Reunion Magic

Psychotherapist Edith Sparago Irons ’66, co-chair of the Classes of 1966 50th Reunion
with Author Eric Lax ’66.

by Josh Brown

“There was a wonderful sense of community at the Colleges,” says Edith Sparago Irons ’66. “Perhaps it was the uniqueness of the historical moment we shared: we entered college as children of the 50s; we sat together and watched the Beatles in their first appearances on the Ed Sullivan show; we huddled during the Cuban missile crisis; we automatically gathered at the Chapel when JFK was killed; we graduated into the 60s and all the change and turmoil and promise of that decade. Still, I’m convinced that most of the credit for the creation of that sense of community has to go to Western Civ, in that it was a shared experience that gave us a common language and a common lens.”

As co-chair of the Classes of 1966 50th Reunion with Eric Lax ’66, Irons is looking forward to reminiscing over these fond memories with her classmates while recapturing the youthful magic once felt on campus. “There is this inexplicable magic thing that happens,” says Irons, who has been instrumental in planning a number of Reunions over the years. “The minute you hit Pulteney Street, or walk on the Quad, you turn 20 all over again, as do all the people around you. It’s amazing. It might not be the case in any other setting, but on the Quad, everyone looks the same as they always did.”

After graduating from William Smith, where she was an English major and first-year class president, Irons began teaching junior high school English and social studies in Massachusetts. It was there she realized her true calling was counseling others. “The students would come in to talk to me about their lives and sometimes their problems. But I didn’t feel I was equipped with the right training to help them. I decided to go to graduate school to become a counselor.”

After earning a master’s degree at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Irons was invited to the university’s doctoral program and later completed her clinical training at the Center for Psychotherapy in New York City. Soon after, she and her husband moved to North Carolina, where Irons developed the counseling program for Planned Parenthood of Charlotte.

Today, Irons is a well-established psychotherapist in private practice. She works with adults presenting a range of problems from struggling with life’s inevitable transitions, to depression or anxiety, to marital or relational issues. “Helping a couple salvage their marriage is really rewarding,” she says. “Human beings are endlessly fascinating to me. I feel incredibly lucky to have work that still feels interesting and meaningful.”

In addition to her therapy practice, Irons is most proud of her two children and grandchildren. “Raising them was the most important work and most fun work I have ever done,” she says.

Irons stays active in her community, currently serving on the boards of Charlotte’s Tomorrow’s R.O.A.D and Connections for Youth Leadership. She was instrumental in the creation of The Bruce Irons Camps Fund (BICF), in honor of her late husband, R. Bruce Irons III. BICF works with Charlotte elementary school teachers and counselors to identify 4th graders who display good citizenship, academic effort, and leadership potential, and sends kids to residential summer camps. BICF provides support and mentoring through the school year, and continues to send them to camp each year that they earn it.

“It is unique, in that we stick with our kids over the course of these foundational years. And we have had great success. Many of our original campers are now in college. One young man just passed the test to become a Charlotte firefighter. This year we are sending 102 kids to camp. I am no longer on the board of BICF, but I am very proud to have been part of that organization.”

“For me, and maybe for many of us, the Colleges shaped the way I look at the world. It was a common lens, a common trial-by-fire and a common sense of humor. It was the place of so many different discoveries, so many beginnings. It was the jumpingoff into adulthood, the foundation to my thinking and to the way I live in the world.”


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