The School of Medicine’s Class of 1954, the last of the “small classes” of 65 students, is a tight-knit group. Through the years, class members have kept in touch via birthday cards and holiday greetings. Until his death in 1998, Class Agent John K. Rose, M.D., compiled frequent newsletters that nurtured the class’s unusual closeness over the past five decades.

But to mark their 50th reunion last June, its members looked squarely to the future by establishing the Class of 1954 Memorial Scholarship. In creating the fund, which will provide a permanent source of support to students with financial need, the class joined a select group of medical school alumni who have established class-based scholarships.

When the class was considering a 50th reunion gift, Frank L. Gruskay, M.D., of Woodbridge, Conn., suggested establishing a scholarship fund honoring all members of the class, alive and deceased. The class agreed, and contributions rolled in steadily for five years.

Last year, when 33 of the 42 surviving members of their class converged on New Haven for the 50th reunion, they learned over dinner that the fund had surpassed its $100,000 goal, and that their generosity would be helping to support a first-year student the following fall.

“The class was euphoric,” recalls Arthur C. Crovatto, M.D., of York, Pa., who served as alumni affairs director at the School of Medicine from 1990 to 1996.

“For some years, we had wanted to do something,” says Donald D. Davis, M.D., who in retirement divides his time between Cranberry Township, Pa., and Naples, Fla. “At the point of our 50th anniversary, we decided to do something major.We felt that a scholarship like this would be something that would live longer than some other tributes.”

The fundraising effort for the scholarship—the fund is now valued at $138,000—was spearheaded by Harry C.Miller, M.D., of Great Falls, Va., who said that the memorial scholarship was a class act in the truest sense. “Everybody in the class with whom we have contact contributed to the scholarship fund,” Miller says.

“Everybody in this class can stand up straighter and smile a little more broadly and walk a little more proudly knowing what they have accomplished.”