A Martin Friendship
Over 50 Years and Counting
In the early 1960s in rural Pulaski, TN, when social and societal changes were grazing the horizon across the country, Martin College was standing tall and flourishing in the south as a two-year, co-ed institution.
At that time, women wore skirts and dresses, only allowed to wear pedal pushers in the evenings, and men charmed their way into hearts, one shared soda at a time. Faulty coke machines leaked when hit too hard by an angry fist, and freshman dressing as babies for “Kiddie Night” was a norm around campus. Panty raids and stolen shower curtains were common college pranks, much to the dismay of Hall Mother Mrs. Woodard, and meals were eaten “family style,” with everyone gathered together regardless of social campus status. The Martin Indians powered through rewarding basketball seasons while intramural sports proved very popular across campus.
Early 1960s Martin College, a time where innocence and comradery played hand-in-hand, was the setting for a friendship between fifteen young women—a friendship that would go on to stand the test of time for over fifty years and counting.
Whether by chance, or by a twist of fate, Ann-Ellen (Pigue) Ackley, Gwen Yeargan Adams, Faye (Bowling) Carter, Dorothy Sue Moore Dixon, Ruby Wells Fisher, Ellen (Estes) Gibson, Sissy Gourieux, Anita Harwell, Lynn Kieffer, Jan Rouch Knight, Faye Avril Layne, Henrietta Burnley McCroskey, Vivian Crick Prince, Rebecca Yeargan Schumann, and Peggy Williams Speich all ended up at Martin College as members of the 1963 and 1964 classes.
While the reasons vary, with some opting to attend because of the college being a faith-based college, others enrolling because of the college being close to home, and many making the choice because of friends or family who have attended or were currently attending the college, all fifteen women wound up at Martin College, unknowing at the time of the bond they would establish that would only strengthen for years to come.
“It was a unique time in our life,” said Ruby, class of 1963.
While working toward their two-year education, with downtime filled with kite flying on Reservoir Hill or moving into a new living space in the Dean’s house where signing in wasn’t required, these fifteen women were spending majority of their days together—their friendship growing stronger and tighter as the clock of their time at Martin College ticked on.
“One of the best parts about Martin was always knowing somebody had your back,” said Sissy, class of 1964. “It was that kind of closeness at Martin.”
Many friends often grow apart after college graduation because new cities and states beckon with different opportunities, and the unpredictability of the future took hold of these fifteen women. They started families and moved their way up to new job positions, yet they never forgot about one another.
In 2004, they began reconnecting, starting out with only one or two women and ending up with many meetings that housed all fifteen women. And now, with a strong bond that’s lasted over 50 years, many still meet for lunch every other month to catch up on the present, share fond stories and memories about their friends who have passed, and reminisce over their youth—their conversations often drifting back to their time at Martin College.
“Discounting my personal life with my children and my family, I would say my time at Martin was the best two years of my life,” said Lynn, class of 1964.
As if to emphasize their high opinions of Martin College, when recently asked if they would choose Martin if given the chance to go back in time and do the college experience all over again, every woman present answered with a resounding “yes” or “definitely.” For this group of women, Martin College, now four-year Martin Methodist College, was more than an education opportunity, even if they didn’t know it when they first enrolled.
“Martin was like a family,” said Henrietta, class of 1963. “It was like a home.”
Martin Methodist College Awards Exemplary Student Award to Samantha Davenport & Katie Reid.
This year’s recipients of the Alumni Association Exemplary Student Award went to two truly amazing young ladies. Samantha Davenport, a MMC Volleyball player, an extraordinary leader saving lives alongside the American Red Cross one pint of blood at a time. As well as Katie Reid, a MMC Soccer player encouraging others by showing compassion and love of diversity, in turn inspiring others. Each received a memento, $100 cash, and $100 gift certificate to the MMC Bookstore.
As a MMC Alumni, you have the unique opportunity to help enrich the lives of current and future students, to be advocates of the unique experience MMC has to offer. The MMC Alumni Association uses the funds raised during our Annual Golf Tournament, as well as dues collected to make contributions throughout the year to different academic departments, athletic teams, travel budgets, scholarships, awards, and improvements around camps.
Join the Martin Methodist College Alumni Association from now till 2020 for just $20.20, normally $50, and be a part of something Exemplary.
For questions regarding the Alumni Association, please contact Jaymi Ray, Assistant Director of Alumni Relations and Annual Fund at (931)424-4062, or email firstname.lastname@example.org Please send all payments to, Martin Methodist College, Advancement, 433 W. Maddison St., Pulaski, TN 38478.
THE ALUMNI ASSOCIATION IS DOING GREAT THINGS AGAIN!
At Homecoming 2018, the Women’s Soccer team, and the Clay Target team were presented with a $500 check each to congratulate them on a successful year of competition. Both teams advanced to their respective championship rounds to finish out the seasons strong. A big thanks to the Alumni Association for all they do.
Kudos Class of 1966 for raising $10,225.00 and endowing a scholarship. And it's not too late to give. Make a donation by calling the Advancement Office at 363-9824. You are changing lives!
MARY MCCONNELL & GEORGE W. FREY
Unaware of the budding love between them at the time, Mary and George began their life together in January 1955 with a group of friends standing around a piano on Martin Methodist College campus while Mary and another student played familiar tunes with 4-hands as everyone sang. Their first date was a sock-hop in the lobby of the boys’ dorm on February 14, 1955. They were engaged in August of that same year and married June 5, 1956.
Mary majored in music at Martin Methodist and credits her piano professor, Zoe Harris, for giving her a career in music. In fact, George and Mary spent their lives together working in music as teachers, performers, church musicians, etc.
“I knew I had to start planning for Mary’s legacy to be anchored somewhere when in early to mid-2000s, her onset with the incurable symptoms of Alzheimer's disease became evident, and Martin Methodist became the obvious place,” George said. “In essence, I wanted to pay Martin Methodist back in some small way for the profound impact the college had on both of our lives.”
Therefore, George decided to invest an amount equal to what Mary received at the passing of her parents, Herbert S. and Zora T. McConnell—memorializing them as well.
The monetary gift made to Martin Methodist will live on in the students who pass through these halls and in the form of music performed in this Recital Hall for years to come—allowing Mary and George to continue making music together as they did for more than 50 years. Soli Deo gloria!