Alumni Celebrate Milestones at Reunion Weekend 2001

Reunion Logo

Hundreds of Alumni Celebrate Milestones at Reunion Weekend 2001

Alumni returning to campus for Alumni Weekend 2001 (April 20-22) were welcomed by a campus in full bloom.

In addition to blooming azaleas and dogwoods outdoors, registrants were greeted inside the College Union by a beautiful display of original artwork of birds by Doug Pratt '66. Pratt, a biology major at Davidson who earned his Ph.D. in zoology, never formally studied art. He is now a staff research associate for LSU's Museum of Natural Sciences, and refers to his artwork as "a hobby that got out of hand." Next year will publish his magnum opus,a book of illustrations of the Hawaiian honeycreper birds.

The serendipitous occasions of unexpectedly meeting old friends began at the registration table. Jamie Koloditch '76 and Paul Welch '76 got reacquainted there. Koloditch spent 25 hours on his journey to Davidson, coming from Oslo, Norway, where he works for the foreign service.

Martin Clark
Judge Martin Clark '81, celebrating his 20-year reunion, read from his novel The Many Aspects of Mobile Home Living for a large crowd in the 900 Room.

Friday afternoon's formal activities took place in the College Union 900 Room with three presentations. Martin Clark '81 enjoyed a conversation with his old mentor, Professor of Classics Dirk French. Clark then told the crowd about his part-time career as a novelist, and read from his book The Many Aspects of Mobile Home Living. Clark, who works full-time as a circuit court judge in western Virginia, recalled how he won second place in Davidson's Vereen Bell writing competition as a student, selected for the honor by none other than novelist Tom Wolf. Despite that promising start, Clark said it took him twenty years to get his novel published, and he entertained the crowd by reading several rejection letters he received along the way. He told his listeners that "good writing is rewriting," and urged other aspiring writers to "stick with it." Following his presentation, Clark signed copies of his book for fans new and old, who now await publication of his next work, tentatively called The Tenderloin Plate, in about a year. Clark revealed that it concerns a Southern Baptist minister who gets involved with an insurance scam and hits the road, where adventures aplenty occur!

Following Clark to the podium was Dana Professor of English Tony Abbott, who delivered the second annual Alumni Lecture on "Clotilda Adams Revisited: Some Thoughts on Writing and Writers." He completed his reflections on the academic life with one of his own poems, "The Photograph," which was inspired by a photo of his older sister taken in 1944, which he projected on a screen during the reading. The poem recalled the grudge Abbott held against her for fifty years after she eloped and thereby broke her promise to let him walk her down the aisle. He eventually discovered her side of the story and patched up their relationship, and cautioned his listeners to always look for other points of view before jumping to conclusions.

Alumni Association President Mike Deese '73 then introduced President Robert Vagt '69 to address alumni on the state of the college. President Vagt discussed the increasing importance of collaborative research between faculty members and undergraduates, and updated listeners on construction of the Knobloch Campus Center, the planned transformation of the College Union into a new music building, and plans to renovate Chambers. He said the college is financially sound, and halfway toward its goal of $250 million for the "Let Learning Be Cherished" initiative. He emphasized that the largest portion of those new funds will be applied toward financial aid, with hopes of keeping future tuition increases in line with inflation.

Following the President's remarks, alumni were excused to pursue other agendas. For John Hobart '51 and his spouse, Frankie, that began with a nostalgic look at the grounds.

Crawford Crenshaw
Crawford Crenshaw '76 displays the commemmorative double CD of mid-seventies hits given to each member of the class as a reminder of the loud ol' days!

The Class of 1976 established headquarters for the beautiful evening at the President's House. Caterers set an elegant table, and reunion chairs Bill Reed, Jeff Neikirk, and Tony Boon greeted their friends with a special party favor. The group socialized beside the newly and beautifully renovated Blackwell Alumni House, and enjoyed dinner and reminiscenses beneath a tent. Dabney McKenzie '76 and former Alumni Association President Carol Connor Willingham '77 created a lovely candlelight portrait as dusk fell.

Across campus at Baker Sports Complex, the Class of 1966 gathered for an oyster roast and low country supper. Professor of English Gill Holland and his spouse, Siri, were on hand to greet class members like (r) Phil Hightower '66. Among those who were all smiles was Champ Covington '66.

The rising sun brought color to the azaleas Saturday morning, and about twenty-five alumni witnessed the early morning's glory on their way to Richardson Field for the annual Alumni Cake Race. The Class of 1981's Esther Bruce, Hope McArn and Renee Hedgepeth Johnson checked out the course map, while Dick Stewart '76 and Art Lesesne '61 chatted with race official and Davidson Athletic Foundation administrator Dave Fagg. Coach Fagg called runners to the line, and they were off on their 1.7 mile trek, led by Renee Hedgepeth Johnson's son, Chris. Chris got so far out front early on the unfamiliar course that he took a wrong turn, and lost the lead to Bill Wilson '81, who was followed up the final hill by Billy Pierce '72. Pierce closed the distance and won the race, followed by Wilson and Bart Landess '81. The three top finishers, (l-r) Landess, Pierce, and Wilson, selected their just desserts. There were cakes enough for everyone, though. Esther Bruce '81 had help from her daughter, Karen, in picking out their giant chocolate cookie.

William Cohen
Former Secretary of State William Cohen spoke on "The Perils and Promise of a New World."

Alumni gathered for morning receptions all across campus, leading to reunions such as that between Jeff Bruton '61 and Gaines Grantham '61. Meanwhile, the editors of The Davidsonian gathered in Carnegie Guest House for a big interview. Richard Vinson '02, Aaron Houck '02, and Derek Politzer '01 had the opportunity for an exclusive with former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen prior to Cohen's delivery of the Wearn Lecture in Love Auditorium. The hall was crowded when Amb. Ken Brown, director of the Dean Rusk Program in International Studies, gave greetings and turned the introduction of Sec. Cohen over to President Vagt.

Cohen spoke and fielded questions for nearly an hour, focusing his remarks around "The Perils and Promises of the New World." He urged the Bush administration to continue the policy of "active engagement" in facing the three areas of international affairs he said would prove most challenging--Russia, China, and threats from weapons of mass destruction and cyberterrorism. He urged the citizenry not to grow complacent about peace, because "there's nothing for nothing any more." And he closed with praise for Davidson's of liberal education, which he said breeds "idealism that will overcome the blandness of cynicism."

Waiting for class photos and lunch gave alumni more time for greetings. Mark Affeldt '71 and Floyd Strand '71 struck a pose, while George Lay '76, Michael Eubanks '76, Mitch Reaves '76, Joel Pressley '76, and Steve Scroggs '76 found repose on a golf cart. Lunch was a colorful affair under the oaks on front campus. Alumni Director Matt Merrell '84 called the program to order. Class of '51 reunion chair gave a colorful invocation.
Emelia Stuart
Emelia Stuart '76 offered a toast to the college on behalf of those present at the alumni luncheon.

President Vagt, Alumni Association President Deese, and Merrell gave awards to ten outstanding alumni, beginning with an Alumni Service Award for Auburn Lambeth '51. To conclude the ceremony, Merrell presented awards to the two professors retiring this year, Tony Abbott of the English department and Dirk French of the classics department, and members of the Davidson Concert Choir led alumni in singing the alma mater. Pictures of those alumni who received awards, and the texts of their citations, can be accessed via the links below:

  • William T. Cassels, Jr. '51 - Distinguished Alumnus Award.
  • Howard W. "Champ" Covington '66 - Kuykendall Community Service Award.
  • Blaine Kelley Jr. '51 - Alumni Service Award.
  • Auburn C. Lambeth '51 - Alumni Service Medal.
  • H. Douglas Pratt '66 - Distinguished Alumnus Award.
  • William P. Reed, Jr. '76 - Alumni Service Award.
  • Hon. Thomas W. Ross, Sr. '72 - Distinguished Alumnus Award.
  • Stephen B. Smith '66 - Alumni Service Award.
  • Charles A. Summers '72 - Kuykendall Community Service Award.
  • Robert C. Young '61 - Alumni Service Award.
  • Saturday afternoon's schedule of activities was light, but included a tour of old campus led by Librarian Leland Park. Afternoon receptions leading to Saturday evening dinners occurred both on campus and off. The Classes of 1971 and 1972 met at the grand estate of Joe Poteat '72, just outside of town. Joe and his spouse, Marianne, were on hand to welcome the guests. Fellowshippers on the patio included Frank Rader, Hugh Dennis '71, and Jim Buchanan '71, as well as (l-r) Sean McCormick '71 and Steve Kirley '71. Their evening included a bluegrass band and barbecue.

    Miller and Pickens
    Resting comfortably beneath the finest climbing tree on campus, Merle Miller '81 and Harry Pickens '81 shared a bench and life stories.

    The effort to bring the Class of 1981 back to campus was led by reunion chairs Lisa Hasty and Cam Zurbruegg. They enjoyed Friday evening on the patio at Vail Commons, where greetings included a conversation between Doug Ziedonis '81 and Professor of Political Science Lou Ortmayer and his spouse, Carolyn. Others enjoying the fresh air and friendship were John Boswell '81 and his spouse, Liza White Boswell '82.

    On Saturday afternoon the class staged a "Family Olympics" on Richardson Field. Everyone enjoyed Ben and Jerry's ice cream from local scoopmeister Karen Toney. Then it was down to business, with adults and children "fingering" the line for the beginning of the wheelbarrow race. Ed Imbrogno '81 could still smile as daughter Ginny scrambled to the finish line far ahead of the competition. Another favorite of the afternoon was the progressive relay, where the final of seven teammates ended up trying to lug a full load of luggage back to the finish line. Many classmates finished off the weekend on Sunday morning with worship services at Davidson College Presbyterian Church to hear Rev. Agnes Norfleet of Decatur, Ga., deliver the sermon on the subject, "Witnesses to Resurrection."

    At least five current and past college staff and faculty members shared in reunion celebrations with their classmates. Richard Terry '81, the college's director of auxiliary services, brought his new son, Rixey, along to his class's Friday night reception. Rob Whitton '66,an adjunct math professor whose services have benefitted the college for years, posed with classmate David Powell '66 and his Queens College alumnae spouse, Liz. Hansford Epes '61, professor of German and college registrar, shared in the festivities of his class's 40th reunion. He was flanked at a Saturday morning reception by (l-r) classmate Elwood Hartman and senior student Cameron Richardson. Richardson served on a panel of students who talked to the class about current student life on campus.

    Professors Emereti
    Professors emeriti (l-r) J.B. Stroud of the math department and John Kelton of the psychology department joined their Class of '51 bretheren for the weekend's rousements.

    And how best to express the feelings of fifty years beyond the halls of Chambers? Class of 1951 Golden Reunion chair Hartley Hall '51 demonstrated plenty plenty of school spirit in organizing his Golden Anniversary classmates to return to their common ground. As reference material, they had the class ode, composed in their youth by Henry Wilson '51. Its reading at their banquet on Saturday night in Vail Commons led these regal Wildcats down memory lane. Each received a copy of the document in scroll form to take home and ponder until they meet again. The scrolls were formally and ceremonially arranged on a table where Woody '51 and Linda McKay posed with them. Classmates enjoyed elegantly laid tables of hors d'oeuvres prior to dinner. Fred Holder '51 flashed a smile typical of many happy encounters, while Alvin Gerhardt '51 took an opportunity he never had as a student by strolling to the other side of the Commons to engage a table full of female Davidson students in conversation! A big bandthat was specifically ordered "not to play anything written after 1951" kicked the evening off with "Stardust Memories," and kept the oldies going all night long.

    Over in the Gallery Room of Chambers Building, the Class of 1961's Saturday night gathering was presided over by class reunion chair Ed Kizer '61. President Emeritus John Kuykendall '59 dropped by and enjoyed speaking with (l-r) Charlie Patterson '61 and Hutton Barrow '61. Ervin Duggan '61 gave a stirring keynote speech that prompted a standing ovation from classmates. Then the home-grown Sandy Mush Band, composed of Tom Covington '61,Doug Orr '61, Pete Wyrick '61, and Doug's spouse, Darcy, launched a hootenanny of tunes that obviously struck a responsive chord in the audience.

    Pete Wyrick '61 donned his freshman beannie during a special concert by The Sandy Mush Band for the class of '61.

    The Class of 1976 dined more informally on buckets of low-country boiled shrimp, potatos, and corn, which was fine with (l-r) Mike Eubanks '76, Mitch Reaves '76, Frank McShane '75, and Scott Logan '76. Former basketball teammates (l-r) Jay Powell '76 and Tom Verlin '76 still looked fit for the hardcourt. The fun-meter peaked after darkness fell, with the showing of old slides. The long hair and short shorts pictured on the screen brought plenty of chuckles. The changes of a quarter-century were in many case so radical that folks like Eric Hendrix '76 had to step to the fore to straighten out who was who.

    Explosions above at 9:30 p.m. signaled the conclusion of the on-campus dinners, and beginning of the evening's main attraction, a fireworks show. At its finale, students and alumni alike expressed their appreciation with applause that resounded from many sites on campus. With that end of activities on the printed program, it was left to participants to conclude Reunion Weekend 2001 among friends and classmates, making the most of the rare chance to recall their time in this special place.

    # # #

    Top of Page