A man and woman pose together for a picture wearing black ice skating outfits with illustrations of ice skates around them.

Generations Apart, Ice Dancers Are in Perfect Rhythm

A 1956 grad takes skating lessons from a fellow alum, a half-century removed—leading to a Big Red friendship

“Bear Hugs” celebrates heartwarming stories of Cornellians on the Hill and around the world. Have an idea? Email us at cornellians@cornell.edu!

By Lindsay Lennon

It was 2010, and two Cornellians—aged 50 years apart—found themselves at the same ice skating rink in White Plains, NY.

A former national competitor (including with the Cornell Figure Skating Club), Jaclyn Klein Walker ’07, BS ’06, MPA ’08, was attending a Sunday morning public skating session.

A man and a woman ice dancing on an indoor ice rink.

Meanwhile, Richard Veron ’56—a retired attorney and longtime non-competitive speed skater—was there with some fellow enthusiasts. He noticed Walker was wearing a Cornell jacket, and struck up a conversation.

Veron told Walker he had a pair of figure skates in his basement, collecting dust. (Years earlier, he and his wife had bought them with the intention of taking lessons, but the plans were derailed by his busy hours at a law firm.)

The interaction led to Veron and Walker meeting weekly for ice dancing lessons—though whose idea it was depends on whom you ask.

“I’ve always loved watching ice dancing, but figured I would never do it myself,” says Veron, now 88. “It was very exciting to have somebody who was willing to teach me.”

Veron admits the transition to the new sport was jarring. For one thing, he was used to speed skates (which have long, narrow blades), or to the hockey skates he wore to glide across a frozen Beebe Lake as a student.

Walker also had to train Veron to skate in different directions; as a speed skater, he only knew how to execute a right-over-left-foot crossover, not the other way around.

“It was hard on my brain to go clockwise as well as counterclockwise,” recalls Veron. “My speed skating friends were watching me, scratching their heads.”

What was clear, Walker notes, was that Veron was a natural. Not only was he unafraid of speed on the ice, but he was familiar with the notion of dance patterns.

“Ice dancing has the tango, the waltz—think of it like ballroom dancing,” explains Walker. “The concept of doing a patterned dance was very comfortable for him. I can’t pull a 20-year-old off the street and ask them to do a foxtrot, but Richard can do it.”

I can’t pull a 20-year-old off the street and ask them to do a foxtrot, but Richard can do it.

Thirteen years and many dances later, the pair still skate together, and have grown to be close friends.

Both have been active Big Red alumni over the decades. Walker has served on the Cornell Alumni Admissions Ambassador Network, and Veron—who was an undergrad when his father passed away—founded a scholarship for students who experience the loss of a parent or other tragedy.

A man and a woman ice dancing on an indoor ice rink.

Since the two met, Walker has become an attorney, gotten married, and had kids; she says Veron was an especially strong source of support through her law school years at Pace University.

“There’s a love for sport that’s ageless,” reflects Walker, who still teaches skating. “It crosses all barriers.”

Top: Illustration by Caitlin Cook / Cornell University. All images and video provided.

Published November 6, 2023


  1. Harriet Rader

    This is a most wonderful article about two amazing people in partnership and friendship.
    Congrats and keep it going💕

  2. Dottie Bennett

    charming video. so lovely

  3. Gail ingis

    Oh my. Good for those who love the wind of movement, the sound of pleasing your body with accomplishment, the pleasure of rhythm. The dreams of the past become the reality of the present.
    Thank you Diane for sharing this beautiful story.

    • RICHARD ERALI, Class of 1969

      As I read this article I have to ask, why have you not referenced Elizabeth Blartherwick, class of 1970. Sorry for the spelling. Just a really sweet, talented, sharp as a tack, cute as a button type of Cornell co ed. very committed to her sport of ice dance, I believe she was mentored by a lady that lived on Taughannock blvd and may have been from Trumansburg.

  4. Hillary Sokolsky Waxman, Class of 1978

    I love this! I was a figure skater and took up ice dance while at Cornell. I wish there had been more gentlemen (of any age) willing to ice dance. I was lucky enough to have a sometimes partner, Joe Bates (if you are reading), and friend to skate with. Sorry I didn’t stay with it after college. Great story.

  5. Judith Norback, Class of 1975

    I am a Cornell alum who just turned 70. This story is an inspiration for my age group to keep moving for many more years!!

  6. Amy Jacoby Budish, Class of 1974

    A Wonderful story, with an important message about being open to learning (sometimes falling) and moving forward. Thanks for sharing!

    • Steve Hochman

      Great story and video about my White Plains neighbor, Richard Veron. Best from Steve Hoffman.

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