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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Harry W Kilbourne said there was sparse attendance from the “old folks” at Summer Reunion 2018, with only he and Dottie Davis Blackburn in attendance from the class of ’48. “It was a rather lonely experience,” he said. [Editor’s note: Summer Reunion 2019 is June 14-16, celebrating the special reunion classes of ’44, ’49, ’54, ’59, ’64, ’69, ’74, ’79, ’84 and ’89!]


Rosemary Weddington ’53 and Jessie Zander ’54Rosemary Maxie Weddington and Jessie Reasor Zander ’54 spent some time together at Rosemary’s home in Frankfort, KY while Jessie was in the area for the Foundation, Knapp Hall and Academy Reunion at Berea College in October. They reminisced about their time in Anna Smith Hall where they lived across from each other. They spoke about their trip to Mexico, which was organized by the Alumni Relations office years ago. Jessie now resides in Tucson, AZ, and visited campus with her goddaughter, Dr. Comel Belin.

John “Kenny” Gwinn is looking forward to his 65th Reunion in 2019. John is still traveling, cruising and watching his grandson play high school football.


John W. Leeson celebrated his 85th birthday on July 14, 2018. John came to Berea in January of 1953. He transferred from Guilford College after learning of Berea College from William H. Danforth and with his recommendation. John majored in English, graduated with a M.A. from the University of Kentucky with additional studies at California State University at Long Beach and McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. He taught college-level English in Kentucky and Ohio for 37 years.


Wallace Baird and Frances Gabbard Baird were unable to attend their 60th reunion on campus this summer but wanted to give their classmates an update. They live on a tree farm, and Wallace has been busy saw milling and making molding and flooring. Frances made him retire in the spring, he said, but he still works as much as his back allows. Frances is busy with the house, helping with TreeHugger Forestry, making jewelry, reading and “taking good care of” Wallace. Both retired in their 50s after careers in education and medicine. Frances taught at Bowman Gray School of Medicine (now Wake Forest School of Medicine) and worked as a pathologist. Wallace earned a Ph.D. in physical chemistry in 1963 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and taught at Wake Forest University. The Bairds also are enjoying their 2-year-old great grandson, Solomon Wallace Christopher Easterday, the son of their only grandchild, Heather Moser.

Betty L. Buchanan Sundermeier says she loved going to Berea. Betty taught school for 31 years in Michigan and Fresno, CA.

Barbara Hyder Fenton said, “Thank you for the sweet potato and pecan pie recipe. My daughter made it and it was delicious!” [Editor’s note: Get the recipe from the Berea College Farm Store].


Mary Elizabeth “Beth” Powell and her husband, Peter Griffin, are both retired from college teaching. Beth gets a few letters and op-eds published, and Peter facilitates history classes at Lifelong Learning, Washington University. They put up with two dogs and occasionally ask themselves “why?” Each of their children, Paul and Amy, has a daughter.

Georgia Bishop Rachelson became a great grandma on Dec. 12, 2017 to Grayson James Peter.

Harold Branam attended the Friends Committee on National Legislation annual meeting in Washington, D.C., in November 2017, and lobbied Georgia’s members of Congress.


Angie Campbell Spell is retired and has three children, five grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Sandy Conover Branam organized an art sale by Savannah artists to benefit Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 storm, devastated the island in September 2017. The art sale, conducted in December 2017, raised more than $10,000.


Book cover for An Appalachian Boy's Life by Flem Messer ’61Flem Messer attended the Berea College Foundation School from 1953-1957 and recently published his autobiography, An Appalachian Boy’s Life, available from Amazon, Berea College Visitor Center and Joseph-Beth Booksellers at Lexington Green. In recounting his life and experiences, Flem describes Appalachia based on family and community—very different from the distorted stereotypes found in other books about the region. He also was featured in the June 2018 article “Messer shares his story of growing up, working to address poverty” published in The Advocate-Messenger (Danville, KY). Read the full story here. Flem is retired and now lives in Danville, KY. Learn more about the book here.


Ruth H. Wilson is retired and living with her daughter, Rebecca J. Wilson. She recently celebrated her 99th birthday at the home of E. Gail Wilson Chandler ‘64, along with Ruth’s daughter and T. Sammie Wilson Wakefield ‘65.


Dr. John E. Fleming was elected the national chair of the American Association for State and Local History at its annual meeting in Kansas City, MO, in September 2018. He was elected AASLH vice president in 2016. John currently is director of the National Museum of African American Music in Nashville, TN, scheduled to open in 2020. He also serves on the Berea College Board of Trustees.

Grandson of Wayne E. Hambright ’65Wayne E. Hambright’s oldest great grandson, Andrew Wayne Poole, graduated with honors this year from Western Hills High School in Frankfort, KY.

Anna Barger Matthews resides in Dallas, TX. Anna said she would love to hear from any alumni who are passing through the area. Contact her at or (214) 797-3973.

Jane Matney Powerll ’65Jane Matney Powell was honored for her dedication to teaching and community service at her high school’s annual alumni banquet on August 31, 2018. In March, she joined other Berea alumni, students and faculty in response to a call from Dr. Martin Luther King III., in a historic civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, AL. Widowed since 2017, Jane works on her family genealogy, crochets and enjoys time spent with her five children and two grandchildren.


Russell England ’66Russ England recently wrote a book entitled, Gross Deceptive Product: An Ecological Perspective on the Economy. The book challenges conventional wisdom that implies continuous economic growth is the solution to all problems. Economic growth depends on population growth, depletion of finite resources, growing monetary debt and land use conversion, none of which are sustainable over the long term. Measuring economic health in gross terms (Gross Domestic Product) is deceptive because it says nothing about the net benefits or costs of economic activity or the impact of economic growth on ecosystems. The book is available at, and


Tom R. Watts said, “My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the entire reunion (Summer Reunion 2018), especially meeting with friends. The food and hospitality were great.” 

Diann Lovett Duvall is retired and living in Winchester, VA.


Joyce F. Hamberg is now fully retired, for the third time, and appreciates a more flexible schedule where she is able to enjoy time with family, friends, traveling, church and community service.


Rebecca Hollen Lewis is CEO/president of Grandview Medical Center in Dayton, OH (part of the Kettering Health Network). She can be contacted at


Gail Sheperd ’71Gail Shepherd Diederich published her fifth book, Take Care of Violet, a narrative based on a real-life experience between her and her sister, Ann Shepherd Shoemaker ‘69, sharing three generations of African Violets over a 25-year span. Watercolor artist Meaghan Wolf contributed to the story with her soft, subtle illustrations. Find out more information about this book and Gail’s other books. Gail lives in Odessa, FL with her husband Jay. They enjoy a family of five children, their spouses and nine grandchildren. Gail may also be reached at 


Sharon Wesley Edwards works as a nurse practitioner in Richmond, VA. 


Fred N. Lane and Ann Meier Lane’s son was appointed by Governor Ralph Northam as the superintendent of Public Education for the State of Virginia. Ann and Fred still reside in Cary, NC.

Marshia Gologlu Hawkins was featured in an August 2018 article, “What’s Happening at the Library: New pottery exhibit on display” published by The Winchester Sun (Clark County, KY). The article chronicles her career in pottery and art education since graduating from Berea College with an art degree. Marshia recently retired as an art teacher at Montgomery County Intermediate School in Mount Sterling and now devotes her time to sculpting and creating personalized gifts from nature.

Bill and Rhoda Clemet ’77Bill Clement and Rhoda Marcum Clement ’77 enjoyed the Chilhuly glass art exhibit at one of America’s castles, The Biltmore, in Asheville, NC.


Sumit Ganguly was made distinguished professor this year at Indiana University, Bloomington. He also received the Alexander Von Humboldt Research Fellowship from Germany, which promotes international academic cooperation between scientists and scholars from Germany and abroad. 

Carol Bryant ’77Carol Bryant wanted to grant her best wishes to old friends who shared the “Berea Experience” with her. 


Bitsy Carico retired on July 1, 2018. She was a school guidance counselor for 38 years. Bitsy said although she loved helping her students throughout her career, retirement is great.

Bob Deppe ’78Theodore “Bob” Deppe is alive and well and living happily, in spite of the recent announcement of his death in the Passages section of the Summer 2018 Berea College magazine. Thanks to a great education at Berea, said Bob, he worked as an RN for 20 years, before switching to writing and teaching. He is the author of six books of poetry (he publishes under his first name, Theodore) and former nursing classmates can find some of his hospital-related work in four anthologies: Between the Heartbeats, Intensive Care, The Poetry of Nursing, and Learning to Heal: Reflections on Nursing School in Poetry and Prose. He teaches for the Stonecoast Master of Fine Arts program and he and his wife, Annie Deppe (author of two books of poetry), direct the Irish residencies for Stonecoast. Since 2000, Bob and Annie have lived for the most part on the west coast of Ireland. They have three children, Caitlin, Peter and Michael; and two grandchildren, Alanna and Emrys.

Grace Griffith-Hackney is the executive and founding director of Life Around the Table, a nonprofit extension ministry of the United Methodist Church. Rev. Hackney lives in Efland, NC, with her husband Tony Hackney ’79.

Peter Li was honored for his outstanding contributions to West Virginia University with the 2018 Hall of Fame and Outstanding Achievement Award by the Division of Student Life in October 2018. Peter serves as the director of the university’s international office.

Katherine Heckman is now the executive director of Berea Home Village after 28 years as community relations director at Berea Hospital. This new not-for-profit provides volunteer service to Berea seniors to help them remain in their homes independently. 


Daughter of Ronald Prosser ’81Married: Stephanie Prosser and Tavaris Guider married on June 9, 2018. Stephanie Prosser is the daughter of Laura Moore Prosser and Ronald Prosser ’81. 


Brent Holsclaw ’83
Courtesy of The News-Enterprise

Brent Holsclaw was featured in the July 2018 article, “HCS to celebrate five distinguished alumni,” published in The New-Enterprise (Hardin County, KY). He was honored by the Distinguished Alumnus program of Hardin County Schools, which recognizes graduates of current or former high schools in HCS who have made a valuable contribution to their chosen profession or to their community, state, region or country. Brent is a superintendent of Bardstown Independent Schools and began a new career as chief financial and facilities officer at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College. He currently is a board member at the Guthrie Opportunity Center, an organization working to improve the quality of life for adults with disabilities. 

Dora Kay Thomas, MSN, RN, was welcomed into the International Nurses Association and will be published in Worldwide Leaders in Healthcare, which is printed annually and represents more than 100 medical specialties across the globe. Dora is a nurse educator and a professor at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College in Elizabethtown, KY. She has more than three decades of experience in her field and attributes her success to her education at Berea College.


Kimberly Robbins started a new position as facilities manager of the Flaget Retreat Center of the Archdiocese of Louisville. The Flaget Center is a conference and retreat center in Louisville, KY, with conference rooms that can accommodate multiple groups of up to 300 people at a time. Overnight accommodations are also available for up to 10 people. She can be contacted at 

Alonzo Lonnie Allen retired from Toyota Motor Manufacturing in Georgetown, KY. He now works at the University of Kentucky Lean Systems Program, which is a systematic approach to the identification and elimination of waste and non-value added activities through employee development and continuous improvement in all products and services. Alonzo teaches lean manufacturing on UK’s campus, working on-site with clients along their lean journey. 


Scot Musser ’85 with Bethanie WilliamsScot Musser and those of LIFE International enjoyed having Berea student Bethanie Williams ’19 serve with LIFE International School, an English immersion preschool and primary school in Tres Cantos, Spain, in May and June 2018. 


Beverly Lakes Kass graduated from William Paterson University, NJ, with a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree in January 2018. Beverly is the daughter of Mrs. Eva Lakes and the late Roy Lakes of Richmond, KY. She graduated from Madison Central High School in 1983, Berea College with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 1988, and the University of Connecticut with a Master of Science in Nursing in 1999. Dr. Kass is a clinical professor at Seton Hall University in the undergraduate nursing department and a member of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing.


Jeanette Humphrey Byrd is entering her seventh year as principal at Cummings Elementary in Alief Independent School District in Houston, TX. She and her husband, Alex, celebrated 28 years of marriage in August.  Their son, Benjamin, attends Oberlin Conservatory and College in Oberlin, OH. Their daughter, Jenna, started high school in the fall.

Donna Daniels ’89Donna L. Mowell Daniels recently returned to Berea College to serve as director of Brushy Fork Institute, a leadership and community development outreach program under the Division of Strategic Initiatives. Donna is looking forward to working in partnership with Appalachian leaders and communities. 


Lisa Ellison ’90Dr. Lisa L. Ellison and her sons Liam, 8, and Matthew, 18, live in Morgantown, WV. She is a professional tutor, substitute teacher, published researcher and entrepreneur. Lisa’s daughter, Anastasia, was married in October; her daughter, Brigitte, is finishing college at Glenville State; and her daughter, Tish, lives in Cleveland. 


Tonya Hatfield ’91Tonya Mounts Hatfield’s history as a coal miner’s daughter and her work as a hard-fighting attorney seeking justice on behalf of families of deceased coal miners is featured in Laurence Leamer’s book, The Price of Justice, a story of greed and corruption in the West Virginia courts. The author distorts several facts about her history and her role in a pivotal court case, Tonya said, “But all in all it is a very good read which captures this Berea grad’s spirit and willingness to take on a Goliath in order to obtain justice for the disenfranchised.” 

Greg Lakes ’91Greg Lakes was appointed to the Kentucky Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors in June 2018. This organization adopts and enforces regulations across all funeral homes throughout the state. Greg will serve a four-year term. He is a 1993 graduate of the Mid-America College of Mortuary Science and has been an active funeral director and embalmer in Madison County since that time. Along with his sisters, he has co-owned Lakes Funeral Home in Berea since 2002 and comprises the third generation of Lakes family involved in funeral service. Greg and his wife, Rachel Roberts Lakes ’92, have two children, Mallory and MacGregor.


Dana Murray Patterson is the director of Intercultural Affairs at Western Carolina University. Through educational, social and leadership programs, ICA promotes inclusive values of social justice and human dignity, while preparing students to thrive in a diverse and interconnected world. 


Christina Saylor ’94Christina Saylor accepted a position as an accountant with Central Kentucky Ag Credit and will be working in the administrative office in Lexington. After earning a business administration degree with a concentration in accounting from Berea, she earned a master’s degree in Business Administration from Eastern Kentucky University. 


Ginger Riley White, CMA, CSCA, was profiled in “Ginger White: Encouragement is Key,” an article by Lori Parks in the August 2018 edition of Strategic Finance Magazine, a publication of the Institute of Management Accountants. In the article, Ginger speaks of her childhood, how she got started in accounting, her time at Berea College and her continued education while moving up the ranks at Cummins, an Indiana-based company that designs, manufactures, sells and services diesel and alternative fuel engines, related components and technology. Ginger also serves as chair of IMA’s Global Board of Directors for the 2018-19 fiscal year. 

Vivian Warren Overall retired in 2013 after serving 15 years as a human resources coordinator with Shelby County Public Schools (KY).


Lawranda Shavette Hash enjoyed reconnecting with classmates at Homecoming 2018. This year was their 20th reunion.

Larry Samuel Jones ’98 and Jonny Hopfe Jones ’95Larry Samuel Jones and his wife, Jenny Hopfe Jones ‘95, accepted positions with Knox County (TN) Schools. Larry is teaching special education at Karns High School and Jenny is teaching science at South Doyle Middle School. They live in Knoxville with four of their five children. Larry and Jenny’s oldest son and his wife are first-year students at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga.

Angela Collard became a professional home caregiver in April 2017, for Tender Touch Senior Services in Elizabethtown, KY.

Matthew Perkins Coppola, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of science education at Purdue University, Fort Wayne. In 2017, Matthew was named part of the inaugural class of PhysTEC Fellows, which is a partnership between the American Physical Society and the American Association of Physics Teachers, for his collaborative work with the physics department to implement a Learning Assistant program and to identify and prepare more students to become high school physics teachers. His wife, Rev. Christina Ryan Perkins ’98, celebrated her one-year anniversary as pastor of Salem United Church of Christ in Fort Wayne. They have two children, Bethany and Simeon.

Sarah Schilen ’98Sarah Striklen Schilens is currently teaching beginning Spanish to home-schoolers through their co-op Growing Great Minds in New Port Richey, FL. Travelling with Berea College to Mexico for Short Term inspired her to continue Spanish studies and share her love of languages. Sarah took another short-term course, Constraints of the Blind, which encouraged her to learn more about Braille and ASL, both of which, along with Spanish, she is teaching to her two daughters. 


Gul Sabit ’99Gul Maqsood Sabit submitted this photo of his son, Farhaan Sabit, and his classmates with their 8th grade presentation on Berea College. The students shared information with parents and the community about Berea. 


Ferdous Hossain lives in San Diego, CA. He is the president of an executive search firm for the pharma/biotech world, placing C-level people globally. 


Shawn Adkins ’01Shawn Adkins is working on an Education Specialist degree in Educational Leadership from Fort Hays University and is slated to graduate in May 2019. He currently resides in Cincinnati, OH, with his spouse, Brent. They were married January 7, 2017. Shawn is an Educational Specialist in the College of Medicine at University of Cincinnati. 


Tiffany DeVarso ’03Married: Tiffanie DeVarso to William Griffin in Danforth Chapel by Rev. Kent Gilbert on June 2, 2018. The couple had a wonderful reception at Boone Tavern after the ceremony. The family lives in Pendleton, SC.

Christopher Freeman ’03Birth: a son, Waylon George Freeman, to Christopher S. Freeman and his wife Katy Fuller on Feb. 14, 2017. The couple married on June 4, 2016. Christopher is a portfolio specialist with Tulane University’s Office of Advancement. The family currently resides in New Orleans, LA.

LaShaundra Marie Thedford-Smith is excited to represent the Class of 2003 and is honored to be a Carl Thomas ’78 recruit. [Editor’s note: Carl served as associate director of Berea College Admissions, where he worked for nearly 40 years before retiring June 2018.]


Lynn Patterson Klett's twinsBirth: twin sons to Lynn M. Patterson Klett and her husband Nick on March 21, 2018. The family resides in Greensboro, NC, where Lynn works as a pediatric nurse practitioner. 

Jason Hart ’04Jason Hart was featured in the Aug. 7, 2018 article “Volunteer Spirit: Nonprofit recruited Hart to volunteer following crock-pot donation,” in The State Journal newspaper (Frankfort, KY). The article tells the story of how he eventually became the president of the combined board of the Sunshine Center and Family Abuse Services, Inc. after donating a crockpot to the center and receiving a thank you note with a call to service. Jason also is owner of Apollo Law in Frankfort, president of the Young Democrats, a member of Capital Pride, and is involved in the revitalization of Capital Lodge 6 of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Jason is a graduate of the David. A Clark School of Law in Washington D.C., and has spent much of his career as a public defender and in criminal law. He and his wife Elizabeth Anderson-Hoagland Hart have a daughter, Claire, who is in kindergarten.


Financial Hope book cover by Dakota Grady ’05Jamaco Dakota Grady is excited to announce his new book, Financial Hope: Principles of a Prosperous Financial Future, now available.  


Maggie Park ’08 and Alan Russell ConnorMarried: Maggie Catherine Park to Alan Russell Connor on Sept. 29, 2018, at Union Church, Cowan Chapel, officiated by Rev. Kent Gilbert.

Kirsten Rogers ’08Kirsten Rogers Chapman and Sirajah Raheem “wander far away” together to Paris on a joint family vacation, seeing numerous historical sites including the Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral, (pictured).

Jessica Scruggs has been running her own business, Cowee Cowgirl Large Animal Mobile Veterinary Service, in her hometown of Franklin, NC, since 2014. She earned a master’s degree in animal science in 2010 and a doctorate of veterinary medicine in 2014, both from North Carolina State University.

Rachel Saunders is a physician in Lexington, KY. Rachel recently got married and is enjoying married life. 


Jesse Wilhite recorded “Gondolele: Buoyant Ukulele Music!”—a deluxe CD with 15 songs, nearly one hour of music and 15 panels of artwork and song lyrics.


Sarah Kincaid McLewin was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship, a U.S. student exchange program that offers research, study and teaching opportunities to recent graduate students and graduate students.  Sarah will be teaching English at a university in Morocco for 10 months. 

Laura Howard and David Bellnier ’12Married: Laura Howard to David Bellnier at Union Church on July 28, 2018. Laura and David first met in front of Lincoln Hall on their first day of freshman year at Berea College in 2008. The couple is grateful for Berea bringing them together and loved celebrating their wedding day in Berea.


Carol Brobeck ’13Carol Brobeck graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in May 2018 with a master’s degree in urban planning. She began work with Teska Associates in Evanston, IL as a bilingual associate planner in June of 2018. 

Aaron Saderholm ’13Aaron Saderholm visited Berea on July 10, 2018 to give a presentation to computer science students on his cybersecurity work at Two Sigma, a Department of Defense contractor.


Sarah Carr graduated from West Virginia University with a master’s degree in animal physiology. Sarah also is a Ph.D. student at the University of Kentucky, studying animal and food science.


Megan Zech was hired as assistant director for the Career and Leadership Development Center for the College of Health Sciences and Professions at Ohio University in Athens, OH. 


Mayra Macias said that although she just graduated in May, she’s been homesick. She’ll be glad to be back in Berea, even if it’s just for Homecoming weekend. 


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