Service Award – Reunion 2007

When Drew University talks about preparing students for service through the liberal arts, Carolyn Knox immediately comes to mind.  Her desire to serve others extends around the world.

Carolyn followed her great-grandfather, James G. Johnston T’1877, and her father, Charles T. Benjamin C’43, to The Forest, and she in turn was followed by two sisters, Marilyn Benjamin Wassmann C’71 and Jacalyn Benjamin Johnson C’76.  Carolyn graduated with a zoology major and served Drew for three years as Admissions Office counselor and synchronized swimming coach.  Realizing that her heart was in science, she earned an M.S. in nursing in 1972 from New York Medical College’s Linehart School of Nursing.  During this time she met and married William Tyndale Knox IV, then a Harvard Law School student.  Leaving hospital nursing because she preferred longer-term relationships with patients, she returned to Drew as the infirmary’s head nurse.

After her daughter, Emily (C’96), was born in 1974, Carolyn spent 16 years concentrating on her family, which grew to include William V and Jonathan.  She remained active as a volunteer with  Sunday School and Scout groups, and in synchronized swimming at Drew and also at the Somerset Hills YMCA, where she received the volunteer of the year award for 28 years of synchro coaching.  On Drew’s College Alumni/ae Board, she worked hard for six years to enhance Reunion.  When Emily became a Drew theatre arts major, Carolyn actively gathered properties and costumes for DUDS performances, just as she had done when Emily was younger.

Especially notable is Carolyn’s connection with foreign exchange students—she has hosted over 80 young people to date, sometimes several at a time as her former guests return to visit.  They keep in touch:  Carolyn has attended seven weddings around the world and is “Grandmother USA” to 15 children.  She dreams that the relationships formed at her kitchen table may in time foster peace.

As her children grew Carolyn returned to nursing, working with some of New Jersey’s special-needs children at the Matheny School in Peapack and later at Bonnie Brae School in Liberty Corner.  Now retired, she has just spent a month volunteering in Papua New Guinea, nursing in primitive villages deep in the jungle and at a coastal hospital.  When her husband retires they plan to build a house on Italy’s Adriatic coast.  In the meantime, she enjoys being a grandmother to Emily’s daughter, Sophia, and assisting Emily’s work with international AIDS conferences.