BETHANY, W.Va. – The Bethany College class of 1979 will celebrate its 40th reunion with a host of activities during Homecoming this weekend.

Kenn Morgan Sandercox PortraitFrom 8 to 11 p.m Friday, the class of 1979 gets the festivities rolling with the All Bethanians Concert and Dance Party featuring the Hewlett Anderson Band in Renner Too. The event is open to all alumni, students, faculty, and staff.

From 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Bloody Marys, Bubbles, and Bagels will reunite the class of 1979 in the Old Main Corridor.

On Saturday, all alumni are welcome to take part in a Trivia Contest from 1 to 5 p.m. at Bubba’s Bison Inn, a Wine and Beer Tasting event from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. at Pendleton Heights, and a Tailgate Party from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Hummel Field House with DJ Jeff Jaegger.

“It’s interesting and wonderful how our class came together,” Charles Nalbantian said. “I think a handful of friends who kept in touch over the years promoted the idea of making our 40th something great – and reached out to others like me last year. When we started conference calls, it was like nothing had changed.”

Nalbantian plans to return to Bethany this weekend for the first time in almost 30 years. He said he’s most excited about the trivia contest, which he described as containing questions about Bethany and history and culture over the time when they were students.

In addition to its Homecoming celebration, the class of 1979 aims to raise $79,000 for Bethany in 2019.

In July, the class surpassed the halfway point of its current goal, and much of that money is being used to update the Sandercox Room in Old Main.

Sandercox Room WindowThe room is named in honor of Dr. Robert A. Sandercox, a 1954 graduate of Bethany who became known as “Mr. Bethany.” Over a 40-year career, Sandercox served the college professionally in numerous roles, including dean of students, director of alumni relations, and senior vice president for institutional research and planning. In retirement, he served on the college’s Board of Trustees from 2004-2006.

That the funds will honor Sandercox spurred Nalbantian, with his wife, Dana, and Paul ’75 and Liz ’79 Chewning to become major contributors for the project.

“Bob was a just a real integral part of our lives while we at the college. Personally, he was a great friend to my husband and me,” Liz Chewning said, noting that the Chewning children referred to Sandercox and his wife, Nancy, as their “fairy grandparents.”

Nalbantian called Robert Sandercox “one of the greats” at Bethany.

Though the room’s restoration is not quite complete, donors and guests will get a sneak peek during the Saturday brunch.

Kenn Morgan, Jennie Renner Steindorf Chair of Fine Arts, will display his painting of Sandercox, which will hang in the room upon its completion.

Monies raised by the class of 1979 are also expected to help repair the roof of the Renner Union.

So, far the class has passed $54,000 in money raised.

Chewning said that she hopes Homecoming will spur others to donate.

“I think it’s so important that people come back to campus,” she said. “Bethany is not the same school as when we left, but there are some of the same things that we fell in love with. They’ll see that it’s a really good investment.”

Those interested in contributing to Bethany through the class of 1979’s fund raising effort may do so by contacting the college’s Office of Advancement, 31 E. Campus Drive, Bethany, WV, 26302-3002 or online.

“It’s a great opportunity to build momentum for future classes,” Nalbantian said of Homecoming and the fundraising effort. “If we can build on that spirit, that would be an amazing success for our class.”

In addition to the class of 1979’s events, Bethany invites the community to join in the following events:

  • Art Show and Reception, 7 to 8:30 p.m. Friday in the Renner Art Gallery.
  • Larry E. Grimes Lecture Series featuring Ret. Lt. Col. Robert J. Darling, author of “24 Hours inside the President’s Bunker, 9/11/01,” 10:30 a.m. Saturday in Steinman Auditorium.
  • Lecture by Doug Bradley ’69, co-author of “We Gotta Get Out of this Place: The Soundtrack of the Vietnam War,” 1:30 p.m. Saturday in the Academic Parlour on the top floor of Old Main. (Elevator is available.)
  • Bethany vs. Westminster Football Game, 7 p.m. Saturday at Bison Stadium.

See a complete schedule of Homecoming events.


Bethany College, founded in 1840, is the oldest private college in West Virginia. The Bethany experience focuses on academic excellence in the area of liberal arts and prepares students for a lifetime of work and a life of significance.