Almost five years ago, a couple of days after we closed on the Flanagan House, we decided to go for a walk and see our new neighborhood. We walked up and down Main Street, and on the way back we saw the Chowan "this way sign", and decided to go check it out. We were instantly delighted, walking around the campus and marveling at the Column's Building, the bridge at the pond, and the nicely landscaped grounds. And since then I have met so many Chowan Alumni who not only stayed close, but carved a deep and meaningful life here. In many business travels throughout the area, I see many a blue Chowan Pennant hanging on the walls. Almost everyone I have met in the five years we have lived down here, has some kind of connection to the university. Some earned their degree there. Some worked there. Some played sports there. Some even met their spouse and fell in love there! You may not notice as much when something is in everyday conversation, but if you take a moment to look at what having a university in your community means, you will see a social butterfly effect. Alumni who stay with us at our B & B, all with stories and a love for their alma mater. I had the pleasure of meeting coach Garrison only short time before he passed. What a nice man. Many of you were lucky enough to remember him the way he would have wanted to be remembered!
I remember when I first saw but did not really meet Dr. White yet, he was in the Hertford Academy looking all dapper, sitting behind an old piano playing Christmas songs for Candlelight Christmas. Something I found out he did every year! He is actually a very accomplished musician. I first met Dr. White at "coffee club", a small social gathering of like minded men who just get together for fellowship. Men who also taught me much about Murfreesboro history and Chowan's origins. Like Percy Bunch who took a couple of hours out of his day to meet me the old King's Landing. Mr. Bunch explained and pointed out some of the rich history connected to a small landing on the side of a river. It was the point where, back in 1849, the women attending Chowan College, or known then as the Chowan Baptist Female Institute. He explained that this was the end of the road for deeper water in the Meherinn, so King's Landing would be the last stop for the hopeful young women who made that trek over to their new home. From there, the ships that carried them would be turned by a tug boat, and sent full circle on their way!
I have learned much over the past few years about Chowan University, through pictorials and articles found in historic content, through yearbook pictures of a client who hired me to make a family video, and through the stories bestowed upon me by business associates, Bed and Breakfast guests and friends. In doing so I almost feel part of the university myself. I have attended their games, taken pictures of their events, and been given tours of the facilities. The Flanagan's may not be part of the old history, but we have proudly been part of the new! Teresa and I are glad that Chris and Linda will still be part of the university and community! I can not tell you how many times I have walked or driven through the invisible gates of Chowan to see Linda outside working on the grounds. You could tell it was a passion. Weeding, planting flowers or just primping the landscape! It was time for a goodbye and a hello! Ceremony day, and with camera in hand I went over to Chowan for the announcement of the new president! It was supposed to be a surprise but it wasn't. However that knowledge had no effect on the beautiful ceremony I captured on screen. I know, we used to say film. Times gone by! Walking across Squirrel Park so I can could get that perfect shot of the ole girl all dolled up for this special occasion. Looking good! Handshakes, smiles and hellos greeted me at every turn! Everyone was there! Shows how important it was to the community. It is easy to make excuses for not being somewhere, so that told me plenty seeing all those familiar faces. The students were dismissed for the celebration and all gathered around to watch! The ceremony itself was, well from a man that can not keep still, was perfect! The speakers timed it just right, and they spoke with sincerity and emotion. Dr. Kirk E Peterson and his wife Rachel were introduced and congratulated to an obviously pleased staff and faculty. Kirk and Rachel Peterson will also will be adding some wee ones to our fine community, they have three sons, Caleb, Cody, and Justin! So with a March to the gazebo, a ringing bell and many welcomes for the new president and first lady, I headed out with the day etched in my mind! Thank you Dr. White and Linda for an amazing achievement! Welcome Dr. Peterson and Rachel back to Murfreesboro to see old friends and make new ones!