Vivian Howell, the daughter of a Methodist minister, married Thompson Webb in 1915, beginning a 56-year love affair and partnership. Thompson and Vivian were evenly balanced – where Thompson was practical, Vivian was impulsive. Vivian was a vivacious, free spirit and it has been said that in family decisions Vivian was the boss…”a majority of one.”
Vivian was involved in all aspects of campus life from devising the original catalog to dictating the architectural style of the campus buildings. The mother of four sons, Vivian provided the mothering the campus needed. She mended clothes, comforted homesick boys, arranged birthday parties for the students and planned dances. Campus beautification was one of her passions. Most of all Vivian Webb made all students feel a part of the Webb family.
From 1937-1948 Vivian helped each graduating senior carve a plaque bearing his name, class year and a symbol of his interest. These plaques line the walls of the Thomas Jackson Library. Vivian carved the names of all graduates from 1923 through 1936 on the doors of the library.
Thompson Webb so adored his wife that he built a chapel in her honor. The Vivian Webb Chapel, built from over 60,000 handmade adobe bricks, is based on the design of the chapel at mission San Juan Capistrano and stands at the center of campus. The school was built to teach the highest qualities of character and the chapel serves as a fitting place for teaching the virtues that embody this vision.
Vivian Webb’s legacy lives on today through the school that bears her name. Vivian Webb School recently celebrated its 35th anniversary.