class notes

1950s

Earlene Goldsmith Nall ’52 and husband Kenneth L. Nall ’53 celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary on Sept. 2, 2019. Both are from Atmore, Ala., and while in Auburn they taught courses as graduate assistants and were each elected to Phi Kappa Phi honor society. Ken graduated ROTC as a DMG (Distinguished Military Graduate) and was the Cadet Commander of the Auburn ROTC Corp of Engineers Battalion. After leaving Auburn, Earlene taught elementary education while Ken was employed in engineering and management at several Fortune 500 companies. He also founded several companies, including Hercules Waste Equipment Company, a successful national equipment manufacturing company. They have had season tickets to Auburn Football for many years and remain avid fans of Auburn sports. Earlene and Ken presently live in The Woodlands at Furman Retirement Community in Greenville, S.C.

1960s

J. Wayne Fears ’64 was awarded the 2019 Pinnacle Award, the Professional Outdoor Media Association’s top national book award, for his book “The Scouting Guide to Survival.” This is Fears’ third book to win a Pinnacle Award. He previously has published 33 books and more than 6,200 magazine articles related to hunting, fishing, conservation, wilderness survival, rustic cooking and more.

H.P. “Sandy” Purdon ’67 was inducted into the Lenox School (a Massachusetts high school) Athletic Hall of Fame. Earning 10 varsity letters in four years, Purdon later earned a degree in aerospace engineering from Auburn through a Marine Corps scholarship. A Vietnam veteran, Purdon is also the Commodore of the San Diego Yacht Club, and has for 20 years produced the largest fireworks on the West Coast (Big Bay Boom). He has held positions as a commissioner of the California Department of Boating, chairman of the Port Tenants Association, chairman of the San Diego International Sports Association, president of Fleet Week San Diego and executive director of the Dennis Conner/San Diego Yacht Club Stars & Stripes Challenge. Purdon was winner of the 1987 America’s Cup sailing event in Perth, Australia.

Beverly Smith Bentley ’68 has been selected by the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce as 2019 Citizen of the Year and served as grand marshal of the Christmas parade. 

Frank Gregory “Chuck” Charlton III ’69 paid his respects to his grandfather, Frank Gregory Charlton ’1915, by visiting Champigneulle, France on Nov. 3, 2018, 100 years to the day that the Allied infantry declared victory in World War I. The elder Charlton participated in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive with the U.S. Army’s 23rd Engineers, building roads and fortifications for the infantry in Champignuelle during the last days of the war. Passed down through the family is Charlton’s mess kit lid with the itinerary of his time in Europe inscribed on it. To read more about Charlton’s tour of France, visit numbnutiae.com/y/


1970s

Robert Bates ’70 writes: “On a trip to northern Italy in October, my wife Mary Zorn Bates and I rounded a corner in Lucca, Tuscany, to run into an Italian wearing a familiar cap. He and his wife had lived in Auburn a year back in the 1990s when she taught at Auburn University. What a pleasant surprise and enjoyable moment. It’s always great to be an Auburn Tiger and meet like-minded folks almost everywhere we go. War Eagle!”

Diane Phillips McKeithen ’75 published her third novel, “Cide Effects,” in 2019. Prior to becoming a novelist, McKeithen earned a Bachelor of Science teaching degree in speech and English, and was a teacher for both middle and high school, teaching English speech, debate, drama and gifted programs for 35 years. After retiring in 2011, she published her first novel, “In an Instant,” about a group of teenagers forced to survive the sudden death of everyone in their community older than 15. Based on the success of her first book, McKeithen would publish a sequel, “Just in Case” in 2018. She currently is at work on her fourth book, “Shooting Starr,” with hopes to publish in 2020.

Robert Blackwell ’78 recently retired from 25 years of full-time ministry in the Episcopal Church, has returned to live in Auburn and is serving part-time at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, the place where he first joined the church. Blackwell has served in three Alabama parishes, as well as a missionary in Damascus, Syria. He and his wife, Kay, are happy to be back on the Plains.

Joe Donofro ’78 and Jack McKibben III ’85 served as the primary leaders in the rehabilitation and preservation of a 1902 school in the city of Dothan, Ala. This architectural masterpiece will serve as a senior affordable-housing development to residents of the Dothan area. Unlike other projects, Donofro and McKibben have converted the historic landmark into an innovative facility while maintaining the integrity of the original structure, including the original staircases, high ceilings, antique window arches and more. The project’s completion is set for January 2020.

1980s

Norajill Norman Winstead ’80 retired and returned “home” to the Auburn area after almost 40 years away, including serving as a colonel in the United States Air Force for 20 years. A “returned” member of the Auburn United Methodist Church, Auburn sports, enjoying Lake Martin and hiking Alabama’s many state parks keep Winstead and her husband Duane busy.

Ted Warnock ’81 retired — for the second time. Following a career in the U.S. Air Force, Warnock spent 20 years as an aerospace engineering project analyst and consultant for the Department of Defense and U.S. Intelligence Community. Warnock lives in New Bern, N.C. with his wife Beth and still consults part-time for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in Arlington, Va.

Skip Pennington ’82 writes: “While on a vacation to Ireland in April 2019, we visited a wild raptor rescue shelter in Kilmallock, County Limerick. They performed a demonstration with various raptors, including an eagle. When I mentioned my alma mater had an eagle that flew at football games, the guide said he had seen video of the ‘War Eagle’ flying at the stadium in Auburn. Since I was wearing my Auburn cap, he insisted I get a photo of me holding their eagle. It was a great ‘War Eagle moment’”!

Daniel L. Haulman ’83 retired as supervisory historian at the Air Force Historical Research Agency at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. after working there for 37 years. Haulman received his Ph.D. in history from Auburn and started working with the agency as a co-op student, commuting from Auburn to Montgomery and back with fellow student Robert “Jeff” Jakeman ’88. Best known for his books and articles on the Tuskegee Airmen, Haulman lives in Montgomery with wife Ellen Haulman ’79

Gregory L. Young ’85 has been appointed deputy attorney general for the state of California, Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General in Los Angeles, Calif.

Susie West Mattox ’86 has recently published her first novel, “Fairly Strange,” a YA-Southern gothic ghost story set in a bay town in Alabama. Originally from Hamilton, Ala., Mattox resides in Montgomery with her husband, Tucker Mattox ’86. They have a son, Ty Mattox ’18, and a daughter, Carly.   

1990s

Penelope Prett ’90 was appointed chief information officer of Accenture, the leading global professional services company. Prett currently serves as senior managing director and global quality and risk lead for Accenture’s Resources Operating group. In her new role, Prett will lead the company’s CIO organization responsible for global IT operations and driving Accenture’s digital agenda, including all of the infrastructure, services and applications that enable Accenture people to work anytime, anywhere when serving clients.

Melissa McMurray ’92 and her husband Dan McMurray ’94 celebrated the coronation of their daughter, Collins McMurray, as the 2020 Miss Auburn University. Collins McMurray is currently a freshman majoring in chemical engineering, and she campaigned on a platform of recognizing the importance of arts in education. 

Leigh Dale Younce ’96 was recently promoted to vice president, Retail Advisory Services with international commercial real estate firm JLL.

Jason Money ’97 was named senior project manager of New York City-based design and architecture firm Workshop/APD. Focusing primarily on high-end homes and apartments, luxury residential developments, hotels and restaurants, Workshop/APD recognized Money and several staffers with full-time positions for helping the firm do great work on a variety of projects around New York City, including 111 Leroy Street, The Printing House, 70 Charlton and more.

Marsha Bass Schmid ’99 was recently crowned Miss Wheelchair USA. She writes: “I believe in work, hard work.’  I said these words at Camp War Eagle, not knowing I would experience the hardest work in my life after a brainstem stroke. In 2011, my life was almost taken; through years of rehabilitation I have learned to speak, swallow, and breathe on my own again. I love encouraging others to keep going! Although still in a wheelchair and experiencing right-side weakness, I have the eye of the tiger and will NEVER GIVE UP! WAR EAGLE!”

2000s

Porter Smith ’02, Tampa Bay market president for American Momentum Bank, was named to the Top 40 Under 40 list for the Greater Tampa Bay and Central Florida areas. In his role, Smith oversees regional operations for a bank with $1.6 billion in assets and a key market presence in Texas and Florida. He currently lives in Belleair, Fla. with his wife Susan Cox Smith ’02 and their children.

Natalie Harris Gilbert ’02 and Kelly Langley Poole ’02 recently celebrated 16 years of business owning and operating the Ellie Boutique in downtown Auburn, Ala. The two friends were 23 when they first opened the store and have managed to stay open throughout the changes in Auburn as well as the online retail landscape.

Sara Simchik (Frangiamore) Hough ’03 was promoted to principle technical expert, instrumentation, with Shell Global Solutions International B.V. alongside husband Adam, who is a high-performance computing architect. The Houghs recently moved to Amsterdam to continue working with their company.

Keri Scheutz Hallford ’09, a conservator at the Alabama Department of Archives and History in Montgomery, was integral in preparing a display of all six of Alabama’s constitutions. She also curated an exhibit on early Alabama maps within the archives that is on display through Spring 2020. The head of the Alabama Association of Archivists Facebook Page, Hallford and her husband, Jonathan Hallford ’05, live in Opelika with their daughter. 

Kelly Riley (Oravet) ’07 recently accepted a position as academic advisor in the Culverhouse College of Business at the University of Alabama. 

Ashley Irwin ’07 and husband Kevin Irwin ’08 welcomed a new Auburn Tiger to their family, son Luke Patrick Irwin, on Sept. 4, 2019.

Rob Bentley ’09 and his wife, Rhett, welcomed their first child, Robert Harris Bentley, Jr., on July 22, 2019. The couple lives in Chattanooga, Tenn.

2010s

Christa Cotton ’10 recently graduated from Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses and received her Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) certification. Cotton owns El Guapo, a New Orleans-based, acidified-foods manufacturing facility that produces a high-end line of bitters, syrups & cocktail mixers, in addition to private labeling and co-packing for other brands. The El Guapo line is currently sold by Neiman Marcus, Whole Foods and Costco. 

Sarah Sisser ’11, executive director of the Hancock Historical Museum in Toledo, Ohio, received a “20 Under 40 Leadership Recognition Award.” Sisser was named executive director at age 26 and is responsible for overseeing the museum’s nine-building campus that welcomes more than 25,000 visitors annually. In 2018, Sisser was recognized as the Ohio Museum Association’s Emerging Professional of the Year and the Scenic Ohio award.

Kali Bryan Chadick ’13, an agent with State Farm Insurance Agency, donated money for six infant cribs to Women’s Hope Medical Clinic in Opelika, Ala. as part of State Farm’s “Quotes for Good” campaign. For every insurance quote Chadick gave with the mention of Women’s Hope, she raised $10 for their cause. Chadick is following in the footsteps of her father, Thomas Bryan ’73, a State Farm agent for more than 50 years in the Auburn-Opelika community.

Adam Richelieu ’13 was listed in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Sports List. The primary liaison between the NFL Players’ Association and NFL agents on player contract issues, Richelieu brokered an agreement standardizing rookie contract language and created several new statistical categories related to contract finances. He has also played a key role in driving up position-specific contract values; wide receiver salaries are up more than 35% in the last three years.

Kelsey Davis Betz ’14 married Ryan Betz on Nov. 17, 2019. Betz currently works as a reporter for Mississippi Today, covering education and intersecting issues.

Ashley Selby Miller ’14 and her husband, Clay Miller ’14, celebrated the birth of their son, Bennett Anthony Miller, on Dec. 8, 2019.

Amy Jager ’15 was named to the NASA Kennedy Space Center Gateway Logistics Element (GLE) team working on systems integration and engineering. GLE is a new initiative launched in 2019 to lead NASA’s commercial supply chain for deep space, as part of NASA’s Artemis effort to land the first female and next man on the moon by 2024.

Amanda Spies ’16 is now a registered dietician and opened her own private practice, Eat Right, Happy Life, in Auburn, Ala. In her new role, Spies meets with clients one-on-one to help reach their health goals by checking their diet and life habits.

Molly Lawrence ’16 was selected to the Young Professional Leadership Council of CURE Childhood Cancer, an Atlanta-based non-profit that advances pediatric cancer research and provides patient and family support. The council will serve a two-year commitment supporting CURE’s mission through monthly meetings,  volunteer opportunities and hosting CURE’s annual “Spring Fever” event March 7, 2020.

Kaleigh Peltack ’17 designed the winning selection for the new Auburn affinity license plate. Peltack works as a graphic designer with the Office of Alumni Affairs at Auburn University.

Courtney Haun ’19 accepted a position at Samford University as assistant professor and director of the Healthcare Administration Undergraduate Program. Haun received her doctorate from Auburn’s Public Administration and Public Policy program in 2019.