Most parents attend their children’s graduation, but few sit beside them wearing a cap and gown. But so it was in 1961 that Ann Hall née Loftis ’61 sat beside her mother Irene Dill Loftis ’61 as part of the first Furman class to graduate in McAlister Auditorium. Irene, who is now 105, still lives in South Carolina, and though age has weakened her body, her mind still fervently possesses a love of learning.
When Irene graduated with her daughter, it was the second time she had attended Greenville’s Women’s College, which merged with Furman beginning in 1932. Irene was 18 when she entered the Women’s College, but after two years she left to marry Harvey Loftis ’29 and start a family. But her desire for an education led her return to Furman in the late 1950s to earn her diploma. After graduating with Ann, Irene went on to complete a Masters of Library Science from Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. She then worked as a librarian at Baker’s Chapel Elementary School in Greenville County until she retired in 1975.
Ann recalls that her mother enjoyed reading encyclopedias, always on a quest for knowledge. But most of all, Irene cherished books. “She liked all kinds of books, but she loved the romantic poets.” Irene even wrote her own poetry and had her work published in the The Isaqueena, the Literary Magazine of the Women’s College. More recently, at the age of 90, Irene entered a poetry competition and won an award.
It seems that a love of learning runs in the Loftis family. “I come from a family of educators. . . ,” Ann says. Her father was a principal, her son is a teacher, and Ann worked as an elementary teacher before becoming principal of M. S. Bailey and Clinton Elementary Schools in Clinton, S.C. Ann also has two brothers who were teachers.
Although her mother Irene is not always communicative, she is spirited and still loves words. “I started reciting nursery rhymes to her, and her eyes would light up and she’d finish the phrase,” Ann says as she recalls singing “Jack and Jill.” Since then, Irene not only completes the phrases her daughter sings, but she composes endings that communicate her memories, such as “Jack and Jill went up the hill to go to Tigerville,” which is the town near Travelers Rest where she grew up.
“She has an incredible will to live; when she was 102 she was at her lowest with a bout of pneumonia, but she recovered and she’s happy.” Irene Loftis will be 106 on Christmas Day.
Romantic Song (Published in the National Poetry Awards in 1964)
by Irene Loftis
“Lilies for a bridal bed
Roses for a matron’s head
Violets for a maiden dead” – P.B. Shelley
“Violets for a maiden dead,”
Plant them thick, and at the head
Set lilies pale on grey-green stems.
These shall be her requiems.
She will not know – who died so young
By lover scorned – unknown, unsung.
But violets thick, with greenery laced,
Will mark her grave with purple grace.
And lilies pale on grey-green stems,
Shall show for aye, her love for him.
Dr. Grant Knox
Furman University Lyric Theatre will present an opera scenes recital Tuesday, Nov. 17, at 8 p.m. in Daniel Recital Hall on the Furman campus.
The recital, “Innocent Merriment: A celebration of operetta,” is free and open to the public and is presented by the Furman University Music Department.
The performance is directed by Furman Assistant Professor of Voice and Director of Lyric Theatre Dr. Grant Knox.
Twenty-two students in Grant’s opera workshop class will perform various scenes from the operetta repertoire. Featured composers include Arthur Sullivan, Jacques Offenbach, Otto Nicolai, Johann Strauss II, Sigmund Romberg, Richard Rodgers and Jerome Kern. All scenes will be performed in English.
Furman faculty member David Gross is musical coach and pianist. Furman senior Abigail Hart is assistant director.
For more information about the recital, call the Furman Music Office at (864) 294-2086.
About Grant Knox
Knox joined the Furman music faculty in 2013. An American tenor, Knox enjoys a varied career in opera, musical theater, concert and recital. He has appeared with the Cincinnati Opera, Atlanta Opera, Chicago Opera Theater, and Chautauqua Opera, among others. Equally versed in concert repertoire, Knox has performed with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Illinois Philharmonic, Cobb Symphony, Binghamton Philharmonic, and others, and has appeared in recital at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
As a recording artist, Knox can be heard on the complete cast recordings of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Grand Duke” and “The Sorcerer,” Offenbach’s “The Brigands,” Romberg’s “Maytime,” and Kalman’s “The Carnival Fairy,” all released on the Albany Records label.
Knox holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music and a doctorate from Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music.
Dr. Omar Carmenates
The Furman Percussion Ensemble will present a concert Saturday, Nov. 21, at 8 p.m. in Daniel Recital Hall on the Furman University campus.
Directed by Furman music faculty member Dr. Omar Carmenates, A Night of World Premieres is open to the public, and is presented by the Furman Department of Music Sound Quality Concert Series. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and $5 for students.
The 90-minute concert by the 16-member Percussion Ensemble features contemporary works from both established and emerging composers including a world premiere from pianist and Furman alum Jesse James (Class of 2012). Works by Drew Worden and Christopher Deane, and world premieres by John Psathas (arr. by Omar Carmenates), David Crowell, and David Skidmore are also part of the program.
For more information about the event, contact the Furman University Music Department at (864) 294-2086, or email the department at Furman.Music@furman.edu. Tickets may be purchased online at www.furman.edu/musictickets.
The Muslim Student Association at Furman has released the following statement in reaction to the terrorist attacks that took place in Paris Friday night:
“The Muslim Student Association (MSA) at Furman University and its Faculty Advisor Dr. Akan Malici from the Political Science Department are horrified by the terrorist attacks that took place in Paris, France on Friday. We, as Muslims at Furman University, just like Muslims anywhere, condemn these horrific acts of violence. We pray for the victims and their families and we stand together with the victims and the people of France and we have and will stand together with whoever is affected by such crimes. We wish that perpetrators of these crimes will be brought to justice.
We agree with the statements issued by the leading Muslim Organizations in America, the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). Their statements are here:
We are Muslims and our Islamic values are values of justice, compassion and love. Violence and killing is abhorrent to Islam and as Muslims we believe that the taking of one innocent life is equal to the killing of all of humanity. The terrorists who are committing barbarous acts like those in Paris, are not only enemies of the West, they are enemies of humanity. We will continue to be committed to do whatever we can against terrorists who are acting in the name of religion and bringing havoc to humanity.”