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.
Jennie Westlake Findley writes: “In 1945, nine of us started a Round Robin Letter. Today, four are still circulating it. Dr. Louise Young Gossett, Carolyn Keener Howard, Kathleen Mieras Wright and Jennie Westlake Findley.“
Franklin Parker of Uplands Village, Pleasant Hill, Tenn., reached age 100 on June 2, 2021. Franklin and his wife, Betty Parker ’50, (age 92) were greeted with signs and waves as they were driven through town. Pleasant Hill’s mayor and town council in a proclamation declared June 2 to be “Franklin Parker Appreciation Day” and urged “all citizens to honor every elder and rededicate their lives to being the best person they were meant
to be.” The Parkers welcome contact at P.O. Box 406, Pleasant Hill, TN 38578. Read more about the Parkers.
Lola Sholar Cunningham shares: “I am 93 years old. I live in Lanier Village Estates, Ga., (retirement community—500 people). It is on 86 beautiful acres on Lake Lanier. I feel blessed to live in my own beautiful apartment. I still walk two hours each morning—I love nature!! My daughter lives five minutes away. She is married to a local surgeon who is native to Gainesville. His father was the first surgeon in town.”
Mary McWilliams Perry Fd. ’53 hosted her family reunion on Berea’s campus this past summer. The reunion included lunch at the Farm Store, a College tour and a bus tour guided by Perry that entailed visiting local places of family interest.
Robert and Frances Edwards ’56 celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary. They were married at Danforth Chapel by Dr. Gordon Ross ’69. Frances celebrated her 88th birthday on July 15, and Edward’s birthday is on December 15.
Margaret Molly Wetzel writes: “Survived COVID—older but not wiser! Love gardening and flowers. Healthy, addicted to TV show ‘Oak Island’!”
Juanita Wilkerson, nursing graduate, penned that her husband, Robert Wilkerson ’56, was a member of the Berea College tennis team and still plays doubles at age 91.
Erma Jo Reedy Fielden wrote that Margaret Harkleroad, roommate and best friend for four years, fought cancer for almost 20 years but died this past year. Fielden says, “She was a very special friend.”
Imogene Bruce shared that her husband, Billy D. Bruce ’56, passed away on April 17, 2020. He had vascular dementia for many years and was under hospice care for the last six months of his life. She misses him so much.
Agnes Kulungian Woolsey moved to Mendocino County, Calif., in 1993 after raising two children, and taught in Berkeley Public Schools for 27 years. In May 2019, Woolsey showed Landscapes in a Retrospective Exhibit at the Mendocino Art Center.
Robert Lawson, retired, shared Rebecca Lawson, his wife, passed away Feb. 24, 2017. They both graduated from Berea College June 5, 1960. They married that day. Their Berea days are among his best memories.
Lylvia Messer lives in a retirement community called Friendship Living in Roanoke, Va.
Dr. Blue Wooldridge, as of June 2019, is Professor Emeritus of Public Administration and Policy at Virginia Commonwealth University. In addition to this emeritus status, he was recently recognized with the honorary designation in the inaugural cohort of VCU’s Distinguished Career Professors.
In June 2021, he was the inaugural recipient of the Philip J. Rutledge Award, as an internationally recognized scholar whose work examines the role of administrators, systems and policies in promoting the equitable distribution of services. Dr. Wooldridge was honored by the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) for more than a half century of leadership in addressing issues of equity in public administration. The Rutledge Award recognizes and celebrates the contributions of the late Academy Fellow Philip J. Rutledge, a visionary leader who worked to infuse social equity into the curriculum of the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration or NASPAA-accredited programs and was a catalyst for making social equity one of the pillars of public administration. The award was presented during NAPA’s Annual Social Equity Leadership Conference.
In July 2021 ,Wooldridge was recognized as the co-recipient of the 2020 Donald C. Stone Award from the International Association of Schools and Institutes of Administration (IASIA). The award pays tribute to the contribution of Donald C. Stone, a founding father of IASIA, for his leadership and his long-dedicated service to IASIA and to acknowledge his outstanding contributions to the organization. The Stone award goes to IASIA members for outstanding contributions to the advancement and wellbeing of the association. The presentation of the Stone Award was delayed from 2020 since the annual conference in South Africa was postponed that year.
June Cleek Amburgey Chard retired from State of Kentucky Human Services. Chard returned to Kingsport, Tenn., in 2003 and has been dedicated to feline rescue since 1999. She is presently running a major foster home for feline rescue and a no-kill shelter. Her passion has been spay/neuter, and she has trapped and fixed many felines since 2003. Her husband, Gilbert, passed away March 10, 2019.
Diane Giffin Fernsler and George Fernsler, her husband, are still living in New York City. Retired and active, they are always happy to see Berea people.
Jeanne Moran Gourley, Rose Pennington Wilkes, Phyllis Pigmon Osburn, Sandy Walker Kurtz and Sandi Hale Stewart have had “girlfriend getaways” every summer since 2014. They are sad that one of the “Berea Buds” has passed. They share, “Phyllis, you will be missed.”
James “Jim” Branscome reviews William H. Turner’s new book “The Harlan Renaissance: Stories of Black Life in Appalachian Coal Towns.” Read Branscome’s review.
Margaret Walker Jeffiers is an avid hiker. In August 2021, she checked Glacier National Park off her bucket list by hiking 54 miles in five days. Margaret and husband Dave Jeffiers live in Versailles, Ky., where Dave is a beekeeper.
Mark A. Pross KH ’68 retired on Jan. 2, 2021, as an assistant director with the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) in Washington, D.C., after a 45-year career, including nearly 41 years with GAO. Pross led reviews for the U.S. Congress on such diverse issues as the coronavirus pandemic; preparedness of U.S. forces to counter North Korean chemical and biological weapons; Department of Defense mission assurance; chemical and biological defense, biosafety and biosecurity; southwest border security; the assurance of defense critical infrastructure; drawdown of U.S. forces from Iraq; security for the Olympic Games; international counterterrorism; combating terrorism; and world-wide aerospace plane research and development efforts. Some career highlights include serving in GAO’s European Office in Frankfurt, West Germany, for four years (1982-1986), being detailed from GAO on three assignments to the U.S. Congress’ House Armed Services’ Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations (1993-1994), being detailed from GAO to the 1995 Base Realignment and Closure Commission, and serving as Head of GAO’s Baghdad Field Office in Iraq (2009-2010). Pross conducted GAO review work in every cabinet-level department, in more than 250 different U.S. government agencies and organizations, on 491 military installations, in 73 U.S. diplomatic missions around the world, and in 50 foreign countries. He helped produce more than 300 GAO reports and congressional testimonies, and helped make more than 500 recommendations that resulted in more than a billion dollars in savings to U.S. taxpayers. Pross received numerous GAO awards, as well as awards from the Departments of Defense and State, U.S. Embassy Baghdad and U.S. Forces Iraq. Pross took 10 courses at Berea College while a junior and senior at Berea Community High School. He lives with Marty Thomas Pross ’72, his wife, in Fauquier County, Va., and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jerry Kidd has published his latest book “The United States of Kleptocracy: Elections Stolen USA.” The volume tells how absentee and proxy voting were first developed during the Abraham Lincoln presidency.
Ron Reed retired from Hazard Community and Technical College at the end of June 2021. He reflects on his time as an English professor and how Berea College helped him. Read more about Reed’s story.
Lt. Col. Sidney E. Atwater, USMC (Ret.) Fd. ’67 announces the publication of his book “By, For, and About Marines.” The book is a compendium of famous and not-so-famous quotes (set in time, place and speaker) of the United States Marine Corps. He and Kathy Bowles Atwater ’70 live at 3503 Springville
Dr., Valrico, FL 33596. The book is available through Amazon, Xlibris and Barnes and Noble.
Emma Fultz Cox wrote that Cortland “Corky,” her husband, passed Dec. 19, 2019. They were married 46 years. He is greatly missed by his family.
William L. Davis was certified as a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum on May 24, 2021. For more information on the membership qualifications, visit the Million Dollar Advocates website.
John and Susan Alexander have taught broom making to Radford University’s Occupational Therapy graduate students for many years. Final exam flyoff was very successful. They also taught poplar bark basket making and Appalachian toy making to the group. RU incorporates Appalachian crafts into its occupational therapy curriculum. John learned broom making from Johnny Reed at Broomcraft in the 1970s.
Rev. Dr. Lynne Blankenship Caldwell was appointed by Bishop Paul Leeland (WNC Conference of The United Methodist Church) on July 1, 2021, to serve as vice president and dean of programs for Neighborhood Seminary, beginning her 34th year of ministry in The United Methodist Church. Neighborhood Seminary teaches clergy and laity how to show up, pay attention, collaborate with God and their neighbors, and change the world. For more information, visit the website. Lynne and her husband, Neill Caldwell, make their home in Winston-Salem, N.C. She may be contacted at email@example.com.
Jeff Hutton coordinated the salvage of the Gib Roberts Observatory and telescope from the Hall Science Building, which was demolished during the summer of 2021. The observatory dome is slated for use by cadets of the U.S. Naval Academy and the Boller and Chivens Telescope is being repurposed in British Columbia as a research instrument to study the atmospheric densities of the outer planets and for Near Earth Asteroid tracking.
Hutton retired from the Education Department from Xavier University in 2017 and now lives in Berea with his wife. If you’d like to share your memories of the Gib Roberts Observatory, please send to firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more about the Hall Science dome.
Andrew Fulton retired in November 2020 after 19 years as a school psychologist in Vermont. Prior to that, he worked for 14 years as a child and family therapist in various community mental health positions. An English major at Berea, he later earned a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Antioch University of New England (1987). He is now building a second boat and looking forward to traveling and seeing new places and old friends.
Darlene Thomas-Hilsenbeck retired in 2018 after 35 years in the education field. She is enjoying spending her free time with her two kids, two grandbabies and her husband of 33 years.
Julia K. Pearson received the 2021 Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy Nelson Mandela Lifetime Achievement Award at the Public Defender Awards Luncheon in May 2021.Julia celebrated her 32nd anniversary as a public defender and her 18th as an attorney in the Appeals Branch on June 1, 2021.
Jeffrey Charles Peters is the owner of JCP Landscaping for 23 years. He is married to MaryAnne Miller and they have a daughter, Isabel. He thanks Berea for instilling a good work ethic in him, and he says hello to all his Berea friends!! “We had a great time,” writes Peters.
Dr. J. David O’Dell received the Glenville State College 2021 Faculty Award of Excellence. Dr. O’Dell, professor of chemistry, was recognized at the spring 2021 commencement ceremony. Read more about O’Dell’s award.
Dreama Gentry discusses how a new initiative called the Rural Library Network arose from the pandemic and works to link librarians and educators together to share best practices. Gentry talks about the project and the partnerships created. Read more about the Rural Library Network.
Michael Woodard, green house manager in the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, was one of six agriculturalists featured in Purdue University’s series titled “Behind the Research.” The article details how Woodard’s work is essential to their research mission. Read more about Woodard’s work at Purdue.
Maggie Earp Cowie was recently named one of the top women in retail technology for 2021 by Retail Info Systems (RIS) News. Each year, RIS News recognizes female technology leaders who are redefining the industry that touches the lives of millions of consumers. Read more about Cowie’s honor.
Rebecca Gayle Minton Westerman recently published two children’s alphabet books on Amazon. ‘A is for Apocalypse,’ and ‘Z is for Zombie.’ They are both quite playful but might not be for everyone. Westerman published her first novel in 2018, called ‘Rising Ash.’ It’s a zombie apocalypse young adult book and the sequel is coming soon! (It’s currently with the editor.) This and a number of short stories are available on her author page on Amazon under R.G. Westerman.”
Dr. Katrina Suzanne Thacker, Ph.D. is a member of the Academy of American Poets. Dr. Thacker is working on her own poetry manuscript of poems to be self-published as a chapbook. Her poetry has been published in the Blue Spruce Newsletter, Small Town Life Magazine, and the Appalachian News-Express. Thacker is a member of the Pikeville Poetry Organization. She received a 40-hour online Teaching English as a Foreign Language Certificate from the Teaching English as a Foreign Language Foundation of the United Kingdom of Oxford. She taught English as a Second Language (ESL) online in Shanghai, China, in Englishtown for three months.
Tiffany Loftis Arnold defended her completed dissertation entitled “Is Low Self-Efficacy Related to The Poverty Dip in Mathematics?: A Mixed Methods Research,” on Aug. 12, 2021.
Regina Fugate, technology computer science teacher, grades 6-12, at Maryland School for the Blind in Baltimore, Md., was named recipient of one of the Computer Science Teachers Association Equity Fellowships. Read more about Fugate’s fellowship.
Fugate also received the 2021 Outstanding Teacher of Students who are Blind or Visually Impaired from The Council of Schools and Services for the Blind. Read more her recognition.
BIRTH: : a daughter, Sunny Tru Mayes McClintock, born to Jonathan McClintock and Jessica McClintock on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, 2021.
Rev. Dr. Samuel Weddington successfully defended his doctoral dissertation at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary on May 6, 2021. Entitled “For the Beauty of the Earth: Faith, Ecology, and Care,” his thesis explored the intersection of Christian faith and an ethic of ecological care, centered on the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Curtis Hance, on Jan. 26, 2021, had a full mental breakdown and succumbed to matrimony to Vivian Cameron Hance ’06 in a small ceremony at the Historic Boone Tavern Hotel and Restaurant. Pastor Blake Gulley ’09 presided over the event.
Hance, owner of H&H Vapors and Newport, Tennessee Hemp, CBD & Kratom, won several People’s Choice Awards in 2021. H&H Vapors won Best Vapor Shop and Friendliest business and Newport Tennessee Hemp, CBD & Kratom won Best Retail Shop.
Dr. Ashley D. Anderson received one of the Alumni Fellows awards for graduates of the University of Louisville during their annual award ceremony. Watch the awards ceremony or read more about Dr. Anderson’s accomplishments.
Chris Hayes joined Sesame Street as a puppeteer. Hayes got his start at Berea College and through lots of hard work, became the puppeteer and voice behind Elijah, the father of Elmo’s friend, Wes. Read more about Hayes’ career.
BIRTH: a daughter, Elora Lane Worley was born to Cassie Russell Worley and Shawn Worley ’07 on Feb. 4, 2021. She joins older brothers Jude (2011) and Cooper (2014).
Dr. Patrick McGrady was awarded tenure and promoted to associate professor at the University of New Haven, Conn.
Keena Mullins, co-founder of Revolt Energy in West Virginia, speaks about the growth of Revolt Energy and the transition from coal to solar power in Forbes. Read the Forbes article.
Emily Ogata Puckett began legal studies at the University of Kentucky in the fall. She earned a three-year, full-tuition scholarship, plus a stipend as a J. David Rosenberg College of Law Scholar. She and her husband, Kevin Puckett ’06, live with their six children in Lexington, Ky.
Morgan Younge combines hip-hop and theater in her three-week program where students rehearse and learn the script for her original piece titled “Hip Hop Herc.” Younge is a teaching artist, actress and creator in Louisville, Ky. Read more about Younge’s story.
Brenda Hornsby Heindl reflects on her work as a librarian in Liberty, N.C., as well as being one of 22 librarians in the U.S. to receive one of the inaugural Partners for Education Rural Library Fellowship. Read more Heindl and her fellowship.
Valton Jackson, actor and recording artist, was featured on The Open News for his many talents and growing success. Read more of Jackson’s story.
Mary Johnson writes: “You don’t know me but I was a student at Berea from 2005-2009. Those were without a doubt the best four years of my life! I started college a couple of years late as my father passed away during my senior year of high school and I honestly wasn’t sure what I wanted to do as far as my future was concerned. Everyone said I should pursue a career in writing because I’m a natural writer. Well, I majored in Child & Family Studies instead. So not exactly what I know now I should’ve gone with, but I believe that each step in one’s journey is part of a puzzle to get them full circle. When I was in my junior year there at Berea, I took Intro to Women and Gender Studies (I believe it was called) with Peggy Rivage-Seul and one of the books we had to read for the class was the book “A Parchment of Leaves” by Berea’s very own Silas House. Great, something else to read…. I thought to myself. Honestly, I hated reading back then because I had to do so much of it that didn’t interest me much at all. But I was pleasantly surprised by it and literally could NOT put it down once I started. I still have the book and reread it about once a year. It’s a great story of small-town Appalachian hills and the people who live amongst their peaks and valleys. Anyway, about six years ago, some friends of mine kept saying “you need to write a book about your life and all you’ve gone through.” I dismissed the idea because I didn’t know a thing about marketing, etc. Over time, I started putting stories together from my mind on paper and after years of editing, reordering, having it proofread, etc., I finally was ready to publish. My brother (age 40) passed away in April 2021 and I’d always promised him I’d get it out to the world somehow. So, I did. I self-published through Amazon as a kindle e-book. I do have to warn you that the formatting has gone all sorts of crazy no matter how I’ve tried to edit it per the Word document version required for submission. I even contacted them about it and they said that sometimes that’s just how text transfers to Kindle format and that it won’t show up so “choppy” on all platforms. Purchase the book.
Melvin Brown was promoted to University Heights Academy athletic director and has been named the varsity head coach. Read more about Brown’s work at University Heights.
Krista Shaffer wrote and published an e-book on Amazon about her late beloved. It is a story about Hector’s life and also their love. The title of the book is “Hector: Gold at the End of My Rainbow.” Shaffer lives in Tucson, Ariz. The book is available for purchase on Amazon.
Justin Thomas was promoted from extension agent and county director for the University of Tennessee Extension Service to regional program leader for Family and Consumer Sciences/4-H Youth Development on April 1, 2021. He will provide leadership to FCS and 4-H Extension programs in 33 counties of East Tennessee.
Laura Howard Bellnier earned a Master of Public Health degree from the University of Kentucky in May 2021. During her last semester of the program, she received the “Outstanding Master of Public Health Student” Award. Bellnier began a position as a research associate in the University of Kentucky Department of Otolaryngology this past summer, where she will be working on several studies related to hearing healthcare in Kentucky.
Kelly Korb passed the Certified Addictions Registered Nurse examination on April 3, 2021. She currently resides in Shrewsbury, Mass., and works as an addictions nurse.
Jordan Neal Hutchins graduated from the University of Kentucky in 2021 with his Master of Science in Library Science. He is excited to serve the public as a librarian.
Dean Leeper, ceramic artist, held an artist talk in conjunction with Ashton Keen on June 17, 2021. An artist reception and exhibit were held the following week. Read more about Leeper.
Christina Meadows was hired as Newport Central Catholic’s new cheerleading coach in Northern Kentucky. Meadows also teaches music and theatre. Read more about Meadows’ coaching career.
Emmanuel Watkins accepted the call to serve as a staff minister and smalls groups manager at Faith Chapel in Birmingham, Ala., in June 2021. Faith Chapel was started by Berea alums, Rev. Mike Moore ’77 and his wife, Kennetha Moore ’79. Learn more about the Moores and Faith Chapel.
Jarod Cox uses natural Kentucky resources to craft his jewelry. His art designs are also inspired by the region. Read more about Cox’s jewelry.
BIRTH: a daughter, Aster Diana, to Sarah Wyble Davis and husband, Jacob Davis, on Dec. 17, 2020.
Dr. Emmanuel Tachu earned a Ph.D. in Information Technology at the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Ky., in May 2021. His dissertation focused on a quantitative study of the relationship between information technology infrastructure flexibility on-premise and cloud computing adoption in enterprise environments. Dr. Tachu currently works as an associate DevOps manager at nCino, a cloud banking company with headquarters in Wilmington, N.C. He also teaches data communication and network security classes at Portland Community College. Given his eagerness for continuous learning and his interest in engineering leadership and innovation management in a global economy, Tachu is currently exploring opportunities to pursue a doctorate in business administration.
Stephanie Hardy is enjoying success as a podcast host, content creator and commentator. The Hardy Wrestling Podcast, a show centered on reporting and recapping the world of professional wrestling in a chill, positive and passionate way, is close to reaching 70 episodes. She is also a co-host of Women’s Wrestling Talk on Fite TV with visionary pop culture host TK Trinidad and a color commentator for The BellaDonna Division, the first all-female wrestling promotion in Alabama.
Carmellia Jackson was named director for Kentucky’s chapter of the New Leader Council. Read more about Jackson’s appointment.
Dr. Morgan Cheyenne Stacy, DVM, graduated from Lincoln Memorial University’s College of Veterinary Medicine on May 22, 2021. She was the recipient of the 2021 LMU-CVM Shelter Medicine Award. She has returned to reside in the southwest Virginia area and plans to begin practicing veterinary medicine in the Bristol, Tenn., area.
Mary “Abby” Schueler attends law school at the University of Kentucky. She encourages any current Berean to come to her with any questions they may have. Schueler also shares she married Jim Thomerson. She says she misses the Poli Sci Department and Dr. Bey and Dr. Huck.
Derby Chukwudi presented at Berea College’s convocation program Sept. 2, 2021. Her talk entitled “The Road Less Taken: Charting the Journey to a Dynamic Career,” charts her journey and encourages others to obtain life and work skills through their own vigorous experiences.
BIRTH: a daughter, Mary Kathrine, to Alli Silas Baldwin and husband, Trey Baldwin, on Aug. 19. 2021 at Fort Logan Hospital in Stanford, Ky.
Landon Howard Bond loved to run. At Berea, Bond ran Cross Country, winning first place in both his last 5k and 10k. Sadly, he passed away from Brugada Syndrome on Sept. 22, 2019. His condition was undiagnosed at the time of his passing. His parents wished to honor him by providing scholarships to worthy runners in Jackson and Laurel counties, Ky. Three scholarships were awarded this past summer. Learn more about the Landon Howard Bond scholarship.