Charles Little ’87 and Terry Tackett ’87 bantered about the Marietta College they knew in the 1980s as they sorted through the racks of sweatshirts and T-shirts in the Bookstore trying to find new Marietta gear.
Leaving Gilman Hall, the two men headed to Don Drumm Stadium to watch the Pioneers take on John Carroll in football.
“We used to have to dodge cars here. Remember that, Terry? The cars would roll through here and honk at us,” says Little, who had not been on campus since he graduated and since the Fifth Street thoroughfare transitioned into The Christy Mall. “It feels really good to be back, and I’m happy to be able to see some of my old friends.”
Homecoming 2021 promised to be a weekend filled with fun, and for the hundreds of alumni who returned, it did not disappoint.
“We were thrilled to welcome back to campus nearly 1,000 members of The Long Blue Line,” says Dr. Erika Smith, Director of Alumni Relations and Engagement. “The weekend was full of beautiful moments of reconnection and community, with some Pioneers returning to campus for the first time in more than 25 years.”
Though it had been 25 years since Little was on campus, he kept up with a few of his classmates over the years, including Tackett, a former Pioneers basketball player who had plenty of praise for his friend.
“Charles played football here. His freshman year, his team had the longest losing streak in the country,” Tackett says. “They were featured in Sports Illustrated for not having won a game in so long. But by the time he was a senior, Charles was the captain, and they had a winning season. He went from the bottom and helped take them to the top.”
It could have been yesterday that Tom Taggart ’71 and Steven Brandt ’71 were broadcasting from the basement in Andrews Hall. Sitting on the Valley Gem sternwheel during a river cruise, the two friends recalled their first venture with live TV in great detail, though it was the first time the two had seen each other in decades.
“We had three cameras — news, weather and sports — and it was all live,” Brandt says. “Tommy’s working the camera, and they’re set up on these camera stands we just got. I’m on the desk with Bernie Russi, who was my co-anchor sometimes. I look over, and Tommy’s trying to move the camera, and he’s just skiing on this 400-pound camera stand.”
The two men reminisced about other funny stories from the set of the College’s first cable TV channel, WCMO-TV, and Professor Russi.
“He told us, ‘Don’t bite off more than you can chew,’ but we always had our mouths full,” Brandt says.
Liz Munch Mard ’71, who co-chaired the Reunion Committee for the Class of 1971, praised her fellow committee members, as well as the 1970 Reunion Committee, for helping guide her group through the planning process. Both classes celebrated their Golden Reunion this year because the Class of 1970’s special reunion had to be postponed last year due to the pandemic.
“Our committee worked very hard to reach out to graduates and those who attended but didn’t graduate to come back for our Golden Reunion,” she says. “Each committee member reached out to 25 to 35 people — and some of them communicated personally — and encouraged them to come back to MC, meet their classmates, have some fun and, if they can, participate in giving back to the College.”
Kathleen Reddy-Smith ’71 was one of the committee members and enjoyed catching up with classmates.
“It’s wonderful to see the paths we’ve all taken from Marietta. As the years go on, I see this place as more and more precious,” says Reddy-Smith, a retired diplomat for the U.S. Foreign Service. “I was so grateful that Marietta gave me the tools to serve my country. My liberal arts degree made me more analytic.”
There’s nothing like coming home.
Todd Diedrick ’81 and some of his fellow 1981 graduates took a campus tour during the weekend. Stopping for a moment to listen as the student tour guide talked about the McCoy and Harrison residence halls, Diedrick talked about how much he learned from his Accounting Professor, Dr. Wen-Yu “Frank” Cheng, and how he looked forward to returning to Marietta during his class’s five-year reunions.
“These are my lifelong friends, starting from freshman year in Douglas Putnam and my three years in Parsons to this day,” Diedrick says just before catching up with Chris Dunphy ’81 and Lorna Kingsbury Tofuri ’81.
During the All-Alumni Welcome, held on The Christy Mall, Melissa Adams ’92; her brother, Brian Adams ’94; and his wife, Allison Gallenstein Adams ’96, had a mini-family reunion between Andrews Hall and Irvine Hall.
“I was the first one here,” says Melissa, who majored in Education. “He followed me to college.”
“And I met her here,” says Brian, pointing to Allison. “We were both RAs, and we met at freshman orientation. I was also an Education major, and my wife was the really smart Sports Med major.”
In the midst of the All-Alumni Welcome, President Bill Ruud announced that the College was in the public phase of a historic $100 million comprehensive capital campaign that will fund scholarships, endow professorships, improve the student experience and add a student center in the heart of campus.
Marietta’s Homecoming featured dozens of events for alumni to attend, including the MCAA Awards Ceremony, the Golden Reunion Dinner, Greek reunions, campus tours, academic department open houses, alumni rowing and baseball competitions, a lively concert in The Gathering Place, and, of course, the Homecoming football game and tailgate, as well as the men’s soccer tailgate and game.
“The record-breaking attendance, dozens of events and the launch of our This is the Time campaign created an atmosphere of excitement and celebration, and we hope to continue building on this momentum through regional events over the coming months,” says Dr. Erika Smith, Director of Alumni Relations and Engagement.
Class of 1970
Pat Loreno Willis (Chair)
Jacquie Ingram Kelley
Becky Colin Leibman
Lynne Cascardo Slaven
Cindy buck Wilson
Class of 1971
Liz Munch haney (Co-Chair)
Patti Kral Zecchi (Co-Chair)
Sherry Gould Keefer
Cathy Burkey Maimon
Creel Cutler McCormack
Cyndi Cook Taylor
Ellen Golden Young
Dan Caplin ’70 and his wife, Bonnie, spent Friday evening catching up with two of his former roommates, Chris Poskin ’70 and Lonnie Stock ’70, both Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity brothers, at Austyn’s Restaurant — which used to be Judd’s Bowling Alley when they were students. They attended the “Meet Me at The Pit” event Saturday morning.
“We rented a house on Front Street — and it was old back then,” Caplin recalls. “We had two space heaters, so it was really cold in the winter. I can remember sitting around our living room, and we had blankets around us. We were talking, and I remember saying, ‘Guys, do you realize we can see our breath? We shouldn’t be able to see our breath right now.’ So many good memories come out of this place.”
Nearby, Mel Neidig Hayes Todd ’70 stood in front of a long table that was filled with photos, Navy Blue & White newsletters, yearbooks and other Marietta memorabilia from her years as an undergraduate. As she flipped through a photo album, friends Nancy Fernald Freed ’70, who transferred to another college but was invited back for her Golden Reunion, and Cheryl Jakubetz Toronyi ’70 joined her at the table.
“Look, there’s Creel [McCormack ’71],” Todd says. “This is so fun. I’m so glad they did this for us.”
Upper Gilman — what used to be known as The Pit — had memorabilia and large cutouts of professors and administrators from the late 1960s and early 1970s. A slideshow of photos from that era also played on screens in The Pit.
“We were supposed to have our 50th last year, but we were able to persevere, and many of us came back,” Toronyi says. “It was worth it.”
Before the tailgate, alumni and friends gathered on The Christy Mall for the MCAA Awards Ceremony, which honored inductees from 2020 and 2021.
Whitley Trusler ’17 and her fiancée, Maggie Watt ’15, took a break from Watt’s medical residency in Columbus to attend Homecoming and watch their friend, Taylor Myers ’15, receive the Outstanding Young Alumnus Award during the MCAA Awards Ceremony Saturday morning.
“It’s nice to just be here this time and experience Homecoming,” Trusler says. “And it’s nice to see friends.”
The awards ceremony was hosted by MCAA Chair Susan “Jay” Hauck-Bell ’85, with President Ruud presenting winners their awards after their prerecorded acceptance speeches were broadcast on a large screen. After being recognized as the 2020 Hall of Honor inductee, T. Grant Callery ’68 took the podium to add a few more thank-yous and to present a piece of his personal memorabilia to the College.
“I wanted to be a dentist, so I majored in Biology,” Callery says. “The make-or-break class was Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy with Dr. [Paul] Seyler.”
Part of that class required a 100-hour project, which translated into Callery producing a hand-drawn diagrammatic composite schema of the circulatory system of a Squalus acanthias, better known as a dogfish shark.
“It took me a whole semester to do it,” Callery says, shortly before presenting the framed project to President Ruud. Rather than following his initial plans to become a dentist, Callery earned a law degree and worked in the financial services industry. He also served on the College’s Board of Trustees from 2003 to 2018 and co-chaired the search committee that resulted in the hiring of President Ruud.
2021 Homecoming Court
Katelyn Delaney (Batavia, Ohio)
Ashley Godenschwager (Nelsonville, Ohio)
Kaitlyn Liston (Little Hocking, Ohio)
Shelby Millheim (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania)
Natalie Payton (St. Marys, West Virginia)
Katen Petty (New Matamoras, Ohio)
Emma Purington (Columbus, Ohio)
Lauryn Ward (Mineral Wells, West Virginia)
Felipe Cruz (Marietta, Ohio)
Andrew Novak (Sewickley, Pennsylvania)
Dale Randulic (Quaker City, Ohio)
Tyler Walker (Cambridge, Ohio)
Braeden Wallace (Elkton, Virginia)
The Homecoming Tailgate and football game is where current students, parents, alumni, and current and retired employees had the opportunity to come together and show their Marietta pride.
Honorary Captains Don ’81 and Leslie Straub Ritter ’84 took part in the coin toss preceding the game against John Carroll. Katie Butcher ’25 enjoyed her first football game and Homecoming as a Pioneer sitting in the stands with friends Katie Justice ’24 and Mackenzie Grigsby ’24, while Chasten Coleman ’23, who was standing along the fencing, was happy to be able to attend more Homecoming events this year.
“This is the first actual Homecoming that I’m not working,” Coleman says. “Last year was virtual, and in my freshman year, I was in the New Plays in One Day Festival for Theatre. I was an Alumni Ambassador, so it’s been nice to be able to meet the alumni in person that I was connecting with over the year.”
Also in the stands was the family of freshman wide receiver Logan Ranft ’25. His father, Brad, says the extended family tailgates before every home game.
“My aunt brings her camper, and we start the tailgate at 10:00 a.m.,” Brad says. “The experience that Logan has had here so far has been outstanding. The Foster Parent Program has been very good, and with the family coming for games, I think he’s had a lot of support.”
At halftime, Kelsey Hall ’21 and Robert Nelson ’21 prepared to bestow their reigning Homecoming Queen and King titles to the 2021 winners, Natalie Payton ’22 and Tyler Walker ’22.
“I’m happy that I get to be here this year to see Kelsey walk out,” says her mother, Kathleen Hall. “Last year, because of COVID, only her dad [Marietta College Police Officer Chris Hall] got to escort her, and I had to watch from outside the gate. I’m so happy I got to be with her here in person.”
Spread across campus and the city of Marietta were alumni events celebrating current and past Greek fraternities and sororities.
As has become tradition, Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity met at the Harmar Tavern for the Art Fordham Pig Roast on Thursday, while the Delta Tau Delta brothers met at the Lafayette Hotel bar.
Chi Omega started Friday morning off with a breakfast that also invited current sisters. The Alpha Tau Omega, Delta Tau Delta, Alpha Sigma Phi and Delta Upsilon fraternities met for evening events on Friday, and the Lambda Chis held a chartering banquet celebrating the return of the chapter’s charter.
Saturday featured open houses and mixers for Sigma Kappa and Alpha Xi Delta alumnae, and that evening, the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity and the Alpha Xis had their own special reunions off campus.
On campus, sisters from the Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority gathered in front of their former house, which is now the Office of Admission, for a Meeting on the Porch reunion.
“This is the fourth year we’ve done this at Homecoming,” says Jay Hauck-Bell ’85. “We had an interesting niche on campus. … Our members were passionate about our mission, which was service to children, and we were passionate about giving back.”
The Tri-Sigs also raised money during their mini-reunion to support the maintenance of the porch.
“Our members were strong, independent-minded women, and we loved that about our chapter,” says Mary Studders Korn ’82. “We’ve maintained friendships for our entire lives, and we’ve maintained our sisterhood even though our sorority is no longer here.”
Class of 1970 raised $258,749.41 — 34.38% participation
Class of 1971 raised $136,796.71 — 28.68% participation
Homecoming is a time to rehash memories with the people who helped make them. For the alumni from the classes of 1970 and 1971, there is more than 50 years’ worth of stories to share and memories to relive.
Standing around a small bistro table during the Golden Reunion Dinner celebrating with the 1970 and 1971 alumni, Marsha Gildersleeve Brown ’70 caught up with friends Kathy Ross Hoffman ’71, Sonny Kelly Davis ’70 and Lynn Cascardo Slavin ’70 — all of whom were members of the Alpha Xi Delta sorority.
“This is the first time I’ve been back since graduating,” Brown says. “I think it’s lovely what the College has done. The campus is beautiful, and I love that the newer buildings still have that same charm. Coming back to campus, you can sense that there is a real sense of community here whether you’re a visitor or an alum.”
Pat Loreno Willis ’70, Chair of the 1970 Reunion Committee, and Liz Munch Mard ’71, Chair of the 1971 Reunion Committee, worked with the College’s Alumni Engagement Office to coordinate the evening’s events.
“Next fall, Marietta College will be celebrating 100 years since the anniversary of the first Homecoming in 1922 — and the tentative dates are October 13-16,” says Director of Alumni Relations Erika Smith. “Given the special anniversary, we believe it will be another unforgettable celebration.”
During the cocktail hour, alumni chatted in the Dyson Baudo Recreation Center before sitting down to an elegant dinner. At the entrance of the venue, a panel of yearbook photos with names of classmates who have passed away was displayed.
“This was a very thoughtful way to do this,” says John McCullough ’69, as he noted his wife, Mary Jo Gabardine McCullough ’71, and friend, Kathleen Ruddy Henrichs ’71, were among the alumni who have passed on.
Back at their table, the Alpha Xi sisters Brown, Hoffman, Davis and Slaven reflected on their lifelong connection.
“We have stayed in contact all these years, and our small group travels all over the place for our own reunions,” Davis says. “It feels special after all these years. These are my best friends — still.”