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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

Half a Century Tree Later

The Class of 1974 poses for a photo outside the Clayton W. Williams, Jr. Alumni Center for their 40 Year Reunion in 2014. (Photo courtesy of the Class of 1974)

The Class of 1974 will hold its biggest reunion yet this weekend, from April 18-21. As they prepare to reconnect with the people and places they shared their early twenties with, they acknowledge the significant changes around Aggieland.

The class agents — Robert Oliver, Judy Brown, Randy Maness, Kyle McNeely, Karen McNeely, Steve Weaver and Buster Williford — have organized a weekend filled with nostalgia and opportunities to reconnect with classmates many haven’t seen in decades. The event will celebrate Aggie values and traditions, from Muster to cheering on the Aggie baseball team, while offering a glimpse into the innovation and growth of Texas A&M.

“We’ve lost almost 15% of our class now, and it’s accelerating,” Kyle said. “In the last three or four months, we’ve lost a lot of people that many of us knew. For me and for many of us, it’s about getting back together for maybe one last time. It’s about remembering those we graduated with 50 years ago. It really brings us full circle.”

This will be the first time returning to campus Muster since graduating for many, including Karen.

“I was the first woman to host Muster during 1973,” Karen said. “It’s extraordinary to see all the women who have since been involved in organizing and putting on this event in such an amazing way. I’m really excited to be there in person; even though I won’t be in front of everyone, it will still be very special.”

Beyond Muster, the reunion will feature walking tours around campus, including the new Zachry building and Aggie Park. Maness noted when the Class of 1974 attended A&M, there was nothing west of the railroad tracks.

“When we were on campus, you could drive anywhere, and there were fewer than 20,000 people,” Brown said. “We were a close class. Now, with the school so large, the classes don’t have as much camaraderie. That was our history. It’s really changed.”

Kyle and Karen, who still live in College Station, have grown accustomed to many of the changes around campus. Karen, however, still misses the Creamery, her favorite ice cream shop to make a pit stop at in-between classes, though it no longer exists.

“Everything has changed from 50 years ago,” Kyle said. “There’s not a single athletic facility we used to go to that’s here now. The buildings look the same, but they aren’t. For many, it will be incredible to return and see how the campus has transformed.”

Karen is eager to see how big the Century Tree has grown, as she’s never walked under it before. She’s also looking forward to revisiting the interior of the Academic Building, which she remembers as beautiful.

“Experiencing the kids walking around campus is so different — it’s the same, but different,” Kyle said. “They still say ‘Howdy.’”

From cheering on the top-ranked Texas Aggie baseball team to grabbing dinner with former classmates, the key to the weekend is to enjoy all that Aggieland offered during their time and appreciate it for the ways it’s evolved, Maness said.

“This is a weekend to experience what the Aggie Spirit is all about,” Karen said. “This thread that ties us together and the values we share are a reminder that we are truly Aggies from ‘Howdy’ to ‘Here,’ connected to one another. It’s a unique and extraordinary experience.”

The full reunion schedule can be found on the Association of Former Students website.

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Diya Regi-Thomas, Life & Arts Writer
Diya Regi-Thomas is a political science senior and Life & Arts writer.
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