One of the most anticipated events during Reunion Weekend is the annual awards presentation. This year’s event followed MBC President Pamela Fox’s remarks about the momentum and future plans of the college on Saturday morning. Alumnae/i from all classes gathered to congratulate award recipients.
Emily Smith Medallion
Named in honor of distinguished MBC alumna Emily McKelden Smith, this award was created by the MBC Board of Trustees to “honor an alumna/us who has made outstanding contributions to her/his community, church, the college, and the Commonwealth.”
Judy Lipes Garst ’63 is committed to providing top-notch educational experiences for students in Salem City Schools and volunteer service to her community and alma mater. Judy taught sixth grade full time for eight years and continued to substitute teach for 20 more years amidst numerous civic engagements. She served on the Committee for Standards of Quality Education and has remained active in the local Parent Teacher Association (PTA) since 1963, for which she was honored with the Virginia PTA Lifetime Membership award. Her 40 years of membership in the Salem Garden Club have included service in every office, and she works to preserve her community’s heritage as a member of the Salem Historical Society. Salem Presbyterian Church also has a large presence in her life, as she serves as deacon, elder, and trustee, as well as performing in its vocal and bell choirs. Judy, a history graduate, has contributed to Mary Baldwin as a member of the Alumnae Board of Directors and Board of Trustees, as a class leader, and by representing MBC at college fairs. In 2002, she received the prestigious Emily Wirsing Kelly Leadership Award.
Veteran philanthropist Anna Kate Reid Hipp ’63 has dedicated herself to a lifetime of service to numerous organizations, including steadfast support of MBC. After working in the development office at the University of Pennsylvania, Anna Kate focused on volunteerism and raising her family. She is a champion for environmental preservation and enrichment, and has chaired organizations such as Friends of the Reedy River, Trees Greenville, and the Pawley’s Island Beautification Committee. Anna Kate is also founding chair of Success by 6 of Greenville, a United Way program dedicated to improving school readiness, which is among the many activities that led to her receiving the YWCA Women of Achievement Award and the Women Making History Award, among other honors. During more than 25 years on the MBC Board of Trustees, she was the first woman to chair the board and she has served on every fundraising committee. Anna Kate has been honored with Mary Baldwin’s Sesquicentennial Medallion, an honorary doctorate of humane letters, and the Emily Wirsing Kelly Leadership Award.
Emily Wirsing Kelly Leadership Award
Artist and former Alumnae/i Association Board of Directors President Emily Wirsing Kelly ’63 passed away in 1985. Her husband, Timothy Kelly, established a leadership award and a student scholarship in her memory through the Kelly Foundation. The Emily Wirsing Kelly Leadership Award recognizes an alumna/us who has demonstrated outstanding service and excellence in leadership on behalf of Mary Baldwin College.
An accomplished professional and an active volunteer, Emily Elizabeth Oehler ’93 has 20 years of experience in the communication field. She works as a strategy and organization communication consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton, assisting clients from the Army Warrior Transition Command, Veterans Benefits Administration, Army Wounded Warrior Program, and Army Casualty and Mortuary Affairs. Last year, Emily became an advisor for a new nonprofit organization, Silent Siren, which expands community crisis intervention support for military service members and veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. She also serves on the board of directors for The Child & Family Network Centers, a nonprofit providing free education to at-risk children, and she has been a member of the Junior League of Northern Virginia since 1994. Emily has made a contribution to the college every year since graduating and is a member of the Kiracofe Society in recognition of her planned gift. Her leadership roles for MBC have included serving as a class leader for several years and a stint on the Advisory Board of Visitors.
After graduating from Mary Baldwin College with her biology degree, Shearer Troxell Luck ’63 attended the Medical College of Virginia and earned her bachelor of science in physical therapy. Her work as a physical therapist at Sheltering Arms Physical Rehabilitation Hospital and Richmond Memorial Hospital, as well as membership in the Virginia Physical Therapy Association and the American Physical Therapy Association kept her connected to a vibrant professional network throughout her career. Shearer’s activities outside of work centered around her four children, including membership in various parent teacher associations, band boosters, athletic boosters, Boy Scouts, and mentoring elementary school students. She has also been a champion for health and wellness causes through the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society, as well as an active member of Duncan Memorial United Methodist Church. Shearer is the gift co-chair for the Class of 1963 and has served as Reunion co-chair and as New Directions Campaign chair for the Richmond area. In 2003, MBC acknowledged her energetic commitment with the Service to Community Award.
Admissions Volunteer Excellence
Neille McRae Wilson ’68 was involved in nearly every possible activity as a student at MBC, including Glee Club, English Clan, Young Democrats, Campus Comments, the Sophomore Show, and Student Activities Committee. During her junior year, she traveled to Paris, and, after earning her degree in French, she worked as a secretary for several organizations. She was also active in the Telfair County Middle School Parent Teacher Association. An advocate for the arts, Neille chaired the Arty-Facts program through Orlando Public Schools, which sought to introduce students to famous artists and their works. Over the years, Neille has remained an avid supporter of Mary Baldwin, serving on the Alumnae/i Board, chairing her 10th Reunion, and participating in the Atlanta alumnae group. She frequently attends college fairs to encourage prospective students to explore MBC, and she assists with alumnae luncheons and other events.
Community of Faith Award
The Community of Faith Award honors an alumna/us who has provided distinguished service to her church and spiritual community.
Reverend Betty Jean Gilmer Young ’50 igniting a passion that would lead her on her future career path when she joined the Presbyterian church at the tender age of 9, and has dedicated her life to worship and service. During her Mary Baldwin days, she was a leading member of the Young Women’s Christian Association and shepherded the Westminster Fellowship group. Additionally, she was a member of the Presidents’ Forum, Student Council, Glee Club, Music Club, and French Club. After graduating from MBC, Betty Jean earned a master of religious education from Princeton Theological Seminary and a master of divinity from San Francisco Theological Seminary. Prior to becoming a Presbyterian minister, Betty Jean filled many important roles within the church and provided guidance to committees and task forces covering topics such as curriculum and child advocacy. She served as a Christian educator at Blacksburg Presbyterian Church and joined the Rotary Club. She has since served as a pastor, interim minister, and minister at several churches in northern California and Washington.
In retirement, Betty Jean is chair of the Vespers committee, working to bring ministers into the community each week to provide worship opportunities for residents of the Lexington, Virginia, retirement community where she resides.
Community Service Award
Whether she is in her hometown of Rye, New York, or in London, Gabrielle “Gabby” Gelzer McCree ’83 touches the community in lasting ways. She is a member of New York State Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, a nonprofit association of professionals concerned with instructing English language learners at all levels of public and private education. For the past 20 years, she has also been a steadfast volunteer at her childrens’ schools, serving multiple functions, from class parent to library volunteer. She began tutoring writing at the School of the Holy Child last year, and she went on a school-led mission trip to Lagos, Nigeria, with her daughter. While living abroad, Gabby served on the board for Junior League of London and spent time as a Sunday school teacher at St. Columba’s Church. A member of Rye Presbyterian Church, she participates in various worship activities, including Bible study, mission study, and co-chairing the stewardship committee. Gabby has served as an MBC Reunion chair and on the Reunion gift committee, and she raised funds with her classmates to establish the Mona Olds Scholarship. Gabby is earning her master’s degree in education while working as an adjunct instructor at the English Language Institute at Manhattanville College.
Career Achievement Award
The career accomplishments of Page Putnam Miller ’63 span work as historian, professor, director, and lobbyist. During two decades as executive director of the National Coordinating Committee for the Promotion of History, Page lobbied in Washington DC for the historical and archival professions, providing testimony to United States House and Senate committees on more than 30 occasions. She now serves as Distinguished Visiting Lecturer for the University of South Carolina’s history department. She was honored for outstanding contributions to public policy and practice by the Third National Conference on Women and Historic Preservation, and she received the Society for History in the Federal Government’s Franklin Delano Roosevelt Award. Even in retirement, her enthusiasm for history has not waned and neither has her work ethic. She has written several books and scholarly articles on historical topics, including women’s roles throughout history and Fripp Island, the South Carolina town where she lives. An active supporter of MBC, she regularly attends Reunion and received the Sesquicentennial Medallion in recognition of her contributions.