The Class of 1974 set a reunion attendance record for any MHC 40th reunion, ever. Our class also won the President’s Cup for the highest number in attendance of all classes at Reunion I – 165 of us marched in the parade decked out in white with our parade costume of a red flower and red accessories from shoes to feather boas.
Perhaps it’s our age and stage in life, or the many “74 Turns 60” birthday reunions of the past five years that kindled old and new friendships, but being on campus for reunion was important to so many classmates. Some were on campus for the first time since 1974, others have attended every reunion, but all of us wanted to be together in South Hadley this past May. Our record-setting numbers meant our class had to be flexible and good-spirited about a long breakfast line, last-minute headquarters dorm change (those who bunked with the Class of 1994 in Ham so impressed the 20th reunion group that they invited our 74s to become honorary members of their class!), and an overflow crowd at our class meeting and cocktail party. It seems that we baby boomers are used to the-more-the-merrier attitude.
The spirit of sisterhood and friendship our class shares was most visibly demonstrated by our Saturday night entertainment which showed how our relationships have continued to flourish during the forty years since graduation. Bonnie Panson and Michelle Hurst, their friendship forged during hours together as theater majors, have remained close friends as they established impressive careers in the theater, movies and television. More than a year ago they promised an encore performance of their sister act from our 35th reunion, but when a car accident in December 2013 left Michelle seriously injured we worried that even skilled doctors and our prayers, might not pull her through the initial days. Even after Michelle defied the odds, and traveled home to begin rehab for her injuries, we doubted that she would recover sufficiently to travel to campus in May. But Bonnie never wavered in her determination that one way or another, the two actors would be at Reunion, and they were! On Saturday night of Reunion weekend, in a packed Gamble Auditorium, Bonnie and Michelle wowed us with their original two-woman show “Always in Process: Won’t You Celebrate With Me.”
Six of our eight class members of the V-8s – Diane Fiero Claffey, Melissa Thornton, Leslie Bowen, Susan Moch, Laurie Heller Gross, Joyce Staat Wixson – another group of friends who have shared friendship and music for the past 40 years – rounded off the performance portion of the evening’s entertainment. We invited the Class of 1944, who founded the original V-8s group and who were on campus for their 70th Reunion, to join us for the show. Back at Prospect we stood on the banks of Lower Lake for the Canoe Sing followed by our 70s-themed dance party with a music mix compiled by Kat De Koff Sturgis and husband Rad.
Special thanks for our successful 40th reunion are due to Jane Homan Antin, Reunion Chair, who brings superb organization to every detail of every planning task she ever does. Reunion planning became her second job for the six months leading up to our return to campus, and she kept everything on track and upbeat.
Gail LaBroad LaRocca, Dinner Chair, also deserves special recognition for her hours of reunion work, not only in planning menus and in working with the college staff but in adding special touches such as gourmet cookies for our Friday night dinner and snacks throughout the weekend.
Reunion doesn’t happen without the hard work of many, many classmates. In addition to Jane and Gail, special thanks are due to Buff Spencer for designing our save-the-date magnet and to Deborah Saunders and Margaret Saunders for penning our parade signs. Thanks also to our set-up, clean-up and reception desk workers and a special thank you to Doris O’Keefe who coordinated our reception area and took amazing photographs throughout the weekend.
Mary Feeney organized a reception at the Odyssey on Saturday, and Karen Jennings Lewis, Robin Brooks, Pat Showalter and Marylloyd Claytor each led Back to Class Workshops on Friday.
Our class also received a number of honors during Reunion I Weekend:
Jane Zimmy received the Medal of Honor, awarded for long-term service and leadership in promoting the effectiveness of multiple areas of the Alumnae Association and/or College
Jane Homan Antin and Debby Hall became the first in our class to receive the Loyalty Award, awarded for consistent and active involvement in one area of service over an extended period of time.
Karen Jennings Lewis was awarded an honorary doctorate in humane letters from the College at commencement on Sunday.
Kathy Collins is serving as a College Trustee, another reflected honor for our class.
Our class not only showed up, but we also gave generously to The Mount Holyoke Fund.
We won the Griffin Cup for the highest number of classmates – a whopping 213 – who are members of the Laurel Chain society, a program that recognizes loyal donors. Our class’s gift was an impressive $247,979 in support of The Mount Holyoke Fund for 2013-14, which reflected a participation rate of 72 percent and gifts from 316 classmates. Head Class Agents Debby Hall and Jane Zimmy and their team of class agents worked tirelessly to deliver such an impressive gift.
And last, but not least, we also won champagne, courtesy of the Smith College Class of 1974, served at the class dinner when we triumphed in a friendly challenge to see which class would have the highest participation rate in respective class gifts for our 40th reunions.
It has been an honor to serve as Class President for the past five years. We truly are an impressive, and impressively friendly and close-knit class. Many, many thanks to our able class officers Deb Orgera, VP, Doris O’Keefe, Secretary, Christina Carr, Treasurer, Lynn Massman Mordan, Class Scribe and Laurie Averill, Web Coordinator who have served ably over the past five years. Nominating Committee included Mary Feeney, Chair and members Melissa Thornton, Beth Connor Gibson, Kate Pappas, Paula Gerden and Flo Chichester.
Welcome to Diane Fiero Claffey our new Class President!
Class President 2009-2014