By Mary Jo Patterson
The whole thing started with the Rev. Matchett Poynter, born and raised in the mountains of Kentucky, and his wife Marguerite, a devoted Methodist from Newark, N.J. A chance encounter at a USO dance soon after World War I led to love, marriage and four little Poynters. The couple also launched a remarkable family tradition: Nineteen members of their extended family attended or graduated from Drew.
Matchett T’24,’30 and Marguerite were first, entering the Theological School together in 1921. The newlyweds had been trained as teachers but hungered to further their Christian education. Matchett graduated and became a longtime minister in Cranford, N.J. All of their children—Wallace C’50, T’53, Bruce T’51, Ruth C’51 and Rebekah C’54—also went to Drew. “My parents talked about Drew, and I know it influenced my thinking,” says Bruce, 84, a retired university chaplain from Frederick, Md., one of their two surviving offspring. He and his brother both married Drew graduates, forging an even deeper family connection; Bruce wed Kay (Ward) Poynter C’54, and Wallace married Elizabeth “Betsy” (Mellott) Poynter C’54. Next to come along were five of Matchett and Marguerite’s 18 grandchildren, including every one of daughter Ruth’s kids. “I have three sons, and they all went to Drew,” says Ruth Poynter Carrara, 82. “So did my two nephews [Richard Carrara C’83 and Glenn Carrara C’86] who lived next door,” on late husband Gilbert Carrara’s side of the family.
Ruth Carrara had loved her years at Drew, where she played tennis, field hockey and basketball. Ever since her days as a second grade teacher, she’s been a loyal and active alumna, even chairing her 60th class reunion committee this year. But she put “no pressure, none at all” on her sons to follow in her footsteps, she says today.
Yet the children in the Poynter-Carrara clan clearly listened to their elders. “My dad [the Rev. Wallace Poynter] always had so many great stories about this place,” says Katherine “Trink” Poynter C’78 of Piscataway, N.J., who never thought of going anywhere but Drew. Ruth Carrara’s sons, Gilbert C’82, Eric C’84 and Douglas C’90, who grew up in West Caldwell, N.J., were attracted by the college’s proximity and reputation. “We wanted to stay around home, and we loved living on campus,” says Eric, a resident of Mendham, N.J. He married a Drew graduate, the former Rosemary Stanley C’85, whose two sisters—Barbara (Stanley) Fritts C’79 and Suzanne (Stanley) McCathy C’84—also attended Drew.
The most recent links in the chain are Tobey DeMott of Chicago, the youngest of Rebekah Poynter DeMott’s seven children, who graduated from the college in 1992, and Kathryn Stanley, a niece of the Stanley sisters, who would have graduated in 1994 had she not died in a car accident. And the next generation? The two oldest are students at Loyola University, and none of the others have said a word about Drew. Yet.