They went to Paris for their 25th wedding anniversary, but to commemorate 30 years of marriage, Diana Palecek and Eric Moore of Charlotte, N.C., members of the Class of 1989, came back to Due West, where they first met as Erskine College freshmen.
Back to the beginning
On Sunday, April 30, 2023, Diana and Eric visited the Due West ARP Church, where they had been married on May 1, 1993. The Erskine Choraleers happened to be singing in the service that day—the eve of the couple’s 30th anniversary—bringing back memories of their college days. The service was followed by a covered-dish lunch in the same fellowship hall where they had met at an ice-cream social back in 1985.
After staying overnight in a Watkins Student Center guest room, they spent May 1, their anniversary, on the Erskine campus. In the morning, they walked over to Belk Hall and talked with Vice President for Advancement and Alumni Relations Paul Bell ’84.
Later, seated at a table in the Chesnut Room Annex, husband and wife batted memories back and forth between them. They talked about their time together on campus, meaningful encouragement from faculty members, and Erskine’s continuing influence on their lives.
“We were friends for a couple of years before we started dating,” Diana said. “We hung out with some of the same people.”
“After we met that first weekend, we had a few classes together,” including both Old Testament and New Testament with Dr. Ben Farley, Eric recalled.
Diana said they spent time together in Erskine’s wind ensemble, conducted by Professor of Music Dr. John Brawley, whom both remember fondly. The future husband and wife played in the pit orchestra for the musical Mame, with Eric teaching Diana some jazz techniques.
Eric was president of the Student Christian Association (SCA). Diana served on the SCA Council. They served as co-directors when SCA staged Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, another shared musical experience, with Diana juggling roles as an instrumental musician and singer in the production.
Another activity that drew them together was membership in the Jesters, a secret society at Erskine. They recalled making paper cutouts of Jesters—not as easy you might think, they agreed—and painting banners.
“Those late-night meetings with the Jesters played a big role in our starting to date,” Diana said.
As the couple reminisced about some of their ‘undercover’ activities with the Jesters, Eric connected those long-ago escapades with some of their more recent adventures.
During the early, daunting days of COVID-19, Eric and Diana drove around in Charlotte late at night, stopping to place encouraging signs in the front yards of some members of their church—doctors, nurses, healthcare workers, and others— who were putting themselves at risk to care for others. Pulling this “prank” under the cover of darkness, three decades after graduating from Erskine, reminded them of the good-natured fun they had as Jesters.
Learning and growing
The two went on to successful careers and remain grateful for the education they received at Erskine, both in and out of the classroom.
As a work-study student for Erskine President Dr. William Bruce Ezell, Jr., who served from 1981 to 1989, “I used to set up for board meetings,” Diana said, and emphasized the value of that experience for her, citing what she called her “humble country background.”
Her advisor, Dr. James W. Gettys ’62, who retired as McDonald-Boswell Professor of History Emeritus, “taught me how you network,” she said, and helped her get a job as a file clerk with attorney John Moore ’71, later chairman of the Board of Trustees. As a senior, she questioned whether she really wanted to go on to law school, and Gettys “encouraged me to stay the course.” She did.
Eric remembered that Professor Emerita of Mathematics Dr. Ann Bowe and Young Professor Emeritus of Mathematics Dr. James J. “Mike” Bowe helped him grow as a student, preparing him for his career as a software developer and data analyst.
He has continued his involvement with church music, enjoying the rewards of the music minor he completed at Erskine with such gifted professors as the late Dr. John Brawley and the late Cortlandt Koonts.
The draw of Due West
They have traveled extensively during their marriage, and they credit an Erskine professor with getting them started. “She gave us the travel bug,” Diana said, recalling a trip led by Dr. Joan Little, who recently retired as Dorn-Reeder Professor Emerita of English.
Diana, who majored in English with a minor in history, and Eric, who majored in mathematics with an emphasis in computer science and a minor in music, were among the six English majors and two math majors who made up the small Erskine contingent traveling to England. “That was our first international travel,” Diana said.
They were considering another international trip for their anniversary, but they were delighted with their return to the beautiful college campus where they first met. “Eric came up with the idea to come back to Erskine,” Diana said with a smile.
“Places like Paris, Prague, and Jerusalem—they all have their appeal,” Eric said. “But Due West has its own charm, and a special place in our lives.”
From Due West, they went on to the Columbia area to spend time with parents, then headed to Charleston, where they had honeymooned in 1993, completing a memorable celebration.
Eric noted that the Student Christian Association had buried a time capsule on campus when he and his wife were students, as a part of Erskine’s Sesquicentennial celebration. They hope to be on hand when that capsule is opened for the school’s Bicentennial.