The Second Time Around

Dec 9th, 2013 | By | Category: Alumni Profile, Features

BY There­sa Gawlas Med­off

Bar­bara Hall Schu­bert ’51 answered the phone in Octo­ber 2010 and heard a voice she hadn’t heard in near­ly 60 years. It was her col­lege beau, Jack Vaugh­an ’52, who had got­ten her phone num­ber from a mutu­al friend.

“Do you remem­ber me?” he asked.

“Yes, of course.”

“If you want to hang up, go ahead,” he added, fear­ing that Barb had nev­er for­giv­en him for break­ing off their rela­tion­ship so long ago.

She didn’t hang up. Instead, she and Jack chat­ted briefly, catch­ing each oth­er up on their lives. Both had mar­ried, had chil­dren and were recent­ly wid­owed. Jack lived in Okla­homa, but he would be com­ing to Flori­da soon to play in a senior soft­ball tour­na­ment and to see his son, who hap­pened to live just 30 min­utes from Barb’s home in Palm Coast.

“Would you con­sid­er allow­ing me to vis­it?” he asked.

Romance at Wesley

They had met at Wes­ley in 1951, an era of black-and-white TV and the intro­duc­tion of direct dial coast-to-coast phone calls, when peo­ple were watch­ing “I Love Lucy” and lis­ten­ing to Nat King Cole and Per­ry Como. Barb was a sopho­more, Jack a fresh­man. She was the stand­out coed: pres­i­dent of Stu­dent Coun­cil, elect­ed to Phi Theta Kap­pa, duchess of the May Court, an actress, and an excel­lent stu­dent trust­ed to answer the phone for Dean of Women Anne Stew­art. He was the all-Amer­i­can boy: qui­et and good-look­ing, pres­i­dent of his class, a base­ball star who attend­ed col­lege reluc­tant­ly and focused more on sports than on his stud­ies.

At first, Barb and Jack knew each oth­er only as acquain­tances. Both schol­ar­ship stu­dents, they wait­ed tables in the school din­ing room and ate ear­ly with the oth­er wait­ers before their shift began. One evening, Jack heard Barb com­plain­ing to her girl­friends about an invi­ta­tion she’d received to the Valentine’s Day dance. She was ask­ing advice on how to say no with­out being rude. What should she do? From the far end of the table, Jack piped in: “I thought you were going to the dance with me!”

“I was thrilled!” Barb said. The dance was held in the col­lege din­ing room. Barb wore an orchid-col­ored gown and they danced togeth­er most of the night.

That evening was just the begin­ning. “We start­ed going to school func­tions togeth­er, pic­nics, and dances. We’d always talk in the halls and go on walks,” Jack said.

“We’d get togeth­er to study. But that was just a pre­tense so we could see each oth­er in the evenings,” Barb added. Some­times they indulged in an excur­sion to Sun­ray Drug­store for Cokes at the soda foun­tain.

Then came May, when Barb received her asso­ciate degree (Wes­ley was a junior col­lege at that time) and returned home to Con­necti­cut and a job with Traveler’s Insur­ance. “Jack and I wrote a few let­ters and we talked about get­ting togeth­er. I thought I’d vis­it him in Clay­mont, Delaware, where he lived, or he’d come to Con­necti­cut, but nei­ther of us had a car,” Barb said. “After a while he wrote and said that maybe we’d bet­ter just end it. I was heart­bro­ken, but even­tu­al­ly I mar­ried my high school sweet­heart and went on with my life.”

Jack tells a dif­fer­ent ver­sion of the breakup. “Yes, I prob­a­bly did use that excuse about the dis­tance,” Jack said. “But the truth was, I could tell she was ready to set­tle down and I wasn’t. I was only 19, a dumb kid. I knew she was way ahead of me in a lot of ways.”

After they stopped com­mu­ni­cat­ing, he too went on with his life – ser­vice in the army, a wife, kids, a career as an admin­is­tra­tor at an insur­ance com­pa­ny.

They lost touch with each oth­er, but cher­ished their mem­o­ries.

Rich, Full Lives

The year after she grad­u­at­ed from Wes­ley, Barb mar­ried Roger Schu­bert, and they went on to have four chil­dren. Barb quit her job to become a full-time moth­er and start­ed on a life as “a pro­fes­sion­al vol­un­teer,” a leader in her Methodist church wher­ev­er the fam­i­ly moved, pres­i­dent of a new­com­ers club and a Girl Scout leader. Over the years she wel­comed nine grand­chil­dren and two great-grand­chil­dren.

Among her many vol­un­teer activ­i­ties, Barb has been active with the Wes­ley Alum­ni Asso­ci­a­tion and a loy­al donor. “I have won­der­ful mem­o­ries of Wes­ley and its fac­ul­ty and admin­is­tra­tion, par­tic­u­lar­ly Lewis Wells [for­mer pro­fes­sor of Eng­lish and dra­mat­ic arts]. He brought out the best in every stu­dent,” she said.

She is a fre­quent vis­i­tor to cam­pus as well, return­ing for most of her reunions and when­ev­er she’s in the area. “Wes­ley was so much small­er when I was a stu­dent there. It’s very dif­fer­ent now, but still won­der­ful. I’m pleased as punch with the growth and with the lead­ers the col­lege is pro­duc­ing,” she added.

Barb and her hus­band, Roger, also found time to trav­el exten­sive­ly. “Roger was a pio­neer in the com­put­er busi­ness for Gen­er­al Elec­tric, and he trav­eled a lot,” Barb said. “One time he came home from a trip to Japan, with a lay­over in Hawaii, telling me about all these old­er peo­ple he’d seen there on the beach. ‘We’re not going to wait until we’re old to see the world,’ he promised. And we didn’t.” They went to the Caribbean, the Gala­pa­gos, the Azores, to the caves in Las­caux, France, and on an African Safari.

“I was mar­ried to Roger for 57 years. We had four chil­dren of whom I’m very proud. I had a won­der­ful life and I wouldn’t trade it for any­thing,” Barb said.

Jack, too, has fond mem­o­ries of his years at Wes­ley. “I had a great deal of fun and met peo­ple who have become life­long friends. I loved the Col­lege and the peo­ple, par­tic­u­lar­ly Coach Dix­ie How­ell, whom I admired very much. Wes­ley meant a lot to me in many, many ways. It was a big step in my grow­ing up,” he said.

After grad­u­at­ing from Wes­ley, Jack was work­ing to save mon­ey for the Uni­ver­si­ty of Delaware when he was draft­ed. He says he matured quick­ly while serv­ing in a divid­ed Ger­many dur­ing the ear­ly days of the Cold War. When he returned, he mar­ried Vick­ie Sea­cord, a Dover High School stu­dent he had met dur­ing his sopho­more year at Wes­ley. He com­plet­ed his bachelor’s degree, and he and Vick­ie moved to Okla­homa, where Jack worked for the Equi­table Life Assur­ance Soci­ety. They had two chil­dren and five grand­chil­dren. Recent­ly, Jack wel­comed his first great-grand­child.

Jack had played semi-pro base­ball in sev­er­al leagues dur­ing his high school and col­lege sum­mers and after return­ing from the army. Although he gave up par­tic­i­pat­ing in sports when his chil­dren came along, he coached their teams for years. And when his chil­dren reached their teen years, he got back on the field him­self, play­ing soft­ball with a church team.

He’s been play­ing soft­ball ever since. Over the years his teams have won the Senior World Cham­pi­onship twice and two Nation­al Cham­pi­onships. He was also a mem­ber of the Senior Olympic Nation­al Cham­pi­onship team in 2011. At 81 he’s still going strong. “As you get old­er, you may begin to lose your vision and your hear­ing and your abil­i­ty to run, but you nev­er lose your com­pet­i­tive­ness,” he said.

Another Chance

A few weeks after that phone call in Octo­ber 2010, Jack was stand­ing on Barb’s doorstep in Flori­da. “I wouldn’t have rec­og­nized her on the street and she wouldn’t have rec­og­nized me. We just stood there laugh­ing for a lit­tle bit, and then we sat on her back porch and looked at her Wes­ley scrap­books and old pic­tures of us. We got to talk­ing and with­in five min­utes it was like all those years in between were gone,” Jack said.

A few days lat­er, they went on their first offi­cial date since 1951. They had lunch on the deck at the Gold­en Lion, a restau­rant over­look­ing the water at Fla­gler Beach. “We talked and laughed all after­noon,” Jack said. “After sev­er­al hours the wait­ress came over and said, ‘You two look like you real­ly like each oth­er. Are you mar­ried?’ Well, Barb told her our sto­ry and soon the wait­ress was call­ing her co-work­ers over to meet us.”

That day was the begin­ning of their new life togeth­er, and they’ve been a cou­ple ever since. Although they live across the coun­try from each oth­er, Barb and Jack talk at least once a day, usu­al­ly more. They vis­it each oth­er often and trav­el togeth­er to Jack’s soft­ball tour­na­ments and to see fam­i­ly and friends. “She’s a very sweet per­son, friend­ly and out­go­ing,” Jack said. “She’s a good com­pan­ion.”

“Jack is calm and com­pas­sion­ate,” said Barb, “If he makes a friend, it’s for life. I real­ly love this guy.”

Although they’d pre­fer to be liv­ing togeth­er right now, both have deep roots in their towns, and besides, Barb doesn’t par­tic­u­lar­ly like Okla­homa and Jack doesn’t enjoy Flori­da. “Nei­ther of us likes this arrange­ment, but at the present time, that’s just how it is,” Barb explained.

“We’ll fig­ure it out,” Jack added. “We know we want to spend the rest of our years togeth­er.”

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