April 27, 2010
By Darla Martin Tucker
Back in the late 1950s, students at La Sierra College had a few more rules to contend with than do those at current day La Sierra University. But they had an advantage that has served them well through the years; as a close knit community, worshipping, studying, working, playing and living all together in one place, they formed great memories and friendships that bind them together to this day.
On April 17, the connections between members of the Class of 1960 of La Sierra College were highly evident when dozens of classmates, with spouses and other family members in tow, converged at their alma mater for their 50th reunion banquet. In all, more than 100 people attended the dinner held in the Dining Commons’ Cactus Room.
Couples and groups began arriving for the 5:30 p.m. reception and class photo. Several took time out from lively conversations with long-time friends to recount a few of their favorite La Sierra memories.
Ladele Raley, a North Carolina resident, flies in for La Sierra class reunions “because it’s fun,” she said with a smile. La Sierra University’s Raley Drive, that circles up the left perimeter of the campus, is named after Ladele Raley’s grandfather. Homecoming always triggers warm recollections. “Those memories are really good, very, very strong,” she said. Special remembrances include fun-filled bus trips with the Collegiates choir up and down California to give performances, and talks with her then boyfriend under the campus palm trees. “Most of my friends are right here at La Sierra,” Raley said.
Walter Hamerslough not only attended La Sierra College, he later worked for the institution 39 years as a faculty member and department chair for Health, Exercise Science and Athletics. He retired in 2002. “I came from public school my junior year. I was always Seventh-day Adventist, but I think I really had a conversion experience [at La Sierra],” Hamerslough said. “This campus is very special to me. I’m glad I was able to be here as a student and as a faculty member.”
Albert Tilstra, former theology student and minister at a Seventh-day Adventist Church in Fallon, Nev., also cited La Sierra’s impact on his personal development. “It gave me a foundation I needed for my life,” he said. He worked as a night watchman during his La Sierra tenure, which required patrolling the dorms. “All the fellas were jealous because I got to go into the dorms until 2 a.m. They’d say, ‘did you see my girl there?’ Tilstra recalled with a laugh.
Class member Norman Vance, a Greenville, Tenn. resident and former hospital administrator and fundraiser, organized the reunion dinner. “I was always interested in sports, always loved intramural games. …It was a good experience here,” Vance said. “The thing is you have to remember, a lot of us wouldn’t be where we are now without Adventist education. A lot of us probably wouldn’t have made it out in the world. We were blessed with good educators…”
Vance returned to his alma mater during the 1990s and earned a graduate degree in hospital administration in 1995. His career in administration and fundraising included positions with Adventist Health, Parkview Community Hospital in Riverside and Corona Regional Medical Center.
For Class of ’60 alumna Nellie Kimbrough, Homecoming weekends are essential for strengthening social networks between former classmates. Reunions can also serve as venues for launching new journeys in life between single people of similar backgrounds and beliefs. “You meet old friends and rekindle old romances,” Kimbrough said.
During the reunion dinner, the class honored members Sylvia Davis and Nancy Everett Hallsted with red roses for their publication of the Class of 1960 annual newsletter every year for the past 50 years. Davis and her husband, Jerry, produced the annual letter through 1972. Hallsted and her husband, Byron, have produced the letter each year since then. During the banquet, the class voted to keep the letter going.
The Hallsteds traveled from Bethesda, Md. to attend La Sierra’s Homecoming weekend. “Writing the annual class letter all these years has brought [us] close to all their dear
class mates over the years,” the Hallsteds said.
Nancy Hallsted’s favorite memories include the excellent instruction of music professors Dr. Perry Beach and Dr. Alan Craw, college vespers, organ concerts, singing in school choirs and playing tympani in the LSC Orchestra. She fondly recalls portraying Anne Frank in La Sierra’s production of “The Diary” and at The Pasadena Civic Auditorium. To this day, Hallsted still feels deeply as did Anne that “everyone is still good at heart,” she said.
Byron Hallsted earned a degree in history from La Sierra and a Masters degree in government and international relations from George Washington University. He serves as a condominium consultant following a career that began at the Sino-Soviet Institute at George Washington University and led to a post with the federal government’s housing agency.
His most memorable experiences at La Sierra include serving as editor in chief of The Criterion. And the lessons learned under the instruction of Dr. Tom Little, Dr. Landeen, Dr. Fred Hoyt, Dr. Wilfred Airey and Coach William Napier helped mold his character writing skills, Hallsted said.
PR Contact: Larry Becker
Executive Director of University Relations
La Sierra University