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Readers’ Letters, Summer 2015

by Jul. 31, 2015, 2:41 PM


GayNelle Doll, an editor of Vanderbilt publications for nearly 30 years—the last eight as editor of Vanderbilt Magazine—retired at the end of March. In response to her final Editor’s Letter in the Spring 2015 issue, many readers wrote to wish her well. Here’s a sampling.

Ms. Doll, Vanderbilt Magazine is the finest of its kind, and it makes me very proud as a graduate when the latest issue arrives and I can again clip articles to send to my friends and family. Although I graduated just before the start of your work there, and my career has taken me to many other places, your publication has consistently inspired me, and I want to thank you for a job very well done. I hope you will continue to contribute to the magazine, even as you deserve a well-deserved retirement from the editorship. Best wishes always.

DR. KEVIN SHEA, MD’84, Buffalo, New York

Photo of GayNelle Doll
GayNelle Doll (JOHN RUSSELL)

GayNelle, I just received the impressive spring edition and noted your message about your upcoming retirement. While I know you will receive thousands of messages wishing you well, I am compelled to join the chorus and to thank you for a job very well done. Vanderbilt Magazine is outstanding, and your recent upgrades and new directions have made it even more so. Things have come a long way since my days on the Commodore staff and in the Vanderbilt News Bureau just after graduation! Vanderbilt Magazine has been a model for us at our school—I’m always sharing it with our staff.

I am retiring as well, after 25 years in development and communications at Ensworth School, and other previous jobs at Vanderbilt and Trinity University in news and communications, so your message struck a chord that particularly resonates. Many wishes for your retirement, and please take with you the knowledge that you have done a wonderful job of informing alumni and keeping us involved with Vanderbilt. Congratulations!

ANNE STRINGHAM, BA’68, Nashville

Recently, I settled down alone in my den and picked up the Winter 2015 issue of Vanderbilt Magazine. Since my beloved wife of 61 years went to her reward in April 2013, I spend a good deal of time alone and reading.

As I thumbed through the pages of this wonderful publication, I wondered why I had never expressed to the staff how much I enjoy reading this most welcome publication from Dear Old Vandy and how pleased I am to receive it. Your choice of articles is excellent and interesting. I must say that I go to the obituaries first because that’s where most of my Class of 1951 seem to appear, but that’s life—and good memories are always good for the soul.

One thing has been on my mind since I noticed the editor of this excellent publication is GayNelle Doll. I remember that she has been active in supporting Vanderbilt for years. I was always intrigued by such a beautiful and unusual name, so this old retired pilot and engineer would like to request that you publish her photograph in the next issue to put my mind to rest and put a name and face together.

I’d like to thank her for all she’s done for my university.

ROBERT G. WYNNE JR., BE’51, Flower Mound, Texas

GayNelle, for several years I have been an annual contributor to Vanderbilt Magazine. I started making that contribution when I realized how the magazine had become such a quality product. I have watched its evolution since I graduated many years ago, and the magazine just keeps getting better and better. I no longer turn first to the Class Notes section—though I have noticed how my class year is so close to the beginning of that section these days, which is unnerving. Instead, it takes me a few passes to get back to that section because the articles are so interesting and diverse. I just really enjoy reading the magazine a lot.

I couldn’t let your retirement go by without sending a big “thank you” for a job well done. You have been at the helm during the transformation of the magazine, and you deserve the kudos for making it such a great communication piece for the university. I hope you enjoy your retirement.

PETER OLDHAM, BA’78, JD’82, Nashville

Photo of McTyeire tombstoneFAMILY LEGACY

The McTyeire family enjoyed seeing the End Sheet article about Bishop Holland McTyeire’s headstone in the Winter 2015 edition of Vanderbilt Magazine [“Traveling Tombstone”]. Kudos to Pastor Michael Williams of West End United Methodist Church across the street from Vandy for getting in touch with University Chaplain Mark Forrester to make arrangements for returning the remarkably well-kept headstone to Vanderbilt.

The university has been very important to us. I graduated in 1955, and our son, Holland Nimmons McTyeire V (“Quint”), graduated from both Vanderbilt undergraduate (BA’81) and law (JD’84) schools. Our granddaughter, Kristin Goose, graduated with her bachelor’s in 2004.

SHERRY MCTYEIRE, BA’55, Louisville, Kentucky


I wanted to thank Nancy Humphrey for the informative article she wrote about food allergies [Winter 2015, “When Food Bites Back”]. Unless you have been affected personally by a family member with a life-threatening food allergy, it’s hard to realize the importance of the research going on to try to solve the problems that certain foods can present. During my childhood no one was aware there was such a thing as a nut allergy. Today there are many cases. It is a puzzle.

NANCY RANSOM NEWTON, BA’56, Greenville, Mississippi


I was intrigued by the photo essay about Vanderbilt Hospital Unit S, which served during World War I in France [Winter 2015, “Somewhere in France”]. My father, Clarence Taylor, reportedly served with this unit as a pharmacist. I am curious if there are any identifying lists of the soldiers in these pictures? My brother, Dr. Charles W. Taylor, BA’55, MD’58 (now deceased), and I were very young when our father passed away in 1944 and didn’t have the opportunity to ask him directly about his participation. I would appreciate any information you might have.


Photo of Clarence H. Taylor
Pharmacist Clarence H. Taylor in the dispensary of Vanderbilt Hospital Unit S, Nevers, France, 1918

EDITOR’S NOTE: The historic U.S. Army Signal Corps photos used in the “Somewhere in France” photo essay were acquired from the Special Collections staff of Vanderbilt’s Eskind Biomedical Library. These photos and others are preserved by the library in an online exhibit. Sure enough, in that collection is an image from the hospital dispensary, or pharmacy, of a man identified as C.H. Taylor. We shared this with the junior Mr. Taylor, who confirmed it was, in fact, his father and added: “My father moved to Nashville from Kentucky in the late 1920s and opened Vanderbilt Pharmacy, an old-style pharmacy and short-order eatery and soda fountain, at 21st and Grand avenues, which was a favorite hangout for VU students, particularly medical students. This helped fuel our interest in Vanderbilt.”

I was most interested to read a quote from my great-great-uncle, Dr. William H. Witt, in your Winter 2015 photo essay, which commemorated Vanderbilt Hospital Unit S’s service during World War I. Dr. Witt (BA 1887, MA 1888, MD 1894) was a Nashville internist and longtime Vanderbilt Medical School professor who volunteered for the war at age 51.

His wartime diary chronicled Unit S’s activities from the time of their departure from Nashville on Nov. 16, 1917, until their return on March 8, 1919. Among the most notable entries are those describing the Nov. 9, 1917, send-off gathering at a full Ryman Auditorium (at which the Tennessee governor spoke), the 10-day crossing of the Atlantic in a convoy, and the 35 percent death rate of the soldiers treated for pneumonia at their Nevers, France, hospital. The physicians, nurses and enlisted men of Unit S represented Vanderbilt and Nashville with distinction. Thank you for remembering their service.

ELIZABETH R. ABERNATHY, MBA’81, Murfreesboro, Tennessee


It has been awhile since I have had the pleasure of reading Vanderbilt Magazine. Upon a recent trip to visit my parents, my father, Dr. Jerry Reves, BA’65, urged me to pick up my copy, which had been mailed to their home.

Not only did I read the publication, but I did so with a swelling pride in belonging to such a powerful community. Each piece sparked within me the sense to learn more, do more, give more and essentially be more. Vanderbilt prepared me for these things when I was both an undergraduate and graduate student. This publication serves as a refresher course and reminder that learning should never end, and that one can continue to grow no matter when they left campus and the classroom.

I am grateful I picked up the Winter 2015 issue and that I was able to rediscover what drew me to Vanderbilt University in the first place: the sense of community, world-class education, competitive sports and the people.

Vanderbilt is a special place, as is this publication. Thank you for providing such a quality magazine that encompasses the breadth of experience one can have while there and upon graduating.

CHRISTY REVES, BS’97, MED’02, Asheville, North Carolina

This check [to the Voluntary Subscription program] doesn’t begin to show how much I enjoy Vanderbilt Magazine. I read it cover to cover, and often go back and re-read parts of it! Keep up the good work!

HARRIET H. BUNN, BSN’60, Nashville

I just received the Feb. 20, 2015, letter requesting financial support [for Vanderbilt Magazine] from alumni, as well as suggestions.

Couldn’t the magazine save a boatload of money if you posted it on the VU website and stopped printing and mailing it? Not to mention saving a lot of trees. Let’s jump feet first into the 21st century.



Just wanted to send kudos to you for the Winter 2015 Vanderbilt Magazine. It is a great issue: writing, photography, choice of coverage, organization, etc. I especially liked Ann Marie Deer Owens’ story about the divinity students [“Beloved Community”]. My interest was piqued, and I read almost everything in this particular issue.

Thank you for your hard work and keeping me informed as Vanderbilt moves forward.

MARGARET W. MOORE, MED’87, Radford, Virginia


I was reading the most recent issue of Vanderbilt Magazine this weekend and was delighted to see Oliver Luckett featured [Spring 2015, “Everywhere @ Once”]. How wonderful it is to have such a diverse and successful alumni base from VU!

Since graduating with a B.A. in 2013, I have launched my own social media platform, a nightlife-centered mobile app in New York City. I’d love to reach out to Luckett to hear more about his career and advice as I dive deeper into the social media world. Anchor down!

VICTOR MARK SALAMA, BA’13, Mamaroneck, New York


Turning through the latest edition of the magazine, I was stopped short by the photo of Dr. Carl Seyfert [Winter 2015, Collective Memory, “The Wrong Stuff”]. When I arrived at Vanderbilt in 1948, I hardly could have been less prepared in math. I jumped into an astronomy class, assuming we would spend most of our time there doing what Dr. Seyfert is doing in the magazine picture: gazing at God’s majestic creation, the universe.

One of his earliest quizzes revealed how wrong I was, and when I took my paper up to him—to ask how I could possibly be so far off in a math answer, trying to use a circular slide rule—he looked me over, smiled, and said, “Details … details.” I think I wound up with a C in astronomy, but I witnessed—and hope I learned a degree in—kindness from Dr. Seyfert. He was a very kind man.

MANNING “RIP” KIRBY JR., ’52, Knoxville, Tennessee


It was thrilling to see and read about the new pipe organ [Winter 2015, Prologue, “Pipe Dream”]. What lovely memories I had when reading about the dedication to Dr. Cyrus Daniel. He was director of the a cappella choir while I was there in 1943–45. Dr. Daniel was a great leader—so inspiring.

MARCELLA F. MOUNTJOY, BA’45, Williamsburg, Kentucky


This is a belated response to an article that appeared in the Summer 2014 edition of the magazine titled “Data Smart.” I thought it was very well-written and informative.

I received my doctorate in philosophy in 1968 and subsequently did postdoctoral studies in computer science and artificial intelligence. For years I taught both computer science and philosophy. I was particularly interested in your article because of several student projects I directed involving the creation and utilization of databases. It has been my experience through the years that businesses and institutions often accumulate much data that is under-utilized. It was interesting to find out how Vanderbilt has found a way to use that data.

Keep up the good work in your reporting of what’s happening at Vanderbilt.

SANFORD W. WOOD, PHD’68, Eunice, Louisiana

We welcome your letters in response to contents of the magazine. We reserve the right to edit for length, style and clarity. Mail signed letters to Ryan Underwood, editor, Vanderbilt Magazine, PMB 357737, 2301 Vanderbilt Place, Nashville, TN 37235-7737; or send us an email.


In the Spring 2015 article “All In,” about the swelling enrollment of active-duty and ex-military personnel in MBA programs of the Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management, we incorrectly stated that Gen. Eden Murrie had graduated fifth in her class at the Air Force Academy. Instead, she was a member of the academy’s fifth-ever class to graduate women. Vanderbilt Magazine regrets the error.