About the diary writer

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Kansas City, Missouri, Alexandria, Virginia, United States
In the first half of the 1960s I wrote nightly entries on the pages of one-year diaries. A 1961-65 Park College Diary is a transcription of those entries. The first entry was on January 1, 1960 when I was a junior in high school. I grew up on three farms within 30 miles of Iowa City with the University of Iowa and the Iowa Writers' Workshop. As the oldest of four daughters, I sometimes referred to my sisters as "the kids" or "the girls." We helped our parents, but we also had good, wholesome fun - a characteristic I took with me to Park. Park College was 300 miles from West Chester, Iowa in Parkville, Missouri, on the Missouri River 10 miles northwest of Kansas City, Missouri, and across the river from Kansas City, Kansas. In 2000 Park College became Park University. Today Park's flagship campus is in Parkville and there are an additional 40 campus centers across the nation. Park was one of the first educational institutions in the United States to offer online learning. Beginning August 10, 2015, 50 years after I wrote my last entry in a one-year diary, I've written Park related Blogger blog posts to keep A 1961-65 Park College Diary "current."

September 29, 2015: Seeing Changes at Park 50 Years Later

On Sunday evening, September 20, 2015 the convener of a Sunday night potluck and book discussion group, said, on the patio at her and her husband's Kansas City, Missouri home, "Barbara, tell us about your college reunion." On Monday morning, September 21, the maintenance man who came with a plumber to our Kansas City condo, asked at the door, "How was your weekend?" Meanwhile, in Overland Park, Kansas, on the same morning, the nurse who had seen my husband Bill at Research Medical Center on Friday afternoon following the alumni awards luncheon, asked him, "Did you make it back to your wife's event on time?" Yes, all three thought to ask about what they could tell had been important to me.

It's been just over a week since our Park College Class of 1965 held our 50th year reunion and I'm still thinking about it. I had high expectations, and they were exceeded.

Bill and I had just finished registering for the weekend and had stepped out onto the porch of the Alumni House facing toward the White House. I heard someone to my right call, "Well, Barbara McDowell!" It was Hal Henderson from the class of 1964 who comes from Florida and makes regular appearances at alumni weekends. He was in the parking lot in front of the entrance to the Parkville Commercial Underground with his friend Jim Peeke from our class.

Soon we saw Regina Font Shedd and her husband Stan Shedd, who drove to Park from their home in High River, Alberta, and Glenn and Leslie Innes Petrie. Our Class of 1965 Golden Reunion dinner was held at the S.D. Strong Distilling Company in the Parkville Commercial Underground which is adjacent to the Park University Underground. It was a wonderful event. We were greeted at the front entrance by Erik Bergrud, Park University Associate Vice President for Alumni and Constituent Relations, and John Roushkolb, Park Social Media Manager. Within the distillery we were offered iced tea or vodka cocktails. Steve Strong, the owner, gave a brief overview of the facility.

We had a nice turnout of Parkites who first came to Park in 1961. Some of us hadn't seen each other for 50 years. If not at the dinner, then during the weekend I saw and greeted Katherine Gillespie Darch Amedy, who lives in Connecticut and lost both her husband Tom Darch and her second husband to heart attacks 25 years apart, Randolph (Randy) and Jane Gillespie Fehr, Dr. Ronald J. (Ron) and Linda Steele Tyrl, Susan Thorpe Hawk, Florence (Flo) Ito Naylor, Dr. Margaret McElwain Wilson, Rosemary Kellner Hardage, David and Barbara Zappulla House, Diane Davis Reed, Nancy Taylor McBride Custead whose first husband, Paul McBride, also a Park graduate, has passed away, Dr. M. Stan and Regina Font Shedd, Dr. Glenn and Leslie Innes Petrie, Gary and Mary Sue Somerville Sorrell, Sam and Nancy Rohlfing Potter, Paul H. and Sylvia Helms Gault, James B. Peeke, Harold L. (Hal) Henderson, John C. Blair, Hildreth H. Buterbaugh, Elliot G. Goldman, Dr. Arthur F. (Art) Kluge, David R. Oswald, and Park's new interim president, Dr. Jeff Ehrlich and his wife, Dr.Donna Ehrlich.

If you and I greeted each other during our Class of 1965 members and friends 50th year reunion on September 17, 18 or 19, 2015 and I have failed to name you, please tell me at: barbara.mcdowell.whitt@gmail.com.


During the weekend we attended a breakfast in the White House, Laurie McCormack talked about Park's plans for the future including Park's Academic Expansion Space, Paul Gault led a limestone tour of the Park University Underground and the adjacent Parkville Commercial Underground - 100 feet below ground in places, the staff of the Ellen Finley Earhart Department of Nursing held an open house and ribbon cutting in their new space in the Underground, Nancy Taylor McBride Custead led a Park sing along in the Graham Tyler Memorial Chapel, and I talked about A 1961-65 Park College Diary.

Carolyn McHenry Elwess and Tim Westcott gave a presentation about Park's new history book - Fides et Labor: 140 Years of Pioneering Education - The Story of Park University.

Copies of the history book are available for purchase and may be ordered from http://www.Park.edu/HistoryBook or by calling (800) 488-7275. The cost is $39.95 + $6.00 shipping and handling. It's a beautiful book with both black and white and color photos and is full of fascinating and detailed information about Park with a foreword, eight chapters, endnotes and an index. I encourage you to secure your copy by clicking the link, calling the 800 number, or buying one at the Park Alumni House (that small white house east of the White House (now gray) at the Park University entrance.

More commentary about our Class of 1965 50th Year Reunion, Park University and Parkville can be found on my Facebook page at https://www.Facebook.com/BarbaraMcDowellWhitt.


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