Westmont Magazine Celebrating Connections
By Dana Mill-Powell ’77 and Rebecca Mason ’76
Fourteen former Westmont women and their close friends and families gathered in the Santa Cruz Mountains in July 2000 for a reunion celebrating lifelong friendships and deep connections. These friendships had their birth at Westmont in the mid-1970s, when a group of students began meeting at Dean Rusty Springer’s home to share stories and prayers — “Just a bunch of down-home women” as former Dean of Students Julie Anderton called the group when it continued meeting at her home after Rusty’s departure for San Francisco. Representing the classes of 1976, 1977 and 1978, the group has remained friends throughout the years, gathering yearly for reunions through 1989. Busy with families and careers, they did not meet until this summer, when they convened at the Quaker Retreat Center and brought along former housemates, husbands, partners and 10 of their children.
The Down-Home Women came to the Santa Cruz Mountains from as far away as Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Deb Giblin-Davis ’76), Chicago, Ill. (Kelly Martin ’77), and Reading, Berkshire, in England (Dana Mills-Powell ’77). Others came from Washington (Gina Calder Messenger ’77, Sandra Redd Johanson ’78, Stacey Noble ’77), Oregon (Deb Cathers-Seymour ’77) and California (Deb St. Julien ’77, Rebecca Mason ’76, Karen Gunderson ’77, Kerry Martin ’77, Diana White ’77, and Leslie Fifield Wiens ’76). More than 20 years after graduating from Westmont, these women now live their lives out in various contexts; the group includes social workers, psychotherapists, researchers, and educators at all levels, a nutritionist, a nurse practitioner, an attorney, and an M.D.
Most of the adults present met over some hours to hear each other’s spiritual journeys. In spite of the long-distance nature of many of the relationships and the long time since the group’s last meeting, the depth, intimacy and vulnerability of sharing were intense. One evening was spent making a quilt of fabric, buttons, and glitter for the eldest child in the group, Julia Giblin-Davis, about to begin her senior year of high school. Words of wisdom offered to Julia on the verge of independence included “No is OK” and “Cherish yourself, others and ice cream.”
The group acknowledged the contributions of both Rose Marie (Rusty) Springer and Julie Anderton, both former deans of women at Westmont, to the group’s formation and development, and to the deep connections forged between each individual.