A fond farewell: Dow Benedict retires after 48 years at Shepherd University
SHEPHERDSTOWN — On Jan. 3, Shepherd University will lose one of its most well-loved and longest serving faculty members. After 48 years in various positions with the university, Dow Benedict will be retiring and opening an art studio behind his historic home in Shepherdstown.
A retirement party was held for Benedict at Town Run Tap House and Community Pub on Dec. 11. As the crowd of community members and Shepherd University staff and faculty members jostled around each other, filling their plates with food and buying drinks from the pub, they took time to talk about how Benedict has impacted their lives.
“I had to come, because I think he’s such a special person. He was a mentor of my sculpture,” said Caroline Ford, of Shepherdstown. “He is a friend and he was very supportive of my sculpting. He makes everybody feel good, because he’s so kind.”
In July, Shepherd University professor Rob Tudor took Benedict’s former position as the dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. However, Benedict remained at the university, in the role of Vice President for Presidential Initiative.
“He worked on so many wonderful projects, it was unbelievable. We worked as a great partnership,” said SU President Mary J.C. Hendrix of his work in the fall 2019 semester. “It was entirely up to Dow to say when he wanted to retire from Shepherd and do what he’s planning to do next. I anticipate he will continue to help us at Shepherd with whatever we need, because that’s the kind of person he is.”
When Benedict came to Shepherd University to be an art professor, he brought his wife, daughter and three-month-old son with him. His third child, a second daughter, was born some time after that, and was able to attend the retirement party. According to his daughter, Emily Savetto, of Ashburn, Va., Benedict had been thinking about retiring since his wife’s death in 2015, and recently decided he was ready to do so.
“It’s exciting. His art is very unique. I think he’s got a lot of plans for what he wants to do,” Savetto said. “There was a barn behind his house, which was built before the Civil War. They’re tearing down the barn and building a studio, so he and his friend can do art there.”
The studio will feature two floors, one of which Benedict will use and the other of which will be used by cold wax artist Annette Gloomis.
According to Benedict’s former student and mentee Todd Cottgreave, who is the owner of Town Run Tap House and Community Pub, Benedict’s influence has permanently impacted his life.
“Whether Dow knew it or not, he was my mentor. I don’t listen to anything, but I listen to Dow,” Cottgreave said. “What I learned from him, was how to break the rules with style and class. So I thank him. Dow is there for support. He is always there to reach out.”