Class Notes

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


No Class Agent


Phyllis Quimby Anderson

Elizabeth Cumby Murray is still in Nantucket and enjoying it. She doesn’t travel anywhere anymore. Two of her children manage Murray’s Toggery store now. She does play bridge four times a week and also plays duplicate. Elizabeth likes playing with some younger people. She will have Thanksgiving with her daughter, who manages the women’s department at Murray’s, as well as a few more of her family members.

Mary Ellen Gardner Starkey is living in Maryland and has a helper but still keeps going.

I’m still cruising along with my only problem being careful walking, but I do use a walker if I go any distance. My son is staying with me so we get around quite a bit. We went to the annual USS New York reunion which was in Virginia this year. The biggest thing we did was to have a tour of the Pentagon. It is an amazing place. We also were in New Jersey to visit some of my family. I now have five great grandchildren there, one in Virginia, and one in Germany. We are blessed. I also play Bridge about once a week. My son and I do Meals on Wheels once a month.

Anna Austin Ware passed on the sad notice of Elizabeth “Libby” Phillips Roe’s death in September. She had given MWC a huge gift during her college years. Anna had carpel tunnel, which held her back somewhat, especially writing.

Isabel Hilldrup Klein was living with her daughter but I haven’t been able to contact her yet.



No Class Agent


Patricia Mathewson Spring


Betty Moore Drewry Bamman

Margaret Thatcher Brigham appreciates receiving (every year) the UMW Magazine and all the news about what is going on. She doesn’t see much, if anything, about the class of ’47. The names of those she can remember who would have graduated in ’47 are Mary James Hayes, Roony Barton, Betty Proctor Groseclose, Anne Hendricks, and Doris Jean McCullough Alford. Doris was from Elmira, New York. She roomed with another from Elmira. There were a couple of other girls from Richmond, but she doesn’t remember their names. They all lived at Mrs. Haupt’s house off campus, but within walking distance.

Her sophomore year, Margaret was in Virginia Hall and Miss Bushnell was the house mother. Her roommates were Donna Lipman and Nancy Poehlmann Colwell ’46. Her favorite subject was horseback riding—Mr. Walthers was a good instructor. She was inducted into the Hoofprints Club, which meant she was a pretty good rider. This was her sophomore year and she did not see her name in the yearbook. She was also in the cavalry.

They were getting ready for an event and practicing when her horse slipped on a rock and she wound up with a slight concussion and a badly skinned up face. After she recovered, it was spring, and another horseshow was coming up and she didn’t participate. She could have, but didn’t. So, maybe because of this decision not to ride they took her name off the equestrian activities, she doesn’t know. It was spring and she knew she would not be coming back the following year. She was married October 5, 1945. She says she was smitten by the love bug in her early sophomore year and her grade reflected that.

Margaret and her husband were married for 51 years. They had three children. All graduated from college and are successful in their careers. They have 10 grandchildren; eight graduated from college and are successful in what they do. The last two were adopted from the Ukraine at age seven. They were in an orphanage from birth. Both mothers were drug and alcohol people, so these two boys have struggled. They’re now 23, not twins, and Betty’s son and his wife have not given up on them. Margaret says God works through Kathie and Chris to very much help these boys with life

Margaret says, “That’s my story. I’m pushing 93 years in June and you may do with information as you see fit. If you just read it and throw it away, that’s ok too. If, by chance, you remember me, let me know. I’m glad I’ve been able to share my story with you.”


No Class Agent


June Davis McCormick


As we begin another new year, we look back at 2015 to report our classmates’ news, some sad, some happy and some encouraging, since our report of last July. Sorrowfully, the year-end list of classmates known to have passed away during the year totaled a high of 12. Yes, 12 who shall not continue on life’s journey with us, but live on in our memories. While seven of that total were listed and reported in our Class Notes submitted last July for the fall/winter issue, the remaining five either were unreported by that date or died in subsequent months.

Mary Jane Porter passed away in late March at her home in Stafford County after a lengthy illness. Her family moved from Newark, New Jersey, to Falmouth, Virginia, when she was only four years old. She attended Falmouth Elementary and Falmouth High School and was graduated as class valedictorian in 1945. It was only a short move to MWC where she majored in History. After graduation, Mary taught for two years at then-Stafford High School and taught high school at the Marine Corps Base at Quantico for some 30 years. Mary loved to study and she also loved books. For several years she attended UVA during summers, earning a Master’s in both History and Latin, both of which she taught at Quantico High. After many years of teaching, she took a sabbatical leave to earn a Master’s in Library Science from Catholic University. She returned to Marye’s Hilltop to work at MWC’s hallowed library for a short time and then at the Marine Corps Library until her retirement. Mary also loved to travel and left her familiar area of Virginia to make many trips to European countries during her lifetime. She also enjoyed visiting her two sisters, one in New York and the other in Oregon. Mary was a lifetime member of St. William of York Catholic Church and also a member of the Republican Women’s Club in Stafford. She is survived by her two sisters, several nieces, nephews, and close friends. Her special cousins provided her with loving care for the past ten years, with the additional help of Home Instead Senior Care attendants.

The next name on the list jumped off the page; Kathryn Ann Carter of Warrenton,our former suitemate. Kathy passed away peacefully in April at the Fauquier Health and Rehabilitation Center, one month short of her 87th birthday. Kathy was the only child of Harry and Kathryn Carter and lived her entire life in her beloved hometown. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in History at MWC and returned to Warrenton to begin her teaching career. She officially retired after decades of teaching and also serving as a guidance counselor in the Fauquier County public schools. She was a Fauquier Hospital Auxiliary volunteer for many years. Kathy also served on the Warrenton Town Council from 1984 to 1994 and earned a reputation for her no-nonsense style and for asking tough questions. Over the years, Kathy actually became a legend in her own hometown; her opinions and endorsements, even long after her tenure of the Town Council, were sought by political candidates who appreciated her directness. In 1991, Kathy ran as an independent candidate for District Supervisor, but lost to the Democratic candidate. That information triggered a fond memory of dear Kathy, who never wanted to be included in our Class Notes, despite our entreaties. Sorry, Kathy, but you are now. In the fall of 1948, perhaps you’ll remember the tight Presidential race between the incumbent Harry Truman and his opponent, Thomas Dewey. Kathy was a staunch Democrat and defied any attempt to change her views. Late on election night, no winner had been declared, as we dutifully obeyed “lights out!” You may recall that The Chicago Tribune issued its overnight edition with the bold headline: “Dewey Defeats Truman.” In this day of every electronic device omnipresent for instant news, it may be difficult to recall how long it took to get the latest news “back in the day.” As we emerged from our first classes in Chandler, we still can picture Kathy running from Madison and actually cutting campus in her desire to reach us with the latest broadcast news, shouting happily, “Truman won! Truman won!” That was Kathy. And this is Kathy, too: In her obituary, in lieu of flowers, Kathy had requested, “You do something nice for someone else.”

A faithful correspondent over the years, Jean “Murph” Murphy Baptist reported the demise of her roommate and best friend Virginia “Jinny” Merrill MacLeod a year ago and the passing of Nancy Morris Ullman last year. We anticipated Jean’s usual, newsy Christmas card in December. To our shock and sorrow, Jean’s name also was included on the list of our deceased. Jean passed away in August at her home in Martinsville, three months shy of her 87th birthday. Born in Gretna, Virginia, Jean came to MWC as a music major, was a piano student of Levin Houston III, was a striking member of the MWC marching band, and a member of Mu Phi Epsilon, the honorary music sorority. Following graduation, she taught Music in the public schools of Warrenton, together with fellow teacher Kathy Carter, for one year. In 1950, she married Daniel Mason Baptist and they lived and worked in Marion for a year prior to moving to Martinsville in 1952 to establish an auto-financing business. They later formed Dan Baptist Lumber Company, and Jean was the bookkeeper for the family business until Dan’s death in 1989. Jean was an active member of First Baptist Church of Martinsville and their Sunday School Class, as well as piano accompanist for the Jubilee Choir, retiring from that duty at age 83. Through the years, she enjoyed membership at Chatmoss Country Club and involvement in the Civic Music Association, the Blue Ridge Garden Club, the Investment Club, the Current Events Club, and various bridge groups. She was preceded in death by her husband, Dan, her sister, Frances, and her brother, Percy. Jean was a proud mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother and is survived by a daughter and two sons. Her son Edward, a U. S. Army Master Sergeant, often flew his mother to various places and she was delighted by his ability as a chauffeuring pilot! She was devoted to her 10 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren and reported many gatherings at her home at Christmastime. Jean, or “Murph,” was a delightful classmate and friend and we shall miss her faithful, cheerful correspondence.

Also in August, Judith “Judy” Ayes Rabbe, 86, died at Bayleigh Chase in Easton, Maryland, with her family by her side. Born in Williamsburg, she later attended William and Mary before transferring to MWC where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in English. She married Raymond Rabbe in 1954 and taught elementary school until deciding to stay at home to take care of her family. The Rabbes resided in Alexandria, Virginia, for 19 years, moving to Easton in 1971, where she was a member of Christ Episcopal Church. She was preceded in death by a brother and a granddaughter. She is survived by her husband of 61 years, son David of New Jersey, two daughters, Marcy and Dina, both of Bel Air, Maryland, seven grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. The family requested memorial contributions to the Alzheimer’s Association, since that condition contributed to her demise.

Last on the list was the name of Bettie Anne Ginn Osborne, 88, who died peacefully in November, surrounded by her family at the Hermitage at Cedarfield in Richmond, Virginia, which she had called home for over 19 years. Born at Walter Reid Army Hospital in Washington, D.C., Bettie was the eldest child of Brig. General Holmes Ginn, Jr. and his wife, Mary. She graduated from St. Catherine’s School in 1945 and then attended MWC (and is listed as a member of our class although we could find no record of her status). Because of her father’s duties, Bettie had lived in Washington; Ancon Canal Zone, Panama; Fort Knox, Kentucky, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania; Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; Chatham, New Jersey; and finally Richmond. Bettie lived her life in tireless service to family, friends, numerous organizations and her church. After her marriage to William Osborne in 1974 and moving to Chatham, New Jersey, she embraced the volunteer community, helping to form a chapter of New Eyes for the Needy and the Chatham chapter of Meals on Wheels. She was also an active member of the Bonnie Brae Auxilary. Of all her charitable and volunteer activities, she was most proud of her efforts in behalf of the homeless and Alzheimer’s Association and was honored for her volunteer work both in Chatham and later for her fundraising efforts in Richmond for the Alzheimer’s Association. A “people person,” Bettie enjoyed meeting people from all walks of life. As one of the original residents of Cedarfield, she quickly became a major part of that continuing care community, chairing and serving on numerous committees almost to the end of her life. She was preceded in death by her husband of 35 years and is survived by two devoted daughters, two step-daughters, seven grandchildren, seven great-grand- children, two brothers, nieces, nephews, cousins, and a plethora of friends throughout the country. Bettie lived up to St. Catherine’s School motto: “What we keep we lose; only what we give remains our own.”

That also could be a fitting epitaph for Erminia “Ermine” Ubaldi Kauer Despit,  who died in April of the previous year at Havenwood Manor in Lexington, Virginia. In 2015, the UMW Foundation received a surprise bequest from her estate designated to the Chemistry department in recognition of her undergraduate major. In announcing the bequest, a note from Ermine’s brother, Carmel Ubaldi, also read: “My sister always attributed her success in life to her faith and the excellent education she received at what was then Mary Washington College.” After receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry at MWC, she earned a Master’s degree in Library Science from Columbia University. She then worked for Dupont/Westinghouse at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina as a technical librarian, researching literature for atomic energy scientists until her retirement in 1995. Living most of her life in Aiken, South Carolina, Ermine had volunteered at the Aiken Historical Society, the Aiken Regional Medical Center and at the ACTS, an interfaith social services agency. She was a communicant of Our Lady Help of Christians Catholic Church. Ermine was preceded in death by her husband, Woodson Despit. She is survived by a son, Brian Kauer, two grandchildren Hayley and Brandon Kauer, a brother, Carmel Ubaldi, a nephew, and a legacy at Mary Washington.

We are more than grateful for the unfailing help from our longtime friend and former Director of Alumni Affairs, Cynthia “Cindy” Snyder ’75, whose expertise produced the needed obituaries for this report.

Turning to happier news gleaned from year-end cards and messages, we learned that Harriet “Scotty” Scott Brockenbrough had continued her penchant for traveling. Spending a week with son Scott and his family in Seattle, Washington, she fulfilled her dream of cruising around the San Juan Islands to watch the whales, which were plentiful to view. Returning to Covenant Woods in Mechanicsville, her next planned trip was to Yorktown in October for the annual reunion with four of her high school best friends. This time, they made it a two-night stay since they couldn’t get everything said in only one! Learning of the group’s purpose, the Eastern Shore News sent a photographer and reporter to do an article about the continuous reunions of the five classmates, which ran on the front page, was picked up by UP, and actually went viral! Harriet emailed a picture of the beaming group in their 15 minutes of fame. The next journey was back to Onancock in mid-November for the Wine and Oyster Festival at “Chatham,” her original home, now restored as a vineyard and winery. Limited to 300, Harriet was accompanied by three of her sons and her grandson. Staying with son Tom for five nights, they next took the Artisan’s Tour of the Eastern Shore. As one stop was only three miles from Elizabeth “Liz” Barnes Hornsby’s home, they detoured to visit her. Harriet was overjoyed when Liz greeted her verbally, the first sentence she’d heard since Liz suffered her stroke, which showed her progress with speech therapy. Harriet next went on a planned trip from Covenant Woods to see Williamsburg’s unique decorations. Walking in a pouring rain, with uneven brick sidewalks holding water and wet feet, she came down with pneumonia two days before Christmas. Son Tom spent two nights with her over Christmas, tending to her needs. Harriet was finishing her meds and hoping to get back up to full speed as the New Year arrived, adding “I will break out of here next week!” That’s our Scotty!

Also in Mechanicsville, Elva Tate Hasher sent her greetings, thankful for having “made it another year.” Actually, Elva is our first nonagenarian! Her daughter Anne and her husband gave her a 90th birthday party in May, which Elva said wore her out. But, she still volunteers at the local hospital one afternoon each week. Keep on keeping on, Elva. If Elva is our eldest classmate, we believe that Dolores “Dee” May Ross is our youngest. Dee was only 15 when she arrived at MWC, turning 16 the following month. In 2014, she hosted a huge 85th birthday celebration at her club for 143 friends. This past year, she had a pre-Christmas luncheon for 60 of her close friends, with her four-footed friend, Joe, co-hosting at both. Dee has endured multiple medical issues recently and is still recovering from a tenacious bout of very painful shingles. But the good news is that she is driving again, and not just to and from doctors’ appointments. She made a day trip to Richmond after Christmas, accompanied by a neighbor, and visited with her former neighbors there. That’s youth for you!

More good news came from Barbara Trimm Wright who has courageously endured more than two years of prolonged double-vision resulting from a devastating aneurysm and surgery. Dependent on her nephew and her good church-family friends for every needed ride, Barbara again is behind the wheel for her trips around town. Barbara said when she gets up each morning, she first gets her paper at the back door, then checks her computer for e-mails to get “her oxygen” for the day. When the computer is down or experiencing a power failure, it’s like having her oxygen cut off for that length of time. She keeps in touch with several classmates frequently, especially Alta Towe Fogelgren, Gladys Riddle Whitesides, and Helen Lowe Eliason ’48. Although Helen was a class ahead of us, she, Barbara, and Gladys were roommates for our junior year, sharing a corner room in Ball, and, Barbara adds, having so much fun! Barbara reports that Alta has many allergies and conditions requiring medical attention, but seems content with her life with her husband in Virginia Beach. Gladys suffered a stroke late last year, was in rehab for some weeks, but is back home and recovering nicely, with no side effects. Helen sold the beautiful, huge home that was her husband’s family home and moved into an assisted living facility, which is ideal for her. Barbara’s home also is big, with a family room able to accommodate a large number of people. When her church family, who are also her neighbors, want to have a get-together, they naturally tend to gravitate to her home. Two missionary circles in their church gathered there for a joint meeting which, being December, turned into a little Christmas party. Everyone brought some goodies and they had such a fun time that they said, “let’s do this again next year.” Barbara was so pleased with the turnout and had such a good time seeing everyone enjoying the happy occasion that her friends said she was “like a child expecting Santa Claus!” That spirit, and faith, got Barbara through her two-year trauma.

Joyce Hamilton Eisler and husband are enjoying life at their retirement community in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, saying she and Joe feel blessed to still enjoy good health. Joyce attached a picture of herself during her 88th birthday party and also a picture of their youngest great-granddaughter, Leila, who turned one year old in September. Joyce said she keeps in touch with Margaret “Peggy” Walton Mason. In her own email, Peggy asked that when next writing Class Notes we include her best wishes to all. Peggy said she is well, still living in the same home in Bethesda, Maryland, since 1957, and is still volunteering and active in her church and Women’s Club. She enjoys bridge and her book club, but most of all her growing family, with another “great” due in April. She added, “I often think of the good old days at MWC.”

Kathryn “K.D.” Wright Drake said her husband has had some health issues in the past few years, still undiagnosed, but at the moment they are both well and he plays golf twice a week when weather permits. K.D. said they like their living arrangements since they downsized and sold their house. Holiday Retirement in Chattanooga, Tennessee, is an independent facility; they still have cars and come and go as they like, adding “at our ages and stages, it’s great for us.” Their son lives nearby and checks on them daily. He retired last year, so he and their daughter in Atlanta coordinate things for them. K.D. said “we just sit back and let them tell us what to do…and enjoy it!”

Both Anne McCaskill Libis and husband Claude continue their involvement in their retirement community at Glen Meadows in Glen Arm, Maryland. Still participating in several weekly activities, Anne also leads a monthly hike which may be curtailed because of continuing arthritis in her back. She planned to consult a pain management facility in December. Her knee replacement of the previous year was successful. They enjoyed a trip back to a favorite place, Banner’s Elk, North Carolina, where a friend drove them high up on Roan Mountain for a breathtaking view of the Southern Appalachians. They also were invited to a meeting of their former community association where they both were honored as past presidents and enjoyed visiting with many friends. In October, they flew to Charleston, South Carolina, for the McCaskill gathering, which was a great success. The highlight of the year was when Claude returned to the Methodist Board of Child Care for the first time in 22 years. As a former, longtime director, Claude remains a much loved icon of that organization. Kathryn “Kate” Mayo Schmidt’s Christmas message was brief, saying she still was recovering from a big Thanksgiving with 14 family and friends at her farm near her home in Palestine, Texas, and was looking forward to a peaceful Christmas with her friends there. She ended with the ubiquitous “no other news!” A message from Mary Elwang Sharpley echoed that thought. Mary said she’s fine, staying busy with church activities and the many events offered at her retirement residence, The Colonnade, in Charlottesville. She added that she sees Barbara Westerman Newlon often, and she is also well.

Elizabeth “Betty” Fischer Gore turned over her gingerbread house recipes and instructions to one of her granddaughters last year, a picture of each festive structure having served as Betty’s Christmas card in recent years. This year’s card featured a picture of her new residence in Fairfax, Virginia, where Betty relocated last March. The Woodlands Retirement Community has only 135 residents and Betty is making new friends there. She enjoys the pool for exercise and the many outings and activities available each month. Three of her children live nearby in Fairfax County, with one daughter not far away in North Carolina. Betty is able to get to Bridge games and events in the local area which she had attended in her former neighborhood. She had a hip replacement in June which limited her travels the rest of the year. In summary of her new facility, Betty said she especially enjoys the delicious dinners she does not have to prepare herself!

Charlotte “Chot” Baylis Rexon also was brief in her holiday greeting, referring to her and Fred’s hospitalization of last Christmastime, by saying, “It’s so good to be home this year!” Her best friend, and ours, Betty Bond Heller Nichols, was equally happy to return to her home for Christmas after her own traumatic events last year. She began feeling very unwell in August, and ended up in hospital three times over the next month with three different specialists trying to decide the nature of her malady. With ongoing tests, neither cardiologist, nephrologist, nor hematologist could diagnose her problem. By the time they decided it wasn’t heart failure, her kidneys had almost completely shut down and she had to have emergency dialysis, which she now has to continue three times a week! After a month in hospital and three weeks in a skilled care facility, she returned home and is trying to regain some strength. With the three- to four-hour dialysis sessions three days a week, Betty Bond has adjusted to her new regime and says, “It’s not so bad!” Each chair has its own TV and she can read or nap or think of all she wants to do when she is able, as she has lots of items on her “to do” list. She is having difficulty with her walking, standing, balance, and stamina, but feels she’s “a tough ol’ bird” and pretty lucky to still be here. Her latest news is that she actually is exceeding her doctor’s expectations and is holding on to the premise that if the doctor is happy, she should be happy, but adds she’s still an impatient patient! And our bubbly B.B. is determined to get back to work and return to the retirement center in mid-January to play for the residents’ weekly sing-a-long. She also is on target to play for a private party at the piano bar the following week and for the annual show at month’s end in her beloved Bedford. Betty Bond still doesn’t know what caused her trauma, but says one of her favorite expressions is: “Life is what happens to you while you’re making other plans!”

Corinne “Conni” Conley Stuart wrote about attending the opening of “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer – The Musical” at Toronto’s Prince of Wales Theatre, saying it was a glorious on-stage production of the original animated TV show starring Burl Ives some 50 years ago, which often airs at Christmastime. Remember that one? Conni was one of the original voices for the film and, as one of the three surviving voices, was invited to an opening night party in December. She said it was wonderful to meet a huge cast of young actors who were so enthused to be carrying on the iconic “Rudolph” message. And, she added, they even sent a limo to pick up the pioneers! In her next email, Conni said she had just accepted her son Curtis and family’s invitation to spend Christmas with them in St. Louis, this being the first Christmastime without Bonar, her husband of 64 years. Good news, indeed, for me, as I last saw Conni too many years ago, at our 50th Reunion Weekend! It was a near-miss in 2014 when Conni came to St. Louis for her grandchildren’s college and high school graduations just as I flew east for our 65th Reunion, like two ships that passed in the night. After Conni arrived, we met at Curtis and Heidi’s home for a lot of “remember when” conversation. I then picked up Conni to take her to her favorite store, Neiman Marcus, for a lovely luncheon on Christmas Eve. The family left the morning after Christmas to drive to Georgia for a week’s stay. As planned, Norah Pitts Byrnes joined Conni and Curtis in Atlanta for breakfast the following morning and the two ol’ roommates had a quick catch-up, although they keep in touch by email. Sharing the same sense of humor, there was much laughter and reminiscing which, Norah later related, was tolerated by their sons. The Stuart family, Conni, Curtis and Heidi, their son Fran and daughter Elsa, enjoyed a week of sunshine at Tiny Island, near Savannah, returning the day after New Year’s. June and Conni went back to Neiman’s again for lunch as Conni was anxious to do a bit of shopping during their post-holiday sales, since Canada’s prices are notably higher. After fond farewells, Conni flew back to Toronto the following morning and the old friends were so glad to have had their time together. Conni had mentioned her September trip to Tennessee to visit her sister

Jayne Conley Bailey ’45, who had chosen a retirement home there near her son. Conni stayed for several days and was so happy to be with Jayne after several years apart. She was especially glad she’s made that trip when word came of Jayne’s passing in early December. Conni planned to visit her other son, Tony, and his family in Los Angeles in February, with the possibility of relocating there as she and Bonar had lived and worked in LA many years ago before moving to Toronto.

When this issue reaches you, we’ll have moved well into 2016. May it prove to be a healthy, hopeful, reasonably happy one for each Fabulous Forty-Niner! Or, as Tiny Tim said, “God bless us, every one.” As ever, love to all of you.