Jefferson College alumni gather for reunion

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 11, 2001

Alumni of Jefferson College, a military academy that closed its doors in 1964, gathered on the school’s grounds Saturday for their annual reunion.

The reunion was started in 1980 when, using word of mouth and the few records that have been kept from the school, a few alumni assembled a list of about 500 former students.

Over the years, the group’s numbers have dwindled somewhat, but those that remain – and their spouses – keep in touch frequently, just like family. Many said that the gatherings are more like family reunions, with memories flooding back as they survey the grounds.

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For 1938 graduate Dan Foxworth, the first memory that always comes back is that of his first night at the school’s Robinson Hall dormitory, &uot;the longest night of my life.&uot;

Foxworth, who got into trouble by skipping school, protested being sent to Jefferson College. But he grew to like his fellow students and, &uot;by the next school year, I looked forward to seeing the boys I’d left the last year.&uot;

Bobby Bradford, a 1951 graduate of Jefferson College, remembered that the initials of his brother, who also attended the school, are carved in the pews of Washington United Methodist Church.

The school’s students marched to the nearby church every Sunday to attend church services. &uot;There are probably quite a few initials carved there,&uot; Bradford said.

Oscar Price, who graduated from the school in 1945 and came back to teach there from 1954 to 1956, remembered the rigid daily schedule – morning exercises, then chores, classes, study halls, assemblies and athletics.

&uot;Some (graduates) went into the military and said that after this, military boot camp was a snap,&uot;&160;Price said.

But alumni did not hesitate to say what they gained from attending the school – including a strong character that would serve them well in life.

&uot;It was a character builder for me,&uot; said Lynwood Easterling, a 1952 graduate who is now an Adams County supervisor. &uot;It developed in us respect, discipline and how to get along with others. It goes beyond education.&uot;

If it had not been for Jefferson College, said Keller, &uot;I&160;would have ended up in prison or as a private in the Army.&uot;

&uot;I&160;would probably have become a gangster,&uot; Foxworth said, laughing between bites of barbecue.

Keller and Bradford also said the school’s rigorous curriculum gave them an advantage in college.

On Saturday afternoon, attendees were scheduled to tour Stewart Orchids and the Old South Winery. A banquet was set for Saturday night at the Ramada Inn, and a service at Washington United Methodist Church is set for this morning.