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This year’s Alumni Work Week has attracted more than 180 Berry College alumni and spouses - from graduates who were in school during World War II to graduates who walked the stage just this year.

Participants could choose to work on one of 22 project crews, such as the Barn Demolition Crew, the Weaving Crew, and the Antique Cars Crew. Work is not the only activity that alumni can participate in during the week, however. The alumni hold a raffle and a silent auction using alum hand-crafted stools, quilts, and a hand-chipped mahogany bowl.

The Work Week program has been bringing alumni together since 1985. Gayle Gimrich, who graduated in 1967, taught elementary and middle school for 33 years before retiring in 2000. Since then she has attended Work Week 11 times. Several alumni had trouble remembering exactly how long they had been coming to Work Week because they’ve come so many times. 

One of the youngest alumni, Meredith Kagy, just graduated in May. Kagy sat next to Rosa Wright, on the Quilting Crew. Wright recalled ironing clothes for her job at Berry when she found out that World War II had ended. Even with around six decades of difference in age, the two women bonded over a shared love of Berry and a desire to keep coming back to their alma mater.

Bill Priester, who has a granddaughter who is now a Berry alum and a grandson who currently attends Berry, is still friends with several of his classmates from the class of 1958. Several people in his class have annual get-togethers. Ernestine Hoffmann, who worked with Priester on the Chair Caning Crew, stresses the importance that Berry puts on relationships.

“I think that is something very unique to Berry- lasting friendships,” said Hoffmann. “I don’t know anyone from any other school who still keeps in contact with their class.” 

Berry College is not simply an alma mater for these alumni- it is a second home. 

Awards are also part of the alumni spring festivities. At the Alumni Gala, Bob Williams (62H) was presented with Lifetime Membership in the Alumni Council. John Shahan (64A, 69C) and Bill Thornton (68C) were given the Berry High Schools/Berry Academy Outstanding Faculty/Staff Awards. Lewis Copeland (60C) was given the Virginia R. Webb Exceptional Service Award. Jennifer Beard (93C, 00G) received the Alumni Association President’s Award

There were four winners of the Distinguished Alumni Awards. Dr. Rayford Boyett (58C) was awarded the Distinguished Achievement Award. Shahan (64A, 69C) was awarded the Distinguished Service Award. Andreas Economopoulos (97C) was presented with the Entrepreneurial Spirit Award. The Outstanding Young Alumni Award was presented to Heather Henderson-Keller (03C).

The two recipients of Honorary Alumni Awards this year were Dr. Peter A. Lawler and Dr. Kathy B. Richardson.

Written by Student Public Relations Assistant Koren Shetter and photos by Blake Childers