Class of 1967 50th Reunion

The 1967 American Rhodes Scholars celebrated the 50th anniversary of “going up” with a gathering at Airlie House, near Warrenton, VA, from 21-24 September, 2017. Twenty of the 1967 American Rhodes Scholar class were joined by Bernie Gersh, a Rhodes Scholar from Rhodesia who was born in Zambia, and two other Oxonians, Buddy Karelis and Bill Pascoe. With spouses and partners, the total attending was 40. A photo and biography book was completed beforehand and distributed at the reunion. For archival purposes, a class member, Ron Katz, subsequently presented a copy of the book to the Warden at Rhodes House. A group photo was taken at the event and has been distributed to all attendees. Unlike at Oxford 50 years ago, the weather was sunny and warm all weekend—not a drop of rain in sight, and no need for those minuscule wall heaters in the rooms, with or without shillings.

Events during the reunion included a day trip to Montpelier, the home of President James Madison, where we enjoyed over lunch an informative and at times provocative disquisition on national “constitutions” by Professor A. E. “Dick” Howard (Virginia and Christ Church 1958); and, for some, a further trip to Monticello, the home of President Thomas Jefferson. Many took advantage of the wineries in the area to sample Virginia wines, hike in the foothills of the Blue Ridge, and visit the Museum of Sport in Middleburg. A 50th reunion dinner was held on the final evening, which included toasts to the Queen, the Founder, and our departed classmates. A fun exercise was trying to identify 1966-era photos of Scholars-to-be taken for their scholarship applications and dutifully kept on file at Rhodes House. On Friday and Saturday after dinner, class member John Harrod and his spouse, Tona Barkley—both professional musicians—wowed the crowd with toe-stomping Kentucky fiddle-and-guitar tunes, while our own Mike Fredrickson strummed familiar 1960s riffs.

Intangible benefits overflowed. Classmates renewed old acquaintances, made new ones, reminisced about Oxford days, and compared life experiences over the past 50 years. A highlight was the nearly three-hour private session on Saturday during which Scholars talked animatedly about what they had learned at Oxford and how they had applied those lessons in their lives and careers. Spouses and partners met separately to discuss current opportunities and challenges in their lives. Both groups vowed to stay in closer touch. Another reunion is planned for 2019. In addition to a surfeit of warm feelings, attendees left with deep affection for one another and renewed (if humble) respect for their collective contribution to “the world’s fight.”