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In her trademark lively and delightful manner, honorary doctorate recipient Evelyn Lilly Blake ’42 delivers remarks during the Fall 2018 commencement.



30 President Dr. Kendra Boggess Vice President for Advancement Alicia Besenyei Chair, Concord University Foundation, Inc. David Kirby '79 MAGAZINE STAFF:

36 52

Director of Communications Amy Pitzer

A Night of Luxury

Heritage & Horizon Downtown Brews

Staff Writer Sarah M. Pritchett



Creative Services Manager Foster Sheppard '14


Concord Trivia


University News


2018 Fall Commencement


On the Road with Roar


Scholarship Spotlight

48 Athletics


Factory Man

60 Alumni Happenings


Founders' Day


Alumni Spotlight


Where Are They Now?


Class Notes


In Memory

SUBMISSIONS: Please contact Amy Pitzer at 304-384-5211 or MOVED RECENTLY? NEED TO UPDATE YOUR INFO? Fill out the Alumni Contact Information Update form under the Alumni tab!

ON THE COVER: Attendees of the 2019 Presiden'ts Ball take full advantage of the photobooth provided by the West Virignia Photobooth Company.

The Concord University Magazine is published by the Concord University Advancement Office. A portion of the cost is underwritten by the Concord University Foundation, Inc.

Email: Mail:

Office of Advancement PO Box 1000 Athens, WV 24712-1000

Phone: 304.384.6311 Fax: 304.384.6017

UniversityNews Two Charlies Share the Spotlight at Concord’s Groundhog Day Breakfast Concord Charlie Predicts an Early Spring

Grand Groundhog Watcher Charlie Mathena speaks at the 40th Groundhog Day Breakfast.


Concord University’s famed weather prognosticator Concord Charlie shared the spotlight with another Charlie as he called for an early spring during the 40th Anniversary Groundhog Day Breakfast held on Friday, Feb. 1, a day before the official Groundhog Day. Charles T. “Charlie” Mathena, this year’s Grand Ground Watcher, also took center stage at the popular gathering held in University Point’s Pais Fellowship Hall. The title of Grand Groundhog Watcher is bestowed on an individual who has positively impacted life and culture in West Virginia. Concord Charlie was snowed in last year and didn’t get to make his prediction. Mr. Mathena, like Charlie, SPRING 2019 CONCORD UNIVERSIT Y MAGAZINE

had planned to participate in the 2018 breakfast. Both Charlies were eager to communicate with the crowd assembled for the early morning festivities. As is his custom, Concord Charlie had assistance from Concord University’s President Kendra Boggess with informing the breakfast guests about what they could expect as far as the weather goes. This year, Concord Charlie sent a text to Dr. Boggess with his prediction. “He said he did not see his shadow which means good weather is on the way,” Dr. Boggess reported. According to Groundhog Day tradition, if the groundhog sees his shadow the morning of Feb. 2,


six more weeks of winter can be expected. An early spring will be on the way if he doesn’t see his shadow. Concord Charlie has been the official predictor of the coming of spring for 40 years on Groundhog Day at “The Campus Beautiful.” The Concord Charlie tradition was originated in 1978 by the late Professor R.T. “Tom” Hill. As chairman of both the geography department and the Appalachian Studies program at Concord, Professor Hill started the Groundhog Day Breakfast as a means to celebrate a bit of Appalachian heritage and highlight the program. During his time at the microphone, Mr. Mathena recounted how he brought the vision of building a creative arts center in memory of his son, the late Charles T. “Chuck” Mathena II, to fruition. “We asked God to help us … to give us something good from his death,” Mr. Mathena said. That “something good” would become the Chuck Mathena Center. Through the center, Charlie and his wife, Marquetta, have enhanced the cultural offerings available to the area. Located in Princeton, WV, the Chuck Mathena Center brings an exciting lineup of live performances to the stage each year enriching the lives of residents across the region. Area children benefit through the Center’s Sharing the Dream program by allowing them “to dream, to learn, to share and to grow”, Mr. Mathena said. He expressed appreciation for the community’s support in fund raising for the center as well as attending events and volunteering there. Charlie Mathena grew up in Welch, WV and graduated from Welch High School, Bluefield State College and the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science. He began his career in the funeral industry at the Memorial Funeral Directory of Princeton, WV, in 1966 and remains there today as President and General Manager.

Alicia Suka Besenyei, Vice President for Advancement, Charlie Mathena and President Kendra Boggess.

Mr. Mathena’s involvement in church, civic and community activities in recent years includes the Greater Princeton Little League, Princeton-Mercer County Chamber of Commerce, Princeton Community Hospital, First Church of God on Mahood Avenue, President of the Chuck Mathena Foundation and Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Chuck Mathena Center. He is currently serving in his second term on the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.

Master of Education Program Honored Concord University’s Master of Education (M.Ed.) program has been named in the 2019 edition of U.S. News & World Report’s Best Online Graduate Education Programs rankings. Of the 299 programs ranked in the report, Concord is tied for a ranking of 137. One of only four West Virginia institutions in the rankings, Concord is ranked the second highest among the state’s schools named in the report. Institutions were ranked by U.S. News & World Report based on five general categories:

Engagement (30 percent); Services and Technologies (20 percent); Expert Opinion (20 percent); Student Excellence (15 percent); and Faculty Credentials and Training (15 percent). For additional information about U.S. News & World Report’s ranking go to https://www. education To learn more about Concord University’s Master of Education program, please visit http://




Mountain Lions Enter the Competitive Esports Arena BY LINDSEY BYARS


If your momma told you playing video games was a waste of time, you’re about to be vindicated. Concord University is launching three varsity level esports teams this fall, and we’re the first public school in West Virginia to embrace the growing trend. Esports is competitive video gaming watched by spectators. Team members will practice strategy and perfect their critical and analytical thinking skills to compete with other teams on games like League of Legends, Overwatch, and Call of Duty, the three games Concord hopes to build teams for. The university has registered its teams with the National Association of Collegiate Esports, a nonprofit group that collaborates with its members to advance collegiate esports, support its players and coaches, and provide scholarships for players. In 2016, NACE formed with only seven schools. By 2018, there were 63, and as of January 2019, ESPN reported around 125 programs registered with NACE. Jamie Nickell, a sophomore at Concord and a competitive gamer, has worked closely with administrators. Nickell competes in events across the country. With

this experience, he is guiding the formation of CU’s team, an effort that he hopes will be a foundation for a career in esports after he graduates. “Esports is a dream career of mine and I am always fascinated with how it is growing, and I hope to be able to help pave the way in it,” Nickell says. The industry surrounding esports is booming, and university officials hope that the creation of these teams will bring opportunities to students and Concord. “With the growing business opportunities surrounding esports, our hope is to eventually create a certificate program that utilizes many of the courses we currently offer,” President Kendra Boggess says. “By grouping business, marketing, and graphic design classes, we would be able to offer a specialization that will make our students seeking careers in esports more competitive in the job market when they graduate.” There is no official esports emphasis at this moment, but President Boggess hopes to meet the demand she feels will follow the creation of a varsity team. “The moment we issued the press


release announcing our esports varsity team, we instantly saw a positive response from current and potential students – ‘How can I sign up?’ We’re even seeing former students thinking about returning, all because of this team. If the esports industry is where our students hope to succeed after graduation, we need to do all we can to help them reach their goals.” The interview process for Concord’s esports coach is well underway, so follow our social media accounts and check the website for an official announcement in the coming weeks. Once this position is hired, recruitment will begin. Also, technology experts are designing the esports arena, which will make use of an older lab space in the Nick Rahall Technology Center. Be sure to stay connected for sneak peaks. Concord’s Varsity Esports Program is completely funded by donations. If you would like to support this opportunity for our students, please contact the Office of Advancement at advancement@, or call 304-384-5119. Our success begins with you.



The 30TH Annual

MAY 11 Spring Commencement Carter Center Gymnasium Morning Ceremony 10am Afternoon Ceremony 2pm


MAY 20 First Summer Term Begins JUNE 14 Homer K. Ball Memorial Scholarship Golf Tournament Pipestem State Park

JUNE 14, 2019

Pipestem Resort State Park Tee Time: 8:30 am

JUNE 24 Second Summer Term Begins

Register online!

AUGUST 18 Athens-Concord Town Social Front Lawn Concord University 1-4 pm AUGUST 19 Fall Term Begins AUGUST 22 Concord Night with the Princeton Rays Hunnicutt Stadium SEPTEMBER 26 Concord University Day of Giving OCTOBER 19 Homecoming 2019 Keg & Eggs Brunch 10 am - 1pm Kickoff 1 pm Grill & Chill 5 - 7 pm NOVEMBER 7 Charleston Dinner Embassy Suites 6 pm Check page 60 for a CU After Hours event near you!

Keeping up with Concord Social media has allowed people to keep in touch with individuals, groups and activities all across the globe and Concord is using some of these tools to keep its alumni connected to the University and each other. You can keep up with Concord through any (or all!) of the following outlets:

Facebook: Concord University Alumni Association, Inc. and Concord University Twitter: @CampusBeautiful and @ConcordUAlumni

LinkedIn: Official Concord University page and the Official Concord University Alumni group

Snapchat: ConcordU1872

Instagram: ConcordUAlumni

We hope you will take advantage of each of these sites as a quick and easy way to keep up with Concord! CONCORD UNIVERSIT Y MAGAZINE SPRING 2019



Criminology Students Spend a Day at the Legislature

From left to right, Jamil Taylor, Bethany Sisk, instructor Lori Pace, Abigail Taylor, Meaghan Ward and Matthew Mikles.

Ten Criminology students and Instructor Lori Pace attended the Recovery & Reentry Criminal Justice Reform Day at the Legislature on Feb. 19. With West Virginia at the center of the opioid epidemic, foster care crisis, and high incarceration rates, charting forward paths to reform attitudes toward addiction and reentry post felony has become a focus of many stakeholders. Students heard speakers with personal stories and innovative

ideas to support changes that will make the system more fair, safe, and beneficial to individuals and society. Criminology student Diana Bailey shared how one speaker in particular impressed her. “While listening to Delegate Danielle Walker speak, she said, ‘your story is your glory.’ And then she explained that the good and bad that happened in your life becomes a part of you and it is in your hands to use that as your

own power to take a stand for what you believe. This is how you get your success story. And that really stuck with me,” Diana said. Students were informed about relevant bills currently being considered by the WV State Legislature including bail reform, sentencing laws, racial disparities, access to treatment, state ID cards, eligibility for SNAP to drug felons, barriers to employment post-felony, and the Second Chance for Employment Act. In an afternoon presentation by Recovery Counselors a better understanding of the need for, types of, and challenges to people with drug use disorders was shared first hand by those in longterm recovery. Afterward, senior Abigail Taylor said, “It was very interesting to me that our area has such a high rate of recidivism, yet not much is being done to prevent the issue. It definitely influenced me to get involved in ways to create an environment can be beneficial to not only felons, but also for the rest of the community.”

PHOTO SUBMISSION GUIDELINES We appreciate the photographs you share with us for possible inclusion in Concord’s magazine. To help us provide quality reproduction of photographs, we are offering the following guidelines for your information. Photographs need to be at least 300 dpi. Image file size needs to be at least 1mb per photo. Photos should be in jpeg format and taken with a camera and not a cellphone. If you have questions, please contact the Office of Advancement at or 304-384-6311. Thank you!




Entrepreneurship Students Shine in Competitions When it comes to ideas and plans for starting a business, Concord University students have what it takes. They’ve been proving this recently by faring well in competitions. The team of Levi Osawe and Silvin Mongella advanced to the semifinal round in the thirteenth annual West Virginia Statewide Collegiate Business Plan Competition (WVSCBPC) this past fall. They were one of the top 30 entries. The competition has three categories – Hospitality and Tourism, Lifestyle and Innovation, and STEM/Technology – with 10 participants in each. Overall, there were 201 initial entries accepted into the competition. Their business plan entry was for a bar and grill called International House of Brews. The semi-final round took place on Nov. 16, 2018 in Flatwoods, WV. International House of Brews took Levi and Silvin to the finals of another contest, the Regional Invitational Idea Pitch Competition held Feb. 21, 2019 in Beckley, WV. Competing as individuals, Jenna Mounts and Allison Moore also represented Concord as finalists in the event. Levi and Silvin received second place and a cash prize of $1,500. Concord Assistant Professor Angela Addair had special words of congratulations for her students. “They have all been working so hard this

From left to right, Levi Osawe, Silvin Mongella, Jenna Mounts and Allison Moore

semester on their own ideas, and what they want to do. This is such an exciting competition for them,” she said. “All four students are pursuing an entrepreneurship minor with their degrees as well. I know they will continue to follow their passion well beyond the classroom.” Ms. Addair is the University’s Director of Entrepreneurial Studies and the campus liaison for the WVSCBPC.

Veterans Honored During Weeklong Observance

Memorial Wreath placed by the Mercer County Veterans Honor Guard.

In honor of Veterans Day 2018, the Concord University Veterans Committee held a week-long observance Nov. 5-9. A variety of events and activities took place during the week. A touching way to remember veterans was offered to campus and community with “Plant a Flag, Honor a Veteran.” Small stick flags could be purchased and then placed in a designated area on the front lawn of Marsh Hall. Proceeds from the sale of the flags went toward assisting the student veterans at Concord.

During the week, the waving American flags reminded passersby of the contributions of service men and women. A Missing Man Table was set up in the Libby Alvis Dining Hall. Flags representing the five service branches of the United States Armed Forces were part of the display with a different flag being posted each day. The Mercer County Veterans Honor Guard placed a wreath at the veterans memorial in front of Marsh Hall during a brief morning ceremony on Nov.




U.S. Navy Veteran, George Williams '11 speaking at the Veterans Day Ceremony.


5. Special reserved parking for student veterans, complimentary meals and “thank you for your service” cards were additional ways that veterans were honored during the week. Activities on Friday, Nov. 9 included participation in the National Roll Call in the Subway stage area of the Student Center where names of West Virginia’s fallen service members continuously scrolled on a screen set up there. The week’s activities culminated with a Veterans Day Ceremony on Nov. 9 in the Wilkes Family Chapel in University Point. Mr. George Williams, a US Navy veteran and 2011 graduate of Concord, was the featured speaker for the morning ceremony. “I joined the Navy in 1984 and served a number of years as an electronics technician,” Williams said. He served in Desert Storm and Desert Shield and also with the West Virginia Army National Guard.

During his remarks, George spoke of the sacrifices the men and women of the armed forces make in service to their country. “To be sure, it takes a certain type of person to pledge their lives to protect our freedoms. From the moment an individual takes the oath they accept responsibilities that are bigger than themselves,” he said. “Our service members sacrifice time with their families, often missing holidays, birthdays and other milestones,” he continued. “They sacrifice their health, their bodies, their minds and some never return, making the ultimate sacrifice with their lives.” “They have a deep rooted belief that this country is worth fighting for; that these sacrifices are all worth it. They have honor and bravery and patriotism and every one of them deserves the thanks and admiration of our entire country,” he said. As a student, George was instrumental in creating Concord’s


successful veterans program and served as the University’s first Veterans Advocate. He is currently an Adjunct Instructor of English at CU. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, summa cum laude, from Concord and furthered his education by earning a master’s degree in Literature with distinction in 2012 from the University of Aberdeen in Aberdeen, Scotland. His educational journey continues with PhD studies through the University of Dundee in Scotland. The CU Choir, under the direction of Dr. Kelly Hudson, sang the national anthem. The Princeton High School JROTC Color Guard presented the colors. Concord student Ms. Victoria Schaefer played “Taps.”


Theatre Department Completes a Busy Season This has proven to be another exciting year for the Concord University Theatre Department. From mainstage plays, a cooperative effort with the Title IX office, a murder mystery and traveling to perform shows and attend conferences, the students of the CU Theatre Department are making a splash. The mainstage production of the Fall 2018 semester was the classic drama, The Crucible. Over 25 students participated in the intense story of the Salem Witch Trials of the 1600s. With costumes rented from Briar Rose Studios, the drama was both a historical recreation and a riveting theatrical performance. In February, the CU Theatre Department partnered with the Title IX office to present The Vagina Monologues. Directed by Megan Perdue, a senior in the department and veteran performer, the play brought the community together to address issues of domestic violence and sexual abuse. The Theatre Workshop students performed in an audience participation murder mystery, Reunited for Murder, written by Karen Vuranch, who is also the Theatre Instructor. The students presented the play on campus and, in early April performed at North Bend State Park as a part of the park’s season of dinner theatres. The students’ performance at North Bend State Park has become an annual event, giving students the valuable experience of touring a show and promoting CU on a state-wide basis. It is not only across the state that CU Theatre is getting noticed. In early March, Karen Vuranch and some of her students traveled to

The Crucible

Knoxville, TN to participate in the Southeastern Theatre Conference. This regional event is one of the biggest of its kind in the nation. It features opportunity for auditions for summer work, hundreds of sessions that enhance theatre skills and a marketplace where students can look for postgraduate experiences. Vuranch and her students presented a session at this conference on how to perform living history. The conference session grew out of a class offered last semester. The 2018-2019 season culminated in the energetic musical, Godspell. This vibrant production is a modern take on the Gospel of Matthew. The production involved a number

Karen Vuranch, center, with her students at the Southeastern Theatre Conference in Knoxville, TN.

of actors, musicians and stage crew. Dr. Kelly Hudson and Dr. David Ball of the Music Department have directed the musical aspects of the show and Mrs. Vuranch served as the stage director. Jacob Pauley, a senior Interdisciplinary Music and Theatre student, designed the set and lights.



How well do you think you know Concord? Find out by taking this quiz! After you're done, check out the answers on page 27 to see how you did!

Name the President of Concord who never set foot on the Concord campus. a.) George West Diehl b.) Virgil Harvey Stewart c.) Clyde Campbell d.) George Michael Ford

Who was the first Concord football player to play both offense and defense at all four backfield positions? a.) Don Van Deusen b.) Herman R. Hoskins


c.) Doug Dean d.) Shane Vandergriff

Who was the first Concord President? a.) Lawrence Benjamin Hill b.) Elmer F. Goodwin c.) Arthur S. Thorn d.) Captain James Harvey French

In what year was the homecoming queen given a car to use for the entire year of her reign? a.) 1980 b.) 1979 c.) 1978 d.) 1977

This 1936 Concord graduate and former faculty member was named Poet Laureate of West Virginia. This same person was named West Virginian of the year by the Charleston Gazette newspaper and was honored by the West Virginia Society of Washington, DC as the West Virginia Daughter of the Year. Who was she? a.) Aileen McKenzie b.) Louise McNeill Pease c.) Eva Marchitelli d.) Thelma Martin




Carter Shrewsbury '20, Miranda Walls ‘17, Lauren White ‘17, Hannah Stauffer '22, Blake Farmer '17, Luke Van Blaricom and Pam Van Blaricom ‘90 took ROAR with them to the Biltmore in Asheville, NC.

Carli Dotson '16 took ROAR with her to visit Gretchen Reese '16 in Uganda. Gretchen is currently serving as a Peace Corps volunteer. Phil '58 and Nell '53 Jeffries took ROAR with them on their Royal Caribbean Cruise! Read more about their journey on page 61!

TAKE ROAR WITH YOU! Rita Minnick '75 ventured to the Banff Springs Hotel in Alberta, Canada with ROAR this past September.

Show us where you’ve taken Roar! Find your cut out of Roar on page 79 of this magazine.




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ity Holds Twen


tieth Fall Comm

and celebration filled the Carter Center for Concord University’s Twentieth Fall Commencement on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018. When the ceremony began that morning, family and friends of the graduates had packed the main gym for the milestone event. The familiar strains of “Pomp and Circumstance” accompanied the faculty processional and the candidates for graduation as they entered the room. Master’s degree candidates led the march of graduates followed by the bachelor’s degree candidates. Twenty-eight graduate candidates and 104 undergraduate candidates meeting requirements for graduation participated. Along with candidates for graduation from West Virginia, candidates from out-of-state represented Virginia, North Carolina,


California, Delaware, Maine, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland and Washington. International students representing Liberia, Germany, Vietnam and Nepal were also among the candidates for graduation. The Fall 2018 class includes three veterans and 35 individuals graduated with honors. Valedictorian for the Fall 2018 class is Suzette Yvonne Parks of Lerona, WV. Ms. Parks is a first generation college student and an adult learner. Majoring in Early Childhood Education, she received a Regents Bachelor of Arts degree, Summa Cum Laude. “I am honored to stand before you this morning to represent Concord University’s Fall Class of 2018 as valedictorian,” she said. “I, as should you, feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment. I would » CONCORD UNIVERSIT Y MAGAZINE SPRING 2019




like to thank my family, friends, colleagues, for all their patience, continued support and encouragement every time I was ready to give up.” Speaking to her fellow graduates, Ms. Parks said, “Always be prepared for change. Change is the one thing in life that is constant. “When I graduated from high school a diploma was sufficient for getting a decent job. But as times have changed, a minimum college degree is needed. When I graduated from high school, I never intended to go to college,” she said. “I have been with my current employer for 17 years and two years ago came change,” Ms. Parks SPRING 2019 CONCORD UNIVERSIT Y MAGAZINE

continued. “Therefore, I found myself in the position to maintain my job, I would need to obtain a bachelor’s degree. “This has not been an easy task – working full-time, traveling, juggling family and studies, not to mention the many sacrifices, and a lot of ‘I don’t have another class in me’ moments, but the ultimate journey has been well worth traveling,” she said. “During this journey, I have witnessed a lot of successes as well as failures, and I am sure you have as well, but we have persevered, and here we are the 2018 Fall graduating class of Concord University.” Two alumni of Concord received honorary degrees during the ceremony. Evelyn Lilly Blake, a 1942 graduate, and Donald R. Holcomb, who graduated in 1979, were both awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities, honoris causa. They were honored for their career achievements, community involvement and philanthropic spirit. Mrs. Blake majored in biology at Concord and pursued a career in education. She has graciously given back to her alma mater by financially supporting study and research in science at the University. Her generosity has also helped the marching band purchase new uniforms and will assist in upgrading science labs and facilities. Mr. Holcomb studied business at Concord, majoring in accounting and management. A successful businessman, he is a Certified Public Accountant and a Chartered Global Management Accountant. His generous donations to the University have included support for scholarships and athletics, along with major contributions to the President’s House restoration and track renovation projects. Mrs. Blake’s enthusiasm and vivacious personality sparkled through her words as she addressed the graduates. She encouraged her


audience to have a positive attitude and to be lifelong learners. “Don’t ever stop learning. You’re just starting,” she said. “I have been to 11 colleges and universities taking classes since I graduated.” “If you look hard enough, you can find something good in every place you go and everywhere you go. And if it isn’t good, it’s up to you to do what you can to make it good and to see the good part,” she said. In his remarks Mr. Holcomb also gave advice to the students. “Be innovative in your thinking and always strive to be the best that you can be,” he said. “Always work hard, be respectful and thankful. It will take you a long way,” he said. “Concord has given you an education to conquer any task. Always keep your confidence in yourself.” Concord University President Kendra Boggess issued the welcome and offered words of congratulations and wisdom to the graduates. “We hope you are going to complete today with your own special celebration. Enjoy that moment. Take a short break then begin again to push ahead because life is about that,” she said. “Continue to study. Continue to reflect. Remain motivated. Work to build your careers. You just don’t know yet where life is going to take you. But with effort, you are going to find a path that was meant to be and that you are going to be very proud of being part of. This is just a first step in a journey.” Suzette Yvonne Parks gives her speech as valedictorian of the Fall Class of 2018.

"At any age, in any circumstance, with dedication and hard work, and perseverance, a person can accomplish anything she sets her mind to"

- Suzette Yvonne Parks '18

“Know that whatever comes, you are ready,” she said. “Don’t give up on your dreams, your passions and your goals.” “Set your mind to a goal, to a dream, to a mission and love that mission, believe in what you are doing. And then adjust if necessary. Be flexible. And more than anything, don’t give up,” she said. Greetings from the Concord University Board of Governors were delivered by Mr. David Barnette, chair of the Board of Governors. Dr. William Williams, faculty president, offered greetings on behalf of the faculty. Greetings from the Alumni Association were brought by Mrs. Susan Tuck, president of the Alumni Association. Ms. Haley Fields, president of the Student Government Association, delivered greetings from the Student Government Association. The Concord University Band and the ConChords provided musical selections. Congratulations and loads of photographs were the order of the day during the reception in the Carter Center small gym following the ceremony.


Suzette Yvonne Parks, of Lerona, WV, is the valedictorian for Concord’s Fall 2018 class. She received a Regents Bachelor of Arts (RBA) degree, Summa Cum Laude. Her major was Early Childhood Education. As an adult learner and a first-generation college student, Suzette tackled the goal of earning a degree with “dedication, hard work, and perseverance” that led her not only to an RBA but also to the top of her class. She explains what being the valedictorian means to her. » CONCORD UNIVERSIT Y MAGAZINE SPRING 2019




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“Being recognized as Concord University’s 2018 valedictorian is an incredible honor, and I feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment,” she said. “I am the first person in my family to receive a college education; I am an adult learner; and I also completed the degree while working a demanding full-time job.” “My ultimate goal was to simply obtain the RBA degree with a specialty in Early Childhood Education. Having done this and also earning the high honor of valedictorian is amazing, and – to be honest – shocking. This proves that at any age, in any circumstance, with dedication, hard work, and perseverance, a person can accomplish anything she sets her mind to,” she said. Looking to the future, Ms. Parks discusses her plans after receiving her degree. “I plan to continue employment at CASEWV (Community Action of South Eastern West Virginia) as Assistant Director of the Head Start, Early Head Start, and Child Care Partnership program in Mercer and Summers counties,” she said.

Honorary doctorates

Two distinguished alumni received the degree of Doctor of Humanities, honoris causa during the Fall 2018 commencement ceremony. Donald R. Holcomb and Evelyn Lilly Blake received their honorary doctorates for outstanding career achievements, dedicated community service and exceptional generosity toward Concord University. Mrs. Blake’s appreciation for the natural world and the arts guided her studies at Concord and has influenced her philanthropic endeavors. As a Concord student, she majored in biology, and a botany course taught by Dr. Meade McNeill gave her special inspiration. Decades later, Evelyn recalls how she and her classmates enjoyed the excursions he led “in the water and in the wilds” to identify plants, a skill she cultivated. While Evelyn’s abilities at plant identification impressed Dr. McNeill, her talents as a seamstress caught the attention of her art professor, Laura Ann Sarvay, who hired Evelyn as her own seamstress. Minoring in art, she later had one of her creations – a wool quilt that she stitched – displayed in an Atlanta museum. Also involved in the performing arts, Evelyn played

Dr. Kendra Boggess presents Ms. Evelyn Blake with an honorary doctorate. Honorary doctorate recipient Donald Holcomb addressing the candidates for graduation.

the snare drum in Concord’s marching band. She completed her bachelor’s degree at Concord in 1942, pursued a master’s degree at Virginia Tech, and enjoyed a career in teaching. As an alumna of Concord, Mrs. Blake has made significant contributions to the University’s students, professors and programming. She is helping Concordians learn more about the natural world as a major contributor to The Allie Irene Strasko Research Trust Fund, which supports research and study in science. When she learned that Concord’s marching band needed new uniforms, Mrs. Blake graciously donated toward the purchase of this musical group’s attire. Today, her spirit of giving continues to shine. A bequest she has made to Concord will create the Evelyn Lilly Blake Endowed Science Fund. This very generous donation will be used to upgrade science labs, purchase science equipment, and improve the University’s science facilities. Mr. Holcomb majored in accounting and management at Concord and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1979. As a Certified Public Account and a Chartered Global Management Accountant, he achieved success in his profession and has continued to advance in his field. Early in his career, he worked as a staff accountant for a CPA firm, an assistant trust officer for a bank, and a self-employed CPA. He has also served as vice president and president of private companies in the areas of contract mining, automotive dealerships, and consulting for natural resources, and as the chief financial

officer for a group that included a large private coal company. Today, his professional life is multidimensional as owner and operator of Mountaineer Automotive in Beckley; in his role with the Dickinson Fuel Company in Charleston; and with his service as a trustee of various Cline Family Trusts in Florida. Additionally, he serves on the board of Natural Resource Partners, and holds membership in the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the West Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants. Striving to better his community, he serves on local boards for the Red Cross, Chamber of Commerce, and the United Way. His leadership extends to the Beckley Rotary Club where he is a Past President and has received the prestigious Paul Harris Fellow recognition. His generous support of Concord is extensive and touches many areas of the University. These contributions range from scholarship support, gifts for athletics, and the GAP Fund, to major contributions toward the President’s House restoration and track renovation projects. He has also served his alma mater as a member of Concord’s Board of Advisors. █ CONCORD UNIVERSIT Y MAGAZINE SPRING 2019



Scholarship Honors Jim Coiner’s Concord Legacy The Professor Jim Coiner ’60 Advertising & Graphic Design Scholarship at Concord University honors a Concordian for his dedication as an alumnus, a member of the faculty and a mentor to students. Joyce Hedrick Coiner established the scholarship in memory of her husband and his commitment and passion for higher education.


im Coiner graduated from Concord in 1960 and later returned to campus where he taught in the Fine Arts Department for more than three decades. “This scholarship was established as a memorial to Jim and it will also continue his legacy of helping students,” Joyce Coiner said. “As a college professor, Jim’s interest in his students’ success went beyond the classroom setting. Over the years, he counseled many students who came to him with their concerns and personal problems. Some even thought of him like a second dad,” she said. “Throughout his teaching career and retirement, he took great pleasure in hearing from his former students as they shared news about their careers, families, and successes. It was also gratifying to him when SPRING 2019 CONCORD UNIVERSIT Y MAGAZINE

students shared his positive influence on their lives.” “We feel that it is important that the students selected for his scholarship have financial need,” Mrs. Coiner explains. “Jim grew up in Webster Springs, WV, and he came from modest means. He was able to afford to attend college because of the educational assistance provided to him through the GI Bill because of his service in the Air Force. “He was grateful and appreciative for the assistance he received, and we feel sure that he would be happy to know this scholarship will help students obtain a bachelor’s degree in advertising and graphic design so that they can advance their careers in a field he loved to teach!” she said.


Jim Coiner graduated from Webster Springs High School in 1952. Following high school, he served four years in the United States Air Force as an Air Force Radar Technician for a short time in South Charleston, WV and also at a remote outpost near Anchorage, Alaska during the Korean War. After his military service, Jim enrolled at Concord to pursue a degree in art studies. Joyce Hedrick was also studying at Concord, working on a degree in education. Jim and Joyce met while they were students at Concord. Reflecting on those days, Joyce says, “Some of my favorite memories as a Concord student were meeting Jim to study at the library in the evenings and occasionally going to see a good movie at the Athens Theatre or at the LaVon Theatre in Princeton.” “During the era we attended Concord, there was a strict curfew for the girls living on campus. If we left the dormitory after dinner during the week, we had to sign out and made sure we returned and sign back in by 9:30 p.m. On weekends, we had to be back and sign in by 11 p.m.,” she said. “On one occasion, Jim took me to a movie that ran later than we expected. Even though I was only a few minutes past curfew, I was written up. If I remember correctly, I lost the privilege of going out for the next five evenings.” “The last semester at Concord was incredibly busy for both Jim and me,” Joyce recalls. “In addition to wrapping up our classes, Jim had his one-man, senior art exhibit and I had my student teaching and planning of our formal wedding. We graduated May 26, 1960 and we were married nine days later on June 4th! Jim and Joyce were married for 57 years until he passed away in April 2018. After completing their bachelor’s degrees at Concord, the Coiners traded one Athens for another with a move to Athens, Ohio, where Jim worked on his Master of Fine Arts Degree at Ohio University and Joyce taught on the elementary school level. Jim received his master’s degree in 1962. Upon graduating from Ohio University, he taught at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, TN for five years. With an invitation from the president of Bluefield State College,

and his strong desire to return to his beloved mountains of West Virginia, he accepted a position and taught there for two years. Jim then returned to Concord and taught for 31 years until he retired in 2000. He was then given the title of Professor of Art Emeritus. “Although Jim enjoyed his time as a faculty member at other institutions, including Austin Peay University and Bluefield State College, he had always hoped to come back ‘home’ to our beloved Concord,” Joyce said. “It was a very exciting time for Jim when he returned to his alma mater as a professor,” she said. » CONCORD UNIVERSIT Y MAGAZINE SPRING 2019



(left) Cherie recreates Joyce’s photograph on the steps of Sarvey Hall. (below) Jim Coiner, with daughter Cherie on his shoulders and wife Joyce by his side, is surrounded by Greenbrier County youngsters who participated in a special summer session at Concord. Mr. Coiner served as director for the program.


With his move into the faculty ranks there was a definite shift in the dynamic of his relationship with fellow Concordians. “Getting to know faculty and their spouses, whom we had known as students, on a professional and social level was an interesting and enjoyable experience for both of us,” Joyce said. “I enjoyed my role as a faculty wife,” she recalls. “I especially enjoyed attending the campus art exhibits and seeing all of the wonderful artwork being produced by his students! “As an active member of the Athens Women’s Club and the Concord branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) I also enjoyed recruiting faculty wives as well as some of the female faculty to join and become involved in these organizations,” she said. Mrs. Coiner’s own career took her into the local school setting where she was an admired and respected teacher for a number of years. During Mr. Coiner’s tenure at Concord, he served as Assistant Professor, Professor and Chairman of

at Concord, Jim was an awardwinning artist in painting and sculpting,” his wife explained. “This continued during and after earning his MFA at Ohio University. His paintings and sculptures can still be found in private collections throughout

the Department of Art. He was instrumental in developing a new and updated curriculum in Commercial Art and Advertising, which is now called Advertising/ Graphic Design. His intention for developing the program was to make sure his students had every opportunity to be self-supporting in their work as artists and provide a nonteaching track in commercial art. He also founded and advised the Concord Advertising Group, a student run advertising and design group that allowed students to gain real-life work experience while in college. Along with helping his students cultivate their talents, Jim Coiner was an artist in his own right. “As an undergraduate student


the country and public collections including The Huntington Museum of Art in Huntington, WV and the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, OH.” Mr. Coiner had many students throughout his years as a professor at Concord, but one student in particular has memories of being in his classroom that are uniquely her own. Cherie Coiner Durbin not only had a father who was a professor, she also had a father who was her professor. “Growing up with Dad as a professor was fun!” Cherie said. “As a little kid, I watched him grade art projects and I always rooted for the students to get a good grade – especially when I loved their


work! My mother and I used to attend his students’ art shows, and we got to know some of his students. Seeing him help them hone their design skills and market their work made an impact on me, even more so, when I got to see firsthand, their education and training put to work when Dad would check on his interns at the big advertising agencies and design firms throughout the country.” “It was a great treat to be able to tag along with him on a few of his trips and see the inner workings of those firms,” she said. “I guess that is part of the reason I decided to pursue a degree in advertising and graphic design when it was time for me to go to college – and I ultimately chose Concord because we had such a fantastic program.” Cherie explains what it was like when she was actually one of Mr. Coiner’s students herself. “During my first few days of college, I had the naïve idea that perhaps none of the other students would find out that Mr. Coiner was my dad if I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t want

people to either like or dislike me because I was the professor’s daughter,” she said. “But, if I recall, everyone just knew from the first day…no matter how tight-lipped I was, and I asked my dad to be. “While I didn’t realize it at the time, looking back, it was really a unique experience to have Dad as my professor and see firsthand how he taught. In spite of being the professor’s daughter, I made good friends who didn’t hold it against me!” she said. “Outside of class, dad took us on field trips to advertising agencies and design firms to meet art directors and executives. We were also able to go to regional art shows featuring the top illustrators of the time. On one of those trips, there was a freak snow storm, and we all bonded while being stranded in North Carolina.” Cherie graduated from Concord in 1991. She worked in Concord’s Admissions Office for a number of years and is now working at Radford University as the Coordinator of Foundation Scholarships. Cherie and her husband, Ron Durbin, have a son, Barrett Alexander Durbin. They live in

Christiansburg, VA. In addition to working with his college students, Jim was passionate about helping West Virginia artists and artisans promote and sell their work. With the support of state officials and state grants, he opened The Arts and Crafts Studio at Pipestem Resort and State Park in 1971. He and his students from Concord managed and operated the Arts and Crafts Studio during the summers for nine years, and then turned over the management and operation to the park so that it could be a year-round venture. Jim also felt the importance of serving his community through his 30 years of volunteer work in the Mercer Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol, West Virginia Wing. An official auxiliary of the United States Air Force, the Civil Air Patrol is a public service organization that carries out emergency service missions in the air and on the ground. Jim earned the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in this organization, and throughout the years, he served as a Search and Rescue Pilot, Air Operations Officer, Public Affairs Officer and Deputy Commander. He worked closely with state Civil Air Patrol leadership as he led design approvals and fund raising efforts for the new hanger and command center at Mercer County Airport. He was a private pilot for 50 years. Jim was a long-standing member of Princeton Presbyterian Church where he participated as a greeter alongside his wife. He is remembered as always greeting people with a positive spirit and a quick wit. █




His audience for the afternoon gathering in the Fine Arts Center’s Main Auditorium included CU students, faculty and staff; Princeton Senior High School students; Concord alumni; leaders in the business community; chamber of commerce representatives; and listeners from Concord’s Beckley campus. “Mr. Bassett has been a distinguished businessperson. He’s certainly made a mark on his industry, but he’s also very inspirational,” President Kendra Boggess said in her introduction. “His principles have held him throughout his time at his organization,” she said. “He’s demonstrated what businesses can do when they’re adaptable, flexible, when they look to the future, when they show concern and respect for their employees and all the workers involved within their business.” Striding confidently to the podium with the books that tell his story in hand, Mr. Bassett took charge of the room and engaged his audience from the get-go. He gave his firsthand account of how globalization that in his words “started when

'FACTORY MAN' John Bassett Shares his Story of Determination and Business Success


n entrepreneurial legend who admits he hates the word “can’t” delivered an inspirational speech for a packed house at Concord University on Nov. 14, 2018. John Bassett III, chairman of VaughanBassett Furniture Company, author of “Making It in America,” and the subject of the New York Times bestseller “Factory Man”, shared how he fought outsourcing in the furniture industry and won, saving his company, hundreds of jobs and the town of Galax, VA in the process. SPRING 2019 CONCORD UNIVERSIT Y MAGAZINE

China became a member of the World Trade Organization” impacted his own business and the furniture industry. “They minded their business before that… but once they were admitted to the WTO, everything changed, everything changed, prices absolutely plummeted and we were subject to that and we had to cope with that,” he said. “We are not against globalization, ladies and gentlemen,” he said, “We just want it to be played fair.” “There are rules at the WTO, there are rules at the United States government and they violated a lot of them,” he said.

John Bassett III, Chairman of Vaughan-Bassett Furniture Company

In response, Mr. Bassett formed a coalition of 29 companies, which he headed as president, to fight what they were seeing happen to their industry. After hiring a law firm and following a long, hard-fought and expensive battle, Mr. Bassett says, “We ended up being successful.” He outlines how he fought the situation within his own company in “Making It in America.” In the book, he shares his business philosophy and principals outlined by 12 rules for success. For his Concord presentation Mr. Bassett detailed what the calls the “Five Great Rules” from those dozen guidelines. “We didn’t get it from some business school,” he said. “We got it from firsthand experience of working with our people and what it took to compete.” “Rule number one is attitude. If you don’t believe that you’re going to be successful, then you’re going to lose,” he stated. “We’ve got to change our attitude in the United States,” he said. “We’re Americans, that’s who we are. We’re members of the greatest country in the world.” He initially had to change the mindset of his employees who weren’t so sure that the company would continue to exist. He said that when he told his employees “we’re going to stay” they were “very courteous…very respectful”, but at the same

time not optimistic and their response was “we’re waiting for our pink slips.” “Rule number two, how do you change an attitude? You change an attitude with leadership,” he said. “We had to convince people at the factory we were not going to lose and that we were going to make this happen,” he said. “When they went to work, we were there. When they left work, we were there.” His message to employees, he said, was “we’re not going out of business…we’re going to stay right here…we’re not moving” and they started to believe. “We’ve got to be winners and we’ve got to think like winners and start using our heads,” he said. Mr. Bassett continued, “There’s a word in business that I really despise – I really despise it – and the word is ‘can’t’.” “You can tell me we have a problem and we haven’t solved it, but don’t tell me you can’t solve it,” he said. “You don’t ever quit trying and you don’t ever quit thinking.” He encouraged his employees by saying, “We’re not going to accept failure, guys, we’re going to make this thing happen, and we’re going to do it together.” Mr. Bassett went on to say “Rule number » CONCORD UNIVERSIT Y MAGAZINE SPRING 2019



Vic Foti '58, President Kendra Boggess, Alicia Besenyei and John Bassett III

three is you’ve got to be willing to change and improve again, again and again.” “Rule number four is don’t panic,” he continued. “The fifth one is teamwork and communication,” he said completing his list of guidelines. “Guys, you can’t do it by yourself. You’ve got to put a team together. You’ve got to have everybody on that team working toward the same end.” Following his remarks, Mr. Bassett responded to questions from the audience. Prior to the beginning of the 2 p.m. program, he met with members of the local media for a brief interview session. Mr. Bassett’s November engagement at Concord was his second appearance at a CU function in 2018. In April of last year he served as the featured speaker for the Concord University Foundation’s Roanoke Dinner, a fundraiser for the University and its students. John Bassett’s career in the furniture industry spans more than five decades. Beginning with Bassett Furniture Industries, he has been at Vaughan-Bassett Furniture Company since 1983. He is the third generation of his family to be



in the furniture business. His grandfather, J.D. Bassett Sr., founded Bassett Furniture Industries and along with Bunyan Vaughan, established Vaughan-Bassett Furniture. John began working in the furniture factory while he was still a teenager. He has also worked in sales, marketing and plant management and has served as president and CEO. With 100 percent of Vaughan-Bassett’s products manufactured domestically, the company, under his leadership, has become the largest manufacturer of wooden bedroom furniture in the nation. Mr. Bassett has held leadership roles and received numerous awards in the furniture industry. He is a former chairman of the International Woodworking Fair and a past president of the American Home Furnishings Association. In 2001, he was named Manufacturer of the Year by Furniture Today and received the AFMA’s Distinguished Service Award. InFurniture magazine named him Man of the Year in 2003. He was recognized as Pillar of the Industry by the International Home Furnishings Representatives Association in 2012 and inducted into the American Furniture Hall of Fame in 2013. The UNC Greensboro Bryan Business School named Mr. Bassett Entrepreneur Extraordinaire in 2014. Mr. Bassett has appeared on radio talk shows and in television news broadcasts. His speaking engagements have taken him to numerous locations in the U.S. and to Switzerland. █

Pick a Seat. Just for You. This is your chance to help make a difference at Concord, It Starts With You! Come take a seat with us and leave a lasting legacy at Concord University by naming a seat in the Fine Arts Center Main Theatre. Supporting the A Seat for U campaign is a generous act of philanthropy that creates a lasting legacy for the donor in one of the most public spaces on campus. This special one-time gift will also take this project further by making renovations and upgrades in other areas of the Main Theatre.

To purchase seats or for more information, visit


(1) CLYDE CAMPBELL was appointed by the West Virginia Board of Regents to serve as President of both Concord College and Bluefield State effective July 1, 1973. However, due to the explosive atmosphere stemming from the ill-fated attempt to merge the two schools, and because of the threats that were made to Campbell and his family, Clyde Campbell refused the appointment without ever seeing the campus. (2) HERMAN R. HOSKINS, class of 1936 was the first player in Mountain Lion history to play both offense and defense at all backfield positions. He started officiating basketball and football in 1934 and joined the International Association of Approved Basketball Officials in 1938. In 1956 he became the first West Virginian ever elected to the world wide officials association. (3) The first President of Concord was LAWRENCE BENJAMIN HILL. He served from 1913 – 1918. Hill received an A.B. degree from West Virginia University in 1906 and a M. A. degree from the University of Nebraska in 1907. Hill left Concord in 1918 to become professor of education at WVU where he earned his Ph.D. in 1922. (4) 1977. Cheryl Shumate was crowned Homecoming Queen and was presented with the keys to a new luxury compact car aptly named the ‘Concord’ manufactured by the American Motors Company. (5) LOUISE MCNEILL PEASE





Media Personality Erin Barnett ’09 Keynotes Founders’ Day Celebration hen Erin Barnett was invited to speak for Concord’s Founders’ Day Celebration, she said it encouraged her to reflect on her days as a student, the value of her Concord education and “all the many chapters” of her life. “Students who are in this room today, you’re going to find yourself in that position one day, where you’re looking back, peeling back the layers of your life, the chapters of your story, and you’re going to see that your education is at your core,” she said. “The quality of education you receive here is unmatched. The standards are certainly high, but I promise you, it will pay off because it will serve you in your future and I know it has in mine,” she said. “Especially through my career path it has been a true testament of that as well.” An award winning journalist, Erin earned a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in broadcast journalism from Concord



in 2009. She currently co-hosts the lifestyle show “Living East Tennessee” which airs weekdays on ABC affiliate WATE out of Knoxville, TN. Erin has also worked as a reporter and anchor at a CBS affiliate in Knoxville, WSLS in Roanoke, VA and WVNS in Ghent, WV. The Founders’ Day gathering, held the afternoon of Feb. 25 in the Fine Arts Center’s Main Auditorium, marked Concord’s 147th anniversary. On Feb. 28, 1872 the school received its charter from the West Virginia Legislature. In her keynote address Erin offered advice to the students with three main points, interspersing her words with how Concord and others contributed to her success. “Number one, it sounds cliché, but never say no to your dream,” she said. “From an early age, I told my mother that I wanted to be on television and she believed in


me,” Erin said, “and from there I just set out to say, ‘I’m going to do this.’” Along with the successes she has enjoyed in pursuing her own dream, Erin experienced a major career set-back when her “dream job” as morning anchor at a Knoxville station came to a crashing end with the decision by management to “move in another direction.” Explaining that she had been in broadcast journalism for more than 10 years and worked in that particular position for six of those, the blow was hard. “I was absolutely devastated,” she said. “This is what I had worked for since I was a little girl and they were taking it away from me.” But holding on to her dream, she pushed her way back up the ladder. Starting again at the bottom, she was hired as a general assignment reporter at the ABC affiliate and through perseverance and hard work, she advanced to where she is today co-hosting “Living East Tennessee.” Erin’s second point of advice for students was noted as “surrounding yourself with your mentors.” She introduced a very special mentor in her life, Mrs. Eugena Thomas, who was in the audience. “She was my high school teacher who decided that she was going to follow my dream and my passion with me and she helped me set up a TV station in the library, in the janitor’s closet,” she said. Mrs. Thomas is a retired Giles County, Virginia educator and a 1969 graduate of Concord. “She is this year celebrating her 50th anniversary, her graduation from Concord University,” Erin said. “That tells you and shows you the influence of Concord College at the time has trickled down. She learned that valuable lesson of a dream and passed that on to me which was part of the reason that led me to take my classes here and studies here.” Erin also acknowledged the “wonderful team of professors” who believed in her dream when she started working at WVNS-TV while she was still a Concord student. “My third point today is passing on the knowledge,” she said. “As I mentioned earlier, education is a gift and it is meant to be shared no matter what your path is in life.” “So students, soak it all up! This University will equip you better than any other university on the planet,” Erin said.

Presidential Excellence Award Recipients Award recipients include: Faculty Presidential Excellence Award, Dr. Scott Inghram and Dr. Amanda Sauchuck; Classified Staff Presidential Excellence Award, Ms. Teresa Frey and Mr. Andrew Sulgit; Non-Classified Staff Presidential Excellence Award, Mr. Shea Boothe and Ms. Susie Lusk; Student Presidential Excellence Award, Ms. Mikayla Akers and Ms. Haley Fields; and, Auxiliary Staff Presidential Excellence Award, Ms. Tina Brown and Ms. Mary Keaton. “I promise you it is important to be proud of Concord,” she said. ‘I’m in a field now with journalists from big journalism schools and they’re so proud to talk about where they went and I’m just as proud.” “So, be proud of your university. Never stop dreaming. Never stop working hard. You will, you can achieve if you do not say no to your dream,” she concluded. In addition to celebrating Concord’s heritage, Founders’ Day also provided a time to salute the dedicated service of faculty, staff and students. █ CONCORD UNIVERSIT Y MAGAZINE SPRING 2019





A Night of Grand Luxury BY LINDSEY BYARS

Palm leaves, pink satin, and a portal to the West Coast – the second annual President’s Ball made every guest feel like a Hollywood A-lister. Paying homage to the iconic Beverly Hills Hotel, this year’s formal event transformed the University Ballroom into a night befitting the 90210 zip code.

he Office of Advancement debuted this annual event last year, and while it was formal and guests had a wonderful time, event organizer and University Advancement Manager Blake Farmer says this year they wanted to raise the bar by setting a scene for guests and exceeding their expectations. “Every detail from the chairs, the colors, the candles, the palm leaves, they all played a critical role in creating that Beverly Hills atmosphere,” says Farmer. “It allowed us to recreate an atmosphere and allow guests to immerse themselves in the scene we created.” Greeters standing at a recreation of The Beverly Hills Hotel sign welcomed guests as they climbed the stairs towards the third floor of the Jerry and Jean Beasley Student Center. In the lobby area, guests checked in at »




the “hotel” front desk where they were offered water infused with lemon and given a sugar cookie decorated to match the theme. True to Hollywood form, the entrance also included a walk down the carpet – pink instead of red – and the opportunity to take pictures in front of the Concord University step and repeat. The lobby area set the tone, but the ballroom décor completed "The Campus Beautiful" transformation from West Virginia Hills to Beverly Hills. Sheer, white material and twinkling lights billowed from chandeliers, casting a dim glow onto the tables draped in white linen with an overlay of pale pink satin. In the center of each table towered a trumpet vase of palm leaves. Dinner guests, directed to their table by a maître d’, sat in white chairs, covered their laps with a black and white striped cloth napkin, and enjoyed a lovely plated meal of asiago and spinach stuffed chicken, rice pilaf, and lemon zest broccoli provided by Concord’s Aramark staff. Dinner was elegant and delicious, and the fresh berry and cream puffs in vanilla sauce were a true treat, but this was only the beginning of the night’s revelries. Once Lucky Pocket took the stage, SPRING 2019 CONCORD UNIVERSIT Y MAGAZINE

the dance floor redirected the focus of the evening. This is the first major event for the brand new ballroom floor, purchased by contributions to the CU Foundation and the Alumni

Every detail from the chairs, the colors, the candles, the palm leaves, they all played a critical role in creating that Beverly Hills atmosphere.

Association. Lucky Pocket made sure it saw plenty of dancing feet. The five member band was nothing short of spectacular for every guest, regardless of age or musical taste. From pop hits like Walk the Moon’s “Shut Up and Dance With Me” to soulful classics like Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together,” this group brought a variety of musical selections and


President Kendra Boggess. Inspired by the name her grandkids call her, “The Kiki” featured pink moscato with freshly squeezed lemons, garnished with raspberries. “My Girl,”

So many people loved the photo booth. There was a waiting line for it all night long. performed each one with an energy that had guests calling for “one more song.” “This year I was extremely impressed with the band,” Farmer says. “They blew it out of the water. Considering all the ages that were at the event, I feel that they did an excellent job catering to everybody.” Off from the dance floor, guests could buy refreshment all evening long. The drink list included regional brews, a wine selection, and a few special signature tastes – all fruity, sweet, and named especially for

a nickname given to her by her late husband Ted, was the name of a white strawberry lemon sangria garnished with strawberries. And finally, “The 1872” drink, white champagne with lime juice, mint and a lime garnish, rounded out the list, commemorating the year Concord was founded. In between enjoying this year’s custom bar menu and dancing the night away to the tunes of Lucky Pocket, the West Virginia Photobooth Company laid out props for guests to take complementary pictures. »




Creativity was the only limit and fun was the only rule. “So many people loved the photo booth,” Farmer reflected. “There was a waiting line for it all night long. They do an incredible job and the quality of their photos is just outstanding.” The President’s Ball is a new chapter of traditions for Concord University, and Farmer says the beauty of this event is that it brings all constituents – students, alumni, faculty, staff, and community members – together for an enjoyable celebration of Concord’s founding. “We have a lot to be proud of for serving West Virginia and the surrounding areas since 1872, and it should be celebrated. This event,



I believe, is the one event where everyone can come together as one,” Farmer says. President Kendra Boggess enjoyed the night and was extremely grateful for those who supported this year’s event. “Concord is incredibly thankful

As we continue with this tradition, I believe it is only going to grow. Based on the turnout we have had already, I can only imagine where this event will go in the future.

for the opportunities the funds from this ball will provide our students and the campus,” she says. “Without the support of so many attendees, we would not be able to provide students with such great support.” There were community sponsors for this year’s President’s Ball:

Summit Community Bank was a silver sponsor and Princeton Health Care Center was a bronze sponsor. If you would like to purchase a table for your business at next year’s event, contact the Office of Advancement now. Planning is already underway, and while he doesn’t want to give the theme away just yet, Farmer promises that 2020 will be even bigger, perhaps an event like one Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald would have attended (wink, wink). “As we continue with this tradition, I believe it is only going to grow. Based on the turnout we have had already, I can only imagine where this event will go in the future,” Farmer says.

Stay up to date with the President’s Ball and other events at Concord University by following the CU social media accounts – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat – and checking out the Concord University Foundation page on the website. You can also email the Office of Advancement at advancement@, or call 304-3845119. Events like the President’s Ball support student scholarships and campus projects that help all students on their paths to success. By getting involved, you are not just buying a ticket for a night out; you are investing in future CU graduates. Their success and Concord’s begins with you. █



Poet and Professor Anita Skeen ’68 Celebrates Decades of Inspiration Anita Skeen remembers writing her first poem as a second grader in Mrs. Neal’s class. Sharing that first noble attempt at verse, she says, “Here it is, in its entirety: ‘Kitchen table, kitchen table Here comes Susan, here comes Mabel.’”



“Remembering that, I know never to discount anyone in my classes who wants to be a poet, though at that time I didn’t want to be a poet, I wanted to be a cowboy,” she said. She would go on to write what she considers her first “real” poem as a graduate student. “Now, my first ‘real’ poem I wrote in graduate school late one night when I was grading papers in my office and I could see, out my window and into in the building next door, the janitor cleaning another office. It was an Imagist poem, much in the vein of William Carlos Williams whose work I loved then and still do, and I knew I had leapt a major hurdle with that poem,” she said. “That was in 1970.” Today, decades later, Skeen has established herself as an esteemed poet, professor and lecturer whose literary works and scholarly activities have taken her back into a second grade classroom and offered her sojourns at artistic festivals, public libraries and art galleries along with lengthy stays on college and university campuses. She has shared her talents both in the United States and internationally. » SPRING 2019 CONCORD UNIVERSIT Y MAGAZINE


Anita Skeen in her office at MSU, wearing her Center for Poetry t-shirt. Anita served as director of the Center until she stepped down in May 2018 after 10 years.




Anita showing students how to create a vinyl print on a flat-bed press at the RCAH.

Concord memories


Anita Skeen is a native West Virginian. She grew up in Crede, a small Kanawha County community located north of Charleston on U.S. Route 119. She graduated from Charleston High School. Pursuing a degree in education with a focus on English, she came to Concord for her undergraduate studies. “My years at Concord really were wonderful years for me." I learned independence, responsibility, a passion for literature, and developed lifelong friendships,” she said. Among her special memories of Concord – ones she believes she shares with many other graduates – Anita lists “being in the dorm with my friends; sledding on cafeteria trays down the hill behind the new women’s dorm; football and basketball games; Homecoming floats and dances; time spent with my sorority sisters; being excited about the books I was reading.” Anita was a member of Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority. She served as captain of the sorority’s intramural teams for two years and was also the organization’s recording secretary. During her senior year at Concord, she was president of the Panhellenic Council and received the Highest Academic Average Award for Sigma Sigma Sigma. Excelling academically, she was on the Dean’s List and was a member of Cardinal Key Honor Society. Rocks, “Big Lit” and late nights in the theatre all hold significance in Anita’s academic experience at Concord. SPRING 2019 CONCORD UNIVERSIT Y MAGAZINE

“My English classes were really among my favorite classes,” she said. “My freshman year I took what must have been a world literature class that all sophomores were required to take – I had tested out of the freshman English classes – and we just called it ‘Big Lit.’ It was taught by different professors in the English Department. That’s where I first encountered Dr. Robertson, Dr. Bailey, Dr. Shrewsbury, and Dr. Hambrick, all of whom I took courses from later. I would have taken anything Dr. Shrewsbury was teaching, except Transformational Grammar, which was required, and which I hated – it was like math to me – and which I barely passed. “I became enamored of the theater in taking what I think were then called play production classes and working to help build sets and served as the prompter for a number of the plays. The ones I remember the most were Six Characters in Search of An Author, The Fantastiks, and All My Sons. I loved being in the theater late at night when the rest of the campus was in dormitories or the library,” she said. “There was something magical about the theater, and still is, for me." “I also had a geology class from Dean Wooddell that I loved. There was only one geology class offered at that time or, who knows, I might have become a geologist. My friend Jeri Dooley and I would stay after class and talk with him about rocks. I think he liked talking with us about rocks as much as we liked talking to him,” Anita said. “To this day I’m a rock picker-upper and have carried around rocks from all over the place in my pockets and in my truck.”


Anita received a Bachelor of Science in Education degree in 1968 with a Comprehensive Field in English. “It was called then – English, Journalism, Theater,” she explained. Although she had planned to teach in public schools following graduation, Anita was encouraged by Dr. Shrewsbury to further her education. “It was Dr. Shrewsbury who first indicated to me that he thought I had talent as a writer, particularly as a creative writer, and who encouraged me to go to graduate school,” she said. “I attended Bowling Green State University in Ohio to get a Master’s Degree in American Literature and then, I thought, perhaps a PhD,” Anita said. “But I took a poetry workshop the last year of my master’s program and that changed everything. I knew then that I wanted to do creative writing rather than scholarly work so I went on to get an MFA in Creative Writing rather than a PhD in American Literature.” Skeen earned a Master of Arts in English from BGSU in 1970 and remained at the University to complete her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing in 1971.

academic career history

Taking into account the years she spent as a graduate teaching fellow and adjunct instructor at BGSU, Anita Skeen has dedicated more than 50 years to a career of teaching on the college and university level. “My career has consisted of being a teacher, an administrator, and a writer, but I think it has been in my role as teacher that I have been most rewarded,” she said. She is currently Professor of Literature and Creative Writing in the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities at Michigan State University. Explaining her progression through academia, Skeen says, “In 1972 I went to teach in the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Wichita State University and then in 1990 moved to Michigan State University. I was also teaching in Women’s Studies and Canadian Studies at the time, and I was able to do all three when I made the move to Michigan State. I taught in the English Department there until 1997 when I became Director of the ROIAL Program in the College of Arts and Letters.” Residential Option in Arts and Letters is a two year program, Skeen explains. “In 2007 MSU opened a small free-standing college on campus called the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities and I became the Arts Coordinator for that college and the Director of the RCAH Center for Poetry at MSU, which I founded,” she said. “I stepped down as the director last May after ten years of doing

Anita with her partner, Beth and her father, John at a Michigan State basektball game. John was honored at the game for his military service as a recipient of the Purple Heart and Bronze Star.

that work because I had also become the Series Editor for Wheelbarrow Books, an imprint of the MSU Press, which, in conjunction with the Center for Poetry, published two books of poems each year, one by an established writer and one by an emerging writer. I didn’t think I could continue to do both things well, so I decided to turn the directorship of the Poetry Center over to a younger, promising poet and teacher.”

Poetry & publications

As a poet, Skeen has penned an extensive body of work. An impressive number of her poems have appeared in anthologies, literary magazines and journals as well as on-line. She has also seen her short stories and essays appear in print. Working collaboratively with composers and filmmakers, she has enjoyed having poems set to music and produced in film. She has published five books of poetry, two collaborations and an anthology. Her volumes of poetry include Each Hand A Map (1986), Portraits (1992), Outside the Fold, Outside the Frame (1999), The Resurrection of the Animals (2002), When We Say Shelter, with poet Jane Taylor, (2007), Never the Whole Story (2011) and The Unauthorized Audubon, with prints by visual artist Laura B. DeLind, (2014). The poems and linocuts of The Unauthorized Audubon have been exhibited at several galleries and in West Virginia’s capital city during the 2016 summer FestivALL celebration. Skeen’s anthology is entitled Once Upon a Place: Writing from Ghost Ranch (edited with Jane Taylor (2008). She is currently working on a collection of poems, Road Down Troublesome, and collaborating with DeLind on The Book of Animal Harmonies. » CONCORD UNIVERSIT Y MAGAZINE SPRING 2019



When asked where she draws inspiration for her poems, Skeen replies, “The natural world, mostly.” She says she is also inspired by “things people say to me that are just wonderful lines of poetry and they don’t even realize it; things I read that make me want to write a response, to engage in conversation with that writer by writing something of my own.” Travel and “relationships with people” can also ignite the words of a poem for Skeen. Along with being inspired by nature, Skeen frequently focuses on this topic in her poetry. “I write a lot about the natural world,” she says. “I’ve always felt that was partly from growing up in West Virginia. I spent a lot of time outside in the woods when I was a kid, and my parents took me on many camping trips for our vacations. “I write about animals, my own pets and the ones I don’t have a relationship with but might like to,” she added. “I do write some poems that I think people would call political. I think writers have a responsibility to speak up, because we can do it, and do it effectively, and that matters.”

Ghost ranch

Skeen has shared her creative and teaching talents in an ever-widening arena that has taken her well beyond the college and university setting. One especially significant part is her longstanding affiliation with Ghost Ranch Education Center in Abiquiu, NM. “I first went there in 1980 to fill in during the Creative Arts Festival for a California poet who had broken her leg and couldn’t come,” she explains. “I loved that part of northern New Mexico, where I had never been before that summer, and I loved the people I taught with and the participants who enrolled in the classes. “Creative Arts then was Painting, Pottery, Poetry, Photography, and Homiletics. I always love giving people that list,” she said noting that Ghost Ranch has an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church. “The poet, who was in her 70s decided to give up teaching at the Ranch and I just quietly moved into her slot. Probably about five years later the coordinator of Creative Arts died, and I took over that responsibility. So, this summer I will have been teaching in Creative Arts for 40 years. Seems impossible,” she said. As interest in the writing aspect of the festival continued to increase, Skeen saw the need to expand. She created a new event that draws participants and instructors from across the United States and



Boys Picking Jonquils When I come from behind the house I see them down the driveway, two boys, perhaps four or five, in bright jackets like giant hyacinths popped up overnight. They are busy, I can tell from the intensity in their bodies, skti tering across the pavement into new grass where a crowd of orange/yellow jonquils gossip in the wind. One boy bends into the conversation, comes up with a fistful of happy bloom, leans in again, and with his other hand snatches more April to pass to his friend. I'm too far away to hear what they say, though laughter punctuates their talk, joy evident in the wild waving of trumpets. They hop the blacktop toward the first boy’s yard, erratic as wind-up toys. The smaller boy stops, runs back to the golden profusion, and plucks just one more, hoisting ti in the air like a battle flag, a trophy, a love letter finally come, after all. Unpublished, Anita Skeen 4/15/17


internationally. “Because I was teaching the only writing class in Creative Arts, and the enrollments were getting too large for me to handle, I got the Ranch to let me create a Fall Writing Festival in October of 1997 with three classes: poetry, fiction, memoir,” Anita explains. “Now we have grown to six or seven classes each fall, and the courses are both thematically and genre based, and we have a nationally-known Writer in Residence with us each year for the week.”

honors & awards

While her professional life has been filled with accomplishments, Skeen considers being named a William J. Beale Outstanding Faculty Member at Michigan State among her top achievements. The honor salutes her comprehensive and sustained record of scholarly excellence in research and/or creative activities, teaching, and outreach. She received the award in 2015. Another prestigious honor she has earned is the Excellence in Teaching Award presented by the Kansas Board of Regents. This recognition came her way while she was at Wichita State. In 2017 she received the Golden Violet Award from Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority. Her list of awards and honors goes on with numerous entries. She has been a visiting poet, poetin-residence, writer-in-residence, poetry competition finalist, and a fellow at artists colonies. Her residencies have taken her into both public schools and college classrooms. “When I was living in Kansas, I was a part of the Poets-in-the-Schools program sponsored by the Kansas Arts Commission which sent poets into primarily rural public schools for a week or a month at a time to work with students there,” she said. “I loved working with the second graders. They had enough language skills and writing skills to create simple, but powerful poems and their insights and imaginations were untarnished by the world. They wrote to please themselves, not me or the teacher.” “One of my favorite residencies I did on two separate occasions was at Converse College in Spartanburg, SC where I was the Writer in Residence for the month of January. I worked with Converse students in a poetry workshop, but also with community writers who took a month-long workshop while I was there. I made friends there that I still have,” she said. Skeen’s professional affiliations include memberships in Poets and Writers, Academy of American Poets, Associated Writing Programs and

Anita with her friend and Poet Laureate for the State of West Virginia, Irene McKinney.

West Virginia Writers. Dedicated to civic engagement, which she says is a “cornerstone” of RCAH, Skeen has taught two writing workshops during the East Lansing Public Library/ MSU program One Book, One Community for the past dozen years. The event is held each August and September. “It’s become one of my favorite community activities,” she says. “All 7,000 incoming freshmen and book clubs in the community and individuals read the same book,” she explains. “The writer comes to town and various events are scheduled to relate to that book.” “I also facilitate a book discussion group once a month for the University Club at MSU where we read books that won the Pulitzer Prize the year before,” she said. “We read in each of the seven categories from poetry to fiction to general nonfiction to biography/ memoir to drama and so forth. That’s a very rewarding activity, too.” When discussing her pastimes and hobbies, Anita says, “I’m always up for travelling. I still like tent camping, though it’s harder and harder to get friends my age to go do that with me. As I’ve said, I feel at home in the woods so hiking and spending time in National Parks and other wild places nourishes my soul. “I read a lot,” she added. “I’m a fanatic Michigan State basketball fan, both men’s and women’s, and go to as many games as I can.” Anita currently lives in Okemos, MI, which she says is “about 10 miles east of East Lansing.” █




Hollywood Spotlight Shining on Screenwriter Brian T. Arnold ’09 While screenwriter and actor Brian T. Arnold has been pursuing his passion in Los Angeles since 2012, he had his breakout year in 2018 when several important industry recognitions came his way. Brian took top honors in the Launch Pad Feature Competition with his political thriller Friend of the Show. His work landed him on the Young & Hungry List which spotlights Hollywood’s top 100 new writers and the Hit List, a compilation of the year’s best spec scripts. Brian grew up in Bluefield, WV. He cultivated his creative and performing talents as a student at Bluefield High School. “I was very involved in every writing and performing opportunity I could find,” he said. “I acted in a few plays, helped found a theatre club, did show choir, and worked on the morning school news show. My senior project was on the history of indie film and included a screenplay I wrote and tried – and failed – to make.” He graduated from BHS in 2005. »




Photo by Steven M. Strobel




“Freshman year, I was especially discouraged and thinking about dropping out to pursue acting and writing, and he reaffirmed the importance of not only an education but also the life experience you gain in college. I always appreciated his counsel, and I really credit him for saving me from making what I’m sure would have been a terrible mistake,” he said. Other notable moments from Brian’s Concord days include “sledding down the hill at Chaucer in a blizzard, acting in a production of Glengarry Glen Ross, shooting some of my first short films, including such fine art as Y2K: The Musical!”

career path Brian and his roommates Shawn Miser, left, and Jonathan Greene, right, at Concord’s commencement

concord days Brian studied Broadcast Journalism at Concord and graduated in 2009 with his bachelor’s degree. An important part of his time at CU revolved around his involvement with WMLT. “I spent most of my time working on WMLT, which had just started airing on PBS,” he said. “We worked really hard to make the show as good as possible.” “There were some long, grueling days, but it was some of the most fun I ever had, and many of the friends I met there are still my friends to this day,” he said. The hard work and long hours that Brian dedicated to the student television station paid off. The Communication Arts Department named him the Outstanding New Student in Television his sophomore year, and the Outstanding Student in Television his junior year. “I was very honored by that recognition,” he said. Brian gives special credit to several instructors who helped make his academic experience at Concord both in and outside of the classroom memorable and rewarding. “I had so many amazing professors that it almost feels wrong to single any out,” he said. “William Bailey, Larry Smith, and Dr. Jim Parker taught me so much about production, film history, and screenwriting. Dr. Jonathan Berkey really gave me a new appreciation for history, and I really appreciated Dr. Delilah O’Haynes’ passion for creative writing. “But if there was one professor who really made a big impact on me, it was Dr. Paul Kane. His classes were so engaging, and outside the classroom, he was always kind and thoughtful,” Brian explains. “He gave me a lot of comfort and wisdom when I wasn’t sure about the path I was on.



Brian’s long held dream of working in film began at a young age. “I always knew I wanted to write, act, and direct. I wrote my first terrible screenplay when I was 14, and I never stopped,” he said. Brian explains more about his teenage foray into scriptwriting that, unfortunately, never made it to the box office. “When I was 14, X-Men had just come out, and I loved it,” he said. “I had read the comic books, watched the cartoon, and I was obsessed with the movie. I figured they’d be doing an X-Men 2, and who better than me to write it? So, my sister and I wrote a script for X-Men 2 and mailed it to Fox. For some reason, we never heard back.” His determination to be in film was so strong, however, that it never let him be completely satisfied in other careers. “I worked a few jobs here and there, seeing if a safer, more stable career could make me feel happy or settled, and nothing ever did. No matter what field I was in, I’d still dream of making movies,” he said. Those other jobs included working as a morning news producer for WVVA-TV in Bluefield and writing movie reviews for his hometown newspaper, the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, and while at Concord, The Concordian. In 2012, Brian made the big plunge and headed to the West Coast. “I was pretty nervous to move across the country and give it an honest shot, but I finally made myself do it,” he said. “I really believe if you have a dream or a goal, you can’t sit on it forever and let it fester. You’ve gotta go for it.” With the move to L.A. Brian studied at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Hollywood, earning certificates in Improv and Sketch Comedy, and wrote for a sketch team at iO West and for the CBS Diversity Comedy Showcase. He also wrote and performed for shows at Second City, the LA Scripted Comedy Festival,


Brian during an improv performance

NYC Sketchfest, and the Comedy Central Stage. While Brian says he loves acting, he appreciates the greater sense of control that writing gives. “I really, really love acting, but it’s a really tough business where, as much as you work and prepare, you’re always waiting for someone else’s ‘Yes’ in order to land a job. And, I don’t like sitting on the sidelines hoping my number gets called,” he explains. “Writing is similar to a degree, but it definitely gives you more control,” he said. “Part of it is writing for studios and hoping for jobs, sure, but you can also write for yourself, for your friends, create your own content and your own opportunities to perform. “A couple years ago, I co-wrote a web series for my friends and I to act in, and making that was maybe the most fun I’ve ever had in this business,” he said. The series, Open Houses, is about two friends, Alyse and Brian, who create fake personas to crash swanky open houses they’d never be able to afford. “Writing is definitely my first love and primary career, but I’m always excited for more chances to act,” Brian said.

motivated by the message Brian is motivated to produce scripts that have meaning. “Ultimately, I think what motivates me is the opportunity to say something real and meaningful to me,” he said. “I like movies that exist to entertain or make an audience laugh. I think there’s value in that. But, I’m personally more interested in movies that have some sort of, for lack of a better word, message. “My script, Friend of the Show, is a thriller about the dangers of hyper-partisan news and propaganda, which is a topic I have a lot of strong feelings about, especially with where we are as a country right now. In everything I write, I strive to find something I want to say and wrap that up in a hopefully entertaining story,” he said.

sources of inspiration

Brian discusses writers and actors whose work he especially values and whose work inspires him in his own creations. » CONCORD UNIVERSIT Y MAGAZINE SPRING 2019



“I’ve always been a fan of dramedies, movies that are able to find humor in serious stuff. I really respect writers, directors, and actors who can walk that line well,” he explains. “Billy Wilder is probably my all-time favorite and someone whose work has definitely influenced what I’m trying to do. He jumped between comedy and drama and made it look effortless. I know I’ll never make anything half as good as The Apartment, but that’s the shelf I’m reaching for. “I also love small, naturalistic movies that feel real and lived-in. I’d love to make movies like Jay and Mark Duplass, Steven Soderbergh, and Richard Linklater. Blue Jay is the kind of movie I’d love to make. Two actors, mostly improvised, limited locations. It’s just built on character and relationship and it’s so sweet and beautiful and funny,” he said. Brian’s road to Friend of the Show saw him venture from working with



comedy to a different genre. “Jordan Peele was a huge influence on the work I’ve been doing recently. He was famous for doing sketch comedy, was amazing at sketch comedy, and then he made Get Out, one of the best social thriller/horror movies I’ve ever seen,” he said. “For years, I was focusing mostly on comedy: improv, sketch, etc. I had this idea for a thriller, but I kept putting off writing it because I wasn’t sure I could do it well enough. It wasn’t my training or experience. I didn’t think I had it in me,” he said. “When I saw Get Out and read interviews with Peele where he talked about moving from comedy to horror, it gave me the courage to at least give it a shot. And, that script was Friend of the Show, which got my career started. I credit his example so much.” Brian offers the following synopsis of the script that recently moved him into the Hollywood spotlight. “Friend of the Show is about a highprofile, partisan cable news pundit who is kidnapped by a deranged fan with ties to a homegrown extremist group. A young reporter at his network tries to track him down and finds herself at the heart of a conspiracy to assassinate the partyunifying candidate in line to become the next President of the United States,” he said. “It’s kind of a throwback to oldschool political thrillers and social satires influenced by stuff like Network, The Manchurian Candidate, Ace In The Hole, All The President’s Men, etc.,” he continues. “Having studied and worked in broadcast journalism, I wanted to tell a story in that vein, with something to say about our modern political climate and the dark places it can lead.”

reaction to the win Brian talks about what his Friend of the Show accolades mean to him.


“Film and TV is a really tough business. I was in L.A. for six years before I really felt any sense of movement at all in my career. I was cleaning toilets at UCB for free classes. Performing in front of audiences of sometimes six or seven people. When I was actually able to get a manager to read my stuff, it was always, ‘This is good, but not right for us at this time. Good luck.’ It could be really discouraging and frustrating, but you keep going because you love the work and because you have a delusional self-confidence that doesn’t match what the world is giving you back,” he said. “I entered my script into so many contests. Some it did well, some it didn’t make it out of the first round. But even where I placed pretty highly, there was no traction at all,” he said. “The very last contest I entered is the one I ended up winning. It was in that contest I found my managers, my agents. I was lucky to be seen by people who saw something in me and wanted to take this ride with me. “It was thrilling for sure,” he admits. “And, definitely validating to be told, ‘Hey, this impossible dream of yours? You’ve got a shot at it.’ “But, really, what it came down to was crossing paths with the right people at the right time. Maybe it’s a cliché, but overall, I think what I felt more than anything else was blessed. A lot of hard work and disappointment and false starts, but it all finally led me to the right place at the right time,” he said.

living in l.a.

The southern California lifestyle – and the pace of life there – is quite different from living in southern West Virginia. Brian reflects on how he has found this to be true in his own experience. “There are some obvious differences for sure. I’ll never get used to the traffic. Forty-five minutes to go six miles is ridiculous and just my life now,” he said. “There’s also definitely a pressure here to always be busy, always be working, always be creating. People in L.A. wear exhaustion like a badge of honor, and it’s easy to get lost in that,” Brian said. “But, I’ve been lucky to surround myself with people who know the work we do is a facet of our lives, not our entire reason for existing. Maybe it’s a value I brought with me from West Virginia, but I think it’s really important

to build and maintain a good, loving, supportive community of friends, people with whom you’re able to really slow down and enjoy the moment.” When asked what he enjoys about living in Los

“I really believe if you have a dream or a goal, you can’t sit on it forever and let it fester. You’ve gotta go for it.”

Angeles, he says, “Honestly so much.” “I love being from West Virginia. Love the people, love my friends and family, love the natural beauty there. But, as a weird, liberal, artsy kid, I never felt like I totally fit in,” he said. “In L.A., I’ve found so much that I was always looking for in West Virginia,” he explained. “This is the hub for film, comedy, and music. It really feels like an Island of Misfit Toys – people from so many wildly different backgrounds and experiences coming together to make something new.” Brian’s pastimes and his involvement in his church are ways he is taking a break from the career hustle that is trademark L.A. “I’m pretty involved in my church, serving on our coffee team and helping with other volunteering opportunities that arise there,” he said. “Now that I’m getting a little more settled in my career, I’m looking for more ways I can help out in my community." He attends Radius Church in North Hollywood. “It’s a non-denominational Christian church, very open, understanding, and sincere. I really love being part of it,” he said. Improv and a fun game of dodgeball also make it onto Brian’s list of enjoyable activities. “I haven’t been doing as much improv recently, but I really love performing. It’s such a rush to be on stage with no idea what’s about to happen and to perform a show you create in the moment, that never existed before and will never be seen again,” he said. “I also play in a rec dodgeball league with a lot of other comedians, actors, and writers, which is a super fun way to blow off steam.” As for other pastimes, Brian enjoys “the usual stuff – movies, concerts, hiking, playing on my phone way too much.” █



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The year 2018 was full of special moments for Concord Athletics as three student-athletes garnered All-American status, and two more athletes earned the distinction of NCAA Division II Statistical Champion. For several Concord sports programs, the past calendar year was packed with triumphs, victories and celebrations. This section was compiled by Wes McKinney '13 in the CU Sports Information Office.

ALL-AMERICAN Bolte, Lee, Witt


AS ONE OF THE BEST PUNTERS in Division II, GARRETT LEE became the 17th First Team All-American for the football program when he was honored by in January for his performance during the 2017 season. Lee averaged 42.5 yards per punt in 2017 which was eighth best in Division II while pinning 20 punts inside the 20-yard line. Lee graduated as one of the best punters to ever wear the Maroon and Gray. After an outstanding 2017-18 campaign, TOMMY BOLTE was voted as a First Team AllAmerican by the Conference Commissioner’s Association and also picked up an Honorable Mention All-American accolade from Division II Bulletin. The Chillicothe, Ohio native became the first All-American for the men’s basketball team since 2005 and was the first First Team All-American since Lewis Muse in 2004. Bolte led Division II in scoring (31.8 points per game) on his way to earning All-American. Later in the spring, sophomore JENNA WITT of the CU softball team batted her way to being just the second All-American in program history as she earned a Second Team All-American selection from Fastpitch News and was named a Third Team All-American by the CCA. Witt hit .448 with 23 doubles and 29 RBI during her sophomore season in Athens. Her 23 doubles ranked third among all Division II players. Alyssa Morris – at the end of the 2015 season – was the only All-American in Concord softball program history before Witt’s historic season in 2018. With Bolte, Lee and Witt earning All-American in 2018, it marked the first time since 2014 that Concord had multiple All-Americans during the same calendar year. SPRING 2019 CONCORD UNIVERSIT Y MAGAZINE

women's xc wins mec title HEADING INTO THE Mountain East Conference Cross Country Championship, the CU women’s team had finished third three straight years and had not won a conference crown since 2010. However, armed with six seniors and a junior in Concord’s top seven, 2018 appeared to the Mountain Lions’ best chance to win a conference title since the 2010 team. Concord was viewed as a pre-race favorite along with Charleston. After being All-MEC Second Team three straight years, Bailey Knowles and Karleigh Thompson bumped up to the All-MEC First Team status and led the Mountain Lions. Taylor Hamm, Kaylin Kessinger, Kenna Knowles and Aidan Payton packed up together to finish 11th, 12th, 13thand 15thto earn All-MEC Second Team. Senior Megan Stemple rounded out the finishers for CU. With the tight pack the Mountain Lions formed, they were able to edge Charleston by 12 points (46-58) for the program’s MEC Championship and first conference title in eight years. By putting six runners in the top 15, it was the first time in program history head coach Mike Cox had six runners earn all-conference in cross country. By guiding the Mountain Lions to the MEC Championship, Cox was named the conference women’s cross country coach of the year.


weitzel's year

NOT MANY ATHLETES at Concord have become as decorated as JASON WEITZEL in recent memory. 2018 was a very special year for the Athens, WV native. His awards and honors started in May when he captured the Mountain East Conference 5,000-meter run title. Following his performance at the MEC Track and Field Championships, which also included a pair of second-place finishes, Weitzel was named the MEC Runner of the Year for the first time in his career. At season’s end, Weitzel was recognized by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches’ Association (USTFCCCA) as an all-region selection in the 5,000-meters, 10,000-meter run and 3,000-meter steeplechase. With a summer of training under his belt, Weitzel made more history during the 2018 cross country season for the Mountain Lions. It first started with the senior crossing the finish line first at the MEC Cross Country Championship for his second individual title at the conference cross country meet. Additionally, Weitzel claimed his second MEC Runner of the Year accolade in three years with his performance throughout the season. Two weeks later, the local standout ran his way to the NCAA Division II Atlantic Regional Cross Country Individual Championship which was CU’s first individual regional title in any sport. And Weitzel became a four-time all-region selection in cross country in the process. Weitzel also qualified for the NCAA Division II National Cross Country Championship for a third consecutive year where he finished 48thamong a field of more than 250 runners. By winning the regional championship, Weitzel also garnered the USTFCCCA’s Atlantic Regional Runner of the Year. In terms of weekly honors, Weitzel was voted the MEC Athlete of the Week five times during the 2018 calendar year.

baseball's walk off winner FOR 20 STRAIGHT YEARS, the Concord baseball team has played in the conference baseball tournament. On the first Sunday in May, the prestigious streak was one strike away from ending and not becoming 21. Heading into the final weekend of Mountain East Conference play, CU needed to win two of its four games against UVa.-Wise to secure a spot in the postseason tournament. After splitting the first two games at UVa.-Wise on May 4, the Mountain Lions returned to Anderson Field two days later needing to win one of two games. The Cavaliers took the first game, 6-2, and held a 6-5 edge with two outs in the bottom of the seventh of game two. With the tying run on base, then-junior outfielder Evan Webb found himself in a 0-2 hole at the plate. After a battle – fouling off pitch after pitch – Webb was aboard with a walk to move outfielder Adam Linkous into scoring position. Now-graduate first baseman Trevor Wiersma wasted no time tying the game as he lined a single into center field on the first pitch he saw. Linkous rounded the bases to tie the game and send the contest to extra innings. However, Concord was forced to rally again in the eighth after UVa.-Wise took a 7-6 lead. The Mountain Lions found themselves in a similar situation, down one with one out left to make something happen, but once again a runner on base. Adrian Peralta laced a single into leftcenter field and this time pinch runner Connor Boothe raced in to tie the game. Two pitches later, the CU streak would live on as Peralta came barreling around third base on Linkous’ single to give Concord an 8-7 triumph over the Cavaliers. Linkous’ hit was also a finalist for MEC Play of the Year. »





across all sports at Concord, 10 NCAA Division II Statistical Champions have been recognized. In 2018, the Mountain Lions were fortunate enough to have two of those 10. Senior guard Tommy Bolte of the men’s basketball team started last season by posting 40 points against Fayetteville State then followed it up with 43 points versus Winston-Salem State. It set the stage for Bolte’s scoring output on a nightly basis over 30 games in 2017-18. On Feb. 21, Bolte tied the Mountain East Conference single-game scoring record with 49 points at West Virginia State. Just over a week later, the record was all his as he went for 51 points at the MEC Tournament against Fairmont State March 2. When all was said and done, Bolte led Division II in scoring at 31.8 points per game. The Chillicothe, Ohio native went over the 32-point threshold 13 times in 2017-18 including seven straight games from Feb. 8-March 2. Bolte was second in all divisions of basketball last

ncaa statistical champs

season in scoring. Then-freshman Riley Fitzwater of the women’s basketball team made quite an impression in her first season at the collegiate level. Two of her more impressive performances came when she had 26 points and 21 rebounds versus West Virginia State coupled with a 22-point, 26 rebound and nine-block effort against Wheeling Jesuit. But what Fitzwater was doing all year was making shots at a high efficiency. In 17 of 29 games played, the Glenville, WV native shot at least 70 percent from the field including a 10-for-11 showing to start her collegiate career. There was also a 16-for-21 effort against Notre Dame. It all led Fitzwater to lead Division II in field goal percentage at 70.8 percent. Fitzwater was one of two players across all of women’s basketball to shoot at least 70 percent in 2017-18.

FOR MOMENT SIX, the countdown heads to the HEAD COACH LUKE DUFFY and his staff have track for the Mountain East Conference Track and Field made huge strides, going from three wins in his Championships. first season in 2016 to winning 12 games this Since 2015, the Mountain Lions men’s past fall – the most for women’s soccer program track and field team has collected eight individual since 2009. And, the Mountain Lions made some championships, and they only added to that of those victories look easy as they won eight total in the spring with five more individual games by at least two goals. Additionally, CU led titles. Then-freshman Isaiah Bowman shot the Mountain East Conference in goals scored up the leaderboard with a throw 49.66 during the season with 57 while allowing 1.0 track & field's meters in the javelin. Even though Bowman goals per game on average. five winners wasn’t the favorite going into the event, he But it’s what Concord did in the postgame that stood atop the podium for Concord’s first lands it in the year-end countdown. conference field event title since 2013. Hosting its first home conference postseason Later on the first day of the meet, senior Justin Snyder game in eight years, Concord downed Charleston successfully defended his title in the 10,000-meter run as he 4-2 to make an appearance in the MEC Semifinals crossed the finish line in 31:26, an MEC Championship Meet for a second consecutive season. Standing in the record. Mountain Lions’ way was a road game at On the third and final day of the meet, two individuals Notre Dame, a venue CU had never stood atop the podium wearing the Concord Maroon won at, but on Nov. 2 the Maroon and Gray. Junior Damon Akers grabbed and Gray earned a spot in the MEC not one, but two wins in the 800-meter Championship Game as sophomore and 1,500-meter runs for his first two midfielder Yasmin Mosby scored a secondcareer conference crowns. Akers outlasted half goal to push past NDC. Charleston’s Tre Brooks by .49 seconds to claim a In the conference title contest, the win in the 800-meters. In the 1,500-meters, the Mountain Lions and West Virginia Pulaski, VA native ran 4:02 to edge out Wesleyan needed penalty kicks to a victory in the event. decide the outcome where WVWC Akers joined Jason Weitzel as the second CU athlete defeated Concord 4-2. women's in the last three years to win two different events at At the end of the tournament, soccer MEC the MEC Track and Field Championships. sophomore defender Morgan Weitzel closed the meet by picking up a win in the Carmichael, freshman forward Tournament 5,000-meter run, his second career victory in the Leah Foster, sophomore goalkeeper run event at the conference championships. Katie Maher, Mosby and sophomore At the conclusion of the meet, Weitzel was voted as midfielder Courtney Wallace were all the MEC Track Runner of the Year. named to the MEC All-Tournament Team. Additionally, Weitzel, Snyder and Tyler Kosut were named Heading into 2019, CU will return nine of its to the USTFCCCA All-Region Team at season’s end. 11 starters from its 12-win, 2018 squad.





only four players in program history had achieved 1,000 career kills. However, two 1,000 career current players were kills chasing the 1,000-kill mark: Brooke Heck and Alexi Pranckus. Heck got to 1,000 career kills on the first weekend of competition on Aug. 25 against Elizabeth City State as she only needed 24 kills to reach 1,000 at the beginning of the season. Heck tallied 1,225 career kills, third all-time. Meanwhile, Pranckus chased 1,000 kills throughout the season. With two big performances near the end of the season against UVa.-Wise and West Virginia State, the Tinley Park, IL native needed four kills in her final collegiate match to notch 1,000 kills. Halfway through the match at Charleston, Pranckus became the sixth player with 1,000 kills and joined Heck in the exclusive club. Both players had quite an impressive career in the Maroon and Gray. Not only did Heck reach 1,000 kills but she concluded her career as the program leader in hitting percentage (.320) – hitting at least .300 in all four seasons at Concord. The Huntington, WV native also finished her career with 311 blocks, sixth in program history. For Pranckus, she recorded career dig number 1,000 earlier in the 2018 season which made her just one of two players in program history with 1,000 career kills and 1,000 career digs.


played in the short time the Mountain East Conference has been around. In those contests, no player had ever scored 50 points in a game. That was until March 2 when Tommy Bolte arrived Bolte's at the Charleston Civic Center. 51-pt The Mountain Lions were matched up against the Falcons in the MEC performance Tournament’s Quarterfinal Round. Coming into the game, Concord had been swept by the Fighting Falcons in two regular season meetings, but Bolte wasn’t going to let CU get eliminated in the tournament early. He poured in 51 points including a thunderous dunk in the first half as he penetrated through the FSU defense for a two-handed slam. Later in the second half with Concord trailing, Bolte swished in a three-pointer from the right wing that was momentum changing for the Mountain Lions. In his 51 points, Bolte nearly had a tripledouble as he added eight rebounds and six assists. Bolte, who had set the single-game scoring mark at Concord one week prior with 49 points at West Virginia State, finished the contest shooting 20for-35 from the field and 8-for-10 at the foul line. The performance was one of the alltime best inside the Charleston Civic Center and tied for the most points scored in a Division II game during the 2017-18 season. At the conclusion of the tournament, Bolte was named to the All-MEC Tournament Team and received the Commissioner’s Heart & Hustle Award.

AFTER WINNING 12 COMBINED GAMES during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons, the Concord University women’s basketball team made huge strides in 2017-18 as it won 13 games last season. Then sophomore forward Madison May upped her scoring average from 4.1 points to 16.7 points per game to lead the Mountain Lions. Forward Riley Fitzwater burst onto the scene as a freshman and became the first CU player in six years to average a double-double for the season with 13.9 points and 11.8 rebounds per contest. Last season for Concord also saw now-graduated guard Danielle Catron top 1,000 points for her career, becoming the first women’s basketball play to top 1,000 career points since 2014. Other significant contributors in CU’s turnaround season was the addition of junior college guard Andreanna Pool who averaged nine points and three assists; Emily Boothe who continued her strong play by providing seven points per game off the bench; and Lindsey Overbey who added seven more points and nearly four rebounds. In her final season in the Maroon and Gray, Heather Chapman started all 29 games while posting 9.2 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. As a team, the Mountain Lions put themselves in a good position to have a +6 win improvement from 2016-17 to 2017-18 by winning five straight games and seven out of eight in the month of January. The biggest excitement of the season came when CU clinched a spot in the MEC Tournament and secured a game inside the Charleston Civic Center for the first time since women's 2012. basketball The turnaround campaign for Concord came to end with a loss against Shepherd in the turnaround MEC Tournament’s First Round, but still a lot for the women’s basketball team to build on in the future. █



n w o t n w Do

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Matt Barnett ’00 brings New Vitality to his Hometown with the Sophisticated Hound Brewing company n ambitious project undertaken by Concord graduate Matt Barnett is helping rejuvenate downtown Princeton, WV. Barnett’s business, The Sophisticated Hound Brewing Company, is part of Princeton’s Mercer Street Grassroots District and is an important player in the Princeton Renaissance Project. The Sophisticated Hound is a gathering spot offering food, live musical entertainment and products from Barnett’s brewery of the same name. Matt opened his establishment at 833 Mercer Street on June 9, 2018. He is more than pleased with the response he’s had since opening the doors of the Sophisticated Hound. “It’s a great honor to see people there,” he said. “I never thought it would get to this point. It’s amazing to see.”

He’s also excited about the role his business is playing in renewing the vitality of Princeton’s downtown. As a native of Princeton and current resident, Matt is glad to see his hometown benefitting. “I see people coming in, having a good time in the taproom,” he said. It’s good to see all this happening in Princeton. It’s a neat little historical area with shops, restaurants. I like being part of what it was and making it become what it will be in the future.” While he was invited to take his business to other locations, Matt stuck with Princeton as the place to set up shop. “I’m from this area. I was asked to bring it to other areas. I want it in Princeton because that’s where I’m from. It’s hometown,” he said. Along with honoring his hometown roots, Matt also likes to rely on “homegrown” when it comes to what the Sophisticated Hound offers. He likes to use local ingredients and talent as much as possible. Everything from the grain, hops and honey that go into his brews to the live music and artwork featured in the taproom have ties to »




Matt Barnett with Denouncer, the inspiration for Sophisticated Hound brewery's branding.


the local area. Even the logo for the Sophisticated Hound was created by local talent. That logo pays homage to Matt’s greyhound, Denouncer, a retired racing dog. “Big D” as Matt affectionately calls the hound is inspiration for the name of his business and the brew it sells. “The first beer we ever produced was Racer 8,” Matt explains. He said this “flagship beer” recognizes Denouncer’s racing number. “He wore number 8,” his proud owner says. The family pet is also honored with his owners’ philanthropic efforts. “We’re big animal lovers,” Matt said. The first year Sophisticated Hound was in business, before the taproom opened, Matt said they donated “a percentage back to the greyhound rescue where we got him.” SPRING 2019 CONCORD UNIVERSIT Y MAGAZINE

Activities that involve other pet lovers include Sophisticated Hound’s Howloween benefitting the Mercer County Animal Shelter and Hops and Hounds where owners can bring their dogs and enjoy the patio located beside the taproom. Matt explains his journey to becoming an entrepreneur. “I’ve homebrewed since 2007,” he said. “It’s something that I got into as a hobby.” He got serious about the business aspect of brewing and decided to take his product to the public. He obtained a license from the state and in 2013 was a big hit at an area Octoberfest gathering. “I was the first crafter to go out of product,” he said. “I was approached to two distributors that day.” During the next five years, Matt had a dual career. He continued working in the banking industry where he had been for a number of years and also sold his Sophisticated Hound brews to local distributors and restaurants. In the fall of 2017, Matt said he was approached by revitalization efforts in Princeton with the idea of adding a brewery to the renewal underway downtown. He took on the project and spent 10 months renovating the building where his taproom is located. “We gutted the entire building,” he said. “The brick walls are the only thing that’s original,” he said. He added that he isn’t sure how old the building is, but some of the bricks that were in the back of the building have 1901 and 1908 on them. Matt graduated from Concord in 2000 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree with an emphasis in marketing. He earned a master’s degree in business from Mountain State University. He has been an advertising account manager at the Bluefield Daily Telegraph and held various positions with area banks. These have included serving as an assistant director of marketing, customer relationship manager and an information security officer. Today, with the Sophisticated Hound Matt is utilizing his education in running his own business. One way he does this is paying attention to demographics. “We know our demographics,” he said. “We try to stay with local flavors, local ingredients, that appeal to people in southern West Virginia. We try to stay in a profile that will sell well here,” he said. Along with selling his distinctive beers, Matt says Sophisticated Hound also specializes in pizza and offers other food items on the menu including appetizers and salads. █


The colorful outdoor patio located beside the Sophisticated Hound's taproom




Where are they now? VA L E D I C TO R I A N

Lori Shires Combs '89 Lori Shires Combs has established a tradition of sorts by being the valedictorian of her graduating class. She holds the special distinction of graduating first in her class at Bluefield High School in 1985, and being honored as Concord’s valedictorian for the Class of 1989. “I felt honored to emerge as valedictorian in both classes,” Lori says. “The recognition was an acknowledgement of my having worked to excel in the academic arena. I was much more attuned to the class rankings at Bluefield High than I was at Concord. Hence, I wasn’t really aware of my college distinction until just before graduation!”


ori completed her coursework and student teaching in December 1988 and then participated in commencement during spring 1989. She received a Bachelor of Science in Education, summa cum laude. Her teaching field was Elementary Education K-8. When asked what motivated her to excel academically in high school and college, she said, “My competitive nature has always been a strong motivator for me. Also, my family has a very strong foundation in education. My maternal grandmother, my mother, and my older sister all have teaching degrees from Concord. “Naturally, my family always supported me, SPRING 2019 CONCORD UNIVERSIT Y MAGAZINE

but I did pressure myself. Believing that anything worth doing is worth doing well, I was very motivated to give my best in academic pursuits! A perfectionist at heart, I now recognize that perfectionism remains somewhat of a hindrance to my production,” she said. Looking back on her time in the classroom at Concord and remembering her favorite courses, Lori says, “From my education courses, I best remember personal stories which shared the humor from classroom experiences. A true math nerd, I actually enjoyed the required mathematics courses for elementary education majors. Classes from Mary Edna Beckett come to mind. I also really valued my student teaching


practicum from Dr. Beryl Santon, as well as my actual student teaching experiences at Brushfork Elementary in Mercer County.” “Fond memories of Concord include time spent with my fellow elementary education majors, in particular,” she said. “I am happy to have established friendships which continue to this day, as well as to have friends scattered throughout local school systems who I can converse with about what’s happening in education today.” She had several Concord professors and administrators who were her mentors and who inspired and encouraged her to achieve and excel. These special educators include Dr. Lois Beeken, Education professor; Dr. Gus Scyphers,

Child Development professor; and Jack Grose, Administration/Business Office. Lori said that Douglas Bourne, an adjunct English professor at Concord, as well as a faculty member at Bluefield High School, was also important in her academic experience. “I had named (him) as my favorite/most influential teacher during honor » graduate recognitions,” she explains. Lori shares how her over-achieving perfectionist nature played out in some of her classes and with particular professors at Concord on her journey to becoming valedictorian. Identifying rocks for Dr. Winton Covey’s Physical Sciences class proved challenging. “I studied and studied those small boxes of rock samples – to no » CONCORD UNIVERSIT Y MAGAZINE SPRING 2019



Lori, Gene and Brody attend Allison’s medical school graduation from VCOM in 2016.

The Combs family celebrates Allison’s winning performance at the World’s Championship Horse Show in Louisville, KY.


avail – when we walked into class and found huge boulders spread around the room and looking nothing at all like those itty-bitty specimens we had studied!” she said. “Climbing on those rock formations on the off-ramp at Oakvale during the class explorations – ugh, not my cup of tea!” Times were also taxing for Lori in Dr. Sid Bell’s US History course. “Everyone knows the sayings ‘Bard’s Hard; Bell’s Hell!’” she said. “My anxiety over wanting to do well in Bell’s class was running extremely high after he passed out a copy of the first test and proceeded to walk the class through the manner in which the student had approached and answered the test questions, I really wasn’t feeling much better. The test paper was mine, and for every subsequent test, I was virtually paralyzed with fear of not living up to my own standards. “On the day before a test, I would go home, where I had convinced myself that I studied best, and stay up all night, and my mother would actually drive me to campus the next day so that I could study for as long as absolutely possible before taking the test!” she recalls. Physical Education with Coach Tony Colobro also had its moments. “With no outstanding athletic skills, SPRING 2019 CONCORD UNIVERSIT Y MAGAZINE

I sought to take a P.E. course that I thought wouldn’t lead to too much embarrassment for me,” Lori said. “Hence, I took a class in which we were to learn about the sun-setter games of bridge, pool, and golf. Yeah, studying those rules and particulars for those games was very manageable, but actually exhibiting the skills outlined therein was a whole different matter! Coach Colobro would make his way around the room or gym, offering his advice and expertise. To me, he says, ‘Don’t bother asking your father for clubs for Christmas’!” All of the stressful moments paid off for Lori, however. Along with being valedictorian, she also held membership in Kappa Delta Pi (an Honor Society in Education); Cardinal Key National Honor Sorority, Inc.; and Alpha Chi National Honor Scholarship Society. Since being honored as a Concord valedictorian, Lori has continued to shine through her professional career, community service and family life. Interestingly, her career path has taken her into two different vocations. She has been a public school teacher in Mercer County and part of a family-owned business. “My teaching career was short-lived,” she explains. “I filled a long-term substitute position for a semester, after actually completing my degree in December of 1988, in the fifth-grade classroom at Montcalm Elementary where my sister and fellow Concord graduate, Lisa Lineberry, was also teaching. Then, I taught kindergarten at Bramwell Elementary for three years.” “Currently and officially, my position at CravensShires Funeral Home, Inc. in Bluewell is Treasurer,” she said. “However, I jokingly tell people that I am currently on 12-year maternity leave! I primarily work in the office there at the funeral home, but I have been enlisted as needed to assist with any and all aspects of the business. Ultimately, I hope to return to school to become a licensed funeral director/ embalmer.” Lori has found both of her careers to be rewarding. “In both vocations, I enjoy the opportunities to serve the community. I am rewarded to think my community is stronger because of my service to it,” she said. As a teacher and a parent, Lori has been paying it forward by being an example with her dedication to a pursuit of academic excellence. “Having worked primarily with kindergarteners, I didn’t have too much opportunity to inspire the pursuit of academic excellence, but, hopefully, those early years in my


classroom planted the seeds of inspiration for a love of learning in my young students,” she says. In her family setting, Lori’s academic achievements are inspiring her children as well. “My husband, of soon-to-be 30 years, is Gene Combs. We have two children, Allison and Brody,” she said. “I would like to think that my degree, while short in career application, has proven invaluable to the successes of my children. “My daughter is about to complete her residency in internal medicine, and she will be continuing her education with a fellowship in geriatrics,” she said. “My days of being able to help her academically have long since passed, but I like to think of her as a more independent, adventurous, and successful version of myself, and of that I am obviously very proud!” “With my son, who is seventeen years his sister’s junior, I am learning that I need every bit of my educational background to bolster my efforts. Needless to say, I’m finding that his up-bringing is proving to be a whole new ballgame!” she said. Academics aside, Lori enjoys special family time with her children in their recreational pursuits. “Generally speaking, my pastimes and hobbies revolve around my children. My daughter, 28-yearold Allison, has ridden and shown Saddlebred horses

since the age of 6. Our family has supported and shared in her love of the breed for many years,” she says. “My son, 11-year-old Brody, enjoys a ballgame of any kind, but particularly baseball. We have supported his Little League participation as well as his competing as an All-Star,” she says. “A family pastime is attending games of both the Appalachian League’s Bluefield Blue Jays and the Princeton Rays.” Originally from Bluewell, WV, Lori now lives in the Glenwood/Green Valley area of Mercer County. She has lived in this community for 29 years. Her civic involvement includes active membership in the GFWC Bluewell Woman’s Club and the Bluewell Improvement Association (BIA). She has been honored by the Woman’s Club with selection {as Clubwoman of the Year for GFWC Bluewell Woman’s Club and GFWC Montcalm-Bluewell Junior Woman’s Club. Additionally, Lori has been acknowledged for leading the application process and securing 501(c)(3) status for the BIA. █

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AlumniHappenings Dr. Ronald Burgher Memorial

MAY 23 Black Sheep Burrito Charleston, WV JUNE 13 Olé Jose Grill & Cantina Pineville, WV JULY 16 Brix 27 Martinsburg, WV JULY 17 The Bungalow Lake House Sterling, VA AUGUST 8 Billy's Roanoke, VA SEPTEMBER 19 Mountain State Brewing Company Morgantown, WV OCTOBER 18 The President's House Athens, WV NOVEMBER 14 Weathered Ground Brewery Cool Ridge, WV DECEMBER 3 University Point, Athens, WV RSVP ONLINE! All events are from 5-7pm



Alumni from four different decades gathered in the Student Center Ballroom on Saturday, February 2 for a memorial service honoring Professor of Communications Emeritus Dr. Ron Burgher. Pictured here are some of Dr. Burgher’s former students who attended the service, referred to as “Disciples of Burgher”.

Where did you graduate from?

A.) Concord State Normal School

B.) Concord State Teachers College

C.) Concord College If you think you might be our oldest living alumni, we want to hear from you! Contact Amy Pitzer at


ROAR and CU Crew Sail on ‘Celebration Cruise’

Back row: Phil Jeffries '58, Laura Gooch, Louann Bennett '80, Martha Brown '58; middle row: Gail Harmon '74, Laura Rush '73, David Mann '77; front row: Nell Jeffries '53, Deborah Six '86, Pam Buckhannon, Barbara Wyrick '70 and Sheila Mann '79

“It’s a trip everybody should be on,” Phil Jeffries enthusiastically stated. He was referring to the nearly month-long adventure he and his wife, Nell Jeffries, took this past fall. Their epic journey saw them leave home base in Mercer County on Oct. 4, 2018, then travel by chartered bus to Raleigh, NC for a cross country flight to Seattle where they embarked on AAA’s “Celebration Cruise.” “We were on the ship for 21 days and stopped at seven or eight islands,” Phil said. Sailing across the Pacific Ocean, the ship stopped at Honolulu and Maui in Hawaii. Heading toward Sydney, Australia, the island hopping adventurers also made stops at Suva, Fiji; Port Vila, Vanuatu; and Nouméa, New Caledonia. The travelers arrived in Sydney on Oct. 27 for two days of sightseeing; then they were

off to New Zealand by plane for more memorable excursions. On Nov. 1 they left Auckland, New Zealand for a flight to Los Angeles and another to Charlotte, NC where they caught their bus back home. Nell graduated from Concord in 1953 and Phil earned his degree in 1958. Interestingly, they weren’t the only Concord alums who enjoyed the trip. Several other Concord graduates took the trek as well. Laura Gooch, executive travel agent extraordinaire and former Concord instructor, led the merry group on the journey. While it would have been a fun surprise to be boarding the bus and realize some of their traveling companions were fellow Concord alums, they already knew the sailing vessel awaiting them in Seattle would be packed with Mountain Lions. They attended pre-trip meetings with Laura, and some

even planned to travel together ahead of time. With so many Concordians sailing the seas together, they thought a group photograph for Concord’s magazine was in order, especially since ROAR made the voyage, too! So they gathered aboard ship with the famed mascot for the memorable shot. As would be expected, the trip provided many other memorable moments. Crossing the equator and the International Date Line offered cause for celebration. Phil said travelers came out of their cabins for a party with entertainment on the top deck as they passed the equator. They also received a certificate to commemorate the milestone event. A special highlight of the long excursion for Nell and Phil was their visit to Australia’s Blue Mountains. The destination offered rides aboard the world’s steepest incline railway into a rainforest valley. They also enjoyed meeting people from New Zealand and Australia who were on the cruise and learning about their customs. The evening meal provided a good opportunity for this cultural exchange, Phil explained. He added that they “socialized during the day” with their Concord traveling companions.






Sherry East ‘91 Congratulations to Concord alum Sherry East ’91 on being named the President of the South Carolina Education Association! Sherry is a high school science teacher at the Phoenix Academy in Rock Hill, SC and has served in other leadership roles within the SCEA and the York County Education Association. Sherry has a M.S. in Ecological Teaching and Learning from Lesley University and has completed an additional 30+ graduate credits from Clemson University. She will serve a 4 year term as the SCEA President.

Paige Hunter ‘84 Congratulations to Brigadier General Paige Hunter ’84 on being chosen by the Charleston YWCA as one of its five honorees for their Women of Achievement awards! Brigadier General Paige Hunter is the Assistant Adjutant General and Commander of the West Virginia Air National Guard and has been honored with many awards for her service. Some of them include the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon and the Air Force Achievement Medal. Hunter will be recognized at an awards ceremony in Charleston in March.


Nick Bias ‘06 Congratulations to Nick Bias ’06 on being named the NCAA DII Men’s Cross Country Atlantic Region Coach of the Year! The USTFCCCA made the announcement in late November after Bias led his team at the University of Charleston through a historic season. His team won the Mountain East Conference and NCAA DII Atlantic Region championships this fall and is competing in the NCAA DII National Cross Country Championships in early December. Bias was also named the 2018 MEC Men’s Cross Country Coach of the Year by his coaching peers in the Mountain East. Many congrats to Nick on an outstanding season and best of luck at the national championships!


Jada Reeves ‘02


Congratulations to Jada Reeves ’02 on being named the 2019 West Virginia Teacher of the Year! Ms. Reeves is a 5th grade teacher at Bradley Elementary in Mt. Hope, WV. In addition to her degree from Concord, she has a Reading Specialist Master’s Degree from Marshall University. Ms. Reeves is now in the running for the National Teacher of the Year award, which will be announced in April.

Alumni Spotlight features outstanding achievements of alums and is highlighted on CU’s website. To read further about these incredible alums, visit



CU After Hours - Knoxville

CU After Hours - Myrtle Beach

Concord alumni and friends congregated at The Mezz at CafĂŠ 4 on March 21.

Alums and friends gathered in Myrtle Beach on Feb. 21 at the Carolina Ale House.

CU After Hours - Blacksburg

CU After Hours - Princeton

The Advancement Office held a CU After Hours in Blacksburg, VA on Nov. 8. The gathering for alumni and friends of the University took place at Bull & Bones.

The Sophisticated Hound in Princeton was the site for a CU After Hours on Jan. 17.

59th Phi Sig Reunion Weekend Save the Date! May 30 - June 2, 2019 Contact John Lecco at by May 16 if you plan to attend!



Class Notes

ACHIEVEMENTS 1960s ____________

1980s ____________

CARLOS RUBIO ’68 received the Reinaldo Arenas 2018 award in December. As one of only three authors so honored internationally, he earned the Spanish literature award for his book “Doble Filo”. The award honors Reinaldo Arenas, a writer who was exiled from Cuba. In June of last year, Carlos released “Faded Dreams,” an autobiography about his life in Cuba prior to coming to the United States. A published writer since his college days, Carlos has penned 15 books.

MARLENE PIERSONJOLLIFFE ’87 has received the International Association of Fairs and Expositions highest honor. She was inducted into the organization’s Hall of Fame and recognized in November at the 128th IAFE annual convention held in San Antonio. Marlene is the executive director of the State Fair of Virginia and vice president of operations at The Meadow Event Park. She previously worked at the State Fair of West Virginia, serving 10 of her 25 years there as CEO.

JODI TIBBS ’87 has joined Valley Trust Insurance Group as a commercial account executive. She has worked in the insurance industry for nearly 20 years and is licensed in property and casualty, along with life and health. She also holds a license as a benefits consultant. Valley Trust Insurance has offices in Staunton and other areas of Virginia.

1990s ____________

BRADY YOUNG ’98 has been promoted to chief retail banking officer and senior vice president with Bank of Oak Ridge in Oak Ridge, NC. He has been with the bank since July 2010. His experience in retail banking and management spans nearly 20 years.

Career contributions of Bill Morgan ’57 honored with Lecture Series


WILLIAM “BILL” MORGAN ’57 has been honored for his contributions to the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a lecture series that bears his name. The Fall 2018 “William P. Morgan Lecture” was delivered by John S. Raglin, Ph.D. in the university’s natatorium in October. He discussed “The Psychology of Physical Activity from Too Little to Too Much: An Academic Legacy of Dr. William P. Morgan.” Dr. Raglin is a professor in the Department of Kinesiology at Indiana University-Bloomington. Dr. Morgan is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He was the founding chair of the department. When it was founded, the department SPRING 2019 CONCORD UNIVERSIT Y MAGAZINE

consisted of programs in athletic training, dance, exercise science, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and physical education. During his 35 years at UW-Madison, Dr. Morgan was advanced to Fellow status in the American College of Sports Medicine, American Psychological Association, American Academy of Kinesiology and Physical Education, Society for Personality Assessment, and the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis. He is widely recognized as the founder of the contemporary field of exercise psychology. Professor Emeritus Morgan was the founder and first president of the Division of Exercise and Sport Psychology of the American Psychological Association. He is a past recipient of the American College of Sports Medicine Citation Award.

Class Notes

2000s ____________ JATIN ATRE ’02 has recently been named to the new executive leadership team for CentralSquare. The company is a leader in the industry of public sector software. As the Chief Marketing Officer, Jatin will be responsible for demand generation and brand building along with marketing. He brings a successful career in marketing, including previous leadership positions, to his new role with CentralSquare. DEYA TERRAFRANCA ’08 is the new library and archives director at the Museum of Ventura County in California. Deya will manage the historical research library and the regional special collection in this position. Her work will involve collection development as well as supervising nearly two dozen volunteers. She studied sculpture and political science at Concord and earned a master’s degree in library and information science from the University of South Carolina, Columbia. ASHLEY NOLAND ’11 is a Communications Manager with Waymo in California. Waymo is formerly the Google self-driving car project.

NATHAN TANNER ’11 has been selected as the new head football coach at Parkersburg South High School. He will also teach at the high school. Prior to his appointment with the Patriots, Nathan coached the Martinsville Bulldogs in Virginia and at a Summers County school. Nathan played football for the Mountain Lions and was also a track athlete.

Judy Ann Teaford ’89 Donates Appalachian Book Collection to Marsh Library Judy Ann Teaford ’89 has generously donated her extensive collection of Appalachian books to the Concord’s J. Frank Marsh Library. This collection has been built up over a lifetime spent immersed in Appalachian literature, as a student, teacher, lecturer and ardent reader. Teaford’s lifelong engagement with the written word and her deep fascination with her mountain home afforded her the opportunity to build an outstanding collection of books and materials from and about Appalachia, and her love of her alma mater inspired her to donate this substantial collection to Concord’s library. In addition to nearly 400 books, including works for adults and children’s picture books, the sizeable donation includes dozens of other pieces of memorabilia, including pamphlets, posters, and samples of Teaford’s correspondence with West Virginia Poet Laureate Marc Harshman. The donated material has been assembled as the Judy Teaford Appalachian Heritage Collection, and is housed on the third floor of the Marsh Library, where it is available for library use. Teaford graduated from Concord College in 1989 with a Bachelor of Science in Education degree. She began her teaching career at Marsh Fork High School, where she taught English. She then moved to Beckley Junior High School, where in addition to teaching English, Speech and Drama, she instituted a program that enabled students to present the day’s announcements at the beginning and end of each day via television. Teaford then started teaching at the College of West Virginia as an adjunct instructor in English. Throughout her career, she has maintained a passionate interest in Appalachian literature, even pursuing her master’s degree from the Marshall University Graduate College with a thesis on contemporary Appalachian picture books. Her love of the written word and of her home in Appalachia led her to join many professional organizations, including the Appalachian Consortium, the Appalachian Studies Association, and the Appalachian Teachers network, among many others. Teaford has also authored or co-authored several articles on the subject of Appalachian literature, and contributed to The Cambridge Guide to Children’s Books in English. CONCORD UNIVERSIT Y MAGAZINE SPRING 2019






Concord University’s First Gentleman Edward Theodore “Ted” Boggess passed away on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019. Mr. Boggess was the husband of President Kendra Boggess. Ted was a devoted family man, talented architect, and committed member of the community. Ted was born October 26, 1932, in Charleston, WV, to Elma and Arthur Boggess. He was preceded in death by two sisters, Vivian Boggess Elledge and Christie Boggess Hamilton, and is survived by his brothers Jack and Richard Boggess. Born in Charleston, WV, Ted had his first small business by the age of 6, shining shoes in order to provide a means of support for his family. As he grew, he became an exceptional student, a young man with a gift for the arts, and an athlete who excelled in several sports. At 18, he joined the Navy during the Korean War. He was stationed in Tully, Greenland, where he helped to build the Air Base, served on the Admiral’s Flag, and later played baseball for the Navy in the Caribbean. He served for 4 years and was honorably discharged in 1955. Ted graduated from Stonewall Jackson High School, served 4 years in the Navy, and completed his architecture degree at the Ohio State University. Having been the first in his family to go to college, he returned home to Charleston after graduation and was one of the first employees of the firm Zando Martin & Milstead. As fate would have it, a government project, the new Wood Products Lab near Princeton brought the young architect to town to administer the contract. During his time on the project, Ted started meeting locals and generating work for the firm. He quickly realized that this area had a great deal of potential and he had a wonderful opportunity to make a positive impact by starting his own architectural practice. Ted moved his young family to Princeton and started E.T. Boggess Architect, Inc., in 1966. He specialized for many years in church design and held the distinction of having designed more than 130 churches during his career, more than any other West Virginia architect. SPRING 2019 CONCORD UNIVERSIT Y MAGAZINE

The firm has been active for more than 50 years and throughout his long illness, his love and passion for architecture was still very clear and present in his mind every day. He left behind a beautiful architectural legacy that would only be eclipsed by his love and devotion to his family. Ted married his high school sweetheart, Barbara Jeanne Burford in 1953. Together they were the proud parents of three sons: Jeffry Theodore, Todd Edward, and Timothy Doyle. Ted and Jeanne were married for twenty-two years until her tragic passing in May of 1976. In 1978, Ted was designing a church in Tampa, Florida, and sought assistance through an old friend and Navy buddy, who had also become an architect, Lee Scarfone. Lee introduced him to his office manager, Kendra Stahle, and they married six months later. They recently celebrated their 40th anniversary of marriage. Ted enjoyed being referred to as Concord University’s “First Gentleman” during the period while his wife, Kendra, serves as its President. His other beloved titles were being called “Dad”, “Pop”, “Grandpa” and “Pawpaw.” His greatest pride was in his six “amazing, beautiful, perfect, and wonderful grandchildren,” Alyssa Jeanne and her husband, Brandon McDuffie, Madeline Elise, Benjamin Edward, Atticus Jake, Olivia Jeanne and Sadie Anne. As his firm grew, Ted became more and more involved with his local community. Now having three young sons, he was actively involved with and committed to the establishment of the Little League Baseball and Football Associations in Princeton. He tirelessly served on multiple committees that raised the funds and obtained support for the new Princeton Community Hospital. Ted was also an original member of the group that helped bring professional baseball to Princeton. He served in the Princeton-Mercer County Chamber of Commerce, including as President in 1970; and was a member of the Princeton Planning and Zoning Board and both the Elks and the Kiwanis Clubs. While attending the Princeton First Church of God on Mahood Avenue, he served as Chairman of the Board, as Sunday School Teacher, and in nearly every other capacity with the local church, as well as serving for ten years as a member of Warner Press Board, the national publishers of the COG. He was a Charter member of the Concord College President’s Club, and a member of the Southern Plumbers. Ted was a member of the American Institute of Architects, was a registered architect in 9 states, was a member of IFRAA (Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art and Architecture), and he proudly served more than 25 years on the WV State Board of Architects, having been appointed to that role by five different WV governors. Ted was noted for being one of the longest serving members of NCARB (National Council of Architectural Registration Boards) with more than 25 years of

service, including service as the Chair of the NCARB Education Committee. With NCARB, Ted was Past Region II Coordinator for NCARB Intern Development Program, Past Chairman National Education Committee, Past Member Procedures and Documents Committee, Past Member, Professional Development Committee, Past National Association Accreditation Boards Team Member. These committees were responsible for establishing educational requirements for new architects and evaluating architectural programs at colleges and universities throughout the country. In 2001, Ted received the distinguished Member Cum Specialis award from the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of NCARB. In addition to his professional recognitions, Ted was recognized for his contributions to the community. ETB Architect, Inc. was recognized by the PMCCC for their 50 years in membership in 2018, Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Citizen Award – 2016, * Princeton/Mercer County Chamber of Commerce “Excel Award” - January, 2011, * WVAIA “Honor Award” for Renovation Design of the Princeton Public Library - April 2012, * WVAIA “Merit Award” for the WV Tourist Information Center – 1995. Those left to cherish his memory are his loving and devoted wife, Dr. Kendra Stahle Boggess; three sons and their spouses, Jeff and JoEllen; Todd and Sharon; Timm and Gina; six loving grandchildren, Alyssa Jeanne and Brandon McDuffie; Madeline, Benjamin, Atticus “AJ”, Olivia and Sadie; two brothers, Jack and Richard along with his Aunt, Helen O’Hara; his special caregivers that loved him dearly, Annie Myers, Terri Vest and Nancy Stover; his extended family both present and past employees of ET Boggess Architect, Inc. CONCORD UNIVERSIT Y MAGAZINE SPRING 2019


Class Notes Jean Christie


JEAN “MARMIE” CHRISTIE, 86, of Bridgeport, WV, passed away on Tuesday, November 20, 2018. She was born in Doddridge County on March 5, 1932, a daughter of the late Russell and Roberta Brown. In addition to her parents Jean was preceded in death by her husband Don Christie, daughter Janet McCrory, and brother Bill Brown. “Marmie” as she was affectionately known to her family is survived by two daughters: Judy Hoover and fiancé Terry Gainer of Elkins, and


DR. JAMES R. FLEMING passed away on October 23, 2018. He was a member of the Episcopal Church

Jennifer Callahan of Columbia, SC; five grandchildren: Christie Alfred (Nick) of Elkins, Courtney Guido (Mark) of Clemmons, NC, Shayla Taylor (Zach) of Columbia, SC, Zach Callahan of Columbia, SC, and Aaron Gainer (Alyssa) of Prescott, AZ; and three great-grandchildren: Carter, Kennedy, and Lily. Jean received her master’s degree in English from WVU and began her career as a Professor with Salem College and later retired in 1994 from

Concord College. She was an avid golfer and enjoyed playing with her late husband at Pipestem. Jean also enjoyed reading and playing bridge. She liked living at Maplewood in Bridgeport where she served as past President of the association, was the current activity chair, and absolutely loved the resident “happy hour gathering” with her many friends. Jean was loved by all and never met a stranger.


of the Heavenly Rest in Princeton and the recipient of the Melvin Jones Fellows award for leadership and service in the Lion’s Club. James Fleming believed deeply in the spirit of serving others. Professor of Music from 19691992, Dr. Fleming is remembered for his contributions to the culture and community of Concord. Performances given by the Collegiate Singers were always an event to enjoy as well as community concerts given by him and his wife, Shirley, who accompanied him on the piano.

A believer in the beauty of music and its power to transform human experience, James Fleming strived to bring this into the lives of those around him. Throughout his daily life and work, Dr. Fleming worked with a sense of purpose, commitment, and perseverance. He instilled these qualities in his children, his students and many who knew him. He is survived by six children, five grandchildren, and three greatgrandchildren. He was a resident of Rich Creek Road in Spanishburg, WV.


MARGARET ANN SCOTT of Princeton, formerly of Athens, died October 30, 2018. Born May 29, 1928, in Athens,


Margaret Ann was the only daughter of the late John Irving and Annie Ruth Christie Scott. Margaret Ann graduated from Athens High School with honors in 1946. She was active in various clubs in both junior and senior high, with leading roles in several dramatic productions. Coached by her English teacher, Dr. James Shrewsbury, she won honors in local and regional forensic contests. She received her B.S. in Education (cum laude) with teaching fields in Social Studies (with a concentration in history,) speech, and English from Concord College in 1949.


While at Concord, she was active in dramatic productions and was selected for membership in Pi Gamma Mu, Alpha Psi Omega, Kappa Delta Pi, and Cardinal Key, all honor societies. In 1960, she received her M.A. in English with honors from Ohio University, Athens, Ohio. She completed course work for a Ph.D. in English at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN. Prior to teaching, Margaret Ann moved to Arlington, VA, and worked as Assistant to the Executive Director of the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) from 1949-51. She

Class Notes

served as editor for the FBLA newsletter and an assistant to the editor of the United Business Education Forum. After two years, she left the FBLA for the classroom at Tazewell High School, Tazewell, VA, for three years (1951-54), where she sponsored the annual. She taught at Spanishburg High School, Spanishburg, WV, for six years (195460), sponsoring the Senior Newsletter. She directed several plays at both high schools. In the fall of 1961, Margaret Ann began her college teaching career at West Virginia University. She returned to Concord College in the fall of 1962, as an Associate Professor of English, retiring in 1994, after 32 years of service. While at Concord, she sponsored the Concordian and The Pine Tree and was a member of the Concord Branch of the American Association of University Women. Her students and colleagues remember her for her love of literature, especially Children’s Lit. Throughout her 42 years of teaching English, Margaret Ann inspired her students to succeed. Her students were her extended family and she looked forward to hearing from them and attending their class reunions. Following her retirement, she served as vice-president of the Inter-Faith Chapel Foundation and served 12 years on the Concord College Alumni Executive Board. Margaret Ann joined the First Christian Church, Princeton, in September 1963. During her 55 years there, she was a Sunday school teacher for high school and college, a guild leader, a member of the Christian Women’s Fellowship, Deaconess, Chairman of the Congregation, and Member of the Church Board. She served as Stewardship Director for the State Christian Women’s Fellowship. She attended the Bible Study Fellowship for many years. While teaching at Tazewell High School, Margaret Ann attended Tazewell Christian Church, serving as Circle Member and sponsoring a youth group.

Margaret Ann was a 45-year member of the Matthew French Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, serving this group and the WV State NSDAR in leadership roles. She was recognized as a NSDAR Woman in American History. She was a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) Princeton Chapter #1876 for 45 years where she held positions of leadership as well as with the WV Division of the UDC and the UDC Traveler’s District. Margaret Ann was a 39-year member of the Princeton Delphian Club. A club leader, she had the distinction of being the longest serving member of Delphian. She served as secretary of the Mercer County Bicentennial Commission, and was a co-founder and charter member of the Mercer County Historical Society (MCHS). She served MCHS as a president, historian, historical writer and performer. A member of the Mercer County Sesquicentennial Commission, Margaret Ann co-directed the exhibit and the burying of the time capsule at the Mercer County Courthouse to be opened in 2037. She served as vicepresident of the New River Genealogy Society. In 2010, Margaret Ann represented Mercer County as its Belle for the West Virginia Folk Festival in Glenville, WV. Margaret Ann served in several leadership capacities as a member of the Athens Women’s Club and Zeta Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma. She was a member of the Appalachian Artist Association, Athens White Pine Garden Club, Bibbee Nature Club and PrincetonAthens Kiwanis Club. For more than 30 years, she conducted Project Feeder Count (Athens area) for Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Following in the footsteps of her father and grandfathers, Margaret Ann served for 10 years on the Athens Town Council. She was a member of the Athens-Concord Town Social Committee. Recognized for her commitment to Athens and Concord, she received the

Total Community Involvement Award in 1987. Her interests were varied and included local and family history, bird watching, old houses and furniture, Scottish history, gardening, children’s books and preservation family heritage, especially her nieces and nephews. Margaret Ann was a natural storyteller and loved to present programs on a myriad of topics for organizations, school children and her family. Lovingly called “Sissy” or “Aunt Sissy” by her family, Margaret Ann is survived by her niece and caregiver, Stella Mae Scott Moon (Gary) of Washington, WV; brothers Charles Christie Scott of Beaver, WV and Robert “Bob” Milton Scott (Sandy) of Inverness, FL; nieces Susan Scott Jennings (Michael), Jennifer Scott Beavers (Hobert), and Ruth Ann Scott; nephews John Scott (Judy) and Irving Scott; great-nieces Janice Moon Barrera (Tony), Dawn Scott Robinson (Tim), Wendi Scott Woodrum (Russ), Julie Scott Savilla, Jennifer “Jennie” Scott Huffman (Tyler); great-nephews Jason Moon (Helleni), Joshua Moon (Brittany), Jonathan Moon, Michael Scott (Carrie), Ryan Scott (Sidney), Justin Beavers (Amanda), Brian Beavers (Keylea), and Joseph Scott; 13 great-great nieces and 8 great-great nephews. In addition to her parents, she was predeceased in death by her brothers John I. “Jack” Scott and George Warren Scott; sisters-in-law Evelyn Scott, Virginia Jo Scott, Virginia “Jenny” Scott and Janet Scott; and nephew Charles Christie Scott, Jr.



Class Notes

IN MEMORY 1940s ____________


HAROLD C. RYDER ’49: November 28, 2018. He was born September 18, 1927, in Bartow, WV. Harold graduated from Green Bank High School, and after serving in the Army, he graduated from Concord College where he played football and basketball and received his bachelor’s degree in education. He went on to receive his master’s degree in administration from West Virginia University. Mr. Ryder was a resident of Greenbrier County for sixty-eight years and he was an administrator and teacher for thirty-seven years, in the Greenbrier County School System. Mr. Ryder also coached high school football and basketball, in Rupert and Lewisburg. Harold belonged to the Lewisburg Lions and Richlands Ruritan Clubs, WV Farm Bureau, NEA, and WVEA. He was also a member of the Calvary United Methodist Church, of Lewisburg. Harold was preceded in death by his wife of sixty-six years, Nancy Hern Ryder; parents, Stewart and Verlie Ryder; granddaughter, Ruth Allen; son-in-law, Dallas McGinnis; sister, Marguerite Miles; brothers, Richard, Leon, and Charles Ryder; brothers-in-law, Chris Kiene and Todd Stone; and sister-in-law, June Ryder. He was survived by daughter,

Debra Allen, and husband, Darrell; daughter, Rebecca McGinnis; grandchildren, Erin McGinnis, Seth, David, Andrew, Michael, and Katherine Allen; sisters, Carolyn Kiene and Kathleen Stone; sisterin-law, Marlene Ryder; and nieces, nephews, and cousins.

1950s ____________

EARL DOUGLAS JOHNSON ’50: March 25, 2019. Born November 8, 1926 near Whitesville, WV, he was the son of the late Ernest and Rena Johnson. Doug left Stoco High School at the age of 17 to join the Navy to serve during WW II on the USS Lynx. He later earned degrees from Concord College, West Virginia University and Ohio State University. A resident of Sophia, Doug loved to travel, having visited all 50 states and several foreign countries. Following over three decades in education, he retired as principal from Sophia Junior High School in 1982 In addition to his parents he was preceded in death by his wife, Louise; three sisters and two brothers. He is survived by a daughter, Lou Ann Johnson (Jenny Lilly) of Kenna, WV; son, Rob Johnson (Tammy) of Dallas, TX; grandchildren, Zach of Washington, D.C. and Rachel of Seattle, WA; brother, James L. Johnson of MI; sisters, Anna Ruble of Sophia, WV and Drema Chapman of VA. ELLEN BEE SIZEMORE HOGG ’51: February 11, 2019. Ellen Bee was born January 27, 1930 in Ravencliff, WV. Ellen Bee graduated from Concord College. She is survived by her husband of 66 years Stephen Henry Hogg, another Concord


graduate. Other survivors include son Stephen (Shella), son Jeffery (Michael), and two grandchildren Garrett Paul Hogg and Andrew Stephen Hogg. Ellen Bee was preceded in death by her parents and her brother Kelly D. Sizemore. She was a resident of Beckley, WV and was a member of the United Methodist Temple.

JAMES C. HAUN, SR. ’52: April 5, 2019. He was born on June 12, 1928 in Cleveland, Ohio and grew up in Bluefield, VA. He was the son of Frank and Effie Haun. Jim was a veteran of World War II, having proudly served in the United States Navy. Upon his discharge, he attended Concord College graduating with a degree in Business Administration. After obtaining his college degree, he and his father became involved in the automotive business becoming the very first Volkswagen dealers in the state of West Virginia. He served as owner and president of Haun Motors, receiving awards from multiple automotive manufacturers for excellence in sales and service. He was a member of many community service organizations and was instrumental in the founding of the Green Valley-Glenwood Volunteer Fire Department and Fincastle Country Club. He took great pride in being a former Shriner, where he focused on helping children by transporting them to Shriner’s Hospitals ensuring that they received vital care. A resident of Princeton, WV, he served as an ordained deacon of Princeton Presbyterian Church and was a thirty-second degree Scottish and York Right Mason belonging to Princeton Masonic Lodge #134

Class Notes AF & AM and the Bluefield Shrine Patrol, Beni Kedem Temple. He was also a champion bowler winning multiple tournaments and was captain of the 1964 Southern West Virginia Traveling League championship team. Upon retiring from the automotive business, Jim became a highly successful real estate agent for Century 21, winning awards for exemplary sales and service. Upon retiring, he spent his remaining years enjoying the company of his true love, Gloria, his loving wife, and adoring his grand and greatgrandchildren. He was preceded in passing by his daughter Elizabeth Neely, granddaughter Lindsay Haun and his sister, Carleen Yost. He is survived by his loving and devoted wife, Gloria Haun; his children, James C. Haun, Jr and wife Debbie, of Abingdon VA, Teresa Battestin and husband Gary, of

Endicott NY, Carl Haun of Haines City FL, Tracy Burks and wife Mary, of Princeton WV, and Rene Wingate and husband Gary of Charleston, SC; his loving grand and greatgrandchildren, Charles Neely, Jeremy Neely and wife Valerie, Samuel Battestin, Tyler Battestin, Matthew Wingate and wife Kelly, Nathan Burks, Sidney Wingate, Lauren Burks, Ryan Burks, and great-grandchildren Trayven, Justice and Landon.

VIRGINIA LEE SMITH ’52: March 29, 2019. Born June 4, 1931 in Princeton, WV she was a daughter of the late Thurman Jefferson Bowling and Virginia Grace Thompson Bowling. Virginia was a graduate of Princeton High School and Concord College and taught high school business classes in Mercer County Schools for 35 years. She was a

passionate bridge and Chinese checkers player and her love for family and friends was boundless. She was a resident of Hardy, VA. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband Malcolm Leo Smith. She is survived by her four children: Cathye and David Mahood, Todd and Karen Smith, Layne and Guy Ferguson and Lee Ann and Des Connolly; 7 grandchildren: Chad, Jill, Brendan, Lauren, Devin, Justin and Steven; 5 great-grandchildren: Noah, Stephanie, Sophia, Brett and Cassius. IRVIN DANIEL CRANE ’55: November 24, 2018. He is survived by his wife of sixty years, Maxine Weaver Crane; his daughters Cheryl Danielle Hunter (Barry) and Catherine Michelle Reel (Bill); his three grandsons, Steven Seth Chain, William Daniel

Mrs. Lucy Sneed DeNuzzo ’44 Mrs. Lucy Sneed DeNuzzo passed away on April 3, 2019. She resided over half a century in East Greenbush, NY and was preceded in eternal life by her loving husband, Dr. Rinaldo V. DeNuzzo. She is survived by one daughter, Lisa Ann, of Lowesville, VA and several cousins, nieces, nephews, and in-laws. Born in Hot Coal (Raleigh County), WV she was raised in the town of Matoaka and went on to become a public high school teacher in both her home state and the state of New York. She received a bachelor’s degree in education from Concord in 1944. Mrs. DeNuzzo earned a master’s degree and taught English, typing, shorthand, and business arithmetic. She was a tremendous lover of music who was often heard singing and was

a staunch supporter of her daughter’s professional music career. She loved visiting the beach during family vacations and enjoyed the sun and ocean, as well as collecting seashells and building sand castles with her daughter, Lisa. Mrs. DeNuzzo was passionate about being an educator and encouraged everyone she met to go to school and make the most of themselves. She was a vibrant and very generous person who often helped those in need, especially in the realm of academia. While briefly enjoying time spent at the family’s estate and Morgan horse farm in Lowesville, VA, she will be especially missed by her black therapy cat “Casanova” that traveled the country with her and now resides there permanently. The DeNuzzo family has generously supported Concord through the years with gifts to the Foundation and the Alumni Association. The Lucy Sneed DeNuzzo Scholarship provides financial assistance to students in pursuit of an education at Concord. The DeNuzzo Award for Academic Excellence salutes stellar achievement among students.



Class Notes Reel (Lauren), Aaron Thomas Reel (Katharine); and five great grandchildren. Danny graduated from Culpeper County High School in 1951 where he excelled in football, basketball, and track. He received a football scholarship to Concord College, where he received many lasting records in football and track. He was honored to be on the All-Conference football team in 1953 and 1954, and was an All- American football player in 1953 and 1954. He graduated in 1955 and received a football contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Because he was drafted into the army, he could not accept the contract. After graduating from Concord College, his #28 jersey was retired. Danny was named to the All-time football team and the All-time track team in the state of West Virginia. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame at Concord College. While in the army, he played football at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and in Frankford, Germany, where he made the All-Army Team. He later received his master’s degree from the University of Virginia. In 1957 Danny entered the teaching and coaching profession. He coached and taught in the same manner in which he was coached and taught. He always said, “The Lord was very good to me.” After 35 years of teaching and coaching, Danny retired and he and his wife moved to Stoneville, NC.

1960s ____________


LYNDALL MAXINE WILEY ’60: December 26, 2017. Born in Summers County on April 7, 1937, she was the daughter of the late David Andrew Honaker, Sr. and Iris Elaine Taylor Honaker. In addition to her parents she was preceded in death by her husband J. Eugene Wiley and her brother, David A. Honaker, Jr. Lyndall retired from the Mercer County Board of Education

where her last official title was Supervisor/Curriculum Specialist. She was honored as Mercer County Teacher of the Year 1977-1978, the Horace Mann Distinguished American Educator in 1984, and as a member of the Auxiliary Gideon’s International. A resident of Princeton, Lyndall was an active member of the Immanuel Baptist Church in Princeton where she previously served as Co-Director of the Children’s Church, Church Music Director, Good News Mission/Jail Ministry Volunteer, Assistant Church Pianist and Secretary of the Baptist Women. She was also a Committee Member for the Implementation for the Study of the Bible in Mercer County Schools. Lyndall was an excellent cook, enjoyed gardening, staying in top physical condition and was a doting aunt. Survivors include her loving and caring nieces, Carmela Shires of Alderson, Angela McCallister of Alderson and Valerie L. Honaker of Cary, NC.; great niece and nephew that she deeply adored, Haylee Shires and Tanner McCallister; and special friend, Garnet White of Princeton.

EVELYN MAXINE WILEY ’61: October 12, 2018. Born in Bluefield on May 30, 1929 she was the daughter of the late Sarah Catherine and Joseph Henry Carter. Evelyn worked as a teacher for 26 years in the Mercer County school system before retiring and moving to Tennessee in 1998. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Concord University and a master’s degree from Marshall University. Formerly of Princeton, she was a resident of Seymour, TN. In addition to her parents she was preceded in death by her husband, Glen Edward Wiley; one son, Timmy Wiley; one grandson, James Proffitt; and 13 brothers and sisters. She is survived by her daughter, Lori Sorley and husband Gary of Maynardville, TN; and three grandchildren; Kim Proffitt, Matthew Proffitt, and Sara Proffitt.


THOMAS VINCENT KINKUS ’63: October 24, 2018. He was born on May 8, 1940 in Carnegie, PA to the late, Vincent Kinkus and Caroline Troha. Tom worked for many years as an educator at Fries High School in Virginia, Smyrna High School and Caesar Rodney High School. Tom coached football for Fries, Smyrna and Caesar Rodney, as well as at Delaware State University and Wesley College. He also coached track and field at Smyrna and Caesar Rodney and a variety of other sports. Tom's favorite and most rewarding role as an educator was dedicating his summers to the students with special needs at the John S. Charlton School throughout his career. To say Tom had a passion for sports would be an understatement. Tom, a walk-on scholarship athlete, played four years of football as an offensive lineman at Concord University and was Captain his senior year. He was an avid Pittsburgh sports fan. He umpired baseball and softball at the high school and college levels for many years. A resident of Dover, DE, Tom was a faithful parishioner at Holy Cross Church, devoting time almost weekly to calling the regular Church Bingo games and attending Adoration. He was also an active member of the Irish Society of Delmarva for many, many years helping to organize fundraisers and events. Tom is survived by his loving and caring wife of fifty-four years, Sandra Shaw; his son, Todd (Jennifer); daughter, Pamela; grandchildren, Sophie and Tanner; brothers, Ray and Bill; and many special family and friends who all loved him. MARLIESE MOONEY ’64: October 29, 2018. She was born June 25, 1929, in Germany. She was preceded in death by her parents, Paul

Class Notes and Katharina Vondracek and her daughter, Evelyn Parker. She is survived by her son, Dr. Charles Mooney and wife Sara of Sherman, TX, daughters Vivian Sidote and husband John of Welch, WV, and daughter Barbara Coburn and husband Chuck of Peterstown, WV. She is also survived by her grandchildren Neil (Julie) Parker, Tracey (Brad) Sherrod, Jon (Peggy) Coburn, Heather (Charles) Toney, Brandon (Brigid) Mooney, Andrew and Meredith Mooney, and 10 great grandchildren, her brothers Dr. Fred (Kathy) Vondracek of State College, PA, Hans (Barbel) Vondracek and Earnst Vondracek of Germany, and a sister, Magdalene (Heinz) Siebert of Germany. Marliese was an international hospital operations consultant. Her career spanned nearly five decades of service as a nurse, teacher, a hospital Executive Director and Regional Manager for Humana, Vice President at American Medical International , and senior operations officer for EPIC Healthcare Group. While living in Fort Myers, she had been a volunteer on the Lee Memorial Health Systems Board of Directors until just before her illness and death. CLYDE D. PETERS ’64: January 4, 2019. Born December 3, 1942 at Richlands, VA, he was the son of the late J.A. “Doc” Peters and Eva P. Peters of Princeton, WV. Mr. Peters was a 1960 graduate of Gramby High School in Norfolk, VA, received his B.S. from Concord College and a M.A. in counseling from West Virginia University where he was a member of the Phi Delta Kappa Honorary Fraternity. He was a resident of Beaver, WV. He was preceded in death by his wife, Patricia E. Trail Peters and brothers, Hedley and David Peters. Survivors include a son, James R. Peters, his wife Tammy and their daughters Dejah Nicole and Kasea Lynn of Navarre, FL and a daughter, Teresa Renee

Peters Parks, her husband Sean and their daughters, Courtney Renee and Alaina Marie Parks of Mt. Airy, MD; two sisters, Anna Marie Peters Smith of Beckley and Virginia F. Peters of Princeton.

NANCY HARMON GUENTHNER ’67: January 20, 2019. She was born October 12, 1944 in Charleston, WV, attended St. Albans High School, and graduated from Concord University where she met and later married Alfred Guenthner in 1966. The couple then moved to Athens, Georgia for Alfred to attend graduate school at the University of Georgia. To support the couple, Nancy became a school teacher and was the first teacher to integrate Monroe Elementary School, a historically all black school. Nancy then had two children, Jennings “Jay” and David. After spending years in Athens, Nancy and Alfred moved to Winston-Salem in 1972. In addition to raising her two boys, Nancy taught kindergarten and first grade at Rural Hall Elementary School for many years. Nancy was very active at First Baptist Church and became an integral part of the church family. She enjoyed her Circle Group and was a force in bringing the group together, she spent time watching the young children during the Sunday service, designing bulletin boards around the church, attending the weekly Wednesday night services, and especially enjoyed the church music every Sunday. Nancy was a member of Forsyth Toastmasters and believed strongly in their mission to improve public speaking and leadership in the community. She had many roles in the local organization, but mostly enjoyed the success of new members improving their speaking skills. Nancy was an avid gardener and it would be hard to

imagine a person more knowledgeable of plants and how best to grow them. Her indoor violets and outdoor ferns were prized possessions. Nancy was also an enthusiastic college basketball fan dating back to Jerry West's West Virginia playing days to her devotion to the Tar Heels over the last three decades. Nancy leaves behind her husband, Alfred; her two sons, Jay, of Washington, D.C. and David, of Charlotte; her daughter-in-law Veronica; and her two grandchildren, Aidan and Sean. Nothing made Nancy happier than spending time with Aidan and Sean, whether at the soccer field, the tennis court, or in the backyard doing chores. Nancy also leaves behind her beloved sister, Janne Baker; her brother-in-law, James Baker; her niece, Sarah Baker; two stepsisters, Becky Caufman and Libby Ball; and a stepbrother, Richard L. Ball.

1970s ____________

MARY LEVEL NEELY ’70: February 1, 2019. Born in Ronceverte, WV on April 9, 1948, she was the daughter of William Hunter Level and Rosemary Jarrett Level. She spent her youth in Organ Cave, WV and was a graduate of Ronceverte High School. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in Education from Concord University and a master’s degree in Education from Marshall University. She was preceded in death by her father, mother and sister, Katherine (Katie) Rose Helms. She married her college sweetheart, Duane Eugene Neely on August 1, 1970 at the Level family home in Organ Cave. Sibling survivors include sisters Pinky Johnson, JoAnna DeLaquil, and Margaret (Margy) Green and brothers William Patrick Level and David Hunter Level, plus 16 nieces and nephews and 19 great nieces and nephews. Mary was a reading



Class Notes specialist and devoted her career to teaching, beginning in Virginia with most years serving in the West Virginia elementary school system as a teacher and after school tutor in multiple counties across the state

until retirement. She also served as president of the Fayette County Schools Reading Council, and as a member of the West Virginia Reading Association as well as the International Reading Association.

She volunteered her personal time and resources to tutor children in need of assistance. She was a resident of Beckley, WV.

Dr. George Frazee Gillespie | Friend of Concord


DR. GEORGE FRAZEE GILLESPIE, 85, passed away on the morning of November 21, 2018. He was born on Feb. 28, 1933 to William Marston and Rosalie Frazee Gillespie in Webster Springs, WV. He was educated in Webster County schools and was a graduate of Webster Springs High School, WVU, and Southern College of Optometry class of 1960. He was a practicing optometrist for 51 years retiring in 2012. He began his first practice in Bedford County VA from 1961 until 1992. He then went into practice in Bluefield, VA in 1992 where he later retired in 2012. He was much loved by his many patients. George was a veteran having served with the 47th Infantry Division in the U.S. Army stationed at Fort Benning and Fort Rucker in the early 1950s. He was proud to be a veteran and was a staunch supporter of the military. While living in Bedford, VA, he was a member of the Main Street United Methodist Church, member of the Bedford County Elections Board of Directors, the Loyal Order of the Moose, past president of the Bedford Co. Chamber of Commerce, past state president of the Virginia Optometric Association 1979, served with Doctors without Borders in Honduras, a member of the Lions Club, a charter member of the Cranberry River Organization of Trout and Crawfish Hunters, member of the library board for the city of Bedford, active in Trout Unlimited and Ducks Unlimited. He saw the need and started the first food bank in Bedford, VA. He was one of the first property owners when Smith Mountain Lake was being developed. Since his wife was very active in Concord University Alumni events, SPRING 2019 CONCORD UNIVERSIT Y MAGAZINE

George was also in attendance at many alumni functions. Many will remember him enjoying the CU Homecoming event on the terrace of University Point in October. George was an avid fisherman and had fished for the last 40 years on the Jackson River in Virginia with Dr. Dave Gladwell of Bedford, VA, Jimmy Brewer of Charlottesville, VA, the Rev. Dr. Glenn Busch of Lynchburg, VA, and John Savides of Afton, VA. He enjoyed fishing and hunting trips in the Colorado region and fishing trips in Alaska on the Kenai River and the Aleutians for salmon with his friends Booney Sommerville, Joe Talbott, and Wally Shaver. He was an active member of the Princeton Health and Fitness Center. George enjoyed exercising and had a goal of walking 5 miles a day on the treadmill, as often as he could get to the gym, and entertaining his many friends with his life stories. He was an enthusiastic WVU fan, an avid reader with key interests in history, the Civil War and economics. He loved poetry and would quote passages he had memorized years before. He was predeceased by his parents, his brother-in-law, Rev. Jennings Hamrick, sisterin-law, Betty Gillespie, and his in-laws James and Laraine Gore and his lifelong friends, Judge Booney Sommerville, and Del. Joseph Talbott, Brig. Gen. George Douglas, and Wally Shaver. He is survived by his loving and devoted wife, Deborah Gore Gillespie, his children, Jan Elizabeth Gillespie of Durham, NC, John Marston Gillespie and wife Kimberly of Kearneysville, WV, and Dr. Joel Russel Gillespie of Pittsburgh, PA, granddaughter Bailey Gillespie of Morgantown, WV, brother William H. Gillespie of Charleston, WV, and sister and brother-in-law Patty and Larry Gillespie, sister-in-law and husband Janet Gore and Richard Correia of Fairfax, VA, numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends, especially Ron and Ramona Neely, with whom there were countless visits and shared their six grandbabies, to which he was their “G.G.�.

Class Notes CONNIE GADD TOLER ’70: January 5, 2019. Born August 29, 1950, in Princeton, Connie was the daughter of Ennis Elaine and Robert Lee Gadd. Knowing she was born to be an educator, she graduated from high school at the age of 16 and was hired by the Summers County school system by 19. Connie spent most of her 36-year career as a teacher in the Mercer County Board of Education, working at Matoaka, Spanishburg and Melrose schools, where she was known for her compassion toward all students and strict adherence to the same rules for everyone. As students remembered her, they recalled Connie’s support of their individuality, creativity, ready hugs when they were most needed – and her demand that they maintain her high standards for good behavior. Connie spent decades as part of Alpha Delta Kappa, a teacher’s sorority committed to building educational excellence, altruism and world understanding through fellowship. It was through this association that she became a supporter of Camp Kno Koma, a safe summer camping experience for children in and around West Virginia with diabetes. It focuses on adventure, education and friendship. She was a resident of Athens. Connie was preceded in death by her parents, Ennis and Robert Gadd. She is survived by her loving husband of 48 years, Douglas Toler, of Athens; their daughter, Tammie Toler and her love, Steve Maynard, of Elgood; sisters Laine Pickrel and her husband, Steve, of Nashville, Tenn., and Debbie Mitchem and her husband, Danny, of Elgood; sisters-in-law Linda Hatfield and her husband, Glenn, and Frieda Harman and her husband, Bob; nieces April Clay and her husband, Eric; Carla Stewart and her husband, Jason, and Cristi Jones and her husband, Paul; several great-nieces and great-nephews, and thousands of

students whose lives she touched throughout her career.

JOHN J. BAFARO ’71: April 5, 2018. He was born and raised in Worcester, the son of the late John & Carmela (Reno) Bafaro. John graduated from Classical High School, Worcester Junior College and earned his bachelor’s degree from Concord College. John’s life was devoted to those less fortunate than he. He always gave of himself unconditionally to family, friends, and strangers. John could often be found on his daily walk on Main Street where he had a smile and wave to everyone he passed. John joined the Marine Corp and served his country in the reserves for seven years. While in West Virginia, John worked in Appalachia for the Food Stamp Program, which was just getting started. John, during his college years, found his way onto Cape Cod and stayed. John taught the third grade for over 30 years in the Centerville Elementary School, where he made lasting friendships with many of his students. As a teacher, John put on many plays with the students and each year had his students visit the Barnstable Adult Social Day Center in Centerville. He was active in the Barnstable Teachers Association and served as President of the Associations for two years. In the early 70s, he was a Selectman for the Town of Barnstable and served on the committee for redistricting. John was the former co-chair of the Booster Club of the Cotuit Kettleer’s. Pre 1974, he was instrumental, along with Larry Newman and John Reilly, starting the Cape Cod Big Brothers, helping at risk youth. John also worked at the Hyannis Package Store from his early days on the Cape until his passing. He found much enjoyment in chatting with most of the customers at the store. John is survived by his loving wife Maureen (Wells) Bafaro, of 46 years; two loving daughters, Britney Bafaro and her partner, William

Boudreau Jr. of Saco, ME, and Elaina Cuevas and her husband Charlie of McLean VA; two sisters, Carol Ellis of Leicester, MA and Elaine Bafaro and her husband Dennis Osborn of Worcester MA. There were three special people who were a large part of John’s life: Jacqueline Sears Campbell, Ekaterina Chernysheva, Corey Fitzgerald, and his many nieces, nephews and God Children. John’s words to live by: “It seems as though the most meaningful learning opportunities are those that allow children to explore their own world, their own community and real life experiences.”

REMONA FRANCES ALVIS ’73: March 11, 2019. Born October 11, 1935 in Princeton, she was the daughter of the late William Wesley and Violet Whittaker Dunn. She was a loving wife, daughter, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister and friend who loved the Lord. Mrs. Alvis was a graduate of Athens High School, Concord College and Marshall University. Remona retired as a school teacher from Mercer County having taught for 29 years. A resident of Princeton, she was a member of the Maranatha Baptist Church in Princeton and really enjoyed traveling and spending time with her family. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband of 56 years, Clarence David Alvis and one sister, Norma Jean Jones. Left to cherish her memory are four children, Donna Rae Sizemore and husband Kenny, Debra Alvis-Hall, Sandra Furches and husband Tim, Russell Alvis and wife Lori all of Princeton; three siblings, Clarence Dunn and wife Donnie of Flint MI, Clarence Surface, Jr. and wife Karen and Mack Surface and wife Tracy all of Princeton; six grandchildren whom she loved dearly, Lisa Ford Blankenship and husband Ryan, Jamie Furches and wife Jennifer, Michael Paul Ford and wife Krystal, Ryan Furches, Courtney Hall, all of Princeton, Zachary



Class Notes Alvis and wife Savannah of Bluefield, WV; seven great-grandchildren who brought her great joy, Madeline, Nathan and Collin Blankenship, Tara Shae Furches, Grant Wilson Furches, and Brooklyn and Michael Blake Ford.

1980s ____________

BETTY JOYCE RICHARDS WHITE ’87: November 23, 2018. Betty was born in Princeton, WV to William Ernest Richards and Ruby Ester Onks Richards. She was preceded in death by her husband, James Mason White, and her two brothers, James Richards and William Richards, Jr. Betty enjoyed life immensely as a mother, artist, creator and entrepreneur. She was a gentle and sweet soul, a spirited fighter who staunchly defended her family and loved ones and a true innovator – always ahead of her time. She was a proud Concord University graduate and a resident of Sun City Center, FL. The loves of her life included her son, David Mason White and her daughter, Rebecca Jane White; her grandchildren, Justin T. White, J. Brubaker Wills, Laura Beth White Clark and Caitlin Wills Hyland; her daughter-in-law, Kathy White and son-in-law, Giles Hertz; her grandsons-in-law, Nathan Hyland and Tyler Clark and her 7 great grandchildren, Evan, Harrison F., Mason, Harrison C., Leo, Paislie and Winter.

1990s ____________


THELMA JANE SPADE WILSON ’94: November 28, 2018. Born July 3, 1946, on Loops Road, Rainelle, she was the daughter of the late Oather Esco and Rosie Jane Fox Spade. Thelma (Sissy) was a 1963 graduate of Meadow Bridge High School and after working as a bookkeeper in Rainelle for many years, she

graduated from Concord University in 1994 with a degree in studio art. A resident of Lewisburg, she was a member of the Rainelle United Methodist Church, where she served a number of years as the church treasurer and financial secretary. Thelma loved painting and crafting. In addition to her parents, she is preceded in death by six brothers Alza Eston (Buddy), William Weaver, Forrest Haven, Oather Eugene (Chub), Roland Letcher, and Acie Allen Spade; and one sister Alberta Mae Dunlap. Survivors include her devoted husband of 37 years, Gary K. Wilson; her beloved daughter, Leslie Hall of Lewisburg; two stepdaughters, Stephanie Jamison of Cornelious, NC and Sara Brody (Tryg) of Leesburg, VA; two grandsons, Nicholas Beard (Heather) of Raleigh, NC and Matthew Beard (Heather) of Roanoke, VA; three step-grandsons, Alex and Henry Jamison of Cornelious, NC and August Brody of Leesburg, VA; one step-grandaughter Sasha Brody of Leesburg, VA; one brother Jack Lee Spade (Patty) of Loops Road, Rainelle; and numerous nieces, nephews, extended family, and friends.

2010s ____________

ZACHARY LEVI ARMS ’14: February 27, 2019. Formerly of Abingdon, VA, he passed away in Shanghai, China, where he taught Geography at NVTCN Zhangjiagang and served as head coach and defensive tackle for the Shanghai Nighthawks. Zach was born April 10, 1989, to Timothy Lee Campbell and Deborah Lynne Arms-Campbell in Tazewell County, VA. He was a 2007 graduate of Abingdon High School and received his bachelor’s degree in 2014 from Concord University where he was


a member of the Chi Omega Psi fraternity. He formerly served as a youth minister at Friendship Baptist Church in Knoxville, TN. Zach was an accomplished world traveler having visited 17 countries during his short lifetime. He was preceded in death by his father in 2015. In addition to his mother, Zach is also survived by his brother, Daniel Arms of Richlands, VA; sister, Tonya Arms of Bristol, VA; maternal grandmother, Shirley Rife of Abingdon; four nieces; Kaitlyn, Kiana, McKayla, and J’Lyn; three nephews, Logan, Chandler, and Jeramiah; and non-biological brothers, Christopher Hess, Chase Vencill, Cory Wiles, and Bob Hollen.

Friends of Concord ____________

CLYDE ROBERT “BOB” ROSE: October 28, 2018. Born in Shelbyville, IL he was the son of the late Robert and Lora Hudson Rose. He was a graduate of Shelbyville, IL High School, obtained bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL and was awarded his Doctorate of Musical Arts degree from Indiana University, Bloomington, IN. Bob was a US Marine Corp veteran of the Vietnam War and played clarinet in “The President's Own” United States Marine Band in Washington, DC for four years. During his university teaching years, he taught in the music departments of: Concord University; Otterbein University, Westerville, OH; Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, IN; and Lebanon Valley College, Annville, PA. As a second career, he was a truck driver for AWI, Robesonia. He was a resident of Lebanon, PA. Surviving are two sons Bryan Robert Rose of Lebanon, PA, Phillip Henry Rose of Harrisburg, PA, and his former wife Karyn Tuxhorn Rose, Annville, PA.

Class Notes Patricia Snidow Knowles

| Friend of Concord

PATRICIA SNIDOW KNOWLES, Patricia Snidow Knowles, lovingly known as Pat, Mama Knowles or Granny Pat, passed away on February 17, 2019. Mama Knowles touched countless lives as a Special Education teacher at Gable’s Academy in Miami, FL and later as the Director of Student Special Services at Concord College. She continued her own studies to receive her master’s degree and ultimately taught aspiring teachers at The College of Graduate Studies (COGs) in West Virginia.

She spent the last 17 years of her retirement in DeLand, FL enjoying the sunshine and going to the beach. Her contributions as teacher, in addition to her mothering heart to many over the years, will be cherished. She was everyone’s Mama! Pat is survived by her three sons: Edwin “Bucky” Knowles, Barry Knowles, and Timothy Knowles, along with their wives and children, and grandchildren and three greatgrandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents, BC and Ida Snidow, as well as her siblings, Mary Adams, Bud Snidow, Kay Sowers, Pill Caldwell, Betty Ogden, and Dick Snidow. Her legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of everyone she interacted with as well as her loving family.

Robert “Bob” Wynn Monohan | Friend of Concord ROBERT (BOB) WYNN MONOHAN, 76, of Princeton, WV, died Saturday, December 22, 2018. Born on October 7, 1942, in Charleston, WV, he was the son of the late James Rupert and Lois Evelyn Monohan. Bob was a graduate of Athens High School and attended Concord College. In February of 1961, he joined the United States Air Force. During his time in the Air Force, Bob received many commendations and awards. He was most proud of his place with the U.S.A.F Thunderbirds, traveling the world with the team participating in air shows. After retiring from the air force in 1987 as a Master Sergeant, Bob was employed by Princeton Health Care Center, Pulaski

Furniture Company and held the position of Mercy County Director of Homeland Security. During his free time, Bob enjoyed attending air shows, reading, hunting, fishing, telling stories and cooking for his family. Bob is survived by his loving wife and high school sweetheart Kay White Monohan; two sons James and John; one step-son Kelly Pendry (Gina); two step-daughters Beth Hibbitts (Rob); Lisa Swearengin (Marc). His memory will continue to live on in his grandchildren; Robert Monohan; Mackenzie, Eli, Delaney and Teague Pendry; Taylor, Ally and Caleb Hibbitts; Sophie and Piper Swearengin. He leaves behind one brother James Monohan (Gwen) of Charlottesville, VA; two sisters Rebecca McCormick (Carl) of St. Albans; Mary Kidd (John) of Bluefield, VA; along with beloved nieces and nephews. Bob enjoyed hunting and fishing with his buddies Ted Goines and Kenny Monohan.





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Profile for Concord University

Concord University Spring 2019 Alumni Magazine  

Concord University Spring 2019 Alumni Magazine