All for One and One for AllAug 26th, 2009 | By admin | Category: Alumni Profile
The “Three Musketeers” Reflect on Their Lifelong Bond
By Leigh Ann Little ’09
As years pass, change is inevitable for both the College as well as its graduates. However, for many former students who called Wesley home, the memories created on campus have endured the test of time. For a particular group of alumni from the Class of 1959, the 50th anniversary of their Wesley graduation is quickly approaching. Three members of the class formerly known as the “Three Musketeers”— Sara “Sally” (Kendrick) Cavanagh, Rovaldia “Val” (Megee) Hyde and Edna “Edie” (Whittle) Rogers — have planned to make the trip back to Wesley’s campus this October, as they have every five years, to relive a time in each of their lives when they not only found each other but also found themselves.
“I didn’t have a career objective or plan,” said Hyde. “However once I arrived at Wesley, I began to think seriously about my education and future.”
Hyde came to Wesley from Frankford, Delaware. Her older sister Edith had attended the College, so she knew the campus well. Never having been away from home, she was itching to meet new friends and have new experiences. “I just loved campus life in general. I liked living in the dorms. There were a number of us who never went home on the weekends and we all bonded,” said Hyde.
On her very first day on campus, she met Rogers from Demarest, New Jersey. Coming from a high school of 2,500 students, Rogers never had the chance to participate in clubs and organizations because they would fill up so quickly. She said, “When I came to Wesley I was used to just signing up for everything, but then they ended up calling me back for everything, which was a big surprise!” Attending a small college like Wesley finally gave Rogers the chance to get involved. “I ended up doing all kinds of things — meeting a lot of new people and having a lot of fun.”
Although Hyde was living down the hall in the dormitory, she grew closest to Rogers and her roommate Sally Cavanagh. Cavanagh also had an older sister, Sonia, who attended the College so she also came to Wesley with a good sense of its close campus community. “Since I am from suburban Pennsylvania, I kind of liked the idea of Old Main. We lived there and had classes there. I liked knowing that I would know everyone and it was a compact setting,” said Cavanagh.
One of Cavanagh’s fondest memories was working in the dining hall, housed in Richardson Hall. There she served her classmates, faculty and staff members. On one particular occasion, she remembers arguing with the chef to get some more fried chicken for President Slaybaugh, Professor Wells and Miss Browning, only to return empty-handed having to explain that ‘They had enough’ according to the chef.” It was moments like those that Cavanagh now realizes had a very profound effect on her at the time. She said, “Dealing directly with the president and professors somehow gave me confidence to speak to people in different places. I somehow turned it into something positive.”
With Wesley being such a small school, the students were used to seeing faculty and staff around campus just as much as they saw their classmates. “It wasn’t just a job to them; it was a lifestyle,” said Hyde. The three ladies recalled fond memories of many of their old mentors, such as Mr. and Mrs. Kilby and Mr. and Mrs. Titus. Even the president’s wife, Gertrude Slayba ugh, played a huge role in teaching the girls social skills. Cavanagh recalled, “Mrs. Slaybaugh was on campus every day stamping and sealing envelopes. She was very serious about her job as a college president’s wife and spent a lot of time at it.” She added, “Mr. Wells was my favorite professor. He was just such a dynamic person. He was very funny but very stern too.”
After graduation, Rogers and her good friend Joanne (Spital) Fields moved to Washington, D.C. to find jobs. It was there that Rogers met her husband Joseph and had two daughters, Jill and Deborah. Eventually, she was hired as a kindergarten aid for the Fairfax County School District and later became an assistant librarian. After 28 years working at a job she loved, Rogers retired. Her family has grown and she now has four grandchildren.
Hyde moved to Pennsylvania where she was married and later earned her bachelor’s degree from Neumann College. She spent most of her career in health care management, working for Crozer Chester Medical Center in Upland, Pennsylvania. Hyde now lives in Seminole, Florida with her husband of 47 years, Carl. Now retired, she enjoys spending time with her granddaughter, working at her church, sewing and reading. She comes back to Delaware every summer to visit her sister.
Cavanagh eventually moved to California with her husband and children. There she attended California State University, Long Beach. She worked as a probation/parole officer and later came back to Delaware where she became a social worker. She now has four daughters, nine grandsons and one granddaughter.
All three women have taken courses at other colleges since leaving Wesley, but all three agree that Wesley is their college home. “I enjoy being able to list off all those people from Wesley who provided authority and guidance when I needed it, which was probably on a regular basis,” said Cavanagh. “I can’t list off those personalities from Cal State, Long Beach.”
Hyde added, “If Wesley had been a four year school at the time, I would have stayed and finished there.”
Fifty years later these three friends have kept their Wesley memories alive by talking regularly and planning ahead for visits. Throughout the years they have reminded one another of all the fun they had on campus, whether it was the time they had to teach the new basketball coach how to play half court, being left sleeping in the dorm during a fire drill, or swapping gowns and getting all dressed up for the dances. “I think reunions are the key and as time goes by, it’s become more important for us to return every five years,” said Hyde. “Since this is our 50th, I’m really looking forward to seeing those classmates who haven’t been back.”
Cavanagh, Hyde and Rogers encourage all their classmates to join them for a fun-filled Homecoming weekend, including a tour of their old stomping grounds. “It was such a wonderful time in our lives. Why wouldn’t you want to come back and remember those days?” said Hyde.
Though the campus has grown physically and in enrollment numbers, there is still that same spirit on campus which should be familiar to returning alumni. Perhaps Rogers best summarized the common thread of the Wesley experience when she expressed, “Going to Wesley gave me confidence, a sense of self, new lifelong friendships and knowledge of a greater world outside of my hometown.” Wesley College continues to provide that experience for each student who passes through its halls and will always be a place that alumni can call home. W