Special Staff Leave Their Marks
By Tracy Vezina Patterson ’84, P’17
When my son moved into his dorm last August, he was both excited and anxious. So was I. The minute he entered his freshman dorm,he was greeted with a bear hug by Vivian Albert, the first floor housekeeper of Robinson Hall. So was I! “Don’t you worry about a thing, momma! I’m gonna take good care of your boy,” she promised. Miss Vivian hugged every boy and mother she met that day, making the same promise. Her warmth and kindness served as a wonderful welcome for these young men into the Rhodes community. At Thanksgiving, Miss Vivian lovingly prepared a feast, as she does every year, for her residents of Robinson and any student who has ever been under her care.
As alumni, we know that our professors form the foundation of our Rhodes experience. But many of us can also recall with fondness members of the Rhodes staff, like Miss Vivian, who profoundly impacted our college lives.
John Rollow ’26, or Mr. Johnny as he was known, was a student at Southwestern Presbyterian University in Clarksville and helped move the campus to Memphis in 1925. Immediately following graduation, Johnny was appointed Supervisor of Property and College Engineer, the position he held until his retirement in 1968. It was Johnny who brought oak seedlings from the original campus and planted them to create Oak Alley. Johnny married his college sweetheart, Louise Mayo ’30, and together they raised two daughters (Ann Rollow Ross ’52 and the late Lisa Rollow Justis ’55) in Harris Lodge. Living on campus, Johnny and Louise served as surrogate parents to decades of Southwestern students. Their home was the center of campus hospitality and students were treated like family.
Goodbar Morgan ’30 lived and breathed Southwestern/Rhodes College. As director of alumni for 26 years, he was the link to the college for hundreds of alumni. Goodbar encouraged close relationships that began as soon as students stepped onto campus. Everyone he met was greeted with a smile, warm handshake, and the impression that they were his best friend. Every mention of students and alumni in the campus paper, local newspapers, press releases—everything—was clipped and saved. “Dear Goodbar” letters offered updates on the lives of alumni, written not to an institution, but to a close friend.
Joe Neville devoted 44 years of his life to Rhodes College. He joined the Housekeeping staff in 1958, following in his father’s footsteps. Joe was quick to offer his support to students with a kind word or smile and encouraged them to “hang in there and graduate.” His caring words were often just what was needed to lift the spirits of students, providing the confidence they needed to succeed.
Our professors had a profound impact on our lives, often shaping our future academic and professional choices. Our Rhodes experience would not have been complete, however, without the interaction we also had with the many dedicated faculty and staff members who remind us we are all family.