WHO WE ARE:We are an independent group of students and faculty who were at CNC in its first decade (1961-1971) and/or the early part of its second decade, when CNC was a two-year branch of William & Mary. If you attended CNC then—full-time or part-time, degree recipient or not, one semester or ten—or as a Riverside nursing student—we invite you to join us. Our faculty members include former professors Sam Bauer, Marshall Booker, Jane Chambers, Harold Cones, Joe Healey, Jim Hubbard, Georgia Hunter, Mario Mazzarella, Don Riley, Graham Pillow, Jane & George Webb, Raoul Weinstein, Barry Wood and others. CNC’s 2nd President, Jim Windsor, is also a member who regularly attends our events.
WHAT WE DO:Our primary purpose is social—reuniting people with classmate and professors they’ve not seen in decades. We have yearly September reunions and help CNU hold 50th Class Reunions each May. But we are also dedicated to preserving CNC’s historic past and collecting its early memorabilia, which we hope will eventually be housed in CNU’s planned Alumni House. We also have an active website—www.cncdecaders.com—with articles by and about members and CNC history and photos of events and reunions. For full website details, go to the Website Contents tab (left margin, HOME page).
WHO WE ARE NOT:Weare not part of the CNU Alumni Society (CNUAS), although we have a cordial relationship with it. We are also not affiliated with any political or religious organizations.
HOW WE BEGAN:Publication in December of 2008 of the book Memories of Christopher NewportCollege: The First Decade, written by early faculty and students, led to an ongoing search for CNC’s early students, in order to reunite them for the first time with their CNC classmates and professors. A highly successful weekend reunion in September, 2011, held at CNU, led to formation of a permanent group (see website, Events and Reunions, for photos).
TO JOIN US: Contact Chairman Dave Spriggs at firstname.lastname@example.org OR Dr. Jane Chambers at email@example.com or (757)238-9629. Give your name, phone, mailing address, and email address—plus the last year that you attended CNC. We will get back to you promptly!
David A. Spriggs Chairman, Steering Committee P.O. BOX 6387 Norfolk, VA 23508-0387
Starting with one building in downtown Newport News, the first decade of the current Christopher Newport University spanned from 1961 to 1971. This small beginning as a college mainly catering to students native to the Hampton Roads area has made way for a magnificent university that attracts students from all over the world. Your CNC 1961 - 1971 Decaders Committee (comprised of students from that decade) has the distinct honor of shining a light on the first years of the University, reporting on the current status and successes of students from that era and planning reunions such as a weekend celebration of the 50th anniversary of the University (Sept. of 2011) and annual reunion picnics (from Sept. of 2012 onward). The Decaders Committee was formed with the expert help of a college faculty member who arrived during the first decade, Dr. Jane Chambers. We are grateful for her insight to the significance of this important period in our local history and her hard work in helping to populate this website.
Below are photos and bios of your FD Committee members.
CNC 1st Decaders Steering Committee
(l-r) David Spriggs, Jim Paxton, Cecelia Short, Gail Pearce, Herminio Cuervo, Ron Lowder, Tom Flax, Sonny Short
DAVID A. SPRIGGS, Steering Committee Chairman, is a native of Newport News and 1964 graduate of Newport NewsHigh School. He attended CNC in the fall semester of1964, when there were classes both downtown (in the DanielBuilding) and “uptown” (in Christopher Newport Hall, on the new Shoe Lane campus). David left CNC when notified he had been accepted at the U.S. Naval Academy, in Annapolis, MD, where he earned a BS in Marine Engineering in 1969. He later also earned a Master of Engineering Management degree at ODU in 1988 and then was a graduate of the U.S.NavalWarCollege in 1995.
After 11 years of active duty in the Navy (1969-80), Dave served 18 years in the U.S. Naval Reserve (1980-98), retiring at the rank of Captain. He then worked 20 years in Naval Ship Repair Management: first as a civilian (1980-86) and then as a member of the U.S. Civil Service (1986-2006). He retired in 2006. His avocation since 2003 has been organizing NNHS 1964 Class Reunions (plus, CNC FD Reunions). His hobbies are being an amateur volunteer genealogist and Newport News and Norfolk historian. Dave and his wife, First Decader Patricia Gail (Pat) Hemeter (AA, 65) reside in Norfolk. Pat has two degrees from ODU: a BA inArt History (87) and an MA in Humanities, with a concentration in Art & Architectural History (2001). She works as a Preservation Consultant & Architectural Historian.
Dave Spriggs as a high school senior. Newport News High School photo, 1964.
Jim Paxton as a CNC freshman. 1966 TRIDENT photo, p. 41.
JAMES W. (JIM) PAXTON, Editor of the 1965 Trident and Assistant Editor of The Undertow, CNC’s first literary magazine, 1965-66, earned an AA at CNC in 1966. He then went on to ODU, where he earned two degrees: a BA in English (1970) followed by an MA in Counseling (1973). Jim’s first career field was education (1970-78). He taught middle school English in Hampton, then he was a school counselor in Norfolk. After a few years next as an employee of the Virginia Beach Education Association, he found his true calling in 1980, when he entered the health care field.
Jim began working for Beverly Enterprises, in Pasadena, CA, where he rose to the position of Vice President of Human Resources (1987-90). Then, returning to his East Coast roots, he moved to Baltimore, where he worked for Stanton Chase International, serving as Principal (1994-98). He has been since with Korn Ferry International (Washington, DC), first as Director of Health Care and currently as Senior Client Partner. Jim and his wife, Susan, now live in Norfolk. Susan, who has a BA in English from Hollins and an MA in English from W&M, is a retired English teacher. They have two sons: Drew (W&M graduate in Political Science, 2002) and Colin (an ODU student).
DR. CECELIA RUTH SHORT, an Eastern Shore native, moved with her family to Hampton in childhood and is a graduate of HamptonHigh School. She still resides in Hampton. At CNC, she was in the Chorus (1969 & 70), Circle K (70), and the Newman Club (1970 & 71) and earned both an AA in 1971 and a BA in History in 1972. While teaching full-time at HamptonChristianSchool for 20 years, she also completed an MA in Leadership Training at RegentUniv. in1985. Then, while teaching part-time at various area schools, she earned two more advanced degrees at William & Mary: an EdS in 1994 and an EdD in General Educational Administration in 2001.
Cecelia has been at Denbigh Christian Academy since 1999, where she first served as music teacher and then, after completing her doctorate, as administrator. After several years as Principal of Academic Affairs, in March of 2012 she became Principal of the school, which serves grades K through 8.
At her church, First United Methodist in Hampton, she sings in the choir, serves on the Education Committee, chairs the Child Protection Team, and is active in the United Methodist Women. She is also involved in Child Advocacy as a speaker at Children’s Sabbath Services sponsored by the Children’s Defense Fund and as a certified trainer for Safe Sanctuaries, which educates churches in child protection issues.
Cecelia’s brother, Ceylon (Sonny) Short, is also a CNC First Decader, and both of them serve on the Steering Committee.
Cecelia Short as CNC senior. 1972 TRIDENT, p. 83.
Gail Latta as TRIDENT Editor. 1966 TRIDENT, p. 46.
GAIL LATTA PEARCEwas born in Farmville, NC, and moved to Newport News at age 11. A graduate of Newport News High School (1964), she attended CNC 1964-66 and was Editor of CNC’s third yearbook, the 1966 Trident, during her sophomore year.
Gail’s career has been in hotel work, where she began as an executive secretary but later found her niche as a catering sales manager, planning events ranging from family reunions, birthday parties, and weddings to public and private school functions and even political events. After 20 years as Catering Director at PointPlaza Suites in Newport News, she retired August 10, 2012, only to form her own company:Memorable Occasions by Gail, currently listed on Facebook and soon to have a website.
Gail spends much of her free time in voluntary service. She’s a long-time active member of the Peninsula Chamber of Commerce and the Virginia Peninsula Rotary Club, serving the latter as Club President in 2009-10. She’s also Vice President of the Newport News chapter of Beta Sigma Phi, an international women's social, cultural, and service organization that raises funds for medical research and treatment for children, and she serves as City Council Representative for her chapter.
As a member of our Steering Committee for the 2011 Reunion, Gail often arranged a meeting room for our committee at Point Plaza.
Family is alsoa top priority for Gail, who now lives in Hampton. She greatly enjoys spending time with her daughter,Amy Welman, son-in-law and two grandsons, Bradley and Aiden.
DR. HERMINIO CUERVO, a native of Cuba, came to America at the age of 15. His family eventually relocated in Newport News, where Herminio attended Newport News High School. After graduation in 1964, he enrolled at CNC, where he was a member of the first Men’s Track Team (Spring, 1965) and, in his sophomore year (1965-66), on the staff of the student newspaper, The Captain’s Log.
After completing his studies at CNC, Herminio next earned a BS at William and Mary in 1968. He then furthered his studies abroad, earning his MD/PhD in 1974 at the University of Salamanca-Spain. Following in his father’s footsteps, by becoming a surgeon, he also added two more degrees to his resume: An MH from Harvard Medical School in 1979 and an MPH from Florida International University-Miami in 1988.
His career in neurology has included service in the USAF in Europe and the Middle East. He also participated in the rescue of the American hostages in Iran in 1981. Currently, Herminio is Chief of Neurology at Lakeland Regional Medical Center, in Lakeland, Florida.
Although he and his wife, Joy, live in Lakeland, Herminio often returns to the Virginia Peninsula because of his close ties with NNHS and CNC classmates. He and Joy have six children and (so far) two grandchildren.
Herminio Cuervo as CNC sophomore. 1966 TRIDENT, p. 57.
Ron Lowder in 1968. Cropped from a band picture taken at the Lion's Bridge with the group "Sheephearders".
RONALD L. (RON) LOWDER, our CNC First Decaders Webmaster, is a Newport Native and 1963 graduate of Warwick High School . After attending CNC in 1964-65, he fulfilled his military duty by serving in the US Army Band (1966-69) at Ft. Eustis , playing clarinet and saxophone. Then he returned to academic studies at both CNC and TNCC, completing his AAS degree at TNCC in 1971 and advancing his knowledge of computers at CNC.
Ron then spent 34 years working for the Federal Government, primarily with the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, where he worked as an Executive Director for their Chesapeake/Norfolk center and later retired as Chief of Operations of their Systems Engineering component.
But all along, he was also still studying and making music and learning more about sound systems. He performed with a number of bands—including Sunny Days Revue, Bill Deal and the Rhondels, Fat Ammons Band, The Sheepherdersand the Royale VII—playing sax, piano, oboe and bass guitar.
Following Federal retirement, Ron moved full-time into the music business. He co-owns Lowder Enterprises LLC with his son, Ron Jr., with locations in Yorktown and Virginia Beach. His son operates The Academy of Rock music (AoRM) branch while Ron primarily runs the recording studio, Lowder Sound.Ron is also a partner in a songwriting team with First Decader Jimmy Crank. Jimmy writes the lyrics and Ron puts those lyrics to music. In what little spare time he has, Ron also performs with groups including Chris & the Classics, The Sound of Swing, and The Peninsula Retired Men’s Band. And he also keeps this website going.
Ron and his wife, Maureen, live in Newport News. They have four adult children and five grandchildren.
THOMAS A. (TOM) FLAX, served as the first Treasurer of our CNC First Decaders group. He is a Newport News native and a 1964 graduate of Newport News High School . During his two years at CNC (1964-66), he was active in intramural sports, playing both basketball and flag football, with WGH’s Dick Lamb as quarterback of his flag football team. Tom was also Sports Editor of CNC’s second yearbook, the 1965Trident.
After completing his studies at CNC, Tom went on to earn a BS degree in Pharmacy at the Medical College of Virginia in 1969, at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). He was in the first class to graduate from the newly formed VCU. He then became a Pharmacist, practicing in the greater Tidewater area from 1969 until his retirement in May of 2012.
Tom is enjoying his retirement very much—especially since he now has more time to watch college basketball, play golf, travel and interact with his large family. He and his wife, Nancy, who live in Virginia Beach, have five adult children—Matt Kossin (in the restaurant business in Charlottesville), Penny Kossin Mobley (a teacher at the United Methodist church Pre-school in Virginia Beach), Heather Kossin Old (a senior financial analyst for a large national firm), Rob Flax (a senior analyst in the US Patent and Trademark Office in DC) and Jonathan Flax (a producer at Comedy Central in NYC). They also have (so far) eight grandchildren: Hunter, Gahagan, Lauren, Lynlee, Maci Nan, Eden, Curtis and Seth. Tom describes his wife, Nancy, as “a great mother, even better ‘Nana’ and a nurse, who is still working after all these exciting years.”
Tom Flax as senior at Newport News High School. From the 1964 NNHS yearbook.
C. C. (Sonny) Short in 1962. Photo provided by Sonny.
CEYLON C. (SONNY) SHORT, JR., our current Treasurer, is an Eastern Shore native. He moved with his family to Hampton at age 15 and is a 1962 graduate of HamptonHigh School. After two years at CNC (1962-64), he spent four years (1964-68) at NASALangleyResearchCenterApprenticeSchool, where he regularly made the Dean's List. After graduating as an Experimental Metalworker, Sonny worked primarily at two places: Modern Machine and Tool Company and NASALangleyResearchCenter. He was with Modern Machine and Tool as Wind Tunnel Instrument Calibration Technician and Strain Gage Technician from 1970-76, and again as Engineering Technician in that same department from 1991 until his retirement in 2011. In between these times, he was reemployed at NASALangleyResearchCenter as an Engineering Technician in the Instrument Research Division.
Community service has always played a big role in Sonny’s life. He was Chapter President for ten years of the Hampton Roads Jaycees (1967-77) and later awarded Life Memberships in both the Virginia Jaycees and International Jaycees. He also served a decade (1980-89) as a CertifiedHigh School Football Official (referee) for the Virginia HIgh School League. After his retirement from Modern Machine and Tool Company (April of 2011), he joined the Oyster Point Rotary Club (June of 2011) and is currently serving as that club's webmaster.
Snow skiing is Sonny’s major hobby. He’s been a member of the Peninsula Ski Club (PSC) since 1967. He was PSC President in 2006-2007 and has been PSC Trip Captain for Western US ski trips since 2009. He’s skied not only the major locales in America, but also some of those in Canada, Sarajevo, Italy and Germany.
Sonny’s sister, First Decader Cecelia Short,also serves on our Steering Committee.
This site is NOT affiliated with Christopher Newport University