Campus Cover Girl confirmed

January 5, 2014

This week’s Mystery Photo was the subject of much discussion – and debate – in Waynesburg. Even now, there is no consensus on exactly where or when the picture was taken, or even the identity of most of the nine people in it.

Although only Mickey Boudreau of Waynesburg could name the young woman with blond hair on the left, her identity can be confirmed via the Internet. She is Sandra Mary Heaney West, who was selected as Pittsburgh Press Roto Campus Cover Girl for 1964. “She dated a friend of mine,” said Boudreau, who dug out his 1964 Waynesburg College yearbook to confirm it.

West was born in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1945 and moved at the age of 2 with her family to South Plainfield, N.J. She enrolled at Waynesburg College in 1963 and received her honor the following May.

“A sparkling photogenic blonde from Waynesburg College bedazzled the judges with her captivating personality and flashing gray-blue eyes to become Roto’s Campus Cover Girl of 1964,” gushed staff writer William Delahan in a feature article in the Sunday Roto magazine. (No one was able to identify the tall man standing behind West, so – just a wild guess – might he be Delahan?)

West may have been visiting Red Cross volunteers as part of her official Cover Girl duties, but she was no stranger to the organization’s activities, having passed the Red Cross senior lifesaving course to become a lifeguard.

Oddly enough, the most readily identifiable are the two men standing in the background on the right, almost out of the picture. The man in short sleeves is E. Bryan Jacobs, owner of Jacobs Oil Co. and former Greene County commissioner. “He was my great uncle, and I was named after him,” said Bryan Cole. Jacobs also was once exalted ruler of the Elks Lodge in Waynesburg, according to Carol Patterson.

The man behind him with the glasses is Dr. Calvin Rush, agreed several of our readers, although Carol Stephenson said he resembles her father-in-law, Bob Stephenson.

Carolyn McGrath of Waynesburg recognized her mother, Joan Huffman, in the middle of the photo with part of her face obscured. “They used to take those jars up to the stores on Main Street for collections,” she said.

McGrath said the nurse with the white uniform and cap is Naomi King, and the woman on the far right is Gloria Springer, wife of radiologist Dr. Roy Springer. She also identified the young woman at center as Myrna Reese, who died last year. “I’m sure that’s her, because she was my choir director and sang at my wedding,” she said.

But here’s where the controversy starts: At least four other readers insist that she is Cecilia Wilbert. “I went to first grade through high school with her, and I’m sure that’s Cecilia,” said Boudreau. The two graduated from Waynesburg High School in 1963. She went on to be a schoolteacher in Washington, D.C., Stephenson said.

No consensus could be reached on the location. The armory, the old hospital’s board room and the Elks Lodge on High Street were all mentioned as possibilities, and Mary Ann Dispenza proposed the VFW social hall because its auxiliary “was very active with sponsoring blood drives with the Red Cross in the 1960s” when her father, Ira “Bus” Moore, was post commander.

“I recognize those doors in the back that led out behind to the creek,” she said.

Time would not permit us to track down Sandy West, but perhaps some of her classmates might now offer us more information for a future follow-up.

Look for another Mystery Photo in next Monday’s Observer-Reporter.

Park Burroughs has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1972. He is the winner of numerous state and regional awards for feature, column and editorial writing. He is the author of two books, “Enter, With Torches: Recollections of a Grumpy Old Editor,” and "Washington County Murder and Mayhem." He retired in September 2012 but continues to contribute to the O-R’s news pages.

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