Current Issue / DU Alumni

1943 alums keep in touch via round-robin letter

(From left) Betty Jean (Davisson) Ferris, BA ’43; Kathryn (Shacklett) McGregor, BA ’43; Laura (Martin) McLean, BA ’43; Louise Speer, BA ’43; Mary (Epler) Anderson, BA ’43; and Eileen (Showalter) Schrader, BA ’43. Photo courtesy of Louise Speer

When Louise “Nan” (Smith) Speer graduated from DU in 1943, she and five friends who had lived together in Schuler Hall decided that no matter where they went, they’d stay in touch. They’d already endured one separation: In their senior year they had to leave the dorm and move in with families near the University because their rooms were reallocated to Air Force cadets.

After graduating, they soon scattered throughout the country and began their careers and families. It would have been understandable if they’d lost touch.

But 62 years later, they’re still the best of friends.

Soon after graduation they began a letter-writing “round robin.” One of the friends wrote a letter describing her life and sent it to the next. As it made its way around to the six women, they each read their friends’ letters and enclosed one of their own in the packet before mailing. When the circle was completed, each recipient removed the letter she’d last written, replacing it with her latest news. As the years progressed, they included photographs and news of their children and grandchildren.

“We are all active mentally and enjoy hearing from one another,” Speer says.

Although they also stay in contact by telephone and e-mail, the round robin continues as handwritten or typed letters that are mailed from coast to coast and to several spots in between, making the rounds up to three times each year.


Sadly, on Dec. 1, shortly after this article was written, Betty Jean Ferris passed away in Sweetwater, Texas.

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