“Long Maroon Line” celebrates Elon’s past and future

Alumni from around the nation returned to campus to be part of this special procession that kicked off the university’s 2013 Fall Convocation headlined by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

By Megan McClure and Keren Rivas ’04

A “Long Maroon Line” of 125 alumni donned maroon robes and processed into Alumni Gym at the opening of Convocation on Oct. 3 as a special tribute to Elon’s 125th anniversary.

Participants in the ceremony were selected by members of Elon’s faculty and staff based on their ongoing commitment and involvement with the university, and included alumni from every decade of Elon graduates dating back to 1930s. A special reception in McKinnon Hall following Convocation honored line participants, who were also invited to visit Elon’s new Martin Alumni Center.

“The ‘Long Maroon Line’ celebrates the importance of alumni in both Elon’s past and future,” says John H. Barnhill ’92, Elon’s assistant vice president for university advancement. “These alumni have stayed involved at Elon by serving on boards and reunion committees, attending university events, opening professional doors for other Elon graduates, and investing in the university every year.

“They embody what it means to act as Elon partners, advocates and investors.”

J. Rankin Parks ’32, Elon's oldest alumnus, and granddaughter Elizabeth Fisher Goad ’95.
At age 103, J. Rankin Parks ’32 was the oldest alumni present, something that earned him a standing ovation as he led the procession before Convocation. While the Elon he attended was considerably different from the Elon of today, he felt right at home surrounded by alumni who wanted to shake his hand and snap his photo.

“I’m surprised at the growth,” Parks said reflecting on the transformation the campus has undergone during his lifetime. But, he added, “I’m quite proud of Elon and the way it turned out.”

During his opening remarks, President Leo M. Lambert thanked Parks for his continued support to Elon through the Rena Cole and J. Rankin Parks ’32 Endowed Scholarship, a fund Parks and his late wife established to support students with financial needs.

“We are grateful for your decades of support and loyalty to Elon,” Lambert said. “… Members of the ‘Long Maroon Line,’ thank you. You honor us with your presence and we are so proud to have you with us today.”

For Elizabeth Fisher Goad ’95, Parks’ granddaughter who accompanied him in the processional, being part of the “Long Maroon Line” alongside her grandfather was particularly special. “It meant a great deal to me,” she said. “Elon is our special connection.”

Jennifer Hiltwine ’09, a member of the Young Alumni Council and Washington, D.C. Alumni Chapter, said she was humbled to be invited to be part of the line and stand next to generations of alumni who came before her. “It may not be the same Elon for all of us, but it’s the same school,” she said, adding the event showed students that the Elon experience extends beyond four years.

A special reception in McKinnon Hall following Convocation honored alumni who participated in the Long Maroon Line.
“You have all these great experiences when you are here as a student and when you leave, you wonder what’s next,” she added. “It doesn’t end the day you graduate.”

That’s because Elon becomes part of one’s life, said Britten Ginsburg Pund ’06, past president of the Young Alumni Council and recipient of the 2013 Young Alumna of the Year. “Elon is home to me; this is the place I can come back to and always be accepted, have support,” she said. “To know that the university has such rich history and walk with people who helped create this university, it’s special.”

For Christian Wiggins ’03 the event was about Elon’s future as much as its past. “Celebrating 125 years is important; foreshadowing the future is also important,” he said, adding it was good for students to see alumni involved in the life of the university. The relationship with Elon, he said, “is a lifelong commitment, not just four years.”

Longtime Elon supporter Dolores Truitt ’53 agreed. “Elon is a way of life; once you are here, you never leave,” she said. “I’m so proud of how Elon has grown and the vision of prestige. The campus is different and yet, it is the same. The feeling of a small community, family, the friendliness of its people—it’s the same.”

J. Earl Danieley '46 (center)
President Emeritus J. Earl Danieley ’46 put it simply: “My thesis is this: There is no more remarkable story in the history of American higher education than the story of the growth and development of Elon University; 4,000 institutions and nobody has a better story than the one we got.”

Darryl Smith ’86 said being part of the “Long Maroon Line” was a way for him to continue giving back to his alma mater. Besides being an active member of Elon’s Black Alumni Network, he’s working to set up a pipeline between Love School of Business students and his company, UPS, to provide employment opportunities.

“Someone gave me an opportunity and I want to continue giving that to someone else,” he said.

The yearlong celebration of Elon’s 125th anniversary continues during Homecoming 2013, Nov. 8–10, with special events scheduled throughout the weekend. A 125th anniversary celebration on Nov. 8 is open to the Elon community and marks the on-campus debut of a new video by Tim Johnson ’09 and Max Cantor ’10 that captures the Elon alumni experience. Class and affinity reunion volunteers will also receive special recognition from President Lambert during the celebration.

Elon’s quasquicentennial historical exhibit, which showcases key moments in the university’s history, will be open throughout the weekend in the Isabella Cannon Room of the Center for the Arts.

“This has become the ‘year of the alumni,’” Hiltwine said. “The alumni engagement office staff has really come together to create an awesome program and experience for both young and older alumni to help them feel connected to the campus and the current goings-on of the university.

“I’m looking forward to what the rest of the year has to offer and am so proud to call myself a graduate of Elon University.”

Members of the “Long Maroon Line”

  1. J. Rankin Parks ’32
  2. Jim White ’40
  3. Earl Danieley ’46 GP’05 ’10 ’14
  4. Jeanne Meredith Busse ’49
  5. Wayne Moore ’49
  6. Jim Drummond ’50
  7. Fred Bowman ’51
  8. Joan Summers Drummond ’52
  9. Helen Hodge Pennington ’52
  10. Dolores Hagan Truitt ’53 P’85
  11. John Truitt ’53 P’85
  12. Don Pennington ’54
  13. Sherrill Hall ’55 GP’08 ’12
  14. Billie Faye Johnson Bolden ’56
  15. Jack Lindley ’56 P’83
  16. George Nall ’56
  17. Dick Simpson ’57
  18. Jim McCauley ’59
  19. Don Blalock ’60 P’92
  20. Jim Humphrey ’60
  21. Jerrie Nall ’60
  22. Ed Wilson ’60 P’86
  23. Nancy Hudson Wilson ’60
  24. Glenda Isley Blalock ’61 P’92
  25. Faye Danieley Conally ’61
  26. Vic Hoffman ’61 P’90
  27. Faye Gordon Humphrey ’61
  28. Della Marie Vickers McKinnon ’62
  29. Jerry Drake ’63
  30. Carolyn Wright McDuffie ’64 P’96
  31. Lowell Thomas ’65
  32. Tyrone McDuffie ’66 P’96
  33. Mary Coolidge Ruth ’66
  34. Bill Ruth ’66
  35. Sam Troy ’67
  36. Noel Allen ’69 P’07
  37. Amy Thomas Hendrickson ’69
  38. Jay Hendrickson ’71
  39. Ellen Rhodes Covington ’73 P’02 ’04 ’07
  40. Gary Evans ’74 P’01
  41. Raymond Beck ’75
  42. Don Covington ’75 P’02 ’04 ’07
  43. Betty Nixon Morgan ’75
  44. Shelly Skeens Hazel ’78 LP’09
  45. Linda Bartlett Moore ’78
  46. Tim Moore ’78
  47. Lorraine McPherson Allen ’79 G’87 P’88 ’91 ’95
  48. Perry Black ’80 P’09
  49. Vickie Blackwell Morrow ’80 P’07 LP’10
  50. Kyle Wills ’81 P’11
  51. Hunt Ward ’82 P’11 ’17
  52. Lisa Johnston Smithdeal ’83 P’12
  53. Bill Tippett ’83
  54. Tracey Walser Nugent ’84 P’15
  55. Sandra Reid ’85
  56. Darryl Smith ’86
  57. Rhonda Andrews Belton ’87 G’92 P’04 LP’13
  58. Kim Bush Mack ’87
  59. Sam Burke ’89
  60. Vickie Somers ’89
  61. Brenda Fletcher ’90
  62. Annette Leath Orbert ’90
  63. Tony Roper ’90 P’11
  64. Antwinette Mitchell ’91
  65. Dave Oakley ’91
  66. Leslie Groves ’93
  67. Mike Mooney ’93
  68. Jay Harper ’94
  69. Krista Horton Mooney ’94
  70. Priscilla Awkard ’95
  71. Elizabeth Fisher Goad ’95
  72. John Keegan ’96
  73. Donna Gentry McCauley ’96
  74. Joy Crawford ’97
  75. Becky Romig Parks ’97
  76. Racheal Lee Stimpson ’97
  77. Regina Carter Booker ’98
  78. Jennifer McCumber Curtin ’98
  79. Misty O’Day ’98 G’07
  80. Lisa Hurtgen Pope ’98
  81. Kebbler McGhee Williams ’98
  82. Julie Messina ’99
  83. Elic Senter ’99
  84. Akilah Owens Harris ’01
  85. Chisa Pennix-Brown ’01
  86. Susan Morgan Patton ’02
  87. Lisa Purtz Keegan ’03
  88. John Pickett ’03
  89. Christian Wiggins ’03
  90. Nichelle Harrison ’04 L’09
  91. Melissa Jordan ’04
  92. Renita Leak Webb ’04
  93. Kristi Garton Hollins ’05
  94. Zack Pund ’05
  95. Sarah Thomas ’05 G’09
  96. Erin Andrews ’06 G’11
  97. Brent Henderly ’06 G’09
  98. Britten Ginsburg Pund ’06
  99. Jeremy Allen ’07
  100. David Morrow ’07 L’10
  101. Ian Baltutis ’08
  102. Aliana Harrison ’08
  103. Gray Hunter ’08
  104. Kim Poe Leighty ’08
  105. Kimberly Cote Simpson ’08
  106. Kyle Smith ’08
  107. Meredith Legin Smith ’08 G’12
  108. Lisa Dawn Akers Thompson ’08
  109. Andrew Wilen ’08
  110. Jordan Bacharach ’09
  111. Brittany Feimster ’09
  112. Kat Gosney ’09 L’12
  113. Jennifer Hiltwine ’09
  114. Stacy Laue ’09
  115. Scott Leighty ’09
  116. Caroline Deal ’10
  117. Kaitlyn Schultz ’10
  118. Jeremy Teetor ’10
  119. Walt Yates ’10
  120. Carl Hairston ’11
  121. Greg Mader ’11
  122. Justin Peterson  ’11
  123. Elena Pipino ’12
  124. Arayael Brandner ’13
  125. Tricia Teter ’13