Susan Bonta received the Hilda Welch Wood Award for outstanding achievement by a female senior student at her 2018 graduation.
Marjorie Wood Drackett’s cherished connection to Berea College and the city of Berea spans three centuries and four generations. “From the time I was a little girl, there was never a time I did not know about Berea College,” Marjorie recalls. Her parents, T.J. Wood and Hilda Welch Wood, as well as T.J.’s brother, Col. Alfred Wood, attended school in Berea in the early 1900s—a time when the College was also providing primary and secondary education.
“All three of them got their earliest, important education at Berea College,” Marjorie said.
While Hilda was raised in Berea, T.J. and Alfred grew up in Wildie, Ky.
“My father’s mother, up in the mountains, never got further than the eighth grade,” Marjorie explained. “She had two boys, and she was determined they were going to get a good education. So she sent them to board with an acquaintance in Berea, and they both went to the Academy School.”
When Hilda and T.J. married in 1919, William Goodell Frost was president of Berea College. T.J.’s career with Procter & Gamble Co. took the pair to Cincinnati, Ohio, but Marjorie said he worked all of his life to get back to Kentucky. T.J. retired as vice president and director of P&G in 1961, and he and Hilda bought a farm right outside of Berea.
“I was married at that time,” Marjorie recalled, “but when we went to see my family, we always went to Welchwood Farm. So my children also had Berea very much in their childhood.”
Delighted to be back in Berea, Hilda became involved with community groups like the Progress Club of Berea, and T.J. joined the Berea College Board of Trustees. He served as a trustee from 1962 to 1967, eventually leading the group as chairman. He then served as an honorary trustee until his death. In 1969, Marjorie’s parents deeded 33 acres of land on Welch Mountain to Berea College. They also left Welchwood Farm to Berea College through their estate plans.
“My mother and my father loved Berea until the day they died,” Marjorie emphasized.
Similarly, Marjorie’s uncle, Col. Wood, was a Berea College supporter throughout his life. A graduate of Harvard University, he served in both World Wars and was awarded the French Croix de Guerre after World War II. Upon their deaths, Col. Wood and his wife donated their estate to Berea—the largest bequest in the College’s history.
Her family’s deep-rooted legacy at Berea moves Marjorie to continue giving to the College. Her most recent gift supported the Margaret A. Cargill Natural Sciences and Health Building in memory of her father’s long trustee service.
“My father was an extremely hard worker, and he felt if a man worked really hard and had a good education, he could achieve beyond his greatest expectations.”