Reflections on a Milestone Reunion
By Joan DeShon Reichenbach, ’64
What a high! The Class of 1964 and other Milestone Reunion classes from 45 to 60 years came together in Albion May 16-19, 2019. This was just the second year the College has held reunions in the spring, and some of us were skeptical that a springtime reunion could be the usual satisfying experience of Homecoming reunions. Our concerns were allayed, however, from the kickoff “Bust Out” dinner at Baldwin Hall Thursday evening with all four classes and continuing to the final Saturday afternoon sessions, hearing from enthusiastic current students and staff about new programs on campus. With graduation over and students off to summer endeavors, some returning alums braved the dormitories while others in need of more creature comforts marveled at the handsome décor of the rooms in the new Courtyard Marriott on Superior Street. A first-class hotel in Albion? It is true and amazing.
The schedule for the two-and-a-half-day event outlined a variety of enticing options. On offer were tours, a nature walk, creating in a ceramics studio, professor and alum talks, panels with students, painting the Rock, visiting the Equestrian Center, conversations with President Mauri Ditzler and, of course, the all-important pastime for any Albion student: MEALS!
Highlights for me included the following five:
- The Friday morning Whitehouse Nature Center walk led by professors Dale Kennedy and Doug White, who regaled us with dazzling treats like clutches of tree wren eggs, just hatched baby bluebirds, and a spectacular Baltimore Oriole showing plenty of orange plumage while clawing at the window, seemingly wanting to join us.
- A walking tour of our beautiful campus led by Jim Whitehouse, ’69, who hit all the right notes bringing us up to speed on new buildings and providing history of the older beloved structures like the Observatory. Jim also colorfully revisited campus traditions and stories in his humorous take on activities, evoking collective personal memories such as compulsory chapel and the final few minutes on the porch of Suzy before curfew on a Saturday night. Suzy, by the way, is co-ed now and is called Wesley.
- Alumna and 1964 classmate Carol Allman Lee's illustrated talk about Early Radio Days in Detroit and the origins of The Lone Ranger program, which her uncle helped create and in which her mother performed as any female character the script required. Carol took us back in time to a beloved radio show to which we could all relate.
- “Build Albion Fellows,” a panel led by Keena Williams, ’09, director of this innovative program that strengthens the bond between the College and its host community by providing a college education to qualified students from Albion who then give back in service to the town. Three of these students shared their experiences and thoughtfully answered our many questions. We were treated to a spontaneous solo, beautifully sung by one musically gifted student. Alums expressed their support of the program.
- Exploring downtown Albion: the Ludington Center on Superior Street, a former furniture store, now serves as a smart-looking contemporary space for the College and the town and houses the Gerstacker and Ford institutes; Albion Malleable Brewing Co. and The Foundry Bakery and Deli are bustling new businesses in town; and at the handsome, refurbished Bohm Theater the smell of popcorn wafted through the lobby as folks filed in for a Saturday matinee. May this trend for thriving new commerce continue in town.
The best part of a reunion is coming together with fellow classmates. For starters, we took pride in seeing our own Bob Hetler receive the Distinguished Alumni Award after decades of dedicated service to our class and the College. Our class turned out 23 individuals not counting our spouses. We anticipated the honor of enjoying our Friday night class dinner in the president's beautiful home on Michigan Avenue. We were joined by the Class of ’74 as we reminisced and caught up with one another. Barb Stowell, wife of Doc Stowell, our beloved biology professor, attended as our guest, and we appreciated a personal warm welcome from Mauri.
Shirley (Ruemele) and Denny Bloomquist arranged a dinner on Saturday night for our class at legendary Schuler's in Marshall. We were 24 strong for this event, and prime ribs of beef was the popular dinner of choice for old-time’s sake, never mind that it is harder to digest and sleep after such a meal at our age than it was when we were young college students. Denny offered a heartfelt toast; we reflected on classmates no longer with us, welcomed special guests George and Lenore Elsener, and joked and laughed while playing a trivia game pertinent to the culture of 1964.
Brit connections were made not only with our class, but vertically, too, with the Albion grads in other classes. Our shared experience at Albion has sustained an immediate and strong bond among us throughout the country.
Thank you to Tami Rummel, Bob Anderson and the Albion staff who helped make this Milestone Reunion one to be cherished. See you in 2024 for our 60th!
This article is an online extra to “Moments and Memories” on page 38 of the Spring-Summer 2019 edition of Io Triumphe! magazine.