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.
Click on the arrows beside each year below to display Class Notes and photos.
Jeanne Haring Schoonover is 94 years old and pleased to be a graduate of the school of nursing. She said it was “a very thorough program with a lot of hands-on experience.”
Martha Dendy King and husband, Walt, made a trip to Florida for the month of February. They enjoyed their daughter, two college grandsons and granddaughter, son and two high school grandsons. She said she misses her Berea classmates.
John Martin Ramsay became a nonagenarian on April 9. No longer dancing and glad not to be milking cows when the weather turns bad, he has turned publisher and podcaster. His latest book Answers Become Questions is now available online and at local bookstores, and his podcasts are on nine platforms under such titles as “Between the Finite and the Infinite,” “Dog Tales,” and “Flippin’ Freud.”
Jean Durden King is enjoying living at a wonderful retirement facility just outside of Chattanooga, TN, in Alexian Village, and not far from her hometown of LaFayette, GA. It was in LaFayette that she learned about Berea College and was able to be blessed to attend Berea from 1950 to 1955. She had an extra semester because her majors were art and physical education which had many lab courses. She says she was fortunate to have Dorothy Tredennick and Minnie Maude Macaulay as her advisors and mentors. She fell in love with Berea and thanks God every day for making her “poor and smart” enough to be able to get into Berea.
Jean taught school for 28 years in New York, Georgia, and with the Department of Defense in England. She married David King, who was in the U.S. Air Force, and had three children: Andrew, born in Georgia; Joel, born in England; and Carla, born in Germany. Her husband died in 2005, and son, Joel, died in 2016.
Jean worked and was connected with two organizations that have been very close to her heart, The American Youth Foundation (founded by William Danforth) and the Odyssey of the Mind (OM), founded by Sam Micklus. Her contribution to the OM was creating a “Buddy Teams Program” for matching U.S. and international teams, giving opportunities to build understanding and friendships among people of different races, nationalities, religions and countries.
Jean also has worked with the American Youth Foundation and its Camp Miniwanca since 1956, both as leader/teacher, sending her children to camp and now her grandchildren. Jeans says she has been truly blessed.
William (Jack) Farmer is a retired engineer and “hobby farmer” for 40 years. Violet Johnson Farmer ’61 is a retired Berea Community School teacher and has served 33 years as a member of the Berea City Council. The two have begun a joint venture, “Farmer Family Flips,” restoring homes for resale.
Dr. Joann Irwin Claytor and husband, Dr. Robert Claytor ’55, will be celebrating their 64th wedding anniversary in August. They have spent most of their time since graduation involved in various activities at Duke University. As retirees, they volunteer in numerous ways, always hoping to help others less fortunate. They are always excited to hear from their Berea friends who are scattered from New York to Seattle.
Dr. Janice Crabtree Wilson was given the Lifetime Achievement award by Marquis Who’s Who in 2019. She will have her biography printed in the 2020 edition of Marquis Who’s Who in America.
Larry Gene Keeter, in the spring of 1960, participated in the mock Democratic Convention in Phelps Stokes auditorium that nominated John F. Kennedy, who at the time was considered by many to be a long-shot because he was too young (43) and a Catholic. Robert Kennedy, director of the JFK campaign, sent a thank you note.
Professor Robert Lawson, lawyer, teacher and author, was featured in The Logan Banner on March 21 for his long career and activism in law. In 1984, Robert published Beverly Hills Supper Club: The Anatomy of a Nightclub Fire, which examines the horrific 1977 incident that resulted in more than a 100 deaths and 200 injuries. Other lifetime achievements include the University of Kentucky’s Great Teacher award (1981 and 2001), Outstanding Professor award by the Kentucky Advocates for Higher Education and induction into the University of Kentucky College of Law Hall of Fame in 1966. He has also spent a decade working to promote criminal-law reform. Read more.
Dr. Blue Wooldridge, professor emeritus of public administration at Virginia Commonwealth University, was awarded the Conference of Minority Public Administrators (COMPA) Public Service award. The COMPA award recognizes exemplary public service careers. Dr. Wooldridge was also presented with the 2020 Donald C. Stone award for outstanding contributions to the development and strengthening of the International Association of Schools and Institutes of Administration (IASIA) organization.
Edward Dean Smith published his third book on the subject of race at Berea College. The book is titled They Regrettably Appeared in Berea College Yearbooks Too: Blackface and Other Racially Insensitive Images on Campus, 1931-1970, An Essay on Race and Education. It is about one aspect of “popular student culture” during the era of segregation at the college, and the years immediately afterward. Other schools are also examining their yearbooks and finding that racially degrading images appeared well into the mid- and late-20th century. The book fills a missing gap in the College’s unique story while contributing to its interracial commitment and continuing the “Dialogue on Race and Education.” The 50-page essay (35 pages of text with photographs) can be purchased for $10 on Amazon, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to his home at 5601 Joyce Place, Bladensburg, MD 20710.
Bob Owen, photojournalist for the San Antonio Express-News, was recently honored by the 2020 National Headliner Awards in four different categories for excellence in journalism. Read more.
Jo E. Cox retired March 13, 2020 after 33 years of serving people with diabetes as a registered and licensed dietitian. Cox is a certified diabetes educator, with a Master of Science degree in nutrition.
Terri Fluker Gilma recently finished shooting a horror movie in Atlanta called, “Willy’s Wonderland.” She helped make the eight walk-around characters that try to kill the main character played by Nicolas Cage. She says she can now, “Check that off her to do list!!!” The movie is set to be released in October.
Sidi Bojang is now semi-retired and lives in Maryland with his wife, Oli, and two sons, Babakar and Muhemed Bojang. Sidi consults as a social worker, lectures, teaches and volunteers for many events in the Washington, D.C., area. Oli has worked in the law enforcement field for the past 12 years. She is also a women’s issues advocate, especially for women in Africa.
Pamela Hunt recently retired from teaching and is looking forward to playing and performing traditional music on the mountain dulcimer and autoharp. She may be contacted at 22 Stimens Dr., Mansfield, OH 44907.
Dr. Tracy Willis Espy, provost and vice president of academic affairs at Pfeiffer University in North Carolina, has been appointed the new president of Mitchell College by the board of trustees. Read more.
Julie Silver George was named dean of Eastern Kentucky University Libraries in April. Julie took over as interim dean in July 2019, and has been a true champion of student service and success.
Nathan Rome directed the Frankfort High School drama club in the production of “The Seussification of Romeo and Juliet,” written by Peter Bloedel. The performance is the classic Shakespearean story with a Seussian spin. Read more.
Jessica Napier has been named National Health Education Teacher of the Year by SHAPE America, an organization that champions health and physical educators at every level, from preschool to university graduate programs. Napier, a Lee County, Ky., native and health educator at Lee County Middle High School, has been teaching since 2003.
The SHAPE America Teacher of the Year program recognizes outstanding teachers in six categories, including physical education (elementary, middle and high school), adapted physical education, school health education and dance education. SHAPE America membership is comprised of more than 200,000 health and physical education professionals across the United States. Read more.
Dr. Katrina Suzanne Thacker, Ph.D., is a new member of the Pike County Beekeeper’s Club with the Pike County Extension Office from the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. Dr. Thacker’s doctoral dissertation (2006, copyright) is available from ProQuest for purchase in multiple formats. Thacker’s published dissertation “Whittling the Double Bind: Appalachian Poets Carving Out Tradition and Resistance,” is available in circulation from several major college and university libraries, including Berea College, Morehead State University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, West Virginia University (Appalachian Special Collections Archives), Western North Carolina University, Appalachian State University and University of Kentucky.
Bobi Conn recently published her memoir, In the Shadow of the Valley: A Memoir by Amazon Press. Conn writes about the life challenges she faced growing up in Appalachia. The book is available for purchase on Amazon and has received high reviews. In June, Alumni Relations hosted a virtual book club where Bobi led a discussion about her book with fellow Bereans.
Dr. Mary Drewnoski is the recipient of the 2020 Midwest Section of the American Society of Animal Science Outstanding Young Extension Specialist award. Read more.
Grace Ann Todd McKenzie and Heather Mecham Dent ’11 are working on a children’s book about the life of Michelle Tooley. They are hoping to self-publish in 2021, with the help of a Kickstarter campaign.Check out the Facebook page for updates and look for the Kickstarter in the fall! Read more.
Josh Frazier-Sparks has been living in Bentonville, AR, for the past three years with his husband Carl Frazier-Sparks. Josh is a senior manager at Walmart.org, where he brings to bear the assets of the company, including philanthropy, to promote positive change across the globe.
Charlie Foster was featured in The Flat Hat newspaper in February 2020 as the director of
the Office of Student Veteran Engagement at The College of William and Mary. Foster shares some of his personal experiences and the challenges he faced in transitioning as a veteran of the Marine Corps to an undergraduate student to completion of his master’s degree. Those experiences helped to prepare him for his new position, where he assists veteran students as they transition from service member to student. Read more.
Akilah Hughes, journalist, writer, actress and comedian, sat down for a Q and A in April for Cincinnati.com. Hughes credits her career success in part to Berea College and shared she would be the voice of Theresa in three video shorts on the Fox animated TV show, Bob’s Burgers. Read more.
Ramesh Adhikari accepted a tenure-stream position in the Physics and Astronomy department at Colgate University. He’s excited about this opportunity to pursue his teaching and research ambitions. He will be moving back to the north- east with his wife, Yelena Kobaliya, and their daughter, Mila, after four years in Jacksonville, FL.
BIRTH: a daughter, Morgan Skye Babcock, to Ashley Harris-Babcock and Derek Babcock on Nov. 14, 2019. She joins big sister Autumn. The family lives in Thorntown, IN.
Jamie Nunnery Oleka has accepted the position of principal at Nativity Academy at
St. Boniface. Read more.
Lara Zavalza started a new job as a donor contact representative III – Bilingual (Vietnamese or Korean) for the Be the Match registry of the National Marrow Donor program.
Courtney Flege will play the lead character of Anne, in the play, “Anne & Emmett” in Cincinnati, OH. The play is written by Janet Langhart Cohen, who crafts a fictional meeting in the afterlife of Anne Frank and Emmett Till. Read more.
Noah Hughes joined the Union College Office of Sports Communications as assistant director of sports communications in February. Read more.