For some, it was returning to a campus that has changed dramatically since they graduated 50 years ago. For others, it was reuniting with classmates. And for still others, it was introducing their young children to their alma mater.
The Franklin & Marshall College classes that graduated in the "3" and "8" years made a splash on campus at the 2013 Reunion Weekend, June 7-9, during which the Class of '63 was inducted into the Nevonian Society as its members celebrated their 50th Reunion.
More than 1,000 alumni and guests attended Reunion, which opened on a Friday afternoon of torrential rains that cleared by Saturday, when the classes took a new direction in the Reunion Class Parade.
Instead of walking to Hartman Green, alumni -- bearing their class banners and led by a bagpiper -- marched through the Class of '08's gift to the College: the brick-and-metal arch over Klauder Apple Walkway, emblazoned with F&M's motto, "Lux et Lex" ("Light and Law").
Among those marching in the parade were Jennifer DeLutis '03 and her 4-year-old daughter, Madelyn, an F&M hopeful for the Class of '31.
"She thinks it's so cool to see Mommy's old school," DeLutis said. "It just seems so enormous to her."
After the parade, alumni gathered in Barshinger Center for Musical Arts in Hensel Hall for the Alumni Celebration, where President Daniel R. Porterfield, in his address, noted the College's 225th anniversary. Reunion Weekend was the culmination of a yearlong celebration of the 225th anniversary of Benjamin Franklin's gift of 200 British pounds, which launched the College in 1787.
"It is awesome to sit in this room and reflect that every one of you are the return on an investment Ben Franklin made," Porterfield said.
Like every class that reaches its 50th Reunion, the Class of '63 -- along with surviving spouses or partners -- was inducted into the the Nevonian Society, which honors the life achievements of its members. At a Friday luncheon, new society members in attendance entered their name in the Nevonian Register.
During the luncheon, William Dempsey '63 said some of his fondest memories were of meeting his professors at the campus coffee shop to discuss academic projects.
"I never had the caliber of teachers as I had at F&M," he said, playfully sporting his old blue-and-white "dink," the beanie cap handed out to students in those days. "The intimacy and the connection. That's what I liked about the school."
Memories of faculty were a common theme during the weekend. George Napuda '53, a French horn player, said he has never forgotten Johnny Peifer, the College's former bandleader.
"Between him and the U.S. Army, they straightened out a wayward youth," Napuda said. "He sort of mentored me."
At the Benjamin Franklin Society Breakfast, Robert Kafin '63, said his fondest memories were of the professors he studied under. "I had a close relationship with them," Kafin said.
Reunion also was a time of catching up. Barry Rosen '88 and Scott Bovino '88 were fraternity brothers who met this weekend for the first time since they graduated.
"It feels like old times," Rosen said.
Bovino recalled their campus camaraderie: "I still think about it today and how fun it was."
At Saturday's Reunion Barbecue under the huge white tent on Hartman Green, the alumni band Rustoleum, which first played on campus in 1968, entertained the crowd with country tunes while alumni enjoyed lunch and had their class pictures taken.
Relaxing in a chair on the lawn outside the tent, Theodore Etters '58 marveled at all the changes that have occurred on the F&M campus since he graduated.
"This place is absolutely phenomenal compared to what it was in '58," Etters said.
Reunion Weekend is important to alumni in gathering with old friends and sharing memories, but it's also about reconnecting and engaging with the College, said F&M Alumni President David Taylor '81.
"It's a chance to see the College as it is today, to see the growth," Taylor said.
Reunion Weekend -- which concluded Sunday with a farewell brunch -- also featured awards, presented to the following alumni:
● C. Richard Beam '49, a distinguished Pennsylvania German scholar; James D. Hoeschele '59, a groundbreaking chemist and scholar; and Evelyn N. Farkas '89, a leading figure in U.S. foreign and defense policy, were awarded the Alumni Citation, given to individuals who are distinguished in their profession, showed leadership and have a record of accomplishment.
● Anthony L. Ross '91 and H. Art Taylor '80, who have held key leadership roles with F&M's African-American Alumni Council, among numerous other alumni activities, received the Alumni Medal, given to alumni in recognition of their sustained and distinguished service to the College.
Watch the highlights video, and view Reunion photos on F&M’s Facebook page, the 2013 Reunion Photo Booth page and F&M’s Flickr page. Next year's 2014 Reunion Weekend is scheduled June 6-8, for those classes ending in "4" and "9."