Dianne Beebe Barske, Class Reporter
I am writing this on February 19, and my request for class news has brought a chorus of cold! I related that Alaska had been breaking all kinds of heat records, which means temperatures in the mid 40s in mid February, and what little snow we had has been melting fast. Pat Vozar Bailey chimed back, “People in Virginia would pounce on you for that news. We had wind chills of minus 20 last week. It’s a balmy 13 today!” My roommate, Barbara Cubberly Smith, reported, “People in NC wouldn’t be too happy, either. Winter has arrived now that spring bulbs are about to bloom.” And Barbara Morgan Herron ’67, jumped in from Maryland. “It’s been brutally cold in Baltimore, too, with minus-degree wind chills. It’s a balmy 10 this morning, February 17, with more frigid air on the way.” I guess I’d better keep quiet, but here in Anchorage with our big winter carnival looming and the prospect of no World Championship Sled Dog races, we’d love some of that real winter. The ceremonial start of the Iditarod Sled Dog races has been moved to Fairbanks from Anchorage, but even Fairbanks can’t boast a lot of snow.
Speaking of the Iditarod, every year for over 20 years, a group of Alaskan Hood alums have held a reunion potlatch dinner on Iditarod Eve, March 6 this year. We are a small, but mighty group. For many years LaVonne Blattenburger Vogt ‘69, came with her husband, Bob, but they moved to NC a few years ago. This year Jill Stanley ’69, and her husband Adam, will be hosting, and the group will consist of me and my husband, Elliott: Meredith Howard Parham ’67, and her husband, Bruce; Penny Taylor Morton ’69; and Chris Laborde ’96. We marvel that so many of us were on campus, overlapping in the 1960s, and are always on the lookout for other Hood Alaskan alums to join us.
Since I just referred to LaVonne Blattenburger Vogt, I’ll mention a note from Bonnie Scull Hawkes. She bumped into LaVonne aboard ship, on a cruise to Sidney, Australia this past fall. “What an incredible discovery way out here in the middle of nowhere!” The found each other as they were approaching Pago Pago, American Samoa.
My emailed request for news brought several emails in response, and I’m always grateful for every one of them! Harriet Rudman Weiner wrote, “At this stage of our lives, it’s all about the grandchildren. Alan and I have six, three from each son – three boys and three girls. Alan is in his 12th year of retirement and I am in my 8th. Work was varying degrees of enjoyable, but retirement is much better!” Joan Theobald Wentling and Charlie have become snowbirds, happy to be leaving for Florida for six weeks after their burst of cold winter. She hears from Sally Fairfax ’65 and from Kate Jenks Powell ’64. Joan and Charlie have four grandchildren living close by, “and they are a huge part of our lives.” Patricia (Patty) Welton Schutt also shared weather-related news and verified my report of lack of winter in Anchorage. She wrote, “My younger daughter is in the Army stationed in Anchorage (although she just left for Kuwait for nine months or so.) She couldn’t believe how little snow there was there.” But Patty stated that her daughter was constantly oohing and aahing over our mountains. And Patty couldn’t resist mentioning the record-breaking winter she had been experiencing in Boston! Good news is that Patty and Gerry Silver Fernandez are already making plans to attend our 50th Hood reunion next year. She adds, “It’s such a treat to be close to my freshman-year roomie. We both remember each other as younger, thinner, more energetic.” Susan Worth Fiala shared wonderful news related to the recent Oscars. Her youngest son, Bill, headed the production team for “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” nominated for best picture and lots of other awards. Her oldest son, John, just completed the lead on the new Denver International Airport website. And middle son, James, just opened a music store in Baltimore, called Hamiltones. Sounds like a very creative family! “Good news, all around,” Susan added. Speaking of creativity, Janet Lott reports that she is still an avid Argentine dancer and dance teacher. She lives in the San Francisco Bay area, where she teaches the Alexander Technique. She summarized, “My two sons are healthy and happy. Life is good.” Carole Ann Kemp Lovett plans to join classmates gathering for our 50th Hood reunion. She exclaims, “Egads! We are approaching our Big 50th!! Very exciting!” She and husband Bill will be celebrating their 47th anniversary this year. (Elliott and I will be celebrating our 48th, Carole Anne, so we were married one year earlier.) She adds that she met her husband when he was just 13 and she was 12, at the local swimming pool. They have been retired 16 years, spending that time remodeling houses, moving relatives, caring for mothers “and enjoying our paradise here at Deep Creek Lake in Maryland.” She also volunteers at a local hospital. Then there’s grandparenting. Granddaughter Autumn is 7 and there is “no shortage of the joy and laughter she provides Granna and Papa.” Carole Anne and Bill plan to join the snowbird crew and spend March through May in Florida. Very exciting news came in an email from Nancy Frederickson Sherlin. She and husband Grover are planning a November trip to Madagascar, and will be visiting with Pat Chapple Wright there at CentreValBio, the research center Pat created at the Ranomafana National Park. How I wish I could go along! Nancy recommended Pat’s new book, “For the Love of Lemurs: My Life in the Wilds of Madagascar.” I couldn’t agree more. I, too, have a copy of the book. Included in this same trip are visits to Zula Nyala Safari Park in Hluhluwe, South Africa, Victoria Falls and Cape Town. Last January she and Gordon cruised from Santiago, Chile to Buenos Aires, including four days of cruising through Antarctica, “but we are just over the moon about seeing lemurs in the wild and getting to visit with Pat.”
This past year, Elliott and I have been blessed with real visits, face-to-face happy times, with several Hood friends. At the end of May we had Jane Dearstyne Veeder (one of my Hood roommates) and husband Chuck visiting us here in Anchorage and got to do some Alaska touring with them. It was wonderful to be with them. In August, Elliott and I got to visit with Eva Redvall in Stockhold, Sweden. I did a happy dance when we saw her! She drove us around Stockholm, went to a garden lunch with us, and fed us a wonderful Swedish dinner in her home. (Elliott and I were on a Baltic, North Sea cruise with Sweden as part of the touring. Other stops were in Estonia, Denmark, Germany, Finland, Russia. It was a Prairie Home Companion Cruise with Garrison Keillor – and, yes, we saw a lot of him. But hanging out with Eva, an exchange student while we were at Hood, was the highlight for me. Then, this December when we were visiting our older son and his fiancé in Tucson, Arizona, we got to see Estie (Esther) Paist in Scottsdale, where she recently purchased a condo near her daughters. She still has her home in Pennsylvania, as well. We’d been roommates at the University of Wisconsin in Madison where we both went to grad school. We hadn’t seen each other in over 40 years, but that time gap simply melted away. Estie states that she is “gleefully retired,” but is still traveling widely assisting colleges and universities with accreditation procedures and implementation of distance education policies. Thank you Janie, Eva, and Estie, for spending time with us!
And a recent phone call from Anna Buhr Cole gives promise of another special visit with a Hood friend and classmate. Anna and her husband, Miles, have visited here in Anchorage before. They liked that visit and the Inland Passage cruise so well that they are cruising to Alaska again, and this time going north to Fairbanks as well. We plan to get together this June. Anna mentioned that she had recently been back on the Hood campus. “It looks so good and certainly has changed.
I’ll end the class news with hopes to see many of you back on campus for our 50th reunion, June 10 to 12, 2016! Thanks to our classmates who are on the planning committee – Pat Vozar Bailey, Ginny Wheeler Jones, Sarah Bruce, Susan Worth Fiala, and Judy Messina. Additional thanks to Judy who recently served on the Search Committee for the new Hood College president. Committee members recently chose Dr. Andrea E. Chapdelaine to succeed Dr. Ronald Volpe.