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Ted Buchanan

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 Tulane Empowers

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Fund ensures Newcomb alumna’s spirit lives on

The Jerry Liddell Fulton Newcomb Scholars Arts Fund supports the interests of Tulane students in the creative arts, visual arts, performing arts and fine arts. 

May 17, 2012

Michael Ramos
mcramos@tulane.edu   

“Go all the way down, Jerry,” her classmates yelled. “Both ways!”

To a roar of applause, Jerry Liddell Fulton picked herself up and slipped right down again into a perfect split. She was 70 years old. 

jerry

Jerry (NC ’44) often seemed to be the center of attention, and her 50th Newcomb College reunion was no exception. An award-winning ballroom dancer, senior Olympic swimmer, accomplished pianist, artist, Mardi Gras queen and campus beauty queen, Jerry was nothing short of a sensation all her life, her family says.  

In recognition of her devotion to Newcomb and love of the arts, Jerry’s five daughters have established in her memory the Jerry Liddell Fulton Newcomb Scholars Arts Fund at the Newcomb College Institute.

“It wasn’t in her will,” said daughter Christy Baldwin, who, as executor, coordinated the gift. “She didn’t ask for an endowment for herself. We did this for her. We all knew she loved Newcomb dearly.”   

Newcomb plays special role in alumna’s life   

The daughter of U.S. Army surgeon and engineer Tully Joseph Liddell (M 1912), Jerry Alyce Liddell was born in Port Arthur, Texas in 1923. The family lived on Magazine St. in New Orleans for several years while Dr. Liddell worked for the Corps of Engineers as a medical doctor. Her father, a contender for U.S. Surgeon General, felt the future was bright when he relocated his family to Chicago in 1933. 

Jerry’s life changed dramatically two years later when Dr. Liddell died shortly before Christmas of a heart attack; the family returned to New Orleans when she was 12. They settled on Lowerline St. and she quickly assimilated into the city’s unique culture, attending Eleanor McMain for senior high, riding bikes with her friend Judy Zatarain and exploring the nearby Newcomb campus with her sisters. Newcomb College would eventually provide her the perfect atmosphere she needed to blossom.   

“She loved Newcomb,” Christy explained. “She came to life there. We knew she loved her classmates and they certainly loved her.”   

At Newcomb, Jerry was voted campus beauty queen by the young men of the College of Arts and Sciences, presided over of her sorority, was selected for Who’s Who, was princess of the homecoming court and lit up dance floors every Friday night at “merry mix-ups.”   

Jerry L

“She said some of her happiest memories came from her time at Newcomb,” said daughter Anne Barnett. “I’ve nothing but warm feelings for Tulane just because of everything she told us.”   

Four times blessed   

One year after graduation, Jerry reigned as queen of the Krewe of Orpheus in 1945. She had begun dating U.S. Navy Chaplain Wayte Fulton, visiting minister at the St. Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church and a new resident of the city. Like everyone else, Wayte fell in love with the young beauty queen. In March 1946, after their rehearsal dinner at Corinne Dunbar’s, the couple married at the church where they met. They have five daughters: Alyce (Perkins), Christy (Baldwin), Anne (Barnett), Jerry (Mink) and Kathleen Fulton (Banta).   

After her fifth daughter was born, Jerry began working on a graduate degree in English and secondary education. Eventually she taught high school English, took up ceramics, oil painting and ballroom dancing in addition to being a minister’s wife and mother. She also became active in Daughters of the American Revolution and added Senior Olympics in the butterfly and back crawl to her long list of activities.   

One of her most joyful moments, however, was when she and her husband returned to live in New Orleans around 1986. It was during this time that Jerry happily and frequently revisited the Newcomb campus and her Newcomb classmates, several of whom had been her bridesmaids. She would later remark that she had been “four times blessed” as she had lived in “her” New Orleans at four different times in her life.   

Supporting student artists    

Throughout her long life, Jerry’s devotion to her alma mater never wavered. She rarely missed a class reunion or the opportunity to write her classmates personally. Naturally, one of her personal highlights came when they requested she perform a split.   

A breast cancer survivor, Jerry seemed to be in good health until a series of mini-strokes diminished her coordination at age 84. Her daughters relay that on the morning of her death Jerry insisted she dress for a special visitor coming to see her that day and pointed to a photograph of her father as her potential visitor. Shortly after dressing, she took a break, exhaled and died peacefully on April 13, 2011. She is buried with her beloved husband, Wayte, next to her father’s grave at Arlington National Cemetery.   

The Jerry Liddell Fulton Newcomb Scholars Arts Fund supports the interests of Tulane students in the creative arts, visual arts, performing arts and fine arts.   

“I’m thrilled that her money is going to such a worthwhile cause and that her name will be on it,” said Barnett. “I can’t tell you how happy my mother would be. She used to talk about the arts department and the theater there all the time.”   

Michael Ramos is a writer in the Office of Development.

 

 

Office of Development,  P.O. Box 61075, New Orleans, LA 70161-9986 | 504-865-5794  |  888-265-7576 | giving@tulane.edu