My Berry Family: The Tarpleys

Family Ties

Tim and Sue Tarpley just might be the ultimate example of Berry family.

People pose in front of fireplace at Christmas
The Berry "big kids" celebrating the holidays with the Tarpley "little kids", 1993.

During their nearly 40 years on campus, the longtime staff members have been Berry parents (literally and figuratively), mentors and friends to hundreds of students. With Tim now retired and Sue's tenure drawing to a close, they look back with love and pride on the decades they have spent nurturing their unique branch of the Berry family tree.

In their earliest days at Berry - before they were even a family themselves - both experienced the closeness that is part of campus life. Tim often would join his colleagues for dinner in their homes, and even before her first day on the job, Sue was greeted at Clara Hall by a student waiting to help her move into her apartment.

Berry alums pose at a KCAB reunion
2011 KCAB reunion featuring KCAB Chairs (and Tarpley babysitters) Andria Jones McCarty (01C), Gabe Tallent (97C), Cecily Crow (94C), and Elizabeth Dunn Hammock (99C). Sue is in the green sweater.

A Berry Family

Within a week of her arrival, then-Dean of Students Tom Carver introduced Sue to Tim, and two years later they were married, with half a dozen or so Berry students as attendants, ushers and hostesses. When the first Tarpley child arrived, it didn't take long for the new parents to realize they had to carefully navigate a long list of eager babysitters to ensure that none felt slighted.

Both have worked closely with Berry students throughout their careers, Tim as an admissions officer (ultimately retiring as director of enrollment management operations) and Sue in student activities and later as Career Center director. Often, students would convene at their home for barbeques, Christmas parties, crafting afternoons, strawberry picking excursions, pumpkin painting and more family fun.

Sue Tarpley and students strike a silly pose on stairs.
Sue Tarpley poses with student workers in 2018.

Tim and Sue saw the process coming full circle when daughter Lauren Tarpley McGibboney (12C) enrolled and began forming connections of her own with faculty and staff like Katherine Powell, then-director of the Office of First Year Experience; Dr. Lindsey Davis, associate professor of organic chemistry; and Ruth Baker, lecturer of music (voice).

Welcoming the Next Generation

In the blink of an eye, the Tarpleys found themselves attending former students' weddings, cooing over new babies, welcoming alumni as employees, and recently, even taking under their wing the daughter of a former student worker.

"You plant the seed and never know what the harvest will be," Sue mused. "But when you do get to see how it has turned out, it's very fulfilling. It's worth it. That's why we continue to do what we do."

Students sit around a table painting pumpkins.
Career Center student workers bond over painting pumpkins in 2020.

Share Your #MyBerryFamily Story!

Tell us about your Berry family for a chance to win a Berry Alumni sweatshirt! From mentors who stay in touch decades after graduation to classmates who turned into spouses and more, we all have valued relationships and life-long connections because of Berry. Submit your story (with pictures if you can) today!

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