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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