Letters to the Editor

Alexander Heard’s Legacy

Thank you for publishing the article [Fall 2009, “Bridge Over Troubled Waters”] about this man for all seasons whom only a small (and now shrinking) portion of the Vanderbilt family experienced directly.

I was a beneficiary of the leadership of the late G. Alexander Heard as a student from 1968 to 1972 and Student Government Association president during 1971–72.

Publishing this material helps ensure that a broader audience realizes the Heard legacy that benefits them as not only Vanderbilt people but as citizens of the world. Heard’s contributions to civilization are much deeper and wider than Vanderbilt.

Larry Wallace, BE’72
New York City

Best All-Around Girl

I read with interest and pride Michael Sims’ article about Dinah Shore[Fall 2009]. Dinah’s mother and my grandmother were sisters. I, as well as my other cousins, have inherited and amassed a sizable collection of information and memorabilia regarding Dinah; nevertheless, Mr. Sims’ composition included a couple of facts that I did not know. It will go in my collection.

I would like to point out that Dinah’s sorority was Alpha Epsilon Phi. Also, Dinah and George Montgomery’s son’s name is John David (called “Jody”) and was adopted as an infant, to become Melissa’s little brother; he was not George’s son from a previous marriage, as stated.

Phyllis Lefkovitz Gordon, BA’62


We very much enjoyed reading Michael Sims’ article about Dinah Shore. You might be interested to know that both the “best all-around girl” and the “best all-around boy” in the Hume-Fogg High School class of 1934 went on to Vanderbilt. That boy was our father and grandfather, John Lawton Shapiro, who earned both his undergraduate and medical degrees there. He then returned after service in the war and a residency at Western Reserve University to spend his entire career teaching at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, serving 15 years as head of the pathology department. Several Vanderbilt scholarships and awards are in his name, as well as an endowed chair. Shortly before your article was published, our whole family was in Nashville for a reception honoring Agnes Fogo as the second John L. Shapiro Professor of Pathology.

Fanny Rose Shore may have achieved more fame, but he didn’t do so badly for himself—or for Vanderbilt, either!

Elizabeth Shapiro Silverman, BA’75
Cranbury, N.J.

Susannah Lawton Silverman, BS’07
New York City


I read with interest the “Best All-Around Girl” article about Dinah Shore in the Fall 2009 Collective Memory section. I feel compelled to correct Michael Sims’ statement that “Fanny also felt like an outsider as a child of the only Jewish family in a small Protestant town.”

There was a small but well-defined Jewish community in Winchester, Tenn., at that time. My own family had moved to Winchester three years before Dinah’s birth, and my older sister was one of her playmates. The attached photograph from Dinah’s fourth birthday party in 1920 (actually her first birthday, as she was born on Leap Day in 1916) shows Dinah in the center and my sister Charlotte in the right front.

A brief history of the Jews of Winchester, including the Shores, may be found at www.isjl.org/history/archive/tn/winchester.html.

Dr. Samuel H. Paplanus, BA’50, MD’54
Tucson, Ariz.

Ladies and Gents, Here’s Randy

As a member of the Men of Note Barbershop Chorus who graduated from Hillsboro High School in Nashville, it was a particular pleasure to read “All I Want for Christmas Is Another ‘Grandma’” [Fall 2009, Southern Journal] by Randy Brooks. We have had the pleasure of having him as master of ceremonies for our last two Christmas shows with his quirky sense of humor and his intimate personality. He continues to be a cheerful giver.

Max Beasley
Plano, Texas

The Universal Language of Suds

I thought that Sandy Besser, BA’58, made some good points in his letter [in response to “Jewish Rush in the Bible Belt,” Summer 2009]. When I was a student at Vanderbilt at the same time as Sandy, I could not help but wonder what being Jewish had to do with joining a fraternity. I was not, and am still not, aware that Jewish boys drink beer any differently than Christian boys.

Joe Whalen, BA’60
North Little Rock, Ark.

In Praise of Midwives

“Rebirth of the Midwife” [Fall 2009] is a great article. We have known these points since the 1970s—probably we have always known them. Isn’t it about time we use these standards to give women and children the care they deserve? Congratulations to the professionals at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing and many other schools across the country that continue to stress the obvious.

Perhaps one day we will have this kind of health care for everyone in this country.

Mary Reynolds, BSN’83
Madison, Ala.

Obituaries Read and Appreciated

Thank you for resuming adequate obituaries of our departed alumni. It continues to be important and inspiring to read of their accomplishments at Vanderbilt and during their lifetimes. Also the mention of other Vanderbilt alumni and connections in the family is appreciated. It is gratifying to read what my classmates and others have done with their lives.

Dr. Marianna M. LaRue, BA’54
Maitland, Fla.


Thank you for returning the obituaries to the form they’d always had. Although it is saddening to read about classmates’ deaths, it is comforting to read about their lives.

Mary W. Davis, BA’50
Columbus, Ga.

Explore Story Topics