Class Notes (Spring 2018) - Montreat College
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Class Notes

Pauline Ribelin Ross ’35

Pauline (Polly) Ribelin Ross, Montreat’s eldest alumnae, passed away at the age of 101 on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, surrounded by her family. Pauline was born Dec. 22, 1915, in Albemarle, N.C. She was preceded in death by her husband, Dr. James Hervey Ross. Pauline graduated from Montreat College in 1935 where she was May Queen her senior year. She met her future husband Hervey, a student at Davidson College, in Montreat, where both had summer jobs. Pauline attended the Presbyterian School of Education in Richmond, Va., in preparation to serve as a missionary to Mexico. In 1940, she moved to Mexico to marry Hervey Ross, where he was finishing medical school and starting an internship at the American-British Hospital. They lived four- and-a-half years in Mexico City and then moved to Morelia, Mexico, a city 200 miles west of the capital. There, Hervey practiced medicine and helped in the founding of a 100 bed (now 300) hospital. Since there were no English speaking schools in Morelia, Pauline spent her time homeschooling their 3 children. However, she learned to speak Spanish and taught Sunday school in the local Presbyterian church. Pauline and Hervey Ross served as Presbyterian missionaries from 1940 to 1966 in Mexico. They then moved to Nashville, Tenn., where Hervey became the medical secretary of the Board of World Missions. After his death, Pauline moved to Matthews, N.C., in 2004 to be closer to family. In 1967, she was awarded Montreat College’s Distinguished Alumni Service Award.

Mary Lou Gray Snead ’56

After graduating from Montreat, Mary earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education and taught school for four years. Her husband of 62 years is a retired dentist. They have lived in Danville, Va., for 56 years. Mary and her husband have four children, 11 grandchildren, and two great- grandchildren.

Bob and Sharon Hann portrait

Bob Hann ’63

Bob was ordained to the ministry of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in 1968, and in 2013 transferred his ministerial membership to the Reformed Church in America. He has served several churches as pastor and has taught at Temple University, LeMoyne College, and at Florida International University in Miami. Most recently he taught Greek and New Testament at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in Rochester, N.Y. He is now enjoying retirement with his wife, Sharon, and their cat, Bella, preaching and teaching occasionally. They live in a townhouse in a suburb of Rochester, mostly enjoying hobbies and traveling, and their involvement with Trinity Reformed Church. They do admit that winters in Rochester can be challenging! Their big event last year was a three-week vacation to western Canada and the Canadian Rockies in April, which was fantastic!

Mary Alice Payseur Holland ’63

Mary has been retired from teaching for 15 years. She is active in her church, First ARP Church in Gastonia, N.C. She has two grown children. At the present time, she is taking care of her husband, John, who has pancreatic cancer. She would love to hear from her Montreat classmates!

Dale Ward Lange ’66

Widowed in 2011, Dale married Michael Lange on May 8, 2016, and moved to Dunnellon, Fla. She is retired from teaching but still involved in church music. She is living a happy, rich life and wishes the same for all of her fellow alumni!

Sandra Edgerton Mann ’66

After graduating from Montreat, Mary earned her bachelor’s in elementary education and taught school for four years. Her husband of 62 years is a retired dentist. They have lived in Danville, Va., for 56 years. Mary and her husband have four children, 11 grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.

Leo Muller ’74

Leo got married in 1975 to Marlene Miller (now Muller; 42+ years and counting). They have a daughter, Anna Muller, 33, and a son, Peter Muller, 30. Leo is the executive director of CHOICES Education Group (, where he has been an employee since its inception in 1985 and executive director since 1996. After graduating from Montreat, Leo earned his bachelor’s degree in business from Seattle Pacific University in 1980, and he has lived in Seattle since 1977. He has been a member of Bethany Presbyterian Church since that time, where he has served as an elder and led music regularly. He still sings and plays acoustic and electric guitar, and he performs occasionally in other settings. He enjoys racquetball, running, hiking, traveling, and a good microbrew.

Debbie Elmore ’75

It is with great joy that Debbie announces the birth of her first grandchild, Aliza, born in June, to her son and daughter-in-law Aaron and Sarah. They live in Oklahoma, so there will be a lot more airline tickets in her future.

Geniese Gruner Gilman '78 with grandchildren

Tim Thurmond ’75

Tim played baseball under Coach Lynn Stranik while at Montreat. He now lives in Murray, Ky., and owns two small businesses, Thurmond Insurance and Thurmond Properties. Now married for 40 years, he and his wife have two adult children, three grandchildren, and three additional step-grandchildren. Tim recently retired from 25 years of volunteering for the youth baseball and softball program for the kids in his community. When both his curveball and fastball appeared to look the same, he felt it was time to take a break!

Ed Blanchard ’78

Ed and his wife, Patty, are serving with LDI in Chengdu, China. They are the team directors at Chengdu International School (CDIS). Two of their sons, John and Josh, are also working at CDIS. They are enjoying a global life with their children scattered all over the globe, and they look forward to re-connecting with friends and family in North Carolina this summer.

Geniese Gruner Gilman '78 with grandchildren

Geniese Gruner Gilman ’78

Geniese and her husband Tom thank God for three new grandbabies this last year: Worth, Grace, and Robert. They enjoyed visiting with so many friends at Homecoming 2017 and are looking forward to Homecoming 2018!

Kay Farmer Farrell ’78

Kay and her husband Tim recently retired and moved from Indiana to Lexington, Va. They are building a new home, and easing back into life in the mid- south has kept them busy but very happy.

Mark Snoddy ’80

Mark and his wife are empty-nesters, watching their kids grow and flourish as adults. Mark was recently in Montreat for Larry Wilson’s funeral in Graham Chapel and was sure that he could see faces from long ago.

Meg Russ ’09 Melinda Gasperson Halford ’10

Meg Russ ’09
Melinda Gasperson Halford ’10

After graduating from Montreat College, friends Meg Russ and Melinda Halford continued their education at Liberty University, earning master’s degrees in professional counseling. Now, Meg is a licensed professional counselor and a nationally certified counselor and Melinda is a licensed professional counselor associate. After graduating from Liberty, Meg and Melinda have worked together in the counseling field. They both have a Christian private practice in Swannanoa, N.C., just a short drive from Montreat. Meg works with children, adolescents, and adults. Melinda works with adolescents, adults, and couples. To learn more about Meg’s work, visit To learn more about Melinda’s work, visit

Alex Popa ’13 Carlie Popa ’14 with children at the Wears Valley Ranch

Alex Popa ’13
Carlie Popa ’14

After meeting at Montreat in 2012, Alex and Carlie were married in November of 2014. They fondly remember their years at Montreat, playing soccer, hiking up Lookout Mountain, and scrounging up coins to buy coffee at the Dripolator. Over the past few years, they have been serving in ministry at Wears Valley Ranch, right next to the Smoky Mountains in eastern Tennessee. Wears Valley Ranch is a home and school for children and youth who come from crisis family situations that they did not create. During their time there, the Lord has been so kind and gracious, allowing them to serve in several roles, beginning as mentors living in the homes with the students and assisting with daily discipleship and teaching, and then serving as houseparents in one of the girls’ homes for two-and-a-half years following their marriage. Over the past year, they have once again changed positions with Alex now serving as the biblical counselor to the male students and Carlie working in admissions and as the assistant in the Counseling Center. Wears Valley Ranch has changed their lives and they feel incredibly fortunate and blessed that the Lord has led them there and continues to sustain this wonderful ministry. Montreat will forever remain dear to them, as it was instrumental in laying the foundation for the Kingdom work they have since been called to.

Akira and Maddie Shavers

Akira Shavers ’16
Maddie Shavers ’16

Akira and Maddie are excited to be expecting a baby come June 2018!

Caleb O. Owolabi ’17

Caleb O. Owolabi ’17

Since graduating in 2017 with a bachelors in business management, Caleb became the youngest board member ever elected to the board of the YMI center on Eagle St. in downtown Asheville, N.C., the oldest African-American men’s center establishment in the country. He has also been hired to work for Buncombe County government where he works on tax payments for real estate and personal and business property. While doing this, he has also had chances to do his art, including directing, playacting, photography, and film webseries. ■



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