As the 50th reunion year approached for the class of 1967, so did an opportunity to rally around an important fundraising initiative for the Academy. The project would also provide a fitting platform for the group to recognize and honor classmate Ben Beach ’67, who many in the class credit for keeping this close-knit group connected to the Academy and to each other.
Several class members were aware that the Academy’s running track was in dire need of replacement. The track, built in 1999 as part of the extensive Porter Field athletic complex project, had served the Academy well over its eighteen-year lifespan. But the years of consistent use, countless competitions, and harsh New England weather had taken its toll. The track no longer met the safety standards for ISL competitions and needed to be replaced. The scope of the half-million-dollar project would be significant and included replacing the track with a new state-of-the-art surface, an improved drainage system, additional competition areas, and aesthetic enhancements.
With an impressive history of engaging in fundraising projects around their reunions, members of the class of 1967 decided to meet the challenge of providing the school with a new track and at the same time, realized this was an opportunity to show their gratitude and love for classmate and friend Bennett Beach in a meaningful and fitting way.
During this time, Ben was preparing to run his 50th consecutive Boston Marathon, a first in the Marathon’s history. As the two significant events approached, classmates decided to move forward with the fundraising efforts and they decided to name the track in Ben’s honor. The second part of the plan was successfully kept from Ben until the dedication ceremony at reunion. The surprise moved Ben and his classmates to tears.
Class member Chuck Davis had taken the lead early on when he pledged a lead gift of $250,000. “It is very fitting—[Ben] is the runner amongst us—that we have this track project. This is going to be the ultimate tie that we have to the school and to each other,” said Davis during the dedication ceremony. He went on to say that it was a “privilege to have spent time here in this school. What a privilege it is to come back and see each other.” And so, it is in that spirit that the class of 1967 has given back to the Academy once again by providing the school with this most impressive running track that will be a centerpiece for Academy athletes today and for years to come.