By Kevin Fletcher
Lots of laughter, a few tears and countless memories were shared May 3-4 for the annual Christian College Reunion Weekend. This year, more than 50 alumnae and guests representing 10 class years returned to campus to celebrate their time at Christian College. While it was the milestone Class of 1969 that celebrated its 50th reunion had the highest representation with 13 alumnae in attendance, the weekend celebrated all alumnae.
College roommates Debbie Guillia McGinnis ’69 and Cheryl Hollingsworth DeLacretaz ’69 started their trip down memory lane with a chuckle before the weekend even began. McGinnis hosted DeLacretaz at her home in Lexington, Missouri, prior to coming to Columbia for the reunion. As her guest settled in, they began flipping through DeLacretaz’ copy of Ivy Chain, the college’s yearbook at that time.
“There was an 8×10 photo, black and white, and it was captioned – she had right across the bottom – ‘Our 10-year Reunion, Christian College, 1979’ –and I thought, ‘Oh, that’s cool! I’ll look and see if there’s anybody there that I remember,’” McGinnis said. “And there was my picture, and I don’t remember being there at all; Mitzi Pepper [Foster ’69] was there, she doesn’t remember being there at all; Cheryl doesn’t remember being there at all; and there was somebody else we were talking to that was in the picture. We need to talk to the person that planned the 1979 reunion and have her tell us what happened because we don’t remember being there!”
Guests were treated to an alumnae luncheon, a commemorative Ivy Chain Ceremony and tours of campus and the city of Columbia. And of course, there was plenty of time for reminiscing and storytelling. One story that had ladies laughing to the edge of tears involved several uninvited guests to St. Clair Hall in the late-1950s.
“We knew that we had mice in between the walls because you could hear them at night,” said Barbara Rathbun Tucker ’59. She noted that, especially since the rodents were stuck in – and remained in – the walls, none of the women were scared of them, and to her knowledge no one had complained about them. Nevertheless, someone on staff decided to get rid of the mice, and had a new procedure to try. A little before Christmas, the application was made, and as Tucker says, “It worked wonderfully; the mice died right between the walls.”
Such news sounds great, until you think about it – “You don’t have to think about it!” she interrupted – “It smelled so bad, and you couldn’t get rid of the smell. It got so bad that I had to go sleep in a friend’s room because I couldn’t stand the smell anymore.” She kept telling her boyfriend, “I’m sorry that I stink and can’t get rid of my clothes, but he was really nice and good about it. He never ever complained or anything.”
DeLacretaz remembered that the first time she’d ever set foot in the state of Missouri was the day she showed up for classes. “I’d never even heard of Christian College, but I got a full scholarship here, so that’s how I ended up here,” she said. “I think I adjusted pretty well, except, being from the desert, I didn’t have a hat and I didn’t have a coat, and I fell into gutters numerous times as I was getting out of cars trying to cross streets, because I didn’t know how to walk in snow and ice!”
At the luncheon, Lynne Stuver Baker ’64, a member of the Columbia College Board of Trustees and director emerita of the Columbia College Alumni Association Advisory Board, updated the guests on the status of the Christian College Legacy Initiative (CCLI).
Launched in 2014, the CCLI was created to honor and celebrate Christian College alumnae and foster a sense of loyalty and pride among all Columbia College students, alumni, friends and family nationwide. Through alumnae generosity, the CCLI has raised nearly $3 million to preserve the legacy of Christian College, and helped support efforts such as the 2016 Quad beautification project, which included the addition of the Christian College Garden. Fundraising for the Christian College Legacy Initiative will continue through June 30, 2020; Baker encouraged those who haven’t made a gift yet to please consider joining your classmates in supporting this important initiative.
For many of the Class of 1969, the weekend was their first time back on campus in 40 years. Plenty has changed over the years, including – with the exception of Banks and Miller Halls – the entirety of campus north of the Quad. “To see how things have expanded, it’s really, really impressive, I’m just amazed,” said DeLacretaz, who now lives in Austin, Texas. “Where some other educational institutions are struggling, Columbia College seems to be doing just fine, and that makes me really proud.”
McGinnis jumped in. “I turned to Cheryl a little bit ago and said, ‘Doesn’t it make you want to sign up and do it all again,’ because there’s so many happy memories that we have,” she said.