First Families of Hood College

By September 27, 2017Stories

From the Summer/Fall issue of Hood Magazine. View the print edition.

This year marks the 125th anniversary of Hood College. The Woman’s College of Frederick was chartered in 1893 with the purpose of creating a college for the promotion and advancement of women and the cultivation and diffusion of literature, science and art.

Our progress in the past 125 years has been remarkable. What started as one building in Downtown Frederick with 83 students is now more than 30 academic, residential and administrative buildings on 50 acres, with a co-ed student body of more than 2,000. Through all of our changes, Hood continues to provide an education that empowers students to use their hearts, minds and hands.

In this issue of Hood Magazine, we visited with members of the Bowers and Gambrill families; the Delaplaine and Randall families; and the Apple, McCain and McAlpine families. Our conversations with these legacy families included remembrances of their time at Hood and of growing up nearby. These families offered a unique perspective in that they have known each of our 11 presidents, and have been able to watch the College grow and change over the decades.

Bowers and Gambrill Families

13 alumni, including the Frederick Female Seminary

5 Board of Trustees members

5 Board of Associates members

“We simply could not imagine there being a Hood College with no Apple or Stahr family,” said Pete Bowers.

At Hood, we can’t imagine the College without the Bowers and Gambrill families, which boasts 13 alumni, plus members serving on the Board of Trustees and Board of Associates. Eleanor Gambrill Bowers ’46 and husband Pete have been involved with Hood College since their early years, growing up just a few blocks off campus.

“For us, during our formative years spent in this wonderful Frederick environment, Hood College was just part and parcel of everything we lived with and knew as home,” said Pete. “Our families have been woven into the fabric of Hood life as neighbors, as students, as trustees, from our grandparents to our children, and we know that our lives have certainly been benefited and enriched with the relationship.”

Eleanor was a student during World War II, majoring in psychology. The war caused a lot of people to leave campus, so Hood responded by forming the Women Organized to Relieve the Manpower Shortage (WORMS). This involved women working jobs in the mailroom, laundry, dining hall, and other areas of campus, and Eleanor was a member. She learned a lot about life during her time at Hood.

“The biggest lesson I learned was how to get along with people,” she said.

As the world has changed since the College’s founding, so has Hood.

“We have watched the mores of our country change through the years, and Hood successfully adjusting to these amazing times,” said Pete. “I think the College has adjusted and stayed reasonably close to what’s going on in the community and in the world. All of the presidents that I had any contact with were right for the times. The Woodstock/Vietnam era, and the post-Vietnam era, they all had an influence on the way the general population reacted to things. The College, I think, responded properly to all of these changes. I felt that the presidents I worked with, as things changed, were able to accommodate… in a very positive way.”

The single biggest change in Hood’s history was its decision to go fully coed and allow male students to live on campus beginning in 2003.

“I liked going to a girl’s school; I’m glad I went to a girl’s school,” said Eleanor. “But I was not opposed to it going coed. That’s how it had to be. I had no objections. If you don’t change, you don’t grow. And if you try to stay the same, then you whither. You have to change.”

Eleanor and her family have been involved with Hood in several ways since she graduated. She was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2006. Her sister graduated from Hood in 1944. Two of Eleanor and Pete’s children, Phil and Ginny, graduated from Hood in 1983. Phil is currently on the Board of Trustees. Gambrill Gymnasium is named for James H. Gambrill Jr., Eleanor’s grandfather. She said Hood has been very accommodating to her family.

“The best thing (Hood has) done is help our kids,” said Eleanor. “A lot of my gratitude to Hood is the opportunity they offered to my children. They were very helpful to both Philip and Ginny.”

Eleanor and Pete remember President Joseph Henry Apple and President Henry I. Stahr fondly. Apple was the president when they were growing up, and Stahr when Eleanor attended Hood.

“I remember Joseph Henry Apple,” said Pete. “I was a young boy at that time, living in Frederick; Hood College was an integral part of the whole community. The president’s family was just like everybody else in the Frederick community. They were neighbors and friends, and we grew up with their children. Dr. Apple was a fine person.”

President Stahr’s family had much the same relationship with the College and Frederick communities.

“They were very nice,” said Eleanor. “They were very gracious. They entertained us.”

Delaplaine and Randall Families

12 alumni, including the Frederick Female Seminary

2 Board of Trustees members

5 Board of Associates members

“There were just four houses and then the Hood campus, so we were sort of locked in on what was going on there,” said George
Delaplaine Jr. “Hood has really grown with the community. It’s a good asset for Frederick. I think it has a lot of community
support. My mother was always very sorry that they didn’t permit males to attend Hood College.”

The Delaplaine and Randall families have been a staple of the Hood College community for more than 70 years, with 12 alumni and
members serving on the Board of Trustees and Board of Associates. George and sister Frances “Franny” Delaplaine Randall ’45 grew up
near campus.

Franny saw no need to look at any other school because Hood is where her mother went. During her first two years as a student at Hood, she was a day student. When girls dropped out because of World War II, she moved on campus because there was plenty of space.

“Those were the best two years there,” she said. “I enjoyed it very much. I made more friends. It was easier to study. It was very nice.”

Franny was involved in several aspects of campus life. She became a member of WORMS, and she was in the Hood Choir and sang Sunday services in Brodbeck Music Hall. She also enjoyed Christmas caroling with fellow students, and she put on a show for soldiers as a freshman.

One of her best memories is of the family-style meals when they mixed up seating in the dining hall so people would get to know other students.

“In the dining room, one of the senior girls was in charge,” said Franny. “They assigned tables for everybody, and they made sure they were from different years. That made it nice because you learned to know people other than in your own class. The tables rotated, so maybe three times a year, we had a different table. When a table was going to have their last dinner together, they would have a party, and my mother would bake cake for them.”

Franny majored in chemistry, then earned a master’s degree in chemistry from Johns Hopkins University before working at Fort Detrick. She stayed involved with Hood after she graduated as well, including attending countless College events and spending time as president of the Board of Trustees. She received an honorary doctorate from Hood in 2006.

George received an honorary doctorate in 2008, as did his late wife, Bettie. Bettie and George met at Hood when she was a assistant in the chemistry department.

Franny recalled a story about President Apple when Hood was still at Winchester Hall in Downtown Frederick.

“Girls would pull their boyfriends up in a bucket with a pully system. President Apple found out, got in, scared them, and they dropped him.”

George grew up with President Apple’s granddaughter (Betsy McCain McAlpine) and met Apple at her birthday party.

“He was all dressed up for the occasion,” said George. “As a kid, I was impressed with his position. My mother was very much enamored by him because she had been a student there.”

George has fond memories of other presidents as well. He played touch football with President Stahr’s son on the field where Rosenstock and Whitaker now stand. He recalled Presidents Andrew Truxal and Martha Church as being good community influences.

“(Truxal) made quite a good appearance in town and really worked a lot to bring up the education,” he said. “I heard him speak once or twice. He had a commanding voice.”

“Martha (Church) was a real go-getter. She was fun to be with, and she worked hard for the College. She was a good mark in the community … just a wonderful person.”

He also talked about President Ronald J. Volpe saving the College from its slump in the early 2000s.

“He took over that institution, which was just about ready to go under, and really was able to turn it right around. He was very active in the community as well. He knew who to hit up when, where and how. And he did a masterful job.”

Apple, McCain and McAlpine Families

6 alumni

1 Board of Trustees member

1 Board of Associates member

1 President

“(Hood) was part of my life from the beginning,” said Betsy McCain McAlpine ’51, granddaughter of Joseph Henry Apple, a founder and first president of the College. “As a faculty child, I got to go to so many things that other people didn’t experience. It was my Aunt Miriam who would take me to most of those things, like chapel services and plays and anything that was going on.”

Betsy’s family and the Hood community were seamlessly interwoven in the early years of the College. Her mother and two aunts graduated from Hood, and she grew up a few blocks from campus.

Her plan was always to attend Hood. During her years as a student, Betsy was vice president of her class, on the literary staff of the Touchstone yearbook, and enjoyed the camaraderie among the classes.

“As a class, we had to get together and make up a song,” she said. “It was competitive singing. Each class had a song leader. That was really a good, unifying thing for a class because you got together, and whether you wanted to sing or not, you had to. Some of the activities involved costumes.”

Betsy loved the culture of the campus.

“It’s a small college, so being friendly with everyone there was important,” she said. “It’s not anything that anyone has to make an effort for; it just happens. I can also remember the people who were so pleasant to work with, the secretaries and others in the offices. There was a nice connection between the town and the people at the College. I’ve always found that the faculty were very nice.

“It gives you a real sense of belonging, and belonging to an academic group is good,” she continued. “Hood was my home for years, and I still feel that way. I feel perfectly content when I go up there.”

Since she graduated, Betsy has worked in the admission office to recruit students, as chair of the Board of Associates, member of the Board of Trustees, and as a class reporter. She also received an honorary doctorate from Hood in 2017.

Betsy and her husband, Harry McAlpine, were the second couple to be married in Coffman Chapel, in December 1955. Harry had two sisters graduate from Hood, one in 1946 and one in 1947. He has been a staple in the Hood community as well, and he visits the campus often with Betsy.

“It’s been enjoyable for me to meet all the staff in the Alumnae House,” he said. “They’re always so friendly and accommodating. It’s nice being on the campus, functions at Whitaker. We’re involved with scholarships for students. We go to these lunches for donors, and we get to meet the students we’re supporting. I enjoy that because you get a sense of what’s going on.”

Harry graduated from Lafayette University, but he said he is involved with Hood as much as he is with Lafayette.

Betsy remembered a phrase that President Apple wrote in his will: “I do not have a large financial legacy to give you, but I give you a college.”

She has always enjoyed that phrase, and she uses it often. “I know he loved his job,” she said. “He probably would have stayed on forever if he could have done it.”

Betsy noted that President Truxal was involved on campus a lot.

“We all liked Dr. Truxal. He was nice. I think anybody who’s involved with Hood has to be involved on campus because the campus is small.”

Betsy and Harry remember President Martha Church fondly, and they are still in touch with her.

“We still get Christmas cards from her,” said Betsy. “She did very well because she broke the ground being a woman president. She was a very pleasant person to work with.”

Robert Funk was the interim president before President Volpe was hired, and the McAlpines thought he did a great job.

“He had a good sense of humor, he was very tactful, and everyone liked him,” said Betsy.

“He held things together,” said Harry.

Betsy served on the Board of Trustees and on the selection committee that chose President Ron Volpe, who said from the beginning Hood would have to go coed to survive.

“Going coed saved the College, and I don’t think there really was much objection from the alumni,” said Betsy. “I don’t think it cost any loss of female students, and the women at the College were glad to have the men. The majority of them realized we needed it. I don’t remember any disruption or anything. I think we were just glad to have the variety. With male ideas coming in with the female ideas, it worked out fine. I don’t think they took over positions like president of the student government and that sort of thing; they just came in quietly.”

Betsy also remarked about President Andrea Chapdelaine’s first two years.

“She runs things nicely, and all the old-timers like her. I think the current president is doing a lot.”


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