Southwestern University is known for instilling a passion for lifelong learning. But as alumni go on through life after graduation, they discover another lasting, Southwestern-instilled passionlifelong friendships. This spring, the Office of Alumni and Parent Relations asked alumni to share stories of lifelong friendships formed at Southwestern. The response was overwhelming. Alumni told how friendships emerged from random first-year residence hall assignments, Greek affiliation, athletic team camaraderie or just the coincidence of living in the same city. Some friends gather regularly for annual trips or monthly meals, others for special occasions or just whenever they are able. They come together for family vacations, weddings, holidays or for no particular reason, except to spend time together.
Throughout the stories of memorable reunions and unique traditions, there flows a common theme of close bonds formed through the shared, often profound growing experience of being a Southwestern student. As Rev. James Foster 72 and Rosemarie Williams Foster 70 relate, our Southwestern friends are some of our best friends. We share common experiences, values and concerns. While we have all moved to other places, established careers, and had families, we still cherish our lifelong friends and know that these relationships keep us grounded. These sentiments echo through alumni stories of lifelong friendship.
Life after graduation pulls alumni friends in different directions and through diverse life experiences; still, the deep connection they describe keeps friendships close. And, when they do all get together, these alumni friends can pick up right where they left off, and revel in nostalgia for the time and place that brought them together. But the foundations of these relationships extend far beyond a common past; lifelong Southwestern friendships are just that: lifelong. They evolve and deepen as friends celebrate marriages and births, comfort one another through difficulties and loss, and share in the curiosities and joys of everyday life.
Standing (l-r): Lou Birdwell Parris 57, Ross Parris, Bev Beckham, Rhea Gracey Beckham 58, Marilyn Colegrove Manning 57, Joe Hegar 57, DeLois Prescott Thompson 57, Marilyn Peters Hegar 57, Patsy Ginn Williams 57, James Williams 55 and John Wolda
Seated, left to right: Glenn Platzer, Anne McKivett Platzer 58, Harriet Nicholas Wolda 58
As many as 25 alumni, all from the late-1950s cohort, have taken part in this alumni dinner club turned monthly lunch-bunch. The group sticks mainly to local, low-cost family restaurants, but they have taken some road trips together and enjoyed some not-so-low-cost locales as well. Weve all been good friends for a long, long time, explains Lou Birdwell Parris 57. Sometimes we recount our old days at Southwestern, the trouble we got in or caused. Were not as pretty as we used to be, but we have a great time!
Above, left to right: Blayne Naylor Blandford 03, Cliff Adams, Julie McCright 03, Sara Plunk 03, Carla Sterner 03, Laura Gorman 03 and Bridget Jones 03 at the wedding of fellow Pirates of the Guadalupe Elizabeth Brooke Davis-Holmes 03 and Levi Holmes 03
Arrrr ye ready to tube?! Every year for the last five years, twelve Pirate alumni from the classes of 20022005 have gathered in New Braunfels to camp and tube the mighty Guadalupe. Even torrential downpours cannot keep this group from this, their favorite time of year, according to Bridget Jones 03. Says fellow Pirate Blayne Naylor Blandford 03, These are the kind of friends that make it seem like no time has passed since the last time you saw each other. Stephanie Ritter 03 adds, The connections that we made in college are unique because that period of our lives was such an intense period of growth and discovery. The strength of this bond draws the group together for weddings, anniversaries and parties, tooAny excuse is a good excuse for us to get together!
Below, right: at 2006 Homecoming and Reunion Weekend, from left to right: Maureen Goodnow Sharp 81, Kimberly Kennedy 81, Diane Bailey Sturges 81, Cynthia Newman Kirkpatrick 80, Carol Sloan Browne 81 and Karol Sandberg Boes 81
Below, left: the 1982 W.W.W. in Galveston
Above: the first W.W.W. in 1981, the summer after graduation, at Kims lake house in Huntsville.
Twenty eight years ago, six Delta Zeta alumnae could not bear to say goodbye to each other at graduation, so they vowed to get together every year for a W.W.W. a Weekend Without Worry! What is a Weekend Without Worry? Usually, its a weekend without kids or spouses, a movie or two, lots of food and great conversation and memories, including a few laughs and cries, explains Karol Sandberg Boes 81. Our conversations have progressed over the years from having babies, raising children, suffering the loss of a spouse, coping with teenagers, aging parents, changing jobs and now kids in college! How well do these best friends know each other? So well that when they tried to play the board game Scruples, it absolutely did not work, because we all knew each other too well and it was impossible to bluff the rest of the group!
From left: Edward Shineberg 47, Govie Waller 44 and J.C. Bumgardner 48
J.C. Bumgardner 48, Edward Shineberg 47 and Govie Waller 44 became friends at Southwestern, but lost touch after leaving to serve in World War II. Years later, J.C. and Govie found each other again in Houston. They and their wives, Betty Reynolds Bumgardner 48 and Phyllis Young Waller 47, along with Kitty Anderson Bracht 47, would meet regularly for dinner and take family vacations together. When J.C. and Govie reconnected with Edward over the internet last year, it was cause for celebration. Ed and his wife came to visit from Wyoming and the friends had a reunion after 63 years. You can imagine the stories we had, says J.C.