Why I Give

Grateful For An Exceptional Education

Chuck '57 and Julie Frisbie
Chuck '57 and Julie Frisbie
Although unfortunate circumstances brought Chuck Frisbie ’57 to Pembroke-Country Day, he credits the school with giving him an exceptional education, as well as teaching him meaningful life lessons.   As a result, he and his wife, Julie, have maintained strong ties with the school through the years.

When Chuck was 11 years old, his father died. Elsie Frisbie Norman, Chuck’s aunt and an educator, urged his mother to send him to Pem-Day. She believed Chuck needed male role models and felt it was important to place him at the all-boys school where there would be more male teachers to offer guidance. Aunt Elsie was not daunted that they could not afford the tuition and helped him gain admittance. Reflecting on the sequence of events, Chuck still remembers his aunt taking him to meet the school’s founder, Vassie James Hill, at her home.   “I talked to her briefly on her front porch,” he recalled. “It dawned on me years later that Mrs. Hill may have had to give her approval for me to be fortunate enough to receive a scholarship.”

Chuck came to Pem-Day in the eighth grade with a few reservations about leaving his old school friends, but soon grew to love his new school. His favorite teachers included “Doc” Foster, “Prof” Bennett, “Orbie” Coad, Kevin Madden, Clifford Nault, and Virginia Scott Miner, who taught ‘good’ English. Chuck commented that he is a stickler for proper grammar because of Mrs. Miner’s influence. He remains very fond also of Headmaster Peter Schwartz, and Hal and Kitty Jones, important members of the administrative staff. His extracurricular activities included serving as the Hilltop business manager and manager of the baseball team, and a manager of the 1956 and 1957 State Championship basketball teams. Chuck fondly remembers the train trips to St. Louis when the team played John Burroughs and they stayed overnight in the homes of their counterparts.

In order to keep his scholarship, Chuck had to maintain good grades and was required to work one hour a day in the cafeteria for four years. During his senior year, he worked in the library. “I appreciated the opportunity to attend a great school,” said Chuck, “I learned how to work hard and be responsible. That was a huge lesson for me.” His efforts paid off when he was awarded a prestigious National Merit Scholarship, which enabled him to attend Princeton. He reminisced, “My mother saw the envelope was from the National Merit Scholarship Board. It was the only time she opened my mail, and she called the school to get me out of class to let me know.”

Chuck earned an A.B. degree from Princeton University and a J.D. degree from the University of Michigan Law School. In 1969, he married his wife, Julie, from St. Joseph, Mo.   Julie taught high school history for four years until their first child arrived.   Julie laughed and shared that Chuck called Pem-Day from St. Luke’s Hospital when Ross was born. Chuck smiled and stated he always knew where he wanted to send his sons to school. Following in their father’s footsteps, Ross graduated in 1992, and his brother, Andy, graduated in 1996.

When Ross started kindergarten, Julie quickly became involved with the school as his class’ room mother. Julie loved the experience and enjoyed getting to know the boys and teachers and formed friendships with many parents. While the boys were in school, she was an active volunteer in their classroom, served as chair of the Clothesline Sale, worked on the first Awesome Auction, and was on the Board of Trustees from 1988-1994. During Andy’s senior year, she was president of the Parents Association. Pembroke Hill has become equally dear to Julie, who said, “What’s not to like about Pembroke Hill? The kids came home from school every day so excited to share what they learned. I’ve enjoyed every bit of it.” 

Chuck and Julie have remained active in the Pembroke Hill community serving as past parent chairs of the Annual Fund for many years. They are also members of The Founders Circle and have included the school in their estate plans. Stressing the importance of perpetuating the life of the school, they explained, “Your association with the school doesn’t have to end when your child graduates. The school is doing the same thing it always did, but more…and better! It’s exciting to remain involved.”

News

  • Susanne Shutz '53 Shares Why She Supports PHS!

    Sunset Hill School set the stage for Susanne Shutz’s ’53 lifelong attraction to the theater when she fell in love with variety skits and Gilbert and Sullivan musicals as a student. Since then, she has had the opportunity to play many roles at the school: alumna, teacher, parent, volunteer, trustee, and, most recently, grandparent.

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    In 1945, Susanne’s mother, Maxine Christopher Shutz, transferred her daughters from public schools to Sunset Hill. Her older sister, Laura Shutz Cray ’50, entered the eighth grade while Susanne joined the fourth grade. Susanne said she had a wonderful education and enjoyed playing field hockey and basketball. Even limited acting opportunities infused a lifetime passion. She fondly remembers playing the character roles in the school musicals and standing in the theater balcony, playing the angel, Gabriel, in the Christmas play.

    Upon graduation, Susanne attended Bradford Junior College and University of Missouri, where she earned a degree in speech and theater. Although she was offered a position as a teaching assistant while working toward a master’s degree in the speech department at the University of Hawaii, her parents asked her to return to Kansas City to participate in Junior League and BOTAR activities. Susanne came home, but was eager to start a career.

    She approached Sunset Hill’s headmistress, Ellen Green, regarding the school’s need for a speech class. Mrs. Green agreed and hired Susanne as a part-time speech teacher. Teaching was a wonderful experience for Susanne, and she has many fond memories of students who gained poise, confidence and strong speaking skills due to her classes.

    When Susanne married and raised her family, Sunset Hill, along with Pem-Day, reprised as central characters in her daily activities. Her children are graduates: Laura Curry Sloan ’79, Janet Curry ’81, Chuck Curry ’83 and Maxine Curry Christopher ’84. Susanne volunteered in many capacities; one of her favorites was writing, directing and producing the Mothers Skits for the Parents/Daughter dinners. Also, she was a member of the Board of Trustees, serving as president from 1974 to 1976. During this time, she earned a master's degree in theater from the University of Missouri-Kansas City too.

    Susanne enjoyed her stint on the Board, but she was thrilled to return to her first love in 1981 to work as the director of speech and theater at Sunset Hill for two years. This role gave her the opportunity to teach one of the early “coordinated” classes, which included Pem-Day students. “I remember one girl who was painfully shy, and how challenging it was for her to stand in front of people to speak,” she reminisced. “All the students understood this – boys and girls – and it was so heartwarming to see them cheer for her and be so supportive during the final exams at an assembly.”

    Now, Susanne relishes her role as a grandparent and considers herself lucky to have grandchildren, Curry ’05, Kellyn ’08 and Riley ’13 Sloan, who grew up locally and have attended Pembroke Hill. She laughed, “I go to everything – sports and plays – it’s all been wonderful!” Susanne has included the school in her estate plans and is a longtime member of The Founder’s Circle. For her, she said it was an easy decision. “It’s an investment in something from which I have benefitted – and have enjoyed – my whole life, as well as my children and grandchildren,” she stated. She continued, “In 1953, I was a member of the largest graduating class at that time, which was 28 members. It has been such a pleasure watching the school, and particularly the arts program, grow through the years. It’s important to perpetuate this institution that has been such a stand-out in the community.”

    With Susanne’s decision to include Pembroke Hill School in her estate plans, programs like the arts will flourish, and future students will enjoy the same thrill she felt hearing the sounds of applause.