October 09, 2015

Herb Wilcox ’50 and Janice Cupp ’51 met up for a date at the Bison on campus in 1951.

A chance encounter down south leads to new connections

By Herbert Wilcox '50

There are many retirement communities in southwest Florida, but one has a special distinction. Within three 300 yards of one another, in three separate garden-apartment complexes, the four surviving members of three alumni couples met for the first time. Even though all six had attended Bucknell during the late 1940s and early 1950s, they hadn't known each other. It took more than 50 years for them to finally meet up down south.

Leanne Freas ’50 and David Trout ’50
Leanne Freas ’50 and David Trout ’50 married on campus the day after graduation in 1950.

All three couples had met on campus and married after graduation, then pursued careers that included international service. Leanne Freas '50 and David Trout '50 married on campus the day after graduation in 1950, then moved to Ohio, where David began a 35-year career, ultimately as senior vice president of the Federal Paperboard Co., now International Paper. Leanne kept busy raising their three daughters and volunteering. David and Leanne made the Fort Myers area their winter-vacation destination for decades before buying a condominium on Sanibel Island. David died in 2006 after a long battle with cancer.

The second couple is Bonnie Mackie '54 and Glen Aspinwall '52. Glen was on the football team and helped the Bisons to their undefeated, untied 1951 season. His jersey is displayed in the Bucknell Athletics Hall of Fame. Glen joined the Marines and rose to the rank of colonel and provost marshal at the huge U.S. naval base at Subic Bay, Philippines, in the 1970s.

Herb Wilcox '50, a Navy veteran attending Bucknell on the GI bill, met Janice Cupp '51 on campus. Because he'd been called back to serve in the Korean War, Janice's engagement ring was delivered by a postman while Herb was a drill instructor at Fort Dix, N.J. They were married Dec. 1,1951.

The Wilcoxes moved to Trieste, Italy, as Herb was assigned to the 351st Infantry Regiment, 88th Infantry Division facing off against the communist Yugoslav People's Army anxious to reoccupy the city after being driven out at the end of WWII.

They raised their two girls and a boy in Horseheads, N.Y., where Herb spent 13 years as an engineer for Westinghouse. Then the family moved to the Philippines, where Herb taught for the Methodist Board of Missions in Manila. The family was "asked" to leave the Philippines, accused of "associating with radicals" when President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law. (This was about the same time Glen and Bonnie Aspinwall were about 75 miles away at Subic Bay.)

Back in the U.S., Herb was operations director for five years at a Goodwill Industries workshop in Baltimore. Herb and Janice then moved to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, where Herb was a consultant with the Arabian American Oil Company (ARAMCO) and Janice was a librarian at an ARAMCO school for children of foreign employees. Herb retired, and the couple returned to Baltimore. Janice was a librarian at the Community College of Baltimore County for 13 years. She died in 2005 from complications of Alzheimer's disease.

In 2008 Herb, now living in the retirement community, attended a Bucknell Alumni dinner in Venice, Fla., his first since graduation. Leanne Trout attended the dinner, as was her custom. Her late husband had served on the Bucknell Board of Trustees for many years. Herb and Leanne introduced themselves and only then realized they were classmates as well as neighbors.

At that time, Herb and Leanne were unaware that the Aspinwalls also were their neighbors. In 2014, Herb Wilcox and Bonnie Aspinwall were in a class at the retirement community and learned they were fellow Bucknell alumni. And so the remaining members of the three couples reconnected.