It’s hard to believe that it’s been 50 years since the Class of 1969 graduated from Loras, and yet here we are – just a few weeks away from celebrating this special milestone in October.

Jim Gebhardt (’69) – Class of 1969 50th Reunion Committee Co-Chair

Many of us were first generation students from small towns in Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin who had never been away from home, while others were street smart “big-city” Chicago students. Whatever your background, friendships and alliances started to form even as our parents dropped us off and drove away.

Do you remember the freshman beanies? All freshmen were required to wear a beanie for the first month of school, both on and off campus. This good-natured hazing period culminated in a tug of war challenge with the sophomore class, and only served to further strengthen the bond among the freshman class. Losing the challenge meant that our enforced dress code would be extended for another month. With that kind of incentive and “skin in the game,” we won easily.

Do you remember the Clark 11:30 “rush mush,” the fresh apple pie at lunch, the Avenue Tap, the Three Brother Rathskeller – where everyone was 21, and Pusateri Pizza? Or how about the housekeeping service that cleaned our rooms and provided laundered sheets every week? Weren’t those the good old days?

While many rules were presented to us, including a nightly curfew, these rules didn’t prevent us from getting into mischief like “excursions” to East Dubuque or Platteville. In fact some of these restrictions actually brought us closer together – we’d return for the night to the dorms to talk, play cards, and build friendships that, for some of us, have lasted 50 years.

Al Ruffalo (’69) – Class of 1969 50th Reunion Committee Co-Chair

The late 60’s were also a time of great change and uncertainty in America and across college campuses, the likes of which our country had never experienced before. The United States landed a man on the moon 45 days after we graduated from college. We were the new generation – the generation of the first “baby boomers” that questioned and redefined the traditional values of our parents. Changes in hair and clothing styles, and musical tastes seemed such a mild form of protest, when compared to the political, social and racial unrest that challenged us all to rethink and reassess our own values.

For those who graduated in the late 1960’s, the hope and optimism we felt as we neared graduation was tempered and punctuated by the Vietnam War. Located in the lower level of Beckman Hall, we gathered in front of our dorm’s only TV, to watch the light hearted comedy of the Dean Martin Show or Laugh-In. We also watched and, conversely, were sobered by the extensive news coverage of the war. The joy of our approaching graduation diminished somewhat by the gravity of the impending draft and what we, and so many of our classmates, would face.

Since our time on campus, we have all undoubtedly experienced numerous achievements, challenges and life experiences. We thank Loras for giving us the foundation to be better persons, leaders, and to contribute toour changing world through our Catholic, liberal arts education and experiences.

Over these last 50 years, have you ever met or run into a fellow Loras graduate who may have been a few years ahead or behind you? There is an immediate connection and bond as you share similar experiences and stories about the priests and professors, who so profoundly shaped our lives.

As we return to Dubuque to celebrate our 50th class reunion this fall, we celebrate and recognize the importance of the Loras experience in our lives. We celebrate the friendships we developed during our Loras years. We celebrate and remember our fellow Class of ’69 members who may not be able to attend Homecoming or who may no longer be with us.

We hope that you are making plans to attend this very special weekend on the Loras campus. Loras was our home for some of the most formative years of our lives. Please join us in “Coming Home for Homecoming.”

Pro Deo et Patria.