Class Notes by Kate Truax

June 2020

Despite our 50th Reunion having been cancelled this past June due to the pandemic the Northfield women have remained strong and steadfast in their desire to stay connected and build on their friendships. The reunion planning committee continues to communicate with each other on a regular basis and is committed to assuring a wonderful reunion whenever that may be.

Several  Zoom meetings took place on what should have been our reunion weekend.

Linda Kellogg Glover hosted a wonderful Center Gould Zoom meeting on June 5 which lasted almost two and a half hours; talking about old times, music from the 60s, good friends gone but not forgotten, and catching up on our own lives. There were 15 participants- Marty Seely, Judy Shaw, Jenny Porter, Muffie Michaelson, Britain Hill, Spencer Burdge, Laurie Kiely, Sue Aspinwall, Sue Fowler Krabbe, Sue Hurlburt Jacques, Lucinda ( Brandy) Brandt, Pam Hurst Boone, Ann Urion Lara, Ann Wiley and Debbie Persons Brooke. Linda adds that “we are all doing well in our own way and cherish our days at Northfield.”

Carolyn Pelzel writes – “We had a fabulous call with classmates in East Marquand. It was so nice to see Ruth Dale Badyrka, Julie Auerbacher Bergstrom, CatharineLeffel Birch, Sue Camuse Campbell, Liz Lewis Clifford, Anne Shyavitz Foran, Gay Peterson, Cynthia Roney and Robin Sherwin.  We had a long and wonderful Zoom remembering and reconnecting. Carol Peaslee Holmes was not able to join us but sent memories and warm wishes in advance. We talked about our families, the professional paths and interests we have pursued, and how we are spending time now- some are still working , others are retired. Vivid recollections of dorm life with Head of Hall Miss Prescott and House Instructor Mrs. Krohn brought a lot of laughter. Memories of polishing brass and washing pans haven’t dimmed. Nor have the tastes of Bishop’s bread and hard sauce on apple cobbler. At the end Ruth donned our purple Northfield hat which was in mint condition. Not wanting to end Anne suggested we consider a book club which we are tossing that great idea to all dorms. “Carrie hopes Peggy Abrams, Taffy Cowan Bellolo,  Lynellyn Horne, Simone Jansson, MaryLee Kingsley, Betsy Laird Pohle, Bettina Skor Weese, and  Pamela Yu will Zoom with us in the future.

On June 6 Sylvia Marshall Bailey hosted a wonderful Zoom meeting of Hibbard 1970 alum that lasted close to 2 hours. Those on the call were Tracy Comstock Mc Connell, Deborah Whiting, Andree Lockwood, Kimberly Chase Adler, Marilyn Groves, Joanne Smollen Freeman, and MaryLou Halstead. Sylvia writes “We quickly engaged, sharing how our lives evolved since our time together fifty years ago, remembering each other as well as others too. We shared many laughs, refreshing memories, events, teachers, and places, as well as relationships that were so important. It was hard to end the call, but we pledged to Zoom again as we look forward to our on campus reunion. “

Bobbi Herron hosted eight women from Moore- Daly on June 6 and writes that “not surprisingly the mood went from a bit shy, to friendly, to full blown animated!” Attending were Wendy Bullard , Sarah Griswold, Peggy Ransmeier Rodgers, Katie Whitehead, Grace (Marjorie) Vaughan, Jane ( Petey Potter) Graham, and Beth Gelber Harwood. Bobbi writes that “many of us had little involvement with either school or with each other since graduation, yet the sparks of affection were still clearly there. Our conversation was a delightful dance between memories of school days, and talk of how seeds planted at Northfield carried on in life, through love of hiking, skiing, faith and most of all music and singing. Favorite teachers like Miss Schultz, Mr. Shin and Mr. Raymond were mentioned. Pranks and antics were confessed, but for the most part I think we were law abiding for the most of the time. We acknowledged how heart-wrenching it had been when a few of us, separately, visited our campus in recent years, to witness our beloved campus in decay, and we all hope the Thomas Aquinas College will be able to resurrect the campus soon to its full beautiful potential.  At the end of the hour it was clear that reconnections had been forged and future visits, both on line and eventually in person, will happen. Our Zoom meeting was the perfect icebreaker for many of us for whom attendance at an in person reunion would have been difficult. Now several of us plan to attend our in person 50th in 2021 all thanks to this enjoyable cyber- gathering together this weekend.”

Martha Johnson reports that the West Gould Zoom logged in 6 participants- from England, the East Coast and Iowa- Martha, Gwen Blanton, Pauline Asper, Patty Pinkston, Kelcey Thirtle and Mary Carty. Martha remembered the secret ice cream/cake/goodies party thrown for Kelcey  and her after they lost the dorm cop election. Patty and Kelcey both went on to study Spanish and engage in Latin American matters. Mary beats all with five grandchildren. Gwyn told a wonderful story of adopting a Chinese baby when she was near the age limit of 55. Pauline’s son George is off to military training. We laughed about nicknames (Mart-Fart, Twitch).

Merrill Keep had a successful Zoom call June 5 led by Cynthia Davidson, who lives in NYC and Ct. She works in architectural publishing. Elizabeth ( Betsy) Parker is a music teacher and performer in Oregon. Karen Lee Spaulding lives in Eden, NY and works as VP of Philanthropy in Buffalo, NY. Margot Clark lives in CT and works with children and children libraries. Lori Gerstenberger Pujda is retired and lives in Milford, CT.  Barbara Cieslicki is retired from jewelry making and lives in NH. Holly Babbitt Cobb (soon to be Mrs. Dana Barrows – MH’69) lives in West Springfield, MA and works as an insurance underwriter out of Boston. Kitty Scott lives in Florida and is a retired lawyer. Kim Wade Ryan lives in PA and enjoys being close to her grandchildren.  Janet Persons is retired and lives in New Mexico. Ellen Frost is retired and lives in Rhode Island. Recollections of the similarities between the world when we were at Northfield and the turbulent times today were part of the conversation. Ellen writes that “we spent time laughing and reminiscing about teachers, dorm mothers and other staff as well as pranks and mischievousness.” Comments from the group included “in true reunion fashion there was so much warmth, connectedness and generous spirit” and “no matter the number of years I feel a very special kinship for my M-K sisters”.

West Marquand reminisced for 2 hours covering topics from summarizing our post Northfield lives to discussing the pros and cons of single sex education and responding to the question: what did you learn at Northfield that has most influenced your adult life? Voices included: Noreen Pease, Jane Ellen Reid, Sandye Brown, Andrea Selzer, Gail Boyarsky, Louise Rothery , Claire Schmidt Jones , Jeri Poller and Amy Chang.

East Gould had a well attended Zoom on June 5 with Enid Sodergren Oberholtzer hosting. Those on the call were – Enid, Marty Barclay, Liz Bourne, April Chamberlain Hargett, Nan Hellens, Judy Hertz, Sue Hurlburt Jacques, Donna Idman Tavano, Louise Leduc, Carol Graves Zahm and Tess Pemantel Dunhoff.  Also joining the group was Marcia Carroll Peterson, a Northfield history teacher and senior year dorm parent now living in Ohio near her grandchildren. Tess writes “it was so wonderful to see so many dorm sisters after 50 years. Can’t wait to gather together in person!” Sadly missing from Zoom were Liz Banks, Claire Caliup Wood, Sue Pevner, Kay Robertson Rod, Jean Spitznagel Hetherington and Nancy Zaumseil Deveneau.

The East Hall Zoom was hosted by Linda Keniston and offered lots of news. Bonnie Lynn Mackinnon-Witherspoon is in Georgetown, Texas where she and “Spoon” retired. She is a former data entry operator at the Texas State Controller office. For more details read their posts on their fb page which is always timely, insightful and at times hilarious. Beth Eisenberg is now retired and lives in Tucson, Arizona with her wife and remains active in political causes. Amy Wong now lives in Virginia with her very large cat “Big Cat”. She is a retired director of a CSI lab. The recent protests have inspired her to try to work with her small local police department about improved transparency in police procedures. Faith Baum is an architect working in Lexington, MA. She designs houses and personal spaces in homes. Carol Ramsey is a retired educational consultant. She lives in Southern Calif near the beach and prior to Covid was enjoying long walks, dancing, travel, dinner with friends including  Tess Dunhoff who also lives on the southern shores. Laurel Riddhi Moran lives in Bristol on the coast of Maine and still works as a psychologist. She is also active with the SYDHA foundation. Stephani Danes is still going full tilt teaching architecture and urban design at Carnegie Mellon University. She also designs giant art quilts. She and her husband, Doug Cooper, have worked collaboratively on Pittsburg community art projects. Eliza Schwartz is a retired attorney. She lives in the San Francisco bay area where she keeps busy with extended family and political awareness. Linda Keniston is a family doctor in Waterville, Maine. She is now working at a small nursing home and in July will start a job as a medical consultant for Hospice. 2 Grandchildren in Maine and 2 in VA keeps her busy as well as church committees and until recently choir. This fall she is starting a lay ministry training course with a Methodist Church with the hope of reaching out to those with substance use disorders. As Linda concludes “we were a lively bunch and a good connection to NMH was made. “ Elizabeth( Tizzy) Carlson has lived nonstop since Northfield. After graduation she spent years in several countries- France, Switzerland, Germany, South Africa and the USA. Since 1992 the UK has been her home. She is teaching in Waldorf education, the subject being eurythmy which is a movement art form used in education, therapy and performance. She has a 25 year old son. Tizzy was thrilled with the zoom call- “what a treasure to see each other/ speak with each other again! You are just about the only people that call me Tizzy anymore! What a treat!”

Margo Fenn   was unable to join the East Hall Zoom but offered this “capsule summary”of 50 years- “When I left Northfield, I joined an educational experiment called the Expedition for Cultural Studies, which took us traveling around the world for a year. I ended up going to Pitzer College in CA where I got involved in anti-war organizing with Tom Hayden during the 1972 Presidential campaign.  That experience shifted my focus to political issues, and ultimately to environmental activism. I got a MA from UCLA and have worked most of my career in land use and environmental planning.  I met my husband Dan who is a journalist on Cape Cod and though we are both retired now we continue to live in Harwich.  We bought a new home on five acres here last summer and have been nurturing a big garden. Our main interests are outdoor activities. We now have 3 grandchildren.

Cindy Stinchfield Ryan also was unable to join in on the East Hall zoom but summarized her past 50 years- “An early decision to Alfred University introduced me to my first husband which produced two children. By 1975 I was divorced and then met my current husband Jim in 1982 and we had one more child. In total we have 3 children, 10 grandchildren ( one is an angel), and 5 great-grand children! In 1988 we moved from MA to Yakima,WA and then to Phoenix, AZ in 2005. While living in MA I worked in the chemistry/metallurgical dept at Greenfield Tap and Die and then at Dirats Metallurgical Testing Labs. In WA I worked in distribution and logistics for a local dairy producer. In AZ I retired in 2015 having worked as a bookkeeper/comptroller for a manufacturing co.  I have had three joint replacements. My husband was nearly killed in an industrial accident in 2018 so retired as well. We both enjoy spending time with family and walking, hiking, and camping ( glamping in our motorhome that has a washer/dryer). It’s been a good life!”

The Wilson Hall women zoomed on June 6 with Ann Smith as the host from her West Hartford, Ct. home. Linda Jameson shared the news- “Ann quizzed us on Northfield and Wilt-sen Hall trivia ( regrettably no cash prizes) and kept things moving along  and in closing shared some sweet and encouraging words for us all in the difficult moment in which we find ourselves. So happy to see Weezie Louise Mallette who joined us from Duxbury, MA where she continues working as a HR consultant. Gretchen Law reported in from Guilford, CT. We all continue to silently admire her for the innovative play, Turn Me Loose. She is retired from her work as a therapist at Yale New Haven Hospital ( see tidbit news).  Connie Jo White zoomed in while traveling to her brother’s birthday party. She is retired from USWest telephone company for a few years, enjoying her hometown of Durham,NC. An international zoom was happily visited upon us by Alison Wintgen Hutchison who was Northfield’s English speaking Union exchange student our senior year. She related how she is grateful for having been sent to our dynamic school and assigned to Wild Wilson. Claire Sammi Schmidt Jones joined us from George, Utah. She was only in Wilson one year, but we always forget that, because she is an unforgettable person who somehow managed to still be in our hearts though she transferred to West Marquand for junior year. Nancy ( Buffy Hill) Chadwick joined the call as well ( see additional tidbit news). And then there was me, Linda, with my COVID19 hairdo, balancing my iPhone, sitting in my rocking chair in Madison, WI. I am retired from a swath of careers ending with women’s health education and outreach for the medical school here. Since then I’ve done public relations for good causes, delivered Equal Exchange Coffee and been a family caregiver. I take courses at UW-Madison and go to random lectures. I now focus on making small steps forward on three issues- addiction, water and voting. We really just dipped our toes into learning who we are now and what we remember together. We hope you will take up the next offer to zoom with us.”

Many of our classmates, in addition to participating in the Zoom virtual reunions, sent in additional tidbits of their lives! Cynthia Roney really enjoys the online postings, the dorm Zoom meetings and the picture updates on face book. She is living in Manhattan with her children and grandson living close by in Brooklyn. She is still working, contemplating retirement, active in community through board work at a food pantry and a Canadian foundation. But her favorite activity is babysitting! She would love to see any ’70 alumns living in her area.

Gretchen Law is looking forward to our reunion whenever it happens. “I feel so close to all my Northfield sisters. It’s strange to be growing older but I’m grateful that we can connect and do it together.” Gretchen is at home in CT with her husband and family. Until the pandemic she had been busy with playwriting but “it’s taken a backseat to grandchildren and financial survival.” She would love to hear from folks!

Louise Rothery reflected on the pandemic and its silver linings. The atmosphere is much cleaner and it seems that people, forced to slow down, are becoming more considerate, friendly, and appreciate what they have. “When you can’t take a trip abroad it’s not too bad sitting on your back porch and watching hummingbirds finally come to the feeder that you put out last week.” Louise is doing more artwork, talking with her sister and niece weekly, listening to music and doing lots of house projects. She hopes “life is as good for all my classmates”.

After living for 30 years in Upstate NY Sue Aspinwall moved to Chapel Hill/Durham, NC where she worked as a nurse manager for UNC for 5 years. In 2012 after 37 years as a practicing RN she retired to New Orleans LA to be near her daughter, Kelly, and family. She loves her new active life in New Orleans and is busy with a variety of activities, as well as enjoying her 3 grandchildren who live nearby. Her children Kelly Dann NMH 1996 and Alex Dann NMH 1999 are thriving and often remark how “valuable their NMH experiences were to them.”

Kimberly Chase-Adler and husband Tom have been residing in their beach house at Goose Rocks Beach in Kennebunkport, Maine since early March. They were joined by their two younger daughters and their husbands and children and have been quarantining in a group of 10 people ever since. She says it’s been hectic and stressful but also pretty fun! Their oldest daughter , husband and 3 grandchildren live in London and currently have been residing in Dorset, UK with another family on a beautiful farm. Everyone is healthy for which Kim is thankful.

Claire “Sammi” Schmidt Jones has been living with her husband in St. George, Utah for four years. Still working, she is considering retirement from NEC, but some interesting work project always comes up. Every Saturday she goes horseback riding and hasn’t fallen off in quite some time! She invites anyone visiting nearby Zion National Park please call her to do lunch.

Margaret Wilson was unable to join in on the West Marquand Zoom call but shared – “over the past few months I have been digging through decades of photos and trying to make sense of boxes in the attic. Have also been doing lots of painting ( two spring/summer shows cancelled) and cooking ( making a family cookbook). She is looking forward to time away on Block Island.” She has 2 granddaughters.

Nancy ( Buffy Hill) Chadwick writes that it meant the world to her to see old friends and reconnect on the Wilson Hall Zoom call June 6. She adds – “Five years ago I retired as a high school English teacher. My husband, Ted, is still a professor at BU Questrom School of Mgt. We have two daughters, Cordelia and Whitney, both with awesome partners, and a delightful granddaughter Juniper. Before the virus, I traveled frequently with Ted or my posse, The Ladies Literary Travel Society. I also like traveling by myself, mostly in France. I am learning how to play the piano, and am a voracious reader. I have many happy memories of Northfield and Mount Hermon and would love to hear from others.” Fun note- “we threw a Christmas party for our neighborhood a few years ago and discovered that Louise( Weezi) Mallette lives cattycorner to us. We went to Boston vespers in 2018 and it was perfectly lovely”.

After leaving Northfield Jacque Leung Spence “drifted for several years until she met her husband Jamie, who had just finished building the Sea Spider, a 31 ft trimaran. “ Being young and foolish and in love I jumped on board and together for seven years we sailed the islands of the South Pacific from San Francisco to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.” Jacque and Jamie became Christians at sea and decided to focus their lives on bringing medical help to the island people. In 1981 they founded Canvasback Missions and together with over 200 volunteers built the world’s largest sailing catamaran. The Canvasback medical ship was launched in 1986 and transported nurses, doctors, dentists and other health care professionals to remote outer islands of the Marshall Islands and brought care to people who had never seen a doctor or dentist. The mission has outgrown the medical ship and has evolved into sending specialty surgery teams to the three nations of Micronesia. Jacque travels 6-7 times a year to the islands to lead the surgery teams. In 1990 her son Sterling was born and like his parents has the passion for serving people in need. He is also a song writer. Jacque asks if anyone has been in touch with Ilo Milton, Kathy Allen, Sam and Bea Sahm, Annie Wright and Kathy Liu. (Sadly Kathy Liu passed away in 2018)

Jane Ellen Reid has lived in the Shenandoah Valley for 14 years since moving from the desert of Arizona. In that time she has turned 95% of her property into gardens and says they are in the best shape ever in quarantine. She is working with families facing homelessness. “The moms in the program are amazing in their resilience and determination. Between being furloughed to testing positive for covid they have all managed to keep going. Through it all I have worked at home mastering Zoom and Facetime.”

As we Northfield women look forward to celebrating our 50th reunion may we remember those classmates that we have lost over the years. Remembering Sharon Angell ( 2004), Barbara Jean Gardner Kissel ( 2016), Margaret Holloway ( 2020), Deborah Jackimek ( 2015), Emilie Knapp Crown ( 2017), Karen Kreuzer Kotzmann ( 2017), Kathy Liu ( 2018), Sarah Murdock ( 1980), Heidi Neubauer Jacobus ( 2016), Barbara Webb ( 2008), Carolyn Whelan Doran ( 2008), and Krisanthi Wijetunge Desilva ( 1979).

In closing I would like to thank Tess Dunhoff for coming up with the idea of of these wonderful  Zoom Virtual Reunion calls. She was instrumental in finding classmates who were excited about making them happen. And thank you to the Dorm Zoom Hosts for reaching out to your dorm sisters and uniting the Northfield Class of 1970 once again.

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