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A Good Man for the Long Run

Reggie Arnold ’30

Reggie Arnold ’30 calls his running days at UVM the secret to his longevity. At a healthy 98, he could practically be a scholar on the subject.

Arnold began to earn his cardiovascular capacity as a teenage chore boy, chasing cows day in and day out on a Hartford, Vermont farm. At UVM he ran cross-country and distance events on the track in the era of Archie Post, when shoes weren’t flashy nylon Nikes, but a pair of black leather spikes on loan from the University. A caption under one of Arnold’s yearbook pictures reads, “As a track man he still excels…and his best record is from the Phi Mu Delta House to Murray Street (Doris’s home) in five minutes flat.” Doris Duprat, his freshman sweetheart, would become his wife many years later.

Arnold recalls that his UVM years were a financial rollercoaster, including a week during sophomore year when he had to quit school because he couldn’t pay on a note. Fortunately, a fraternity friend convinced him to stay and after meeting with President Bailey, he was allowed an extension on the loan’s due date.

That same academic year, Arnold, a civil engineering major, was one of many college students who assisted relief efforts in Waterbury following the town’s devastating flood of 1927. The disaster and its aftermath, which wiped out bridges from Waterbury to Burlington, was critical to the Vermont Highway Department’s organization, says Arnold. He should know — a few years after graduation, he joined the department and stayed on for close to 40 years. Eventually appointed to the position of chief engineer, Arnold oversaw planning and development of the state’s highway system. Even after retirement he kept on with the important work of building roads; Arnold traveled to Vietnam in 1973 to lead engineers in re-building the country’s highway system.

Most of Reggie Arnold’s life has been rooted in the Green Mountain State. He and Doris married in 1936 and raised their family here. (Doris died in 1972. Arnold remarried, lived in Arizona for a bit and took up race walking, but that’s another story in the thick, spiral-bound autobiography that he’s proud to show to visitors.) He now lives in Montpelier with his daughter, Susan Arnold Knapp ’59.

At the Green and Gold Luncheon at last June’s Reunion, Arnold received an award for representing the oldest class, an honor he shared with Arthur Wardwell ’30, also a graduate of the engineering college. The classmates, who have been reacquainted through reunions, get together to celebrate each other’s birthdays — major milestones as they approach 100. This year marks their 75th reunion and Arnold, a loyal UVM supporter and member of the Wilbur Society, has another trip back to Burlington on his calendar.

In a letter to Interim President Edwin Colodny following the elimination of the men’s track team in 2001, Arnold wrote that in addition to strengthening his heart, track taught him “discipline, leadership, endurance to the limit, and comradeship.” Arnold is pleased track is back at UVM these days, and though he probably couldn’t break five for the run from Phi Mu to Murray Street, he still puts in his laps walking the long corridor of a nearby mall.
—Heidi Hill