Class of 1970 reflects on how Mercer shaped their lives

Members of the Class of 1970.
Members of the Class of 1970.

Fifty years ago, more than 150 students graduated from Mercer University in Macon. As we recognize their golden anniversary, some of the members of the Class of 1970 reflected on how Mercer shaped them. Read their words below and see recent photos of them alongside their graduation portraits, listed in alphabetical order.

Renata (Williams) Boston

“The field that I went into, social work, I think that Mercer did give me a foundation and a base for all of that. As I was reflecting back, even though there was some adversity, I think that Mercer still afforded me the opportunity to grow a whole lot, educationally and socially. I came there for an education.”

Alice (Burns) Boykin

“During my time at Mercer, I gained confidence in my abilities to meet and overcome obstacles. I learned that ‘people are people’ despite race, religion or socioeconomic background, and that there are people with Christian ethics everywhere. From Mercer, I learned to focus on the positives.”

James Boykin

“Mercer gave me the opportunity to attend a top notch liberal arts college and to broaden my horizon. I was able to meet and gain guidance from enlightened individuals, such as Drs. Joseph and Jean Hendricks. I was able to gain friendships that have lasted for more than 50 years. I was able to obtain skills that led to a 14-year Army career (three years active, and 11 years Army Reserve and Illinois Army National Guard), and 26 1/2 years as a law enforcement officer. And most importantly, I met the love of my life, my wife of 50 years, Alice N. Burns Boykin, who was also a graduate of the class of 1970.”

Brenda (Bickley) Campbell

“Mercer laid the foundation for a long, 40-plus years career doing what I love by providing me with a quality education in a Christian environment. I utilized my Mercer degree as a mathematics educator to successfully educate thousands of students. The ability to do what one enjoys, share it, and make an impact is unparalleled. Thanks to Mercer, my life was shaped in a way that I was able to positively shape the life of many, many others.”

John Gifford

“Mercer was a great choice for me because it had a student body size at the time where I knew everyone for the most part in the school, but also had enough diversity to be stretched. Because I was in the class which the book ‘The Stem of Jesse’ was written about, I got a front row seat at seeing what integration looked like. Those lessons along with seeing how Mercer morphed from a small liberal arts college into what it is today have inspired me to grow and change. The friends and relationships I found and have tried to nurture since have added great depth to my life. For me, it was the right place to be at this turbulent time in our country’s history.”

Dr. Joseph Hobbs

“I left Mercer with not only a good understanding of science and being inquisitive and being able to ask questions and study from a scientific standpoint, but I think I also left there with an unintended understanding of the liberal arts, which has affected the way I look at the world. That experience that I had with liberal arts courses there helped me to be a better teacher and a better physician. I tell people all the time, although medical school was much more intensive with regards to the volume of material that had to be learned, my most challenging educational experiences occurred in undergraduate school. The Mercer experience prepared me well.”

Jane (Crow) Holloway

“My years at Mercer were some of the happiest of my life. Since I did not live on campus, I was not immersed in the social life, but the academic excellence and intellectual curiosity that I was exposed to at this top-ranking university have remained with me for 50 years.”

Sheila (Miller) Hood

“Mercer gave me an excellent academic background and prepared me well for graduate work in classics at the Ohio State University. I am grateful to Dr. Doris Raymond especially and have fond memories of other professors and administrators whose influence prepared me for a career in higher ed administration. Mercer was academically challenging, but most of all, Mercer was fun.”

Tom Icard

“Reflecting on my time at Mercer, only superlatives come to mind with respect to the lifelong friendships that I gained, the role models from whom I learned and (of course) the education that I received. That experience I believe continues to make me positive in my expectations of others and to look for opportunities to pay that forward.”  

James Norman

“In my family, I was exposed to social justice, and that was reinforced in my Mercer experience. From that standpoint, there was a continuity between social concern that I learned in my family and social concern that was exhibited at Mercer that has remained a part of my viewpoint. When I was there, we had to go to chapel twice a week. Even though it was something that we were required to do, I rather enjoyed it because of the inspirational messages. Because of my perspective of society, it shaped my experience at Mercer, and it has made a difference in the work I have done and still do.”

David Rainwater

“At Mercer, I developed the necessary skills to prepare me for a career in law as a trial lawyer.”

Lamar Sizemore

“With four generations of Mercer Bears in our family, we have a lot of shared memories, and we wear a lot of orange and black.”

Sandra (Orr) Sizemore

“Mercer was a perfect fit for my education and remains a part of my life today.”

Charlie Witzleben

“I am forever grateful to Mercer for an excellent and highly personal education provided by an amazingly dedicated faculty that instilled a commitment for life-long learning and growth. Having just retired from a 50-year career as counsel in philanthropic advancement for over 160 nonprofits around the country, I am indebted to my alma mater for giving me my start in alumni and development work. I remain proud and committed to supporting Mercer’s extraordinary advancements as a top-ranked university.”

Note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the University decided to forego the traditional 50th Class Reunion and Half Century Club Brunch this year. The Office of Alumni Services will work with those groups on plans for rescheduling in the future. Details will be posted at as they become available.


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Andrea Honaker
Andrea Honaker is a digital content specialist at Mercer. She writes feature stories for The Den and creates and maintains content for primary University web pages. She also plans and executes campaigns for the primary official Mercer University social media accounts.