Tag Archives: Joe Elder

Brothers Leon, left, and Joe Elder and familiar faces at Alumni Work Week.

The Elder brothers, Leon (left) and Joe, are familiar faces at Work Week.

Joe Elder (63C) works in the kitchen during Alumni Work Week, a job that’s reminiscent of his dining hall experience as a Berry student. These days, however, he’s sharing a suite with his wife and brother and whipping up desserts one current student called “life changing.”

Joe and brother Leon (54C) are two of nine children, six of whom attended Berry. Both are Work Week regulars: Leon has participated 14 times over a 20-year span, and Joe has joined him for seven or eight.

“He’s responsible for me being here,” Joe said. “But it worked out great because we get to spend a week together.”

A total of 135 alumni and friends participated this year, including several married couples and sets of siblings. Participants broke into 17 crews and worked on projects all across campus, including the ongoing restoration of Barnwell Chapel.

When they’re not working, the Elder brothers like to “ramble around” campus, Leon said, often driving up to the Old Mill and walking to the reservoir together.

Leon, like Joe, volunteers in food service, lending a hand on the snack wagon crew every year. He loves the opportunity it provides to meet and interact with other alumni.

“We get to work, play and eat around very pleasant people who, even though they have aches and pains, still have a smile on their face,” he said.

Ragsdales at Work Week

Work Week is an annual tradition for Nelda and Joe Ragsdale.

Nelda (64C) and Joe (65C) Ragsdale met as Berry students and married after graduation. More than a half-century later, they welcome the opportunity to return to Berry for Work Week each year. They have attended the event together 21 times since 1997, with Nelda participating one or two years before that.

Joe enjoys learning new things, just like he did when he attended Berry.

“So far I’ve been here 21 years, and I think I’ve done 21 different things,” he said.

Similarly, Nelda has done everything from office work to polishing the cars at Oak Hill. Both expressed an appreciation for the opportunities they’ve had to hear stories from other alumni.

“The early years when we came back, we were some of the youngest,” Nelda said. “Just to hear the stories that others told was a lot of fun.”

By student writer Cassie LaJeunesse; photos by student Matthew McConnell

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