Three goals for one weekend: (1.) A 60th reunion celebration; (2.) 60 classmates in attendance; and (3) 60 percent participation in the class gift. Did the class of 1954 accomplish their goals? And what can we learn from them?
It all started in the spring of 2013, when Alton Robertson heard from the late Anita Sichler Sallie that the class of ’53 was requesting a full-fledged 60th Reunion on campus.
Sometime ago, class reunions after the 50th were combined in the Golden Circle luncheon on Alumni-Founders Day. But even this had been discontinued.
Alton worked with Anita to pull that 60th reunion off; and, at the time, told John Serbein, who was Director of Alumni Relations, that he would be willing to chair a 60th reunion for the class of ’54. John agreed.
Alton had served as his class reporter for the Och Tamale for 28 years and was convinced that, if he got something going, a significant number of the members of the class would attend. During the summer of 2013, he recruited 21 members of the class to be in touch with all former classmates. After obtaining a copy of the class roster, he prepared a list for each volunteer caller with phone numbers and email and USPS addresses. In so far as possible, these lists matched the volunteer with persons with whom they had been friends as students. He says, "Whatever you do, get help early and stay on top of everything.”
In August, prior to calls being made in the fall, Alton sent out a letter to the class telling them that a reunion was in the works for May 17th and 18th and that someone would be in touch with them. Over the next several months, callers in California, Texas, Arizona, and Virginia made calls, sent messages, or wrote letters. By early January, there were only 44 classmates who had not been accounted for, but efforts continued until all persons on the class roster had been reached plus four others who were not on the roster were "found." During the process, the callers discovered five deceased classmates and found or corrected 17 phone numbers, 15 email and 18 USPS addresses.
Many classmates, who could not attend the reunion, sent greetings, which were compiled and used on a large poster, which along with an "In Memoriam" poster, was designed by Bob Steinbach. Both posters were displayed on easels in University Hall where both the luncheon and dinner were held. Here is a greeting from Dorothy Greve Moulton:
"Wish I could come to the reunion, but my dear husband has dementia and refuses to allow anyone to take care of him but me. Restrictive? Yes; but for now he still knows me (from not me) so I conform to his wishes. I can and do get out frequently for a few hours at a time so my sanity remains. I play bridge a couple times a week and get my emotional support there. . . . All in all I have been blessed including the years at U of R. I shall miss those surviving classmates this year, but maybe there will be more reunions and I will be able to attend.”
Classmates who were present, in turn, had the opportunity to write notes and send well wishes to those who had been unable to attend. One read:
My freshman year roommate!
Wish you were here.
The campus is huge now.
All send wishes and love.
So, on May 17th & 18th, the class of ’54 60th reunion was celebrated, and the first goal was achieved.
The second goal of having 60 class members attending the reunion was not met. There were 46 class members present; but many who were unable to attend were present in spirit.
When the class of ’54 celebrated their 50th reunion in 2004, rather than setting a monetary goal for the class gift, the committee set the goal for 50 percent participation. And that goal was exceeded. Alton explains that, “because we are a class of teachers, preachers, and social workers, a participation goal seems less intimidating and more realistic. Therefore, this time we went for 60 percent class participation." This meant that over 90 individual class members would contribute to the gift.
As of June 16th, the class of 1954 surpassed their goal and reached an impressive 63 percent class participation. The collective work and the dedication of each class member have definitely paid off.
In the end, it was not all about the numbers. It is the memories of the laughter, the love, and the joy of being together again that will remain forever. This is truly a bulldog family--a family that is already looking forward to its 65th reunion!