President Charles S.K. Scudder’s 2019 Annual Meeting Address
Presented to the Members or the Scudder Association Foundation Annual Meeting
On December 16th, 2019, the Scudder Association Foundation held their Annual Meeting via video conference in conjunction with a dinner in Norwalk, Connecticut. What follows is the opening address our President presented.
Good evening everyone. I am glad that you are participating in this Annual Meeting of The Scudder Association Foundation after an extremely eventful year.
We had a very successful Reunion in Boston in October 2018 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the sailing of John and Harriet Scudder to become the first in a long line of Scudder medical missionaries on the Indian continent. We visited the historic sites in Boston including the Old North Church where John and Harriet had their last service before departing for the Far East. We were also were graced with the presence of Honorine Ward, the President of The Christian Medical College Foundation, who addressed our gathering on Saturday night.
To continue the celebration of the Scudders’ first arrival in India, we followed up in January of 2019 with a family trip to Vellore. We had twelve Scudder family members and friends on the trip. Cy Sherman, the longtime former Secretary of the Scudder Association, brought her sons, Terry and Read and daughter Claudia. Also with us was Laura Fisher Kaiser and her daughter Adelaide together with their friends, Tema Silk and Sara Hyams. Melany Scudder came in from Connecticut and Jack Gillmar made it all the way from Hawaii. Jim and Susan Taylor and I completed the contingent.
We were based in the Guest House at CMC on the outskirts of Vellore next to the Big Bungalow where Ida S. spent her later life. From there we visited the various hospitals and schools which our Scudder ancestors had established over the last 200 years and were impressed with the continuing expansion of those facilities. Most spectacular, of course, was the CMC Hospital itself in the center of Vellore which has grown into a mammoth facility treating 9,000 patients and performing 2,500 operations a day. That all this originated with the one room dispensary which Ida S. started in 1900 not far from the site of the current hospital is quite amazing.
We also spent time at the Scudder Memorial Hospital in Ranipet, about 45 minutes from Vellore, now run by Dr. Anbu Suresh Rao who saved SMH from failing about 10 years ago. It is now a bustling and expanding operation. In the evening of our visit, the Scudder contingent was brought up on an open-air stage before the entire population of SMH – students, doctors, nurses, and administrators, for a celebratory event. I presented Dr. Suresh with a check for $75,000. This gift was to commemorate Dr. John and Harriet Scudder’s departure from America in 1818 which would eventually result in the establishment of the Scudder Memorial Hospital. Dr. Suresh awarded all the visiting Scudder contingent with commemorative plaques.
On other days we visited the new sites for expanding CMC outside Vellore as well as the rural clinics run by CMC which are dotted around the countryside outside the city. We also had a trip to the Jawadi Hills tribal village where CMC doctors come daily to treat and educate the local populace. Additionally, we visited three schools for underprivileged youth which had been established by various members of the Scudder family over the years.
In retrospect, it is staggering what a positive effect the Scudder family has had in this part of Southern India over the past two centuries. This has been an unbroken tradition carried on by the descendants of John Scudder. This continues today with Dr. Jim Taylor, one of our Board members, his wife Dr. Susan Taylor and their daughter Allison who is in medical school and addressed us in a video presentation about her time in India last year at this event.
For those of you who would like to read a more detailed account of our trip, please go to our website, scudder.org, click on “News and Features” and scroll down to my post “An Indian Chronical”.
Following the return from our trip, we continued our efforts to support the Scudder interests in India and to coordinate with CMC in the US. CMC’s Executive Director, John Riehl, is here with us tonight. In response to John’s initiatives, the Foundation has supported several CMC events in New York. The first was an evening celebrating the life of Dr. Varghese who was a student at CMC in Vellore but was paralyzed from the waist down in an automobile accident on a trip back to campus. Despite this setback, she completed her medical studies and became a renowned physician in Vellore. The CMC event in Manhattan honoring her featured Chelsea Clinton as the keynote speaker and others from CMC.
We also contributed to a separate event in New York run by CMC which brought together various religious groups involved in foreign ministries. This included the Reform Church in America, the institution which had originally sponsored John Scudder’s trip to India in 1818. John Riehl and Jim Taylor followed up with a meeting with the Reform Church in America at a meeting at their headquarters in Michigan with a view to re-forging the bond between the Church, CMC and SAF. That effort is ongoing.
Early in the year Dr. Suresh at Scudder Memorial told us that the Hospital was in dire need of a new generator to ensure that electrical service was secure and uninterrupted for the Hospital’s operations. The Board at mid-year, when we were sufficiently confident that the performance of the Foundation’s portfolio was going to be able to sustain it, authorized an advance of $35,000 to Scudder Memorial. As you can imagine, Dr. Suresh and the administrators of the Hospital were very appreciative, and the generator was acquired in late summer.
We have had an exceptional effort over the year by our new Family Historian, Margery Boyden, who has spent countless hours researching family history and creating content on this subject for the scudder.org website. I hope you have had the opportunity to visit the website to view her efforts.
According to our former family historian, Chris Scudder who sadly passed away last year, the Scudders had a familial relationship with Boris Johnson, now the Prime Minister of the UK. Unfortunately, Margery appears to have debunked this proposition. Depending on your politics that may be a good thing or a bad thing.
Upon advice of our Auditors, Marks Paneth, we have split off genealogical information about Scudder family members into a separate web site not part of scudder.org. The genealogical website can be accessed from scudder.org, and we are working with Marks Paneth to develop a more user-friendly link to the new genealogical website.
Margery was also very helpful in agreeing to be the repository of a good amount of Scudder archived material which has been held by the Princeton Theological Seminary for many years. Bill Scudder and I visited the Princeton Theological Seminary during the year and met with Professor Henke, the head of archives. He showed us the Scudder materials which have been maintained in the Seminary’s temperature-controlled vaults for decades. He indicated that the Seminary was interested in maintaining a small portion of the files but would appreciate it if we could remove the balance of the files. Bill took the lead in separating the materials and sending them to Margery for safekeeping and review which was completed mid-year. Margery now has the unenviable job of sorting through all these materials.
As you will hear from our Treasurer, Richard Williamson, the Foundation’s finances are on solid ground, and we will be moving to all no-load funds early in the New Year which will increase the yearly funds available for the Foundation’s charitable endeavors.
I hope you have been visiting the scudder.org web site. It continues to be streamlined, expanded and updated through the faithful efforts of Bill Scudder and Rich Scudder. It is now the Foundation’s primary “window to the world”.
An additional exciting development is that the Foundation has been approached by an Indian filmmaker, Aneesh Daniel to support him making a film about the life of Ida S. Scudder. Aneesh is an accomplished documentary filmmaker who has produced many features for television over the years and has authored and directed a full-length film on an Australian medical missionary, Graham Staines, who was very active in India and met an untimely death at the hands of radical religious extremists. Aneesh is captivated by Ida S. Scudders’ s story and has already met personally with me and on a telephone conference with a good number of the Scudder Foundation Board members to go over his plan. CMC is also very supportive of his efforts. I believe Aneesh will be on the Foundation’s Board call later tonight from India.
We are looking forward to a positive and productive year for the Foundation.