A babble of noise comes from one of the round tables in the Mellon Library. Four students sit around it with laptops open and textbooks spread out. A librarian quiets them with a friendly gesture and the students lower to a whisper, continuing with their work. The students most likely do not know the story behind their workspace.
A total of 61 fatalities, four crew members and 57 passengers dead, just like that. This was the news that Steven Gangelhoff (’69), a 16-year-old junior at ASL, received on March 24 1968. “I was sitting in our family room at home, watching early afternoon television when the news bulletin was broadcast that there was a plane accident in the Irish Sea, a flight from Ireland to London.” He and his brother Richard (’70) eventually learned that Aer Lingus Flight 712, carrying both of their parents, spun out of control and crashed. There were no survivors.
Their parents had been flying home from a business trip in Ireland when the tragic accident occurred. After he learned his parents were dead, Gangelhoff said, “I spent the rest of that day with my brother, but feeling mostly alone, pondering what would become of my brother and I, and our older sister.” This is unclear, Gangelhoff did not say that directly after learning of his parents’ deaths.
More than 30 years after the accident, in April 2011, the Mellon Library received a considerable donation from Gangelhoff. This money was used to purchase six new study tables now situated in the main room of the Library.
“These tables are a nice space for students to work on their own, yet they are also the perfect size for multiple students to have a quiet discussion,” Head Librarian Karen Fields said. The library -A library cannot plan to fit tables, but librarians can also plans to fit the tables with reading lamps and computer outlets in the near future.
Gangelhoff attended ASL as a sophomore and junior. “ASL and London opened my mind to a wide variety of cultures and spectrum of thought, which had a strong impact on me in later life.”
While he never graduated from ASL, Gangelhoff regularly attends Class of ‘69 reunions, which take place every five years. When in town for the most recent reunion, he learned that he could provide a special gift to ASL in memory of myhis parents.
“[The Director of Development] suggested a few ideas,” Gangelhoff said, “including a donation in support of the Mellon Library. I thought that was an excellent idea, as my mother was an avid reader all her life, and she especially would be delighted with this gift.” rough integration
The American Memorial Collection (AMC), a non-profit organization founded in 1974 and staffed mostly by parent volunteers, was created after another devastating plane crash in which a number of ASL families died. Friends of the victims wanted to honor their loss by creating a charity that would help build the collection of American books in all ASL libraries. Since its creation, the AMC has expanded to help manage all donations to the library, not only dealing with book funds, but also money for general improvements.
“The libraries are an integral part of every student’s education at ASL,” said Head of the AMC Melissa Janssen. “Contributing to the library is a way to directly impact the education of all students at ASL. No matter what subject students are pursuing, they all use the library.”
His time in London and at ASL, however short, was a huge turning point in Gangelhoff’s life. For good or bad, monumental changes occurred. And despite Despite the challenges he faced, he said, “People heal, even from tragic or traumatic events. I’ve had a great life, wife and two sons. We’ve travelled the world together. Things usually work out for people.”