Alumni Association Honors Commanders, Retirees and Those Who Contribute at Spring Banquet

For Immediate Release: 
May 16 2005

Alumni Association Honors Commanders, Retirees and Those Who Contribute at Spring Banquet

Athens, W.Va. – The Concord University Alumni Association hosted its annual Alumni Banquet, Friday, May 13, 6 p.m., in the College Center Ballroom. The classes of 1955 and of 1980 were honored, as were all generations of the Concord Commanders, President Emeritus Joseph Marsh, recent retirees from the University, and those who have made significant contributions to the University or his or her community.

Alumni Association President Beryle C. Santon welcomed over 160 guests to the banquet and the Reverend Jim Mole provided the invocation. Aramark prepared the food for the delicious banquet including their famous bread pudding with rum sauce.


Director of the Marsh Library and Professor of English, Dr. Stephen D. Rowe introduced Instructor in Art Fernando Porras. “I’ve been painting the Warao people in Venezuela for about 11 years,” stated Instructor Porras, the artist commissioned to paint a formal portrait of Dr. Marsh for the “President’s Room” in the Marsh Library. “These people do not usually wear ties, so when I was commissioned to do this portrait I thought it was going to be quite difficult. The character that I was asked to paint, however, made it very easy, so I am honored to unveil this painting of Dr. Marsh.”

Porras received a standing ovation from the banquet guests after the unveiling.

“All I can say is ‘thank you very much,’” quipped Dr. Marsh. “And, life begins at 80! I was a little upset when they decided to do this a few months ago. I said that, ‘You would pick the time that I was in the middle of chemo-therapy.’ But, I hope that it turned out O.K. and I thank you very much.”

Next, President Santon asked members of the class of 1955 and the class of 1980 to stand and be recognized and thanked faculty and staff who were retiring, including: Mr. William “Sonny” Adams, bookstore manager for many years and Dr. David Bard, 2001 West Virginia Professor of the Year, speaker and author. Other retirees who were unable to attend included Dr. Gus Cyphers, Ms. Linda Martin, Ms. Nancy Meade, Ms. Virginia Rubinstein and Ms. Sonja White. Dr. Bard took advantage of the opportunity to speak and said, “I’ve worked under five presidents and seven deans, book-ended by Dr. Marsh and Dr. Beasley. I, too, am a Concord alumnus, it’s been a life style and Athens has been home for my wife, Carol, and me.”


“It seems fitting to me,” stated Concord University President Jerry Beasley, “that this year’s recipient, like Linda Fink, served in the Peace Corps. She was a graduate of Welch High School, and after graduation from college, she went to Columbia, South America, where she served for two years. After her stint in South America, she returned to West Virginia University to teach nursery school, do graduate work and train Head Start teachers. In 1982, she came to Concord as an assistant professor of early childhood education. While here, she earned her Ph.D. at the University of Maryland. Over the years, she has committed herself both academically and otherwise to developing the special knowledge that responds to the needs of children and it has equipped her to help Concord respond to those needs. She rose to the rank of professor, served as chair of the education department and was later named associate vice president for academic affairs. She is the first member of our community to receive this award and she is a social inventor of the first order.” President Beasley then presented the LINDA FINK SERVICE AWARD (someone who has made outstanding contributions to his or her community) to Professor of Childhood Education, Dr. April V. Puzzuoli.

“Concord has been a good place for me,” stated Professor Puzzuoli, “and, I am deeply honored to receive this award and be a professor here at Concord. She then commented that she has watched generations of early childhood students pass through Concord’s program and that today’s students are now working under the tutelage of yesterday’s students. “I urge each and every one of us to spread compassion and tolerance in our everyday life,” she concluded.


“Today, Robert Tuckwiller’s art can be found in more than 10,000 private and corporate collections in the United States and abroad,” stated Cherie Coiner ’91, in her introduction of the OUTSTANDING ALUMNUS (an alumnus who has achieved notable accomplishments in his or her career and community). “His artwork has been featured on national television programs, magazine and book covers, watches, designer mail boxes, CD and album covers, decorative eggs and calendars. He is also a playwright and producer of “Riders of the Flood,” an outdoor drama that is based on the book by the same title by the late Warren E. Blackhurst of Cass, W.Va.” Tuckwiller is also active in many civic organizations and has received numerous awards.

Robert E. Tuckwiller ‘76, from Newport, Va., thanked the Alumni Association for the award. “I have to assume that my academic record didn’t have much effect on the selection for this award,” chuckled Mr. Tuckwiller. “My grades were less than perfect but I did have lots of fun. In remembering my days here at Concord, I started to recall how good life really was here. To me, Concord was like an all-inclusive resort. I had a great room and roommate, my dorm was filled with interesting people from all over the world who became friends. I had a clean bathroom just down the hall and all the hot water I needed. When the bathroom got dirty someone else came to clean it. When I was cold, I banged on the water heater and somebody came to fix it. If I was hungry, I took a short walk to the cafeteria, where the hard-working staff had prepared a delicious buffet for me to choose from. And, when I was finished, I put my dirty dishes on a tray, which disappeared through a little window. To keep me from getting bored, I had a variety of interesting professors who could call me by name—in case I dozed off. I had challenging exams … challenging for me, at least! For fun, I had a complete fitness center just steps from my room. I used to play Mr. Arrington, one of my art professors in racquetball … and, I let him win on occasion! We had every thing we needed here on campus. I sometimes wonder why I ever left. I’m thankful for the career that I’ve had and I give a lot of credit to Concord and the art department. When I left here I felt like I was given every tool that I would need as an artist and that it was up to me to use it.”

Robert Richards ’49 presented the ALUMNUS OF THE YEAR (someone who has made outstanding contributions to the Alumni Association and University) to Rose Ann (Ellis) Burgess ‘59, Roanoke, Va. Ms. Burgess taught more than 25,000 students in her 31-year career with the Roanoke City School system. She also was an adjunct professor of music at Roanoke College and still serves as director of music for St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Salem, Va. “When I was in grade school and high school, I knew the recipient of the “Alumnus of the Year” award,” commented Mr. Richards in his introduction. “We both studies piano with Vera Payne in Princeton. Later in life, I renewed my friendship with Rose Ann and have performed with her many, many times in the Roanoke Valley.”

“I’m very honored to receive this award,” stated Ms. Burgess. “One reason that I came to Concord was that it was eight miles from my home. As a commuter, I didn’t have the funds to stay on campus. My sorority, however, helped me to get to know other students. I’m embarrassed to say what I paid for tuition, $37.50. I paid more for my sorority membership than I did to go to college. Now, if you were going to grade any college for how successful they will be based on facilities, well, we would have all failed. Do you remember the ‘quansit huts’ and the music building? I didn’t know until I left Concord that other colleges and universities had soundproof practice rooms. When you would enter our music building, you would hear ten or 15 pianos being played and all types of instruments being played … at the same time. My education at Concord made me inquisitive. Many fortunate things came along my way including ‘Education at the Metropolitan Opera.’ I realize how talented and creative our students are because of this and other programs. We think that they are just ‘little kids’ but they have so much to offer!”

The Caruth family, because of their longtime involvement with the music program at Concord, presented the GOLDEN ALUMNUS award (an alumnus who has contributed greatly to the Association and/or University for 25 years or more) to a group of 1950s “alumni” Commanders. Also honored posthumously was Dave Lewis ’53, who passed away in 1998.

Members who belonged to the jazz band during the 1950s and performed at the banquet included: Carl S. Azzara ’54, Reston, Va.; Richard Torquato ’50; Larry Zingale ‘52, Bluefield, Va.; Jim Calabrese ‘53, Statesville, N.C.; Joseph Gollehon, Jr., ‘51, Pearisburg, Va.; Robert L. Rounion ‘56, Bluefield, Va.; and Jack O. White ‘50, Wytheville, Va. Others who performed with the group included Dean Turner, Mark Wade, Paul Thomas, and Leroy Compton.

William B. Caruth Sr. holds the longest tenure as Commanders director. The Caruth family, Senator Don Caruth, William “Bill” Caruth and Lois Caruth were recognized for their involvement with the Concord music program.

The Concord Commanders, still in existence today, consists primarily of Concord music majors. Dr. Andrew Necessary from Tazewell, Va., is the current director.

The “alumni” Commanders performed many big-band tunes including selections by Duke Ellington, Hoagie Carmichael and Glen Miller.

At the conclusion of the banquet, Alumni Director Kati Whittaker and Second Vice President Cherie Coiner presented a floral arrangement and gift on behalf of the Alumni Association to retiring President Santon for her hard work and dedication to the Association.


PHOTO: Fernando Porras and Joseph Marsh

PHOTO: April Puzzuoli and Jerry Beasley

PHOTO: Cherie Coiner and Robert Tuckwiller

PHOTO: Robert Richards, Rose Ann Burgess, Beryle Santon

PHOTO: The “alumni” Commanders

PHOTO: Beryle Santon

PHOTO: The Caruth family