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Family Ties, Family Giving

For as long as Peter Wender can remember, Bay Path has been part of his family. If you ask him to start from the beginning, he can share memories of former President Thomas Carr and his wife, Mollie Carr, and others who profoundly impacted the newly-established Longmeadow campus.
Bay Path Institute graduation photo
of Klara Kalista Wender ’31.

Two of the people who were pivotal in contributing to the reputation of Bay Path were Wender’s parents, Klara Kalista Wender ’31 and Joseph Wender. Both had been longtime friends of the Carr family. His father had been hired by Tom Carr to be the head of campus building and grounds, while Wender’s mother Klara assumed the role of bookkeeper in 1956.

Klara Wender’s connection to Bay Path and her story would prove to be the tie that links Peter’s continued support of the University mission.

A 1931 graduate of the Bay Path Institute, Klara grew up in the Hungry Hill neighborhood in Springfield. After earning her degree, she moved to Queens, New York, where she taught bookkeeping. Eventually, she came back to Springfield, and after being employed and entering motherhood, she came full circle in life and returned to work at Bay Path.

During her 20 years at the then-Bay Path Junior College, Klara rose from bookkeeper to assistant treasurer to treasurer. In so many ways, her story mirrors those of countless other women who also have leveraged their education to have productive and successful lives.

“My mother was a proud Bay Path graduate and even in retirement treasured the friendships she had made along the way. She valued learning and education and instilled that same appreciation in me.” Peter Wender took those values to heart and went to MIT for undergraduate and graduate degrees.

To honor his mother’s legacy, Wender established the Wender Family Endowed Scholarship, which provides financial assistance to traditional undergraduate students in the sciences.

As an engineer and a scientist, I recognize the need to have women in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). When I toured Bay Path’s science facilities and spoke with the faculty, I saw how they were preparing students to fill key professional positions and instilling in them a practical understanding of how to run a lab and how to be a great colleague. I was very impressed.”

The opportunity to honor his mother while helping Bay Path students resonated with Wender’s own personal attitude to philanthropy.

“I believe that people who are capable of having careers should have those careers. In the tradition of the American ethos of pulling oneself up from their bootstraps, it’s important that students who are motivated should have access to education regardless of their background. We have to help them move forward. It’s fundamental, and it’s a good investment for their and our future.”

A member of the Millennium Society, Peter Wender graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and after a 40-year-plus career at Draper Laboratory, he is now pursuing another of his life passions—music.

Please visit the Planned Giving web page for more information.