Monday, July 22, 2013

A Time to Mourn

Here is the front entrance to venerable Hardy Hall at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, Texas. We used to gather in the parlor around a fine grand piano, to sing and to enjoy the music of various pianists among our classmates. From 1941 to 1945, until she graduated with her Centennial Class, one of the most admired and beloved of these was Meta Elizabeth Peveto, who later married Paul Ukena. To our great loss, Meta died on June 19 at 7:00 p.m. She had spent the last few years at Kimball Farms, a retirement community in Lenox, Massachusetts.
Meta was in my "Big Sister" class, under the school's mentoring system, and my first memory of her is from September, 1943 -- a tall, vibrant, beautiful young woman standing on the chapel stage and teaching, by rote, the some 100 entering freshmen the words and tune of the song she had composed especially for us. The first line became our class motto and got the Class of '47 forever dubbed as the "Angel Class," though angels we certainly were not. Sadly, we have now dwindled to number less than 15. The latest to leave us, in June, were Lee Holcomb Means and Loda Allen Nelson Gibson, both of whom had outstanding careers as educators in Texas. And now, while our grief for them is still fresh, we have received the news of Meta's death. I shall never forget her and shall cherish all my memories of her as long as I live. Among them, the Class of '47 Song, which we sang in various versions at every class reunion, including that of April, 2012. Meta was not up to the long trip for that, but she wrote to us that she would be with us in spirit, saying, "Wish I could be there to straighten those haloes!"
Here are the later versions, which Meta sent with that same wish, to our reunions in 1992 and 1997: CLASS OF ‘47 SONG (Original) By Meta Peveto Oh, the Class of ‘47 is the nearest thing to heaven In all MHB. We’re full of pep as you can see. We’ve really got vitality. Oh, yes sir-e-e! We love the purple, gold and white. We stand for purity and right. Oh, we’ll come through. We’re making a reputation that will spread through all the nation. MHB, we’re all for you! CLASS OF ‘47 SONG (rewritten for our 45th reunion) by Meta Peveto Ukena The Class of 47 was the nearest thing to Heaven At (old) MHB. You’re still full of pep for all to see. And brimming with vitality At (new) UMHB. I wish that I could see you now, Our little sisters grown somehow! It can’t be ninety-two! You’ve made a reputation; it was your predestination! Sisters, dear, I’m still for you. FOR THE CLASS OF ‘47 IN 1997 (rewritten for our 50th) by Meta Peveto Ukena The Class of ‘47 may be a little nearer to Heaven Than in days of yore, But that is all that’s seemed to change! I needn’t even rearrange, Just underscore. Your faithfulness to MHB, your caring generosity To all of us. I cannot do without you. Here’s a hug; my arms are about you Sisters, dear, you’re MAR-VE-LOUS. AND HERE’S A PERSONAL NOTE FROM META “It simply can’t be 50 years....Not for you younger-than-springtime angels! I wish I were there to straighten those haloes.” Love, Meta 20 March 1997

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