Generations of Troxell-Ramseur Family 'Come Home' to Catawba College
November 10, 2020
When the Troxell-Ramseur family talks about its long, proud association with Catawba College, the third-generation family members speak in terms of "Old Catawba" and "New Catawba."
The family's association with the college began when the campus was still located in Newton, NC. That's when Lester Troxell left his home in Pennsylvania to follow his brother, Samuel "Art" Troxell, Class of '16, to North Carolina and enroll at Catawba. Like others in his family, including his brother, Art, Lester met the person he would marry at the college. Cleo Lentz, who became Lester's wife, was enrolled at the school, according to her granddaughter, Julie Ramseur Lewis, also a Catawba grad.
Catawba was founded in Newton in Catawba County in 1851 and became co-educational in 1890. Struggling after the Civil War years, the college closed its doors in Newton in 1923 and reopened in Salisbury in 1925. The move was instigated by the gift of a partially completed dormitory/administration building and several areas of land in Salisbury.
Lester and Cleo Troxell lived in Winston-Salem, NC. Their two daughters, Hilda and Bonita, Class of '57, both went to "the new Catawba," after the college's move to Salisbury. Today, 90-year-old Hilda Troxell Ramseur champions Catawba from her home in Landis, NC. She and her husband, the late Walter Ramseur, are both Catawba alumni.
"They were both in the marching band," recalls Julie, "and my dad had a crush on her. On the band bus, because it was her birthday, he decided that the guys on the bus needed to give her a birthday kiss. He started the kiss and gave her another one at the end. After that, they started dating."
Walter, a member of the Class of '49, was on the Board of Visitors for many years and was a loyal member of the Chiefs Club and the Alumni Association. Because of his fund-raising efforts for the Field House, "they put his name on a Field House office door for helping," says Julie.
The Ramseur family has always had close ties to Catawba, attending football and basketball games, as well as theatre productions. "Mom would yell louder than Dad at those games," recalls Julie.
All three of the Ramseur daughters are Catawba alumni. "I think my mom just wanted us to have the same wonderful experience that she had," says Julie. The eldest daughter, Pam R. McDaniel of Durham, Class of '76, was a math major who became a math and computer teacher. The second daughter, Sandy R. Hicks of Rincon, GA, Class of '80, earned her degree in Early Childhood Education and then earned a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from N.C. State University. She has taught remedial middle school classes for several years and also first grade in both North Carolina and Georgia. She is in her third year of teaching English language learners. Her husband, Al Hicks, Class of '81, played football at Catawba.
Randy Southard, Class of '74, Senior Development Associate at Catawba, said that few alumni can boast of the Catawba legacy as witnessed in the Troxell-Ramseur family. "Just in my tenure with the Board of Visitors and the Development Office, I've witnessed the commitment of the Ramseur family to the enhancement of Shuford Stadium and to the growth of our Endowed Scholarship program. Student involvement, sharing of their time, benefactor dedication – the Ramseurs have helped make Catawba a better institution!"
Sandy R. Hicks said that going to Catawba was definitely one of the best decisions that she could have made. "I received an excellent education that prepared me for a successful teaching Career," she said. "But, also, just as importantly to me, I made lifelong friends. My Cat-U friends and I continue to stay in in frequent contact and spend a weekend together every year."
Julie R. Lewis, Class of '84, majored in Political Science and Pre-Law. She graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law and is an assistant public defender in Mecklenburg County. She has served two terms on the Catawba Alumni Board and currently serves on the Board of Visitors.
"I grew up going to the campus," says Julie. "It was very familiar to me. It seemed like home. I think the whole atmosphere of the campus drew me. I loved that it was small ... almost intimate. You got to know the professors. They knew you and cared about you."
She still cherishes the friendships that she made as a student. "I'm still in contact with my friends and roommates," she says. "Catawba prepared me very well for grad school. It gave me opportunities for leadership roles that I would not have had at a larger university, and it will always have a special place in my heart."
The Pennsylvania Troxell family connection doesn't stop with Lester. Lester's brother, Art, whom he followed to Newton, NC, and Catawba, married another Catawba student, Trula Bost, Class of '21. Their daughter, Cathy Troxell Greene, graduated from Catawba in 1946.
Sandy R. Hicks has a favorite story about her grandfather's brother Art. In the 1970s, when streaking was a new craze, her Uncle Art laughed and said: "They think that they have invented something new. When I was at Catawba (about 1912), during thunderstorms, guys would strip down, hide behind trees, and when lightning flashed, run and hide behind a different tree."