The Berea College Alumni Association enjoys hearing from Bereans from all over the world. The “Class Notes” section of Berea College magazine reports verifiable news you wish to share with your alumni friends and associates: careers, weddings, retirements, births, and other items of importance to our alumni. Please include your class year and name used while attending Berea. Notes may be edited for style and length. While we will make every effort to put your information into the next issue of BCM, some delays may occur. We appreciate your understanding.

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Franklin Parker and Betty J. Parker ’50, both in their 90s, spoke to children at a summer camp in July 2019 about their adventures more than 60 years ago, when Franklin was a Kappa Delta Pi fellow studying education in southern Africa. The children enjoyed handling wooden African carvings of antelopes and a lion.


Claude Raymond Beverly has been a widower for two years, having lost his wife Annabelle Phipps Beverly ’52 to Parkinsonism. He worked 42 years as a physicist in the nuclear industry at Oak Ridge and Paducah. Raymond is still living at home in Paducah with reasonable health. He returned to Berea for the dedication of the Margaret A. Cargill Natural Sciences & Health Building in October 2018 and relished seeing the Grizzles (Jim ’51 and Barbara Huntsman Grizzle ’52) and the Mattinglys (Steele ’50 and Betty Dimmick Mattingly ’51). If any others from his class were there, he regrets missing them. Raymond still travels alone and hopes to go back to Yellowstone and Grand Tetons one day. He would like to hear from any of his few remaining friends from the Berea years at the following address: 390 Rhea Lee Dr., Paducah, KY 42001.

Alumna Jessie Zander celebrating her birthday.

Jessie Reasor Zander celebrated her 87th birthday with a gathering in Tucson, AZ, which included Berea connections, Margaret Martini Mishra ’75, former faculty member Dr. Gene Chao and his wife Dorothy. That was followed up on Labor Day with a luncheon and a viewing of the movie “The Green Book.” Jessie shared stories of her and her husband traveling from Virginia to Arizona in the late 50s. They were not able to rent a hotel, so instead they slept under a street light at a gas station. Later, she thrilled the group with her poetry and is in the process of compiling a book of her poetry.


Tommy Clark and his wife, Dorothy, celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary by taking a cruise to Antarctica in January 2019. When Tom retired, he picked up his Berea Pep Band trombone again, and he still plays in two bands at the local senior center. He and Dorothy have traveled to more than 70 countries and all seven continents during their 23 years of retirement. Currently, they live in Charlottesville, VA.

Peter and Martha Noss Whitis.

Peter Whitis and Martha Noss Whitis celebrated their 66th anniversary May 30, 2019. They just completed a memoir, “This Improbable Life.” Email to purchase a book. Peter is a retired, board-certified psychiatrist who lives in Eau Claire, WI. His book, “Beyond Running: The Road as Mentor,” is also available on Amazon.


Dr. Robert N. “Bob” Compton was recognized as the 2019 Distinguished Alumnus in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Tennessee during the department’s annual Honors Day ceremony in May. He received this highest honor, “for his seminal contributions to atomic and molecular physics, and especially his pioneering studies of non-linear laser spectroscopy, multi-photon ionization, and multiply-charged negative ions.” Read more about Dr. Compton and his award.

Dr. Robert Compton receiving his Distinguished Alumnus Award.
UT Physics professor and department Head, Dr. Hanno Weitering, left, presents Dr. Robert Compton with the 2019 Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Madge Maupin Haney and Phil Haney are both retired teachers still living in Ashland, KY. They have four children, 10 grandchildren and three great grandchildren. Madge and Phil were married June 4, 1961 in Danforth Chapel.

Sylvia “Minnie” Messer Shepherd moved into an apartment in Roanoke, VA after selling her home. Her new address is: 420 Bluebell Ln. Apt. 205, Roanoke, VA 24012.


Charles N. Fiske relocated from Palm Coast, FL to Berea, KY in June 2015.


Gerry Yeatts Scardo continues to do environmental activist work and is employed as a social worker. She plans to retire for the fourth time to do volunteer work in the health field.


Susan Giffin lives in Florida and is co-author with an award-winning Cuban American author. To date they have published 11 novels in a variety of genres. See their posts on Facebook by searching @writedoctors. Susan said, “Although I graduated a long time ago, I still cherish the wonderful, happy memories of those days, and I will always enjoy sharing information about Berea College whenever the opportunity presents itself.”

Photo of Prince Altee Thomas.

Prince Altee Thomas received the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s A. Leon Higginbotham Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award during the 30th PBA Minority Attorney Conference in Philadelphia. The event theme was “Communities under Attack and Leadership Going Forward.” The award recognizes the accomplishments of a lawyer or judge who has demonstrated dedication to the legal profession and the minority community through civil, community or legal service. Learn more about Prince Altee Thomas and his Lifetime Achievement Award.

Rebeca Smith Mann smiling.

Dr. Rebecca Smith Mann moved to Chapel Hill, NC from Asheville. She now lives near her daughter, Dr. Monica Wrobel, who practices psychological counseling. Rebecca retired in 2005 from Guilford Technical Community College as an English professor, but she taught English part-time for six years after that. She enjoys spending time with her two granddaughters, her son-in-law and her daughter, who live in Durham, NC. You may call her at (336) 239-4110.


Barbara Fleming has released two new books in her Matthew Alexander mystery series. All five publications are available on Amazon.


Joyce Spears Beets said it was wonderful to renew friendships at Summer Reunion 2019. She also said this 50th reunion was special since it was the first she had attended, but hopefully not the last.

Cover of Barbara Fleming's book titled "Chasing Isfet District."
Cover of Dean Smith's book titled "Black Power Comes To Appalachia."

Edward Smith is a retired historian and archivist who published his second book on student activism at Berea College during the late 60s. The book is titled “Black Power Comes to Appalachia: Bereans Create the Black Appalachian Commission, A Documentary History, 1969-1970.” The foreword is written by his wife, Claudette Schmidt Smith ’72. The book documents the student-led movement to create a commission within the Council of the Southern Mountains to address the needs of overlooked black communities in Appalachia. The 214-page book has more than 140 pages of documents and photographs and is $18. It can be purchased on Amazon, or by emailing It can also be purchased by mail to his home at: 5601 Joyce Place, Bladensburg, MD 20710-1645.


Rose Weaver was featured in an Aug. 30, 2019 Oak Ridge Today article about the kick-off meeting for the Women’s Interfaith Dialogue of Oak Ridge. She is an active member of the Oak Ridge community, a poet and a historian. She is researching the history of desegregation of the area and the people who have had the greatest impacts in shaping Oak Ridge. Rose serves as Christian education director and superintendent of Spurgeon Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church Sunday School. Read the complete article on Rose Weaver.

Alumna Rose Weaver.

Teresa Reed Thacker retired in December 2018 after working 42 years, 39 of which were spent as a recovery room nurse. She is grateful to Berea College for her education, friendships and the place where she met her husband, David Glen Thacker ’73.

Cathy Brinkley standing next to Susan Bro.
Cathy (right) is pictured with Susan Bro, Heather Heyer’s mother.

Cathy Phillips Brinkley is the office assistant to Susan Bro of the Heather Heyer Foundation. Heyer is the young woman who was killed in Charlottesville, VA by a white supremacist when he plowed his car into a crowd of counter protestors on Aug. 12, 2017, injuring at least 19 and killing Heyer. The foundation gives scholarships in her name to those who want to work in social justice fields. Students must prove they are already active in this area. Learn about the Heather Heyer Foundation.


John Alexander and Susan McGuffin Alexander retired from Grayson County Public Schools in June. They celebrated 49 years of being together in September. John and Susan said, “Broom craft students are the best!”

Sharon J. Alexander retired from St. Mary’s Medical Center in Huntington, WV, where she was director of nursing and worked for nearly 40 years.


Dr. Anthony C. Hackney will be receiving an honorary doctorate later this year from the medical school of the University of Tartu in Estonia. The university is honoring his research contributions in the area of exercise endocrinology, his long-standing collaborations with the late Professor Atko Viru of Tartu and his nearly 30 years of engagement in teaching and research in the Baltic countries. The University of Tartu is the country’s leading center of research and training, and is a member of the prestigious Coimbra Group of European universities.

Pastor Donald Ray Napier has three sons and five grandchildren. In his retirement, he pastors Ages Baptist Church, works at a homeless shelter three days a week and volunteers at Christ’s Hands and the Red Cross. He would love to hear from friends: 1284 Hwy 38, Clovertown, KY 40831.

Julia Weatherford and Frederick Park ’93 were featured in a May 31, 2019 Mountain Xpress article, “A history of WNC’s most enduring social dance traditions.” The article chronicles the history of the weekly community dance tradition that dates back to the 1930s, once called the Farmer’s Ball, held in a hall on Warren Wilson College Road. Frederick, who danced and studied Appalachian studies at Berea, revived the tradition when he moved to Swannanoa in 1981 and heard country and bluegrass music coming from the old hall. Julia, who is a musician, describes the ruggedness of the old hall in the article. Read the Mountain Xpress article.


Elaine Crull retired in June from the Jackson County School System (GA) after 27 years as a public school speech/language pathologist (SLP). Starting in 1991, Elaine spent the first three years of her career as an SLP in Elbert County, GA. She spent the remainder of her career in service to the children and families of Jackson County, with the exception of one year spent at the Rochester Hearing & Speech Center in Rochester, NY. Elaine looks forward to traveling to new places.

James Ramsay smiling for a picture.

James Ramsay finished his Doctor of Ministry degree at Bakke Graduate University in June 2019. His focus was in migration and mission. The dissertation research he completed was looking at motivations into ministry among diaspora populations. James and his family live in Atlanta, GA where he serves as vice president for global operations for TMS Global, a mission mobilizing and sending organization.

Jerry Carpenter working on shaping a bonsai tree.

Jerry Carpenter is celebrating eight years at the U.S. Geological Society. He is serving as a lead MS domain administrator and as an assistant curator at the Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt (CA), teaching the art of bonsai and maintaining private collections. Follow Carpenter’s art on his blog.


Paul Phnomphone Sirimongkhon and his wife Barbie Leggin Sirimongkhon ’83 moved to Green Valley, AZ. They are enjoying a change of scenery, an active outdoor lifestyle and long mild winter months. In 2016, Paul decided to go back to school and graduated in May 2018, with a master’s degree in digital storytelling/media communications from Asbury University (KY). Barbie formerly taught at the Bluegrass Community & Technical College as an assistant professor of development studies. Currently, she is working on building her adult health and skincare products business as an Arbonne International district manager.


Donna Sue Baker McClure is now U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s senior field representative, serving the senator since 2005 in 24 eastern Kentucky counties.

A photo of Katherine Silver Kelly.

Katherine Silver Kelly was promoted from associate clinical professor of law to clinical professor of law at the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. Katherine has worked at OSU since 2012. She was awarded the College of Law’s Morgan E. Shipman Outstanding Professor Award in 2016 and the University’s Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching in 2017.


Edward Brock completed his degree in respiratory therapy in December 2018 and became a certified respiratory therapist in March 2019.

Frederick Park and Julia Weatherford ’79 were featured in a May 31, 2019 Mountain Xpress article, “A history of WNC’s most enduring social dance traditions.” The article chronicles the history of the weekly community dance tradition that dates back to the 1930s, once called the Farmer’s Ball, held in a hall on Warren Wilson College Road. Frederick, who danced and studied Appalachian studies at Berea, revived the tradition when he moved to Swannanoa in 1981 and heard country and bluegrass music coming from the old hall. Julia, who is a musician, describes the ruggedness of the old hall in the article. Read the Mountain Xpress article.


Alan Hughes, chair of psychology at Berry College, is one of 41 administrators in higher education nationwide selected to participate in the 2019-20 Senior Leadership Academy.


Mark Butler was appointed director of the office of founded ministries for the Dominican Sisters of Peace, a religious congregation with administrative offices in Columbus, OH. The office assists ministry leaders in the areas of governance and Dominican Catholic identity. The congregation’s sponsored ministries include primary and secondary schools, colleges/universities, health care centers, ecology centers, literacy and outreach centers, and retreat centers in nine states.


Charles Tillett, his wife Alice and their son Micah worked as missionaries in Kenya from 1999 to 2014, and in New Mexico from 2016 to 2018. They’ve recently returned to Frankfort, KY, and joined Victory Tabernacle PCG church in Georgetown. Alice is teaching a Bible study on Monday nights at the church. Charles started doing ministry in the chapel at Blackburn Prison in January.

Charles Tillett speaking for a crowd.

From 1999-2001, Charles Tillett said revival took place in his life while living on the mission field in Kenya, beyond what he could have imagined. In 1999, his wife Alice and his 10-year-old son Micah sold all their possessions and moved to Kenya as full-time missionaries. While on the mission field, they planted a church on their back porch and it is still growing and thriving today. They took in destitute orphan children and held revivals and crusades in various parts of the country. From 2001-10, Charles worked as a front desk supervisor and worker at the Prevention Park YMCA in Frankfort, KY. From 2010-14, they were called to return to Kenya to continue the ministry they left in 2001. Before that they did short term mission trips to Kenya from 2002 -2008.

During the mission trips and during their stay from 2010 -2014 God blessed them mightily. They praise God for over 1,500 souls being saved, over 400 healings and miracles and over 100 people delivered from demon possession.

From 2016-18, they felt led by the Lord to move to New Mexico and reopen an Indian Mission’s church with Pentecostal Church of God. The church’s name is Bluewater Chapel and it had been closed down for over two years. There were no members at the time and no knowledge of former members. The building was in terrible shape, however the Lord provided volunteers from Colorado, Utah and Kentucky. They worked very hard and put on a new roof, siding and painted the church on the inside. The church was reestablished and 10 people were attending the church when the Lord told them to return to Kentucky. God provided a new pastor and family of seven to take their place.

Various other ministries in the past:

  • Founders & Former Bishop: Church on the River, Kenya, East Africa
  • Founders: The Village of Children Orphanage, Naivasha, Kenya
  • Volunteer Chaplain Prison Ministry Blackburn Correctional, Lexington, KY
  • Pastor of Outreach Ministry
  • Cell group leader
  • Founder/Teacher: Naivasha, Kenya School of the Lamp, a small Bible school
  • Leadership training: churches, lay ministry, discipleship, door to door evangelism, and prayer walking, in Kenya
  • Open air, bush and street preaching, Kenya
  • Developed a Christian flyer to give to people door to door for churches
  • Hospital and nursing home visitation

Amy Burkhardt Harmon was promoted to director of planned giving at Berea College.

Headshot of Amy Burkhardt Harmon
Alumna Leslie Miller Athman

Leslie Miller Athman began working for Cape Fox Facilities Services at Rocky Mountain Laboratories (a National Institutes of Health facility) in Hamilton, MT as a laboratory assistant in February 2018. She was awarded the Cape Fox Facilities Services Distinguished Achievement Award on May 30, 2019, after her first year of service.

Jeremy Grant recently was named the theater director at Madison Southern High School in Berea.

Katrina Suzanna Thacker, Ph.D., has been elected for the past two years to the resident advisory board in conjunction with Housing for Urban Development for the Myers Towers Building in Pikeville, KY. She also was selected as an alternate Democrat election worker for the general election in November 2019. Katrina is a member of the Democrat National Committee and a poet in the Pikeville Poetry Organization.

Former Berea College student Keith Garrett.

Keith Garrett is a commercial credit underwriter for Bank of America in Knoxville, TN. He has resided in Knoxville for the last 13 years. In 2009, after being in banking for around five years, Keith decided to pursue a master’s degree in business administration. This is when his time at Berea, prepping him for harder things, really manifested itself, he said. Keith is approaching two years in his role at the bank and said it has been the best career move he has ever made. He likes working with some of the biggest companies in America.

Luke Sulfridge standing with his certificate of recognition.

Luke Sulfridge, executive director of the Southeast Ohio Public Energy Council, was recognized by Midwest Energy News Network as a 40 under 40 champion. The program highlights emerging leaders throughout the region and their work in transitioning to a clean energy economy. Learn more about Sulfridge and the Midwest Energy News Network.

Headshot of Heather Kristen Evans.

Heather Kristen Evans joined the faculty at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise this past fall as the John Morton Beaty Endowed Chair in Political Science. She resides in Abingdon, VA with her husband, Patrick, and their two children.


Rishara Finsel was chosen as the new director of the Transylvania County Library (NC) in July 2019. Prior to her new job, she worked as the director of the Polk County Public Library and was the senior librarian for public services at the Flathead County Library System in western Montana.

Recent Master's degree graduate Justin Kindler.

Justin Kindler graduated from Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis witha certificate in endodontics and master’s degree in dentistry in June 2019. Later that month, he and his wife, Sarah Shannon Kindler ’04, relocated to Lexington along with their two daughters, Chloe and Caroline. Justin started working as an endodontist, or a root canal specialist, at Central Kentucky Endodontics in Beaumont Center in late July. The couple is expecting their third child, a boy, in or around February.

BIRTH: a daughter, Luna Maria Rivera, to Missy Naseman Rivera and Javier Rivera on July 26, 2019. The family resides in Sidney, OH

Picture of Missy Naseman Rivera's newborn baby, Luna Maria Rivera.

Kay Barnett resides in her hometown of London, KY, where she is employed as the community education and public information officer for Laurel County Public Schools. Kay is finishing her term as president of the London Rotary Club, serves as a board member with Court Appointed Special Advocate of Knox-Laurel Counties and God’s Pantry Food Bank Southeast Region Distribution Facility. Kay was selected this spring as a recipient of Laurel County’s 10 Under 40 Award, which recognizes the accomplishments and commitment to make Laurel County, KY, a better place to live, work and play.

Robert E. Haynes as his family gives him new medals symbolizing his promotion.

Robert E. Haynes was promoted to major in the U.S. Army on Aug. 1, 2019. He is pictured with his wife Megan Henry Haynes ’07, and children Caleb, Christian and Elijah.

Alumna Sara Eileen Ball alongside her husband and newborn baby.

BIRTH: a son, Samuel Christopher Ball, to Sara Eileen Rhatican Ball and Ted Ball on Aug. 20, 2019.

Dr. Demetrius A. Russell, Sr. holding his Divinity degree.

Dr. Demetrius A. Russell, Sr. earned a Master of Divinity degree in 2013 from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry degree in 2018 from Luther Rice Seminary.

A photo of alumna Alix E. Heintzman.

Alix E. Heintzman’s debut novel, “The Ten Thousand Doors of January,” was published in September 2019 by Orbit/Redhook Books under the pen name Alix E. Harrow. In August, she became the youngest woman to win a Hugo Award in a prose category (best short story) for her short story, “A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies,” which was published in the February 2018 issue of Apex Magazine. This year, she was also a finalist for the Nebula, Locus and World Fantasy Awards in the short fiction categories. She lives in Berea with her husband and their two children and is a faculty member at Eastern Kentucky University. Read Heintzman’s award-winning story online.

Newlywed alumna Shannon Nicole Brookman and her husband.

MARRIED: Shannon Nicole Brookman to Matthew Kiggen on July 12, 2019. The couple happily resides in Asheville, NC.

Akilah Hughes was featured in a Sept. 23, 2019 Chicago Sun–Times article about her new book, ”Obviously: Stories from My Timeline,” a collection of essays that chart her journey from a small suburb in Kentucky to a media career in New York, spanning from a popular YouTube channel to appearances on HBO’s “Pod Save America.” Read her full article.

Brittany Smith was featured in a July 19, 2019 The Advocate Messenger article about her appointment as the new young adult services librarian at the Boyle County Public Library. She will be tasked with reaching and serving local teens by increasing teen activities, such as a Dungeons and Dragons Club and by growing the young-adult collection. Learn more about Smith and her work.

Picture of Linsey K. Hogg, who earned a juris doctorate degree.

Linsey K. Hogg earned a juris doctorate degree from the University of Kentucky College of Law in May 2018. She was elected to the college’s Order of the Coif and served as an editorial board member on the Kentucky Law Journal. She passed the Kentucky Bar exam in July 2018 and was admitted to the practice of law on Oct. 22, 2018. She currently serves as Fayette Circuit Court Judge Ernesto Scorsone’s staff attorney. Linsey’s additional legal experience includes serving as the real-time editor, digital consultant and research assistant for the U.S. Sixth Circuit Committee on Pattern Criminal Jury Instructions. Linsey also has served as UK Law professor Sarah N. Welling’s research assistant.


Sam Gleaves was featured at the 47th National Storytelling Festival as an Exchange Place Teller. A tradition since 1973, the festival hosts the nation’s top storytellers and draws 11,000 people to celebrate the ancient art of storytelling in Jonesborough, Tennessee’s oldest town. Learn more about Gleaves’ achievement.


Matt Parsons was featured in a Sept. 25, 2019 Grayson Journal-Enquirer article about his storytelling set, “The Parsons Cowboy Suite,” that he performed at the Olive Hill Center for Arts and Education as part of the venue’s Trail Town Stage series with his father and brother. The set, written by Matt, is partly based on a man he met while still in school at Berea—Dale from Texas—and partly inspired by the western movies he and his brother watched growing up. Read the full article here.


Emily Chen-Newton, a host/producer at KIOS–Omaha Public Radio, teamed up with Dawaune Lamont Hayes of NOISE (North Omaha Information Support Everyone) to talk with the producing artistic directors of The Great Plains Theatre Conference and The Union for Contemporary Art about using theatre as a means of healing and racial reconciliation in the July 17, 2019 piece “Theatre Bringing Reconciliation in Omaha”. Emily also is working on KIOS podcast “Made in the Middle,” which combines science and culture into an hour-long conversation in which she takes a trip through the history of the American Heartland to uncover how it’s made our country what it is. Learn more about Chen-Newton’s work.


Loren E. Weber recently accepted the American India Foundation Clinton Fellowship. The fellowship is a 10-month commitment, which began in September 2019. Loren will work in her placement community as an organic and sustainable gardener and educator.


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