A family tradition: Aubrey Lines is fifth-generation ASU grad

Lines' great-great-grandfather was class president in 1901

Aubrey Lines dressed in ASU graduation gear standing in front of Old Main looking out and smiling

Fourth-year interior design student Aubrey Lines poses for a photo at Old Main in Tempe on April 25, 2024. Lines is a fifth-generation ASU alum joining her father Steven Lines (class of 2000), grandfather Larry Milton Lines, great-grandfather Mason Davis (class of 1925), great-great-grandmother Emma King (1902) and great-great-grandfather Alma Davis (class of 1901). Photo by Samantha Chow/Arizona State University


Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2024 graduates.

As Aubrey Lines sat on the steps in front of Old Main on a bright and beautiful late April morning, she thought about the black-and-white photo.

In the photo, 18 young men and women are posed on those same steps. The men are wearing suits, the women full-length patterned dresses. Their faces are expressionless. With the exception of two women who curiously are looking to the side, they’re staring straight at the camera.

One step below them is a picture frame, and inside the frame the year has been spelled out: 1901.

The 18 represent the 1901 graduating class of Tempe Normal School, and in the middle of the photo, just behind the frame, sits class president Alma Davis.

Davis is Lines’ great-great-grandfather. He is the patriarch of a Sun Devil lineage that is 123 years old and on May 6 will celebrate Lines becoming a fifth-generation Arizona State University graduate.

Above: Aubrey Lines (center, behind frame) and classmates recreate a class photo from 1901 that included her great-great-grandfather, Alma Davis (center, behind frame). Photo credits: Samantha Chow; courtesy photo.

“In a slightly selfish way, it’s almost like we’re ASU royalty,” said Lines, who is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in interior design and a minor in business. “Because we’ve been here from almost the start.”

It’s not a stretch to call the Lineses the first family of ASU. In addition to Davis, Aubrey’s great-great-grandmother, Emma Laura King, was the class valedictorian in 1902; her great-grandfather, Mason Davis, graduated with a teaching degree in 1925; her grandfather, Larry Lines, received a master’s degree in public administration from ASU in 1973; and her father, Steven, graduated with an accounting degree in 2000.

In addition, Steven Lines is one of four brothers with ASU degrees, and the Sun Devil family extends to numerous uncles and cousins — so many that neither Aubrey nor Steven know exactly how many family members are graduates.

There are a couple of University of Arizona grads mixed into the clan, as well.

“Traitors,” Aubrey said with a smile, making it clear that even if they’re dressed in red and blue, they’re still beloved family members.

Historical black and white portrait of young man
Alma Davis in 1898 at 14 years old. Courtesy photo

It all started with Alma Davis, who was just 13 years old when he enrolled at Tempe Normal School. The minimum age was 15, but Steven Lines said Alma was large for his age, and when he registered, nobody bothered to ask him just how old he was.

Davis became captain of the football team, class president and by 1900 had finished up all his requirements for graduation. There was just one problem: His real age had been discovered, and because Tempe Normal School required graduates to be at least 18 years old, he was forced to stay on another year and graduate in 1901.

As class president, Davis gave the commencement speech, and the Arizona Republic reported that he gave a prophesy in which he described a scene in the year 3000 where he and his classmates were successful and achieved all their dreams.

The Arizona Republic called the speech a “most creditable and ingenious piece of work.”

Alma Davis went on to be the principal of Globe High School and later served as Arizona’s director of vocational education for 11 years.

Steven Lines said he’s just as proud of his great-grandmother, Emma, because “not a lot of women were graduating from college in the 1900s.”

By the time Aubrey was ready to consider colleges, there was no doubt where she would go. ASU had been part of her life from an early age. She said her father, who calls the accounting program at the W. P. Carey School of Business “amazing,” wore Sun Devil hats around the college, and her parents would take her to ASU volleyball games. Afterward, they would head to Mill Avenue for pizza at Mellow Mushroom.

“We always just had this Sun Devil pride,” Aubrey said. “And then just with researching my family history a little bit more, it made that sense of pride grow even more.”

Aubrey, who already works as a junior designer at an interior architecture firm in Phoenix, says she knows what she’ll say if, one day, a child of hers wants to go to UA or another university.

“I would say, ‘I’m not going to stop you. It’s not my experience. It’s yours,’” Aubrey said.

Then she smiled.

“But no. We’re Sun Devils.”

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