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.
Tap or click on the arrows beside each year below to display Class Notes and photos.
Claude M. Allison is now 90 and has been married to Clara Jean Jones for 68 years. They are both in reasonable mind and health. Allison has long been retired from a successful career in health care administration.
Blanche Allison Bakke has enjoyed living at Brightview Senior Living for the past four years in Severna Park, Md. Her husband, Winston, passed away four years ago. They have one daughter, four grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
Tom Sylvester Kress has written a novel, titled “Wormwood: (A Retrospective Novel Related to Chernobyl),” that contains information on how a poor east Tennessee boy entered Berea and spent two years there before he left to get a Ph.D. at the University of Tennessee. This novel includes much about Berea and how this author ended up reviewing Chernobyl, including a really good description of the accident itself. Kress thinks his fellow alumni may enjoy reading it.
Mary Meece and Roger Meece ’57 live in Noblesville, Ind. They moved to be closer to family.
R. Mason Morrison retired after 41 years with the University of Kentucky and is living in Berea with wife, Margaret. They have four great grandchildren scattered across Florida and Indiana.
Larry Baber shared that since his wife, Annette Meeks Baber, died on Aug. 30, 2019, he continues to live in a retirement village. He is enjoying life at age 84 and invites anyone to call or visit. His house is very near US I-26. Call him at (828) 606-9133.
Dr. Robert Dowdy and Annette Dowdy ’60 reside in Destin, Fla., most of the year. They welcome guests in non-COVID years.
Prof. Robert G. Lawson was awarded the 2020 Medallion for Intellectual Achievement by the University of Kentucky Libraries. Read more.
Madge Maupin Haney shared that Phillip Haney ’63 died on Sept. 22, 2020, at the Louisa, Ky., Jordan Center Nursing Home. He and Madge were married 59 years ago at Berea College. Both are retired Ashland teachers.
Mary Workman Manning says, “Thank you for the difference you made in my life 58 years ago. I owe Berea College so much. Thank you.”
Dr. Alfred L. Cobbs, a retired professor of German from Wayne State University, Detroit, has written his memoir, “Locked Out: Finding freedom and education after Prince Edward County closed its schools.” The impetus for him writing his memoir was a return to Berea for the 50th anniversary of the Class of 1966, and it includes much about his experiences as a student at Berea College. He attended Berea after Prince Edward County, Va., closed its public schools rather than desegregate them, as ordered by the Supreme Court in the 1954 Brown v Board of Education decision. He found refuge in the study of and immersion in the German language and culture, which aided him in finding his way existentially, and ultimately led him to a rewarding career as a professor. “Locked Out” is a testimony of human perseverance and triumph against the odds. The memoir appeared in print in September 2020. It is available for purchase through many online sources, among them Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books a Million and Target, or on order through your local bookstore. Listen to Cobbs’ interview with the director of the Morton Museum.
Dr. John Fleming serves as the museum director-in-residence of the National Museum of African American Music which opened in Nashville, Tenn., on Jan. 18. Read more.
Dr. Jim Boulware retired from radiation oncology two years ago.
John Shotwell recently completed management of the 2020 U.S. Census house-to-house enumeration in the eastern half of Kentucky. His area of responsibility covered residences in 77 counties covering more than 20 million square miles. His office’s caseload of 460,000 homes was the third largest in the nation. His team completed 99.97 percent of all cases assigned. Shotwell, a retired USMC colonel, was inducted into the Kentucky Veterans Hall of Fame in 2019, one of fewer than 200 Kentuckians included in the Hall since its founding. He and his wife Geraldine (Jerri Cochrane ’68), a retired corporate controller, have been married 52 years and continue to reside in Lexington, Ky. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jerry Duane Kidd is working on a book about fraud in elections. He spent 30 years computerizing election offices in 10 states and has much information to share. He hopes to publish this coming summer.
Pamela Baldwin Ray retired from the IRS in 2013 and has kept busy keeping books for her daughter’s veterinary hospital and working part-time for an accounting firm in Orange, Va. She and her husband also travel frequently.
Virginia H. Pistello Underwood and her daughter, Stephanie, founded an independent book publishing company, Shadelandhouse Modern Press, after she retired from higher education administration in 2013. Her award-winning press recently published its 10th book, a historical novel set in the Civil War-era in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, and told through the eyes of a 14-year-old Mennonite boy struggling to protect his family. The press previously published Jane Stephenson’s (former first lady of Berea College) book “I Am Not a Nobody: Stories of Courageous Appalachian Women and Their Journeys with the New Opportunity School for Women.” Underwood is also a business lawyer and lives in Lexington, Ky., with her husband, Richard.
Larry Edward Sparks is a happily retired educator and former owner of Bay Window Antiques. Follow him on Instagram as he shares what he’s learned as an antique dealer (junker).
John Alexander and 7-year-old grandson, Noah Ridenhour, competed in the Berea College Virtual 5k The Great Pumpkin Run. Alexander finished with a time of 42:34 and his grandson paced him on his bike the entire way of the 5k. Afterwards, they had an award ceremony where Noah earned top prize, $5.
Dr. Mike A. Banks retired from DuPont, where he was accountable for researching and leading market growth enabling global certifications for sustainability, green codes, construction, rail, motor vehicles and marine applications, Uniform Plumbing Code and National Plumbing Code for the U.S. and Canada, as well as other global applications for Food Contact. Dr. Banks is currently providing consulting expertise through Surfacing Insights LLC.
Tim Williams, former vice mayor of Damascus, Va., was recently honored for his dedication to Damascus. Read more.
David Gullett, a master jeweler, retired after nearly 40 years. Read more.
Dean Coleman was promoted to PPG regional sales manager for all distribution of LIC commercial coatings
in the southeastern United States.
Dr. Thomas Glenn Kincer, MD, is the associate dean for rural and community programs at the Quillen College of Medicine at Eastern Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tenn.
Shawn Renee Anderson retired from Somerset Community College after 30 years as a financial aid director and center administrator.
Kelly Boyer joined the Jonathan Rose Companies in 2017 as president of the mortgage company. As a specialist in affordable housing, she is focused on increasing access to opportunity by increasing the supply of housing. Read more.
Jeanette Humphrey Byrd is continuing in her role as principal at Cummings Elementary, where she serves 530 preschool through fourth grade students and 92 staff members. During the pandemic, she has continued to engage in regular physical activity, including her favorite—running! She celebrated 30 years of marriage to Alex Byrd (professor of history at Rice University) in August. Their kids are growing up quickly. Benjamin is a junior at Oberlin College and Conservatory (jazz guitar) and Jenna is a junior at Lamar High School and was recently named to the National Honor Society.
Selina Plumley Vickers’ candidacy for House of Delegates in the 32nd District in West Virginia was endorsed by Fayette Fair Share, a political community organization registered as a political action committee, for the 2020 general election. Read more.
Kathy Riley Williams, a former history and Spanish major, retired Dec. 31, 2019, after 29 years in higher education. She began her career as an administrative assistant to the first Bonner Scholars program in the U.S. She retired as the director of academic readiness at Eastern Kentucky University. During her teaching career, she taught composition and literature at Berea College, Somerset Community College, Eastern Kentucky University, Shawnee State University and Midway College. As an administrator, she served many state and national organizations, including the National Organization for Student Success (Special Interests Network, Academic Readiness, leader emeritus), the Kentucky Organization for Student Success (president and archivist emeritus), the Big Sandy Area Development District, Shaping Our Appalachian Region, and various education-related subgroups of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education. In retirement, she plans to actually begin reading from the library she began amassing as a child.
Jeffrey Reddick served as a panelist for the “Dissecting Horror” digital panel series that
took place Oct. 28, 2020. Read more.
Carla Rhoades began a new position as a tenure track faculty in early childhood education at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College in Ohio. She is a Ph.D. candidate in educational studies and developmental and learning sciences at the University of Cincinnati.
Mark Gaddis competed on the game show “The Weakest Link” and won! It all came down to a tie-breaker, but he took home $59,000.
Dr. Jason King was honored with the Thoburn Excellence in Teaching Award at Saint Vincent College in Pennsylvania. Read more.
Cheryl Lowry Kula has been published in the anthology “In the Midst: A Covid-19 Anthology.” Her essay “The Hoarder,” appears among 100 selected entries from around the world.
Dr. Dawayne Kirkman was appointed as the new vice president of student affairs at Clark State Community College in Ohio. Kirkman joined Clark State on Jan. 11, 2021, from Sinclair Community College, where he most recently served as regional centers assistant vice president and onsite leader of Sinclair in Centerville. Read more.
LeDon Jones was named the first director of corporate stewardship by South State Bank. Read more.
Amy Elizabeth Harshbarger Thompson became a national board certified teacher in art early and middle childhood in December 2020. She has been teaching art for 20 years in Cabell County, W. Va. She lives in Chesapeake with her husband, David, and sons, Cameron, 15, and Caden, 11.
Dr. Dwayne Compton was honored as a part of distinguished graduates who are exemplary ambassadors for the University of Louisville. Watch his 2020 CEHD Fellow video and learn more about Dr. Compton.
Oana Sirboiu Harrison published her book “Of One Blood.” The book is available for purchase in eBook and paperback format from BookBaby, in eBook format on Amazon, and soon on other platforms too.
Bobi Conn provided her commentary regarding the book “Hillbilly Elegy” and the role large pharmaceutical companies play in Appalachia in an article published on Salon.com titled A day of reckoning for Big Pharma: The elegy that Appalachia really needs.
Rev. Samuel Weddington offers a community prayer as a guest columnist. Read more.
Dr. Alice Driver reflects on how COVID-19 has made life harder as a writer but how helping younger writers with diverse life and work experiences helps her maintain hope. Read more.
BIRTH: a daughter, Mahala Jolene Rose Hinds, to Rebecca Wheat and husband, Matt Hinds, on Oct. 2, 2020.
Dia Berend Obonyo completed a doctorate of Public Health from the University of Kentucky in December 2020. She and husband, Victor Obonyo, live in Lexington, Ky., with their two sons, Luka and Elon.
Grace Todd McKenzie and Heather Dent ’11 are creating a picture book to celebrate the life of Michelle Tooley, former Eli Lilly Chair of Religion, associate professor of religion and former chair of Peace and Social Justice Studies. Tooley passed away in 2015 after a two-year struggle with melanoma. In order to best represent Tooley’s life, McKenzie and Dent encourage all Bereans who knew her to share photos and memories to assist with the project. For more information or to support the project, visit their Create Hope for a Better World Facebook page.
Alix E. Harrow was interviewed for “Locus” magazine. She reflects on Berea College and
her life as an author. Read more.
Leesa Unger, an Emerge Kentucky alumna, won the 4th and final seat on the Frankfort City Commission in the 2020 election. Read more.
Nikita Leigh Thornsberry Vundi obtained a doctorate of public health, epidemiology in May 2020 from the University of Kentucky College of Public Health.
Bozhidar “Bo” Bashkov, Ph.D., has moved to Toronto, Ontario, Canada and started a new job as lead research scientist with IXL Learning, a K-12 personalized e-learning company.
BIRTH: a son, Sullivan Jay, to Kelsey (Crim) and John Hargis ’09 on Nov. 10, 2020, weighing 7 pounds, 10 ounces and measuring 19 inches long. This is their first child and they are thrilled and in awe of such a beautiful miracle.
Elyse Budkie earned a master’s degree in teaching math in the summer of 2016. Since then, Budkie has been working towards completing a doctorate in Education with a focus on online education practices of assessments in mathematics. During this time, she has worked as adjunct and visiting faculty in the Math department and served as the coordinator of Florida Atlantic University’s Math Learning Center in Boca Raton. Budkie was offered a position to run the math studio at Florida State University and began this new position at the beginning of 2021.
Aaron Meadows recently completed his M.S. in acupuncture studies at Shandong University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Prior to undertaking this three-year, graduate-level program of traditional Chinese medical training, Meadows served in the U.S. Peace Corps in China for two years. He also serves as the chief editor of “Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Quarterly,” an online publication devoted to promoting Chinese medicine and culture abroad.
Danielle Goldman-Musser was recognized as a recipient of the Adapted Physical Education Teacher of the Year Award by the Society of Health and Physical Education—Colorado. Read more.
Joscelin Rocha-Hidalgo earned a Masters of Arts degree in Psychology from Georgetown University. She is currently a doctoral candidate in the psychology program (lifespan cognitive neuroscience concentration). She recently taught her own undergraduate seminar called Bilingualism and Cognition. Rocha-Hidalgo is expected to earn her Ph.D. in spring 2022.
MARRIED: Aidana Almazova to Brandon Pollock in March 2020. The couple lives in Minneapolis, Minn. Aidana passed her CPA exams and is soon to be licensed. She is currently working as an internal auditor. Brandon passed his Series 7 and 66 financial industry licenses and is working in private wealth management. His next goal is to pass the CFA exam. In July 2020, they went skydiving for the first time to celebrate one year since graduation.
MARRIED: Rachel Hickman to Michael Collins on Nov. 7, 2020. They were able to have a safe and memorable wedding during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite many challenges they had to overcome in planning, the day was spent with close family and friends on a beautiful fall day.
Brandon Mitchell was selected to perform his original musical composition at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s Department of Technology and Applied Composition Showcase Concert in late January. The performance was livestreamed and then archived online. Mitchell studied in Japan with Berea professors Dr. Lauren McKee and Dr. Jeff Richey through the Kentucky Institute for International Studies on a U.S. Department of State Benjamin A. Gilman International scholarship during the summer of 2018. He based his composition on Murakami Haruki’s short story, “Super-Frog Saves Tokyo” as well as on his experience of visiting the Hiroshima Peace Bell during his time in Japan. Mitchell is now enrolled as a graduate student in the Technology and Applied Composition department at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he is studying under Lennie Moore. Upon completion of his studies, he hopes to work as a composer for film and video games and continue to travel the world and share his music with others.