Laughs, hugs fill All Saints reunion

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 7, 2009

Old friends and former classmates gathered at the All Saints’ Episcopal School and All Saints’ College campus for their first all-class reunion since the school closed in 2006.

More than 500 former students, faculty and guests from all over the country registered for the three-day event, which kicked off with an open house Friday evening.

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• 9-11 a.m.  — Registration continues on Green Hall Porch.

• 11 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. — Chapel service, Bishop Duncan Gray.

• 1-2 p.m.  — Lunch, cafeteria and on Bishops’ Terrace.

• 2-4 p.m.  — Walk down Memory Lane, gym.

• 7-10 p.m.  — Dinner and entertainment.


• 10:30 a.m. — Church service, The Church of the Holy Trinity, Episcopal, on South Street, the Rev. John Jenkins.

Students chatted up old memories with classmates while waiting to register on the porch of the Green Hall.

Mary Van Zandt Gibson of Nashville, Tenn., who was known as the “big bad senior” of the class of 1967 by a few of her friends, said, “When I came in 1963, none of these dorms were here. There were only 13 freshmen girls and we all lived in Green Hall on the top floor.”

Gibson’s sister, Morgan Van Zandt Merrille of Jackson, also graduated from the religious boarding school in 1969. 

Another friend, Monie Mullins Allen of Birmingham, Ala., a 1969 graduate, recalled, “When we had our senior prom, we were with our dads.”

Memories were dished out in conversations filled with laughter. Cars bearing license plates from many different states kept rolling into the parking lot.

Many said they have kept in touch throughout the years, but some are seeing one another for the first time in a long time.

“The minute I saw her, I knew who she was,” said 1976 graduate Mimi Neighbors of her friend Bitsy Rogers Sloan.

Over at the rectory, two friends, Ruth Parsons Johnson and Percy Erwin McInnis, both class of 1949, were chatting about old times they had at the school as they watched a crowd roll on in.

“They had wonderful dances,” Johnson recalled. “We danced. We did the jitterbug. It was a fast dance. They throw you in the air. We touched when we danced back then.”

Johnson, who said she still has family living next door to the school, was able to visit the campus often to see changes throughout the years.

“I’ve been fascinated with what All Saints’ have done throughout the years,” she said. “I have two kids who went through here so I was able to visit often.”

Her children are Laura Neill of Jackson, class of 1984, and Brien Neill of Port Ludlow, Wash., class of 1977.

She also has a sister, Edna Earl Whitaker, class of 1943, who attended.

The school had only accepted female students until 1961 when it opened to males.

“It was a good idea to me at the time,” said James Davis Guyton, a 1975 graduate. “The girls outnumbered us two to one.”

The school closed its doors to students in 2006, and became the newest AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps campus housing more than 160 members.

“I’m thrilled that AmeriCorps is here,” said the Right Rev. Duncan M. Gray III, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi and chairman of the school board.

The diocese, which co-owns the school with the Episcopal dioceses of Arkansas, Louisiana and Western Louisiana, leased 80 percent of the property to the national volunteer group on a five-year commitment.

Reunion activities continue today with a chapel service at 11 a.m. with Gray and dinner and entertainment at 7 p.m.

Events wrap up Sunday with church service at 10:30 a.m. at The Church of the Holy Trinity, Episcopal, on South Street.


Contact Manivanh Chanprasith at