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Marjorie Hopson Vance

Calvin Pearson - Vance_edited-1.jpg

Marjorie Hopson Vance is a member of the Class of 1961 at George P. Phenix High School.  

This accomplished singer has performed around the world. Upon graduating from Phenix, she received a scholarship to attend the Cincinnati Conservatory. Ms. Vance, however, decided to attend Hampton Institute (Hampton University) and graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education and a Minor in Music.  

While at Hampton Institute she had the very good fortune to study under Dr. Henry Switten, a fantastic voice teacher. Dr. Switten helped to develop her untrained voice, giving her a vocal technique so secure that she was able to sing some of the most difficult arias written for a lyric-coloratura soprano.

After graduating from Hampton Institute in 1965, Ms. Vance moved to New York City and studied voice with Carolina Segrera and Edward Boatner. Subsequently, she auditioned for and received a one year contract with a touring company in Switzerland to sing Bess and Clara in “Porgy and Bess.” She moved to the Vienna State Opera House in Vienna, Austria, where she was the first African-American permanent soloist in the ensemble of the Vienna State Opera House.

Ms. Vance sang professionally for three decades in Austria and in Germany, performing with such world famous conductors as Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta, Herbert von Karajan, Karl Boehm, Daniel Barenboim, and Claudio Abbado. Among the world famous singers with which she performed were Placido Domingo, Jose Carreras, Simon Estes, Thomas Hampson, and Edita Gruberova.  Also, she attended the Vienna Conservatory of Music for opera and studied voice with Hilde Gueden and Hilde Zadek.

Ms. Vance was the winner of the International Opera Competition in Vienna, Austria, as well as the winner of the Mozart Prize at the Concours International de Chant de Paris (France). 

Among her recordings are: Vivaldi’s “Serenata a tre;” soundtrack of the movie “Moliere;” Great Baroque Masters;  Krenek’s opera “Karl V;” Richard Strauss’ operas “Frau Ohne Schatten” and “Ariadne auf Naxos;” Bizet’s “Carmen;” and the Unitel film ”Electra.” 

Cephus S. Rhodes

Cephus S. Rhodes, LTC, USA, RET. From being raised in Apalachicola, FL, to moving to Phoebus as a  teenager to live with relatives, this 1948 graduate of Phenix High School, who was on the cheer squad and in the choir, has lived a life of service to his country and his community.

In 1948 he received a scholarship to attend Hampton Institute and graduated in 1953 with a degree in Biology and Chemistry and a commission as an Army 2nd Lt. At Hampton he was into boxing, wrestling, swimming, dancing, choirs and cheer squad. After college he went into the army for three years and then to Med School.

He then decided to make the Army a career where he stayed for 22 years. During his distinguished career he commanded at every level including Battalion and supervised staff at every level including the US Army Europe. During his tour of duty he received many medals including the Purple Heart; Bronze Star; National Defense Service Medal;  Air Medal, and many more.

After retirement he then went to work as a computer specialist at Ft. Bliss Army base in Texas. He then worked for 17 years at El Paso Corp, the largest natural gas pipeline company in the US.

In 1993 he was convinced to get in politics and won a seat on the city council. He was appointed four times by three Texas governors to serve on State Boards.

In 1992 he was honored by the Hampton University Alumni Association with the Alumni Merit Award.

This Kappa Alpha Psi frat and Ordained Baptist Deacon has finally retired for good and spends his time as an active member of his church and choir, and the Chamber of Commerce. 

Edward Morris Gilchrist

Edward Morris Gilchrist, born and raised in Laurel Hill, North Carolina, his family moved to Hampton because of racial unrest in the community. Eddie graduated from Phenix High School in 1958. While at Phenix he sang in the choir, played football, basketball, and was active member of the Student Council.

He enrolled at Hampton Institute where he majored in History/Social Science Education. He was a member of the ROTC Program and after graduation was commissioned into the Army’s new military Intelligence branch.

His first duty station was Washington, D.C. He also received a MBA Degree from Central Michigan University. While in the Military for twenty-eight years, Eddie was Commander of three military intelligence units; Deputy Commander for two units; Instructor for the Army Command and Staff College and worked with several foreign county military units. He also helped with diplomatic protection during the John F. Kennedy Funeral. At the culmination of his military career, he had achieved the rank of Lt. Colonel.  

His community involvement is commendable. He is a board member of the Richmond City Clean City Commission; Voluntary Advisory Board for the Bon Air Juvenile Correctional Center; 100 Black Men; Virginia Education Association; Richmond Chapter of the Hampton University Alumni Association; and many others. He was an Ordained Deacon at Antioch Baptist Church, Washington, D.C.   

Copyright 2016, George P. Phenix High School.