More from the MAC

Myrna Clinkenbeard with her daughters Tracy, Ashley and Kelly
Myrna Berry with her son Clayton

My Name is Myrna

By Melody Sanders

Myrna isn’t a common first name. According to the U.S. Social Security Administration, 1976 was the last time that the name Myrna ranked in the top 1,000 most popular names for girls. Even then it was ranked 950th. But, two long-time Drury employees named Myrna retired recently, and the unique similarities of the Drury Myrnas don’t end with the name.

They both worked around books. Myrna Clinkenbeard began working at Drury in 1981 and was director of the bookstore before she retired in 2011. Before Myrna Berry retired in 2012, after 27.5 years of service, she was the acquisitions manager for the F.W. Olin Library.

While working at Drury, both would email the campus periodically to provide information. However, this information also included a personal touch. Berry wrote movie reviews for the library’s newly purchased DVDs. You might have noticed that Clinkenbeard’s emails regarding the bookstore always included an inspirational quote.

Both Berry and Clinkenbeard were Drury graduates ­­— Berry in ‘93 and Clinkenbeard in ‘96. Both were also single moms who helped their children graduate from Drury through tuition remission.

Berry’s son Clayton ’93 toasted his mom at her retirement party, “Because she came to work at Drury, I was able to get an education here. My success in life can be attributed to her working at Drury and the sacrifices that she made.”

Clinkenbeard’s daughters feel the same about the opportunities their mom’s employment afforded them. Tracy ’84, Ashley ’88 and Kelly ’91 all attended college at Drury.

Kelly said, “I feel so blessed to have been able to attend Drury through the tuition remission program. As a single, working mother of three girls, mom could not have afforded to send us to such an outstanding school on her salary. I loved the fact that everybody knows your name at Drury. I feel so proud to say that I am a Drury graduate, and I am very grateful to my mom and Drury for the opportunity to attend such a prestigious university.”

Retirement brings a different life to both. Berry said that she is “relaxing and enjoying it.” She attends plays, goes to movies with friends and reads books from the public library. And, although she is allergic to cats, Berry insists on always living with one. A stray Siamese named Kitty recently adopted Berry.

Clinkenbeard wonders how she ever had time to work before she retired. She still adheres to a daily schedule, but it now includes family (six grandsons), walking, exercise classes, cooking, church and gardening.

We are proud to know that Drury gives opportunities through education, and in return, we appreciate Myrna Berry’s and Myrna Clinkenbeard’s dedication to making Drury a place filled with rich memories and wonderful people.

We wish them the best!

Matt Stell '06 at O'Reilly

Former Drury basketball player and philosophy and religion major, Matt Stell ‘06, performed at the O’Reilly Family Event Center with his band Deep Roots on June 15.

George Shannon and Betty Nelson Shannon

In the fall of 2011, Drury’s office of Alumni and Development received a check for $1.7 million from the estate of George and Betty Shannon. The gift was not a surprise, but the amount of the donation was unknown until the check arrived in the mail.

“George and Betty Shannon were dear, caring people,” said Judy Martin-Thompson, Drury’s former vice president of alumni and development. “Like many people of their generation, they thought about the greater good.”

Neither George nor Betty were Drury graduates, but they both took classes at Drury College. “The Shannons considered themselves Drury 1946 alumni. They always attended alumni events in St. Louis,” said Martin-Thompson.

The seed to give to Drury may have been initially planted long ago before any formal talks with Drury when the Shannons met Drury trustee Ben Parnell and his wife Jean on a cruise in the ‘80s. The Parnells (the late parents of current Drury president Todd Parnell) talked to the Shannons about Drury and developing a legacy.

Later, Martin-Thompson worked with the Shannons, who had no children, through the ‘80s and ‘90s about their estate planning, including how their gift would be utilized. The Shannons also made some significant donations prior to their deaths, especially for pre-medical scholarships. Martin-Thompson never pushed and the Shannons, a private couple, never revealed the size of their estate. “The Shannons were not extremely wealthy, but they lived simply, conservatively and invested wisely,” said Martin-Thompson.

After both of the Shannons passed away in 2010, the seven-figure check was a pleasant surprise when it arrived one day last fall, without warning, in the Alumni and Development mailbox. “The Shannons took great pride in their plan to donate a portion of their estate to Drury. Their donation will make a difference for students far into the future,” said Martin-Thompson.

The Scoop of the Century

Drury graduate dispatched the first accounts of the Titanic disaster

April 15, 2012 marked the 100-year anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. It was a Drury graduate who produced the first stories detailing the stories of the survivors.

Carlos Hurd graduated from Drury in 1897 where he served as editor of the Mirror and worked part-time as the editor of the Springfield Leader.

Hurd, who in 1912 was a reporter for the Pulitzer-owned St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and his wife Katherine boarded the ship the Carpathia on April 11, 1912, for a vacation to Europe.

Hurd awoke on the morning of April 15 and saw survivors of the Titanic being pulled aboard the Carpathia from lifeboats. Hurd immediately set to work interviewing survivors and compiling their stories of grief and horror.

The captain of the Carpathia instituted a “news blackout” and even confiscated paper. Hurd wrote on anything he could find, hid the notes and, upon pulling back into New York harbor, placed the notes in a cigar box, which he had waterproofed and festooned with champagne corks to make it buoyant, and tossed the box overboard to a boat hired by the New York Evening World.

Hurd’s story was published in the New York Evening World and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. In the following days, Hurd wrote several more stories about the Titanic survivors. To show his appreciation, Ralph Pulitzer gave Hurd an extra three weeks of vacation and a $1,000 bonus. Finally, Hurd and his wife got to take their trip to Europe on the Carpathia, but as the ship entered the Mediterranean, Hurd wrote to his parents, “I feel sure none who was on this ship will ever forget the four days we had the Titanic people aboard.”  He added, “I doubt whether these days will ever seem remote to us.”

Excerpted from a story by Drury Archivist William Garvin.

Matching Gift Programs = Giving x 2

I’ve been working in marketing at Clorox for a little over four years now, and have used my company’s corporate donation matching program to double my gift to Drury each year.

It’s a great program for everyone involved: Drury gets twice the mileage out of my gift, it allows Clorox to meet its annual giving targets while boosting employee engagement, and it makes me feel twice as good about the support I give to my alma mater. Plus, I still get to write off my portion of the gift as a tax deduction. If you work for a medium to large-sized company, I’d encourage you to find out if your company offers a similar program; there’s nothing to lose!

And now, for the shameless plug: The next time you’re at the store, deciding on which cleaning products to buy, remember which brand is helping support your alma mater – Clorox!

Drew Kifer, Class of ‘08
Associate Marketing Manager - The Clorox Company