Class Notes

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UMW Magazine – Class Notes
1301 College Ave.
Fredericksburg, VA 22401


Lois Loehr Brown 

If the old saying “no news is good news” holds true, there must be lots of good news among our class members because we have heard little from them.

Those who attended our 50th reunion in 1991 might remember that Edith Patterson Breeden drove her ’74 Volkswagen “bug” from her California home. She only recently parted with it, and now her dentist owns it. Edith’s daughter and son-in-law of Los Angeles are grandparents. Her son and daughter-in-law live in Medford, Ore. Edith lives in between and looks forward to a family reunion this summer. Myra McCormick Cole sent tales of dreadful heat and a shortage of rain in the heart of Texas. She enjoys her new computer, continues to do handwork, and walks each day for exercise. She is 91, which might be our classmates’ average age. Dorothy Shaw acquired a computer, found relatives in England whom she had not known existed, and contacted them. They made arrangements to visit her in her ancestral home in Buffalo, N.Y., and on her farm just outside the city.

Note of interest: Of our 61 class members, 17 have email.


Virginia Bennett Skillman


Lee Hall Archer


Phyllis Quimby Anderson

Anna Austin Ware is gathering local stories about the August earthquake in Mineral, Va., and writing them up to put in a folder in Sudlersville Memorial Library. One was about a friend who touched a button in the dentist’s office and thought that was what made her chair move. Anna, herself, thought she was having a stroke and got up to take two aspirin! Libby Phillips Roe visited Anna recently and said there were two sisters from Mineral there, one of whom was an elementary major and one of their classmates.

Elizabeth Cumby Murray continues to play bridge at Sherburne Commons and was looking forward to Thanksgiving, when grandson Andrew and his wife and two children, whom she hadn’t seen in a long time, were to be on Nantucket. Marie Kennedy Robins spent a delightful fall vacation at Anna Maria Island, which resembles the old Florida, with a slow pace and no high rises, and is bordered on the west by the Gulf of Mexico. Marie’s son-in-law, Robert Wagner, was named Maryland’s most distinguished school principal for 2011.

Phyllis Quimby Anderson finally has a great-grandchild and was expecting another one in December – both girls! She went to two of her granddaughters’ weddings, one in April and one in September, so she might have three great-grandchildren soon. She went to the USS New York October reunion in Virginia Beach with her daughter and two sons. Hank passed away last year, and Phyllis said it seems that more widows come each year. A highlight of the weekend was dinner onboard after a tour of the ship, and Phyllis was glad to have made it up several sets of ladder-type stairs and back down backward! She still plays bridge, sings in the choir, does volunteer work, and planned to start a hand-bell group again after Christmas.


Frances Watts Barker


Patricia Mathewson Spring


Betty Moore Drewry Bamman

My oldest son, Harry, lives in Florida and has many health problems but still manages to work. Mark and I enjoy lectures at Virginia Tech, Hokie football games, and dining out.

Eloise Roberts Vass has lived in the Southminster continuing care retirement community in Charlotte, N.C., for nine years. She has two children and six grandchildren in Charlotte. When they all get together, including spouses and her great-grandchild, there are 12. Her oldest son and his family live in Lexington, Ky. Everyone came to her 85th birthday celebration last June.

Don’t forget to write!


Jane McCullough Smallwood interred her husband, Jerry, an Air Force and commercial pilot, attorney, and college professor, at Arlington National Cemetery in August. He used the last degree he earned, an MBA from George Mason University, in his work as a financial consultant in their Kitty Hawk, N.C., retirement home. Jane still teaches, plays bridge, and dances with the Wright Tappers, who earned a medal at the Senior Games in Raleigh. Jane also competed in other events and earned medals in four out of six. She hopes to still be driving when our 65th reunion rolls around!

The Mary Washington community was saddened to learn of the December passing of Dorothy “Towlesey” Towles Rowe Castles, a native of Fredericksburg and lifetime resident of the area. Towlesey supported historic preservation, and her efforts, along with those of her late husband, Ret. Army Lt. Gen. John G. “Jack” Castles, resulted in the inclusion of Santee, their Caroline County home, on the National Register of Historic Places. She loved gardening, dogs, and spending time on the water and at the beach with her family. She was survived by a son, a daughter, and five granddaughters.


Anna Dulany Lyons

June Davis McCormick

The national news covered various weather vagaries this year, including blizzards, a short spring, sustained heat waves, tornadoes, floods, forest fires, a major hurricane, even an earthquake.

In the wake of Hurricane Irene, which raked the Eastern Seaboard from the Outer Banks of North Carolina to Nova Scotia, we learned the tragic news of the loss of our dear classmate Elizabeth “Betty” Forsyth Somers and her husband, Lewis S. Somers III, to carbon monoxide poisoning, an indirect result of the hurricane. The couple was found Aug. 30 at their summer home on Sebago Lake in Maine, where a propane generator was running after the storm knocked out electricity for more than 48 hours. Both Pennsylvania natives, Lewis graduated from Williams College in 1949, the same year Betty graduated from MWC. Betty was an administrator for the former Smith, Kline & French pharmaceutical firm in the 1950s. The couple owned two small medical products businesses in the ’60s and ’70s. At the time of his death, Lewis was chairman of Harmac Medical Products Inc. Betty worked as a volunteer at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Antiques Show, the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, International House Philadelphia, and the Random Garden Club, and she was on the board of Morris Arboretum until her death. A memorial service was held in September at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Lafayette Hill, Pa. The Somerses are survived by two sons, Lewis IV and John; a daughter, Elizabeth Somers Stutzman; and two grandchildren. The tragedy of the Somerses’ deaths is twofold, as Margaret “Peggy” Elliott Sweeney’s daughter, Christine, married Betty’s son, further uniting the former classmates and longtime friends. Our class’s heartfelt sympathy goes to the Somerses’ family.

In August, Dolores “Dee” Ross drove from Kilmarnock, Va., to Fredericksburg for the dedication of the Anderson Center, which honors former UMW President William M. Anderson. The 52,000-square-foot building serves as a space for convocations, concerts, and community events, as well as a state-of-the-art sports facility. Dee observed the youthful appearance of the faculty members and only recognized their status by the colorful bands on their hoods. While awaiting the ceremonies, Dee found her chair with its engraved plaque and had her picture taken in it. She is among six classmates who dedicated one of 500 seats with special nameplates on the arms among the center’s retractable bleachers. One of our plaques is dedicated in honor of every Fabulous Forty-Niner. Dedicate a seat by making a $2,000 gift to the Fund for Mary Washington. Dee took a November trip abroad, with stops in Paris, Luxembourg, Nuremberg, and Prague; cruises along the Moselle and Rhine rivers; and visits to museums, churches, cathedrals, and the American Cemetery, where our gallant men lie as a result of the Battle of the Bulge.

Elizabeth “Betty” Fischer Gore visited Turkey and Greece in October with a group from the Vienna Presbyterian Church in Virginia. They followed some of St. Paul’s routes, and Betty trekked over rough ground but was slowed by steep hills. Upon her return home, she was sorry to learn of the Somerses’ disaster from our faithful correspondent, Mary Elwang Sharpley, and from Jeanne Farrington Leslie.

Marion “Wendy” Selfe Kelly and George planned a much shorter October journey to Jonesborough, Tenn., the site of the annual National Storytelling Festival. The Kellys participated in these festivals when they lived in Bristol. Marion and Anna “Andi” Dulany Lyons had their usual lunch in mid-August. Andi has her routine at The Summit, stays in close contact with family members, and keeps track of her grandchildren in their scattered environs.

Gwen Brubaker Connell and Jack of Florida celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary in October with an overnight trip with their daughter and her husband, who married on their anniversary date. Blessed with three new great-grandchildren, including twin girls, Gwen revealed that another little one was on the way, for a total of 15!

Corinne “Conni” Conley Stuart continues to find roles in Toronto. In November, she was shooting a Canadian feature called Old Stock, in which she plays the grandmother of the title character, Stock, who lives in a retirement home with Conni’s onscreen husband. The actor who plays her grandson is 19, and Conni had played his grandmother in another role when he was only 9. Her husband was played by an actor Conni had known in Los Angeles. Small world! Son Curtis, Heidi, and their two teenagers spent a week in August with Conni and Bonar. With no more driving trips to St. Louis or other long-distance locales, the Stuarts rely on Skype to see their boys and grandchildren.

Frances Houston Layton planned a Thanksgiving trip to Kentucky with her blessings: her two children, two granddaughters, and three great-granddaughters, ages 7, 5, and 2. Not only was Nov. 11, 2011, numerically interesting and Veterans Day, it also was Lucille “Tudie” Pope Midyette’s 83rd birthday, which she celebrated by going to dinner with three of her widow friends. “A nice young man,” who also just turned 83, sent a bottle of wine to their table and they celebrated in style. Tudie still has it!

A question came up about Mrs. Charles Lake Bushnell and her retirement as the esteemed dean of women at our alma mater. While reams have been written about her 30-year tenure at what began as the State Normal School and evolved into MWC, we will relate here only the facts of her retirement at age 70, the Commonwealth’s mandatory requirement. We are beholden to that Renaissance man, bon vivant, and music teacher, Levin Houston, for his memorable article, excerpted here, about his longtime close friend, Nina G. Bushnell. The article was printed in MWC’s Bulletin in 1969 and has since appeared in the library’s newsletter. It’s a masterful tribute, written in memoriam and detailing her unique service to the school and her students:

“Those who were around at the time of [Mrs. Bushnell’s] retirement got much amusement from her means of departure – that is, everyone but her successor. Without notifying the Administration or anyone except her faithful maid, she departed, leaving her offices in Virginia Hall without one sign that she had ever been there. The list of approved callers, everything pertaining to her life at the college, was gone. The file was clean and empty. Nothing was in a desk drawer. Her successor had to start from scratch. Later it transpired she had at the age of 70 accepted a similar position at Moravian College in Pennsylvania. She remained there, and from conversations with Moravian graduates, accomplished the same sort of genteel behavior, which had been her aim here. After five years, she moved to the more benign climate of Florida to take care of her older sister. She never returned to Fredericksburg. When the news of the death of Mrs. Bushnell in Bradenton, Fla., on March 18, 1969, was announced, somehow I couldn’t believe it. Although 89 years is a long time to spend on this Earth, I really felt that she was indestructible.”

Levin also wrote that they’d exchanged notes at Christmas until that last year, and he shared part of the last letter he received from her. It was a beautifully worded expression of the pleasure afforded her by a thoughtful souvenir he sent from a trip to the Middle East and of their friendship. Levin noted, “She was 88 at the time she wrote that, the handwriting still as firm as ever.” A few former students reported visiting Mrs. Bushnell at Moravian and finding her the same regal lady we all knew and the majority of us loved.

That’s all we have for this issue. As ever, love to all of you from both of us.


Dorothy Held Gawley

We experienced earthquakes, hurricanes, and a strange Halloween snowstorm in the Northeast.

In Buena Vista, Va., Elsie Lee Davidson Floyd felt some moving under her feet during the earthquake, and her son in California called to see what was going on. Carol Bailey Miller said Cumberland, Va., really got shaken and her dining room and kitchen cabinets rattled. She and her sister, Ruth Bailey Conroy ’43, visited Ruth’s son, Patrick, a Jesuit priest who was installed as the chaplain of the House of Representatives, and he showed them around the Capitol.

Hurricane Irene left water in Mim Sollows Wieland’s basement in New Providence, N.J. An October snowstorm shut off power and heat for days, and she and Earl stayed in a Pennsylvania motel near her daughter.

I was sorry to learn that Rowena Simpson Renn-Hicks was diagnosed with cancer in January and had chemo treatments. In November, after further tests, her condition was downgraded from stage 4 to stage 3. Ciel Schoolcraft Commander saw Rowena and said she was in good spirits. Ciel took her 10th and last grandchild on a Road Scholar Intergenerational [Elderhostel] trip in June. While she was gone, husband Buck had a stroke but luckily lost only his equilibrium. Ciel’s daughter, Leslie, who is a doctor, was in charge.

I also attended a Road Scholar program in Pittsburgh that took us to museums and restaurants. If you have never tried one of these programs, I highly recommend them.

I hope I will get news from more of you in the future.


Roselyn Bell Morris

Audrey Conkling Wegener, Sarah Herring Estes, Sarah Mount Blazevic, and I enjoyed our June reunion but were sorry more classmates couldn’t join us. We “old” people rode in golf carts so we wouldn’t have to walk. I still am at the apothecary shop three times a week, and Sarah was preparing to give up her church job. Ruth DeMiller Hill, who has been in her house 50 years, was dealing with cavities, fallen trees in her yard, car problems, and a boat that sank during a rainy spell. Her good news was that she was to have become a great-grandmother in March.

Is anyone going to write and let me know what’s going on? Have a great rest of the year!


Corley Gibson Friesen

As I gathered notes and emails from the Class of 1952, I grew excited about seeing friends in Fredericksburg in June. Can it really have been 60 years since we graduated? We are thankful for the work of reunion committee members Phyllis Farmer Shaffer, Betty Jefferson Blaisdell, Mildred Jones Bonner, Gwen Amory Cumming, and Rita Morgan Stone.

As many of you know, my sister, Margie, died after a debilitating stroke, and it was heartening to hear the eulogies at her memorial service. She had done lots of good in her life. My husband and I left our snowy mountain home to live near three of our children and our nine grandchildren in the Denver area, where we can see their sports events and music programs. I volunteer in two classrooms, am active in local politics, and still enjoy duplicate bridge. Remember all the bridge we played in Mary Washington dorms?

Eleanor Crockett Woglom retired to Reston, Va., with James, her husband of 60 years, who was a consulting engineer. They have four children and 10 grandchildren, ages 8 to 28, and enjoy attending their sports and music events. Eleanor, who has enjoyed tennis, skiing, golf, and world travel, is in good health and plays lots of bridge. Anne Hart Martin of Mazon, Ill., spent two weeks in Paris last spring with her husband and was looking forward to a new year with family visits. Anne has been in touch with Ruth Williams Webb, Jane Self Ellis, and Rose Gillis Low.

Nancy Parker Richardson of Virginia Beach had fun at a granddaughter’s wedding in October. Another granddaughter attends Virginia Tech, and a third granddaughter was expecting a baby in April, making Nancy a great-grandmother. She sends her love to “all the 1952 gals.” June Thierbach Scanlon Carroll’s granddaughter, Tara, is a freshman on scholarship at Florida State. June keeps in touch with Phyllis “Butch” Farmer Shaffer and Susan Jones Hewton.

Carol Edgerton Cooper of Lake Barcroft, Va., lost her husband, Charlie, last year. But, with memories of life in “the Corps,” a wide circle of friends, and her family, she enjoyed an active year of travel and reunion. Joan Britten Lucas celebrated her 80th birthday with a family reunion followed by her son’s wedding. She and Dick have three great-grandchildren. Joyce Long Moore has had two hip replacements but stays active and does family research on the computer. She has great-granddaughters Anastasia and Julia and grandson Ethan, who was to come home with his mother during his father’s next deployment to Afghanistan. Joyce teaches an adult Sunday school class and coordinates a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace university class. Last Thanksgiving several family members brought dinner to her house.

Nancy McLeod Daugherty moved from Georgia to Haymarket, Va., to be close to family. She and her husband downsized to a condo and took a cruise last year along the coast of Maine. They have two college-aged granddaughters, a freshman at the University of Hartford and a junior at Clemson. Nancy sings in a local chorale, belongs to a book club, and plays bridge. Alice Parsons Bennett has lived in Seattle since 1957, has been married to Skip for 59 years, and has two sons, one daughter, and six grandchildren, all in the Washington area. Alice keeps in touch with Jean Crews Derry, who lives in an assisted-living facility in Juno Beach, Fla., and has a son and a daughter, who is a computer specialist for the government in Japan. Jean’s eight grandchildren all live in Oregon. She plays bridge and has visited every continent, including Antarctica.

Hope we see you in Fredericksburg!