A member of the first coeducational class at Washington and Lee, Patience Jones Garrett met her future husband, fellow student Bill Garrett, at a fraternity party during her sophomore year. Since then, they have experienced all kinds of firsts together: first date, first child, first home. Thanks to their son Will Garrett, a member of W&L's Class of 2013, they can add another first to that list: they are the first parents who are both W&L undergraduate alumni to have their child graduate from the University.
"Little did we know at the time," said Bill, reminiscing about their introduction. Patience belongs to the Class of 1989, Bill to the Class of 1987.
"One of Patience's roommates was dating one of my fraternity brothers," remembered Bill, a member of Beta Theta Pi. They continued their relationship after Bill's graduation with a B.S. in business administration and accounting. "We made it two years while she was at school, and I was working up in New Jersey, and then we started our family very early."
"We got married in November after I graduated," said Patience, who holds a B.A. in history.
Today they have three children, sons Will and Thompson and daughter Hayden, and live in Purcellville, Va. Bill is the CFO of Global Aviation Holdings Inc., a major provider of worldwide air transportation. Patience runs Appointments, a gift boutique that she founded and transformed into an online-only retailer.
Growing up, Will came to campus a few times with his folks. When he was picking a college, he said, "after my visit here, I was pretty much sold." Having enjoyed a stellar career in lacrosse and soccer at the Highland School, in Warrenton, Va., he'd boiled down his choices to Middlebury and W&L. "I didn't want to go to Vermont," he said.
"It was never an expectation," he said of any possible parental influence on his decision to attend W&L. He played lacrosse all four years and earned a B.S. in business administration. He'll soon start a consulting career at Cerner Corp., in Kansas City, Mo., which handles health-care technology.
Of his pioneering status as the first W&L graduate with both parents also undergraduate alumni, Will reported, "The University has such a rich tradition and history. It's kind of a cool fact to tell people. Everyone thinks it's really neat."
When Will decided on W&L, said Bill, "It was a happy day. We were very proud because we know what a great school it is and how, when you come here, you are set for taking on the world."
Patience, who has attended just about all of Will's lacrosse games, added, "It was also fun because you could visualize what he was doing and where he was, because you had done it all yourself."
The couple shared their main emotion on Commencement day with that of all the other families who packed the Front Lawn. "We're just so proud of him," said Patience.