Alum Trip Memories

Charleston 2015

LLL Alums Gather in Charleston, South Carolina

Ginny Innocenti and I flew on Wednesday, November 4, 2015 to Charleston, South Carolina to meet up with other LLL Alumnae Members, see this historic city together, and spend time with each other. Planning this wonderful gathering was Pam Oselka, Trip Chair. She was assisted by Alumnae Council Members Fran Dereszynski, Patti Hope, Janet Jendron, Edna Kelly, Gail Moak, and Sue Steilen. The Hampton Inn in Mount Pleasant was very accommodating with a great complimentary brunch each morning. Once again, greeting and meeting with friends from the past and meeting new ones was a delight.

On Thursday morning Ginny, Cathy Janoka, Leslie Ostyn, Rebecca Keepers, Suzy Graham and I met Carol Ezell Gibson in front of the Library Society on King Street for a fascinating two-hour and 15 minute Grimke Sisters Walking Tour. Judge Grimke, active in the early days of the United States, had seven children, including two daughters, Sarah and Angelina, who became abolitionists and eventually suffragettes. Sue Monk Kidd wrote of their fascinating lives in her historical novel, "The Invention of Wings." Thursday afternoon a pre-trip culinary tour was scheduled and enjoyed by 24 Alumnae members. That evening was the Welcome Dinner where we met all the Council Members who work behind the scenes for all of the Alum activities. Kudos!

On Friday morning we enjoyed a bus tour of historic Charleston, followed by a tour of the Manigault House, an antebellum mansion. The owners copied as much as they could from the English mansions they remembered. However, having the kitchen in the basement in Charleston’s heat did not work. So, a Kitchen House was added on the mansion grounds.

After having lunch on our own in the historic district’s City Market Center, several of us visited the Charleston Museum near the Visitor’s Center. I noted especially the former military uniforms from many battles there. That evening we gathered in the Liberty Tap Room and Grill for hors d’oeuvres at the Judy Torgus Memorial Event. Marian Tompson and Mary Ann Kerwin led a toast to Judy. Katy Lebbing narrated a touching onscreen presentation. Many Leaders and Alumnae submitted their fond memories of Judy, who did so much for breastfeeding mothers and LLL during her 50 the years as an LLL Leader and later as a Alumnae Council Member-at-Large. Judy passed away in June 2014.

On Saturday, we toured Drayton Hall, the only plantation house on the Ashley River to survive the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. We also toured the Magnolia Plantation, one of the oldest in the South. A special event was held there for us. Marian Tompson and Mary Ann Kerwin read the names of recently deceased Leaders at the We Remember Ceremony. On the trolley ride around the plantation, I learned to my surprise that indigo and rice were the prime products grown there and were a major supply for other countries. We saw quite a few alligators in the swampy ponds at the plantation. After dinner that evening, we gathered at the Circular Congregational Church in the historic district for the Sound of Charleston Concert. It was a musical treat, “from gospel to Gershwin, jazz to Civil War camp songs and light classics.” A toe-tapping, hand clapping event!

On Sunday several of us went to Christ Our King Catholic Church in Mount Pleasant and were warmly welcomed. Rae Shopp and several others went to the historic Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church where the recent sad shootings occurred. All were warmly welcomed. Then we boarded a shuttle bus to Patriots Point for the 30-minute scenic harbor tour to historic Fort Sumter. It was cold and windy, but a very moving time at the Fort. While there, we visited the museum, watched waves crashing on the rocks around the fort, and viewed the Arthur Ravelel, Jr. suspension bridge across the bay. A group lunch followed at the Charleston Harbor Fish House. In the evening we went to Southerly, a lovely restaurant, where 89-year-old Jerry McManus, founder LLL of South Carolina, and several local Leaders joined in the fun and conversation. The evening ended with a cake to celebrate the LLL Alumnae Association’s 30th anniversary.

On Monday most of us said “au revoir” ’till we meet again! The Alumnae Council stayed on for the Annual Business Meeting. Ginny and I chatted with others who were leaving on Tuesday. That morning Fran Dereszynski, Joy Aharon, Ginny and I took a horse and buggy ride around downtown Charleston. It was fun! We ate sandwiches at a tiny restaurant run by an interesting man from Egypt. Then off Ginny and I flew to Chicago and Fran to California. We all look forward to the next Alum trip!! Won’t you consider joining us the next time?

Mary Gisch
Westchester, Illinois USA


From Marian Tompson: How grateful I am to all the Alums who made it possible for Mary Ann and I to attend. Thank you to the Alum Council for coming up with the idea.

From Mary Ann Kerwin: The trip was over the top to sit across from a newly accredited Leader at the Farewell Dinner and next to LLL Charleston’s founder Jerry McManus, celebrating her 89th birthday that day. It's always better than expected. The sightseeing is always interesting but it is the connections with other Alums and the conversations that make me look forward to the next trip.

From Janet Jendron: The Charleston trip was a blend of fun, surprises, deep conversations and love. Just being with everyone gave my spirit a boost. It was special to me, to "share South Carolina" with so many dear friends. I was also thrilled to make new friends. LLL folks are the best!

From Amy Shaw: Being in Charleston with everyone was time to let our hair down together. I was totally thrilled to attend an LLL event for pure pleasure and no work. Expectations were exceeded. What I will remember most is meeting lots of new friends and reconnecting with others. LLL Alums rock! Happy to be part of such a vibrant group of women! You really have a gift for bringing people together.

From Mary Strack: I appreciate all the time and effort that went into planning this great trip. With Pam Oselka’s leadership, the Alum council worked together so seamlessly and were so loving and kind, even when things were challenging. I loved getting to know everyone better and also meeting new friends, while connecting with "old" friends. Blessings to you all.

From many attendees: I want to give a big shout-out to the Alum Council, especially Trip Chair Pam Oselka, for making this trip such an interesting, fun weekend. Thank you, everyone!

Trip Statistics
Attendees: 63. Active Leaders: 32, includes 2 LLL co-Founders. Former Leaders: 31; First Alum trip: 21. Attendees’ age range: 50 to 80+ years.

Attendees traveled from 21 states: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia.

Alum Fun on the Verandah

Rae Schopp, Janet Jendron and Mary Jeanne Hickey share a laugh during the Alum trip.

Charleston harbor

Co-Founder Mary Ann Kerwin in the center. This is about 1/3 of our group.

Boat Trip to Fort Sumter

Followed by lunch at a Patriots Point restaurant with a view of the USS Yorktown.

Happy Birthday LLL Alumnae Association!

Pictured are some of the Alumnae Council.

We Remember Ceremony

La Leche League co-Founders Marian Tompson and Mary Ann Kerwin read the names of LLL Leaders who have passed since the last trip. Photos by Rae Schopp.

Farewell Dinner

Co-Founder Marian Tompson in the center.

Dinner with Local Leaders

Jerry McManus, founder LLL of South Carolina, 89 years young, joined in the fun and conversation.

Judy Torgus Memorial Dinnner

The gift pens are inscribed, "Write with Judy."