Moved by music

How an alumni couple inspired the College’s newest song.

The College’s decision to commission “Why Not?” in the name of the late David Vilcek ’78 surprised his bride of 34 years, HelenBeth Garofalo Vilcek ’79. “David would not have sought such recognition,” says HelenBeth, “but he always did enjoy learning a new song.”

But for the couple, the Lafayette College Choir had a special significance. While attending Lafayette in the mid-to-late ’70s, they met as members of the group. Singing together as students, in fact, would prove to be the beginning of their decades-long love story. Shortly after completing their degrees—HelenBeth studied economics and business while David majored in English and Spanish—the pair married at Colton Chapel on July 6, 1985. 

HelenBeth explains that David, who played the piano and organ, continued with the arts after his time at Lafayette. He had sung with the Alexandria Singers when living in the Washington, D.C., area. And, for many years, he sang with his church choir and even served as its director. No matter where they lived, the couple remained actively involved with Lafayette. “We enjoyed the entire Lafayette experience,” says HelenBeth, adding that they frequently visited the Skillman Library and attended concerts at the Williams Center. 

Along with making many contributions over the years to the College, David served as chair of the Friends of Skillman Library. Members of the Class of ’78 also recall the couple assisting in the planning of many class reunions. And, of course, they were both members of the Lafayette Alumni Chorus, or LAC, with David volunteering as treasurer until his passing in 2019.  Still, she says, it’s “quirky” how the dedication of Lafayette’s new song ultimately worked out. Her original intention for her gift to the LAC in David’s memory was to perhaps help offset expenses for the choral reunion. The LAC executive committee, however, decided to do something a bit more meaningful.

Says HelenBeth: “Music was a big part of his life.”

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