Hundreds of the 2,448 seniors who graduated in 1969 have returned to Aggieland this week to reminisce about their college days at their 50th class reunion, which spans from Sunday to Wednesday.
For some of the members of the Class of 1969, the 50th class reunion will be another chance to see classmates outside of weekly breakfast get-togethers, said Phill Callahan, chairman for the 1969 Campus Muster and class agent for the last 25 years.
“For the last 11 years, we have done breakfast at Denny’s on Friday mornings,” Phil said. “It’s supposed to be at 6:30, but half of us get there around 6. We have had the same waitress for 11 years. That breakfast group has become kind of a class council, as we advise our four class agents about business in our class of ‘69.”
1969 class council member, former yell leader and A&M faculty member for 46 years Bob Segner said he considers his former classmates his best friends.
“We came here as strangers and left here as brothers,” Segner said. “As I have grown older, that thought has dawned on me more and more, and it is so absolutely true.”
Larry Lippke, Class of 1969 and former drum major in the Aggie Band, said the opportunity to share memories and old experiences with fellow classmates so many years later is one of his favorite things about Muster.
“Our class really came together over Bonfire and football games,” Lippke said. “Our junior year, we went to the Cotton Bowl and beat Alabama when Gene Stallings was our coach and Bear Bryant was coaching for Alabama. I remember how cold that day was. ... I can still recall sitting in my dorm listening to the radio for the first game we won that season against Texas Tech when we played them in Lubbock.”
Callahan reminisced about one of his favorite memories during his time as a student. One of Callahan’s role models is former A&M president General James Earl Rudder, who signed the diplomas for seniors in 1969.
“It was our senior Muster,” Callahan said. “It was so significant because Earl Rudder was the president of the university in 1969, and unfortunately by March of 1970 General Rudder had passed away. So that was the last campus Muster he attended.”
Through all of Segner’s accomplishments, ranging from operating a successful construction company to receiving the Association of Former Students’ Distinguished Achievement Award for Excellence in Teaching, he credits his success to the principles he learned while at A&M.
“I would summarize the person I am today through the Aggie Core Values,” Segner said. “During our time at A&M, those values had not been published, but after reflecting on them, I realized that the values were the expression of how we lived our lives. That was it. Those were our keys to success while on campus and our lifelong careers long afterward.”
Callahan said the achievements of his class and their desire to give back to the university are reasons why the class of 1969 is so distinguishable.
“Our class has made a difference and is known as one of the classes of that era that has provided leadership, service back to the university and financial support of over 12 million dollars from our alumni,” Callahan said. “We had three Association of Former Students presidents in our class, two members of our class as campus Muster speakers and a president of the 12th Man Foundation.”
Throughout the years, A&M has gone from an all-military, all-male and all-white school to one that accepts students from all backgrounds. Through new embraces and progress, the university at its core has held the same spirit, Segner said.
“The heart and soul of our students are still strong and still bleeding deep maroon,” Segner said. “Take heart, Texas A&M has changed in so many ways, but at its essence, it is still the same.”
While students may look different than they used to, Lippke said the attitudes and mentality toward classmates have stayed the same.
“Respect for your fellow students — that is the foundation of the university,” Lippke said. “Everybody is an Aggie, regardless of where you are in life in terms of wealth, gender, sexual preference or religion. There’s no better or no worse, just Aggies.”