For James “Jim” Eddy ’52 and wife Janet Ewart Eddy ’54, MS ’78, PhD ’91, a lifelong dedication to USC started long before they ever applied to college.
At the age of 6, Jim Eddy was tagging along with father Arnold Eddy ’24, USC’s interim athletic director at the time, to Trojan football games. By age 12, Jim Eddy was lugging kettledrums around the Coliseum with the Trojan Marching Band. He was a stick boy for the ice hockey team (which his father started) and a ball boy at basketball games. He also held the football during practice for Tommy “The Toe” Walker, USC’s legendary placekicker who also doubled as the marching band’s drum major.
Janet Eddy’s days at USC began in kindergarten when her father, Park Ewart PhD ’42, a professor at the business school, would pick her up after school and let her nap during his office hours. At 8 years old, she began joining him at football games.
Many decades later, the Eddys have become part of the vibrant community of Half Century Trojans, USC alumni from all degree programs who graduated 50 or more years ago. The group offers a variety of programs to promote participation and engagement with senior alumni, and helps strengthen the bonds that connect Trojans across generations.
“I think around the world there’s probably more countries than not that honor their elders,” Janet Eddy says. “When our university decided to honor their elders by recognizing the importance of the older generations in the Trojan Family, I think that it resonated around the globe.”
As the group celebrates its 70th anniversary this year, Jim Eddy remembers his father, who was also the alumni association’s first executive director, initiating the first Half Century Trojans in 1949. He also recalls his father’s parting words for graduating students. “Dad would challenge Trojan seniors: Go to work, be successful, raise your family, come back and support ’SC. So we did.”
Indeed, after graduation, Jim and Janet Eddy’s involvement with USC was just picking up steam. Their four children became Trojans, along with three of their 10 grandchildren. Janet Eddy worked at USC for 25 years, following in the footsteps of her father, who had a 46-year career at the university. As part of the Student Affairs department, she aided students with learning disabilities and those seeking academic support. She retired as director of disability services and programs in 2001.
As for accolades, the Eddys have racked up quite a few through their service to the university, including a shared USCAA Service Award and the Arnold Eddy Service Award from the Skull and Dagger Society. The Half Century Trojans awarded Janet Eddy a Distinguished Service Award in 2015, and she received the J. Tillman Hall Staff Service Award in 2010. The couple also served as presidents of the Half Century Trojans.
Reflecting on a lifetime in the Trojan Family, Jim Eddy calls the “perpetual graduation” for senior alumni during commencement one of his favorite memories. “Every year, the Half Century Trojans march at the front of the graduation procession,” he says. “The president always recognizes us as a group that carries on traditions, and the crowd goes, ‘Rah, rah, rah!’”
Adds Janet Eddy: “They applaud, they yell. It’s an incredible feeling for older folks to get that reception. And I think it’s good for the younger ones to see older generations. It’s a win-win.”