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Iris Harrell

We are just $6,145 short of making our class of ’69 scholarship become a $200,000 endowment! Classmate Catherine O’Connor Woteki is matching every dollar that comes in between now and the reunion. If you have not contributed or would like to chip in a little higher pledge, help us crest over the $200,000 endowment line. We can do this, girls!

Ann Simpson Brackett won the Distinguished Alumnus Award last year and attended her first ever Mary Wash reunion then. But she is definitely coming back for our 50th reunion this summer to catch up with some of her dear French major friends, like Lyn Howell Gray, CeCe Riffer and Donna Julian. Those 4 have had a few mini reunions of their own over the decades. Ann was married to her husband, John Brackett for 15 years and has 3 daughters, two in California and one in Boston. She also has two wonderful grandkids. She likes to hike in good weather and snowshoe in the winter. She loves to travel to Italy and  France, where her husband has family. Congrats to Ann for co-founding “Women and Girls Thriving” in Brookline, Mass. This nonprofit is a collective impact program that assists up to 90 women and girls living in poverty.

Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda has published her latest book called “These Flecks of Color” with new and selected poems she has written. Carolyn was named the Virginia Poet in 2008. She sent me a photo of her with the famous poet Mary Oliver, whom she met in person at a writer’s conference in Block Island, Rhode Island in 2008. She continues to write and publish poetry. She does quite a few speaking engagements each year.

Barbara Marks Poppleton reports she left the summer heat of Florida to enjoy cooler weather at their second home on the beach in south New Jersey. They have lots of family in New Jersey.

They stopped  en route at Quantico for her husband’s 50th reunion of his basic school graduating class. I imagine she went back to the heat of Florida this winter to avoid the great snow storms in the northeast this winter.

Dr. Sharon Dobie (one of the 7 American Studies majors in our graduating class ) is coming to her first  Mary Wash reunion! She and I reconnected in Seattle for the first time since graduation last year. She is trying to figure out retirement. She has started traveling in earnest and recently went to Croatia on a bike/boat  trip with 3 friends.

In November she went on a trip to Botswana, Victoria Falls and Capetown, Africa with her son’s former girlfriend and two of her son’s best friends. (Her son Matt passed away from Schlerodoma.) She bought the trip at a fundraiser for the Schlerodoma Research Foundation. Sharon describes the trip and her experiences as stunning…landscape, history, wildlife galore. She is now on the Board of the Schleroderma Research Foundation.

In 2018 she was awarded the Family Medicine Educator of the Year for Washington State.

I think she is getting the hang of retirement!

Betty Wade Miles Perry has been successfully retired for 8 years. She recently went on a pilgrimage in New Mexico called “Listen to the Land”. Four days of hiking in the beautiful Southwest and learning about the history of the land. Santa Fe was the last leg of her trip to tour Georgia O’Keefe’s museum and then 3 days in Taos.

While cleaning out things in her new spare time as a retiree,  she found a list of things she had planned to do in retirement. Some she has completed and others were no longer on the wish list. The list revealed to her that she overcommits to things that are not meaningful. So she has graduated to a higher level of retirement and has decluttered her calendar. She is back to biking again after hip surgery, watching golf tournaments and attending more family events. She is exercising, reading, cooking and playing canasta. She has offered to give Sharon Dobie tips on how to retire successfully!

Bev Holt shared something many of us have gone through with our aging parents. As her mother ages into her ‘90’s, she seems to travel to a past Bev knows nothing about.

Bev and her wife Deb went on a Maine coast cruise and a trip to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. She has also recently revisited Charlottesville and will go on a Viking cruise along the Danube this summer.

She enjoys her beach condo in Wrightsville Beach. Her main residence is still in Cary, NC.

Barbara Black went to Paris for a week to attend a convention about the Spartacus TV series. She got selfies with the TV stars, went to great panel discussions and met new friends. She is learning Mah Jongg for brain sharpening. She loves the game!

I, Iris Harrell have just returned from a 10 day trip to Maui to celebrate my wife’s birthday.

It was sunny and warm with delightful waves hitting the shore from our lanai. We played golf, pickleball and went hiking in the Haleakala National Park to see the bamboo forest….

Bamboo 30 feet high! Whale watching is always on the agenda and a fabulous birthday meal at world famous “Mama’s Restaurant” was a big hit.

I am still working diligently as an owner’s rep for a family who lost their home in the 2017 Santa Rosa fires and we had to stay indoors for 8 days during the Paradise, California fires in 2018 due to horrible air quality from that fire which was 180 miles away.

Needless to say, our entire neighborhood has decided to get more prepared for future fire emergencies and evacuations and finding ways for our own homes to be less vulnerable to flying flaming embers during the high winds of a raging wildfire.

Iris F. Harrell

Class reporter for Mary Wash class of ‘69

We are all in this together…2019

Jean Polk Hanky, Reunion Planning Committee Member, submitted a few items after calling the classmates she agreed to contact:

Laura T. Johnson Atherton suffered a fall in January which resulted in fusion back surgery and inpatient rehab.  Years of being on her feet for her catering business had taken its toll on her mobility but she never missed an event either personal or professional.  A lengthy recovery period is anticipated so she is uncertain about being well enough to travel in time for our reunion.  Ever the optimist and trooper, Tee promises to join us if at all possible.  She still stays in contact with Pam Hogan Baynard.

Janis Purdy Brewer is a retired high school social studies teacher living near Annapolis where she grew up.  Although she travels to Kansas City every spring to read AP European History essays for SAT, she may make an exception this year to attend our 50th Reunion.  She would like to re-connect with her college roommate, Gloria Holland.   Janis has 2 daughters with one living in Fredericksburg after graduating from UMW around 1994.  She also has 3 granddaughters in Fredericksburg and they all enjoy going as a family to the Multi-Cultural Festival at the University.

Carole Clear Flores majored in physics and worked for NASA at Wallops Island Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore.  After moving to Annapolis, she worked for Commercial Space Transportation in DC.  Issuing launch licenses for the commercial space industry was part of her job and she literally became an aerospace engineer on the job.  Carole attended our 45th Reunion and enjoyed it.  Although she had not planned to come to our 50th, she is now considering it.  She has a daughter and 2 grandchildren in Hawaii and a son at home.

Nancy Brittle (art history and studio art) is a retired teacher and successful artist living in Fauquier County, just NW of Fredericksburg.  A landscape and “genre” painter in the impressionist and post-impressionist styles, her work can be viewed in Fredericksburg and surrounding areas.  She is pursuing an art history doctorate and can be “googled” for more information.

Catharine Rossi Mannering used her psychology degree for 5 years as an employment counselor for the Va. Employment Commission working with returning Vietnam veterans.  Ending up in San Antonio, TX, with her marine first husband, she worked as an office manager for a dentist.  After a divorce, she married a 5th generation Texan who owned and operated his family’s 4th generation Oldsmobile dealership in nearby McAllen, TX.  Catharine then taught school for 13 years and has been a high school administrator for 13 additional years in Comfort, TX.  Comfort is a charming small town in the Texas hill country minutes from San Antonio and easy driving distance to other well-known area attractions.  To that end, Catharine and her husband owned and operated a B&B for 23 years but just closed it.  Also during this time, Catharine’s husband earned a master’s degree so he could pursue his lifelong dream of teaching history.  He has now retired from 14 years as a history professor at Austin Community College and is currently teaching “content mastery” to students at the middle school.  Catharine noted with regret that her school would still be in session during our reunion and she had to be present for graduation.  She has 2 step-children and 8 grandchildren, all living reasonably close.  She still keeps in touch with Suzanne McCarthy VanNess, Pam Hogan Baynard and Kathleen Hill Marks.

Sudie Bagley Heartwell and husband, Buck, did the Hippie Trail (look it up; I didn’t know what it was either) as newlyweds partly because she really wanted to see India.  Returning from their travels, Buck went to law school at UVa and Sudie resumed her career in social work.  Desiring legal aid work, Buck found a job in Roanoke and they moved to rural Fincastle so Sudie could have her horses.  Buck later went into private practice and served as Commonwealth’s Attorney for Botetourt County for 12 years.  After juggling 2 demanding careers for a long time, they decided Sudie would retire to take care of their property and animals.  A lifelong animal lover, Sudie currently has 3 horses and still enjoys riding.

Lyn Howell Gray and Jim are still living in Liberia but have bought a home in Blacksburg as they transition into retirement.  Currently, she is training and observing K-3 teachers in a new curriculum for the Liberian Schools.  Nevertheless, they plan to spend 5+ months in the States this year which is a great departure from their normal in-country schedule.  In the past couple of years, they have visited South Africa, Zambia, India and Mexico.

Jean Polk Hanky and husband, Jack, sold their river home in the Northern Neck of Virginia this past year.  They really miss the beautiful property, nice people and gorgeous sunsets BUT it was time to leave the maintenance and stress of storms behind.  They now reside permanently in Richmond near most of their family.

Birdie Nuckols grew up in Pittsylvania County and graduated from UMW as a math major.  She was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army the day after graduation and proceeded to serve in Korea, Belgium and Germany as well as other places.  She met her husband, a United States Military Academy graduate, while serving in the Army and they were happily married until he passed away in 2014.  She enjoyed attending his 50th Class Reunion at West Point ten years ago.  Birdie retired from the military as a Lt. Colonel in 1992 and retired for good from the Defense Intelligence Agency in 1998.  She likes to travel but has been slowed by various health issues recently.  She keeps up with Ginny Wheaton and Priscilla Geier Munson.