Five Generations Family

Melanie Drake ’92

Sisters Nancy Welch Barnby ’61 and Jill Welch ’64 said they never felt under pressure to attend Grinnell College. It was just an expectation that they never questioned.

“When we started thinking about college, there was never a question of where my sister and I would apply,” Jill Welch says. “We slept and ate Grinnell from the time we knew what a college was.”

The Grinnell tradition began when Hazel Wilson 1906 married Carl Wright 1905. All four of their children (Margaret Wright Gleysteen ’32, Janet Wright Welch ’34, Catharine Wright Carns ’38 and James “Bob” Wright ’44) attended Grinnell. From this generation, all but one of Nancy and Jill’s aunts and uncles are also Grinnell alumni.

With the arrival of Lucy Hartley ’25, Jill’s granddaughter, on campus for fall 2021 classes, there are now five generations of Grinnellians in the family. When her great-aunt learned of Lucy’s college choice, she mailed a symbolic gift to her — Nancy’s Honor G sweater.

“When I decided on Grinnell, my grandmother was so excited,” Lucy recalls. “It was the height of the pandemic, so we were on Facetime. I was glad that I got to see the look on her face.”

Nancy Welch Barnby and Lucy Hartley

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