|Five consecutive generations attend the college
All Rodes lead to Centre
RELEASED: Dec. 23, 2004
DANVILLE, KYNot everyone can trace his or her lineage back six generations. Centre freshman Nelson Rodes IV can not only trace his family tree back to the 1840s, but can do so from Centre's campus and the living room of his parents' home.
Nelson IV can visit the boardrooms on campus where his great-grandfather Nelson Rodes Sr., Class of 1907, and grandfather Nelson Rodes Jr., Class of 1954, have made decisions for the college as trustees. He can also stroll Centre's campus grounds where his great-grandparents, grandparents and parents met each other for the first time.
"It's kind of hard to get rid of now," says John Rodes, referring to the antebellum home.
The first of the five consecutive Rodes generations to attend Centre was Nelson IV's great-great grandfather, Charles H. Rodes, Class of 1868. The next was Charles' son Nelson D. Rodes Sr., who served both as trustee and treasurer for the College. (Nelson Sr. met his wife Mary McDowell, Class of 1911, in Danville. Mary was the niece of one of the College's founding trustees, Joseph McDowell.)
After graduating from Centre in 1954, Nelson IV's grandfather, Nelson Rodes Jr. attended Harvard Law School and came back to practice law in Danville. (Nelson Jr. also met his wife at Centre, Martha Butler Rodes, Class of 1955.)
Nelson Jr. recalls his time as a student when the Korean War affected a large portion of the student body. Of the 120 men who started, only 26 graduated with the class because of the draft. Many also joined the Navy and Air Force to avoid being foot soldiers in the Army. Nelson Jr. says the war's influence made his a particularly strong academic class. In order to avoid conscription in those days you had to be in the top of your class.
"Some of the best memories I have are of the friendships I made with faculty and fellow students," Nelson Jr. says "It was a good preparatory for law school."
Nelson Jr. was pleased with his grandson's decision to attend his alma mater. "I was always hopeful that he would go to Centre, and I think he's been happy with his choice so far."
Nelson IV's father, John (the fourth consecutive generation to attend the college), also approved his son's decision to attend Centre.
"We were very pleased," John says "He's like the rest of us, he looked long and hard before he made his decision and he couldn't find any place better than Centre. We were hopeful he would go but we tried to stay out of the process. He seems very happy so far."
John also has great memories of his college days.
"The friendships were very meaningful," he says. "The small class size, knowing everyone and having good relationships with professors."
One of his fondest memories was a class with Eric Mount (Nelson D. and Mary McDowell Rodes Professor Emeritus of Religion) that just had five or six students enrolled, which met in the dining hall. "Looking back, it was always the best class I had."
John is now a certified public accountant at Kerbaugh and Rodes, Certified Public Accountants in Danville, and his wife, Julie, who came back to Centre later, is in her first year of teaching.
Nelson IV grew up on Centre's campus attending soccer games and homecoming events. He says he knows a lot of the faculty. In fact he's had some of the same teachers as his parents.
"I never planned on Centre until I started looking at colleges," Nelson IV says. "I didn't tell my parents until right before I made my decision. They didn't push is really hard but they definitely wanted me to come here."
Nelson says the transition from high school to Centre has been easy so far. He enjoys his classes, plans to play on the golf team and major in anything but science.
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Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/
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