McKim Hall afternoon tea with nursing students 1969
In 1969, the Vietnam War raged, a man walked on the moon, and McKim Hall - still overseen by a house mother - held afternoon teas for nursing students.


1969 was a momentous year. Under President Nixon, the Vietnam war raged on. Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon. Muhammad Ali was convicted of draft evasion after being denied an exemption as a conscientious objector. More than 400,000 gathered for Woodstock in Bethel, NY. And the Stonewall riots gave birth to the gay rights movement.


The BSN Class of 1969 was 105 students strong; at least 25 will, in 2019, be inducted as members of the TJ Society.

It was a year of firsts at the School of Nursing, too. McLeod Hall was being constructed. Roy Beazley, director of nursing education since 1947, became the School’s first-ever professor emeritus. Kenneth Rinker, director of nursing services, became its first male faculty member. And Phyllis Verhonick was appointed the School’s director of nursing research.

BSN class of `69 students Sharon Wagner Grenoble and Linda Custard Gillikin had, the previous year, been “banded” (a ritual marking their academic progress). Gillikin was also one of four individuals who earned the “Outstanding Nurse Award” (class of `69 students Teri Anne Benson, Deborah Dean, and Jo Ann Rucker did, too). Class of `69 student Pat Woodard marked the end of clinical rotations by shredding her nursing uniform. And students still took afternoon tea together with their housemothers in McKim Hall.

At University of Virginia, it would be another year before all programs were co-ed, two more before the MSN in pediatrics and psychiatric mental health and the Beta Kappa chapter of Sigma Theta Tau (now Sigma Nursing) would be established, and five more before nursing students would migrate to Brandon Avenue residences when McKim Hall – the nursing dorm between 1931 and 1974 – would close.

In 1969, a loaf of bread was 23 cents. A dozen eggs cost 62 cents. Gas was just 32 cents a gallon. In Charlottesville, the Spudnuts opened, and in March, President Eisenhower’s funeral train was met by a crowd of 3,000 Charlottesvillians.

As we celebrate reunions across the University of Virginia this weekend and next, we offer a special tribute to the nursing class of 1969 as it reaches its 50-year mark since graduation - its silver anniversary. And while much has changed since the class of 1969 walked the Lawn, much remains the same, too. Compassionate, capable, exceptional care.

To this year’s TJ Society inductees: Congratulations!