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Alumni Profiles Going global Staying in touch

Spring 2005 • Volume 11, Issue 2

Staying in touch

by Gayle Erwin McDowell ’77

For thousands of Bradley alumni, sustaining college friendships is an important part of life. They exchange holiday cards, celebrate birthdays together, and stand up in each other’s weddings. A few decades later, some are even on hand for the marriage of a Bradley roommate’s son or daughter.

Two groups of alumnae from the 1940s give new meaning to the words “stay in touch,” however. The “kindergarten group” has been friends for almost 80 years. The “round robin ladies” haven’t lost touch in a span of nearly 60 years.


Eighty years of friendship

Marian Sweney Szold ’42, ClassmatesMarion Stein Sprenger ’42, Anne Strehlow Vance, and Mildred Arends ’42, pictured left to right, were kindergarten classmates at Whittier Grade School. Szold, Sprenger, and Arends went on to graduate together from Peoria High School and Bradley Polytechnic Institute. Recently the foursome enjoyed a 10-day cruise from Athens to Barcelona. Marion Sprenger credits Philip Szold ’68 with organizing the October trip for the four 84-year-olds. Marion reports, “On shipboard we were known as the kindergarten group and people marveled at our friendship of almost 80 years.”

Round robin letters

It was the early 1940s when seven Bradley coeds met as freshmen in their dormitory, Connie (Constance) Hall. They joined Delta Kappa sorority and caused their housemother “some distress,” according to June Sauder Huschen ’47. While Helen DeMotte tried to teach manners to the young ladies, they would show up for dinner dressed in blue jeans and oversized flannel shirts. Three of the friends stayed in Illinois after graduation while three headed west to California. Jeane Micklos Doyle ’47 moved to Florida. It was then that the round robin letters started—and they haven’t stopped in almost 60 years. Every few months a bulky packet of seven letters arrives. The recipient reads the latest news from her college chums, replaces her last letter with a new one, and sends the packet on to the next person.

The group has been able to get together four times since graduation. June Huschen lives in Roanoke; the other two Illinois correspondents are Margaret McKean Williams ’47 of Milledgeville, and Emily Singley Beebe ’46 of Chillicothe. The California letter writers are Betty Bailey Brandson ’45 of Pine Grove, Betty Garver Berte ’45 of Palo Alto, and Mary Kay Brown Lawson ’46 of Nevada City. Their friend Jeane Doyle passed away, but her husband John continues in her place. His new wife Roslyn Henrich Doyle ’46 also writes. Could e-mail possibly replace the letters that have crisscrossed the country for nearly 60 years? Although four of the friends now have e-mail, it’s unlikely. Why would they want to tamper with success?