Class of ’63 Celebrates Fiftieth Reunion

Against a backdrop of a nostalgic slide show, former cheerleaders (from left) Nancy Hayden Field ’63, Barbara Sundene Wood ’63, MS’64, PhD’66, and Renee Cohen Epstein ’63 led their classmates in some present-day cheers at the group’s fiftieth reunion. Andy Manis.

Alumni enjoy a rousing good time and rally record support for the UW.

Was there something in the water … or in the fudge-bottom pie? Whatever it was, the Class of 1963 produced an impressive list of accomplished graduates — and the most generous alumni in class-gift history.

Some six hundred members of the class made a gift or returned for their fiftieth reunion in September, and many did both. Just a few of the notable grads who joined them included Pat Richter ’63, former UW-Madison athletic director and storied student-athlete; Tommy Thompson ’63, JD’66, former Wisconsin governor and former secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and UW-Madison Chancellor Emeritus David Ward MS’62, PhD’63.

The three joined other alumni and faculty experts on several panels during a special Day of Learning. A panel on immigration and health care was moderated by Carol Skornicka ’63, MA’64, JD’77, board member of Regal Beloit; and featured Doris Borst Meissner ’63, MA’69, senior fellow and director of the U.S. Immigration Policy Program, as well as Thompson. Other panels discussed trends in higher education and research and innovation at UW–Madison.

Chancellor Rebecca Blank welcomed alumni to the Half Century Club and awarded commemorative pins at a time-honored dinner event. Class president Tom Aycock ’63 delivered remarks, and three former cheerleaders from the class led the guests in cheers and a heartfelt rendition of “Varsity.”

The class’s record-setting reunion gift of more than $700,000 will support Alumni Park, a new greenspace on the shore of Lake Mendota. Part of the East Campus Gateway, the park is a gift from WAA to campus to mark the association’s 150th anniversary.

“That’s more than any UW–Madison class has ever raised by almost two times,” said Jere Fluno ’63 of Lake Forest, Illinois, who presented the class gift during the reunion weekend.

Along with Alumni Park, a portion of the gift will go toward the Gold Star Honor Roll. This memorial, the first dedicated to UW alumni who served in the military since World War II, will be included as part of the Memorial Union Reinvestment building renovation project.

The reunion also included boat tours of Lake Mendota and a special tailgate party for class members. Don Meier ’63 of Kohler, Wisconsin, a member of the reunion-planning committee, attended with his wife, Jeannie Jonakait Meier ’64. Don reunited with his former roommate George Froming ’63, MS’65 of Spring, Texas, for the first time in more than forty years. “We had a very nice time together — we spent the better part of three days on and off, talking and reminiscing,” Meier says.

Overall, the reunion was “awesome,” says Fluno, who also served on the reunion committee. “I think we knocked the socks off of prior class reunions, and I don’t just mean that from the standpoint of the class gift, but the fact that people were really delighted with the programs. … It was a complete success.”

Note to members of the Class of ’64: be sure to save the dates of October 9–11, 2014, for your own fifty-year reunion.

Published in the Winter 2013 issue

Tags: Alumni, Campus history, reunion

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