Homecoming sets stage for Southeast alumni 50-year reunion

Sunday, October 11, 2009
1959 Southeast Missouri State College alumni have lunch in the Wehking Alumni Center Saturday as part of a Homecoming reunion. (Kit Doyle)

The Southeast Missouri State University Department of Alumni Services hosted a luncheon to celebrate the 50-year anniversary of alumni during homecoming. The event was held at 11:30 a.m. Saturday in the Vogel Wehking Alumni Center at 926 Broadway in what was previously the First Baptist Church.

About 50 alumni attended today, said Dorothy Koenig, administrative assistant for the department.

Shad Burner, the director of Alumni Services, was happy with the turnout and proud to see alumni from all over the country had come.

"It's valuable for the alums to get back on campus and experience the Southeast spirit," he said.

There are more than 60,000 alumni living in all 50 states and in more than 80 countries around the world, he said.

Yearbooks were on display for the class of1959 Southeast Missouri State College reunion Saturday, October 10, 2009, as part of Homecoming. (Kit Doyle)

"I would personally put the success of our alumni against any in the country," Burner said.

Anna Marie French, a retired second-grade teacher who taught at Hearnes Elementary in Charleston, Mo., said she used to attend church at the former First Baptist Church and was happy to see the Louis Houck Statuary Collection again.

"I'm a big supporter of the university and a longtime member of the Alumni Association," French said.

She was also the roommate of Barbara Clinton, who is now Mayor Barbara Lohr of Jackson. They lived in Leming Hall, which was one of the first dorms built on campus, according to Southeast Missouri State University's Special Collections and Archives.

Attendee Janet Wittenborn spoke about being a cheerleader at Southeast.

"We were the Indians then," she said. Wittenborn said that the name wasn't derogatory back then. She recalled the football games in Houck Stadium.

"The lights would dim, and there would be a big bonfire on the hill behind Myers Hall. Then Chief Sag would appear, his arms wide, and then they would play the alma mater," said Wittenborn.

In addition to the graduating class, the 1959 Indians football team were honored on the football field during halftime of Saturday's game.

Gary Nichols of Virginia, Ed McWilliams of East Prairie, Mo., and Roy Fassel of Los Angeles were honorees.

Roy Fassel said their team won the state championships in '57, '58 and '59 and were undefeated in the conference.

Lohr asked them to stand and be recognized before the luncheon began. The former students caught up with old friends and searched through the Sagamore yearbooks provided by the Department of Alumni Services.

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