On the second floor of Sheldon Hall sits a marvelous tribute from one of Oswego’s graduates who went a long way, literally. A towering grandfather clock made of Hawaiian koa wood represents the handiwork of Uldrick Thompson Sr. 1879. A plaque on the clock noted it took Thompson, then 80, around a year to construct, and he donated it to the institution in October 1928. “It is made of Koa wood from Hawaii, where Uldrick Thompson Sr. spent much of his life,” the plaque reads. “His friend, D.H. McConnell, donated the Oxford-Whittington-Westminster chimes and works.”
Thompson, at right with his clock, made his living in Hawaii, formerly the Sandwich Islands, teaching and providing educational leadership at the Kamehameha School for Boys. He began teaching there in 1889 and served as principal from 1898 to 1901. Charles King and Sam Keliinoi of the first graduating class at Kamehameha, now one of Hawaii’s largest and most prestigious private schools, came to the Oswego Normal School.
In addition to his teaching there, Thompson also completed the hand-bound history “Reminiscences of the Kamehameha Schools” in 1922. One anecdote shows his hands-on approach to even what one would consider mundane matters of object teaching. Then-principal the Rev. William B. Oleson, “came to Dormitory D and found me washing the two windows of my room,” Thompson wrote. “He stood a moment then asked in his concise way, ‘Why don’t you have one of the boys wash your windows?’… [I replied] …‘Because, if I’m to be responsible for the condition of the boys’ windows, I must first learn how to clean windows.’”
Excerpted with permission from an unpublished history manuscript authored by Tim Nekritz M ’05