Ahead of His Time

Colby-Sawyer College became a coeducational institution in 1990. Before this, there were a handful of men who took classes at the all-women’s college. One of the men who blazed the trail for generations of men to come was Dick Baynes – the first male student to receive a bachelor’s degree from Colby-Sawyer.

Baynes, born in New York City, was raised in southern New Jersey. When he was young, he learned he was allergic to hay, dust and corn. Living on a farm, Baynes’ parents decided to send Baynes to a camp in New Hampshire to remove him from the allergens that troubled him at home. In 1957, Baynes went off to a summer camp in Center Harbor, N.H. and continued to return there as a camper and counselor for the next 10 years. He said, “I remember rolling down the window when we reached New Hampshire and saying, ‘Can’t you smell the difference?’”

New Hampshire made such a lasting impression on Baynes that he decided to move to New London in 1970 after spending a couple of years on active duty with the United States Army and transferring to the N.H. National Guard. At the time, his younger sister was attending Colby Junior College and he was living with his 2 ½ year old son on Seaman’s Road as a single parent. Baynes’ mother strongly encouraged him to follow in both of his sisters’ footsteps (Anne and Janet) and take classes and get a degree at CJC.

Baynes started taking classes at Colby Junior College on a part-time basis in 1972. Starting out in the business program, Baynes quickly realized he wanted something different. He remembers, “I took a photography course and that’s all she wrote. I was a happy camper.” Baynes went on to take classes in graphic design and photography and received his bachelor’s degree of art in 1976.

During his time at the college (which went through four name changes while he was here – Colby Junior College, Colby College of New Hampshire, Colby College for Women and Colby-Sawyer College), Baynes made strong connections with the students, staff, and professors, many of whom he keeps in contact with today. He said, “Coming to Colby-Sawyer College is the best thing that could have happened to me.”

After graduating, Baynes bought some land in Newbury, N.H., built a house and opened a sight and sound studio named Split Image in New London. The store sold records and cassettes and offered film developing. After a few years, Baynes accidentally joined the contracting field. His mother-in-law at the time needed someone to paint their house on Lake Sunapee, and her contractor had fallen through. Baynes took on the job and his new business, American Painting and Restoration, was born.

During his time running this business, Baynes returned to his alma mater and completed many projects for Colby-Sawyer. Reconstruction to the Colgate Hall portico and windows, restoration work to Burpee Hall and extensive work to the Susan Cleveland Colgate Library were some of the projects that brought him back to campus. At its peak, Baynes had 13 employees working for him. But finding that number of employees difficult to manage, Baynes worked alone with his oldest son for the last few years.

After running his own businesses for quite a few years, Baynes decided to work for a fire protection company as a business development manager. He worked there for several years before retiring in July of last year. He is also a retired Captain from the N.H. National Guard after over 15 years of service.

Today, Baynes enjoys creating wood projects such as municipal, historical and company signs, cribbage boards, and cutting boards. He also continues with his passion for nature photography. Baynes enjoys spending time with his children (Graham, Lizzie and Tom), stepchildren, and grandchildren and hopes to take on volunteer work with veterans in the near future.

Baynes enjoys coming back to campus to visit his old stomping grounds. He has seen the Davidow Center for Art & Design and hopes to get a detailed tour someday. He is proud to be the first male to receive a bachelor’s degree from Colby-Sawyer. He said, “I was very fortunate to have Colby Junior College in my life. This is my alma mater. This is where I hang my hat.”