Gaby Morandiere, Class Rep
Coker University Commentary Class of 1962 News for Spring and Autumn 2O20
Dear Coker Classmates of 1962,
As usual the news of our classmates are listed alphabetically by the last names we had while students. It’s amazing to think that most of us are 80 years old! 2020 Has been a really unusual year for us all! Unfortunately I have had a difficult time organizing my thoughts and never got around to sending the news for our last Commentary. My computer had so many problems for months and I somehow lost some of your emails, for which I apologize.
Hopefully you have heard Dr. Natalie Harder has been named Coker University’s 17th President. Dr. Harder, previously Chancellor of South Louisiana Community College (SLCC), will began her term as president of Coker University in June 2020. “Dr. Harder is uniquely positioned to lead the university at this significant moment in our history. “Dr. Harder comes to Coker after a transformational eight years at SLCC, where she increased student graduation rates by 400 % over five years, increased enrollment from 6,100 students to over 18,000, and secured a $12.6M grant the largest grant ever awarded to the college.
Mary BeIl Kittle and Joe were happy to be able to head for their house in Orkney Springs, VA where they spend most of the summers and falls. This year they decided to find states that were allowing visitors from other places. They made it to 0klahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, the Dakotas, Minnesota, Wisconsin and lowa. Then Orkney Springs bound by way of lllinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia. Accommodations were very clean and very carefully observing protocols. There was plenty of space and fewer people in many of the states we visited and we felt entirely comfortable about making this trip.
Sherrie Berry Wolski’s brother, Jack Ivy Berry died on March 12th. Sherrie and Pat are always working hard on their house and yard. Most recently they have been installing new Formica kitchen counter tops. And there have been a lot of windy storms in Florida so a lot of tree branches came down. Sherrie loves to pick those up and haul them properly for the garbage men to pick up. She is so strong!
Peggy Brown Buchanan’s husband, The Right Reverend John Clark Buchanan, died at home on April 15th after a long illness. John had served in the U.S. Air Force and attended the University of South Carolina, where he earned a B.A. degree followed by a JD degree. After practicing law for awhile, he decided to study at the General Theological Seminary in New York City and became ordained in the Episcopal Diocese of SC. He became a Bishop in the Diocese of Kansas City, MO in 1989 and served in many more cities and states. Peggy and John travelled so often and just recently Peggy accepted an invitation to visit good friends at Hilton Head and she went to Savannah to visit a daughter and her husband. And finally, she and her Mt. Pleasant daughter and granddaughter had a wonderful girl’s trip to Fripp Island.
Doris Duke Straight has been staying close to home to avoid being exposed to COVID-19. Her youngest daughter lives with her and sanitizes everything that comes into the house: mail, groceries, etc. She has also been busy with some backyard projects and I have been helping. It keeps me from being bored while confined.
Carol Elting Richardson and former Coker roommate Charlotte Cothran Hough are still good friends and live about an hour and a half away from each other by car. They decided that Carol had a chair that needed to be upholstered. They found a nice fabric to use and Charlotte was able to work on upholstering it. Carol’s Son, Brad, has been running errands and buying groceries for Carol since the virus interfered with life. Brad has been working hard to make repairs needed for her aging house.
Molly Holbrooke Thomas Birchler shares exciting news. She has a new friend and housemate. Her adopted Braeburn/Earl Grey, a Domestic Short Hair & Russian Blue Mix cat from an adoption agency in Greensboro. He is LARGE about 14lbs. She cannot lift him and he does not fit in Molly’s lap well but she has renamed him Sebastian because he is such a handsome boy. He loves the screened porch and seems to enjoy having so much space to pitter-pat about. They are becoming good friends. She was able to take a wonderful trip to Africa last Nov. A trip she will never forget. Plans to take another adventurous trip to Jordan, Egypt, and Petra in August of 2021. “Of course, that is if I live that long and the virus is behind us.” In February Molly wrote that everyone was enjoying such nice winter weather in the Carolinas. She was taking four classes at the Community College. There are fabulous continuing education courses for retirees or even younger. She took a class titled 2020 Presidential candidates. The instructor is a retired major in Special Forces and still involved in our government and military. Brilliant speaker and Molly enjoys his classes. The next class was to be about China, Russia and the US, with the same instructor.
Karen Mansfield wrote in April that Omaha had around 900 cases of the virus which is relatively low. We are all shut in as I’m sure you are too. Hard to believe this is happening.
Lee McCown Huey went to New Orleans in January to see Clemson play for the national championship. It was a wonderful time with her daughter, brother and sister in law. Last summer (2019) Lee and her sister spent a week in Chautauqua, NY. They stayed in a Victorian hotel in a pedestrian, lakeside village and attended many lectures and concerts. It was memorable. Like everyone else, I am staying home now. The spring has been so beautiful it hasn’t been a hardship. I hope all my dear classmates are well and passing the time without stress.
Peggy McCue Freymuth’s granddaughter’s college has closed for the year and she has already gone to get her belongings. They were assigned a day and time-two hours to pack and clear out. Grandson Tanner participated in the all-district and all-state chorus so he spent three days at Winthrop just before the travel bans started. He was able to play church league basketball this year as practices were held on Sunday afternoons, therefore, no conflict with play practice at school. He scored his lone points for the season in the final game. Daughter Anne is still working and has been termed “essential personnel” by the practice as she is in charge of clerical personnel.
Gail Arnette Sinclair and her husband seem well and she and Peggy keep in touch from time to time. Flo Staklinski Taylor said it well: “The two of us are flattening the curve at home! Walking, reading, cooking and using the dishwasher more than ever.” Fortunately their church has been sharing services online. They miss tennis and socializing but are trying to stay smart!”
Joanne Tuten Bellamy sounds wonderfully strong and cheerful. She has just returned home after she had aorta blockage problems and surgery. Her son, Matt, has been very helpful, driving her back and forth to Charleston from Pawleys Island for doctor and hospital visits. He has been running errands for groceries and dog food. Joanne has a very large yard with vegetables, flowers and trees now loaded with oranges.
Bruce Williams and Mary Frances are celebrating their 57th year of marriage at Thanksgiving. They are so pleased that they decided to return to South Carolina to retire in Conway. (Bruce went into the Navy after graduating from Coker and served for 23 years.) Veterans Day always means a lot to Bruce.
Fred Williams’ wife, Carolyn, was good enough to let us know that things were quiet in SC last spring and fortunately no family members have been affected by the virus.
Peggy Zeigler Reeves and Danny enjoyed a spring and summer safely at home while working on all sorts of jigsaw puzzles. After having had some medical problems, Donnie returned home from the hospital. A few really good friends were able to drop by to visit and sometimes take Donnie for rides in the country.
I heard Frances Segars Kelly’s husband, Henry, died at home on July 31st after feeling very tired for a few weeks. She of course tried to do everything she could to make him more comfortable. What a wonderful couple they were – generous and helpful to so many relatives, friends and organizations. There was a private, close family-only funeral on August 3rd.
Gaby Morandiere’s New York City will not be the same for a very long time. Since mid-March restaurants, parks, shops, museums and theaters have been closed and everyone has to wear masks. Groceries were very hard to buy at first but I have been able to order some from an online store called Fresh Direct and eventually from Amazon-owned Whole Foods. The streets and sidewalks are hauntingly empty. So many have been moving to states and cities with more freedoms, especially those with children. Private schools seem to be opening carefully, but the teachers’ unions are making it impossible to successfully open the public schools. I am so grateful to have a small balcony overlooking a little park (owned and maintained by our Co-op). At night I can usually see some stars and the moon. In the daytime I can look down from the 7th floor to see birds, (this year, lots of bees have enjoyed my pots of basil, trees, some flowers and anyone walking by or sitting in the park. Although children are not allowed to run and play in the park they often do so with squeals of delight, which is a blessing. Please know that I think of you and am so grateful to hear from you when you have time. Certainly Thanksgiving Christmas and New Year’s can not be what we have enjoyed in years past but I wish you good health and so many blessings and peace.
Affectionately, Gaby Morandiere 212.832.7462