CRC Naming Is a Fitting Tribute
(Left to right) Elizabeth Eppley Danforth ’48, Frances Eppley Tobin ’52, M.S. ’54 and Geary W. Eppley stand in front of the Campus Recreation Center that will be named in honor of their father and dedicated alumnus, Geary F. Eppley ’22, M.S. ’26, on October 20.
FOR MORE THAN 50 years, Geary Francis “Swede” Eppley ’20, M.S. ’26 was a fixture at the University of Maryland, touching countless lives and influencing many areas of the campus. When family, friends and former students were looking for a way to pay tribute to him, they found a good fit with the Campus Recreation Center (CRC).
On Oct. 20, 2006, the CRC building will be named in Eppley’s honor. The naming will officially launch the Eppley Fund for the Enhancement of the Student Experience, a
$2 million initiative to support student recreation services.
“It’s a perfect building for him, because he was so dedicated to athletics and physical fitness,” says Frances Eppley Tobin ’52, M.S. ’54, Eppley’s daughter.
Eppley entered the forerunner Maryland Agricultural College as a student in 1914, earning his bachelor’s at the University of Maryland in 1920 after interrupting his studies to serve in World War I. A student athlete, he lettered in football (while playing for then football coach Curly Bryd ’08) and track. In 1922, he returned to the university as assistant professor of agronomy, earning his master’s in 1926.
During this time, he began coaching the track team, which he would continue to do until 1941, mentoring track stars Jim Kehoe ’40 and Tom Fields ’42 and leading the track team to national championships. He helped found the M Club, an organization of varsity athletic letter winners, which still exists today. He was also director of athletics, director of student activities and student welfare, and dean of men, a position he held until his retirement in 1964.
He put students first, says Jane McCarl ’52, who remembers Eppley always sitting in the student section at games. McCarl, a member of an alumni committee that recommended the naming of the CRC, got to know Eppley when she chaired the junior prom, and he was director of student activities. “The most memorable thing about him was his loyalty,” she says. “He was able to cope with change and was flexible in that respect.”
As director of student activities, Eppley helped the university prepare for and adjust to a near doubling in enrollment when, in 1946, students entered the university for the first time on the GI Bill. He traveled the country, visiting other universities to research student union facilities. His recommendations to President Curly Byrd resulted in Maryland’s own student union, later named in honor of Adele Stamp, dean of women.
“Everyone who knew him loved him,” says McCarl. “I hope to see current students inspired by his loyalty.”
With Eppley’s name on the Campus Recreation Center, a popular location for students, she just might get her wish. —BAM
For more information about the Eppley Fund for the Enhancement of the Student Experience, contact Jim Rychner, Student Affairs, at 301.314.7918.
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