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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Photo by Provided

Class of ’51 returns to the A&M campus after 65 years.

Aggie history was made when members of the Texas A&M class of 1951 assembled together for the first ever 65-year reunion to be held at A&M.

The events took off on Friday afternoon including check-in to the Hilton Hotel, where the members stayed, and a class reception concluding with a dinner followed by a speaker. Early Saturday morning, the class of ‘51 Aggies headed to the Quad memorial site for an honor roll call and laid wreaths at the memorial site. The following festivities encompassed taking a tour of Kyle Field and Riverside campus, watching football movies, a presentation at TAMU Transportation Institute, attending a social hour that night and hearing from various speakers throughout the weekend.

Porter Garner, Class of 1979 and president and CEO of the Association of Former Students, spoke to the members on Friday evening and encouraged them by affirming their role in the Aggie family.

“I’ve been with the Association of Former Students for 35 years and I have been president for 16 years since 2000, and in all those years and in all the reunions I have spoken to, that’s the first time I’ve spoken to a 65th class reunion,” Garner said. “I told them that much like them, the class of ‘51, it is former students who have made a difference for Texas A&M over our history, and that the Aggie network is the most powerful and prominent resource that Texas A&M has.”

After speaking to the audience, Garner recounted that he left being genuinely inspired by what he observed from the class of ‘51.

“Being inspired by who they are — by their great legacy of support and loyalty to A&M, and how they care and just being inspired by what great Aggies each and every one of them were,” Garner said. “They’ve all done so much for A&M both individually and collectively, it was just an inspirational opportunity for me to be with great Aggies.”

Dick Tumlinson, class agent and member of the class of ‘51, said making the trek all the way from Centennial, Colorado to College Station was well worth it to reconnect with old friends and classmates.

“We had a great time,”Tumlinson said. “Of course, we had a good program outlined, I think everyone was interested in the speakers and so forth. As usual, thebiggest time you had was visiting with your old friends and classmates.”

Tumlinson said his most memorable moments were reminiscing on Saturday night at the Hilton when friends gathered for dinner and heard from the speaker from the class of ‘79, the commandant general Joe Ramirez.

“The best part was Saturday night, the dinner that we had at the Hilton that evening and the speech given by the commandant general, who as usual was an inspirational speaker,” Tumlinson said. “To me, that was the best part of the weekend — both the general’s talk and the conversation we had at dinner. And during the meeting, we made the decision to attempt to fund another scholarship from the class of ‘51, and we’ve had a long history of doing that.”

Bryan resident Frank Thurmond, class of ‘51 and class agent for the 45th reunion, said the best memory from the weekend was similar to his friend Tumlinson in that he was inspired by the speech given by the commandant.

“A foreign guy, I don’t remember which from country, said, ‘What is it about you Aggies? That wherever you are, whenever you meet another Aggie, that it’s like you’ve seen a long lost brother or something’…and he told us all, ‘you’ll never know what binds us. You’ll never know.’ So that was pretty memorable for me, that that’s really what it’s all about is that you can’t explain the brotherhood of Aggies, no matter how old or how young, you’ll never know.”

Thurmond said Tumlinson for did a great job getting everyone together and that both were extremely pleased with the turnout of the weekend.

“Every five years you change class agents and this year was the time to change and Dick gracefully accepted to be it and he did a tremendous job of putting this thing together,” Thurmond said. “We were very well surprised with how many did show, and he did such a tremendous job in putting this together. The class members were so impressed with the speakers that we had and the message that they delivered.”

Coordinator of Former Student Programs, Alicia Kappel, said that overall, the weekend was a really fun time for the class of ‘51 to be together.

“The weekend was a great success, it was the first 65 year reunion that we’ve been able to formally put on for a class as far as we know…It was a lot of fun for the classmates to get back together,” Kappel said. “They had a lot of fun- they got to go around campus, they got to mingle with their classmates and their friends that they hadn’t seen in a long time so I think they had a lot of fun doing that.”

Because the Corps was such a significant aspect to their college experience, the members thoroughly enjoyed seeing the new renovations to the Quad as well as hear about the recent updates within the Corps, said Kappel.

“One of the things I think they enjoyed the most was seeing all the updates to the Quad that have recently taken place,” Kappel said. “Since the Corps was such a big part of their college experience, I think that was probably the most important thing that they got out of it. … I think it was a really special weekend for a lot of them, it was really fun to be a part of and see them all enjoying their time together.”

Vice President of the Association, Kathryn Greenwade, recalled that 54 members from the class of ‘51 and their guests were present at the reunion this weekend.

“The Association of Former Students was happy to welcome 54 members of the Class of ’51 and their guests back to campus for a reunion this past weekend. As with any class reunion, the former students enjoyed seeing how the campus has changed and especially enjoyed hearing from university officials and visiting with students,” Greenwade said. “The Class of ’51 will gather again in March as part of the Sul Ross Reunion, which brings together former students who have been out of school for 55 years or longer.”

Thurmond said that even though 65 years is a long time to go without seeing his fellow Aggies, the time in between didn’t even matter when they were all back together again.

“Just as General Ramirez said, you can’t explain it no matter how hard you would try. That when you are together with some of your former classmates no matter where they have been in the last 65 years, even if you haven’t seen them since you graduated, it’s like you’ve found a long lost brother,” Thurmond said. “The absence of 65 years does not mean anything, it’s like you have been in contact all those years…it’s one big happy family reunion.”

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