I saw her standing there: How a chance meeting at a 1964 sock hop led to a much-needed bursary for Acadia students

June 23, 2021

The songs of the 1960s are an evocative soundtrack to the memories of many Acadia alumni, but it was more than music that made one sock hop special for David (’65) and Ruth Anne (’66) Nicholson.

“My roommate pointed out a girl on the other side of the old gymnasium and told me she was the daughter of my economics professor, Dr. Norman Morse,” recalls David Nicholson. “Her father’s lectures were very interesting, so I was curious and asked her for a dance.”

David was majoring in business while Ruth Anne was studying science, but on that memorable evening in October 1964, their paths crossed.

Chapel of Love

“When the dance ended, we went to the SUB for a sandwich,” recalls Ruth Anne. “Three years later, in August 1967, we were married in the Acadia chapel.”

Upon her graduation, Ruth Anne followed David to Ontario, David’s home province, where she worked in a tuberculosis research lab while he continued his studies and qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1968. After raising their family and operating a business for more than 30 years, they retired to Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia in 2000.

“Returning to Nova Scotia was always the plan,” says Ruth Anne, who grew up in Wolfville, close to the University, until 1959, when her family moved to nearby Grand Pré. Her father, an Acadia alumnus (’40, ’42), taught economics at Acadia from 1945 to 1965, concluding his tenure as Head of the Department of Economics and Sociology and Acting Dean of Arts. An avid gardener, he established a vineyard on the family’s Grand Pré property – land that has since changed hands several times and evolved into the area’s eponymous winery, Domaine de Grand Pré.

Daydream believer

Life in Mahone Bay was everything David and Ruth Anne had dreamed and in 2005 they decided to make a bequest to Acadia in their wills. “It was a way of honouring our Acadia connection and celebrating the difference Acadia has made in our lives,” says David.

No strangers to charitable giving, both David and Ruth Anne liked the idea of a bequest, but in subsequent planning, it was suggested that they consider making their gift earlier – while they were still alive and able to witness the benefits.

“I’m so glad we did,” says Ruth Anne.

Working with Acadia in 2020, David and Ruth Anne established the David and Ruth Anne (Morse) Nicholson Bursary for students majoring in Biology, Business, or Chemistry. A vital support, especially for senior students, many of whom face significant financial obstacles, the award is granted to a student in the Faculty of Pure and Applied Science and the F.C. Manning School of Business in alternating years.

“That was a detail to keep peace in our household,” laughs David.

The shape of things to come

In May 2021, the Nicholsons were pleased to receive a letter of thanks from the inaugural recipient of their award, 21-year-old Lindsay Folker, an aspiring research pathologist who will begin the fourth year of her Bachelor of Science in Biology in September.

“Entering fourth year is very exciting,” says Lindsay, who was born and raised in Windsor, Nova Scotia, “but it is also challenging in terms of accumulated student loans, figuring out what comes next, and coming to terms with the end of undergrad. This award has eased my financial burden during this already stressful time and encouraged me to push through to the end with my best effort.”

In addition to allowing Lindsay to continue the research for her honours thesis this summer, the David and Ruth Anne (Morse) Nicholson Bursary will afford her the time to get involved with Community Outreach Acadia and the Acadia Medical Campus Response Team. She will also continue in her role as a teaching assistant in Acadia’s Chemistry Department.

“This is the second year that my part-time employment as a server has been disrupted by provincial closures because of COVID-19, which has affected me financially because I depend on those earnings,” Lindsay says. “My family and I are so grateful for the Nicholsons’ support. Their generosity and encouragement have reduced my financial stress and allowed me to focus on attaining my goals.”

Written by Suzanne Robicheau (’02)