Memories are golden for LU’s Class of 1962
More than 60 strong, classmates will gather Nov. 10 for their 50-year, golden-anniversary reunion to enjoy a tailgate party in the Montagne Center Red Room, which also will give them a bird’s-eye view of the football game between the LU Cardinals and the Colonels of Nicholls State. Mostly, they await the camaraderie – and the chance to reminisce about times past.
Ellen Walker Rienstra of Beaumont has fond recollections of her undergraduate years at Lamar: Meeting with friends and hanging out in the Student Union, gathering at pep rallies in the Quad, football games in Greenie Stadium, bull sessions in the dorm, building Homecoming floats all night at Fair Park, playing in Pete Wiley’s Symphonic Band and going on tour.
On the outrageous side, Rienstra remembers tricycle races, fish and egg fights and the flour contest between sororities at Sigma Chi Derby Day. “Those tricycle races were the funniest looking thing you ever saw in your life,” she said, “And there is more that I can’t tell you about.”
For Dan Shaddock of Village Mills, the fondest memories revolve around the classroom, athletics, the dorm and his fraternity.
“There were peerless professors, none better than Ralph Wooster (distinguished professor emeritus of history),” Shaddock said.
And, he said, “I was the manager of Lamar’s great basketball teams in those days. The ‘thrill of victory and the agony of defeat’ linger on in my mind to this very day.”
The dorm was the real “laboratory of life,” said Shaddock. So many poignant memories. Maybe the ‘bull sessions’ are at the top of the list. Topics ranged from ‘sublime to the ridiculous.”
Then there was the fraternity. “Through my ATO (Alpha Tau Omega) experience, I gained a whole new understanding of brotherhood. Of course, the supreme memory to each of the above: friends.”
Rienstra serves as 2012-2013 president of the LU Alumni Advisory Board and as a trustee of the Lamar University Foundation, having earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English. In 2005, the Ellen Rienstra Scholarship in Music was established in her honor. As a student, she was a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority, the Alpha Tau Omega Sweetheart, Sigma Phi Epsilon Golden Heart Girl, junior class treasurer, sophomore class favorite, included in Who’s Who and a member of the Freshman Honor Society, Cap & Gown, Blue Key, orchestra and Symphonic Band.
Rienstra said the most important things about her Lamar experience were her education and “extraordinary” professors. “We had the best there was,” she said. “I’ll match my education against anyone’s.”
Rienstra has enjoyed a career as a violin player, writer and historian. A longtime violinist for the Symphony of Southeast Texas and Lake Charles and Alexandria symphony orchestras, Rienstra also is active in performances with smaller ensembles. She has gained a reputation as a top-notch bluegrass fiddler, having been featured on Johnny Edson’s “More than Friends” CD, among others. She currently is conducting research and writing for the Nelda C. And J.G. Lutcher Stark Foundation in Orange.
In addition to serving as basketball manager, Shaddock, a sociology major, was a member of ATO, Blue Key, the executive committee of the Baptist Student Union. He also was a dorm proctor, though, he said, when the dean asked him to be one, “I had no idea what it was.”
At LU, Shaddock said, “I learned lots of facts, all kinds of data, understanding of phenomena and concepts. Most importantly, at Lamar, I began learning how to think, how to view the world and how to relate to others. I say ‘began learning’ because the process continues.”
After graduation, Shaddock did an internship at the historic First Baptist Church in Augusta, Ga. After that, he completed graduate work and served as pastor of four churches in Georgia and Florida – 23 years of church work altogether. In 1986, he became a vice president of the YMCA of Nashville, Tenn. From there, he spent 10 years on the National YMCA staff and served as chief executive officer of YMCA’s in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Brewton, Ala.
“After 46 years, it was time to retire,” said Shaddock, who now lives in the Wildwood community. He said he still does lots of preaching, teaching and consulting, both with churches and YMCA’s. He is also involved with civic and social projects in his new community.
“I spent almost all of my adult life working in the Southeast – Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Louisiana, Alabama,” Shaddock said. “In all those places, folks were talking about the Bulldogs, Yellow Jackets, Gators, Seminoles, Vols, Tigers, War Eagles and Crimson Tide. There was never a moment when I was not proud to be a Cardinal.”
Among others who will attend the reunion are its chairman, Tom Cameron, of Bremerton, Wash., who served as president of his senior and junior classes and a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, which elected him president and honored him as king at the King’s Ball. He went on to a Ph.D. and a long career as an educator. Also joining the group will be Margaret Elizabeth “Beth” Crocker Wright of Austin, Lamar’s 1961 Homecoming queen. She earned a degree in interior design from Lamar and became an interior designer, the owner of Margaret Elizabeth Interiors.
Rienstra and Shaddock – like other members of the class – are more than ready to reunite with old friends.
“I look forward to connecting with old friends and showing and telling them about Lamar’s phenomenal growth since we were all here 50 years ago,” Rienstra said. “Lamar is the best. I’m so lucky to have been there.”
Shaddock eagerly anticipates “meeting old friends, seeing how many I can recognize after the ravages of 50 years . . . and how many recognize me. I look forward to sharing the memories, most of which will get stretched and exaggerated, I’m sure.”