This is Carolina: Traveling letters keep 8 college friends together

Letter carries college friends through decades

GEORGETOWN COUNTY, SC (WMBF) Going in to college, they all would be the first women of their families to graduate. But, they didn’t know their dorm assignments would leave them with lifelong friends going out of college.

"All of us live in a dorm called Corbin Hall. We all lived on the second floor of Corbin Hall, and that's how we met," Beverly Sigler said, surrounded by seven of her college girlfriends. "We had ice sculptures in the winter, we put on plays, we used to have newspaper fashion shows."

"We played cards after dinner every night. We had a set time, we would play until 6 o'clock. If we played until 6:02 we played all night long,” Lynn Genda reminisced.

Eight women easily recalled 50 years of friendship. Sigler said they just bonded and called themselves the “Corbin Super Second.” It was like their own sorority at their alma mater, Western Illinois University.

“Look at those hairstyles!” Laura Petty said, laughing with Ann Rawley and Sigler at old college pictures.

Eight women came in town from Illinois, Wisconsin, Massachusetts and North Carolina.

Genda and her husband live in an oceanfront Litchfield Beach condo. She invited her friends to stay for a long weekend of fun. They had a lot to catch up on, despite the unique way they stayed in touch for a few of the last five decades.

"So, we have not been together as a whole group since 1974. So, this is the first time we've all been together. That letter kept us together,” Genda said.

The friends updated each other on their lives with a letter for almost forty years.

Shari Klender started it a few years after their graduation in 1972.

"I didn't want to lose contact with these wonderful people. So, I had a couple addresses. I wrote my letter, I put it in the envelope and I sent it to the first person. So, you write a letter, take out your old letter and read everybody else’s letter and send it off,” Klender said of her idea.

The other women chimed in.

“We were always so excited to get the letter. We’d say the letter is here,” Genda and Rawley said.

"I remember receiving the letter and cross off, new address, cross off, new address. You're supposed to include photos too. So, we would put one or two photos of our families. The letter was rather thick," Sigler said.

The ladies nodded in agreement. It was how they updated each other through careers, husbands, children and life’s latest happenings.

"Big life changes,” Sigler said.

“And also acknowledge how the big life changes that had happened and how you adjusted,” Rawley added.

Most of the women were in elementary education at Western Illinois, Rawley majored in home economics and Peg Webster studied art.

Adorned in WIU purple with matching feather boas, t-shirts, a cake and personalized cups, it was clear they hadn’t missed a beat.

They shared stories of how Sigler was set up with her now husband through friends at a kissing booth.

“She kind of forced by now husband to buy this raffle ticket. So, his name was pulled out and it was on April Fools Day. And I got this raffle ticket and he thought it was an April Fools joke… we met that next day. That was 1969, we got married a few years later, so I’m his 25 cent wife,” Sigler said laughing.

Klender fessed up to a 50-year-old prank, still left a mystery until that moment.

“Do you all remember the incident where Laura and Bev’s room got tee-peed? Well, that was Connie and I. So, a couple days later we tee-peed our own room to throw you off,” Klender said as the room roared with laughter like it was yesterday.

“Now the truth comes out,” Sigler yelled while smiling. The echoes of the same laughter that started in Corbin Hall is proof the best friendships in life never fade.

The letter was lost about ten years ago, they said. But, they’ve been keeping up with a private Facebook group.

After their weekend vacation, they decided to start the letter back up again.

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