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Hart Devenney: Springfield College and Beyond

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The following article was researched and written by Richard Devenney. More contributors.

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Hart Devenney: Springfield College and Beyond (1924-1930)

Researched and written by Richard Devenney © R. A. B. Devenney on February 16, 2008

It was in the fall of 1924 that Hart Devenney became formally enrolled as a ‘freshman’ at Springfield College in what was called ‘The Class of ‘28’ ’. His copy of ‘The Massasoit’ of 1925 (the handsomely bound annual College Yearbook - 188 pages) is so endorsed as his own on the inside cover. It also reveals he participated in the ‘Freshman’ Cross-Country and Hockey Teams (as a right wing), and also in the ‘McKinley Literary Society’. Many autographs of other students are found throughout the volume.

During the summers of 1925 and 1926, he returned to Canada, and respectively initiated brand new “Community Summer Recreation Programs” in each of the communities of Preston, and Midland, Ontario.

After that first year at Springfield, he must have been busy academically for the next two years (ie. for the academic terms 1925-26, 1926-27) because he shows up in the 1927 edition of The Massasoit as a member of the Senior and graduating Class. His degree certificate, which is in possession of the author of this essay, is dated the fifth of June, 1927 certifying he has completed the Course as a “Director of Physical Education” and awarded the degree of “Bachelor of Science”.

Beside his graduation photo in the The Massasoit yearbook is the expression in italics:

“A clever, studious mind, set working earnestly, completes a four-year course in three - quite easily!”

It says Hart also participated in Interclass Soccer, and sat on, the Religious Committee, the White Arrow Club, the McKinley Literary Society (of which he was Treasurer), and the Cosmopolitan Club. Finally, it shows that his brother Allan, had also joined him at Springfield, as a freshman in the ‘The Class of 1930’.

He returned to Ottawa in the late spring 1927. Shortly after that, he first met his future wife on a blind date. It was only a short while after that meeting, on her invitation, he attended at a piano recital by her, she being an accomplished pianist. Her name was Catherine Elizabeth Bickerton (known as ‘Rena’ throughout her life); and, over the next two years, they grew closer and closer and eventually married on Dec. 26, 1929. After that, except for the World War II years, she was at his side in all his endeavours until his passing.

But, notwithstanding this wonderful development in his life, Hart Devenney was searching for more. He decided to attend at Yale University Divinity School in the fall of 1927 doing some special work with the Graduate School of Education. It was over an almost 20 month period that he pursued this project; but eventually, he determined for his own reasons not to go on with it. At the same time, he served, in part as the “Boy’s Director of Physical Education” at the Springfield YMCA from 1928 to 1930 from which he apparently gained some much needed income.

By June of 1930, he had garnered a posting through the YMCA back in Canada.