Jill Johnson

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Following a two-week tour along the Italian coast last fall, Deidre “DeDe” Conley and husband Gerard then sailed home. They loved Vernazza in Cinque Terra and the Sangiovese wines of Bolgheri nearby. They also took tours off the ship with a stop in Agadir, Morocco, where DeDe felt like she was almost back in Tunisia for a while. They loved the Canary Islands with one island, in particular, having spectacular, lunar-like volcanic vistas and vineyards growing in hollowed out pits in the volcanic soil. Once home in FL, DeDe got a new zirconium left hip, a miracle of modern medicine. DeDe reports Liz Clegg Woodard also enjoys sailing, having left in Jan. on a Round-the-World Cruise.

Rosie Brache Leparulo and William continue to live in Tallahassee and are fortunate that both married sons, wives and grandchildren Gracie (5) and Anthony (3) live there as well. Her mother (90) is in good health and lives a little over a mile away. William is still on the faculty at FSU. Rosie and former suite-mates, Kathy Leibell Pasternak, Cindy Miles Martinez, and Leslie Armstrong Ramsey began having yearly reunions about four years ago, usually in Oct. Last year they were at Leslie’s lovely Santa Fe home, and this year they plan to meet in Tallahassee and get a beach house on the gulf for a few days.

While Christmas shopping with friends, Bev Horne Dommerich ran into Pam Drake McCormick, whom she hadn’t seen since SBC graduation in 1972! Since then, Bev, Pam and Kathy Walsh Drake have gotten together for lunch and a little 40-plus year catch up. Pam is a snowbird, coming for the winter, and Kathy is a full time Floridian now. They invite any and all classmates who wander down to SW FL (Fort Myers, Estero, Bonita Springs or Naples) to contact them for reunions and merriment.

Vivian Finlay and husband Clyde Boyer travel a great deal, and they also have family and friends visit them in Homer, AK. In Jan., Vivian went to Burma/Myanmar where she was born and raised for the first few years of her life. She did some Rotary service projects and was also able to find her place of birth, and an old family friend in Rangoon/Yangon. She, Clyde and their dog also drove out of AK and through the Western states visiting children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and other family and friends for about two months last fall. They continue to enjoy their annual vacations in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Dale Shelly Graham reports from St. Louis that her mom passed away last Oct. Dale and James moved from D.C. to STL in Aug. ’11 to be near her mom who had been in frail health. She said she feels so lucky that she was able to have two years with her mom because they hadn’t lived in the same town since 1972 when Dale married and settled on the East coast. On a more cheerful note, son Fielding (27) is settled in Dallas and daughter Lily (24) is in NYC, and they’re both single, happy and gainfully employed!

Marion Walker writes that the loss of dear friend Nan Glaser LaGow ’71 broke her heart, but the birth of her grandbaby helped the healing. Marion’s law practice in labor and employment law for management continues to thrive with her Of Counsel association with Fisher & Phillips, LLP out of Atlanta and around the country. A terrific vacation at The Biltmore Inn last year introduced her to two new sports—shooting clays and fly-fishing. She got a shotgun for Christmas, and there are no plans at all to shoot any living thing! However, she recently learned how to cook duck. She hasn’t given up golf or sailing, but does find her free time has less gardening and her yard looks it.

Inspired by an FDR letter written to members of the U.S. Expeditionary Forces in 1942, Kitty Adams Murphy spent the better part of 2012 putting together a tribute to WWII vets for her women’s club, The Chatterbox. Now Kitty can’t stop reading about WWII. We owe a lot. After the tribute, Kitty and husband Pat flew to Nashville to see friends, fell in love with the place and soon after, bought a house. Since the move, she’s been unpacking, getting organized, working with contractors, and enjoying Nashville. The people have been welcoming, although she did have to laugh when a very precocious 10-year-old neighbor said her mom had made a “welcome” coconut pie because her cookbook had said that that was what Yankees liked to eat when they came south.

Jane Powell Gray is still loving retirement in Raleigh, NC. Husband Frank is practicing law full time, but taking time to go on trips with her—Key West in March and then Disney World with son, Matt, daughter-in-law, Lauren, and grandson, Hunter. In May they headed to Napa for a wine extravaganza and then to Tuscany in Oct.

Mary Pat Varn Moore continues to enjoy her role as VP of Government Programs for the Florida Association of Health Plans, although as the 2014 Legislative Session quickly approaches, retirement looks like a much better and less stressful option! Mary Pat and husband Paul enjoy getting away to their home in Balsam, NC, and hope to retire there in the mountains of western NC—at least during the hot and humid FL summers. The only drawback will be time away from two granddaughters, Adalyn Grace (5) and Arabella Renee (3), children of son Warren (33) and daughter-in-law, Anna. Paul and Mary Pat also welcomed another daughter-in-law into the family in Nov. 2013 when son Taylor (25) married Caroline Strickland at St. Peter’s Anglican Church, Tallahassee.

Rhonda Durham is her 8th year as executive director of ISAS—the accrediting body for 90 independent schools in the Southwest and loves it. Work travel and visiting her children who live in LA, NYC and Salt Lake City keep her boarding planes way more than she’d like some weeks. Rhonda has been able to keep in touch with Bobo Ryan Hoyt when in Houston, and, when visiting her parents who are both well in their 80s in Virginia Beach, has had many a fun time with Susan Snodgrass Wynne. Rhonda’s iPad these days is full of precious pictures of her two grandsons Cole and Mordecai and the five adorable Wynne grands and a fabulous picture of Bobo as first-time mother of the bride, daughter Caroline. The Durham grandsons have just been through nursery school admissions in tough school markets—NYC and LA. Sweating school admissions again, Rhonda reports, seems like “Groundhog Day”—déjà vu all over again. And, of course, there is the thrill of being in two more annual fund solicitation databases.

Susan Snodgrass Wynne announces the birth of her five grandchildren (four girls and one boy) in four years! Identical twin girls arrived a year ago. This past year has been a “WhirlWynne” adventure of travel. She continues serving on the Norfolk Academy board and enjoys seeing Rhonda Griffith Durham (Midland, TX) who comes to town for the meetings. Susan shares the devastating news that Margaret Hayes Brunstad(Birmingham, AL) lost her third sibling, Susie, to cancer before Christmas. Susie was diagnosed with a brain tumor when Margaret and Susan were SBC sophomore roommates. In Jan. Margaret tragically broke her pelvis after slipping on ice. Somehow Margaret continues to shine with grace and gratitude. What a remarkable role model she is for all of us. (Margaret serves on the SBC Friends of Art Board returning to campus often for meetings.)

Martha Holland and husband Chris Iribe are preparing for their daughter Katherine’s wedding this summer in Virginia Beach. They traveled last spring to China. Last fall they went to AK and enjoyed photographing birds, bears and whales. They divide their time between Washington, D.C. (where Martha sees Jill Johnson, Mary Heller, Charlene Sturbitts and Michela English ’71) and Virginia Beach.

Kathy Upchurch Takvorian continues as the Clinical Chief of Rheumatology at UMass—a bit discouraging in the current climate of governmental cuts all across the board (teaching and research have been hit pretty hard, for example). Kathy’s and Tak’s oldest daughter (middle child) married in June so Kathy acquired new skills as the M.O.B! So many details, but all in all fun. Tak and Kathy both are talking more about retirement, but haven’t made the move yet and don’t know where or in what way they would transition. She writes that it’s good to get the weddings off the table before taking that step!

Ginger Upchurch Collier’s husband Tom traveled to Cuba on the SBC trip last Jan. along with Eileen Gebrian and husband Tim Barberich. Ginger declined the trip as she was in Denver with her oldest daughter who just had her first baby. Her other news, and this on the QT from Kathy, is that Ginger is invited to be the SBC Commencement speaker this year! Quite an honor, to be sure.

Although Carter Frackelton is semi-retired having sold the block part of the family business, she stays just as busy as ever running an equipment repair business and managing several rental properties. Her volunteer activities fill in many other hours, particularly in the spring and fall. In the past couple of years, Carter has traveled to visit nieces, nephews and cousins in various locations and combined visits to SBCers Dale Shelley Graham in St. Louis and Marty Neill Boney in Wilmington, NC. Last Sept./Oct. she and Mary Heller had a great trip to Tuscany and the Lake Como region of Italy together. Last August Carter had a fun time celebrating a “Summer Christmas” at Camp, her family summer home in the Adirondacks. All three brothers, wives, and most of their children and grandchildren were in attendance. Her dear friend and floral designer Jan came up from Fredericksburg and decorated the 100+-year-old log cabin. Other local friends helped with securing a tree and preparing the holiday feast.

On an administrative note, if you didn’t hear from me, then I obviously sent my witty (?) emails to an incorrect address. Please, please send the right one to [email protected] One of the reasons I love Sweet Briar is because of the dear friends who stick throughout the years. In my last email, I asked if vexation came with wrinkles. The ever-straight shooter Dale Shelly Graham quipped back, “You were just as cranky 40 years ago only we called it feisty then, so don’t worry.” Through thick and thin, and now mostly thick around the middle…Do stay in touch, ladies. If not directly, then join the Facebook private group Sweet Briar College Class of 1972.