Class of 1968 Forges Friendship and Fellowship During Pandemic
Katie DuBoff - March 24, 2021
Dee Rachel Nann remembers move-in day like it was yesterday.
“In the fall of 1964, the class of 1968 arrived on the beautiful Rosemont campus, I was nervous and excited as the first in my family to attend college,” said Nann. “I was assigned to 2nd floor Connelly Hall and soon met my roommate and fellow students. Many of us have remained close for these past 56 years.”
The group of friends has not only remained close, but committed to maintaining the bond of friendship over five decades.
In the years immediately following their Commencement, friends from the Class of 1968 continued to see each other regularly at each other’s weddings, bridal and baby showers, but by the early 1970s the visits were less frequent.
“1971 was the first year that we had no weddings or showers in our group,” said Kathie
Donnelly Solomon. “I called everyone to see if they were interested in getting together
at my parents’ home in Baltimore and the response was very positive, so we chose a
date in July for our
first annual ‘reunion.’”
Her idea gained momentum and grew into an annual tradition. The group has reunited every year for what they call their “unofficial reunions” with different members from the Class of 1968 taking turns to host. If it’s their Reunion year, they meet at Rosemont. Over the years, their gatherings have included their husbands and children who have also formed their own friendships from seeing each other every year.
“The gatherings have followed the timeline of our lives through marriage and parenthood all the way to one of our reunions on the grounds of the Naval Observatory in Washington, DC where our college graduate children in the area gathered with us,” said Deidre Lamplugh Schipani, a regular attendee of the reunions.
Rather than delay their gatherings during the pandemic, the group has been able to meet more frequently, thanks to Zoom. Nann has been instrumental in organizing the Friday evening gatherings every two weeks among alumnae who have been friends for more than 50 years.
“I think the spirit of Rosemont and the community and growth that developed among us is the reason for these lasting friendships,” said Nann. “The Zoom gatherings allow us to see each other more often than our previous once-a-year get-together.”
Every other Friday, they can enjoy a cocktail together virtually, discuss books they’re reading during the pandemic, share stories about their grandchildren, and more.
On March 12, President Boyers joined their Zoom reunion. The Class of 1968 wanted to learn more about what students are facing in 2021, so two current students also joined to talk about what life on campus has been like during the pandemic.
Prior to the pandemic, Solomon took the lead on planning the in-person trips, just as she did the first time in 1971.
“The amazing thing about our group is that regardless of our diverse paths in life,
our time together is precious each year,” said Solomon. “We support each other in
good times and in sad times and have never felt alone in our trials and tribulations
through the years. Each year when I
plan the trip I wonder if the next year that no one will show up. Until then, I will happily look into destinations and pray that everyone shows up.”
Each year, a large group does show up and about 20 attend on a regular basis.
The reunions have taken them to cities around the country where classmates live for
weekends that have included golf, tennis, tourist attractions, historical tours, potlucks,
Sunday Mass, farewell brunch, and more. In 2018, they returned to campus for their
50th Reunion. And
in 2019, they gathered in Cape May, New Jersey, for another weekend of friendship and fellowship.
Solomon adds that when it’s safe to meet in person again, she hopes they will be headed to Boca Raton, Florida, which is where the group had decided to go in 2020 but had to cancel because of the pandemic.
“When we gather it is as if we never left that beautiful campus and Rosemont experience that brought us all together,” said Schipani. “The laughter flows. The conversations are engaged. The topics have changed but the vitality and sincerity remain intact.”