Office of the VP for Communications – Keeping alumni and friends connected to U-M

Alumni Memories

  1. The Tortoise Club

    I wrote an essay about the friendship since 1975 between Professor George J. Siedel, The Business School and myself as the Tortoise Club. I would like to send it if you have interest in it. I am former senior managing director,
    Nippon Life Insurance Company, Japan

    • Toda Makoto
    • LL.M 1975
  2. Dr Quackenbush

    He was my advisor. I very much appreciate the time he spent advising me on the way to my Degree in Mechancal Engineering.
    It would be nice if he could have seen what my future would be. I have received 12 patents and worked extensively in hydraulics and mechanical design of off-highway equipment from lawn mower transmissions to “large” catepillar equipment. Even transporters for space shuttle booster rockets.

    • William H Ward
    • BSME
  3. THE KENNEDY SPEECH

    In the fall of 1960 I was a sophomore in LSA and was serving as the President of Huber House in South Quadrangle. When it was announced that JFK would swing through Ann Arbor on his last major campaign effort, my friends and I were most eager to hear him.

    We finished a meeting in South Quad around 9:00 PM and one of my friends and I went out to State Street to await JFK’s “imminent” arrival. With repetitive announcements of his delay, the hours wore on. I have a vivid recollection of period announcements that “Dean Debbie” (Deborah Bacon, Dean of Women) had relaxed women’s curfew (can you believe it?) for another hour. This went on all through the entire event.

    As time wore on, it was finally announced that the entourage had landed on the motorcade was on its way to the Union.

    For some reason, my friend and I concluded that, since they were so late, the motorcade would try to avoid the probable delays on Washtenaw and East University. We walked down the hill on State Street toward Packard. Sure enough, we were practically alone when we met the open convertible! We began walking along with it, leaning on the back trunk lid and talking to JFK. If memory serves me correctly, John Swainson, then Lt. Governor and gubernatorial candidate, was also in the car.

    As we approached the Union, the crowds began to swell around the car and I found myself being crushed onto the rear bumper. I had nowhere to go except up on the trunk and over into the back seat, which I did.
    I spent one of the most memorable minutes of my life until my unceremonious exit from the car.

    There was a magnetism that emanated from Kennedy. That night I truly came to understand the meaning of “charisma.”

    • EDWARD H. POWERS
    • BA, JD 1964
  4. JFK story falls short

    Re JFK at the Union: I really don’t believe that Tobin caught the flavor of the evening or the speech at all. I was a little bit offended by what I would consider to be a bowlerized version and I think that the introductory quote is off the mark. Yes the evening became tense having to wait so long. And the young Republican’s huge banner, “You Can’t Lick our Dick!” strung between the trees across from the Union may have been torn down before Jack arrived, and there was an atmosphere of increasing excitement as the evening wore on. So when the big guys came out of the bus and created a wedge and forced their way up onto the landing there was an atmosphere of extreme anticipation and Jack was exceedingly handsome we could see. He had a kind of WWII Officer classiness and was very poised. And he complimented us by saying that it was an honor to be here at the great and famous University. We were of course pleased and proud to hear that. And then with a smile he quick turned and said that he too went to a fine university and that back home we call it the Michigan of the East. Upon that quick quip, the crowd broke into cheers and the game was on. The way Tobin expresses it is so vapid and lifeless. No. It was a quick snap that brought us to attention not a lifeless statement. The tension immediately dropped and it became a happy atmosphere of expectation. The official version is dreadfully dead.

    • Bill Dickens
  5. Re JFK at the Union: I was a Freshman, sitting on the sill of a 2nd story window of the Union with my legs hanging down, waiting and waiting while the women’s permission to stay out late was extended several times so we could see Kennedy. I lived in Mary Markley dorm.
    It’s not there in the text, but what I remember is Kennedy’s saying his famous "Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country!" and some student yelling, "Well what can we do except join the f***ing army?!" Whereupon Kennedy said he would establish a "peace corps.
    Judging from the transcript, I must have dreamt this, but this is what I remember. </p>
    <p>The mood was very pro-Kennedy. I remember my Freshman philosophy teacher, as an example in a syllogism, saying, "If Nixon wins this election, Manning (i.e. himself) will walk up Burton tower on his knees." I was 17 and came from a strongly Republican family, and this was all very astonishing. I was much moved and impressed by Kennedy and have been a Democrat ever since!

    • Janet Katherine Lethen Clark
    • BA, MA 64
  6. Re JFK at the Union: The Governor in 1960 was G. Mennen ("Soapy") Williams. That may have been George Romney who Ms. Burson was standing behind, but he wasn’t elected Governor until 1962.

    • Michael Berla
    • M. A. (Econ) & Ph. D.(Urban & Regional Planning)
  7. JFK at the Union

    Re JFK at the Union: I was a sophomore living at Henderson House co-op in 1960. Along with many others I watched the debate between Nixon and Kennedy the evening of Oct. 13. Shortly after the debate we headed for the Union. Several fellow housemates were members of the young Democrats. With Kennedy buttons in hand we started passing the buttons out and working our way to the front of the assembled crowd of students.
    It was an exciting and a challenging speech, one that suggested a role for our generation to contribute to making a better world. Kennedy was elected, the Peace Corps became a reality.
    In the spring of 1963 the Peace Corps came to the Union. Along with another Henderson House senior, I filled out an application and took a test. In June 1963 I was in training for Thailand 6.
    I was serving as an English teacher in Thailand when Kennedy was assassinated. It filled with me a deep sadness and a personal sense of loss. I was amazed by how much Kennedy and his family were admired and loved by the people of Thailand. For the year following his death every issue of a major Thai magazine carried a 4 page centerfold with various photos of our late president and his family.
    At least 3 of our Henderson House group who listened to Kennedy’s speech at the Union that night served in the Peace Corps.

    • MARY LEE JACOBSON WINKLER
    • Bachelor 1963
  8. Re JFK at the Union: I was across the State St. a fair distance from the steps where Kennedy spoke. My fraternity brothers and I waited for at least 3 hours before he appeared. He was an inspiring president. Although I didn’t join the Peach Corps I did end up as a Federal employee for 39 years working on environmental issues, particularly the Great Lakes. Now retired, I’m volunteering for President Obama’s Organizing for America hoping that this generation will be inspired by him as mine was by Kennedy.

    • William L. Richardson
    • BS Civil Englineering 1963
  9. Great expectations -- fulfilled!

    Re JFK at the Union: I was there on the steps of the Union that night. Kennedy was expected earlier, so we waited and waited and waited, and yes, we, too, were able to stay out after our required time to be in the dorm, for this special occasion. We didn’t care about the wait; we were young, enthusiastic, and dying to see this vibrant and handsome new Presidential candidate in the flesh. He, and his speech, fulfilled all our expectations, and it was then all the more devastating to hear three years later, of his assassination. He was a hunk, no doubt. If we had known about various bedroom activities back then, when everyone’s mindset was still in the virginal fifties, we would have been shocked out of our minds.

    • Julie Stockwell Hatfield
    • BA 1962