Mary Louise Ott Spain, ’43, and Jean Davis Newell, ’46, began chatting while standing in line for a ferry on lecturer Elliot Engel’s organized trip to Scotland in 1998. They have been the best of friends since that day. For two people who did not know each other in college, their story illustrates the bond that Meredith women can form long after graduation.
Their instantaneous friendship has led them to travel together at least once per year, and Spain has spent every Thanksgiving and Christmas with Newell and her family since 2005. Since 1998, they have visited over 18 countries, including Italy, Egypt, and South Africa.
Many know these ladies as “Double Trouble”, but how did they get the nickname? In 2007, Spain and Newell were invited to attend the Golden Oak 50th reunion at the Massey House. It was a cold and windy night. Once inside they went to the library where Newell got on her hands and knees to start the gas logs. Tracy Rose, a catering employee, brought them hot tea, a plate of food, and said, “You know you girls are a lot of trouble. In fact, you are double trouble.”
The name has stuck with them for the last nine years, and in the fall of 2015 anonymous donors, who would only identify themselves as their Meredith fan club, gave a bench in honor of their powerful friendship.
“They are the royal women of Meredith,” says Erin Cleghorn, director of The Meredith Fund. “They were absolutely speechless when I called to tell them about the bench and so humbled.”
Spain and Newell are pleased that the bench given in their honor will be seen and used by students, faculty, staff, alumnae, and friends of the College.
“I want people who see the name Double Trouble etched on the name plate to know friendships made because of Meredith College are lasting if you want them to be,” says Spain.
The bench can be found on campus between the Alumnae House and Jones Chapel.
Newell says, “There is something about being a Meredith woman. Something special. I want people to know our bond happened many years after we walked the campus grounds as students, and we are so pleased our story of friendship will have a permanent place on campus.”