Eileen Murphy Hamill Solomon                 The Wheatley School  Class of 1960


In thinking over life since high school, it seems most significant events, schools, marriage and career,   took more than one try before I got it right.  There has been a lot of loss and sadness but also a lot of growth and happiness.  I have been married twice, divorced and then widowed.  I started out as an elementary school teacher, moved into  marketing, public relations  and technical writing and editing. 

I attended a parochial girls’ school in my freshman year of high school, transferring to Wheatley as a sophomore.  I am so grateful for the wonderful friends and good times I had during those three years.  Fortunately, some of us have kept in touch throughout the years and reunited on various occasions over the years since graduation. 

Memories of the Wheatley years include the time Lucy and I decided to miss the bus and walk to school so we would miss our first period class. We had a nice walk to school and then detention at the end of the day.  There were also the trips to Jones Beach every summer day , rain or shine and the parties and get-togethers  on the weekends.   Then there was class where our young, attractive teacher was challenged with teaching  us to type, which has certainly come in handy with the use of computers.  I can’t think about Wheatley without mentioning my boyfriend at the time, Paul (Bick) Keister .  Through Bick, I met a wonderful group of friends with whom I remain in touch to this day.

Unexpectedly, last spring Bick was responsible for my reconnecting with another Wheatley Class mate, Norman Coffey.  We see each other as frequently as possible, considering he lives in Florida while I am in Maryland.   But as the song goes, “The winds of change, They are a-blowing…”

 After graduating from TWS, I attended SUNY at Fredonia for one year.  I transferred to Penn State University.  After graduation, I taught school for seven years in Smithtown,  NY,; Prince George’s County,MD ; and finally Charlottesville VA.  I met my first husband, Tom, while teaching in Suitland MD and we moved to Charlottesville VA where he attended law school.  While there as a “law wife,” I learned to play bridge and am still an avid player.  I met so many of my wonderful friends through this game.  After Tom’s graduation from law school, we moved to Mt. Kisco, NY where there were so few teaching positions available, I didn’t even apply.  Instead I turned to office work, which had always held interest for me.   Starting as a secretary, I found I enjoyed working with adults and in the business  world. 

We moved to Alexandria, VA when Tom took a job with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in  Washington DC.  I continued with office work for engineering firms, moving up to Office Manager and proposal writing.    After seven years of marriage, we divorced and I found myself working as a Marketing Manager/Tech Writer again for engineers and architects.  I then added Public Relations and staff management responsibilities to my resume.  I was fortunate in each job situation to work with talented people who trained and mentored me.   I don’t think there was a real plan – I seemed to find myself in the right place at the right time to move up and into a higher position. I found myself to be more ambitious than I ever thought I could be.

I remarried in 1984 and relocated to suburban Maryland outside of Washington DC where my husband was employed by the FDA and assigned to NIH.   He was influential in the early diagnosis and treatment of HIV/Aids and wrote many of the protocols still in use today by the Red Cross and blood banks throughout the world.  I was fortunate in that the company I worked for in VA had a branch office in Maryland and I transferred easily.  In 1991, my husband was diagnosed with brain cancer and the next 18 months were a blur of  doctor visits, surgeries  and aggressive treatments that prolonged his life but did not save it.   With a lot of support and some medication, I found strength and reserve I would never have dreamed  possible.    I am living proof that what does not destroy us makes us stronger.   I remain close to many of the people I met during my husband’s illness and through support groups after his death.  

With my second marriage, I gained three step-daughters and then grandchildren.  I am still close to two of these women and am grateful to be in their lives.  My middle step-daughter had a troubled life and was hospitalized many times for anorexia, drug and alcohol addiction and other emotional disorders. Some years ago, she disappeared without a trace, leaving two children to be raised by their grandmother.   Around the same time, my “baby” sister, Patricia, also a Wheatley graduate, died unexpectedly at age 54.  She had developed a seizure disorder as a result of a fall from a horse at 17. 

I have always been an animal lover and have been active in animal rights’ programs wherever I’ve lived.  For the past several years, I have worked with the local Humane Society, particularly in their fund raising efforts.  The Annual Dances w/Dogs was always successful and fun to work on.  I am currently the proud parent of two Standard Schnauzers who enrich my life and entertain me every day.

Other interests include politics, playing bridge, country music and criminal justice.  I  take classes involving significant local crimes and trials given by a talented State’s Attorney for the county in which I live.  I also enjoyed working on his campaign for election and fund-raising.   Whenever I can, I attend talks given by local/national political figures and journalists, foreign and secret service officers and state department officials.

Throughout my adult years, the plan was always to move further south to SC or FL to escape the winters.  After thinking about it for the past 10 years, I am finally ready to do it.  I love living in the Washington DC area which fulfills my interest for politics and current events.  But this seems like a good time to move on.  My current project is preparing my current home for sale and purchasing another.  This is turning out to be quite a challenge but is coming along on target.