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From a Tea Party Brochure to a Lifelong Bond: EC’s Impact on Doris Osborne '46

Doris Stephens Osborne, Class of 1946, remembers when she first learned about Elmira College, which would become her home away from home during World War II. Now 99 years old, Osborne has donated in multiple ways to ensure students can make their own memories at her beloved College.

Osborne’s story begins In 1942. She was in her hometown in suburban Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, when she attended a tea party and saw a brochure for EC.

“Although I never visited, the brochure was just beautiful,” said Osborne.

Adding to her first impressions were family connections to the College. Her grandmother, Sue Dayton Stephens, Class of 1888, and her aunt, Mary Stephens Stisser, Class of 1924, attended EC. Following in their footsteps seemed natural.

“I received a scholarship to attend; it was only $900 then. As long as I kept my grades up, I could continue to receive the scholarship and stay at EC,” she explained.

As her memories turned toward her College experiences, Osborne lit up. She recalled how much things have changed since the 1940s and the war years.

“We didn’t have washing facilities, so we had to ship our laundry home to our mothers,” she shared. “They went in heavy cases. We always looked forward to a box being delivered from home because it always had homemade sweet treats. When one arrived, we would all go to the person’s room for a taste. It was always good to get a suitcase from home.”

While today’s facilities and technology have advanced, EC traditions such as Mountain Day, May Days, and singing carry on and remain a bridge between alumni and current students. “I loved the Merry Chanters,” recounted Osborne. “My classmate, Mary Logan, helped create today’s alma mater. Old alma mater 1945. And we loved the bridge games in the living room of my roommates dorm, the executive suite. We also enjoyed Mountain Day and went up to Hill Top! We’d drink a beer then we walked all the way home. We had no cars then.”

Osborne was one of 10 in the education program when she graduated. She taught eleventh-grade Biology straight after graduation. She worked for five years and then married and had two daughters and a son. After her children were born, she continued as a substitute teacher in the local high school, volunteered as a troop and county leader for the Girls Scouts, and was active in EC’s Philly Club.

Over time, Osborne has found ways to show her gratitude for the experiences she had at EC and to give back generously with annual support and a lasting legacy gift.

“I was on a scholarship. I feel I owe it forward,” she said. “I loved my years here and the financial help made it possible.”

In 2022, Osborne found another way to pay it forward. She generously donated her grandmother’s Tiffany gold ring to Sabrina Byrd ’22 at Senior Reception.

“I’m proud to be able to pass it on to another EC graduate,” explained Osbourne. “I have a lot of fine memories of Elmira.”

If you’d like to make a legacy gift to Elmira College, please contact the Office of Advancement at (607) 735-1770. Your gift today can impact future generations.

This story was first featured in the 2023 edition of Campus Magazine. Click here to see more!

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