Vera Jones Stinson published a book titled “Stumbling Blocks Were Stepping Stones in Appalachia” that reflects on life in the mountains and includes anecdotes about Western Carolina. Stinson is from Cedar Mountain, south of Brevard, though she did spend time teaching in Cincinnati. Stinson, 101, attended WCU when it was Western Carolina Teachers College.


David M. Rayburn was appointed to serve on the National Sheriffs’ Association Reserve Law Enforcement Officers Committee for the 2010-11 year. The committee reviews and recommends changes to policies, procedures and laws relating to volunteer and part-time reserve and auxiliary law enforcement officers throughout the United States. Rayburn retired in 2010 as a lieutenant colonel after 23 years of service as a sworn Florida Highway Patrol auxiliary trooper. He is a founding member and president of the nonprofit Volunteer Law Enforcement Officer Alliance. The organization’s primary focus is to provide high-quality training and support for the more than 250,000 volunteer officers nationwide.


Phil Bowser MA is a retired school psychologist and adjunct psychology professor in the Lewis and Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling in Portland, Ore. Bowser also has developed an interest in photography; he recently has had images accepted in three shows, including the Portland Photographer’s Forum group show this summer, and continues to prepare entries for more. He also is participating in the “Portraits of Love” project sponsored by the Photoimaging Manufacturers and Distributors Association, which provides free portraits of families who have a member serving in the armed forces overseas. He lives in Oregon with his wife, Carolyn S. Dawson, and they provide care for four grandchildren while the children’s parents are at work.


George W. “Chuck” Wooten, former WCU vice chancellor for administration and finance, is county manager in Jackson County. Wooten accepted the position after an interim appointment.


Douglas A. Bridges MAEd ’75 retired from Polk County Schools in June after teaching English and study skills for 16 years. Bridges is a veteran of the Vietnam War, having served in the Army Security Agency as a Cambodian translator/interpreter (he studied Cambodian at the Defense Language Institute in Arlington, Va.). He lives in Columbus and he is an avid rock collector owing to an interest in geology resulting from a WCU class taught by geology professor Steven Yurkovich. He credits and thanks the WCU English faculty members of the 1970s for profoundly affecting his life by their teaching and mentoring.


In June, N.C. Gov. Beverly Perdue conferred the Order of the Long Leaf Pine upon Sue Nations MAEd ’76 EdS ’84, recently retired superintendent of the Jackson County Public Schools. The Order of the Long Leaf Pine recognizes individuals who have a proven record of extraordinary service to the state as exhibited by contributions to their communities, extra effort in their careers and many years of service to their organizations. Nations began her education career in Jackson County in 1974.

Kathy Rentz is a professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Cincinnati.

Julia Lee Tiddy Price MAEd ’80 recently retired from Fallston Elementary School in Cleveland County after 36 years in public education. She is married to Thomas F. Price MAEd ’81 and has three children, Lea, Bonney and Garrett, and two grandsons, Mason and Graham. She plans to volunteer in the school system and to spend time with family and friends.


Judy Stroud MAEd ’81 of Hendersonville recruits, trains and evaluates game officials as coordinator of women’s basketball officials for the South Atlantic Conference. A standout at WCU who later coached the Catamounts, Stroud is a longtime Division I and WNBA referee. She is a member of the WCU Athletic Hall of Fame.


The North Carolina Writers Network West featured poet Nancy Simpson of Hayesville at Coffee with the Poets in Hayesville in June. Simpson’s most recent poetry collection, “Living above the Frost Line,” was published by Carolina Wren Press in 2010.