250 Wabash Alums Enjoy Second Big Bash Weekendby Jim Amidon and Howard W. Hewitt • June 6, 2005
Big Bash ’05 celebrated Wabash College’s alumni achievements, friendships and contributions to the College. More than 250 Wabash men returned to campus for a weekend of activities. They reminisced, participated in the Alumni Chapel Sing, played a little golf, caught up on old times and made new memories. (See all Big Bash Photo Albums at bottom of this page.)
Friday and Saturday featured tours of campus and the popular colloquiums. But perhaps the most cherished memories are those of walking the mall, visiting the Chapel and gathering quietly with a new or old friend.
Friday’s activities culminated when 37 members of the 50th reunion class attended the evening banquet, where each was honored by receiving his (or her) 50th reunion medallion. Louise Coleman received the honor for her late husband, Dr. Bill Coleman.
The highlight was when each member of the Class of 1955 was introduced, while Wabash President Andy Ford H’03 presented every person with the ceremonial medallion.
Grayam and the 50th Reunion Gift Committee Chair Roger Kumler presented President Ford with a five-year reunion gift of $4.7 million, the largest reunion gift ever presented to the College.
President President Ford, in his remarks, gave alumni a year-in-review talk, plus discussed his pending retirement and detailed how the search for a new president would go.
"The College is in marvelous shape now," Ford said. "We have completed the most successful capital campaign in our history; we are recruiting talented young men; and we are offering them a wonderful liberal arts education."
Ford expressed his appreciation to the alumni for returning to campus and their varied contributions to keep Wabash strong.
Saturday’s activities with what is becoming a great new Wabash tradition, the Alumni Chapel Sing. Under sunny skies on the chapel steps each class took a turn singing Old Wabash to the delight of the crowd. All the Wabash men joined together for a big grand finale of the school song.
Saturday evening’s individual reunion banquets all across campus gave the alums another chance to meet old friends and enjoy the camaraderie of their classmates.
The Sunday Awards Brunch was attended by nearly 300 alumni plus spouses and children. Mitsuya Goto and Hal Lesh, both in the Class of 1955, came from Tokyo, Japan and Paris, France, respectively, to earn the honor of having traveled the farthest to attend Big Bash. Bastain Wonschik, Class of 2000, came all the away from Germany to join his classmates
Claiming the 1909 Trophy Cup for having the highest percentage of his class return for Big Bash was Vaino Grayam, Class Agent for the Class of 1955. A total of 38 percent of the class returned for the 50th reunion.
The 1928 Attendance Trophy honors the class with the highest number of alumni returning for Big Bash. That award went to Peter Pactor and Jay Patterson, co-Class Agents for the Class of 1965, who lured 50 men from their class.
The newest reunion award honored Edwin Robinson, Class of 1900, and Carroll Ragan, Class of 1901, who authored the school fight song, Old Wabash. Winning the Robinson-Ragan Award for Alumni Chapel Sing, an award based on memorization, attendance, and creativity, was the Class of 1955.
"The most special award we give during Big Bash Weekend is the Dorman Hughes Award," said Alumni Director Tom Runge ’71. "It's an award that honors the late Dr. Dorman Hughes, long-time Class Agent for the Class of 1943, and goes to the class agent or class agents who, in the opinion of our staff, did the most work in organizing their reunion."
The Dorman Hughes Award, honoring class agents, was presented to 1965's Peter Pactor and Jay Patterson.
The final award was the Edmund O. Hovey Annual Giving Award, which is presented to the Class Agent whose class has the highest percentage of annual fund donors. Taking home the prize was the Class of 1955 with a 50 percent giving rate. Runge noted that the Class of 1965 had more donors (81) and a total of 46 percent.
"It was just a terrific weekend all around," added Runge. "From the colloquia sessions to Alumni Chapel Sing, our alumni had a great time on campus. It's our hope that they'll spread the word so that Big Bash ’06 is bigger and better than ever."
Amidon is Wabash College Director of Public Affairs. Hewitt is Director of New Media/Web Editor. All photos taken by Amidon, Hewitt and Wabash Magazine Editor Steve Charles.
On homepage: The class of 1960 takes its turn singing Old Wabash.
Top right: In his sermon at the weekend's ecumencial service, Rev. Mark Miller-McLemore '75 recalled his time at Wabash, where he learned the power of words to unite, encourage, and heal during his college years--lessons that have proven only more true over time..
At left: Members of the Class of '55 belt out Old Wabash.
Lower right: Vaino Grayam '55 is honored by President Ford.