Surprise honors alumnus, boosts class gift

The Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry’s D.D.S. Class of 1962 was in the midst of its 50th reunion celebration when a surprise gift in honor of one special alumnus helped push the class gift beyond its lofty goal.

Former Dean Harry Lyons (D.D.S. ’23) left an indelible mark on graduates of the Class of 1962. At their reunion in April, the remaining class members chose to remember their mentor by creating the DDS Class of 1962 Harry Lyons Student Scholarship. The class set a far-reaching goal of $300,000 and exceeded its expectations through a last-minute $50,000 pledge from Josée, Paul, Denny and William Covington.

Josée Covington, wife of Dr. William Covington (D.D.S. ’62) and head of Richmond-based Covington Travel, was unable to participate in the reunion celebration because of a previous business commitment in the Mediterranean. She sent a special message to VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D., however, to be read at the reunion event. University mascot Rodney the Ram interrupted Rao during the president’s address to the class and personally delivered the special “telegRAM.” As Rao read the memo, the audience learned Covington’s wife and three sons had joined together to honor Covington and support his remarkable class. To make the day even better, Covington’s sons Paul (M.B.A. ’96) and Denny (B.S. ’90) emerged from an adjoining room to surprise their father as the news was shared.

The Class of 1962 holds a place of honor at the VCU School of Dentistry. Fifty years ago, as recent graduates and budding new dentists, every class member pledged to support the school with $1,000 during his lifetime. The gift and its donors inspired many classes that followed to make similarly generous gestures.

To learn more about the School of Dentistry, contact Gloria Callihan, associate dean for development and alumni relations, at (804) 828-8101 or