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Celebrating the Golden Reunion of ASU graduates from the classes of 1970, '71

Group photo of ASU alumni from the classes of 1970 and 1971 on the steps of Old Main on the Tempe campus.

The classes of 1970 and 1971 were inducted into the ASU Alumni Association's Golden Circle on Dec. 14. Photo courtesy of Tim Trumble

December 20, 2021

Each year, the ASU Alumni Association invites graduates from 50 years ago to Tempe, Arizona, for their Golden Reunion, a celebration normally hosted annually during spring commencement.

However, due to the pandemic, the association had to postpone the celebration for the classes of 1970 and 1971 until it was safe to gather in-person. On Monday, Dec. 14, the Golden Grads were able to experience their combined reunion during the first in-person graduation since the pandemic in over two years.

The alums started their day at ASU at Mirabella, the university's intergenerational living and lifelong learning complex, for a welcome breakfast and introductions. Each graduate shared the degree they received from ASU, where their life had taken them during the 50 years since graduating and the accomplishment of which they are most proud.

Patsey Brock, ’70 BA in education, shared her legacy of being married to the former Arizona State baseball coach, Jim Brock. Throughout her husband’s 22 years as a coach, players looked up to her as a mother figure, and to this day, she still receives calls from the gentlemen who she had the honor of watching grow. Her Sun Devil story started at ASU and continues on as she is a resident of Mirabella at ASU.

Later that afternoon, the 79 Golden Grads proceeded to Sun Devil Stadium in preparation of undergraduate commencement. While the entire group was looking forward to being a part of commencement and sitting in the front row during the graduation ceremony, for a few men, this was a monumental experience, as it was their first time. During the ‘70s, this group of men were drafted into the Vietnam War and unable to attend their graduation. Fifty years later, they were finally able to participate in this milestone.

The Golden Grads were led into Sun Devil Stadium by Ronald Davini, ’70 BA in education, who was the official gonfalon holder for the classes of 1970 and 1971. Davini was an extraordinary baseball player and led the Sun Devils to the NCAA baseball National Championship in 1967. Titled “Most Valuable Player in the College World Series" as a junior and the "College Player of the Year," Davini went on to become a coach for USA Baseball and the Tempe Union High School District. Though he has many athletic accomplishments, he’s most proud of being honored as one of the top 60 teachers in America by Walt Disney Productions.

Tuesday afternoon, the grads reconvened in Carson Ballroom at Old Main for a luncheon with Sun Devil athletic legends from their era, including Steve Holden, Teddy Olivo, Kevin Woudenberg, John Brooking, Chales Moore, Joe Caldwell, Alan Schmeltz and former coach Larry Kentera. The luncheon began with a presentation from Marshall Shore, Arizona’s "hip historian," who talked about historical highlights from the ‘70s, and the main presentation was given by Ret. Lt. Gen. John Goodman, ’71 BS, former quarterback under Coach Frank Kush and a veteran who served in the U.S. Army and U.S. Marines. Goodman spoke about his memories of Coach Kush and how he would build character and mold men.

The two-day reunion concluded with the time-honored tradition of inducting the Golden Graduates into the Golden Circle. The alums wore the iconic gold robes once more and were individually recognized by Kristine Kassel, president of the ASU Alumni Association board of directors. ASU Alumni Association President Christine Wilkinson gave the keynote address and led the candle-lighting ceremony around the fountain at the steps of Old Main.

The graduates who came back to Tempe experienced a milestone celebration surrounded by their family, fellow graduates from the ‘70s and the graduating class of 2021. The Alumni Association will celebrate the class of 1972 at the spring 2022 commencement.

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