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he Braca-Gibson family includes 12 members
who have attended Immaculata over the
course of four generations. Some were born into the
family, and others have married in.
We talked with a few of them about their
memories, and some common themes emerged—the
welcoming community, the beautiful Rotunda, the
long lines for the telephone, the dress code and, most
of all, the gift of a Catholic liberal arts education.
Henrietta Braca Gibson ’38 Angela Braca Dalrymple ’40
Diana Gibson Perry ’57 Dolores Gibson Cipolone ’58
Donna Gibson Poling ’65 Lynn Anderson Gibson ’65
Marilyn Bender Tracey ’65 Patricia Gibson Gallagher ’67
Angela Dalrymple ’67
Jacki Perry Montgomery ’91 Carla Morris Weis ’82
Matthew Montgomery ’17
“My grandfather had such foresight to send two
daughters to college in the ’30s,” said Donna Gibson
Poling, daughter of Henrietta and niece of Angela
Braca Dalrymple. Henrietta’s and Angela’s father was
born in Italy and came to the U.S. by himself when
he was 14, eventually settling in Sea Isle City, NJ. He
hadn’t had much education himself, but he wanted all
of his children, both the boys and the girls, to have an
education. “My mom mentioned it over and over, how
grateful she was,” Donna said.
Henrietta had never even seen a nun before she
went to Immaculata. On her first day there, the nuns
called out each major, and groups of students joined
them whenever the major they had chosen was called.
Henrietta was shy and didn’t know what she wanted
to major in. Finally, the last major was called out,
so that’s what Henrietta chose—Home Economics.
“We always kidded her about that, because she could
neither sew nor cook,” Donna said.
But Henrietta did teach Home Ec for a while,
and then helped her father with a variety of family
businesses in Sea Isle—a movie theater, a newspaper
store, a restaurant, and others. Some of the family
members are working at these or other businesses even
today, putting their college education to good use.
Aunt Angie brought my sister, Dolores, to live
in Immaculata’s Practice House in Bethany when
she was a baby so that Home Ec students could
practice taking care of her. Dolores and I later went to
Immaculata as students.
The value of an education was instilled in us
from the time we were young, even though not many
women at that time had the opportunity to go to
college. But my aunts Henrietta and Angie and my
parents said, “Education is something you’ll never
lose. You’ll always have it.” Which was true—I did
use it, teaching kindergarten and first and second
grade for 31 years.
My favorite spot on campus would have to be the
telephone! The phones on the hallway were always
very busy. I found one telephone in a little alcove that
wasn’t used much, and I made arrangements with
my boyfriend to call it at certain times. We ended
up getting married, and he jokes that he went to
Immaculata, too, because he had a car and was there
I remember we had a “lights out” rule at 10. I
guess they wanted to save on electricity! If you hadn’t
finished your homework, you would try to hide in
the closet with a lamp. But during exams, we had
Immaculata was very formal on some occasions.
When you signed in and out of the building, you
had to be dressed appropriately, always with a hat
and white gloves. I saw a change in the dress code
when my daughter Jacki went. We always had to wear
skirts, sweaters and blouses. Lucky them—they could
wear sweat pants!
I used to work in the bookstore, and one nun
made beautiful glass rosary beads that you could buy
there. She’d make whatever color you wanted. My
sister Dolores bought our mother some pink ones, and
mine were light blue. Dolores still has our mother’s,
but I lost mine recently, and I was very upset about that.
I was honored to be chosen along with three other
seniors to carry the Baby Jesus in at Carol Night. It’s
been something that has been very memorable for me.
It was a privilege.
There were so many things our teachers said to
us at that time—be grateful that you’re getting your
education. Take advantage of going to Mass every day
while you’re here, because when you get out into the
working world, you won’t have the opportunity to do
that. When I had young children, I remembered this,
because I couldn’t go to Mass every day anymore. But
now that I’m retired, I’ve picked it up again.
My favorite teacher was Sister Marian William
Hoben. When you can’t wait to go into a class—that
makes a good teacher. Because you’re excited for what
she’s going to impart to you that day. And you never
had to fear—if you didn’t have something right, she
didn’t make you feel uncomfortable about it.
We had to wear caps and gowns to Mass on
first Fridays, and we often threw them on over our
pajamas. My roommate Lynn and I were going to
be late to Mass one Friday, and in our hurry to get
there, Lynn had left the hanger in her gown. When
we walked in late, the hanger slipped off and clanked
on the marble floor of the chapel. Two rows of girls
Both of us were “campused” that weekend. I
begged the dean of students to do my time another
weekend, because I was running for homecoming
queen at Villanova, which was not yet coed. But my
request was declined.
A couple of girls at Immaculata were in love with
my cousin, Tony Gibson, and I was always caught
right in the middle. I was rooting for my roommate
Lynn, since she was so lovely. She came to Sea Isle to
visit Tony, and they started to correspond after that.
They married in August after we graduated. They
named one of their daughters after me.
I think the Rotunda is one of my favorite spots
on campus. It’s so pivotal to life at Immaculata and
what it represents. I remember we would look over the
balcony to watch for our blind dates and to see if they
were good-looking. They signed in with Sister Mary
Leo and Sister Mary Jean and went to the Green
Room to wait. The Sisters would call you in your
room to tell you your date was here.
At the time, we weren’t particularly enamored
with how strict things were, but they really make for
fun conversation now. They were happy days.
I liked the fact that Immaculata was a women’s
college. It gave me a strength and a confidence as a
woman, graduating and going out into the world. It
gave you a gracefulness, and also made you worldly
at the same time.