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Special Section: The Class of 1955 Celebrates 50 Years of Memories

Remember the “Tin Tabernacle” and Quigley’s? Football at Griffith Stadium and basketball at Uline Arena? The student union next to the firehouse? Members of GW’s Class of 1955 remember these places well.

Much has changed in the past half century. In 1955 at GW, Cloyd Heck Marvin was president. Strong Hall, a women’s residence, was one of the few campus dorms. And Greek life dominated the social scene. Today, frat life still plays a role, but more than 250 other student organizations sponsor events that shape campus life.

In commemoration of their 50th reunion, GW Magazine asked members of the Class of 1955 to submit memories, photos, and updates, which we have published here.

George O. Clark, BA ’55, resides in Edgewater, Md., and is retired after more than 20 years of working for telephone companies. “My degree helped me with the Telco…I had 13 mini-careers with C&P (now Bell Atlantic/Verizon) and AT&T.” While he claims that because he was a part-time student, “nobody will remember me,” Clark says he has a vivid memory of his time at GW: “Driving from Arlington several nights a week for nine years—I had ivy growing up my legs!” When asked to describe daily life 50 years ago and compare it to today, Clark says that today “Cars last longer, TV dominates free time, and computers control too much of our lives.”

Writing from Nanuet, N.Y., where she has lived for 42 years after relocating from the Bronx, Miriam W. Edelstein, BS ’55, is a microbiologist. Her career began at GW, where her strongest memory is of “lots of labs” and continued after graduation when she worked as a chemist for the FDA. Now married for the second time, this “proud GW alumna” has four grandchildren and enjoys skiing. Looking back on daily life 50 years ago versus the present, she says that these days “there are more conveniences but less leisure.”

Crediting GW’s chemistry program and professor Charles Naeser for contributing to “a good basic education,” Barbara A. (Guarco) Farley, BA ’55, is a retired biochemist residing in Carlsbad, Calif. A former Fulbright Scholar at the University of Edinburgh, Farley’s career included research at the National Institutes of Health’s arthritis and metabolic diseases department and work at the Uni-versity of California Los Angeles and the University of Rochester. She has two married sons and four grandchildren and enjoys sunshine, outdoor activities, gardening, and camping. While she says that today traffic and health care are better than they were while in 1955, “people are in general less respectful of each other.”

A retired cartographer and geographer residing in Edgewater, Md., Julian G. Gibbs, BS ’55, says his GW experiences were “watershed years marking a transition from youth to adulthood. There were potholes as well as smooth stretches along the way, but they were parts of an educational process that worked beautifully.” He has fond memories of Dean Elmer Louis Kayser, whom Gibbs says “was everyone’s favorite, hands down.” Along with spending more than 30 years as a cartographer and geographer, Gibbs has been married for more than 50 years, a marriage that “has produced an attorney, an artist/illustrator, a civil engineer, a gallery frame shop proprietor, and a secondary school teacher.” Gibbs enjoys home and garden maintenance, woodworking, writing, volunteering, and “musical tinkering and a little blue-sky pondering for good measure.” He and his wife enjoy traveling and report that “our abilities to enjoy senior travel have opened opportunities pole to pole and on all continents. We recommend travel to all considering but who have not yet stepped out. Get going now, while you can. Golden Years’ wear and tear could trap you in that rocking chair.”

Murray F. Hammerman, BS ’55, resides in Rockville, Md., and is a physician and ophthalmologist. Citing “socializing in the student union” as one of his best memories of GW, Hammerman went on to get a medical degree from George-town, interned at Cincinnati General Hospital, completed his residency at the Indiana University Medical Center, and spent two years in the U.S. Navy before settling in private practice in ophthalmology in Maryland. He has five children and eight grandchildren, and his youngest daughter is currently pursuing a master’s degree in interior design at GW. He is “a native Washingtonian and returned to be near my wife’s and my two families.” His hobbies are fishing and gardening. His favorite journey has been to Africa.

Edward L. “Ed” Jaffee, BA ’55

Retired as the director of the Washington office of PPG Industries, Edward L. “Ed” Jaffee, BA ’55, lives in Springfield, Va., where he has lived with his wife, Sharon, for more than 30 years. After enjoying journalism classes with professor Bob Willson, Jaffee went on to work for The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal before going into corporate communications and public affairs. He is a father of three and a grandfather of four. At GW, Jaffee was co-editor in chief of the Hatchet, was president of Pi Delta Epsilon Journalism Service honorary, and was co-caption of the varsity track team. He recalls that at the start of the 1954 academic year, “many of us were ready to rebel at a substantial hike in University tuition: from $12 to $15 per credit hour.” He is currently working on an historical novel about his grandfather’s trek across Europe in 1897 and enjoys genealogy research.

Always a Colonials basketball fan, Arthur D. Kirsch, BA ’55, is a GW professor emeritus of statistics and of psychology. He received the Trachtenberg Award for University Service in 1998. Kirsch did graduate work at Purdue University and worked for George Gallup and the National Security Agency before returning to GW in 1962. He has done consulting work in the D.C. area and now resides with his wife in Silver Spring, Md. The couple has three children who went to GW.

John D. Marshalk, BA ’55, is retired from a career in sales in management consulting related to computers and insurance and resides in Hollister, Mo. He also has been actively involved in Republican politics for more than 50 years and has ran campaigns, trained workers and candidates, been a deligate to numerous conventions, and was selected as a member of the 2004 Electoral College. He is also involved with the Maryland Jaycees. Marshalk has been married for more than 56 years, has four children, 13 grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren. He and his wife “spent several years full-time RV-ing through all 48 continuous states” and enjoy living close to Branson, Mo.

“My favorite memory of GW was taking a course by Dr. Jarmo. It is probably my leading memory about the birth of our expanding universe,” writes Clyde L. McKinney, BA ’55. After graduating, he returned to Charleston, W.Va., worked for the state with a position in research and statistics, and retired after 25 years. “I became interested in the stock market after leaving the Army. I have traveled over the United States, Mexico, Eastern Europe, Canada, and went back to Alaska where I had served in the Army.”

“Every day of medical school was thoroughly enjoyable. I will always be grateful for my education at GW,” writes Beale H. Ong, BA ’55, MD ’59, a physician residing in Washington. “I’m still practicing pediatrics and continue to love it.” He says that if he were a student at GW today, he would still choose the same field of study as he did 50 years ago.

A surgeon and lawyer residing in Oakton, Va., Eugene O. Stevenson, BS ’55, MD ’60, was a member of the varsity basketball team while at GW. His favorite class was pathology while in medical school. After graduation, he completed an internship and a residency program, and was a surgeon with the U.S. Navy during Vietnam. He enjoys tennis and karate and has been to Kenya six times.

A retired secretary and retail clerk who worked for Casual Corner for 22 years, Elizabeth Meyer Thornhill, AA ’55, resides in Kensing-ton, Md. She says she is thankful for the lifelong friendships formed at GW. “To receive my college education I worked full time and attended night classes—and very early morning classes. Dean Elmer Kayser called us ‘the dawn patrol.’ His course and European literature and European diplomatic history were my favorite courses.” She and her husband have five children.

Bob Van Sickler, BS ’55, and his wife, Rachel.

Since retiring as a marketing manager for General Electric, Bob Van Sickler, BS ’55, and his wife, Rachel, built a home in Tampa Palms, Fla., and “keep busy with civic affairs, gardening, social life, visiting our children, and doing some serious traveling,” he writes. After graduation, Van Sickler was a design engineer at Pratt & Whitney in Hartford, Conn., and then completed ROTC service in Taiwan. He returned to the United States and joined General Electric in St. Louis, where he earned a master’s degree from Washington University. “While in St. Louis, Rachel Crawford, a Delta Zeta I first met at one of those Sunday sorority socials at the Delt House at GW, joined me there. We married and started our family. See, those socials weren’t so bad after all.” They have two daughters, one son, and two grandchildren. With GE, he held engineering, manufacturing management, and marketing management positions in its lighting business. In Cleveland, he was product manager for holiday lighting. “I sourced most products in China, Taiwan, Korea, and Thailand, so I had lots of opportunity for travel.” This spring, the couple travels to the United Kingdom, and therefore will be unable to make the 50-year reunion. “I’m sorry that I won’t be able to see old friends again. I hope there will be other opportunities.”

John “Zimbo” Ziamandanis, BS ’55

Judith Drew Wilkinson, BA ’55, a retired CIA reports officer and homemaker, resides in Oakland, Calif. She is the founder of the Washington Association for Television & Children, a parent education and child advocacy organization. Wilkinson has four children and five grandchildren, all of whom live in the D.C. area. Her GW memories include “putting the Hatchet to bed with my sister, Joan Drew, while still in our party clothes in the wee hours.” Her favorite class was American diplomatic history with professor Robert Merriman. “It’s hard to say how GW may have influenced my life. I know my B.A. was useful in my sporadic job hunts in the ’70s,” she says. “I majored in the currently hot topic of Middle East affairs. I think I’d go for English the next time around.”

Former Colonials football player John “Zimbo” Ziamandanis, BS ’55, lives in Albany, N.Y., with his wife, Matina, who he has been married to for more than 50 years. He has three children and several grandchildren. Ziamandanis often attends alumni football luncheons and keeps in touch with several former Colonial athletes. After GW, he went on to get a master’s degree. He retired as the athletics director of Schenectady High School in New York in 1998.

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