These are the unedited class notes as submitted by class agents and other alumni. Edited notes appear in the print edition.
If you prefer to submit Class Notes by mail, send to:UMW Magazine – Class Notes
1301 College Ave.
Fredericksburg, VA 22401
Virginia Bennett Skillman
Eloise Strader, teacher, local historian, and community theater volunteer, died Oct. 19, 2014, at 96. She taught high school mathematics for more than 40 years, and she transcribed and edited The Civil War Journal of Mary Greenhow Lee, about Civil War-era life in Winchester.
Phyllis Quimby Anderson
Virginia Hawley Butler has been living with her daughter Bonnie and her husband in Blacksburg, Virginia. Her other daughter and her husband live in Roanoke, Virginia. She has four grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren living nearby. She enjoys playing in two bridge clubs, her great-grandchildren’s sports activities, Virginia Tech sports, and her church activities. In the past she taught at Virginia Tech and Radford University. She feels lucky to be here to enjoy retirement at the age of 93!
Nancy Salisbury Ellis passed away in March of 2014. Nancy was a proud graduate of Mary Washington College who served in many capacities in her church and in the agricultural community, and also worked as a realtor for many years. She will most be remembered for her role as a devoted mother and tireless farm wife.
June Davis McCormick
Our news for the current format of both online and the Fall-Winter issue begins with items gleaned from Christmas cards. While fewer are received each year, they often contain updates which help keep us all in touch. Too many contain reports of health issues, certainly understandable for octogenarians.
From Richmond, Dorothy Desmond Helfrich wrote that she had to stop sending her usual 60-65 annual greetings as it became too hard on her swollen hands, adding “I hate to give up things like that.” Dot wished she could have made it to our 65th for our last get-together. Having painful knees, hip, and back and acid reflux now has deleted many favorite foods from her menu and she’s lost too much weight. Her adored little furry companion Yvette, now 15, also has arthritis in all four paws and Dot noted they both are on meds and just keep on keeping on.
Nearby in Mechanicville, Elva Tate Hasher also said that “Ole Arthur” was a frequent visitor. She was sorry to not make it back to Marye’s Hilltop, saying she doesn’t drive too far from home now. However, she still volunteers at the hospital one afternoon a week, adding that her main source of social life and entertainment seems to be her frequent doctor’s appointments.
Slowing down with “ancient knees” hasn’t kept Elizabeth “Betty” Fischer Gore from enjoying bridge games, swim classes, women’s club activities, family, travel, and friends. Since relocating to Fairfax, she is happy having her daughter, sons, and their families nearby and enjoys attending her grandchildren’s many activities. After being a most welcome part of our 65th Reunion Weekend, she was gratified to be present at her granddaughter’s and grandson’s high school graduations last June and was anticipating attending the graduation of another granddaughter from George Mason and another grandson’s graduation from U.Va. in the spring.
In recent years, Betty has baked, assembled, and decorated specialized gingerbread houses, figures, and snowy scenes, pictures of which became her unique Christmas greetings. Her son Glenn has become a gingerbread enthusiast himself and has created scenes of familiar sites in Reston. Betty now has passed on her recipes and instructions to another granddaughter who is interested in carrying on the tradition. That’s a lovely legacy, Betty.
Shocking news came from Charlotte “Chot” Baylis Rexon in Haddonfield, New Jersey, who wrote of an accident in early December which incurred while she was trying to assist her husband. Weakened by ongoing health problems, Fred asked Chot to help him rise from his chair. He has had three knee replacements and also has neuropathy in both legs and feet. As Fred tried to stand with her support, his knees buckled and they both went down! He was not seriously hurt, but Chot’s pelvis was fractured. They spent the next seven weeks in the hospital— “incarcerated,” as Chot put it, together in the same room. When they were finally allowed to return home, two therapists and a nurse came to tend their needs several times a week. By mid-February, Chot said they were able to have some time to themselves and much-needed peace and quiet. Amen.
The guiding light of four BFF’s, Betty Bond Heller Nichols, wrote that things were going as well as possible with her in Lexington as she “keeps plugging along.” She said from the waist up she’s wonderful, a bit wobbly, but still active. We compare Betty Bond to the perennial Energizer Bunny, who goes on and on and on. Still playing at the piano bar, she has curtailed her schedule to every other week, or two nights a month. She still plays once a week at the retirement facility and prepares special programs every two months for the “old people,” most of whom are younger than Betty Bond. She occasionally sees Nanalou West Sauder ’56, one of the residents there. Noting Chot’s accident, B.B. sent news of the other two BBFs, saying that Dorothy “Dotty” Booker Pinkham and Dave have moved into a retirement home in Montpelier, Vermont. Jane Yeatman Spangler is still at home in Concord, North Carolina and is happy to have her daughter Janet living with her. They expected to drive to Pennsylvania in August and, as usual, planned to break the drive to spend the night with Betty Bond and enjoy their mutual news catch-up.
Anne McCaskill Libis also helped to keep the Baltimore orthopedic surgeons busy, having had a knee replacement before Christmas. Recovering from that ordeal kept her from writing her usual year-end letter recapping her and Claude’s activities. She also was sorry to have missed our 65th last year, being unable to enlist classmate friends to accompany her. She and Claude continue their many activities at Glen Meadows, their retirement home in Glen Arm, Maryland, where she sees two other MWC alumnae frequently—Ann Middleton Kelly ’44 in the assisted living section and Helen Tracy Totura ’43, also nearby. Anne doesn’t let her ongoing back condition stop her activities, saying she keeps busy with their college courses, some exercise classes, conducting a classical music class, and starting a small vegetable garden and a perennial flower garden. Busy!
The first sad news of the year came from Jean “Murph” Murphy Baptist in Martinsville who reported the passing of Nancy Morris Childress Ullman, also of that city. Jean said Nancy had not been well for some time, and was in and out of hospital and back and forth to nursing homes. Jean regretted that her own lack of easy mobility kept her from visiting Nancy in those spacious facilities which involved too much walking, so she had not seen her for months when Nancy died on January 6.
After graduating from MWC, Nancy taught elementary school and later worked in social and hospice services at Memorial Hospital, all in Martinsville and Henry County. A lifelong member of First Methodist Church, one of Nancy’s greatest joys was serving as a Stephen Minister in their one-to-one care program. She was preceded in death by her second husband, John Ullman, after 20 years of marriage. A loving mother, Nancy is survived by her three sons and a daughter, five grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. Jean said that Nancy always was so pleasant, had a lovely smile, and still looked as young as in college days, to which her obituary picture gave proof.
We were later notified by Cindy Hubbard of the passing of her mother, Ann Louise Guillory Hubbard, who died peacefully on April 10 in Raleigh, North Carolina. While born in Los Angeles, she spent most of her childhood in Falls Church, Virgnia. During the summer of 1944 she worked for the War Department in Washington and graduated from Fairfax High School in 1945. A history major at MWC, Ann was a member of Pi Gamma Mu National Honor Society and graduated with honors. The following year, she married Edward Earl Hubbard in Arlington and they spent most of their married life in Southern Pines, North Carolina. Over the years, Ann was active in her church and volunteer work, but felt her greatest achievement was in rearing five wonderful children—three daughters and two sons. After her husband’s death, Ann moved to Raleigh where she worked for 20 years for the Wake County Health Department arranging dental care for children in need. We are grateful to Cindy for notifying us of her mother’s demise and offer our heartfelt sympathy to her and her siblings.
More sad news next came from Cindi Faulks, who wrote to let us know of the death of her mother, Barbara Green Connell, in Minnetonka, Minnesota, on June 7. Barbara, a native of Richmond, Virginia, majored in English at MWC. She married Charles “Chuck” Connell, of Chicago, in 1953. Cindi summarized her mother as always being a devoted wife, loving mother and grandmother, and caring friend who exemplified a true “sweet Southern lady.” She was preceded in death by an infant sister, parents, son Tom, and her beloved husband of 47 years. She is survived by her daughter Cindi, her daughter-in-law, four grandchildren, a great-grandson, nieces, nephews, and cousins. Cindi wrote of her mother’s long journey with Lewy Body Dementia, which necessitated her 24-hour care since 2008, adding that she is thankful that her Mom is now at peace and reunited with her preceding loved ones. On behalf of her classmates, our heartfelt sympathy was offered to Cindi and her family members.
Among our classmates who have specific health issues, Barbara Trimm Wright has one of the most positive attitudes. Since her lifestyle was suddenly restricted by an aneurysm that affected her sight two years ago, she has adopted a remarkable outlook. Following her lengthy surgeries when her doctor’s remarks were not encouraging in his summary, Barbara said, “If I were 35 instead of 85 that would devastate me, but I can cope at my age!” She added that this was a couple of years ago, so the age has changed even if the vision has not. While improvement in her double vision is not as dramatic as at first, she notices some gradual changes. Barbara said she feels good and stays as active as possible but can’t attend the many functions she used to enjoy. However, ever inventive, she now has originated “a little ministry” that’s been well received. Often the first member of her small country church to hear of someone having a problem, with their permission she uses her email list of some 45 members to advise them of the need for prayer. When one door closes, another opens.
Checking in from Georgetown, Delaware, Frances “Blackie” Horn Nygood said that she had a devastating case of shingles earlier this year, but has recovered and is well again. Her kennel of five dogs also are doing well, except when torrential rains prevent their going outside to romp in their paddock. When Blackie’s husband Howard died several years ago, she was left with their Rum Bridge Kennels, a comfortable income, and wonderful memories. She adds, “I’m in a nice home here, with nice neighbors, and am very happy.” Still active in professional dog shows, Blackie planned to take the woman who handles her dogs with her to Virginia for a show in June, also visiting her sister and her husband, both now 93, and was looking forward to a really good time.
Dolores “Dee” Ross can appreciate Blackie’s report as she, too, has suffered a horrific attack of shingles, which is ongoing and unrelenting in pain. Just prior to its onset, Dee had attended the Scholarship Donors Appreciation Luncheon in April. Held annually at the Jepson Alumni Executive Center, it’s an opportunity for donors and recipients to meet and converse. Dee was most appreciative of being driven from her home in Kilmarnock to the Kalnen Inn at the Center, where she occupied the bedroom she donated to rest until the luncheon the following day. Her erstwhile escort, Jan Clarke, graciously returned her home again. Elizabeth “Betty” Fischer Gore also drove down from Fairfax to enjoy both the luncheon and visiting with her scholar.
Over the years, Corrine “Conni” Conley Stuart has reported about her acting endeavors in Toronto and environs, together with family news. Last year her news included her husband Bonar’s health problems, which involved several hospital stays and lengthy weeks of rehab. Each time he returned home in good shape, but old or new issues soon became evident. He was admitted to the hospital again with pneumonia on Easter Sunday. Despite the doctor’s dire prognosis, he kept trying to remove the various tubes he was attached to so he could go home. He surprised his doctors by again rallying and had some nice days with his visiting sons and friends. Bonar passed away on April 18, sad news to which we were alerted by Conni’s BFF, Norah Pitts Byrnes. Conni kindly sent his obituary.
Bonar was born in Montreal and discovered his passion for the theatre as a young student at the Montreal Children’s Theatre. At 17, he joined the National Classic Theatre of New York, touring Shakespeare to schools and colleges along the eastern seaboard. A famed Canadian actress and theatre manager of the 1930s directed her last play, The Taming of the Shrew, casting Bonar and a young American actress, Corinne Conley, as the young lovers Bianca and Lucentio. Perfect casting! Their romance lasted 64 years! Moving his family to Los Angeles in the 1960s, Bonar was the original “flipper,” buying homes, remodeling, and flipping them during the real estate boom of the 1970s and ’80s. With the film industry declining in Hollywood, Bonar saw the rising of Toronto as a new center of production and relocated his family there. He was an adroit manager, imbuing his loved ones with sage advice and was the consummate party host. He is survived by Conni, two sons and their wives, four grandchildren, and a newborn great-granddaughter. With the organizing help of their sons and their wives, Conni said they prepared a “gathering of friends” to celebrate Bonar’s wonderful life, adding that with so many old theatrical pals present, there were both touching and witty tributes.
Having lost her own husband, Dr. Bill, last year, Norah knows the sudden problem of having to take over things the spouses always handled, adding that her heart went out to her old roommate. Norah also is blessed in having her sons nearby when she needs help.
Bad news seems to come in bunches. Both Conni and Norah soon sent word of still another sorrow, this one being the May 31 demise of Phelps Bultman, the husband of their suitemate and BFF, Betsy Thorne Bultman, in Columbia, South Carolina. For many years, the four suitemates—Connie, Norah, Betsy, and Primm Turner French—had alternated hosting the group at their respective homes, happy mini-reunions about which we’ve often reported. In the absence of Phelps’ obituary, we turned to Conni again, who said that Phelps was indeed a very special person. An architect by profession, his genuine interest and knowledge of so many things made him an extremely entertaining fellow. He was a fund of information about the history and points of interest in both New Hampshire and South Carolina, and had been very active in the restoration of old Charleston, guiding the restoration of many historical homes. Conni added that, like Bonar, Phelps was also the consummate host, as she remembered what glorious times the four, together with their husbands, had at the Bultman’s summer home in New Hampshire. With the passing of Primm’s husband, John, then Primm, Dr. Bill, and now Bonar and Phelps, the three surviving suitemates are grateful for their many years of continued conviviality.
Marion “Wendy” Selfe Kelly realizes how very fortunate she is that her husband George is still with her. Now 97, he has a few health conditions of concern, but Marion says she is happy to be able to help him whenever needed as she realizes how lucky she is to have him. He is able to walk over to the dining room by using a cane and stopping to rest along the way. They still enjoy being at Westminster Canterbury in Lynchburg and all that it offers. Marion sees Norville Millner Thompson ’48 often and said her brother Vic has moved there, too. The Kellys were looking forward to attending their grandson’s wedding in Denver in May, with plans to stay overnight with their daughter Ann and her husband Tom in northern Virginia then flying out the next day. Even with wheelchairs for them both, Marion said flying with Ann and Tom is a huge help. The latest news was that Katie, their granddaughter now living in Australia where her husband is working, expects their great-grandchild in September. They visited with the couple when they were back in the States for a springtime vacation, autumn “Down Under.”
News came from Kathryn “KD” Wright Drake in Chattanooga, Tennessee, saying she and Jim had moved into an independent living facility called Creekside on Shallowford. A friend of hers in a similar facility said it was “like being on a ship that never docks.” KD said that description fits their new home, too. There are lots of planned activities, if one chooses. They both are still driving, are active in their church, and Jim plays golf when it’s not raining, which has been prevalent over many areas all year. They had attended their youngest granddaughter’s high school graduation in north Georgia, where they visit her, her sister, and their parents occasionally. The Drakes’ son also lives nearby, and they all were very helpful in getting them moved. KD now terms their new lifestyle “easy living,” saying they have three meals a day in a lovely, bright dining room, with housekeeping provided and, if needed, caregivers for assistance. She ended with, “See what I mean by easy living?”
Harriet “Scottie” Scott Brockenbrough had made plans to leave her Covenant Woods facility in Mechanicsville to board a ship (one that docks) in the latter part of July. She bought her round-trip ticket to Seattle to visit her second son, aptly named Scott, and his wife Jenny in Kirkland, on the eastern edge of Lake Washington. Scott is a research scientist working on pancreatic cancer and Jenny is a radiologist. During her weeklong visit, per Harriet’s request, they will make a three-and-a-half hour boat trip over to the San Juan Islands where they’ll have a four-hour cruise to view whales and other wildlife and then spend the night on one of the islands.
Earlier, Harriet had attended her grandson’s graduation from Longwood. She also had made reservations in June for two nights in Yorktown where her group of five high school BFFs were to enjoy quality time together, saying one night wasn’t enough “to get it all said!” As she hadn’t been to the Eastern Shore since last fall, she hoped to remedy that omission soon and also hoped to visit Elizabeth “Liz” Barnes Hornsby while there. Harriet said she still enjoys life at Covenant Woods, especially their frequent day trips to many interesting places and events, adding she still serves as one of three lectors for her early church service at historic Hanover Court House. “Bon voyage,” Scottie.
Unreported and unknown to most of our classmates, our co-reporter and BFF Anna “Andi” Delany Lyons has been in declining health in recent years. Over time, she began losing her innate ability to communicate, first in writing and then vocally. Hoping to keep her condition private, we continued to include her name in our heading, against her wishes, until now. Last year, Andi had to give up her apartment at The Summit in Lynchburg and move into their assisted living facility. Last summer, her good friend and suitemate Marion “Wendy” Selfe Kelly took her computer to show Andi our reunion pictures from last year, offered online by the Alumni Office, hoping for recognition of those depicted.
Word later came from her son Hal of her fall last December, resulting in a broken hip—too frequent a result for octogenarians. Following hospitalization she was moved into a rehab facility where she made some small strides at walking again, with assistance. We had continued sending her cards and notes, through Hal’s office, which he in turn read to her. In recent concerned communication between her sons and the few knowledgeable classmates, the sorrowful news came that on July 1, Andi had passed away. Even in our sadness came the realization of God’s mercy in her release.
At MWC, Andi put her English major to excellent use by serving as editor of The Bullet and honing her wonderful writing skills. She married Donald Clayton Devening Jr. during our senior year, and we later made her firstborn Clay an honorary Forty-Niner, as he had been aboard as she crossed G. W.’s stage to receive her diploma. After graduation she soon had produced four fine sons. When Andi and Don divorced, Andi moved her boys to Charlottesville in 1963 and began working in various capacities at the University. Finding she had a gift for counseling others, she obtained a master’s degree in counseling from U.Va. in 1973 and provided her sons fine educational opportunities there, as well. She retired from U.Va. as Director of Student Affairs for the School of Nursing and returned to her beloved family home, Inverness, in Fauquier County. She concluded her work career with a daily commute to her new position with the Social Security Administration in Falls Church.
She moved to Manassas when she married Keith Lyons in 1989. After his death, Andi relocated to Lynchburg to be closer to family members. She was preceded in death by both husbands. Andi is survived by her beloved boys, their wives, and seven grandchildren who were her pride and greatest joy. She was especially delighted to be followed to MWC by daughter-in-law Wendy Allen Devening ’68 and granddaughters Andrea Blair Devening ’04 and Chelsea Devening ’10, who was elected class president all four years and to Mortar Board. She was proud that each of her children and grandchildren excelled in their education and chosen careers. A memorial service was planned for August 29 at Trinity Episcopal Church in Manassas, followed by inurnment at St. Paul’s in Haymarket. “And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”
Since we have not heard anything in recent years from Andi’s roommate and BFF Barbara Watson Barden, we were in a quandary as to how to notify her, if still living, of her dear friend’s death. Andi had not heard from either Barbara or her husband Bob for several years, her last contact being with Bob who had revealed a serious health issue with Barbara, who needed ongoing care. In desperation, we turned to our good friend Cynthia “Cindy” Snyder ’75, who has been invaluable over the years and retired last June from her nearly 25-year service as former Director of Alumni Affairs. Drawing on her plethora of knowledge and computer expertise, she again came through with the information we needed. We are more than grateful to finally learn about our missing classmate, although the revelation was so sad. Barbara had passed away on March 25, only three months before her dear friend Andi’s demise.
Of course we all remember Barbara’s dedication to MWC, her service as Student Government president during senior year, her delightful dancing, inner and outer beauty, and striking personality. A psychology major, Barb taught at Richlands High School for a year. She married Jeffrey Blodgett, a Navy pilot, in December 1949 and they had a son. Jeff was killed in a plane crash in 1952. Barbara attended graduate school in Indiana and married Robert Barden in 1954. They lived in Colorado and Massachusetts before settling in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1968. Barbara started the Modern Dance program at the Lancaster YWCA and became Director of Dance at Franklin and Marshall College where she retired in 1993. During those years, she had the opportunity to act, dance, direct, and choreograph, utilizing her multiple talents in many endeavors and venues. Barbara is survived by Bob, her loving husband of 61 years, three sons and their wives, a daughter and her husband, and eight grandchildren. Her daughter, Priscilla—following in her dear mother’s footsteps and devotion to Terpsichore—teaches dance at Millersville College. Barbara’s remembrance service for family and friends was held in April, with private interment.
May there be a heavenly reunion for Barbara and Andi, two forever friends. Now, for the last time, we end with our longtime closing: Love to all of you from both of us.