These are the unedited class notes as submitted by class agents and other alumni. Edited notes appear in the print edition.
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Shannon Eadie Niemeyer
Hello, Class of ’91! Hope this finds you all well. Here’s the latest news…
Lori Klugman was one of the animal activists who lobbied for the newly passed Dog and Cat Meat Prohibition Act of 2018, which makes dog and cat meat illegal in the U.S. She also lobbied for the newly passed U.S. Resolution asking other countries to ban dog and cat meat. In addition, Lori choreographed, for the second time, the staff/residents musical review at the Continuing Care Retirement Community, where she works as a fitness trainer and group exercise/dance instructor.
Gina Haney lives in Mountain View, California where she runs her own firm, Community Consortium http://www.communityconsortium.net, consulting on heritage resource management around the world. She is also a graduate student at Stanford University. Gina has a teenager, an 11-year old, a young Corgi, and an active husband from New Zealand to also keep her busy.
Sharon Conner and her high school sweetheart, David Rooks, celebrated their 23rd wedding anniversary in June. The couple resides with their two boys, ages 16 and 13, in New Kent County, VA. Sharon serves as the District Manager for the Hanover-Caroline Soil and Water Conservation District, where she just celebrated 20 years. When she is not working to “Save the Bay,” Sharon enjoys traveling, boating, and scuba diving. Sharon’s former UMW roommate and friend, Paula Williams Dye and her husband, Randy, whom she met while attending UMW, reside in Gloucester, VA. Paula works at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. She is the proud mother to three girls, with one currently enrolled at UMW, one at William and Mary, and one a junior at Gloucester High School. Sharon and Paula get together several times a year and reminisce about the fun they had when they lived together in Westmoreland Hall in 1987.
Monnie Huston Wertz recently earned her Ph.D. in Education from the University of South Florida. She is currently serving as the Assistant Vice President of Operations and Planning at the University of Tampa, where she has been working in a variety of different positions for the last 26 years. Monnie is married with two daughters, one who has just completed her first year at Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC. Monnie also serves on the board of Three Strand Cord, 3strandcord.org, which facilitates international community development, so she has had the opportunity to have lots of adventures in growing places. She recently saw Lisa Hohl Isbell and Melissa Bosley Rice ’90 on a business trip.
Billy Germelman is part of a band, called City of Winchester Pipes and Drums, which does a St. Patrick’s Pub Tour as a fundraising event. This year, as Billy was headed to a local pub, he was surprised by MWC classmates Barb Elwell Carmichael, Anne Thompson Mendez, and Rachael Schmeller Crout who had been in town for a get-together. Billy enjoyed catching up with them and sharing a little cheer!
Mary Washington grads continue to be able to enjoy the music that they so fondly remember from the college days as The Rabble Rousers have been playing at various venues in the Fredericksburg and Northern Virginia areas, including a June reunion show at The Colonial Tavern. They still sound just as good as they did back in the day! Follow their Facebook page for information on upcoming shows.
Frank and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary this summer. Time sure flies! Seems like we were just attending Junior Ring Dance. I hope you all will stay in touch and send your news and updates! I always enjoy hearing from you!
Courtney Hall Harjung
In April my 93 year old grandmother passed away, and my husband Tom and I attended her memorial service and visited family in Lexington, Virginia. In May we vacationed in Aruba. Over the summer we attended engineering conferences in Gulf Shores, Alabama, and St. Simons Island, Georgia. In October we plan to celebrate our 20th anniversary with a Caribbean scuba trip.
I enjoy serving on the SouthSounds Music Festival board (our eighth annual festival was great) and Mobile Arts Council (our spring fundraiser, The Taco Takedown, was a huge success). We moved our gallery downtown, and currently I’m planning our fall fundraiser, The Throwdown, an art competition like Project Runway. I hope to get more involved with Mobile Baykeeper and Alabama Coastal Foundation this fall.
Melissa E. Brugh recently celebrated 17 years with Sentara Healthcare. She broke her ankle in a 2016 car accident and had to sell the 2 story home she owned for almost 15 years. She found her forever one story home (with a pool) – also in VA Beach – and moved in March. It was bittersweet since she had to put down her 14.5 year old boxer. She adopted two rescue puppies in March and April from Puerto Rico and St. Croix (shout out to Island Dog Rescue!). They’re settled in their new house and looking forward to welcoming an AFS exchange student from Austria in the fall. She’ll make trips to Northern Virginia with her exchange student at least twice so she hopes to see some MWC alums while they’re there.
Jennifer Carter Greer’s son Ryan Greer (bachelor’s from UMW in Business in 2017) graduated with his MBA from UMW in May. After completing his Graduate Assistant contract at UMW, he is staying on at the University as the Events Supervisor and Assistant Sports Information Director. He got engaged to Caroline Porco (also a 2017 UMW grad) in January at the Anderson Center. They will be married on June 20, 2020 in Charlottesville. Caroline is currently pursuing her Master’s in Nursing from UVA.
Clinton Piper has never submitted anything to Class Notes before but thought he would finally take time to do it. He marked his 29th year this past May working at Fallingwater, the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house in western Pennsylvania and lives in the nearby hometown of Latrobe. He started as a tour guide during the summer of his sophomore year at Mary Washington (Historic Preservation major). He has been in his present position as Senior Administrator of Special Projects for the past year. He serves as a board member of the Westmoreland County Historical Society and the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau. In addition to meeting an interesting array of people during his time at Fallingwater, he recently saw fellow MW graduates Dave Derkowski ’92, Stephanie Martin ’92, and Jessica Perkins Storrs ’91. The next big thing at Fallingwater is designation as a World Heritage Site along with seven other key Frank Lloyd Wright properties across the country.
Cheryl Roberts Heuser
Kathy Opiela King joined the AICPA as Senior Director of Public Affairs, Advocacy and Media Relations in 2019. She loves the job and enjoys working in D.C. versus her former commute to Tysons Corner. She has spent most of the past two years working on her M.B.A at the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business. She reports that it has been intense but very rewarding.
Brendan Mahoney lives in Richmond, VA and works for the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) as a Registered Nurse Care Consultant. He works with the intellectually and developmentally disabled population in the state, coordinating their medical care needs in private facilities throughout the Commonwealth. He has been married since 2015 to Lucy, who he met online, through CatholicMatch.com. Lucy is a native of Indonesia, and their courtship was unique over several time zones, with Brendan traveling to Indonesia three times. They have become very familiar with the immigration process, and Lucy hopes to pursue citizenship in the near future. She has her permanent resident (card) status and is able to work full-time. Brendan’s father, Dr. Bernard Mahoney retired from the Department of Chemistry in 2002 and lives in Fredericksburg with Brendan’s mother, Kathleen. Brendan remains active in the Richmond music community playing drums in bands, and cutting a record with a local band, The Hullabaloos. Brendan also enjoys working with the youth ministry at his local church.
Dr. Felicia Baxter writes that she discovered the self publishing craze after one of our classmates self-published her first book. Felicia purchased the initial publishing package but made no effort to complete the project until last summer. She completed the final manuscript for NOT MY FAMILY in January 2019. It is loosely based on her life and her discovery / rewrite of her ancestral line to deal with generational dysfunction.
As for my updates, I have had a great time reconnecting with friends in Virginia since relocating here last year. Several months ago, Felicia Baxter, Janelle Buchanan and I had brunch in DC. Lela J. “ Lejai” Baldwin and I met up in Old Town Alexandria for dinner and drinks. Jean Sudlow Simpson, Aimee Cooper Starr, Rob Teweles and I met in Fredericksburg for lunch at Sammy T’s on a warm (blazing hot) Sunday afternoon in July. We talked for hours and strolled around campus. We had a great time catching up. The campus was very quiet but it was great to see the new buildings, talk to the campus police officer on duty and reminisce.
Jennifer Dockeray Muniz
Hello Class of 94, I hope lots of you got to enjoy the 25th reunion of our amazing class this spring. I was so sorry to miss out on all the fun!
Here’s the news from our class:
Jennifer Rambo graduated from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition in March 2019 with a health coaching certificate. She is working on establishing her practice while homeschooling her son who is in 7th grade and continuing to homestead on their land in WNC.
Anne Wittenbraker Hamilton – BA 1994, graduated from MWC with BA in Sociology and then got a PhD in nursing from VCU in 2014. She is now working as an Infectious Disease Specialist in an international hospital system
Eric Nolan’s poem “hens staring upward” was published this July in Down in the Dirt magazine’s latest poetry collection, The Flickering Light. This marks the sixth time his poetry or short stories have been featured in an anthology. Eric has now seen his creative work published in five countries, and recently had his science fiction story “At the End of the World, My Daughter Wept Metal,” nominated for the Sundress Publications Best of the Net anthology. His complete publication list can be found here: https://ericrobertnolan.com/
Nick Miller lives in San Antonio, TX and recently took a 10 state 5,000 + mile road trip with the family in June and had the pleasure of stopping in Phoenix to have lunch with Len Ornstein. It was great to connect in person even if for a quick lunch. His oldest graduated High School last month and will be attending UTSA starting next month. One day soon Nick and I are going to connect in person in Austin for some good local country music.
Speaking of Len Ornstein, he checked in as well. He’s been popular lately! He just finished his 24th year as a classroom teacher. Last month, Ted Keim ’94 was at the Wigwam in LItchfield, AZ on business and they caught up for the first time since graduation in 1994. They reminisced about freshman year in Russell second south along with a who’s who of the class of 1994 which included: Mark Tanis, Steve Posey, Brian Lawrence, John Friedsam, Dave Sturgeon, and Andy Woodfin. . We shared memories of our hours of talking in the lobby of Russell Second South, by talking in the lobby of the historic Wigwam Hotel for hours. It was an amazing evening of catching up, sharing old memories and looking forward.
Brooke Molyneux Shepherd is living in Temple Terrace, Florida with her husband, Jason, and two children, Gavyn (10) and Keegan (6). Brooke is an Emergency Medicine physician at a local hospital and Medical Director for Temple Terrace Fire Department. She recently had lunch with Maren Valentino and Elsaris Zambrana Reifkohl in Orlando when Maren was in the state attending a work conference. Brooke said it was great to sit and talk and remember all their Mary Washington memories.
Ken Allen is an Assistive Technology Specialist for a school district in Portland, Oregon. In 2018, Ken joined the board of directors for The Portland Fruit Tree Project, a local nonprofit organization that promotes food justice by harvesting local fruit trees and giving it to the needy. When not tending apple trees, Ken can be found backpacking Pacific Northwest trails with his wife, Katie, and their two boys.
John Larison and his wife, Jennifer Braunstein, recently celebrated their second anniversary. They have three lovely pets, two cats, Wataru and Mooch, and one rabbit, Cornchip. John has been working at the Savannah College of Art and Design as a Professor of Sequential Art for 19 years now, in Savannah Georgia. He fondly remembers his UMW professors Lorene Nickel and Steve Griffin who helped inspire him to teach.
Susanna Fisher Parker and Rick Oppedisano ’96 spoke at a Mary Washington Alumni Event in June at the Olde Mecklenburg Brewery in Charlotte. They were promoting the UMW MBA program, with Susanna speaking on making the jump from employee to entrepreneur and Rick on Artificial Intelligence.
Life recently took me through Fredericksburg, where I got to catch up with Dean Cedric Rucker ’81, visit campus, eat dinner at Sammy T’s, get a giant cone at Carl’s, and sleep at the Kenmore Inn. My job at Surescripts has me in Virginia often, and it’s been great catching up with classmates over coffee and cocktails.
Amanda Goebel Thomas
Julie Wessinger Neumann of Killingworth, Connecticut, writes: In my 13th year of practicing as a School Psychologist. Earned District Teacher of the Year this past year for Regional School District #17 in CT. Expecting my 3rd child with husband Mark in spring 2019. Wondering if maybe a career shake-up will follow….
On July 2020. Rev. Alan Follett will begin his nineteenth year as a pastor in the United Methodist tradition. He is currently serving the Mount Moriah UMC in Crozet, Virginia. He is planning to retire by 2023, relocate to his wife’s hometown outside of Charlotte, NC, and begin a new chapter writing fiction.