Photo: Connor McCourtney
The title of the Facebook page in his honor says it all: “Everything was going wrong. Then I heard Harold singing.”
Harold Dudley can do more than just carry a tune. During his time at Drake, Dudley became known for the way his rich bass voice could be heard drifting through hallways, down stairwells or across Helmick Commons and into the unsuspecting ears of lucky listeners.
The music major is now stationed in Afghanistan with the National Guard, more than 6,000 miles away from the campus that had grown accustomed to his songs. Even though the 19 students of first-year seminar were never able to hear Harold’s music for themselves, they’re doing something for him and for those who have.
Director of Student Leadership and Service Programs, Jan Wise, teaches the class “Finding your place at Drake,” and said they were looking for a community service project to do to finish off the semester.
“I thought of Harold because he’s so known on campus,” Wise said. “And even though they don’t know him because they’re first-years and haven’t heard him sing, I thought that would be a good thing to do to send a package to him and let Harold know that people overseas back in the U.S. are really thinking of him still.”
Her student, Amanda Wagner, said that the class instantly responded when Wise suggested the care package.
“Harold Dudley is apparently a student who really made an impact on campus,” she said. “We immediately were all over the idea and we thought it would be a really good way to give back to the campus.”
The class has spent the last couple of weeks contacting Harold’s friends and arranging for the package to be a university-wide project.
Representatives from the first-year seminar were in the Olmsted Breezeway on Monday through Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. They will also be there today during the same times. They’ll be helping people record video messages and providing supplies for making cards, while collecting other items to send overseas to Harold and his friends in the service.
“One of the things they don’t see is just little things that you take for granted here,” Wagner said. “Like Halloween candy and Christmas chocolate and that kind of thing. So we’re just getting a bunch of little knickknacks to put in the box.”
Upperclassmen who do know Harold personally have reacted positively after being contacted about the project.
“I just think it’s fantastic that this group of students who don’t even know him are putting this together,” junior Kelly Kretschmer said. “It’s incredible.”
Kretschmer knows Harold through various vocal music activities like Drake Choir, singing valentines and opera.
“We spent a lot of time in the music department together,” she said. Members of the Drake Choir will be sending a video of themselves singing two songs, and Kretschmer said she’ll also record her own message.
She said she wants Harold to know that “the music department continues to thrive without him here, but we very much miss hearing his voice, not only in the choir, but across campus.”
“We all think about him on a pretty constant basis,” senior Andrew Peters said. “And I think he knows that, but it’s good to reiterate sometimes.”
Like Kretschmer, Peters said he liked the care package idea.
“I don’t know of anybody who thinks it’s not a good idea; everybody is really excited about it,” he said. “Just because of what he did for the community, I think so many people know who he is and want to help.”
Peters, who also met Harold in Drake Choir, characterized him as outgoing, and genuinely interested in the people he met. He said that when he first met Harold, he remembered him as “the guy who was always singing around campus.”
He smiled, then added, “Although, I don’t know anybody who doesn’t know Harold as the guy singing around campus.”
Their enthusiasm and participation is good news for FYS 019.
“It was a hard thing because we’re all first-years and our target audience for all this is upperclassmen,” Wagner said.
Wise said she felt like that was a positive part of the experience.
“I do think it takes courage to do something for someone you don’t know in an audience that you really don’t have much interaction with because you’re taking first-year classes for the most part and you’re in first-year halls,” Wise said. “But you don’t do a lot of community service for people you know, and so it’s fitting that these students do it for Harold and get to appreciate all the things that happen at Drake.”
Both Peters and Kretschmer agreed that Harold would be happy to receive the package.
“He’ll absolutely love it,” Kretschmer said.
“I just imagine him using his big Harold laugh once he gets it,” Peters said. “And everybody knows the big Harold laughs.”