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June Davis McCormick

At the end of each year, we were given the gift of a brand new year. The real gift is in our knowing that nothing is guaranteed and that every day is precious.

There has been only one report of a classmate’s demise since last we wrote in July. Janet Carter Hudgins of Franklin, Va. passed away at her home on November 14 after a lengthy confinement. Born in Leesburg, Va., she was the youngest of seven children of Paul and Mary Drake Carter. Janet attended MWC as a member of our freshman class before returning to Leesburg to accept a job as a legal secretary. While a volunteer in the Leesburg Baptist Church, she met Major Ira Hudgins, the church’s new minister and a chaplain just returned from Japan at the end of WW II. Following their marriage, the couple lived in Pennsylvania for two years before moving to Franklin in 1951 where they lived for the rest of their lives. She was preceded in death by her beloved husband after a long productive life together. The couple had four sons, one of whom was to play a major role in the history of Mary Washington. Janet was a superb wife, mother and homemaker, and also later worked for the City of Franklin Social Services Division. Long active in the life and services of Franklin Baptist Church, as a Sunday School teacher and it’s women’s circles, Janet was her husband’s indispensable partner during his 35-year ministry with the church.

A voracious reader, Janet was a member of the Franklin Book Club and appreciated the intellectual stimulation the group provided. Her quilting circle connected her to skills learned in childhood and to friends whose conversation she valued. She was active in the Garden Club of Virginia until confined to bed in the last year of her life, but even then continued her life-long passion for her gardens. The yards, beds and borders she tended were populated with plants given, exchanged or traded with family and friends, which gave her great joy and also a catalog of friendships and family connections stretching back to her childhood. Janet is survived by four sons and their wives, nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Following a memorial service at her church, burial was private.

The Hudgins’ eldest son, Carter Lee Hudgins, not only was a well known, longtime professor at Mary Washington, teaching several courses in History, he was instrumental also in developing the History Preservation major at UMW. Dr. Hudgins now is on the graduate faculty at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. Surely his parents were justifiably proud of his educational achievements and especially his tenure at Janet’s alma mater! Those present at our 50th Reunion Weekend might recall Janet’s presence for that memorable occasion. Learning of her background, she graciously responded to our request with an appropriate invocation to open our class meeting in Ball.

Staying in touch with several computer-oriented classmates usually brings requested updates. Kathryn “K.D.” Wright Drake reported that she and her husband both are in good health and still enjoying their lifestyle at the Holiday Independent Retirement Facility in Chattanooga, Tenn. One advantage they’ve enjoyed is being able to trade to other places whenever they travel, saying they used that “perk” to visit a relative in Auburn, Alabama recently. K.D. added that with a great Activity Director and a 5-star chef, what more could one ask? And she noted a friend’s description of her similar residence as “a cruise ship that never docks!”

An email came from Joyce Hamilton Eisler with an attached picture of Leila, their youngest great-grandchild, a little cutie! Joyce said she had signed up for UMW’s 1908 Letters Program, which extended from last September to May 2017, a recent innovation offered by the Alumni Office to interested senior alumni. Joyce was corresponding with a member of the Class of 2017, a senior with a Business Administration and Accounting double major, appropriately paired with Joyce who was a Commerce major “back in the day.” Joyce said her correspondent wrote of her love for UMW and her current boyfriend there. As other participants may know, the Alumni Office posts the letters on their website. Joyce said she and Joe had been kept busy, celebrating their 63rd anniversary in September and her 89th birthday in October. All three of their children and several grandchildren gathered at their residence in Lansdale, Pa. for the happy occasions, both milestones! Joyce gratefully added that they both were blessed with good health, a wonderful family and many special friends.

Asking our faithful correspondent Harriet “Scotty” Scott Brockenbrough for a report on the annual reunion of the five high school BBFs, about which we’ve often reported, her reply was unexpected. Sadly, she revealed the one she considered the strongest had died of breast cancer last spring. When she was moved to hospice care at a Chesterfield nursing home last March, Harriet drove from Covenant Woods in Mechanicsville to cross the river each of the eight weeks her lifelong friend was there, until she died in early May. Another of the close-knit group was moved to a nursing home in mid-December as a result of mini-strokes and falls. The four had met in Williamsburg for lunch in October, their first gathering since attending their classmate’s funeral. With the second member also incapacitated, Scotty said their numbers were diminishing but their hearts persevere. In July, she had spent nine great days with son Scott and his wife in Kirkland, WA. She said they weren’t as adventurous as their whale-watching the previous year since she still felt the effects of a very serious infection which had her quarantined for six days in the hospital earlier in May, with a further stay in her Covenant Woods health care unit, two months in therapy and a long, slow recovery. She and Scott took daily walks along the river during her stay which gradually increased her endurance. Harriet said the highlight of her year was Garden Week in Virginia when she was invited back to Onancock on the Eastern Shore to be a hostess at Chatham, the family home where she was reared. As previously reported, Chatham is now a vineyard and winery and the owners appreciate her knowledge of the history of the home, built in 1818, now beautifully restored by the new owners. Her grandmother, newly widowed with 11 children, had moved there in 1905. Scotty was given her choice of rooms, choosing “the boys’ room” which her father had shared with his four brothers. Serving as docent during the tours, Scotty said she had a ball and her talks were well received. As a result and at the owners’ request, she wrote down what she had told the visitors, knowing she probably will not be able to repeat the performance at the next open house, about every three years. At their encouragement, she wrote of events of growing up there and other information they were eager to know. And she ended up with 19 pages and many pictures dating back to the early 1900’s! Quite a task, but a true labor of love. Scotty says she is the only one of her group who continues to drive across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel and through Newport News and Norfolk, which she admits she does on “full alert.” She returned to Onancock to spend Thanksgiving with her youngest son, Tom, and on to a beachfront hotel in Atlantic City for the traditional turkey dinner. In summary, she said the year had brought too many funerals and illnesses of dear friends, but noted that is the price of longevity, adding she is deeply saddened to read more of our losses in our Class Notes.

From Palestine, Texas, Katherine “Kate” Mayo Schmidt recapped her recent schedule. Her son, Bill, Jr., his wife and a friend and Kate’s niece all came there for Thanksgiving, staying at her nearby farm. She said they all arrived and left at different times and she hardly could keep track and was exhausted from running back and forth to the farm. However, they all had a lovely Thanksgiving, especially since most of the cooking was done “by everybody else,” adding that her daughter-in-law made great chess pies. She mentioned having had a very mild autumn but it had turned brutally cold in early December, with a typical Texas warming within days. Kate expected to have a quiet Christmas with friends and hoped for a peaceful winter and lovely spring.

A welcome update came from Betty Bond Heller Nichols in Lexington, Va. saying she was living a fairly normal life, or new-normal, but nothing exciting. She went to the beach for their usual summer family outing with the kids and did absolutely nothing constructive, except “shuck corn one night for supper!” Her dialysis center had arranged for her to have her treatments at one nearby to where they stayed and that worked out well. She also learned that some cruise ships now have dialysis service on board, which is good news for possible future travel plans. After the beach respite, she went back to Bedford to do an anniversary show with the theater group she worked with for so many years and was very happy to be with them again. B. B. still devotes a weekly stint at the retirement home, playing for the group that enjoys getting together to sing the old familiar songs. They also do a program for all the residents several times a year, with specific themes. But her big news was that she had given up her piano bar appearances when it stopped being fun and started to be big business which she didn’t care to continue. Betty Bond usually is the one who calls to keep current with her three BFFs, Charlotte “Chot” Baylis Rexon in Haddonfield, NJ; Dorothy “Dotty” Booker Pinkham in Montpelier, VT and Jane Yeatman Spangler in Concord, NC. B.B. learned that Chot and Fred now have a live-in for needed help, Dotty and Dave are in a retirement facility where Dave has health needs and Jane is blessed to have her dear daughter, a nurse, living with her for companionship and care. In December, Betty Bond found Esther Reece McVeigh by accident. B.B.’s daughter, Anne, and her husband were having dinner at a downtown restaurant and talking to another couple there. It was VMI’s ring ceremony night, their son was getting his ring and the couple were there for the occasion and talking about VMI. Anne asked if they had known Col. Lee Nickols and it turned out that Lee, B.B.’s husband, and Esther’s husband had been “brother rats” and she was Esther’s daughter. She called Esther from the restaurant to report the coincidence and B.B talked with her. Their two daughters have promised to get them both together sometime soon. B.B. asked, “How about that?” Of course, we have reported that Esther is a resident of Westminster Canterbury in Lynchburg, where Marion “Wendy” Selfe Kelly and her husband George also are longtime residents and see Esther frequently. Small world, isn’t it? Check out Class Notes for news!

A Thanksgiving email from Barbara Trimm Wright relayed her delight at being able to read our entire Class Notes online shortly after receiving the UMW Magazine with its condensed version. She was sorry to learn of Betty Bond’s health issues, fondly recalling that B.B., Chot, Dotty and Jane (our Forever Foursome) had lived in the suite across the hall from Barbara and Ann Patty McClintock during senior year. They saw a lot of them then, always enjoying B.B.’s generous piano sessions. For Thanksgiving, Barbara and two of her church friends had planned to be together at her home, but when her nearby nephew and his wife invited the threesome to be with them, saying “they needed three more to make the table look good,” Barbara said they were more than willing to help! The sole request was that Barbara make her corn pudding recipe to add to the festive board. Barbara said she had not made one for years, but was willing to see if she’d lost her knack at making that familiar Southern necessity/essential dish.

Post-Thanksgiving, our query for the result came as no surprise…it was delicious and enjoyed by all!

As Christmas neared, the welcome annual cards were diminished in number, but still appreciated, even those ending with the ubiquitous “No news!” Chot’s lovely greeting ended with “We’re okay, just getting older!” From Mechanicsville, Elva Tate Hasher reported that her daughter Anne had just retired from 40 years of service with the State (Virginia, of course) and Elva personally opined that “old age is not any fun!” While many Fabulous Forty-Niners still are octogenarians, Elva is one of several already having reached nonagenarian status, or will during this year. Margaret “Peggy” Walton Mason sent greetings from her long-time home in Bethesda, MD. and attached an adorable picture of her “little elves” in Leesburg, Va., the three great-grands posing in bright red elves attire. As usual, Peggy sent her best to all our classmates, asking that they keep in touch in the new year. We add an “amen” to her plea. Frances “Frannie” Houston Layton wrote that she planned to leave Lewisburg, WV to spend the holidays in Kentucky with her son, her daughter, a granddaughter and three beautiful great-granddaughters. Elizabeth “Betty” Fischer Gore’s card featured the Christmas-decorated entrance to her Woodland Retirement Center in Fairfax, Va. Betty planned to spend Christmas with her local children and grandchildren. In mid-December she and one daughter were going to Richmond to meet another daughter and a granddaughter to have lunch and go to see The Nutcracker. Two days after Christmas, they were to have a cookie exchange with her sister’s family at the Woodlands. Already advised of the April date of the Scholarship Donor’s Luncheon at UMW, Betty hoped to be able to attend. She has had the same student recipient for the past two years and looked forward to seeing her again. After the sudden demise of dear Dolores “Dee” Ross last year, Betty probable is the sole member of our class to meet with our various recipients now. That any classmates possibly would return to Marye’s Hilltop for the April 21st Inauguration of Dr. Troy Paino as the 10th president of Mary Washington also was dubious, as time marches on for us all.

Returning to Christmastime, it provided another meeting of two BFFs when Corinne “Conni” Conley Stuart relayed the happy news to June Davis McCormick that she was returning to Saint Louis to spend the holidays with her son Curtis and his family here, providing another welcome opportunity to see her again. But plans had been made for the Stuarts to spend much of Christmas week at Innsbrook, a nearby resort offering a perfect, peaceful setting for a family gathering. Curtis is a longtime teacher in his city’s school system and the two-week holiday break was a welcome respite and family time, so their meeting would have to wait until their return. Curtis, his wife Heidi, their son Fran and Conni thoroughly enjoyed the ambience of the lakefront resort, taking long hikes in the scenic setting. Returning a few days after Christmas, they had several things planned for Conni’s stay and it was difficult to find an open date for the anticipated luncheon at Neiman Marcus, Conni’s favorite here. Finally, they met on New Year’s Eve afternoon for a leisurely lunch. Curtis joined them since the Stuarts were to go on to a family party to welcome in the new year with Conni’s granddaughter, Elsa, who had recently completed her veterinarian studies and had to serve her internship during Christmas and was unable to join the family at Innsbrook. During the luncheon, Conni said she had received phone calls earlier from her two BFFs, former roommate Norah Pitts Byrnes and suitemate Betsy Thorne Bultman, both of whom try to see each other frequently. After listening to the two classmates during lunch, Curtis probably had scar tissue on both ears, but he bore the chatter manfully! Conni returned to Toronto a few days later, just ahead of a predicted storm over the Midwest. Even briefly, it was a happy reunion for both fond classmates and we hope to meet again… ”don’t know where, don’t know when, but we know we’ll meet again some sunny day.”

Before she came, Conni had written of a commercial she had just done for Subway Restaurants, to air in Canada, and then sent a computer-generated video of her portrayal of a former New York fashionista in a costume of her era. Conni said the wardrobe call lasted an amazing seven hours and was tedious. If you could see the bright colors and massive jewelry she wore, you’d get the picture. After the shoot, Conni was given the dress and multi-colored jacket, but she didn’t get the jewelry! For the benefit of all her classmate friends, we’ll turn to Fernando Lamas’ phrase of praise, saying Conni still looks “mahvelous, simply mahvelous!” And she does, too!

These Notes won’t be read for another six months, but we’d like to wish everyone the current best wishes for this now-brand new year, hoping that it will prove to be one of health, hope and a fair measure of happiness for us all, making each day precious.

As ever, love to each of you.