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Millie’s Mementos

Posted Friday, December 22, 2023
Author: Mickey Alvarado

People tend to hang on to items and photos that remind them of precious times in their lives and when they pass on, those mementos are also passed on to family members, friends, and institutions. Those special items carry with them a piece of history, moments captured in time and in some cases a bit of the spirit of the persons or places written about or depicted.

Mildred “Millie” Mary (Hawthorne) Thompson and a couple of her Adrian College sorority sisters are shown in a donated black and white photo during a “scrub statue” initiation around 1951 sitting on a Laura Smith Haviland statue in front of the old Adrian Police station. Somehow the photographer snapping the picture encapsulated the spirit of the day on a piece of paper that takes viewers back in time, if only for a moment, in one small relic out of several packed in a postal service package recently sent to Adrian College.

Millie’s daughter, Kathy Davis, sent the items to Adrian College after her mother passed, hoping some mementos from her mom’s college days might be of interest to others.

Millie’s obit said she went to heaven on Christmas day at the age of 90. It says she was firm in her beliefs and unafraid to speak up, which carried over in her role as a teacher for 21 years. Millie was a member of the Lake City United Methodist Church and taught Sunday school classes, “using entertaining stories to make a point.”

She graduated from Adrian College in 1954 with a Bachelor of Science degree and went on to teach home economics in the Lake City Area School District, where she was the girls’ basketball and cheerleading coach, and junior and senior class advisor.

Millie was instrumental in allowing girls to take shop class and boys to take home economics, which had never been done before.

“Laura Haviland would have certainly been proud of Millie’s accomplishments, as are we,” said Adrian College President Jeffrey Docking. “We are blessed to have been gifted so many items over the years from alumni who loved those pieces of memorabilia that reminded them of a period when they were literally having the time of their lives!”

Some of the mementos Millie clung to include her Commencement Exercise Program from June 6, 1954, and a program from Adrian College’s 1951 High School Play Day, where she must have been influenced to join the College through events such as the Get Acquainted Relays, the basketball, archery, and softball play periods, and square dancing.

Millie kept a ledger of where she worked to help pay for college, noting she worked as a telephone operator for the Union Telephone Co, in Adrian, in the College campus dining room, and as secretary for the vice president, and later the athletic director.

For more than 70 years, Millie preserved Adrian College basketball and football schedules from the 1950-51 season, a yellow napkin from the Women’s Athletic Association banquet, a couple of old Adrian College Alumni Bulletins called “Contact,” two black and white photographs with college friends, and a picture of the winning sorority parade float when she was student president.

Many Adrian College alumni or their family members have donated similar historical pieces of interest or entire hobby collections to the College, some of which are currently on display on campus in the Shipman Library and in the Merillat Sport and Fitness Center.

“We can’t keep everything sent to us, but we do archive a lot of the historical items sent to us from alumni,” said Jenny Carlson, Adrian College Director of Alumni Relations. “If someone has old Adrian College memorabilia, art or even sport collections they would like to donate, please contact us so we can arrange a way to preserve those beloved, historic, pieces.”

Adrian College alumni can submit class notes including noteworthy accomplishments, marriages, births or deaths to adrian.edu/alumni/class-notes/submit-a-class-note.

To donate gifts to Adrian College, contact Carlson at jennycarlson@adrian.edu, or Jim Mahony, Adrian College Vice President of Development, at jmahony@adrian.edu.

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