The Senior Members

The oldest graduates of Harvard and Radcliffe present on Commencement day were Rose Downes Arnold ’36, 90, of Arlington, Massachusetts, and George Barner ’29, Ed. ’32, L ’33, 101, of Kennebunk, Maine. Both were recognized at the afternoon ceremony by HAA president Teresita Alvarez-Bjelland ’76, M.B.A. ’79. Arnold was accompanied by her brother, J. Edward Downes ’35, of Weston, Massachusetts. In chatting about the days when they and their two siblings, Thomas Downes ’34 and Philip Downes ’40, now deceased, attended Radcliffe and Harvard, they recalled that tuition was $400 per year. Even so, they reported, a fair number of their classmates had to drop out because of financial hardships during the Great Depression. “It was terrible,” Edward Downes noted. “There was no help at all with tuition--or anything.” A generation earlier, their mother had been accepted at Radcliffe, but chose to attend Boston University instead because it was $25 cheaper than Radcliffe’s annual tuition of $150. “Her family just did not have the extra $25,” Rose Arnold reported. “That’s what times were like.”

According to University records, the oldest alumni include: M. Louise Macnair ’25, 107, of Cambridge; Halford J. Pope ’25, M.B.A. ’27, 106, of Hilton Head, South Carolina; Rose Depoyan ’26, 104, of Brockton, Massachusetts; Edith M. Van Saun ’29, 103, of Sykesville, Maryland; Priscilla Bartol Grace ’58, 103, of Woods Hole, Massachusetts; George H. O’Sullivan ’30, 102, of Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts; J. Mack Swigert ’30, 102, of Cincinnati; Ruth Leavitt Fergenson ’28, 102, of Rockville, Maryland; Mary Horgan Spicer ’30, 102, of Grafton, Massachusetts; and Dorothy P. Collins ’30, 102, of Hyde Park, Massachusetts. 

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