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
I have tried to reach my peers. No one has answered. Will 1941 graduates PLEASE send updates?
I’d really appreciate hearing from you or a family member at the email address listed above or by phone to:
716-353-2770 (cell phone)
Phyllis Quimby Anderson
Unfortunately, I seem to not have any more contact with my class. They have been passing away and usually I don’t get any information so I am alone. If anyone who reads this, please let me know of any news that you may have. As for me I’m still hanging in playing Bridge, doing jig saw puzzles, reading, some easy volunteering etc.
I am still trying to be active while using my cane or walker. My daughter pushed me in a wheelchair to go to Westfield for Greta’s Run. She was my 14 year old granddaughter who was killed by a fallen tree 8 years ago at school. In September, I went to the annual USS New York ship Reunion with my two sons. Then we ad our own Family Reunion here in May combined with my 95th birthday, There were about 30 n a rainy day so we used as much space as possible; barn and both porches and the house of course. I do play Bridge about once a week, do some volunteering at Church and Westminster Cares and try to keep going to an exercise class twice a week and a Chair Yoga once a week. I am trying to keep going!
I am very lucky to have 3 of my daughters nearby who do things for me and one of my sons has been living with me so is here most of the time, but is now engaged so I have to share my time. My three New Jersey girls are coming to spend the week (with no Children!). So it will be a fun but busy week and I don’t cook (my arms don’t work well) but my son has been working at it. He’s delighted that the girls are coming! I hope everybody has a great new year ahead.
Betty Moore Drewry Bamman
Charlotte Smith Needham visited her dear friend Helen Robertson Creekmore at her home in Richmond. We are sad to report that Helen passed away on Sept. 18, 2018.
In a recent issue of the University of Mary Washington Magazine, Charlotte Smith Hill ’48 remembered that Charlotte Smith Needham used to receive many phone calls from military boyfriends. Charlotte Smith Needham countered that Charlotte Smith Hill got much better grades in biology. “I wished they had been mine, as I was a science major also,” she wrote.
June Davis McCormick
Having bid you a fond farewell in our Notes of last January, as Gen. Douglass MacArthur famously announced, “I have returned.” Or rather, with God’s gracious gift and the advanced medical treatments of today…I’m still here!
Sadly, four of our classmates were not as fortunate. Anne Byrd Pitcher, 89, died in January at the Heatherwood Retirement Community from complications of COPD. Anne attended Elon College in North Carolina for two years before transferring to MWC and receiving her BA degree in English. Having served as a librarian for NACA, at Langley AFB, Va. in the 60s, she and her husband, James A. Pitcher, relocated to Northern Virginia when he was transferred from Langley to the Pentagon. She then served as a personnel assistant in the Fairfax County Public School system in the ‘80s and ‘90s, after their three sons reached college age. Born in Newport News, to Erna and Harvey Rogers Byrd, Anne was proud of her direct lineage from early English settlers in the Suffolk area of Virginia. Preceded in death by her husband, she is survived by three sons, their wives and five grandchildren, all in Northern Va.
Surrounded by her loving family in Pacific Palisades, Calif., Jean Willis Standing passed away in April, just days after turning 90. Jean was born in Remington, Va. As a child, she loved the countryside and all the animals on the dairy farms owned by her family. After moving to Washington, she attended Holton Arms School before coming to MWC to earn a BA degree in history. After graduation, Jean sailed off to Europe aboard the 1st Queen Elizabeth to begin studying languages at the University of Geneva in Switzerland. There she met a dashing Brit and former RAF pilot, Hugo Standing. After her year of study, Jean returned home thinking she would never see Hugo again. However, he proposed by mail, she happily accepted and they were married in Washington that same year, establishing their home in Baltimore. Jean taught fifth grade for a time, then was an employment specialist for the State Department and also an account representative for Westinghouse, turning down a promotion to start her family. On New Year’s Eve, 1959, Jean and Hugo, together with their firstborn child, made that iconic train trip across country to Los Angeles. While Hugo became a successful businessman in L.A., Jean became a successful mother to their then-three children. Jean also was president of the Lazy Susans, (a Beverly Hills Women’s Club) and a volunteer for the National Charity League. With frequent family trips to Europe, and Hugo’s England, Jean especially enjoyed their annual vacations in Hawaii. Both being musically inclined, the couple won several dance competitions and gave lively parties at their home, singing show tunes and popular songs together, with Hugo at the piano. Jean treasured the many friendships made at their several social clubs. Her keen intellect and photographic memory helped her establish a lifelong scholarship in English and American history at the Rare Books Room of the Huntington Library. She also spent countless hours in the Mormon Church Genealogical Archives researching her own ancestors and those of friends. She established that she was a member of the D.A.R, Colonial Dames and National Society of Descendants of Washington. Jean also was a kind friend, dear daughter, devoted mother and loving wife. She is survived by her husband of almost 68 years, a son, two daughters and two grandchildren. Following a Memorial Service at their church in California, a graveside service later was held at the family cemetery plot in Warrenton, Va.
Also in April, the sudden news came that Katherine “Kate” Mayo Schmidt, 89, had passed away at her home in Palestine, Texas. Born in Roanoke, Va., the family had relocated to Radford, Va. When Kate was graduated from Radford High School, she had formed many lifelong friendships, including that of Corinne “Conni” Conley who also became her classmate at MWC. Kate earned her BA in English, and obtained a teaching certificate. During her travels to and from Fredericksburg, Kate met the love of her life, Bill Schmidt, on a train. Still in the Navy at that fateful meeting, they corresponded for several months until he proposed during Thanksgiving with her family in 1949. Kate joyfully accepted and they were married the following summer. The newlyweds then established their home in Houston, Texas where Kate earned her master’s degree from the U. of Houston. She taught for many years in the Houston Independent School District, with a focus on English and literature, moving on to become a counselor for Milby High School where she ran the testing and ESL programs. The couple had one son, always called Billy to distinguish between father and son. Kate and Bill built a weekend retreat near Lanely, Texas in 1968, which became the center of family gatherings for many years. The Schmidts enjoyed traveling to many areas of the United States as well as Canada, Europe and the Mediterranean. In 2006, the couple moved from Houston to Palestine, to be near their Lanely farm and peaceful country life. Kate was an avid reader of literature, American history, politics and mysteries. She was a formidable grammarian and crossword master, an excellent bridge player, with an amazing memory for poetry and was known for her quick wit. She was active in the Harvey Woman’s Club and Newcomers Club in Palestine and after Bill’s death made many new friends there. Kate and Bill were generous philanthropists. Having made an important donation at his alma mater, the University of Houston, Kate wanted to do the same for MWC. They relied on Jan Clarke, our Director of Charitable Giving, to help them establish a charitable gift annuity for Mary Washington, as Bill had done for Houston. Kate was the first MW alumna Jan had worked with after taking his job at MWC in 2002 and learning she was from Radford. Jan had worked in Radford prior to coming to MWC and found that he and Kate knew some of the same Radford people, which made for an instant bond they retained over the years. Part of Jan’s duties include meeting with MW donors around the country, including the Schmidts whenever his travels took him to Texas. In April, he made his final visit with Kate, then terminally ill. Predeceased by her beloved Bill, Kate is survived by Billy and his wife Terri, her brother Tom and his wife and several nieces and nephews. She will be greatly missed by those BFF classmates with whom she worked closely over the years.
In July, Catherine Newton McGahey, 89, passed away at Sunrise Assisted Living in Richmond as the result of a sudden illness. Born in Alexandria, Va, she graduated from George Washington High School in that city. Attending MWC, she earned a BA in history and a teaching certificate. Catherine then worked as a clerk-typist for the FBI in Washington. While serving in the U. S Marine Corps, her former high school classmate, Lawrence McGahey, courted her throughout her years at MWC and they were married at St. Mary’s Church in Alexandria in 1952. The couple, together with their three sons, relocated to Richmond in 1963. Once the boys were all in school, Catherine began teaching at parochial schools in the Diocese of Richmond, first at Cathedral Elementary on Floyd Avenue. When that school closed in 1967, she helped staff the newly-opened St. Mary’s School on Gayton Road for several years. Catherine then taught a further 12 years at St. Paul’s Elementary School on Noble Avenue until it also was closed. For an addition two years, she was a substitute teacher for Henrico County public schools. Both Catherine and Lawrence loved spending their leisure time at the beach, and built their dream getaway at Duck, N.C. Accompanied by their memorable line of beagle dogs for their span of years, the McGaheys spent many contented hours at their Duck retreat, until Lawrence passed away in 2008. Both at their homes in Richmond and Duck, Catherine enjoyed gardening and tending her plants, especially lovely gardenias. In 2014, she elected permanent residence at a Sunrise Assisted Living facility in Richmond and the family was grateful to the Sunrise staff for the care and kindness exhibited to her during her final days. Preceded in death by her loving husband, Lawrence, she is survived by a younger brother, her three sons, their wives, three grandchildren and several nieces and nephews. Sadly, our original number has been greatly reduced over these many years. As we continue learning of the loss of dear classmates, we offer our heartfelt condolences to their extended families.
The annual Donor’s Appreciation Luncheon was held in April under the threat of untimely weather. Ever faithful, Elizabeth “Betty” Fischer Gore, accompanied by her daughter, Carolyn, again represented absent class donors, interacting with their recipients as well as her own. Betty’s scholarship is given annually to an art major, while June Davis McCormick’s annual award is given to a voice major. June’s niece, Happy, having joined her in attending our 65th Reunion Weekend in 2014, quickly became acquainted with several members of the staff. As a result, she was invited to attend the luncheon in June’s behalf to meet her current recipient, who presented one song and led the Alma Mater. Fortunately, the predicted snow was light and everyone made it home safely, although missing the iconic beauty of our springtime campus.
Marion “Wendy” Selfe Kelly wrote that her coverage of husband George’s party honoring his very special 100th birthday was especially enjoyed by several other alumni residing at Westminster Canterberry in Lynchburg. In summation of that happy event, Marion wondered if there might be others who nightly sleep with their 100-year-old partners? Saying that drew several guffaws from readers, she wondered if her query got that issue of our UMW Magazine “kinda x-rated?” If not, it certainly was enjoyed!
One alumna in residence is Norvell Millner Thomson ’48, who also reads our efforts, remembering her “junior” friends. Marion described Norvell as “still petite, cute and perky, who walks a mile every day and well might be an inspiration to us less active ‘Niners.” We hasten to mention our peripatetic Corinne “Conni” Conley Stuart, who regularly walks several miles daily, whether in Toronto or during her travels. Marion and George joined a busload of senior residents for a trip to Bedford and an impressive evening at the National D-Day Memorial. With ideal weather, they also had great seats since there aren’t many WW II veterans left to remember that special turning point in the war. Too often today, the mention of June 7 merely draws blank looks in return. Marion concluded that George is still the poster boy for 100-year-old guys and that she continues her recovery from a knee replacement last June. Nothing racy there!
Mentioning Conni, who recently celebrated her 89th birthday, she continues getting auditions for commercial work in Toronto. While she doesn’t get accepted for every job, she feels that just preparing for the varied auditions keeps her mind alert and cognitive. Conni keeps in touch with both her former roommate Norah Pitts Byrnes and their suitemate Betsy Thorne Bultman ’50, who try to see each other as often as possible. Conni has been fighting off pigeons who took over her balcony when her pigeon screen was removed during building painting. In hilarious reports of her ongoing battles with the noisy, messy birds, she finally declared war on the pesky pigeons, bought a powerful water pistol and began emulating Annie Oakley on a daily basis, scaring the birds away. As her screen was about to be replaced, Conni wondered about possibly practicing her new-found ability on the squirrels in the park across the street!
In her update, Betty Bond Heller Nichols replied to a few questions. First, owing to a conflict with her dialysis schedule, she missed seeing Jane Yeatman Spangler and her daughter on their return trip from Pennsylvania to Concord, N.C. last August. Now retired from her duties as a registered nurse, Jan and her mother went on a river boat cruise in Europe last year and hope to keep traveling together. Betty Bond had not heard recently from the other two members of the Forever Friends Foursome, so we only hope all is well with Charlotte “Chot” Baylis Rexon and Fred as well as with Dorothy “Dotty” Booker Pinkham and Dave, all of whom were reported now living in nursing facilities. Bless them all! Betty Bond and her family missed another annual summertime trip to the beach when the grandkid’s busy schedules all varied, with each one headed in different directions. As their plans are announced, B.B. said she just watches them come and go…mostly go! However, they did have one very special time together during the year. Daughter Anne announced at Christmas that everyone was going to Fort Lauderdale in February to celebrate Betty Bond’s 90th birthday! B.B. immediately said she couldn’t do that, but Anne informed her that all the plane reservations were made, a wheel chair arranged for getting through the airport, hotel reservations all confirmed, as was an appointment for her dialysis treatment there, adding that Betty Bond was going…and she did! As a complete surprise, B.B. said it couldn’t have been nicer. The biggest surprise of all, however, came after they had arrived, when there was a knock at her door and all four grandchildren walked in! They had flown from Virginia, Philadelphia, Maine and Oregon, all beautifully coordinated by Anne. Betty Bond summarized their four-day celebration as a glorious time for everyone…especially her! What a loving tribute from a loving daughter for a loving mother, and richly deserved! Betty Bond and June often compare notes on their ongoing health issues and share their thoughts. When totally unexpected problems arose, necessitated additional treatment, June questioned her new conditions, saying “Isn’t this a bit much?” And we try to laugh together in understanding.
There have been, and will be, very special birthdays observed by other Fabulous Forty-Niners during this year, especially those becoming nonagenarians. Although we have not been alerted to those other birthdays, we hope each was celebrated with loved ones or caring friends. Margaret “Peggy” Walton Mason reported that her MWC alumna daughter, Pamela A. Mason ’74, had hosted a lovely party for Peggy’s own 90th, with four generations of her family present, including a new granddaughter, her namesake. In March, Peggy wrote a note from her annual getaway in Arizona to escape wintry weather in Washington, and especially Bethesda, Md. She was sorry to learn of the passing of Elizabeth “Liz” Barnes Hornsby, adding they both had been in the Terrapin Club where Liz was the star diver. Peggy later reported that she had suffered a stroke on the last day of June and spent all of July coping with that setback. Released from a short hospital stay after her remarkable recovery, Peggy was back in her home in Bethesda, again on her own, and gradually getting back to her normal routine.
When June learned of her own diagnosis and prognosis last December, many thoughts of arrangements to be made came to mind. One of them was to find a replacement for her nearly 40-year duties as class agent. If you have followed our reports of the many activities of a busy Harriet “Scotty” Scott Brockenbrough, you’d realize why that classmate’s name immediately came to mind. Starting her prescribed infusion treatments, with immediate side effects, June then was delayed in contacted Harriet about the possible take-over. And before she could do so, she had a disturbing email from Harriet in which she described her own health issues. In March, while visiting her son Scott and his wife Jenny in their new location in Arizona, Harriet was stricken with severe back pain. As a radiologist, Jenny quickly sought a diagnosis and best advice from her new colleagues. A CT scan and MRI called for immediate back surgery. After her loving care and preliminary recovery, arrangements were made to fly Harriet home to Richmond and the secondary care of son Ben, who met the plane and took her to her doctor. Unfortunately, further surgery was required. After a week in the hospital, she was moved to the Health Care area at Covenant Woods where she then received daily therapy for nearly five weeks. By mid-May, she was allowed to return to her apartment in a wheelchair. After subsequent weeks of hard work, she graduated from physical therapy in late July and progressed from wheelchair to walker to a cane.
By wearing a back brace continuously, her therapist concluded it was weakening her back muscles. With more and different back exercises, Harriet wore the cumbersome brace only when needed.
Now for Harriet’s latest news and undertakings: With her 90th birthday upcoming on July 30, she rejected the plans for a big family party, instead choosing to return to her original home, Chatham Farm (now Chatham Winery) where her life began. That story has been well covered in previous summaries, including her reserving her former home for last Christmas…and future Christmases, as long as her boys can get her there! Son Tom was driving to Richmond from the Eastern Shore to turn around and drive her back to the house where she was born. Making that so-familiar drive down the interstates to Newport News, Norfolk and over the iconic Chesapeake Bay Bridge, Harriet was to wear her brace for the long trip. Harriet, Tom and a niece were to spend her actual birthday there, returning to Covenant Woods the following day. And that’s our Harriet! We hope it was a very special day, recalling all the joyful memories of her lifetime.
Although we are not promised tomorrow, we still set our alarm clock in anticipation of another day. May we all set our clocks. With love, faith and continued hope, June
Catherine Newton McGahey ‘49
Anne Byrd Pitcher ‘49
Katherine Mayo Schmidt ‘49
Jean Willis Standing ‘49