Current Issue / DU Alumni

‘Numb alums’ of ’70s and ’80s stay connected

(Back row) Kathryn Coffel, Linda Nease; (middle) George Potiris, Fred Moore, Cary Danford, Dave Ewing; (front) Karl Gills.

It’s been nearly 30 years since they lived together in DU’s Johnson-McFarlane Hall, but a dozen alumni remain close despite distance and the demands of families and careers. These “Numb Alums” stay in touch by phone and e-mail and reunite regularly to reminisce about old times and make new memories.

“We came from all over the country with all different backgrounds. Our only thing in common at first was J-Mac,” says Linda (McKnight) Nease, BS ’78.

Now they’re scattered from coast to coast, but from 1972–81, they bonded through cafeteria meals, sunbathing on the “Bay of Pigs” (the lawn outside J-Mac), bets, pranks and lots of parties.

The Numbs are named for the after-effects of days on the slopes and evening cocktails. They take trips together each year, skiing in Colorado, Nevada, Wyoming and Utah; house boating in Utah and California; and even cruising the Caribbean. Last fall, the gang attended the Pioneers Homecoming hockey game and then bar crawled through LoDo.

“No matter how long it’s been, it’s as if we saw each other yesterday,” says Chip Rea, BSBA ’79, of his friends, including Kathryn (Hatch) Coffel, BSBA ’79; Karl “Grandpa” Gills, BSBA ’76; Steve Jensen, BSBA ’77; Dennis McMullin, BSBA ’78; Fred Moore, BSBA ’77; George Potiris, BSBA ’78; Karen (Christenbury) Rea, attd. 1976–79; and Melissa (Goldman) Turner, BA ’79, MBA ’83.

Reunions always end with trophies awarded for the best wipeout, loudest outfit and latest sleeper, but week-long trips have shortened to long weekends and comfort has become a bigger priority.

“We’ve upgraded from communal sleeping rooms and sleeping on the floor,” says Cary Danford, BSBA ’79.

Mostly known for laughs, group members have supported each other through difficult times as well, such as the 1999 death of Numb Alum Rob Watkin, BSBA ’79.

“My most poignant memory is skiing with Rob in 1999 six weeks after he had brain tumor surgery,” recalls Dave Ewing, BS chemistry ’80. “There we were, high on the side of a chute at Breckenridge, pulling a laughing Rob out of a tree well.”

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