Home of the Gubs (“By Gub!”), Loras Academy closed in 1959 when coeducational Wahlert Catholic High School opened its doors, enrolling the students from all Dubuque-area Catholic high schools. Donald “Don” Freymann (’56A, ’61), William “Bill” Skemp (’57A, ’61), LaVern “Vern” Siegworth (’58A, ’62) and Dennis Baumhover (’59A, ’65) will tell you that closing was not the end of the Gub Nation, however. The four-year high school program, Columbia Academy, which traced its roots to the institution founded by Bishop Loras, officially became Loras Academy in 1939. The memories and friendships that were formed within the Academy walls are today alive and well among its graduates. Several Academy classes get together annually to celebrate. Members of the class of 1956 celebrated their 60th reunion September 16, 17 and 18, 2016, with a Mass on campus celebrated by the Rev. Eugene Kutsch (’45A, ’47), followed by dinner at the Grand River Center, Dubuque. Freymann was one of the organizers. Since 2010, the class of 1957 has hosted an annual golf outing and dinner at The Meadows Golf Club. This event was on July 13 this year, and Skemp shared that the class is making plans for its 60th reunion next summer. The class of 1958 celebrated this year on August 18 and 19 at the Shot Tower Inn, Lacoma Golf Club and Happy’s Place. This event is called the “Annual August Gub Gala” and is in addition to the five-year anniversary reunions. The class of 1959 gathers every five years. Baumhover states, however, that they are making an exception to that this coming summer, and will celebrate their 59th reunion in summer 2017. In discussing the benefit of getting together, Baumhover said, “It was quite a school… It’s always a good time seeing the guys.”
Some Dubuque-area Gubs even get together weekly to stay in touch. Siegworth also puts out a weekly e-newsletter. His class keeps reunion photos, a class list and memorializes those who have been lost. Many Academy grads went on to Loras College, however remaining connected to their high school classmates is special in its own right. “It’s important,” said Siegworth.
Last year, the Academy class of 1958 inducted James Powers into the Academy’s new Hall of Honor. Powers, who went on to graduate from West Point in 1964, was killed on May 26, 1967, in Vietnam. A bronze plaque and framed photo of Powers now hangs in Hoffmann Hall, former home of the Academy (currently Loras College faculty offices, classrooms, chapel and auditorium).
In 1983, the Academy grads merged funds from several class scholarships and endowed the Columbia/ Loras Academy Scholarship. The scholarship, currently valued at $38,190, assists deserving students at Loras College who are related to an alumnus of Columbia/Loras Academy. To date, 22 students have benefited from 41 awards made from this scholarship.
For information on how to get in touch with an Academy class representative or to contribute to the Loras Academy Scholarship, please contact Josh Boots (’04), associate vice president for institutional advancement, at 563.588.7329, or email joshua.boots@ loras.edu — and as Siegworth likes to say, “Keep Gubbing!”