Timothy William Stanton, who penned annual Valentine’s poems to his wife for nearly a half century, was named the class poet of the second class to graduate from CU Boulder
By the time Timothy William Stanton graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder in 1883, he’d obviously made an impression upon the other six students in his class.
“Timothy was named the class poet of the second class to graduate from CU Boulder,” says his granddaughter Carolyn Wiseman, 83, of Ann Arbor, Mich., who graduated from CU in 1957 with a degree in home economics.
Stanton actually attended the inaugural day of classes at CU Boulder, Sept. 5, 1877, as a student in a college-prep program held in Old Main. After graduation, he went on to a stellar career in geology, earning a master’s degree from CU in 1895 and heading the U.S. Geological Survey from 1930-35. Following his death in 1953, the journal Science called Stanton “one of the outstanding figures in American geology.”
But his scientific career didn’t interfere with his poetic inclinations, and when he proposed to Grace Mabel Patten on Valentine’s Day, 1898, he did it in verse, delivered with a bouquet of pink roses:
A Valentine to Grace
“By Puritans and Protestants
“No Saint’s day is held dear
“Save one, that is kept sacred
“By Lovers far and near.
“No creed nor land confines it,
“But wherever hearts are true
“That day brings to their patron saint
“The homage that is due.
“Each follower lays his offering
“Before the shrine that he erects
“In the form of that fair maiden
“Whom his loving heart selects.”
“And so, my rhymes I offer,
“My flowers, all that’s mine —
“Myself, if you’ll accept me,
“To be your Valentine.”
She accepted, and for every year of their life together, Stanton composed a Valentine’s Day poem for her.
“I have never been able to find a sufficient excuse for breaking the habit that was then formed,” he told his daughter Grace Stanton Fansher—Carolyn Wiseman’s mother—in 1941 for a self-published memoir and poetry collection, Eighty Years of Joy and Gladness (Mingled with Some Work and Sadness.
With just a single gap for missing verses (1910), the family managed to save all Stanton’s Valentine’s verses to his wife. A few excerpts:
The Sweetest Kiss
Feb. 14, 1909
“When Grace first let her lips meet mine
“And said she’d be my Valentine
“I thought that ne’er again such bliss
“Could come to one from any kiss.”
After Thirty Years
Feb. 14, 1928
“A question, an answer
“A promise, a kiss
“A moment of silence
“Of rapture and bliss.
“That day is far distant
“But still it seems near
“For joys e’er recurring
“Have shortened each year.”
Feb. 14, 1946
“Home might be in the distant Rockies
“Or in California by the Sea.
“Home might be in Montgomery County
“Or in S Street in the D.C.
“Home might be in a foreign country
“Or in Heaven where some day it will be
“Yes, wherever Grace may be staying,
“That is home for me.”
That last was the last of Stanton’s Valentine’s love letters to his wife. Grace Stanton died on July 10, 1946.
“Writing a poem to her every Valentine’s day, that’s pretty romantic,” says Wiseman, who with her husband John Wiseman (Pharm’57) established the Stanton Endowed Scholarship in geology in 2017 to honor her grandfather.
A few of Stanton’s non-Valentine’s verses are also collected in the memoir, including one about his daughter Grace, Wiseman’s mother, the first two stanzas of which read:
“’What for?’ is the question that Baby Grace asks
“About everything under the sun,
“And e’en when reminded of nice little tasks
“The answer must come before they’re done.
“‘The birds have no arms, Momma dear, such as mine
“‘What for do they differ from me?
“‘What for do you kiss me so much at one time?
“‘I’ll have to give back two or three.’”
He was always writing poetry,” says Wiseman, who will celebrate her 64th wedding anniversary in September. “I’m sure that’s why he was the class poet at CU.”