WPI Wire, Vol. 10, No. 2 - Summer 1996

What's the story on Bayon Drive?

Visitors to the Loomis Village retirement community in South Hadley, Mass., may not know Ed Bayon 31, but they travel on a road that bears his name. Bayon Drive is a tribute to Ed's generosity and his sound engineering skills.

The story began some 85 years ago, when the women of the Second Congregational Church in Ed's hometown of Holyoke established a Home for Aged People. About 15 years ago, when the original house could no longer fulfill the need, land was purchased in a new location, where the first multicare Continuous Care Retirement Community (CCRC) in Massachusetts was constructed. As the need expanded, the group undertook development of a second retirement campus across the Connecticut River in South Hadley.

Enter Ed Bayon. The semi-retired civil engineer was asked to join the board of directors of the not-for-profit corporation. Bayon had only one question. "How time consuming is it?"

Only one meeting a month, he was told. Plus a little committee work. Although he had never formally retired, Bayon had stepped down from management of Tighe & Bond/SCI in 1979 and continued as a consulting engineer on environmental projects. Surely he had time for a few Monday morning meetings with the Loomis Village board.

"It grew into almost a half-time job," relates Bayon. He became a de facto project manager, reviewing designs, helping with financial arrangements and negotiating with contractors. In this last role, Bayon earned a dual reputation, according to the Springfield (Mass.) Union-News. The Loomis Village board praised him for being cost conscious. The contractors saw it differently. "The word is out that many of the contractors for Loomis Village, in spite of great respect for Ed's ability, said that his watching every dime and getting the best value for the money was tough on them."

Loomis Village wasn't the first beneficiary of Bayon's genius and good will. He designed an entrance walkway that is aesthetically acceptable and handicapped accessible for Holy Cross Church in Holyoke, where he is a lifelong parishioner, lector, crucifer and member of the Finance Committee. The super-smooth concrete ramp slopes so gradually that most people aren't even aware of the slight incline. Everyone loves it, from users of wheelchairs and walkers, to bridal parties and pallbearers. Caskets can be rolled from the curb straight into the church, and wheelchairs don't have to negotiate the twists and turns of conventional ramps.

Bayon brings the same level of service and spirit to his alma mater. He's been a class officer, Alumni Council representative, and a member of Tech Old Timers and the Poly Club. He has chaired or co-chaired every Class Reunion since the 1930s, and has marched in the Reunion parades, even after a knee replacement and a broken hip. In fact, he undertook a program of physical therapy after the knee operation so he wouldn't miss marching with his class at their 60th Reunion. For his first 60 years of service, Bayon received the Taylor Award in 1991. At his 65th Reunion this year, which he co-chaired with Ted Coe, he said he's just glad to be around to celebrate the occasion.

Appreciative but a bit embarrassed by the road named in his honor, Ed admits he gets a kick out of driving into Loomis Village and seeing arrows that direct traffic left to 10 Bayon Drive, or right to 20 Bayon Drive. A old high school friend of his who retired to Loomis Village says she gets great joy out of living on Bayon Drive. But Ed Bayon's heart is in the roads that surround his alma mater. He makes a point of driving through the WPI campus every time he's in the area. "Even if I don't have time to stop in for a visit, I'll drive through," he says. "I get a thrill just being in the area."

Joan Killough-Miller

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