Our mother, Lois Virginia Bailey Friel, graduated from Auburn in 1936 from the College of Education with a major in English and a minor in history. She taught and substituted while rearing us and ended her career as a special education teacher, making a tremendous difference in the lives of some special needs children.
Her father died when she was only 6 years old and her single mother reared her and her two brothers through the Great Depression in Opelika. She probably had as little as anybody ever had, but we never heard her complain about what she did without while growing up. Her mother did not have a college degree and jobs were extremely scarce.
Because of the hardship she lived, Mother was determined to get a degree from Auburn. At that time few women attended college, nor was it considered necessary. She knew that if she should one day lose her husband she would need to be able to take care of her family. She was able to get rides to Auburn and would gladly go early or stay as late as her ride provider needed. Buying text books was not possible. Fortunately, the library had copies, so all of her studying had to take place there,
I’ll never forget, when I was asked to join Kappa Delta Pi, the education honorary, she broke down in tears. She had been asked to join, but didn’t have the very small initiation fee and had to decline.
Mother was a proud woman and so very thankful for everything she had and every opportunity. She was determined to give her children a better living than her mother had been able to provide. She is truly our heroine and a meaningful example of a strong, resourceful, determined Auburn woman.
Our father, William Eugene Friel, graduated from Auburn in 1934 in Mechanical Engineering. We were all blessed that he made it home after WWII.
Their hearts overflowed with pride when their children and grandchildren became the fourth generation to experience the Spirit of Auburn. Auburn has had a magical effect on all of our lives and we are so thankful.
Nancy Friel Huey ‘60
Jean Friel Hultgren ‘62
Ercel Friel Donehoo ‘63