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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA COLLECTION
Interviewee: Frances Reitz
Interviewer: Emily Ring
Date: May 6, 1983 and April 23, 1984
E.R: Frances when did you and Wayne build this home here in Briarwood?
R: When we returned from Thailand we needed a place to live and so we could not
find a place to buy so we had to just quickly find a lot because we were going to
Colorado for a vacation, and our furniture was soon to come in fall also we had to
select a place and we found Briarwood which was close enough to the University
because that was the reason we returned to Gainesville. So we planned it and
built here and that was in 1973.
E.R: When you first came to Gainesville where did you live?
R: Oh when I first I came as a bride and we first lived in a very nice apartment down
nearer town, we had no car the first year we were married and so we lived in
Mrs. Morris's home it was the lower floor and it was very nice.
E.R: How close to the campus?
R: Not too close to the campus. It was within walking distance of church, the
woman's club, the stores, and of course I'd never walked to the campus but
Wayne did and but it was also across sort of across the street from what they
called I think Porter's Quarters, I'm not sure, but that was typical in Gainesville at
that time you know.
E.R: It was not far from P.K. Yonge.
R: P.K. Yonge was had just no P.K. Yonge was I think there oh it's down I'd say
about two blocks from the old women's club you know. Down that way so it was
on, I believe, Masonic Street.
E.R: And what year was that when you first came?
R: 1935 and Wayne had been here as an Assistant Professor in 1934.
E.R.: In Ag School?
R: In the College of Agriculture, he was in economics.
E.R: I see agriculture and economics.
R: He came really to take the place for one year of Dr. Turlington who had a heart
attack. And he was in Washington, when he was working in Washington, and we
came down here for our meeting and to do a survey so then he was asked later
would he come back. He enjoyed it he had come at Christmas and he was able
to play tennis and it was such lovely weather in contrast to Washington (laughter)
so that he thought it over and thought maybe he would so he would come down
for a year and allow Dr. Turlington to have time to recuperate but then he died.
Dr. Turlington died so then Wayne they asked him to stay on and he did.
E.R: Well now Frances sooner or later we hope Dr. Sam Proctor is going to do the
oral history recording of Wayne's life but today we are going to concentrate on
Frances and I want to go back to your birthplace and to your parents and your
grandparents. What state were you born in?
R: I was born in Kansas.
E.R. Did you grow up in Kansas?
R: No I was there I guess until about the third grade. My father had asthma very
E.R. What was your father's name?
R: Samuel Hall Milluck. And he was in business there he loved music he was a
singer he studied in New York under a very fine teacher, but he found that in the
east he had asthma trouble his father was a doctor but they did not know very
much about the disease then and so it was a change of climate and he found that
in traveling around in Colorado he was relieved of that. So I really grew up we
moved from Kansas to La Junata, Colorado.
E.R: When you were about what age?
R: Oh lets see I was about I was about went into the third grade there.
E.R: We're not going to say what year you were born because that is going to remain
a secret (laughter). But anyway you moved to Colorado quite early before you
went to school right?
R: No I was in the I started in the third grade in Colorado. I really grew up in small
towns. I was born in Yates Center, Kansas and then we moved to La Juanta,
Colorado, it was in the Arkansas Valley where it was very dry.
E.R: I see.
R: And that is where my father was relieved so much and strangely enough I'll tell
you this later but that is the reason Wayne moved to Colorado because his
mother had asthma. We would never have met if had not been for that incident
(laughter) for that reason.
E.R: Isn't that interesting.
R: So we laughed about that. So I grew up in La Juanta we had it was a very, very
nice community and my mother was active in women's clubs you know and
E.R: What was her name?
R: Margaret. Margaret Hillis Milligan.
E.R: She was born Margaret Hillis?
E.R: Now how many children did your mother have?
R: Two daughters. My sister, Martha, who now lives in California and myself.
E.R: Well now were your grandparents middle westerners?
R: They, they came from you see I'm interested in genealogy so I've done a lot on
this except I still don't have the time to have it organized, but they were Scotch-
Irish and they came from oh Pennsylvania and Kentucky and well my
grandmother was from Pennsylvania, my grandfathers people came around from
Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Virginia, and then on up. My grandfather...
E.R: Which grandfather is this?
R: Did you ask me about them, this is grandfather Hillis, my mother's father. And I
did not know him but I think I was more influenced by my mother's die because I
heard more about them. He was a minister and they moved from town to town
and it was quite in the early days you know of what you call the west, that would
be Kansas, Missouri, and so that was, and then his last assignment was in
Lawrence, Kansas and that is where my mother went to college. At the
E.R: What was his occupation, your maternal grandfather?
R: He was a minister, a Presbyterian minister. So my father had come west and was
working and he had a fine voice and sang in the Presbyterian church, and that's
where he met my mother.
E.R: So your folks were Presbyterian on both sides?
R: Yes. My father really came originally from Quaker. The Quakers in North
Carolina, but they became Presbyterians as they came along.
E.R: So you come by the Presbyterianism very naturally? Yes uh huh.
E.R: And then what do you remember about your elementary school in Colorado it
was in a small town but I would imagine it was a very good school?
R: It was we had good teachers and I guess you would say that I was a good
student I was valedictorian of my high school class (laughter) when my daughters
hear that they say mother you? (laughter) I don't think I could achieve that now.
E.R: You were interested in music because your mother was?
R: Yes they both were my mother and my father. My mother played the piano and
she accompanied my father and he was always head of everything musical in La
Junata. I mean we had we even had Shuman in her later days.
E.R: Wonderful yes.
R: And then my father had heard her in New York when he was studying...
E.R: Did he buy one of the first victrolas in town?
R: We had one. We certainly did we have beautiful records, a quite a nice
collection, and of Caruso of the early singers because he was studying in New
York at the time when the Met was in its really golden years of the great, great
opera singers. And so I just really grew up with that.
E.R: And you have a sister?
R: Yes my sister Martha who had two daughters one who is not living now the other
is and they all live in California in San Diego around San Diego.
E.R: Now you were the older or the youngest?
R: No Martha is the oldest she is quite a bit older than I am. But she in fact was in
college when I was just a little girl.
E.R: So you went to elementary and high school there and then you met Wayne in
R: No I met him at a wedding he had come to. Because of his mother's health they
first came to Canyon City, Colorado and then he went on to school at Fort Collins
at Colorado State and so no we didn't know each other until after well I had let's
see. Yes, he had graduated and I had too. I was still taking work I went from
when I got out of high school I went to Stephens College and mother was ill that
year so I couldn't stay the whole year so I came on home and then I transferred
to the University of Colorado. And was there until I took I was there another year
I was president of my sorority president (laughter)
E.R: What sorority was that?
R: Alpha Chi Omega and I was president of
E.R: And you were majoring in music?
R: Yes and the women's chorus I don't know why I felt it my lot to be president I
never thought of myself as being a leader but I get that job. And so
then I, my father felt though there was a little bit too much perhaps social work
too much social life at the university and he wanted me to get into a conservatory
where would really get down to business in music.
E.R: So this was voice?
R: And I played the piano. So they considered Cincinnati Conservatory of Music
and my girlfriend who was very close, we are going to visit them in Colorado this
summer, but she and I had gone to Stephan and the university together and we
both decided to go to Cincinnati together. She was an organist and so Ruth was
her name or Ruth Galbraith at that time later married a doctor. But, so we went
to Cincinnati and that was where I was graduated from. Well one of the
summers let's see when was that I met Wayne. We were close friends the bride
in this wedding was the daughter of my high school principal. She had been a
life-long friend so she asked me if I would be her bridesmaid and Wayne was a
friend of the groom and was really, and this is funny because he was really
second choice, the thing was that the best man was a fraternity brother of Bob
and he was going to bat as best man so he became ill the last week before the
wedding and Bob was frantic and he knew Wayne Reitz with whom he had
worked in student government and so forth at the university. They were not in
the same fraternity and he knew he was in the area so he, you didn't just pick up
this was the time of...
E.R: The depression. What year would that have been?
R: It was in about 1930.
E.R: Well that was the Great Depression.
R: Yes, I couldn't think of it. I was thinking of recession. The depression so you
didn't just pick up the telephone and call people in those days because you didn't
have the money you know (laughter). He wrote to him and said he needed a
good man for that weekend, could he come to Colorado Springs? The were
going to be married in Colorado Springs because Dorothy's father, the high
school principal, was taking graduate work at the university and he didn't want to
have to go back and open their home so they had a minister friend, a very fine
Baptist minister, in Colorado Springs who said well why don't you come and have
the wedding here? We'll have it on a Sunday after church and we'll have it in our
home. So that was it. Bob asked Wayne if he could come and Wayne wrote
back and said he was sorry he couldn't come because his aunt was coming from
Kansas and he promised to take her to Royal Gorge that early morning and on
that Sunday and he just couldn't come.
E.R: Take her to the Gorge?
R: Royal Gorge. It is beautiful scenic place out of Canyon City. So Bob then was
more frantic than ever. He read and he said I don't need a good man I
need a best man and you have to come. And so Wayne took his aunt about four
o'clock and he got there about six, then rushed to Colorado Springs, went to the
Sigma Chi house, borrowed a suit. Well he had asked one of the boys there
whom he knew if he had a suit because Wayne just had, oh Wayne was working
in Barberry that summer. It was a summer job in the area. So he had
to (laughter) borrow a suit that he could wear. He had asked for, I don't know,
what was it, probably a navy blue, but somebody else came and got the suit and
the only thing that was there that he could wear was a sort of a khaki colored
suit, it was a nice looking suit, but a terrible color and he would never have
chosen that to wear for a wedding. But that was all there was (laughter).
E.R: That was your first view of him, in a khaki suit?
R: No, the night before he had gone to the picture show, the movies together. We
all had gone and then we had gone dancing. I remembered that was when we
E.R: Young Presbyterians in Colorado at that time were allowed to dance, but not
dance in public places probably?
R: Not too much no, no but we went off to as I remember, oh one of those places
or someplace like that out of Colorado Springs, and we just danced
together and I do remember though we went to the movie, Wayne was so tired
he went to sleep and I thought, well this is not very flattering.
E.R: Your first date.
R: But of course I knew a lot about him because he was president of the student
body and I mean I had read the I knew all of this word for word, all of the things
he did. (Laughter) So well I liked him very much of course but he was telling me
that night he said he was going to go into the foreign service and so I thought,
well, I'll never see him again. And so I, but then the next day with the wedding
and so after the wedding they asked me to sing and I sang "It's Spring Time in
the Rockies" you know (laughter).
E.R: Oh, wonderful. You didn't sing "Oh Promise Me", at the wedding?
R: No, I didn't really. No, the song was just after she really didn't have a really
formal ceremony. No, but we had dinner together and then he persuaded me to
stay overnight. The bride and groom of course went off on their honeymoon and
he asked me if I wouldn't stay over. He said that they house mother was at the
Sigma House and that they were having girls, I think, it was on the first floor. And
could I do that? Well of course, I was always very careful to talk things over with
my parents even though I was out of college. I mean I wanted to go and another
boy was going to meet me in La Junata The boy I was dating, he was going to
meet me that night. But I called my parents no, no I sent them a telegram that is
right, and somehow that telegram didn't arrive (laughter), to tell them I was
staying over and so I did stay and this poor boy met all of the trains that night.
We were on a Santa Fe, it was a Santa Fe town, Santa Fe railroad, so he met all
of the trains (laughter) and the interest sort of ended right there because that was
a bit too much for him. But we stayed over and we went dancing that night you
know and I was very much interested in him and I thought he was interested in
me too, but do you know that we wrote for five years before we were married.
E.R: But that was not too unusual in those days.
R: I know.
E.R: People in the depression had to think twice before they could get married.
R: That's right, and Wayne owed money and he also had responsibilities toward his
mother and little sister and his father had been an invalid and I borrowed some
E.R: That is a difficult start...
R: I borrowed a thousand dollars from our Presbyterian minister to go to college on.
I mean that was like about ten thousand now. So I would want to pay that. You
just didn't dive into marriage. So Wayne was, we were really together very little
during those five years.
E.R: But he did not go into the foreign service?
R: No, he didn't. That was strange because he was working in Colorado that first
year in the sort of extension service, and he was down in Ag economics studying
records and so forth and he was down in southern Colorado and was sort of
captured during a weekend because of a terrific snowstorm and he couldn't get
out and he said it just gave him time to think, well what did he really want to do
with his life? And he tells this now, it's just very interesting because he decided
education was really more important than the foreign service. Now he still loves
anything connected with travel and helping underdeveloped countries and so
forth, he loves that. But he decided he would go on and to the University of
Illinois and get his masters degree and later he got his Ph.D. at Wisconsin, but
that was the reason. So we..
E.R: Well now, what did you do during this five years when you were corresponding.
Did you teach?
R: Yes, I was teaching music. And music positions were very difficult to get then
because those were the frills and most schools...
E.R: This was public school then?
R: Yes, I also taught privately. I always had private classes and lessons, pupils. I
directed choirs and I was always putting on operettas and so forth.
E.R: Finally you were able to marry in what year?
R: In 1935. Wayne had come out, he had gone to the University of Wisconsin,
starting his work on his Ph.D. and in the summer, then came to Colorado. We
were married in La Junta and we went down to Texas, I mean yes, Texas. We
took the Clyde-Mallory line across the gulf. We were married September first
and that was the day of the terrible hurricane disaster on the Florida Keys, do
you remember? Of course we were coming up to Gainesville so we took, we
read about it in the paper, and I being a dry land girl you know, I wasn't very
anxious to go on the water where there was a hurricane. He said tomorrow it will
just be as calm as anything so we spent the night in Houston, went down to
Galveston and then took the boat, the Clyde-Mallory line which had about, oh I
think it, I've forgotten whether it was 500 or 1,000 passengers but there were
very few people on the boat. (Laughter) In fact, most of them had canceled their
schedules, but we went. The water was lovely, it was beautiful.
E.R: A calm sea, huh?
R: Yes and then we arrived in Miami and stayed there and he has a lot of funny
tales about how cheap it was in Miami. We stayed in one of the nicest hotels.
You know it was very, very inexpensive.
E.R: That was in the off season.
R: That was in the off season. Even so, it was pretty inexpensive, but I remember
when we arrived and saw the beautiful city before us.
E.R: Did you stay on the beach?
R: Yes we did and the mosquitos were, it was a land breeze or a sea breeze or
something, but I have never seen such big, black mosquitos in my life. And I
thought oh heavens, here I'm coming to Florida.
E.R: These were the days before air-conditioning, it was probably hot.
R: Oh yes, terrible. So we spent three days there and we came I'm telling this
because it ended in an amusing way. We came up and we spend a couple of
weeks at Mrs. Spencers, A.P. Spencers, you know the director of extension.
That's where Wayne had lived. And she had thoroughly spoiled him there.
(Laughter) But I wished for him to get a check and they had run out of money. In
those days the state began at the first of the alphabet and our name being down
Reitz and the end, the state ran out of money. We were not paid until...
E.R: Did Mrs. Spencer have a boarding table too?
R: No, no it was just a private house.
E.R: So you had to provide your own meals.
R: We were just there for two weeks and she wasn't there so then we went to Mrs.
Morris' house and that was the place where...
E.R: Did you have an apartment there?
R: Yes, it was the entire down floor, but we had so little money and had an extra
bedroom, so we rented that to Vic Boman, who was to be Wayne's graduate
assistant. He had married a little French girl. He had been in the war, so she
was in Winter Park teaching in Rollins College and he needed a place to stay.
He didn't have to get meals or anything like that, so we were happy to have them
there. I think our rent was thirty-five dollars a month, I believe.
E.R: France, do you remember some of the other men who were into agricultural
economics then? Was John do you remember?
R: Well yes, H.G. Hamilton. I think he had not come until, well he had graduated
from here, but I believe he was working someplace else...
E.R: You came later?
R: He came a little later, but Dr. Noble was head of the department and of course,
Dean Newell was dean of agriculture and let's see, oh well Bill of
course, and then there were still many around who were in agriculture.
E.R: So they took you in as a bride?
R: Yes, yes.
E.R: Now you were a Presbyterian of course, when you came here, and so you
naturally joined the Presbyterian church?
R: Well, Wayne, the way it happened was that Wayne had been reared a Methodist,
although he had had Presbyterians in his family, but when he came here he met
Preacher Gordon, Dr. U.S. Gordon of the Presbyterian church and they had
played handball together and then also another factor that influenced it was that
the Methodist church was considerably farther away than the Presbyterian, we
could walk to the Presbyterian. We did not have a car. He thought the practical
thing to would be to join the Presbyterian church. Well, in fact he wrote to me
when I was in Colorado about what church I would like to go to. I said, well, if it
didn't make any difference to him, I would like to be a Presbyterian, so that's
what we did. Joined the Presbyterian church here.
E.R: And that was, of course, when the Presbyterian church was the only red brick
R: Yes, that's right. Down on the corner.(laughter)
E.R: At what point did you move to Dean Little's apartment house?
R: It was before Margo was born. It was about the second year we were married. In
fact, Joann Little and our Margaret Ann, that was her real name, we call her
Margo. Joann Little and Margo and the Culpepper's son, I think it was Bruce,
isn't he the oldest, were all born within a month of each other. We all lived in that
E.R: Didn't Dean Little say he felt like he was running a maternity house?
R: (laughter) I don't know, maybe he did. Probably did. We were afraid to tell
Dean Little that we were going to have a baby, because we were just sure he
would put us out. That was one of the very few apartment houses available in
the city. Another was garage apartments and I had never lived in garage
apartments before. That would be the only other place, we couldn't afford a
house. So we were very happy there. It was just a new apartment, new
apartment house and near P.K. Yonge, very near to the University. So when we
had this baby coming, I said Wayne, you simply have to tell Dean Little. One day
Dean Little was in the backyard, and Wayne went out with his courage us and
told (laughter) him that we were expecting a baby and he said, well that's
interesting. He said, there will be two more here (laughter) and so he had
already heard about the Culpepper's, so he almost had a nursery there.
E.R: That made it very congenial for the three wives.
R: Yes, it truly did. We had a bachelor downstairs, do you remember Dr. Germand?
R: Hal Germand was downstairs (laughter), opposite, so Margo had her first few
years in that apartment.
E.R: Which baby was born first?
R: Margaret Ann, Margo. Marjorie was born in Wisconsin. I taught voice, I had
some voice pupils from the university because voice was not taught at the
university. I had some nice boys from Tallahassee and then of course, they sang
in the men's glee club on campus. But I enjoyed them so much and then I had
high school students whom I taught and so it was very convenient for all the
students to come here. And the Little's, I don't know if I asked for permission, but
I hope I did. The never did object (laughter) and it was not so frequent that it
would bother them, I don't think. Well, then we went from there to Wisconsin.
E.R: Why did you go to Wisconsin? There was a better job?
R: No, Wayne received a GEB fellowship. The Rockefeller fellowship, and to go for
E.R: To finish his Ph.D.?
R: Yes. We went there and we were there for two years and that was a marvelous
thing because we didn't have to worry about money and we had wonderful
friends and it was just a great place to study and to live. And of course, the
snow, we have a picture of our little car just the Florida license showing. It was
absolutely covered with snow. We had such a great time and I organized a
chorus of the dames. I belonged to the university dames and it was a very nice
life. Then we returned to Hibiscus Park, no, he finished his work early so he was
asked to come to Clemson. We could have just rested but he wanted to be busy.
He was asked to come to Clemson and so we went there and stayed. There are
lots of funny stories connected with that. Clemson was quite a place, a little town.
Then everything was called the campus. People lived, some faculty people, on
campus, some off, but the little town was called campus.
E.R: And I imagine you got right into music there?
R: Well actually they weren't very much interested in music at all in Clemson. There
was a great deal of bridge and it was...
E.R: You had the two little girls to take care of.
R: Yes, Marjorie was the baby then. Marjorie was born in Wisconsin and ...
E.R: How many years difference between their ages?
R: About three years, lacking about three months.
E.R: Were the two girls very different as children in their first ?
R: Yes, they are different temperament but they are very close too. Marjorie is more
like her father and I would say Margo is more like me. But I don't know. She
said, Mother, Margie is more like you than you think. So I don't know what she
meant by that (laughter).
E.R: They both love music?
R: but we have always enjoyed them so much.
E.R: Are they both musical, did you teach them piano?
R: I never did try that. No, I don't know how mothers do that. I couldn't. I wanted
them to study under someone else. Margo was really so much interested in
music, she still is. And Marjorie was very musical. She had a gift that neither
Margo or I had. She could sit down at the piano and she was just a little thing,
and play the pieces that Margo, her sister, was playing. She could sometimes,
when she was, how old was she when we moved to Orlando, probably about
three or four, we would be amused because usually the music would be upside
down, her sister's music, but she would play, she could play.
R: Yes, she could, but then later when she got into junior high she was more
interested in cheerleading and what not and she wouldn't practice. I would insist
that she continue, but Wayne just couldn't take it, so he said, no let's let her stop.
(Laughter) But she loves music and she still sits down when she comes to see
us. Sits down and plays those pieces that she used to know. She studied under
Bernice Hackthing here when she was a little girl and also Dorothy Reeves and
she really loved it.
E.R: Did Margo study with Bernice also?
R: Yes. Well when we moved to Orlando that was a great stimulus.
E.R: Tell us why you moved to Orlando and when.
R: This was during the war, oh mercy, I should have reviewed these dates. It was
during the war. Wayne had been asked to go into military government and told
Dr. Tigert about it here and Dr. Tigert said, if you do young man, you won't have
a job when you come back. He said, we have frozen the faculty and they have to
stay here. Well, this precedes stint in Orlando because he was teaching the Air
Force boys and he was teaching geography. He had to study a great deal to
keep right up with it. He learned a lot and really enjoyed it and then we went to
Orlando as an economic consultant for united growers and shippers which a very
large citrus concern here in the state. I remember that he talked. He was quite
dubious about leaving teaching at that time you know, but he talked with Dr.
Brannan. Do you remember Dr. Brannan, who was president of a number of
universities and he retired Evonnne Brannan?
E.R: I don't remember.
R: Well, she is still living but he was a great man. And we were living in Hibiscus
Park when we came back when we came back from Wisconsin so he went over
to talk to Dr. Brannan, what should he do he had this offer and of course it was
more money than he had ever gotten at the university, and he said if I were a
university president I would be much more interested in employing a person who
had somewhat of a varied experience, that is the economic work he still was in
that, but he thought it would be very good work for him at this particular time of
his life. But that was the reason we went to Orlando and it was a delightful place
to live. It was not large, not too large then, but still we thought of it as a little city
and quite culturally minded and Wayne was active in rotary and many things. We
made so many friends, really it is a very warm spot in our hearts, Orlando. The
girls studied then there was an artist teacher, Mary German Nelson, who has
written children's books and music too, but she was a marvelous teacher, so
Marjorie wasn't taking lessons at that time. She would go along. Mrs. Nelson
always wanted the little brothers and sisters if they were interested to come along
to just listen and she had finger painting down. She was in a long building which
was in a garden, an orchid garden in Orlando. I think it is still there. And so she
put the finger painting down at one end so that the little folks could be down there
just quietly having fun and then she might say Marjorie, come on over here and
play on this piano and you play, she would tell her to play certain things or you
know, and Margie would do that. She believed in creating a feeling of wanting to
play and wanting to play for others and so forth. She encouraged me to and
encouraged the other mothers too to have our children play for other people if
somebody dropped in (laughter). You would say wouldn't you like to hear Margie
play or Margo play. She has just learned a new piece (laughter) and then we
would have musical evenings. We would have evenings when Margaret Ann
would make up a little program and we would have Coca Cola and so forth. And
that would be for Daddy, and me and Margie and the four of us. We would have
little recitals and so it got them accustomed to preforming, you know. I thought
that I was really going to have two little concert artists. Let me run and get a
picture and show you. Just a minute. One day Marjorie, carved her name with a
pencil in there. Margie, she wrote. She had just learned to spell her name.
E.R: She carved her name on the piano?
R: Yes, but it was written backwards. It had the M starting on the right instead of on
the left (laughter) so we knew on one but Marjorie who was doing that in those
days would have done it.
E.R: That is an adorable picture.
R: Yes, but I thought and so they played. Then she started studying under Mrs.
Nelson the next year and then they were entered in a state music teachers
contest and they won first prize in their duet. (Laughter) You see, I was very
hopeful of having some budding artists, but it didn't last too long and Marjorie
decided later she didn't want to practice. That was fun, but we really just had a
great time. In Orlando, I had the junior choir of the first Presbyterian church and
was interested in, chairman of my garden circle. Wayne was planting, growing
some beautiful plants. You remember he used to...
E.R: That was the first time, I remember when you were in Newcomers Club and he
brought this marvelous gladioli.
R: We became interested in that in Wisconsin. We were at Wisconsin and ...
E.R: Did he breed those. Or did he just raise them to grow for the beauty of it? Did
he hybridize them?
R: No. He would buy the bulbs for the and then they would all have to be
removed and taken care of, but the funny thing was, we attended, oh Dr.
Hibbard, who was Wayne's major professor in Wisconsin, was a glad enthusiast
and there were such beautiful flowers up there because of the cooler weather.
We wanted to go the city garden show one Sunday and Margie was just a baby
and we didn't have anybody to leaver her with, so we, well let's just take the
bassinet along. There will be someplace to put her. We went to this women's
club where the show was going on and there was a little room over to the right
that was very quiet, the shades were drawn and we said, let's just put it in here,
we won't be in here long. We went on and viewed the flowers and talked with
people. When we came back, we found a blue ribbon on her bassinet.
(laughter). She has that in her baby book. Then when he came back he grew
beautiful ones in Hibiscus Park. There was a vacant lot right next to us and he
had about a thousand there. We moved on to Orlando and he grew them there
too. He was really famous, anything that Wayne goes in for, he is so enthusiastic
about. They were all named varieties and they were really gorgeous. We gave
them to hospitals and all around.
E.R: Were you teaching music in Orlando?
R: I don't believe I had any pupils then. I really didn't have the time. The girls were
taking dancing and I was working in Girl Scouts and Brownies.
E.R: Chauffeuring them this place and that place.
R: Oh, I was on the road all of the time. Back and forth to their music lessons, and
Scouts and so forth, and church.
E.R: Now, Dr. Tigert had threatened that he wouldn't give Wayne his job back, but he
did give him his job back didn't he?
R: Well no. But you see, Dr. Tigert was not here then. From Orlando we went to
Washington and Wayne was head of the citrus division in the Department of
Agriculture in Washington. So we went there and thought we would be leaving
Florida for good.
E.R: Where did you live in Washington?
R: We were in Park Fairfax. One of the very early, very good apartment
developments in Park Fairfax. We wanted very much to live there. It was a nice
place, there was a school there.
E.R: Is that in the district or outside the district?
R: It is in Arlington. They are still there, but now I think they are made into
condominiums probably. It was a wonderful place for the children and of course,
the school was right there. They could easily walk and it was very nice, but I
thought since they had been with Mrs. Nelson as their music teacher in Orlando,
they were so accustomed that I didn't want them to lose that knack of enjoying
music and playing for people and so forth. I thought there must be other children
in the development too, who had the same experience because people didn't live
in Park Fairfax too long. Washington is really quite transient.
E.R: How many years were you there?
R: We were there for about two years and Wayne was asked to come back here in
E.R: After you came back to Gainesville, where did you live the next time?
R: We built on Fifth Place.
E.R: Now tell us some of the neighbors on fifth place. Just off of Twenty-second.
R: Well the first place is the Allan's. John Allen was vice-president of the university
and they had their house there. The Durrances, Littles, the Sweeneys right next
to us, the Hales were back of us, Lester Hale, and the Machesneys down at the
end of the corner. I don't know if you remember the Knoxs, but they were down
E.R: Were the Webbers there at that time or did they come later?
R: The Webbers were there and then I can't remember the name of the people, the
other people who also took their house or were there earlier.
E.R: Was the Hirst family in at the end of the ?
R: Yes, the Hirsts.
E.R: And Dr. Dauer?
R: No, he wasn't there. There was a doctor who lived there at that time. He passed
away and dear me, who lived next to Ann Little? Oh, the Beckers, then the
Powells. There were seventeen little girls on that street, including the Hales. And
two boys, so I started this custom that we called the Fifth Place Christmas Party.
And we had that for fifteen years.
R: It was just a family gathering and the children were the little chorus. They sang
carols, and Les Hale would give a Christmas reading of some sort or read the
Christmas Story from the Bible, or we had games. It was just something that...
E.R: Would you alternate houses? You'd have it first at one house and ...
R: No, it was always at my house. I would gather them together and we'd make
cookies days before and the little Powell girls and the Becker girls would come
over and help and Marjorie had organized a little club there. They called it the
Cough About Club. She was the big girl in the club and all of these little children
just worshiped her.
E.R: She called it the what?
R: Cough About, and nobody knows how they ever got that name. (Laughter) They
all were supposed to furnish names and they selected that, I don't know why.
They did some big things. They sold shrubbery around because the Dell's were
clearing that area south of you know, and it was just full of lovely plants and wild
things growing. So the little girls went over and asked if they could have them
and they took them and sold them to people. The Sweeney's back hedge was
furnished with things like that. (laughter) They didn't charge very much, but then
they began to acquire a little treasury and so then they would buy presents if they
found out...they found out that Mrs. Taylor's maid down on Twenty-second was
having a birthday. They bought her a present and they did little things like that.
They put out a newspaper. I think it only had two issues, but what was that
called, the Fifth Place Roundup.
E.R: Did all of these little girls go the JJ Finley School or did some go...
R: J.J. Finley. Well no, by that time, Margo and JoAnn Little were at P.K. Yonge.
But Margo and Joanne would type this material for the newspaper and then they
would give it to Winston and he would have copies made and issues were taken
all over the neighborhood (laughter). They were hilarious really. They were
terribly funny. We have some copies of that, but we had a wonderful five years.
From 1950 to 1955 on Fifth Place, it was just a wonderful place and then we
continued that party when we went to the president's home and ...
E.R: Now tell us about the president's home. The president's home was built during
the time of the J. Hillis Miller's
R: Yes, they were in it just nine months.
E.R: What year was it built?
R: He died, well it was 1953 when it was really dedicated and the opening of it. He
died in 1953 after only six years as president. So they had lived across town in
the president's home, then this was built.
E.R: There was some talk of having a modern looking building, but then they decided
to have a traditional design. That was Mrs. Miller's idea wasn't it, because she
had come from Virginia where the houses looked more traditional.
R: Well yes. I think that you are absolutely right. I think as far as our family was
concerned, we would have much preferred the type they have now. This other
was done by an architect who like the Miami style, what was called the Miami
style of architecture at that time. So he did design something, but Dr. Miller was
not happy with it. Then they went on with this modified Georgian, something like
E.R: I remember the color was called putty pink.
R: Oh it was? I didn't know that.
E.R: They used to call it putty pink and it was designed by the state architect Fulton...
R: Guy Fulton.
E.R: Guy Fulton and Jeff Hamilton. Well it is a lovely, lovely home and all of the
children in the neighborhood called it the mansion.
R: (laughter) Well they called it the mansion at the very first, but I stopped that when
I went in, yes I did. I didn't want my children to grow up in a mansion. I didn't
think they would enjoy it and I especially wanted young people to feel free to
come and I think it's good. It's alright for a governor, but I think as far as public
relations go, it isn't so good for the state to feel that the president lives in a
mansion. Don't you agree?
E.R: Oh yes, I think you are quite right. But I think some of the children still call it the
mansion. On Halloween then would go the mansion and you used to have
candied apples on Halloween eve didn't you?
R: We had treats, but we had Raymond and I. Raymond was the young man in the
grounds department who helped me around the yard and he and I would get big
pumpkins and we would carve faces and so forth and have them out on the brick
wall in the back and also at the front. We'd get corn husks, really the grounds
department were so wonderful. It was just that they were so loyal and seemed to
take such pleasure in doing such things for decoration.
E.R: When Wayne became president of the university, Frances, you took on a great
many duties as his wife. You had already taken on a great many community
jobs, so let's go through some of the jobs that you were very interested in while
Wayne was president. About what time did you and others organize the Friends
of Music? What was the object of that organization?
R: The object of the organization I found, that in with talking Dr. Donald McGlauflon,
who was then chairman of the Department of Music. I heard that he was
interested in developing the Department of Music more community-wide and so
forth, and I told him that I knew of many people in town who would be interested
and I thought in helping and encouraging him, and if he wanted me to help him I
would. So I asked him this year, I wrote to them on a Christmas card, he is now
in Missouri at the University of Missouri and I said, Don when do you think, was I
right in thinking it was about 1973 when we first started the Friends of Music?
And he said, yes it was and I'll never forget the exciting time we had lunch
together and we planned it, and so then in, before it became 1974, I think it was
in the winter, I got up a list. He said, I wish you would bring that list of people to
me, that you think would be interested. So I gave that to him and he just went
right with that and invited those people as I remember. I don't really have the
date whether it is at the very last of 1973 or at the beginning of 1974, but we had
a meeting in the Union in the Arrendondo Room, invited all of these people,
practically everybody came, and the idea was presented by Don McCauthen and
by Steve Wilkerson, who was then head of the foundation, because anything like
this would have to go through the foundation. Telling them that we thought it was
time we established an organization which would be responsible for funds for
scholarships for talented students. They were receptive. That night it was
exciting. They went out as though they had a check already to write. The
amount that we got right at first was really quite amazing to me. We would strive
for ten thousand a year. Dr. Sissler was the first president...
E.R: Harry Sissler?
R: Yes, Harry Sissler. We had the whole thing kind of worked up on the side so we
wouldn't have to meet again (laughter) and Wayne was a temporary chairman.
He appointed a nominating committee. They went into another room and they
fixed up this whole list of officers (laughter) which I mean, we had to do it this
way, because when could you get that many people together?
E.R: You started from scratch?
R: That's the way it was done. We started right out and I tell you there were times
when, oh I was very dubious about whether it was going to continue. I mean it
was a lot of work. As any organization is for a few people.
E.R: Well do you have any idea how many university music students have benefited
from these scholarships by this time? About how many each time go through the
R: Well, I think it grew to be about fifty-five. Now, I think there were about sixty-five
this last year.
E.R: Each year?
R: Now that doesn't mean that the tuition for each one is paid. They couldn't
possibly do that, but maybe some student just needs one hundred dollars, or
several hundred or enough to pay for music or this or that. It has grown now. We
take in about $15,000 now, and the university this past year is matching dollar for
dollar. They are going to do this for two years and make a study of it. Dollar for
dollar up to $20,000, so if we make $20,000 we'll get $40,000 and it has been so
worth while. We are told by the faculty constantly how much Friends of Music
has meant. So we are pleased. It's just that we have a fine board and it's really
off and running. In fact, we're going to celebrate the tenth year this next year.
E.R: Yes, and eventually the music building came about on campus, the new music
R: Yes, before we left they were in a frightful place. That old women's gym, it was a
terrible place. Wayne was able to get the money. You see, there where he was
doing so much in building at that time. It was a tremendous time for the
university to build. We left, he resigned in 1967 so...
E.R: He was president how many years?
R: Twelve and a half, from 1955 to 1967. We left the first of September, 1967. He
was provost for agriculture from 1950 to 1955.
E.R: So he had worked hard on these building and of course, you were particularly
interested in the music building.
R: I was, but poor music, every time he went to Tallahassee, music was shifted
back and engineering would come ahead or others. Finally...
E.R: Because Tallahassee was considered the campus for music wasn't it?
R: Yes. There just wasn't the interest, the real urge to feel that they had to go
E.R: I know it was very largely the influence of Friends of Music that finally got the
music building going.
R: Well, Friends of Music wasn't organized then. No it was...
E.R: What year was the building...
R: See Wayne's name is not on the building even though he got the funds, but it
was when Steve O'Connell was the president, and we were in Thailand at that
time and ...
E.R: Oh, wait a minute. I'm getting mixed up. The building came before he was made
president, it that it? I'm a little bit mixed up.
R: No, he was president so the building was probably about...
E.R: After he left his presidency?
E.R: The building was built?
R: It was built the next year, the very next year, because Marjorie came down for
the dedication from Tallahassee. We were either in Washington or in Thailand.
E.R: So he was hoping to get the building while he was president, but it was during
Steve O'Connell's time as president that it was actually built?
R: Wayne got the money.
E.R: But you have to get it on the agenda don't you? The building plans?
R: Oh, it takes a long time.
E.R: And by that time you were in Tallahassee?
R: That's right. So then it was built after we came back in 1973, to live back in
Gainesville, that we started the Friends of Music. But I don't know the total
number of students. I think this year he is going to try to get that date and the
total number of students who have been assisted by then.
E.R: How did you happen to go to Thailand?
R: We were in Washington after we left here. Before we left, Wayne said, I'm not
going to give any reason for my leaving, except you know, he gave the reason as
presidential fatigue. He had been president for twelve and a half years and he
thought it was time he was leaving.
E.R: Was he having any heart trouble?
R: Oh no, no. It just had reached a point where it was rather a difficult task.
Politically and so forth you know. Constantly. He was so eager for the University
of Florida to be the leading university and of course the ...
E.R: You had to compete with the other state universities?
R: Well yes, they always have. The community areas began to pull money here and
there and it was difficult. He just decided that it was time he quit, but he didn't
want to go by saying he had a position here or there for something better. He
said that he had had to persuade too many people to stay when they could have
gotten more money other places and he wasn't going to leave. So he just said
wait and see what develops. So people (laughter) would keep saying, well have
you decided where you are going or what you are going to do? We hadn't
decided so, but he was invited to come. Oh he had lots of interesting
opportunities, it was funny. And of course, they all paid much more. As the
president of the University of Florida, he had about the lowest salary of any state
university president in the United States except the black schools, which they
were very poorly paid here. He had a lot of people on the faculty who got paid
more than he did.
E.R: Including the football coach I suppose?
R: Oh indeed, they of course did. But they had a rule here that they couldn't receive
more than the cabinet members could. So you see, Wayne would never,
because he would be involved, never would fight that, but he knew it was wrong.
He would go to them and say that because he missed a lot of good people hiring
them. But then he was able to get money for ... He would, but get
much higher salaries and that didn't bother him. He knew it had to come. After
he left, they changed the law and I think now they are not limited. If they are,
they have changed the salaries of the cabinet. I don't know just what that law is
now. Whether the cabinet members wouldn't get as much as university
presidents here get now, so it's you know, they are not connected. But that was
the reason, in addition to these interesting offers that came in various areas, why
he decided to take the one in Washington. He was chief of university programs,
director of university programs. In HEW, so were there for three years and that
was a great experience. I loved Washington.
E.R: Where did you live at this time in Washington?
R: We lived at one of the river houses. That is in Arlington, just on the edge of
Arlington and Alexandria and they were very fine. We had a beautiful apartment
overlooking, we were on the twelfth floor, the whole city of Washington.
Everything that a person would come there to see.
E.R: Now the girls were married by this time?
R: No. They were, that's right, they were married. They surely were of course. I
had forgotten what the date was, but both girls were married here in Gainesville.
Their wedding receptions were at the president's house. Margo was married first
and in fact we had two grandsons that came to visit us.
E.R: While you were in Washington?
R: No, while we were in the president's house.
E.R; Now Margo is the eldest, married...
R: Baxter Cockerin. They have three sons, they are now nineteen, seventeen and
fourteen. Position in Lexington.
E.R: Margo is interested in Christian education and she took training in that?
R: Yes, she received her master's degree and Marjorie...
E.R: No, let's go back to Margo. Margo is now in Lexington, Kentucky, and she is in
Christian education work.
E.R: And the three sons are aged...
R: Kevin is nineteen, Timothy is seventeen, and Nathan fourteen.
E.R: So you've got three grandsons?
R: Yes, three grandsons.
E.R: We'll go to Marjorie now.
R: Marjorie and her husband live in Tallahassee. Gus is his nickname. Its
Augustus Bacon Turnbill IIl. (laughter) He is vice president of academic affairs at
FSU. That is equivalent to being vice president of their university. They don't
have the same structure that we have.
E.R: Do they have children?
R: No, they have no children. Marjorie is working there with HRS. She has an
administrative position with HRS.
E.R: Let's go back to the time when you were in Washington for the second time and
he is working for HEW and you were living in a beautiful apartment overlooking
the river at Arlington or near Arlington.
R: Overlooking the city of Washington D.C. You could see the capitol, the White
House, the monuments, everything. It was beautiful and then we were on the
corner so we could look down on the river, the Potomac, down to Alexander.
Twelfth floor, you know, you can have quite a view.
E.R: And the grandsons came to see you there?
R: Yes they did, and they were just little boys then.
E.R: How long was he in Washington this time.
R: Three years.
E.R: And then you went to Thailand?
R: Yes. I should have said Emily, that my mother came in, probably 1958, to
Gainesville to make her home here. She had lived in Colorado, my father had
E.R: She lived with you then?
R: She was with us only a few months, which she thought it was best and we
thought so too, for her to have her own apartment. She lived on Fifth Avenue in
that apartment house, one of the early ones. She made her own friends and she
just really enjoyed Gainesville. She was afraid, timid, of staying in the president's
house at night alone. We had to go so much. She brought all of her own
furniture and Gainesville was her home, she loved it. Mother was very active and
just always interested in educational atmosphere.
E.R: So that is why you became interested in organizing the mother's club? The
mother's club was called the? What did you call it?
R: University Faculty Mother's Club. That's right.
E.R: And you are still interested in that, and you entertain. You are supposed to have
done that recently.
R: That's right. I had them over here (laughter), here at your house. We expected
fifteen and there were thirty-three of us here. We were really packed into this
house, which is not large.
E.R: By the time you went to Washington the second time, was she still alive then?
R: Yes she was. We thought we would go up for a few years and come back,
E.R: She stayed down here?
R: She stayed here for one year and had a student living with her. She was happy
here. She would come to Washington and stay with us for several months, but
living in a high-rise apartment was not so good for her because she didn't like to
be left in the apartment alone. You know she had reached the age where, see
mother died at ninety-one. You would never have know it. She was very, very
active mentally, and alert so when she was here, we began to think it would be
best to try to get her into the retirement home. Winter Park Towers in Winter
Park, Florida. They were able to take her, so she went and I came down
regularly every few months to see her and see that everything was all right. She
missed us very much, but to live in that city apartment, that high-rise apartment, it
just didn't seem practical. Then she passed away in 1970 and we always came
down and spend Christmas with her. She had her ninetieth birthday. We came
down, Miller and I and Wayne were with her. In 1970 at the tower, but no 1969, it
would have been and then in 1970, I got word. It was right after Christmas. That
was the first Christmas I hadn't been with her. I was with our children in
Lexington, Kentucky. I got word that she had had a fall and a stroke and so I
came down and she passed away. Then after that, very soon after that we went
to Thailand. Wayne had decided he was finished. He was a little tired of working
for the government and he considered some other things. When he left here, he
said what he would like to have is to go with the foundation and just have one on
his staff and be able to do that sort of work. So then to go with the foundation in
North Carolina came up, so we went down to look at that and then that time Dr.
George Harrar was president of the Rockefeller Foundation and who was a close
friend of ours, said well Wayne, come and work for me. I need a university
president who has had experience with medical schools.
E.R: This was Dr. Harrar?
R: Dr. George Harrar. So Wayne went over to look at the situation in Thailand and
then came back and decided that this is what he would like to do. So we went
there instead of going to North Carolina.
E.R: How many years were you there Frances?
R: Two years.
E.R: And other people from this university came over didn't they? To do various
R: Well no, that was in Burma. That was while Wayne was president. We had a
program in Burma. We went over to visit, but that was at the time when they
were at Mandalay and that was in agriculture.
E.R: He was president at that time and you went over there?
R: We went over to visit and he went over to inspect their program and so forth, but
this other was very interesting. It was the Rockefeller program in university
development. There were two medical schools there. One in Bangkok and on in
Tongerive right close. There were medical schools, others in the country so
Wayne traveled up there and that was very interesting. I enjoyed it very much
and he had a great deal of pleasure.
E.R: In Bangkok?
R: Yes. We lived in an apartment house in Bangkok. There were two other
university presidents living in at that time. That was the name of the
apartment, in fact, the people. Were you at the retired faculty brunch recently?
E.R: No, I missed that.
R: We had our guests, the Jensens, Dr. and Mrs. Jensen were with us. They were
visiting us at that time and he had been president of Oregon State University and
then was in Bangkok at the time we were with the Rockefeller Foundation. Then
the Davidsons, the Phillip Davidsons of Louisville, he was president of the
University of Louisville. We all three lived in the same apartment house. But it
was just a great life.
E.R: Did you get interested in music of Thailand as Muriel Williamson did the music of
Burma, when she lived in Burma?
R: I'm afraid I didn't. You know, I respect their love of that and their loyalty to it, but
I, that is not the kind of music for me. As Emma Davis said, she had been to
Burma, I tell you when the music starts sounding good, it's time to go home.
E.R: That is a darling thing to say.
R: Isn't that darling?
E.R: In other words, you were becoming a little too acclimated.
R: I guess that was it (laughter), but that was cute. I really didn't do anything in
music in Thailand. I became interested in painting. I had done some painting in
Washington and had taken just a few lessons here the summer before we left. I
was just in need of something to give me a change and you know, Levin Smith
was painting, and a lot of people who said they had never painted before, and I
thought maybe I could do that. We've always had, we've had some artists in the
family (laughter) and so I thought I would like to try it and so I took a few lessons
from Mary Purcer and then began to paint right there in the Florida room in the
president's house. Then before I left, I took a couple of lessons from Margaret
Sung, then when we went to Washington we lived in an apartment house and I
thought that would be a perfect place because I didn't have too many ties. I'm
interested in genealogy very much so I went often to the archives, the national
archives and the Library of Congress and the DAR archive and worked on our
family history, both Wayne's and mine. But I wanted to go with the painting and
I'm not really good...
E.R: When you were looking in the archives in the genealogy, did you find something
interesting about your ancestors?
R: Yes, I did. We found out, I did that for a Valentine's present one time. I thought,
I'm going to start out with his family because he had some questions in there.
They came about 1836, I think, to this country from Germany.
E.R: They came to what state?
E.R: You were talking about going to the archives in Washington to look up the Reitz's
ancestry because they came from Germany. About what time was that?
R: I think it was about 1836. Two Reitz brothers and so...
E.R: What city did they come to?
R: Redbud, Illinois. It was just a small little cluster of German families who were
there and apparently must have been friends of theirs in Germany, so the thing
that I wanted to know was I was told that well, we were not real sure of the date.
We didn't know how they came in, where they came in and what port. So I was
told that one could go to the archives and find, actually the boats they came on,
what they brought with them, and the passengers. I looked in Baltimore, New
York, you know, those eastern ports. I didn't find them at all, the Reitz's. Then I
thought about New Orleans and I looked there. They had come around to New
Orleans, come up the Mississippi, and landed there near Redbud, Illinois.
E.R: What part of Germany had they come from?
R: The Bavarian part. I think, but it was during the time when there was...
E.R: A lot of unrest in places.
R: They would have had to go into the army. They did not believe in that so they
left. The two brothers came, and one of them became ill, Wayne's ancestor did.
Became ill and went home, back to Germany. The next year the whole family
came and I found them, but the thing was, I never could find them in the
microfilm because the name was never spelled correctly.
E.R: I think a great many people__ spell it ie, or ei.
R: Reitz. So I and Wayne's nephew was visiting us that weekend and I said, all
right now, you fellows have got to help me. Let's go down to the archives. We'll
each take a micro-film and search those things. That is what we did and I came
upon this one where the name was not spelled Reitz, but I saw Julius, and Mary,
and Maria, and all of the names of people you know, just the first names, and I
said, this has to be it. The thing was that the early census takers, either couldn't
understand what the old Germans said, how to spell it, or whatever (laughter),
but it would always be Rites, or Rights or something and his grandfather later,
when they moved out to Kansas was in the legislature, in the state legislature. I
thought, well surely they'll have it spelled correctly then. But not they didn't
(laughter). It was only once when it was Reitz. Isn't that interesting?
E.R: They did come in through New Orleans?
R: They came through New Orleans, yes. They landed in Redbud and there was a
great confusion. I wish my line were as clear as his. He really has it all fixed up
now, but this is sort of complicated. The wife of one brother died and the other
brother died, so he married the widow.
E.R: Well that was a rather common practice.
R: I know it was, but we couldn't find them, so three generations are buried in the
cemetery in Monticello, Kansas and Wayne wasn't sure whether that was his
great grandfather or whether it was...
E.R: A parallel
R: I think it would be a great, great uncle.
E.R: Yes, a collateral line.
R: We were able to clear this up now, he has another cousin who is a distant
E.R: Well, Sam Proctor is going to have to get all of this when he does Wayne. I want
to go back Francis, to your life because there was something that we left out.
When Wayne was president, when was it when the University Women's Club
started its scholarships? There is a scholarship named for each of the
R: I suppose when I left.
E.R: Going back to Mrs. Tigert, there is a Mrs. Tigert scholarship, then there's an Allen
R: No, he was acting president.
E.R: Then there would have been a L. Miller scholarship?
R: That's right, and then mine.
E.R: Then Mrs. O'Connell had one named for her. So these scholarships, are they in
any particular subject? Yours is in music isn't it?
R: Yes, mine is in music because there had been one established in my name, I
think while I was here. That was for a student who showed promise, progress in
performance, chosen by the faculty. There was no money connected with that.
In the earlier days, the money part you know, was not so important. Now it is.
E.R: But the University Women's Club or picks out these student on the
R: Well, they take the ones, that's on the recommendation of the different
departments. I believe that Steve's for Rita is for a, I suppose you would say,
handicapped person. They've just had some outstanding young people. I
believe that others are for girls. Now mine can be for a boy or a girl.
E.R: Does the University of Florida itself, match these funds?
R: No they don't. They don't match them. They give it. They are the only ones who
give money, and so this year they raised it to five hundred. I think that's a bit
E.R: The cost of going to the university, of course, is gone so high.
R: That's right. That also has got to ...
E.R: You mean somebody has to raise it. Who has to raise the money?
R: Well, the university women at...
E.R: The University Women's Club has to.
R: But they do it through their bridge-o-rama and their garage sale and so forth, and
contributions. There is one nice thing, Emily, that I appreciated so much. This
has been established since I came back to Gainesville. I thought it was so sweet
of the panhellenic association to establish a service award in my name on the
campus. This is about the third or fourth year I believe. Let's see, it must be the
fourth year. The way I heard about it, I was invited to ...
E.R: Now your society is what?
R: Alpha Chi Omega.
E.R: But this is panhellenic, all the ceramics...
R: That's right. I was so surprised that I just thought it was just for one year you
know, and that they would change it every year. I had no idea it was really going
to be for me all the time. I was quite touched and the Delta Gammas set one up
two years. Maybe this is the third year, and the AE Thi's. Delta Gamma won it
this last year took, and I just thought it really, to go to the banquet and to hear
what those girls have one. It is just amazing. What they've done in service,
public service. I just feel very highly honored. I was really quite touched because
I don't know why they did it in the first place, but I thought it was mighty sweet of
E.R: Another thing that you did, Francis while you were in the President's wife's
position, was to start the Christmas tree ceremony of lighting the Christmas tree
in front of the auditorium. Was that your doing? Did you think of that?
R: Well yes. Dr. J. Hillis Miller, who was president here, had started the Christmas-
on-Campus, and it was a night when he would give a very nice Christmas
message. The whole university was invited, and townspeople too, to the
university auditorium. It would be on a Sunday.
(Tape end here--side 2 of A)
(Begin Tape B, side 1)
ER: ....started by President Miller and Mrs. Miller. Now, or rather he started the
concerts, the Christmas concerts?
R: No, he started the Christmas night for the campus. Christmas-on-Campus with a
Christmas message and music. It was all inside the auditorium. I thought then
when Wayne became president, I was thinking that it would be so nice to have a
big Christmas tree on the campus, there outside the university auditorium, and
have a lighting of it each years, singing carols around it and then have it lighted
through the Christmas season for the students to remember the season. I
remembered in my college days that we had that sort of thing, so I talked with the
Mortar Board girls, it was then Trianan, and I asked them if they would like to
sponsor that. They were very much interested and they thought it would be good
for them too, to have such a project every year. So that was what we did and Mr.
Sander Frazier, from a clinic, I called him. Wayne suggested that he probably
would give us a tree. We called him and asked him if would like to do that. He
said he would, and he sent down a beautiful tree, a Christmas tree now it's just
grown to be a great tree of course. The Mortar Board girls, each year, would
have such a nice little ceremony and then people would sing and then all of a
sudden they would light the tree. That's gone on since about, I think maybe 1958
ER: This might be a good place to explain what Mortar Board is.
R: Well, I'm just an honorary member of Mortar Board, and was an honorary
member of Trianan. They were selected for leadership, scholarship...
ER: It's a parallel club to Blue Key among the young men.
R: That's right, but now since after we left, they've organized Savant, and that is
similar to that too.
ER: Now when girls came into this university as the first coeds after the second World
War, they were not allowed to become members of Blue Key, were they?
ER: So they organized Mortar Board instead, right?
R: Well yes. But Mortar Board is a national organization.
ER: It's a national organization.
R: Right. They were members of Trianons for, they had to pass through a period of
growth and development before they could become Mortar Board and they came
over and pledged me, tapped me about two o'clock in the morning.
ER: Did they really?
R: Yes. Both of my girls were going to college here then. That is, there was only
one year when both the girls were in school here. They were at other places,
ER: We should have brought that in...
R: I told them, well, your mother tapped for Trianon. I think it was Trianon at that
time. Grace Allen was also one and they were quite impressed (laughter) and
they didn't hear it.
ER: Where did they go to college after they left here?
R: After high school, Margo went to Wesleyan for one year, and then returned and
finished her work here and then to Virginia. Got her master's degree in Virginia
in Richmond. It was at the seminary. That's where she took her Christian
education. Marjorie went to Agnes Scott for two years and I believe she was
president of the sophomore class up there. Then she came back here. She was
majoring in political science and her father felt that there was more depth in the
department here, so she was graduated here and both the girls, she was a
member of Mortar Board. Margo was, I believe Phi Kappa Phi. Marjorie was the
outstanding woman graduate when she was graduated from here. Then she
went to Switzerland and studied at the Graduate Institute of International Studies
in Geneva. She studied there and then came back and worked at the US
Mission of the United Nations under Adelai Stevenson. It was a most interesting
experience and that's where she met Gus Turnbull, who came up from Georgia
to a house party. They were married then and she went on and finished her
graduate work, her master's degree. She doesn't have a Ph.D., but at Georgia...
ER: She's always been a career girl?
R: Yes, she has. She enjoys it very much. She's really very talented in that. They
love children and Marjorie always said she was going to have six children, but it
just didn't turn out that way.
ER: Well, before we end this Francis, I want to ask you how you feel about the
changes that have taken place in Gainesville. We have both seen Gainesville
grow from a very small southern town to quite a city. How do you feel about
Gainesville today? About its culture, many people come back and retire here
after they have left. I think that speaks well for all of the cultural advantages that
we have and the churches and so forth. Of course, we worry about the crime rate
which doesn't seem to be getting any better. How do you feel about this problem
of education? We felt that the schools were pretty good when our children went
to school. They seem to be having quite a hassle about that now. Do you keep
up with that?
R: I haven't really except that I do know some outstanding young people who are in
the upper division of high school, I mean in the more advanced classes, and they
feel that they just have exceptionally good education here. Margot, or Margaret
Anne was graduated from P.K. Yonge. Marjorie wanted to go to G.H.S. and it
was a splendid place for her. She was able to really advance. They had
wonderful teachers there and I really think that G.H.S., I talked with a lot of young
people who go there, and they feel it's a good school.
ER: Many of our faculty wives have taught there too.
R: That's right. I think we're very fortunate in Gainesville, you see, in having good
teachers, because we naturally would, being an educational center. I can't
express myself at all on the junior high or earlier years of the school because I
just haven't kept up with it. I certainly think it's important, very important and I'm
sure that perhaps during the period of integration and the years that have
followed, they had to do some slumping, but I am hoping that they'll be able to
ER: We certainly have a top-notch medical facilities here, having the medical center
and two other good hospitals and all the doctors that we have. Don't you feel
R: Oh, indeed I do. In fact, Wayne says it's probably one of the finest centers for
anyone to become ill, because we not only have the center there, but we have
the fine hospitals and many of these doctors who were trained here are attracted
here to Gainesville. ... are available in practically any area.
ER: They took very good care of Wayne when he was recently in the hospital with a
heart problem. We have some very fine heart doctors, don't we? Who was his
R: Oh yes. Well, the October before, when he had the aneurism, his doctor was Jim
Alexander and he is an expert in that sort of thing, then Dr. Roberts was his heart
ER: Both at the Medical Center?
ER: You haven't had any major health problems, have you Francis?
R: No, I really haven't. I've been very fortunate. I surely have. Going back to
Gainesville, I do think that Gainesville, the thing that I notice so much of
progress, is in cultural affairs, interests you know. So many more people are
ER: So many concerts, you almost have to choose which concert you'll go to.
R: There is. You can't possible keep up with everything and that is the thing really.
That's the feature that has attracted so many kinds of people coming to
Gainesville to retire. Many people retire early. They don't wait until they are in
their declining years. They will retire early from the North, and we have many in
the retired faculty here who are faculty members at other universities, and
colleges and they just love Gainesville. There is so much to be pleased about in
that area, and I think that's stimulating for all of us.
ER: We were both at the very fine dinner given by the Friends of the Library night
before last, held at the country club and Dr. Boonstbaugh was our speaker, who
was been in the state department and quite an authority on Latin American
countries. I thought his talk was very interesting.
R: It was. We have three ambassadors, retired ambassadors here. We had a
retired admiral and they have selected this place because of its research
facilities. If they want to keep on being active and so forth, I just think that as
Wayne said, we were not coming back to Florida to retire, we were coming back
home and we were thankful that we could. I say that I enjoyed Washington so
much and it would have been a wonderful place to return to for a few years, but
then when one grows older in Washington, distances are great. You don't have
an opportunity to see your friends. It's difficult to get out to concerts and you can
certainly be forgotten in a big. City. And there's no comparison in the active life
that a person can have in Gainesville-to Washington.
ER: I think that we are so fortunate in belonging to that generation of the faculty who
go back to the days when there weren't so many of us and we felt very close to
people, and all departments knew each other, and we formed the nucleus of the
retired faculty club, which is now growing very fast, but we all feel that we go
back to one big family don't we?
R: That's right. I do want to give much credit to the University Women's Club
because I felt when we were in the president's house, and Wayne felt so too, that
the University Women's club was a very strong arm of the university to have,
because we were not only associated with our own college of the university, but it
was an opportunity for women to meet university wives and it was good for the
men. I do think that when wives are happy, the men are much happier too. I just
feel that it has been an exceptionally fine influence.
ER: Well Francis, I want to thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy life
to tell us something of the history of your life and the history of the university, and
as you know, this will be typed up by the students at the Oral History Program in
the state museum on the campus, and you will get a copy back to correct or
change in any way that you wish, and then if it meets with your approval at that
time, we want you to sign a release saying that it can go into the archives of the
university and we're not going to try to write up your life because you are going to
do that yourself later on. You're going to write your autobiography, but this is...
R: I don't think I'll do that.
ER: This is just something we'll have...
R: That isn't a requirement is it? (laughter)
ER: No, this is just something we'll have in case you don't get around to it.
R: I have many, many books, albums of our, for every year. I don't know why I did
that, but I did.
ER: Well, perhaps you will leave some of those to the archives. We hope so.
R: Wayne and I have talked about it. Really, I don't know what to do with them, but
I'm just quite a cutter of various things, and I had grocery sacks of these things.
Before we left for Washington, I said, Wayne, what shall I do with this? Shall I
just toss it all out in the trash, or shall we keep it? He said, well, just keep it.
You'll have more time in Washington to look it over.
ER: Well, we were just talking earlier about this room that the retire faculty is going to
R: We hope.
ER: We hope, in the auditorium, in the basement. Is it, do you call it the basement of
R: No, it's in the auditorium.
ER: In which we will have the memorabilia of the faculty and of the university on file.
Many people will want to leave their albums and pictures and furniture there, I
R: I would hope so. I really would hope so. We, if we can just fine the right
chairman, I think it would be a success. I think it would be very, very worthwhile
and I think important.
ER: Yes, right. Thank you so much.
End of tape
ER: Today is April 23, 1984. I am sitting in the home of Francis Reitz, Mrs. J. Wayne
Reitz, at 2105 NW 27th Terrace in Briarwood. Now Francis, I don't think we
talked enough about your two girls, Margo and Marjorie and the last that they had
of, in school here, and the years that they spend in the president's home and
perhaps you would like to tell us more about that.
R: Emily, it seemed as though we had to consider what would be better for the girls
when they were in high school and going to college. Of course, in the future,
should they go to school at the University of Florida, or should we send them
away. We didn't want them to be uncomfortable and we certainly didn't want
them to have any favors shown to them. That was uppermost in our minds, so
we talked with a college president whose children had gone to school at, he was
president I believe, at the University of Iowa, and he sent all of his children there.
They stayed there and then gone off for their graduate work, and he said it was
a wonderful experience for the whole family. Brought them closer to the school
and institutions, so forth. So we thought we would do that, except that I felt
they've grown up in this college town, in a university town, so they should go off
for at least a year or two. I particularly favored a girl's school because I had gone
to a girls' school my first year, and I just felt it was a good beginning. The
program is built around the girls and they form good friendships and so forth, so
Margaret Anne, now she goes by Margot, went with some other friends to
Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia, for a year. Then she returned to the
university with the intention of majoring in music. Pipe organ was her major, but
also Margot always wanted to study anthropology and all sorts of things.
ER: Which was a rather new subject then, wasn't it?
R: Yes, I suppose. She always wanted to have some knowledge about various
things, so that was interesting. There was only one year I believe, when both of
the girls were here together going to the university. They both went off for
graduate work, so that one year was a lot of fun. But I'll go on with Marjorie. The
experiences we had with both girls were very meaningful to the whole family.
Marjorie then went off, she was almost three years ago. When Marjorie
graduated from high school, we decided to send her to Agnes Scott. It was a
good school academically, and not too far away and so we thought that would be
very beneficial to her. As I remember, there were none of her age group going to
Agnes Scott, so she went up by herself. She was there two years, and
sophomore year she was president of her class. She loved Agnes Scott, but she
was going to decide to major in political science and Wayne felt there was much
more depth in the class here, of course, in the studies. So he felt that it was time
for her to come back home. He liked having daughters around anyway, and all
the young people that we naturally had more so of course.
ER: So she came back here for her junior year?
R: Yes, she came back here for her junior year. Well both of the girls and Margot...
ER: That was the year that they were both here together?
R: Probably was. I should have gotten these dates together, but they were her
about a year together. Margot had become a member of Mortar Board, which
was at that time Trianon and ...
ER: And so they kept you in touch with the students, didn't they?
R: Yes. That made it so interesting for us because we had far more students
around the house then. The girls were included if we had certain guests that
they particularly, for instance, when Lord Atley came, I believe it was Marjorie
who was in school here and living at home at that time, so she had tea and we
had some of her friend over. I remember they played skittles with Lord Atley and
then another time Myrna Loy came. Her husband was the commencement
speaker and Margot was here at that time, so we had Margot and I can't
remember Myrna Loy's husband's name, but he was the commencement
speaker. He was head of the World....
ER: Health Organization?
R: No, in...
ER: In the United Nations?
R: No, no. Broadcasting. The World Broadcasting System, and he gave a very
interesting talk. They did not stay in our house, but they stayed on campus in the
guest suite, because they asked if they might stay three more days. They had
really planned to because of the quiet. Myrna Loy couldn't go any place without
having reporters and people around recognizing here and that was just a
delightful time for them. So Margot and a date took them down to Silver Springs
for the day. It was a cold day, that was in February, and it was very chilly. Myrna
Loy didn't have a coat with her, so I said, well I have a coat. It was just a new
one, sort of an orange one, and her hair was auburn, and I thought oh, she
looked very pretty in that, so I asked her if she wouldn't like to wear that, and she
said, I'd love to. So we had some pictures of her in that. She took that and she
had a yellow scarf around her and she left the scarf which I had to send to her
ER: Was she really as beautiful as she was in the movies?
R: She was very charming. She surely was. I remember in the commencement line,
I think I didn't tell you this before, but it was in the old Hub, when we had the
commencement receptions there, and there we were, at a commencement, in a
ER: In the old union?
R: Yes, in the old union. I wish I could think of her husband's name. They are no
longer married. They are divorced since that time, but we were standing there
and the guests would come along. One woman would gasp when she looked at
Myrna Loy, and she said, do you mind if I tell you that you look just like Myrna
Loy. (laughter) That happened several times you know, and then somebody
would go on down the line and then come back and they would say, may I shake
your hand again. I found out you are Myrna Loy.
ER: That was fun.
R: That was fun. We always enjoyed commencements. It's just rather heartening
experiences in many cases because some little grandmother... for instance, I
remember one who had taken the bus from Miami early in the morning to get
here for commencement and then another one would say, John is the only child
in my family who has gone to college and I just had to come.
ER: That was very touching.
R: It is, just very touching. We always enjoyed that, especially receptions. People
were quite good about coming to receptions then I think. Now where was I. Let's
see. Both of the girls were in Mortar Board. The became members of Mortar
Board, they were both Tri Delts, Social sorority, and Marjorie was Phi Beta
Kappa, and Margot, Phi Kappa Phi. She was a music major and Marjorie in
political science and because they were here we just had so many more students
around. We always felt that they should not live in the sorority house if it were
crowded, if they were keeping somebody else out, you know, so then they would
come home to live. Marjorie was the only daughter at home one particular year,
and she didn't want to be alone in the president's house, so she asked Ann
Sessions, who was a Tri Delt, to come over and live with her. That was just a lot
of fun that year, so we had two college girls that year.
ER: Did the girls hesitate about having dates here at the president's home or did they,
was it in a group, or did they have individual dates? How did they manage that?
R: Well yes, they had dates. They were, you know, I never can remember asking
them how their school work was going along. They'd come home and we'd
always try to have dinner together if Wayne and I were not going out, and he
insisted that they have breakfast. We didn't all have breakfast together, but he
thought that was very important, for everybody to gave a good breakfast. That
was sort of a family tradition. But they dated and they also worked hard, so their
minds weren't on their dates all the time. They had some interesting little dates
there and Margot married a Sigma Chi.
ER: Did they marry the boys that dated them while they were...
R: No, they did not. They went off to school you see, later. But there were some
wonderful young men, and in fact, some of the prominent men in politics and
state government were some of the kids that would come over and date the girls.
ER: It was a happy time.
R: It was. Sometimes when they both were in the university chorus, the University
Choir it was called, they would come over some evenings at the house and
would sing, they just acted as though they didn't want to go home. They just
sang and sang and sang and that was lovely. If we had a house guest, I
remember one time Frank Dickey, who was president of Kentucky, was visiting
us, and the University Choir came down to sing. Not for him particularly, but
we'd been out for a banquet I believe, and came home and here our living room
was filled with these singers, these students and he'd enjoyed that so much. It
was nice for all of us too. There were so many innumerable experience and
occasions that meant a great deal to all of us and made us feel closer to the
students, very much closer than if they had not been here. So then Margot went
off to school. She decided she wanted to go into Christian education in which she
could use her music, per programming, anything like that. She can sketch, she's
had sort of a thing that working in a church that she could use in various ways, so
she went to the Presbyterian school in, at the seminary in Richmond, Virginia.
ER: What degree was she headed for?
R: Well, a master's degree in Christian education, so that's what she got. Then
Marjorie was majoring in political science and she enjoyed that. We had a very
strong course, I think. It always had been, here at the university and she decided
that she would like to go and study in Geneva, Switzerland at the International
Institute. It was the Outstanding Graduate Institute of International Affairs, I
believe that is what it was called. That was a great experience and there were
two or three other Gainesville girls over there. Not in that particular school, but in
school in Switzerland, so they'd get together and we felt that they were, there
was a great tendency in Europe for a lot of vacations. It seems that they go to
school for about two weeks and then they get time off, but they took wonderful
trips and they decided when they came back... Marjorie wanted to work in New
York, so she went first and came back and she thought she'd go to the
Rockefeller Foundation first. Wayne had connections there and friends there,
and in fact, the president was a close friend of ours, so she went up to apply
there. At the time, I don't remember that there was any opening, she went over
to the United Nations and that was actually during the time of Adalai Stevenson,
who was of course, head of the United Nations and our representative, and so
she got a position in the office of Adalai Stevenson.
ER: Oh, that was exciting.
R: That was really exciting. In fact, she said it was because he died at the time
when she was working there in his office, and one duty of hers was that people
who would send in various things, you know, would want Stevenson's autograph.
There were quite a pile of these books, various letters which he was not able to
carry out, and people would want his autograph. He'd become you know, in fact,
I think he died of a heart attack. Didn't he? I'm not sure.
ER: I believe he...
R: But rather suddenly. So Margo, it was her duty to write to the people who had
sent their books and various things and explain that, because Mr. Stevenson was
the type of person who didn't just, they wanted a little message or a few words I
guess, and he didn't just sign his name, he would write some bit for them. She
said he was the kind of person who didn't just sit and quickly dash off something.
He would sit and think and then write just the right words. He was really gifted
that way, and she said that there were many things that she had to wrap up and
return to people that were unsigned, but she said it opened a type of
correspondence. She developed so many friends that she thought these people
must have thought that she sat at the knee of Adalai Stevenson, which she
didn't, but then they felt a closeness. There was almost a love, such an
attachment for this man, and many people...
ER: Yes, he was worshiped by many people.
R: That's right. Well, because of these girls that she went off to school with in
Europe, two of them were from the University of Georgia, they belonged to a little
crowd over there that had decided that every year after they graduated, they
were all going to get together once a year. You know how college students think
that they can carry on a tradition forever and ever. It doesn't seem to happen.
Anyway, that was the way she met her husband, Gus Turnbull. These were all
rather prominent students at the University of Georgia, and they were having a
gathering at, I believe at Easter time in New York at one of, an one of the
students. So they said, Marjorie, this boy is coming up from Georgia. I guess
maybe he was doing graduated work at Virginia at that time, University of Virginia
perhaps, but he was coming and he didn't have a date.
ER: He was in political science too?
R: Yes. He was doing his graduate work I believe, at the University of Virginia. So
he came up and that was they way they met. So this all happened and then I
think the next year when they got together at this gathering, I think he then was
working for Governor Sanders in Atlanta and so he was his aide or top aide, I
think. Anyway, he got the governor to make the little announcement about their
engagement. They were playing some tapes and he said he had something that
he thought would interest all of them. So here was this beautiful Georgia boy
and the governor announcing about the engagement of Marjorie and Gus
Turnbull. So it all started with their experience of studying in Europe, in
Switzerland. Otherwise, they probably would never have met and now they're
both in public work.
ER: In Tallahassee?
R: In Tallahassee. She's with HRS, and Gus is Vice-President of Academic Affairs
at Tallahassee, FSU. Well, where we? When Margot was graduated, I won't go
on with their lives, but she worked in Christian education in Starkeville,
Mississippi. She enjoyed that and she was married the next year too.
ER: She was married to a Presbyterian minister.
R: That's right. To Baxter_, who came from Louisville, Kentucky. They
had three sons, Kevin, Timothy and Nathan. They were married about twenty
years and unfortunately...
ER: Were they married here in Gainesville?
R: Yes. They were married at the Presbyterian Church here and we had the
reception and both of the girls have had a reception at the president's house. So
now Margot is director of Christian Education in Lexington, Kentucky, where she
and Baxter and the boys have been living for a number of years. She is enjoying
is very much and she has a very full life.
ER: Well, good. Now suppose we go back to your organizations. I don't think we
covered all of the groups that you were active with during the years and now,
University Women's Club, The Dames and ... why don't you continue with that
because I think we left some out.
R: My life was very busy. There was hardly any time really for myself, and I would
say that the University Women's Club was a group that I was very close to and
which I enjoyed so much. club, which was composed of faculty wives
and women faculty members. Then through that, the Dames, who were the girls,
the wives of graduate students. The newcomers, the wives of graduate students
and new faculty who came to town. Every year I always had a party for the
house mothers, the fraternity and sorority house mothers and grew to know them
quite well. They seemed to appreciate coming. We always had a big crowd, a
good crowd at the president's house. I never had to worry about, well would
anybody come, would we have a very large group, because they did come, they
seemed to enjoy it and I tried to make each party a little different. I liked to
design little place cards, or if we were having a seated party, or name tags, little
things to pin on them and just something kind of to start conversations you know.
It kept the parties, the entertaining a little bit different.
ER: The flowers were always so beautiful.
R: I must say, I must mention the flowers because the women who helped me in
flower arranging were my very, very special friends. I always called them my
flower friends and I do not know what I could have done without them. They, we
started first I think, really in the very early days, I don't know what I did the first
years. I suppose I tried to do it myself, but I hadn't had a great deal of
experience in flower arranging. And when you have that many rooms to look
festive, that's really quite a job, to decorate.
ER: Later on, much later on, the flowers began to be arranged professionally, did they
R: Yes, when another president's wife came in. But these women, they were all
friends of mine and the interesting thing was, well, I wasn't close friends with all
of them, but they sort of drew each other in and I remember that day, you
remember Bee? His wife was a law professor who was so darling. She called
me one time and she said, Francis, if I can help you at any time with some
flowers, I'd love to do it. So it really sort of started with Bee, and then there were
various ones, Ed flowers and oh so many, many....
ER: They were such experts.
R: They were. But at the time, they were working on their judges certificate and so
they said, where could we ever have as many beautiful flowers and a space
Sand various kinds of arrangements?
ER: Because they came from the university greenhouse.
R: That's right and they enjoyed it so. There must have been at the close, before I
left the presidency, I gave a luncheon for all the ladies, and there must have
been fifteen or even twenty who came that I remembered so fondly as how, what
they had meant to me. I really do not know what I would have done without
them. I always had the understanding and I tried to work right with them, and
very often we had them stay for lunch, but I always had the understanding that if
it were not convenient, if they were ally busy with something else, to please tell
me, because I didn't want to be an imposition on anyone. But they would, if Ed
May were over working on the flowers, why, here would come somebody tapping
at the back door and they'd say, I heard you were doing flowers, Can I help?
And they'd come in and that was just really kind of a, they rarely came to the
parties. They were probably all too tired out and exhausted, but it was just a very
great favor. So at this luncheon that I gave for them at the last, I had pictures of
them, a picture of a table full of women who, that I gave over at the old Hub, you
know, because that's where I ended up, the president's dining room was in the
ER: Well, now eventually you put all these pictures in that...
R: Yes, I have a scrapbook of them.
ER: In the memorial room in the auditorium. How is that coming along, the room?
R: It is not, at the present time, nothing is happening. I'm still hoping that we get
that done. I thought that some day I'll give my scrapbooks, which I enjoyed
keeping and I suppose I'll give them to the archives if they want them.
ER: Of course they will.
R: We'll have to see about that. I made little sketches for their place cards. I
remembered certain flower arrangements in every, every flower arranger had
made, so I made little sketches and then they had to go around and find their
place by that sketch.
ER: Do you still enjoy making place cards?
R: (laughter) Yes, I do, a little bit. I'm not really good Emily, but it's just...
ER: Well, I think you are, because I was at a luncheon that you make place cards for
recently and they were very nice.
R: Well, it's fun to hear. Well, let me see, there was a garden club. I was active in
Bailey's Circle, which I enjoyed so much and then we had several at the
Christmas home tour, at Christmas time. I believe we had it two or three times at
the president's house. They would stop by and so our circle would decorate the
house and then the various receptions we had for the student groups and of
course, in the Blue Key and then student government workers and
members and oh, there were just innumerable groups which we had and it was
so. Just before we left, this spring, the student union was being built and
Wayne's secretary, which was Phyllis Durrell, called me and said, Mrs. Reitz, we
are not to tell you, to let you in on a secret, but the union is going to be called the
J. Wayne Reitz Union and I said, oh Phyllis, that could never be. You know
Wayne would not like that. He wouldn't, he is just not in favor of naming a
building, certainly when a person is still in office, because we weren't leaving
Start Tape C, side 2
R: ...just a few days before, and so the night of the affair, at the union, the board
was in town, the Board of Control they were called then, and the board members
were all here and we had a dinner and went over there. There was to be a
ceremony, a kind of an opening of the union, because it, I've forgotten just what
date. That must have been in April. So I said to my husband before we left, now
Wayne, something is going to happen tonight that you may not approve of, but
you must accept it nicely. I don't think he quite knew what was going on, but
anyway it all came out. Chester Ferguson was the chairman of the board and he
gave such nice thoughts and it was just a really very warm evening, and I know
Wayne was just terribly touched. We both were.
ER: Well, I really think it's much nicer to name buildings for people while they are still
living, than to wait until after they are gone. When they'd named the coliseum,
they named it for President O'Connell while he was still living and so maybe the
tradition has changed.
R: I think Steve, though, was not in the president's...
ER: He was not in the presidency, but he still is very much alive.
R: Oh yes indeed. But the thing that I knew Wayne would disapprove of was naming
it for him while he was still president, because that looks so...
ER: But now he felt this way at the end of his presidency.
R: That's right. He was staying over until _, leaving in September.
ER: Everyone knew that he was going to do.
R: Yes, that's right. Now that he was resigning, leaving the presidency in February,
he had announced that, so I think it was all right, but anyway, I had to kind of get
him a little...
ER: So we would have a similar situation today if it were decide in name one of the
buildings for President Marston at this point because he is scheduled to retire.
R: But now I think that it has to, along with enacted now in the legislature, which it
cannot be done...
ER: While a person is still living?
R: While they are still associated with....
ER: Oh, I see. Because President Marston will continue to teach in the medical
school as I understand it, yes.
R: So I think it would take a special enactment or something in the legislation in
order to do that, I believe, and I thing that's right. Then again, there have been
some instances in other institutions where it had been done and the person was
still in office and certain favors could have been give and so forth. It's just not
quite the thing to do, but anyway, the union is something they needed so badly. I
am thankful it didn't have to be put off, and Wayne had said, well now, I don't
want any, but after this was over he said this is not called a dedication. In fact, he
didn't want them to call it the Reitz Union. He said it has always been known as
the Florida Union you know. You remember in the old days? So he said let's
just refer to it in public as the Florida Union. Then the poster cards of the union
were put out and it said the Florida Union instead of J. Wayne Reitz Union. Now
after we left, they called it the J. Wayne Reitz Union. So that's the reason.
ER: I see. Well, the Constans Theater was named after Professor Constans retired,
is that right?
R: I'm not sure about that. Yes, I believe he had probably retired, but I thought that
was very nice.
ER: Yes, such a beautiful theater. Now let me see. Your other organizations, how
about the University Women's Club? Have we mentioned that? Oh, the church,
the First Presbyterian Church. Now you don't have women's circles, you don't
stay in the same circle year after year after year?
R: No, we change around and we've always been very much interested in our
church. Wayne was on the board, in fact, he was co-chairman of the building of
the new church. That happened I think, just a year before he became president.
But I will say this, that as the girls were growing up and we lived in Gainesville,
we left during the time when they were in their teenage years and earlier than
that, we lived in Washington a couple of times, and then, wherever we were, I've
always been very much interested in working with young people. I enjoy it and
found that other mothers were too, so we would get together and have parties
and we'd try to have an interesting life for them so that the boys and girls could
have fun together, but still we knew where they were and that there was some
supervision and so forth. Gainesville has always been very busy, as busy a
place to live as you know.
ER: Now let me ask you this--I know that Wayne is on the board of the proposed new
retirement village, the North Florida Retirement Village. How do you feel about
living in a retirement village? You just spoke about the fact that you've always
been close to young people and their activities. Many of us feel that we've lived
so close to this campus and we like to walk across the campus and see the
beautiful young people. How will it be when we are way out there in the northern
part of Gainesville away from the campus, living amongst only old people? How
will that be? Can you look forward to that with any pleasure?
R: Well, I wouldn't say that I objected because after all we do reach a stage where
we don't want to go so much, but I'm accustomed to that kind of thing because
my mother was in a retirement home in Winter Park. They had transportation to
concerts, to shopping, to anything like that. Certainly, I can't imagine. That's the
reason I think this town surely needs a retirement home because people want to
be associated, they want to be able to hear lectures and do stimulating things
and so it's just really fortunate. Now where the North Florida plan is, that's right
across from Santa Fe Community College, so that would offer opportunities of
study and all sorts of hobbies, continuation and so forth. I don't think it presents
a great problem. After all, I think people do reach a stage in life where you don't
want great responsibilities around you. You don't want to take care of your
house or so forth and it's always fun to stay in your home neighborhood.
Sometimes this is what people who promote these retirement homes say, that
one lives longer having kind of an organized place where you see people, you
can play bridge, you can have art classes in these retirement homes. They have
a program director. And it doesn't mean being alone. A person who really
becomes so-called retired, and perhaps illness comes along, you're in your room
very much alone. You're not seeing people and I think that can really be sad,
quite sad, and not so, you can't have everything. Emily, you know what I mean?
You can't keep up a lively existence. You can get together and it would be fun
to go to concerts. It would be fun to go to lectures or anything, or after all, people
live in this town who probably never go to the university to take part in the
stimulating things here.
ER: Well, I think you've made a very good case for it. You've sold me on it already.
We are signed up and I know you are signed up too.
R: Yes, we are. And I know we all hope that we don't have to go into a retirement
home, but I tell you that there comes a time that it seems to be an advisable thing
to do. I mean Wayne and I won't ever need it. I don't know, but I think this
community is desperately in need.
ER: Oh yes. We all agree. Especially for those who are single. The single women
and single men.
R: That's true and my goodness, men are certainly popular in a retirement home.
(Laughter) But it's something. We're losing many fine couple who would like to
stay in Gainesville.
ER: Yes, and they have to go somewhere else to a retirement home.
R: Yes, and I'm sure they'd like to be near the university which they have enjoyed,
and near their friends. So I think that it behooves us, behooves the community to
do the best to try to get a good retirement home here. Something that's well
planned and something we'd be proud of.
ER: Right. And we will be able to go to the concerts. I know, if you couldn't, you'd
have to go to the concerts, Francis.
R: Well, I would certainly want to, I surely would. (Laughter)
ER: Now, you were just saying that you were always interested in the people who
work for the university. Not only the distinguished visitors who came to our
campus, which was a wonderful opportunity for you, but also in people that
worked around the grounds, in the barns and so forth.
R: Yes. The people, they were mainly men who were on those, in that work and in
the plants and grounds...
ER: And they took care of the grounds at the persons home so you go to know them.
R: Very much, and also those who were in what they call Buildings and Grounds. If
I needed something at the house, I would call and they were always so willing
and nice, to pick something up, make it, or provide it. I wanted very much to
have the house always decorated nicely at Christmas. You remember the big,
beautiful windows that, the front of the house at the entrance and up high, as one
entered, ascended the stairs, there was this landing and there is a big beautiful
window. So I talked with the electricians and I said, how could we have some
candles up there, some really tall candles, and I had wondered if we couldn't get-
you've seen the round tubes that materials comes on form the cloth floor across
the shop, and just get those round tubes and have an electric wire up there make
that and decorate it red and make it look like a very tall candle. So I got some of
them and the electricians, I wish I could think of that nice man, I think he's no
longer living. But he always entered into any idea that I had and he probably was
thankful when I left. I'm not sure about that, but anyway, they always acted as
though they thought it was interesting and that they wanted to make their
president's home a place that would be welcome to the people. So we fixed the
big, tall candles, and so at Christmas time they were brought them and we'd
place them in those windows there and they were lighted electrically and could
be seen way down the avenue.
ER: Oh yes, it was very attractive.
R: And then we always had a tree that forestry students had given us, which is now
a very huge Christmas tree, just outside the house, and we always had that. It
was quite a sizable tree when they brought it, and then the electricians had fixed
it with colored lights. Then one party that we always enjoyed was the night after
Christmas, we had the international students over. Many of them had probably
left town because that was a little opportunity for them to travel around Florida
and to the beaches. But usually, if they knew this party was going to be the night
after Christmas, they came. I have pictures of that. The living room was just
absolutely filled with foreign students, sitting on the floor, on the chairs, whatever.
We would play games. I would always get up, one of my hobbies is games. I
have a box full of games and I would try and think up something that they would
like and then they would tell how they would get together. They never seemed to
feel crowded even though it was quite a large group, but because they said, why
where we live, we have such small houses and we pack in, pack ourselves in you
know, and they didn't mind sitting on the floor at all. So Wayne would sit on the
floor with them and they thought that was pretty funny. To have the president sit
on the floor with them, and they liked it especially because he would laugh and
enjoy the games with them. Because an educator, especially in the far East, or
in the more developing countries, is someone held really in very high respect. So
I think, I hope that he gave them some times there they will never forget. When
we could travel then, we left during that time, one time to Burma and then of
course after Wayne left the presidency, we went to Washington and then to
Thailand. Wherever we've gone, whether it was the Phillippines or wherever
there were a group of students, they would get together, they still do, and gather
together and have a dinner or some kind of party. They like to hear about the
university and the professors and the buildings. Like to talk about it. We are
going to the Thai students together here for the surf party in May. We've tried to
do that for several years since we've been in this house, on a Sunday afternoon.
They come and bring their husbands and wives and I invite several couples here
of our friends, who have lived in Thailand or know enough about Thailand to
know about the whites and the Dingers and the people and they enjoy visiting
ER: Emma Davis lived in Thailand, didn't she?
R: She was in Burma. Yes, that was a group of three faculty members, the
Edwards and the Williamsons and the Davis' were at the University of Mandaly.
We went over there for three months when he was making a study for Ford
Foundation. It was just the only time really, that I can remember that we were
gone for three months during the presidency, but that was a great experience. I
think when anyone travels like that it makes us more mindful of what we can do
and how much that association means to them here on campus when they leave.
ER: Speaking of travel, does Wayne have any desire, do you have any desire to visit
China? That seems to be the place that everybody wants to go now.
R: I suppose if we hadn't lived in the Far East for a couple of years we would be
more excited about going. We haven't gone there yet.
ER: President Reagan is going there now, and everybody is rather excited about it.
R: I should say. And you enjoyed your trip.
ER: Yes, we enjoyed it very much. All the news about China is much more
interesting since we went last fall.
R: I'm sure. That's it. It just brings, whenever you see the name, the news, from any
country you visited.
ER: We can say we were there.
R: Yes, it makes you feel a lot closer. Marjorie and her husband went on a people
to people tour this last summer to China--health tour, and that was very
interesting. They brought back wonderful pictures. We enjoyed it very much.
ER: Well Francis, I'm so glad I came back
left open in the last interview. Again, I
me that you've really enjoyed living in
activities and it seems to me that this
for future generations. Thank you so
to fill in some of the omissions that we had
want to thank you for this, and it seems to
Gainesville and participating in all our
is a very worthwhile thing to do, to tell it all
R: You're so welcome, Emily.