Sermons in Stone
by Mary Seymour ’80 | photos by Scott Cook
A Gem of a Lapidarian
The Rollins campus directory lists Susan Curran ’76 as IT programmer, but that’s only half her title. She’s also College lapidarian.
Lapi-what? you ask.
She received the made-up title 25 years ago from President Thaddeus Seymour, after she expressed concern about the Walk of Fame’s deteriorating condition. Seymour, an ardent believer in the walkway’s historic value, tapped her to become record keeper, information gatherer, and sentinel of the stones. Susan took it as an opportunity to give back to her alma mater.
Being College lapidarian doesn’t come with a salary, but it has its perks. Curran has become an expert on the Walk of Fame’s stones and can identify most people whose names are inscribed on them. She gets to meet luminaries who come to campus for stone-laying dedications, such as Mister Rogers, Edward Albee, and Jackie Robinson’s daughter, Sharon.
Curran enjoys connecting the Walk of Fame to historic and campus events. On the Fourth of July, she posts a sign and a map to stones representing Declaration of Independence signers, then garnishes each stone with blue markers. For the 70th anniversary of the Annie Russell Theatre, she highlighted the stones of playwrights and actors. When Rollins President Rita Bornstein ’04H retired in 2004, Curran marked all 16 stones laid during her tenure.
Asked to name a favorite stone, Curran can’t commit. “They all intrigue me in different ways. For some, I admire the person represented. For others, I was present at the stone setting. Or I have no idea who they are, but there’s an interesting story in Hamilton Holt’s notebook.”
She is especially fond of the stone representing Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, having played a starring role in its acquisition. Scroll back to summer 1990, when Curran—a longtime member of the Chapel Choir and MozartFest singer—traveled to Salzburg, Austria. Armed with a letter of introduction from President Seymour, she went to Mozart’s birthplace and, with official permission, acquired a fragment from a below-ground wall. The stone was dedicated during Rollins’ 1991 MozartFest.
Being College lapidarian means fielding a lot of stone-related questions—some incisive, some less so. One of the most frequent questions is “Are these people buried in the Walk of Fame?” says Curran. “My first response is, ‘Yes, they’re buried standing up—and Shakespeare is [pointing] there, there, and over there.’ Then I gave them Hamilton Holt’s philosophy on the walk and who merits to be part of it.”
10 Stones on the College Lapidarian's Wishlist
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings ’39H
Marjory Stoneman Douglas
Defender of the Everglades
1st American to orbit Earth
1st American woman in space
Sandra Day O’Connor
1st woman appointed to the Supreme Court Justice
1st African American tennis player to compete at Wimbledon
Babe Didrikson Zaharias
1st woman to achieve success in multiple sports, including golf, basketball, and track and field
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
Founder of modern Turkey (Curran graduated from high school in Ankara)