By Michelle Koski with Helen Jones-Toms | Forefront Magazine, Spring 2019
Sixty years ago, the BSN Class of 1959 graduated from the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing and headed out into the world with their newly minted nursing degrees. Over the decades, they have had careers, families and adventures while remaining close to each other thanks in part to the efforts of classmates Sally Shea Syme and Dorothy "Dot" Esenwein Vosloh.
"I keep 4 x 6 cards with marriage dates, children's names, and other tidbits of info and have made the class newsletters for years," Vosloh said. "They began as carbon paper copies and classmates donated money for postage."
Although and email newsletter has replaced the carbon paper version, the enduring connection to each other and the school remains. Syme attributes these strong ties to their great BSN experiences, which included spending time with the school's namesake: Ohio Congresswoman, philanthropist, and health care advocate Frances Payne Bolton.
"Mrs. Bolton was always down-to-earth, and far ahead of her time," Syme said. "She would often invite students to her home for tea. If she wasn't going to be in town that week, she would pin her Thursday Night Cleveland Orchestra tickets on the FPB bulletin board for us to use. I will never forget those concerts."
In many ways, the class' annual luncheons hosted by Syme pay homage to Mrs. Bolton's sense of comradery.
At the 2001 luncheon, May L. Wykle, PhD, RN, FAAN, FGSA, then dean and now professor emerita, challenged the Class of 1959 to extend their good fellowship to the next generation of FPB graduates in the form of a class gift. The result was the creation of the Class of 1959 Endowment Fund with contributions over the years from 57 graduates and their friends. To date, more than 15 partial scholarships have been awarded.
A recent gift of $150,000 by classmate Sheila Stenger Collins and her husband, Walt, increased the impact of scholarship support for FPB students and will more than double the value of the fund. The Collins' gift was possible through the Richard J. Fasenmyer Foundation, established by the Collins' late friend, Richard J. Fasenmyer. Walt Collins served as a foundation trustee.
"Dick will always be remembered for his kindness, generosity and fun-loving spirit," Sheila Collins said. "He would have been honored to support students at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing."
Collins, who was a newlywed when she studied at FPB, continued, "All of us cherish our memories and friendships we made there. Our years at FPB were challenging and rewarding. I am proud to be a graduate of one of the best nursing schools in the country."
Third-year BSN students Robin Barr, a Class of '59 scholarship recipient, already shares that pride too. In a recent thank-you note to the class, she wrote, "I have wanted to study nursing at FPB since I was a junior in high school...Nursing is my passion and I have never second guessed what major I chose or what university I chose to attend."
The Class of 1959 celebrates their gift of friendship and philanthropy this fall at the 60th Reunion at the school's new home on the Health Education Campus.