Gail O’Quin
2651 Kleinhert Ave.
Baton Rouge, LA 70806
[email protected]

As I emailed many of you earlier, in a moment of drunken stupor I agreed to be the class secretary. Now I know what a job Toots has performed over these many years. Many thanks, Toots.

We had a great 45th Reunion. Forty-five years; who’d have thunk! Those attending the 45th: Gretchen Bullard Barber, Katharine Barnhardt Chase, Stephanie Ewalt Coleman, Diane ‘Toots’ Dalton, Linda Fite, Pam Ford Kelley, Lynn Lyle, Mellie Hickey Nelson, Lindsay Smith Newsom, Gail Robins O’Quin, Bonnie Blew Pierie, Page Munroe Renger and Judi Benson Stigle.

Toots was honored for all of her service to Sweet Briar, a most deserved recognition. Our class also raised the most money that we ever have; our Annual Fund total was $65,254 and our Five Year Giving total was $196,465—WOW! We can pat ourselves on the back. Thanks to everyone who participated. We also have 40 Consistent Five-Year Donors and 78 Silver Rose Members, classmates who have included Sweet Briar in their Last Will and Testament. Way to go!

Reunion was fantastic. The campus is as beautiful as ever, the dorms are rather as we remember them—those twin bed “cots” have not changed much in 45 years. It is still necessary to shout flushing when in the bathroom and someone is taking a shower—some things never change. Some roommates were even paired together in their old dorms. It really was a walk down memory lane. I won’t recount the discussions that took place in the smoker after everyone had been celebrating, but I will say that we are still a fun-loving class—no holds barred!

Lindsay Smith Newsom reports that she and Page Monroe Renger had a great time at our 45th. She wants everyone to make it back for our 50th. Page and her husband Mac are spending the summer at Atlantic Beach, N.C., and are really “good for nothing” suffering from brain sunburn. They were scheduled to visit Sue Morck, but at the last minute had a change of plans. In addition to N.C., the Newsoms have gotten the travel bug. February saw them in Cambodia and Vietnam where they had a wonderful visit with Lindsay’s goddaughter and her family in Ho Chi Minh City. She thinks the week we spent outside Verona in June is called “agritourism” because of all the wineries, cheesemaking, balsamic vinegar making, etc. etc. places they visited. That and the cooking classes made for a fabulous trip! They’ll be back in Raleigh after Labor Day. “Alas! The real world calls!”

Judi Benson Stigle and Bonnie Blew Pierie were once again roommates in Grammer of all places where they started as roommates in 1963—deju vieux again! Judi is still our class president, thank you very much Judi, and she has organized calling lists from those who attended the 45th. She and her committee will be contacting class members to attend the BIG 50TH in 2017 (at our age 2017 is right around the corner). If you need encouragement for the 50th, Judi states that she and Bonnie had “lots of wine and lots of laughs!” I think everyone would agree with that report!

For Judi’s off-campus activities, she’s still working and playing lots of golf and questioning why she’s not better by now—Judi, that question is a golfer’s common concern! She became a mother again to a five-pound Yorkie puppy who is “too cute” and makes her laugh like a kid. Welcome to motherhood; fortunately, you can lock a puppy in the bathroom for misbehaviors, an act for which Child Protection Services would have us jailed!

Diane Mann Lankford writes that she’s still actively working in the interior design and architecture industry. She is seeing signs that the economy is improving! “Design is often the first to die and first to come back; let’s hope a true upswing is in progress.” Diane has five grandchildren (1 mo. up to 8) and all live close. She’s going to the antique market with Melissa Sanders Thomas; she still talks to Kay Hightower and Susan Tucker on a regular basis, and usually sees Mimi Harrison and Flossie Mobley at least a couple times a year for long lunches. Everyone is hanging in there!

I heard from Barbara Tillman Kelley who reports that she and Carlton are still in Birmingham; they’re both retired now and have been doing a lot of traveling. They’re even working on their Bucket List. Two years ago, they enacted her sixth grade dream and visited Egypt! Fabulous trip! They have been taking two or three big trips a year and love seeing the world! On the home front Barb reports, “Our kids are just fine. Dave, our oldest, is a manager at Gramercy Tavern in N.Y.C.—if anybody in N.Y.C. goes by, ask for him and tell him you know his Mom. His wife, Morgan, is an actor (musical theater) and has done well in N.Y.C.; she recently became the new Wendy’s girl in commercials on TV—when you see the pretty young girl with the long red hair, that’s our daughter-in-law. Our daughter, Darcy is a veterinarian in Birmingham and it’s wonderful to have her and her husband nearby, not to mention the great discount on care for our two dogs. Trey, our youngest, is in Charleston, S.C. and is a financial manager with a large company there. We love to visit Trey; his home is on a tidal creek and you can see all sorts of animals swim by. I just retired as the president of Assistance League of Birmingham, spending most of my free time volunteering with Assistance League. Are any other Sweet Briar girls members of Assistance League? I’m still a docent at our local history museum where I used to work. Carlton still enjoys backpacking and he and Trey are taking a trip to Australia and New Zealand and going backpacking there in December.”

Victoria Baker is still dancing and enjoying retirement with dance partner/life partner Lee. She is currently working on twelve anthropology lectures she will give in an enrichment lecture series on a Panama Canal cruise in November. Her parents celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary in June. She and Lee gave a ballroom dance demonstration at the tea reception given for the occasion. Do we have entertainment for the 50th?

Jane Stephenson Wilson is enjoying this time of life, especially her grandsons. They are close by, one four years old and his twin brothers almost two. The blessing of this stage of our life: love our children, spoil them and send them home!—my comment, not Jane’s.

Diane ‘Toots’ Dalton sent in a brief report: “After a busy year of retirement, I’m enjoying a month in Canada mostly off the grid.” Toots obviously has had enough of class notes for now!

Anne Stuart Brown remembered me from my leave of absence in my sophomore year due to my broken leg. She reminded me that I had instructed her in the proper pronouncement of New Orleans. Apparently I also wrote in her yearbook, “Remember the ‘den of iniquity’ when you think of your freshman year. You added quite a bit to it yourself.” Anne Stuart further explains, “My memory doesn’t extend to recalling why there was a “den of iniquity,” but by today’s standards I’m sure it was quite tame.” I agree, but maybe it is best that this memory is lost in the fog of age. She continues, “Suffice it to say I’m still married to the same husband (45 years so far), have two married sons who live nearby, and am blessed to have two grandsons and three granddaughters. I feel like a traitor to my home state of Va. Kirk and I have lived in Bethesda, Md., since 1975, longer than we lived in Va!”

Eleanor Crossley sadly reports the passing of her beloved husband of 56 years. He died a few months ago, and she is bravely trying to make a new life for herself without him. When she started Sweet Briar, she was the first married student with children they had ever had; her three preschoolers are now in their 50s. Eleanor comments, “How time flies. Jim was unusual for his age and time. He was the one who encouraged me to apply to Sweet Briar, and he babysat, did dishes, and sometimes cooked so I could finish papers and reading assignments. How I miss him.” Eleanor, our prayers are with you and your family.

Toni Naren Gates writes that she certainly does love to read about classmates and their lives, 45 (ugh!) years, after SBC.” Same Toni! Here goes: “Let’s see, I still have hair (sometimes in places I wish I didn’t, but a good magnifying mirror takes care of that); glasses? You bet! Hearing? Selective…at least that’s what I tell everybody (deaf is such an ugly four-letter word). And assorted aches and pains that seem to have settled in for the rest of the ride. But really, at 67 I’m feeling well, staying active, and having fun. We spend 9 months in Wichita being real people and three months in upstate N.Y. just relaxing and playing on the lake. At some point we will turn that into four and half months, a few months in a warmer climate, and the shoulder seasons in Wichita, or, if dreams come true, some Metropolis that just wears me out with all the cultural ‘goings on!’ But for now, my recent passions are tennis, Pilates and Zumba, planning events for our art museums, some continuing education, movies, books and Girls’ Night Out! We have two grandchildren and one on the way. We’re a small family. Interestingly, both my children are involved with large families on the other side. Lots of fun for get-togethers. Every Christmas we have been going to the Turks and Caicos for that needed rest after the fall craziness of so many holiday events squeezed into too short a time. This year we’re attempting a trip to South America. Definitely on the list is a trip to Chile and Argentina wine country—another passion—wine.” Way to go, Toni! Toni keeps up with Betsy Kurtz Argo. “Email is a wonderful thing! She is as funny, entertaining, and engaging as ever!”

Maria Wigglesworth Hemmings claims she does not have much to say, but… “Being in my ‘encore’ career as a nurse, I haven’t retired and at the moment have no interest in retiring. I am a staff nurse in an ICU stepdown unit at Norwalk Hospital and loving it. My husband, Jeff, retired last Nov. and that is another reason for me to keep working. We continue to travel having visited the Ukraine/Black Sea last year and Morocco this year and finally go to Australia to visit my brother early next year. He has lived there for 30 years so it is time. Eldest daughter Emery is still in Jackson, Wy. and has her own landscaping/gardening business and daughter Anne is in N.H. having just received her MBA (had to miss the reunion for her hooding ceremony). Anyone coming through N.Y.C. let me know as I’d love to come into the city and see you.” Maria concludes, “I guess our next reunion in five years is the 50 one. I remember when my mother went to hers and I thought she was ancient!” Well Ladies, we are ancient, just ask my grandson, but this is a great time of our lives and Maria certainly seems to be making the most of it!

Barbara Annan might take the prize for the most exciting trip. She reports, “I missed the 45th reunion as I was trekking in Tibet in the spring. I live in Madison, Wis. with two demanding Siamese cats. I will be completing a certificate in Folklore Studies from U.W. this fall, a hobby and a pleasurable undertaking after the years as a Ph.D. psychologist. I am enjoying active travel, and last week went on a kayaking trip in Canada. I hope to be able to see SBC classmates at the next big get-together.” We hope so too and bring lots of pictures!

Judi, Bonnie and I drove over on Sunday after Reunion to see Randy Brown on the Virginia coast. Randy has had health issues and has bought a darling house close to her son and her mother. She still sees Hallie Darby Smith who was not able to come to the reunion; Hallie is an Episcopal priest and had duties Reunion Weekend.

As for me, I am in Baton Rouge, La., waiting for Hurricane Isaac—one of the hazards of this part of the country. My husband Bill and I live with two standard poodles and a junkyard dog. We have four grandchildren with one on the way. My daughter Madeleine lives four blocks away with her nine-year-old and two-year-old—great but I am not a good grandmother nor am I a frequent babysitter. Please, if you’re ever in this part of the world (New Orleans, although a third world country, is included), please get in touch with me. We have lots of room and run a B&B for wayward travelers, not Bed & Breakfast but Bed & Bar—kitchen is closed here!

Best to everyone and keep in touch so my job will be easy. I do hope Sarah Ramage is not rolling in her grave over this report. I’ll never forget that you “raise chickens and rear children,” nor should you!