‘My Best Half’

Couple returns to Campbell 51 years after meeting here

On a Friday night in 1967, Hugh and Dee McPherson met for the first time by accident — when Hugh’s date cancelled to celebrate Mother’s Day with her family, his friends set him up on a blind date. Fifty-one years later, the couple spent another fortuitous Mother’s Day weekend back on campus for the reunion of the Class of 1968.

Hugh and Dee were juniors at Campbell when they met for their date. After a sensible meal of fried egg sandwiches and hot chocolate — the specialty at popular dining spot The Oasis — they saw the campus movie “Zebra in the Kitchen,” starring Jay North. As the night wound down, Hugh mentioned the chores he had to finish before a party the next day.

“I told her I’d have to spend Sunday washing the car,” he remembers, “and she said she loved to wash cars. So I knew I’d made an impression on the young lady.”

With Dee’s help, the car was cleaned and a relationship that would last a lifetime had formed. Now, the McPhersons have two sons, Stanley and William, and a daughter, Stephanie, and live in Gaston County.

Looking around at the campus they hadn’t visited in decades, Hugh and Dee were pleased to recognize D. Rich and the facade of Britt Hall, where Hugh lived for all four years of college. They were most impressed by the addition of Butler Chapel, although neither of them had to walk far to get to church each Sunday during their undergrad years; they attended chapel services at First Baptist Church right across the street from Britt Hall.

“At that time in our lives, a Christian school was really exactly what we needed to grow in our faith,” says Hugh. “It’s tough at that time in a young person’s life. We wanted to start our life together in the right way, and Campbell helped us do that.”

Campbell’s Baptist history is what brought Dee to campus in the first place, she recalls. Hugh grew up in the Baptist church as well, so nearby Campbell just made sense. He took just about every course offered at his small high school in Cameron — so small that the English teacher doubled as the French teacher — to be eligible for college.

Not long after the fateful Mother’s Day weekend, Hugh and Dee got engaged during a summer visit to Hugh’s parents house. “To be honest, I wanted Dee to be able to flash her ring around a bit before graduation.”

During that final year at Campbell, Hugh and Dee remember meeting at Marshbanks every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The prospect of seeing Dee at breakfast every morning got Hugh back into the habit of eating the most important meal of the day — before they started dating, he’d skip breakfast for fear of being too full for his early morning wrestling practices.

Hugh was also smoker before he met Dee, “but I didn’t know that” she says, “or I wouldn’t have dated him.” When the love bug bit, he stopped smoking altogether.

The McPhersons are now retired and enjoying spending time with their grandsons Tyler and Dyllan. Looking back on their marriage, they thank Campbell for providing a faith-centered place to start their relationship.

“If I hadn’t been there, I would never have met this fine Christian lady.” says Hugh. “It hasn’t always been easy, but nothing’s pulled us under.”

Dee couldn’t agree more. “Hugh is not my better half — he’s my best half,” she says. “Because there is no better than him.”

Kate Stoneburner


Kate Stoneburner Author
Lynsey Trembly Photographer

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