Celebrating the Class of ’61

Black and white image of members of the Class of 1961


In the beginning …

“Our class of ’61 first gathered in the fall of 1957. We met surrounded by the smell of still-wet plaster and the sound of jackhammers announcing ongoing construction. Called the Pioneers, we and the few classes before us would watch a very special history unfold.”
— Sandra M. (Cassell) Farrell ’61 (BA)

Dressing to the nines

“1961 seems only a short time ago when I think back to my wonderful years at the San Diego College for Women, but in reality it’s been 60 years! Mother Aimée Rossi and Mother Catherine McShane were two of the nuns whose advice I valued and still remember to this day. They seemed to be so ‘current.’ Bishop Buddy hired me to work at the Men’s College Library, in charge of periodicals. That was a job I loved and was grateful for. He also had the campus employees for a Christmas dinner at his campus residence, which I loved. We dressed to the nines!” — Tippy (Gary) Thibodeau ’61 (BA)

vintage photo of men and women dancing at USD in 1961A different time

“I recall leading academic and religious precessions in cap and gown with my identical twin sister [Mary Orradre ’61] for three years. As Mary and I were graduating, we had a meeting with Mother Murphy. She asked us what we thought of the idea of combining the men’s and women’s colleges. We said it was the right move. I’m sure there was lots of input into that decision, but we were glad we could have a very small part of it too.” — Martha (Fiorino) Dowell ’61 (BA)

Talk about small class size …

“Most of the College for Men students were transfers from around the country, and we had a tremendous group of athletes for our football team and other sports. With fewer than 300 students in our classes, we all got to know each other very well.” — Dennis Halloran ’61 (BBA)

Magic happened

“When the San Diego College for Women was completed, boarders arrived with luggage while wearing hats and gloves. All classes on our side of the street were for women only, and dorm life had its own culture: no food, lights out at 10 p.m. and a pay phone at each corner of the dorm floor. Yet, in what by today’s standards may seem spartan, magic happened. Casual teenage acquaintances would develop into cherished lifelong friendships. We were in one another’s weddings, celebrating each other’s children, attended funerals. The bonds are many and deep, so blessed are we.” — Sandra M. (Cassell) Farrell ’61 (BA)

The nuns have it

“If there was one specific memory that sums up my experience at USD, it was the dedication that the Religious of the Sacred Heart nuns had to their students. Four years with the nuns enabled us to understand time management and hit the ground running. All of the nuns had an influence on me, but Mothers McShane, Murphy, Reilly, Furay and Rossi stand out. Mother McShane was my no-nonsense history professor: the good, the bad and the ugly were part of her curriculum.” — Mary (Fiorino) Orradre ’61 (BA)

Vintage photo of a helicopter dangling a cross from a chain in mid-airA near miss

“I attended the College for Men from 1957-1961. Most of today’s campus was under construction, including The Immaculata. I recall seeing a wind gust that almost caused the helicopter that was lifting the cross to the church bell tower to crash.” — Thomas Whelan ’61 (BBA)

Spoiler: The nun won

“I will never forget Mother McShane’s encounter with the Navy: she won (of course). It was early December, and the Christmas Ball was near. Two days before the event, Mother McShane learned three of four of her senior girls’ dates were deploying
on maneuvers the day before the dance. (Mother was the senior class councilor.) She tersely said ‘l will see about that!’ The ship departed the day after the dance.” — Mary (Fiorino) Orradre ’61 (BA)

That’s just ducky

“I remember raising a duck in our embryology class from an egg to a mature duckling. We had 12 fertilized eggs and only one hatched. We studied the various stages of the duck’s development. I took Junior home to Everett, Washington, at the end of the school year. She lived a good life there.” — Martha (Fiorino) Dowell ’61 (BA)

Pitchers and peanuts

“I was awarded best actor for my portrayal of Elwood P. Dowd in Harvey, which was memorable among the plays I did. Our hangout off campus was the Dutch Mill, where we crammed for a lot of exams between pitchers and peanuts; only a few students had cars and it was within walking distance. I still have lifelong friends that I keep in touch with, and that is the most rewarding aspect of life at USD.” — Dennis Halloran ’61 (BBA)

black and white photo of baby ducklingThe show must go on

“Yearly musicals with the College for Men were always fun. One memory I will never forget is that I had an attack of appendicitis while working backstage at one of the Women’s College annual musicals, Pirates of Penzance. I went off to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy and the show went on very nicely without me!” — Tippy (Gary) Thibodeau ’61 (BA)

Miracles abound(ed)

“Through the kaleidoscope, visions appear. Pink geraniums blaze across Marian Way in riotous color; a small plane, attempting to lower the cross on The Immaculata’s dome, is caught in a downdraft and scares us — while singing, in academic dress — witless! Nuns, semi- cloistered and in full habit, go by the name Mother and touch our lives and our futures in ways both beautiful and profound. We were the lucky ones. We knew the voices of both Bishop Buddy and Reverend Mother Hill. When I explore the campus now, their presence is so strong that they seem like companions as I walk. Together, we marvel at the wonder called USD.” — Sandra M. Cassell Farrell ’61 (BA

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