Tradition-packed Golden Reunion brings back memories, connections, ASU pride

Class of 1973 spends 3 days on campus, joins commencement


Golden Graduates from the Class of 1973 stand in a group for a photo wearing gold graduation gowns.

Alumni from the Class of 1973 came back to ASU to celebrate their 50-year reunion. Photo by Tim Trumble

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As the sun’s setting rays fell across the Old Main Lawn on Tuesday, May 9, nearly 50 members of the Class of 1973, clad in golden robes and holding candles, stood in a circle and sang the ASU Alma Mater, the culmination of their three-day Golden Reunion. 

The alumni, who graduated from ASU in 1973, were joined by previous Golden Circle members and spring 2023 graduates in the iconic Golden Circle Induction Ceremony, a candle-lighting tradition held every spring by the ASU Alumni Association. 

The candles represent the light of knowledge, and lighting one candle to the next represents the sharing of knowledge among alumni. Previous Golden Circle inductees performed the tradition of lighting the candles held by the Class of 1973 alums. Then it was the Golden Graduates turn to pass it on to the newest generation of alumni. 

“Class of 1973, now please share the flame of your candle with our newest alumni, the Class of 2023, as a symbol of the knowledge that each of you has gained during your time at ASU,” said Christine K. Wilkinson, president and CEO of the ASU Alumni Association. “May each of you cherish your memories, experiences and friendships made here, and may the legacy of the classes of 2023 and 1973 be forever etched in the minds and memories of the Sun Devil family.” 

The induction celebration marked a meaningful end to a tradition-packed three days for alumni who attended ASU during the Vietnam War era, the Watergate scandal and the dawn of the cellphone. 

In 1973, women's tennis player Billie Jean King defeated former No. 1 ranked men's tennis player Bobby Riggs in a "Battle of the Sexes;" Secretariat won the Triple Crown; and the Miami Dolphins clinched Super Bowl VII after a perfect season. 

The Golden Reunion kicked off on Sunday, May 7, with a Welcome Back Reception followed by two action-packed days of tours, special meals, honors and traditions.

On Monday, May 8, the Golden Grads joined the spring undergraduate commencement ceremony, walking with more than 16,000 students in the opening procession and enjoying VIP seating and a special acknowledgement by ASU President Michael M. Crow.

This was especially meaningful for several 1973 grads who had been unable to participate 50 years ago — whether because of military service, family commitments or work obligations — and were at last able to have their graduation experience.

Sparking memories  

Returning members of the Class of 1973 graduated with a wide range of degrees, went into a diverse set of careers, settled down in cities across the country and traveled from as far away as Massachusetts for the reunion. They told stories, shared memories and marveled at all the changes at ASU. 

Blake Hon and Doug Honaker, former ASU roommates, were pleasantly surprised to see each other. 

“It was a great reunion. Blake was a great roommate,” said Honaker, who is from Columbus, Ohio, and previously had roommates who also hailed from the Midwest.  

Honaker was in the ROTC, student government and the Oxford Program at ASU. He said some of his favorite memories were the free student tickets for Broadway shows at Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; a free concert by his favorite performer, Janis Joplin; and seeing Hubert Humphrey speak on campus.  

Reuniting with Honaker kicked the Golden Reunion into high gear, said Hon, a former Orange County school teacher who later went into his family’s wholesale produce business. 

“One of the best things that ever happened to me was coming here in ‘69,” Hon said of ASU. “And being here these three days has magnified it.” 

The cheerleader and the star baseball player

Marcie Rupcich’s impressive ASU resume includes making the Dean's List and her contributions to Beta Gamma Sigma, Beta Alpha Psi Accounting Association, ASASU Senate Secretary, Devils’ Advocates, Alpha Lambda Delta, Spurs, Natani, Mortar Board and Psi Sigma Kappa Auxiliary. 

Additionally, she was a varsity cheerleader and a member of the women’s gymnastics team. 

Mike Rupcich came to ASU for baseball. He was a catcher and helped lead the Sun Devils to the 1972 College World Series game. After graduating, he went on to become a college baseball coach. 

He and Marcie met on a blind date at ASU — set up by a fellow baseball player who Marcie helped in quantitative systems — and have been married for 50 years.

“Coming to ASU changed my whole world,” he said. “It was outstanding.”

Grads thankful for ASU’s ongoing impact   

Dennis Ederer was determined to attend ASU when, years before he was old enough to apply, he saw glimpses of the desert during a televised broadcast of a College World Series game held in Tempe. 

Ederer moved into a home 1.1 miles away from campus, and he has lived there ever since. 

An accountant who was a member of the Beta Alpha Psi Honorary Accounting Fraternity and a Sun Devil Service Award recipient, Ederer has dedicated his time to the university as a volunteer and courtesy faculty member for over 30 years.

“I spent a career pedaling (on my bicycle) along College Avenue,” he said. 

William Eaton also fell in love with the desert during his time at ASU. Eaton, named “ASU Man of the Year” in 1973, was a four-time Grammy nominee who designs and builds incredibly unique instruments and is one of the founders of the Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery in Phoenix. 

Three Tri-Delta sorority sisters — Debbie Drommerhausen Hutchings, Terry Smith Christian and Tara Roesler — returned for the reunion and sported blue Tri-Delta graduation stoles to wear with their golden robes. They are still involved with the sorority today. 

Tony Maresca, who owned a series of bowling pro shops, was on the ASU bowling team while in college and later coached the 1982 team to the national championships.

Exceptional careers at ASU and beyond

The Class of 1973 even produced ASU professors and administrators:

  • Diane Facinelli, who earned three degrees from ASU, served as a professor for 21 years at Barrett, The Honors College, and directed 23 study abroad programs.

  • Billie Enz, an emeritus professor, has served as an administrator for the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College for over 25 years.

  • Randy Virden, also an emeritus professor, was the founding director of the School of Community Resources and Development and the former chair of the Department of Recreation Management and Tourism.

  • Harvey Bryan, a Fulbright Fellow, is a professor in the ASU Urban Climate Research Center.

Marilyn Wells, who was on the ASU archery team, became an archery judge for the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. 

Other 1973 alums were active in Greek life. Dan Rodriguez, a Sigma Nu Hall of Honor inductee, has dedicated his career to serving alumni, both at ASU and at Oregon State. Donna Issenman, a Pi Beta Phi sorority member, started her own charity, called Jingled Elves, that benefits women and children in her local community.

Veterans were also represented, including Michael A. Crowe, Air Force; G. Bruce Hedlund, Air Force; Doug Honaker, Army; Ron Larson, Army; Steve “Mat” Matazzoni, Air Force; Richard Milavetz, Air Force; Victor Rupalcaba, Army and Arizona National Guard; and Ted Whitfield, Navy.

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