Adgie’s story begins not in Virginia, but in Arkansas.  When it was time to think about attending college, Adgie had no interest in attending an all woman’s institution, but her mother had other ideas.  Adgie’s mother was the guidance counselor at the high school that she attended and had invited Annie Whiteside, the Registrar from R-MWC (sister of Greek Professor Mabel Whiteside of Greek Play fame) to come to Little Rock to talk about Randolph-Macon.  Though skeptical, Whiteside convinced Adgie to apply to R-MWC by showing her a map of where all the men’s schools were in the area such as Washington & Lee, VMI, University of Virginia, and Hampden-Sydney.  After Adgie saw that map, she did not apply anywhere else but R-MWC.

Adgie did what most women at the college did at the time including joining a sorority, in her case Kappa Alpha Theta, during her sophomore year.  She also waited tables at one of the dining rooms on campus and made enough to cover half of her tuition costs.  She “absolutely loved Randolph-Macon,” and knew she had made the right choice.

Life changed for both Alex and Adgie the Thanksgiving break of her first year.  Unable to go all the way home to Little Rock, she was despondent about being so far away from her family for the holiday.  Set up on a blind date, she was invited to a dance at the Boonsboro Country Club by Alex Dirom.  Clearly they hit it off, for as Alex recounted, the day after that date he was already telling people “I’m going to marry that girl.”  And indeed, they were married at the end of Adgie’s junior year and by the time of her graduation in the spring of 1957, she was six months pregnant with their first child.  When they were first married they lived in a basement apartment at 2807 Rivermont, at the corner of Rivermont and South Princeton, cattycorner from Smith Hall.  Later they would also live on Norfolk Avenue.

After Alex graduated he pursued his career in teaching, a career that was suggested to him by Dr. Quillian, the president of R-MWC.  Working as a teacher and, eventually, an administrator, he worked in Lynchburg and Charlottesville and later in Maryland and Amherst County.  Ultimately they spent eighteen years, 1966-1984, away from Lynchburg.  In 1984 they had the opportunity to return to Lynchburg and purchase the family home at 2315.  In their first years in the house they would continue to rent out the apartment, including for several years to beloved R-MWC/Randolph College History Professor Marjorie Wheeler-Barclay, and her husband, Daryl.

Intensely interested in preserving Rivermont’s beauty and history, Alex was very involved with the final push for the establishment of the historic district.  Though attempts had been made before, as he recalled, “the time had really come” by the early 2000s.  He gives a great deal of the credit to Rachel Flynn, Director of Community Development for the City of Lynchburg from 1998 to 2006, calling her the “real force behind establishing the historic district.”  Along with Rachel, community members who served as the first officers in the Friends of Rivermont, deserve due credit as well.  In addition to Rachel, Alex also attributed the success to people such as Annie Massie, Frances Harriss, Marilyn Martin, and Carolyn Zimmerman among others who worked tirelessly to make it happen.  The list of those who should be applauded for helping to establish Rivermont as Lynchburg’s largest historic district should certainly include Alex and Adgie Dirom.

Interviewed June 16, 2015


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Gerard Sherayko

Department of History

Randolph College
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Lynchburg, VA 24503