FROM READERS: Stephens College alumna comes back to Columbia after 53 years

Sunday, November 10, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CST; updated 10:30 a.m. CST, Monday, November 11, 2013

Tom and Carol Kelley are native Floridians and devout Gators fans. Carol graduated from Stephens College in 1960 and came back to Columbia for the first time in 53 years to watch the Florida vs. Missouri game.

Dear Mizzou Fans,

While we were in Columbia to watch our struggling Gator football team against Mizzou, we want to applaud all MU fans as we have never met nicer fans! Everyone was so welcoming and obviously proud to now be in the SEC. It was an especially nice trip for my wife, Carol, who grew up in Orlando, Fla., and attended Stephens College in 1958 and 1959 when it was a two-year female school.

Since she had never been back there after receiving her associate degree in 1960, we made an arrangement in advance of our trip with the Stephens alumnae office to be able to tour the campus upon our arrival. They were especially intrigued that after she transferred to the University of Florida, she was crowned Miss University of Florida, and then married me, a Gator football player, and earned her elementary education degree.

Stephens staff invited us to stay that weekend in one of their guest suites, which was very nice. Carol was very impressed with the changes there over the past 53 years, the growth of the Stephens campus, the greatly expanded Mizzou campus and Columbia. As an example, we were enjoying a Friday evening snack at the downtown Panera when she suddenly realized that we were in the old theater where she and her fellow Stephens students watched movies.

She also said she saw snow for the first time in Columbia, and she recalled walking in the snow to the Episcopal church on Sunday mornings. She especially enjoyed our drive over to Stephens Lake, which now appears to be a public park, and she noted that the former old homestead there has been removed.

Even though our Gators lost, we thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Columbia, which was truly a "homecoming" for Carol.

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how. Supervising editor is Joy Mayer.

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