!

  5) Westtown’s most inspirational faculty, classmate, friend (multiple choices accepted) would have to be …  
…the Art department faculty. I keep an art pad, and medium handy at all times. My ability to put something down on paper has a lot to do with the Art department at Westtown, and having that ability has saved me from time to time.

I will always be indebted to my senior roommate, Kevin Doyle, for his tutelage in guitar technique. I identify so much with the accomplishments of my guitar playing. In some ways, my advances on guitar gave me the courage to take on many other challenges in life. Kevin is the key element here. His brilliance on guitar at such an early age showed me the light at the end of the tunnel. I would not have thought it was possible for me to improve so quickly had I not watched Kevin so often, and so intently. I have kept in touch with Kevin (he changed his name to Tharpa {tar-pah} some years ago) ever since graduation. He, and I have lived in Washington D.C. together (had a band then), and we eMail, call, write on a regular basis, and visit when we can. He is a dear friend. 

Max Ziluca was my roommate during my first year at Westtown, and took me under his wing to “show me the ropes”. He was a great help to me in those days. He was, and is a masterful conversationalist. I have kept in touch with Max Ziluca since the 10th reunion. He is a blessing to know. He and I visit more frequently than Tharpa and I, and we eMail on a regular basis. I was a member of Max’s and Christine’s wedding party in November of 2001.

I really miss those classmates who made life fun, and I have lost touch with. Those classmates who do not attend alumni days, or touch base with the various Westtown periodicals, and/or web sites. 

I very much appreciate the recent correspondences I have had with Ted Duvall, and Tanya Reiner English. Tanya was my first best friend at Westtown; she was a great ambassador to me. She inspired me to believe that I had made the right choice coming to Westtown in the “early days”. Ted was a good pal on dorm which always makes life easier when you are away from home.

Becky Moore was a very positive energy as the singer in the band that I played Bass guitar in during my junior year. Her energy was infectious. Since her father, Master Clarence, was the music teacher, and her voice technique was so developed, knowing her seemed to “validate” my musical endeavors. I met Becky during the summer after graduation, at a 7-11 in West Chester, at which time she gave me some very important information that I had not gotten from anybody else before, or since, and I will never forget her for that.

I have been lucky to work with some fantastic drummers since my Westtown days, but to this day, Mike Zislis has been the most fantastic drummer I have ever had the pleasure to play next to. I have played guitar since 1968, but I had also played drums from time to time, so I thought I had an eye for good drummers. Mike’s blistering physical domination of his trap set, his drive for perfection, and his musical insight made him an eye-popping spectacle that I will never forget. His search for the truth of “that which is ‘the drums’ ” affected me greatly. I have striven to do the same on guitar during most of my life. Thanks for that Mike!

  6) The most memorable time I broke the rules would be when I …  

Hmmm…It all seems so relative.  Nothing we did had any malice, or malicious intent, so to me it was harmless. I guess shiking put a few gray hairs on teachers feeling like students were in harm’s way while “out and about." Really though, shiking was a lot of work, and was not that much fun other than the bonding that took place among fellow shikers.

I don’t really know if hitchhiking was breaking the rules, but these days it should be. Tharpa (Kevin) and I were hitchhiking home to Westtown one day after taking the bus to West Chester when we were picked up by two punked-out, ruff looking guys in black “t” shirts, tattoos, and earrings driving a Dodge Charger. They were bragging about shooting up crystal-meth the night before at a biker party, and offered us “kw” (which we refused. We had no idea what it was, and did not like the apparent result of it’s use as evidenced by these two). Within the first 2 minutes they had us sized up as limp-wristed, prep-school boys, and decided to have a little fun with us. During our approach to a steep incline, they lurched the car over into the left lane, and stomped on the gas propelling the car ever faster on to an uncertain fate awaiting us on the other side of the hill. Happily, we crested the hill to see that the road was clear for as far as the eye could see. When they pulled up to the school, we both jettisoned out of our respective escape hatches, and keeping true to form, they peeled off leaving us standing in blue tire smoke. To this day, I have never hitchhiked again.

  7) Was there a point in your life when you recognized any benefit from your time at Westtown?  
I think today (right now) is that moment in some ways.

Also, I had never seen a soccer ball before coming to Westtown (well, maybe once), and even though I only ever played second association soccer, I assimilated tons of soccer theory.  I have used this knowledge to coach youth soccer for 5 years. My teams usually place in the top 6 out of about 15, and I can attribute a lot of that success to my stay at Westtown. 

  8) Do you plan to attend the 25th year reunion in May?  
I would VERY much love to, but our recent move to Florida has been with the understanding that visiting up North will have to wait for another year. I will plan to be there in the future though. Anyone visiting the Orlando area can feel free to look us up.  We love to entertain, and this area has so much to do. Y’all keep in touch.