Thank You, Dick Grefe!

Picture of Dick Grefe

Senior Reference Librarian and Associate Professor,
photo by K. Remington

This summer, the University Library says goodbye to three stellar employees: Sydney Bufkin, who completed her Mellon Digital Humanities Fellowship, and retirees Carol Blair and Dick Grefe.

Normally, we would celebrate our friends with a cake-filled fête. Because in-person celebrations aren’t possible due to Covid-19, we celebrate their contributions digitally…until we can safely gather together again.

In this post, we recognize Senior Reference Librarian and Associate Professor Dick Grefe. Dick joined the library on July 1, 1980. In his early days at W&L, Dick was responsible for Public Services (circulation and Interlibrary Loan) in addition to his role in reference. In 1989, Dick shifted to full-time in reference as the Senior Reference Librarian.

For the past 4 decades, Dick served as a well respected, and highly recognizable, member of the library faculty: providing detailed one-on-one research support, teaching credit-bearing courses, visiting classes to deliver course-specific research tutorials, coordinating the library’s government documents, substantially supporting Mock Con research needs, and so much more. Upon retirement, Dick served as library contact (or liaison) to a vast array of social science disciplines and interdisciplinary programs: Africana Studies; East Asian Studies; Education; Film Studies; Journalism and Mass Communications; Latin American and Caribbean Studies; Middle East and South Asia Studies;Politics; Poverty Studies; Sociology and Anthropology; Russian Area Studies; and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

Film Society 1983

Dick Grefe & the Film Society, The Calyx, 1983

Dick visibly supports and serves the university, and its students, outside of curricular confines. A champion of student sports, particularly soccer, Dick frequents the stands of Alston Parker Watt Field. For many years, Dick advised the student Film Society—as evident in the provided Film Society group photo from the 1983 Calyx.


One blog post cannot adequately capture Dick’s 4 decades of service to the library and university. Although verging on ineffable, we thank Dick for his vast contributions.

The following notes, from John Tombarge and Elizabeth Teaff, further highlight Dick’s impact.

Picture of John Tombarge

John Tombarge

A note from Dick’s long-time colleague, John Tombarge:

Over the years, Dick made a special effort to welcome prospective students to the library. It was Dick, too, who introduced most of the incoming class to the library each fall. He built much of the print collection and played an influential role as the library moved into the digital era, always paying close attention to new materials needed in specific classes and on the watch for popular research topics.

Always a strong advocate for our students, he is known for long meetings with students to help them with their research and regularly created individual research guides to help them get started. He is also known for his willingness to drop whatever he is working on to help students and faculty who show up at his office door. Dick also served as the faculty adviser to the Film Society for twenty-five years. A steadfast adviser for students preparing for Mock Con, he sought special funding to support their research every four years. He is also an avid supporter of all W&L athletics.

Over the years, Dick has served as a role model for librarians and their liaison responsibilities. As a reference librarian to reference librarians, he has always been a resource, talking through research strategies with other librarians working on problems or special projects. We offer our best wishes on a well-deserved retirement.


Picture of Elizabeth Teaff

Elizabeth Teaff

A note from Dick’s long-time colleague, Elizabeth Teaff:

Congratulations to Associate Professor Dick Grefe on his retirement. Over the course of many decades and two millennia, Dick has worked tirelessly to support the research needs of Washington and Lee faculty and students. His institutional knowledge and reference skills will be sorely missed. On a personal note, I have greatly benefited from all the guidance and support he has given me during my time at the University Library.

Dick served as primary library contact for various departments and programs. The following list identifies which individuals will now serve as the primary contact for those areas of research and study: