Heroic Rescue by a Drew Alumnus, Then Tragically, a Drowning
George Scandrett graduated from Drew Theological Seminary in 1917. A few months later he died a hero, having saved three Camp Fire girls from drowning in Panther Lake near Andover, N.J., before he fell victim to what had been described as “heart strain.” Though married, the 36-year-old minister left no descendants, and it’s a good bet only one person in the world knows anything more about him.
That person would be John Daniel Thieme, a financial services consultant in Newton, N.J., where Scandrett is buried. Thieme, 33, is a history buff who loves cemeteries. One day last May he was ambling through Newton Cemetery when Scandrett’s grave marker caught his attention. The headstone identifies the deceased as a graduate of Drew and explained how he died. “Greater love hath no man than this, than a man lay down his life for his friends,” reads the footstone.
Thieme jotted down Scandrett’s name. “Every stone gives a name, birthdate, and date of death, but there are always stories to be told,” he says. Thieme went looking for them.
His research led him to Drew archivist Matthew Beland G’01 ’02 ’08, who located a remembrance of Scandrett in a publication of the Genesee Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Thieme traced Scandrett’s birthplace to a village in Herefordshire, England, and visited the area while traveling this summer.
“After someone is gone, two weeks later no one remembers them, except for family and friends. Here you have a guy who gave his life to save three other people,” says Thieme, who plans to write an account of Scandrett’s life and send it to Drew. “I’m going to put it out there, for posterity’s sake.”—Mary Jo Patterson