Homecoming Festivities Revolve Around Nancy Blackwell...
For 54 Years the Tie That Binds
More than 400 alumni returned to Davidson last weekend for Homecoming Festivities. Many of them attended specifically drawn to pay homage to Nancy Blackwell, the associate director of alumni relations who has for 54 years in that office nurtured their relationship with the college. In recognition of her kindness and loyalty to the college family, the college dedicated the Alumni House in her name as the central event of Homecoming Weekend.
Rain on Friday forced the evening's Alumni Leadership Conference Dinner off of the President's Lawn and into Vail Commons, where Dining Services laid an elegant table for the 250 or so attendees. The generations of Davidson present were represented by (l-r) Bill Bradford '37 and son Bill Bradford Jr. '65. The reception provided a chance for people like George Gunn '47 to catch up with friends. President Vagt spoke with young alums Sally Gantt Davis '94 and Ward Davis '91 . Highlight of the evening was induction of new alumni officers, (l-r) board members Vice President Anne Hurt Krieg '83, President-Elect George Penick '70, President Mike Deese '73, Immediate Past President Andy McElwee '77, and Vice President Sarah Tatum Pottenger '79. Newly inducted president Mike Deese addressed the crowd to talk about goals for the coming year.
The festivities included awards for class chairs whose Annual Fund efforts yielded extraordinary results. Award winners included the Class of '54's Lyman Kiser and Homer Phifer; the Class of '60's Charlie Smith; the Class of '77's Bonnie Revelle ; the Class of '53's Fred Deaton ; the Class of '48's Charlie Patterson and Bill Vinson ; and a large group of hardworking members of the Class of 1997, including Chris Currie, Mike Ingram, Joanna Davis Andrews, Caroline Bynum, Dunn Mileham, and Warren Buford. Finally, the college thanked last year's Annual Fund chair, John McKinley '65 and his wife Sue for spearheading a successful 55.4% participation, $5.5 million effort. Following the dinner, a hoard of young alumni accepted the invitation to socialize at the Davidson Depot. Among the ones lucky enough to find a table were Eugene Jung '97 and Alexis Joiner '00 . A mini family reunion of sorts occured when McNair Evans '01 (c) joined sister Patricia Evans '98 (r) and Chad Foster '98 (l) at their table.
About 50 alumni reported bright and early Saturday morning for a short Annual Fund Leadership session in the college's new conference room in West Hall. Among those in attendance were Annual Fund Vice Chair Mitzi Short '83 and Richard Terry '81. Others included (l-r) Cliff Hester '78 and J.B. Stroud '51, a professor emeritus of math at Davidson; and (l-r) staff member Dave Fagg '58 and Ken Krieg '83. John McKinley consented to chair the meeting in lieu of this year's annual fund chair, Will Dunbar '81, since Dunbar's wife, Denise, was about to give birth to the couple's new child. As McKinley urged alumni toward 60 % participation in the years to come, Class of 1998 representatives (l-r) Liz Boehmler, Jean Boehmler, and Hallie Pitkin checked their workbook to plot their strategy. The meeting wasn't all business, though. Annual Fund staffer Carol Boroughs led the group in celebrating the birthday of Class of 1949 volunteer John Miller. College President Bobby Vagt dropped by to urge volunteers to dig a little deeper in the year to come. Classes then broke up into small groups to discuss strategy. Among them were 1997 graduates Chris Currie, Joanna Davis Andrews, and Dunn Mileham . Carolyn Sherrill Fuller '92 will serve as National Young Alumni Chair.
Next on the schedule was dedication of the Nancy Overcash Blackwell Alumni House. More than 200 alumni and family members were on hand to greet "Mrs. B," including Tony Oakley '74. The ceremony proceeded under a big tent to avoid the misty weather. Blackwell was seated front and center for testimonials and praise. Those taking the stage on Blackwell's behalf included former intern Leslie McIver '86 and Debbie Dillon Darden '78, who chaired the event organizing committee. Presidents Emeriti Sam Spencer and John Kuykendall unveiled a portrait of Mrs. Blackwell that now hangs in the foyer of the house. She greeted friends and admirers in front of the house following the ceremony, then slipped off with members of her family for a luncheon in the guest house while alumni toured the house and its grand new side porch.
Meanwhile, alumni from reunion classes converged on the front steps of Chambers for their class photos. Three members of the Class of 1935, Archie Coleman, K.D. Weeks, and Donald Bailey, celebrated their 65th reunion. Class of 1940 classmates Tom McKnight, Hugh Verner, and Sam Spencer got reacquainted, as did Class of 1995 friends Nikki Liverman and Chris Hood.
The Avant Garde groups enjoyed a luncheon in Chambers Gallery. The diners included Class of 1940 friends (l-r) Phil Garrou '40 and Don Holt. The grayest of the graybeards at the luncheon was Class of 1930 alumnus Henry Goodwin '30, who was in attendance with his wife Claire.
The skies had cleared by the time lunch was done, providing a picture-perfect day for the Wildcats' Homecoming football game versus Emory and Henry. Britton Taylor '98 volunteered to staff a "Change of Address" table for the alumni office outside of Richardson Field, and alumni who took advantage of the service were eligible for prizes at halftime. The stands were packed with Wildcat fans. They included Clarence Blalock '77 and children Julia and Clay. Julia was dressed as a Davidson cheerleader to mimic her big sister Connor Blalock '02, who is a member of the Wildcat Spirit Squad. A Class of 1995 group included (l-r) Will Boye, Gautam Srinivasan, Mike Amaditz, and Scott Lenhart. Wearing his NBA championship ring, Brandon Williams '96 joined friends Tiara Able '97 and Athan Lindsay '93. Frank Rader '71 brought along his newly adopted daughter Ellie to show off to friends. Dudley McMurray of Nashville, father of Wildcat right guard Will McMurray '03, took advantage of a free copy of a Davidsonian passed out by the paper's editors at the game.
The introduction of the Homecoming Court at halftime reflected a Scottish theme. As one of his first official duties, Alumni Association President Mike Deese '73 got to preside over the introduction of the Homecoming Court. After the kilted court had been introduced, the winners were announced. They were seniors Sarah Moore and Chad Phillips, who both represented Kappa Sigma fraternity. The Wildcats took a 10 point lead over the Wasps, including a running touchdown by quarterback Paul Nichols. Though the Wasps pressured the home team at the end, the Wildcats hung on for their first victory over Emory and Henry in 10 tries to extend their winning streak to 10 games. Players received hearty post-game congratulations from their peers, and then celebrated with a chorus of the fight song led by Coach Joe Susan.
Class activities continued throughout the afternoon. Reece Boyd '90 chatted with classmates gathering in Cunningham Fine Arts Building for a class photo. Leaders of that class's reunion were Jay Schmitt and Katherine Kraemer Stanley. Members of the Class of 1995 held a Mexican fiesta in Chambers Gallery, directed in part by reunion chairs Mills Ariail and Wendy McHugh. "Guest star" for the occasion was former dean of students Will Terry '54, who posed with friends John Ramey and Josh Rogers. Max Hyde enjoyed a cervesa, while Amanda Bryan Briggs and Nicole Watson enjoyed custom crafted burritos. The evening's festivities concluded with a concert in Baker Sports Center by the pop group Train. The opening act was Davidson's own Cast Iron Filter. Lead singer Dustin Edge '00, who's working this year as a Davidson Fellow in the library's archives office, rocked the house.
The final official Homecoming event occurred on Sunday morning at Davidson College Presbyterian Church, where Beth Duttera '90, associate pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Asheville, delivered a guest sermon on "Real Hunger." Alumni then returned to their homes around the globe, hopefully with a renewed appreciation for their alma mater and the enduring friendships they made in this place.
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