The Second Time Around

Dec 9th, 2013 | By admin | 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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