Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Class of 1947 to join Commencement procession

photo portrait

Grant Wilkins, a 1947 graduate, will join in the undergraduate Commencement procession on June 9. PHOTO BY: Wayne Armstrong.

Check out these new bits from the University of Denver in 1947: 

– DU posts 16-4 record and earns berth in NCAA baseball tournament; Pioneers fall to eventual national champion California. 

– Football team defeats Colorado 26-20 before 28,063 at DU Stadium in final meeting between the two teams.

As part of a celebration of their 60th class reunion, Wilkins, who’s 80, and 17 of his former classmates will march in the Commencement procession along with 2007 undergraduates on June 9. 

Although there are 50th class reunions, some believe it’s the first time DU has ever hosted a 60th. 

Scott Lumpkin (BS ’79, MBA ‘88) an associate vice chancellor in University Advancement, says he doesn’t remember the school ever hosting a 60th reunion. “I hope it’s the first of many to come,” Lumpkin says. 

Gretchen West, reunion and class program coordinator at DU, doesn’t remember a 60th reunion either.

West says 18 from the class of 1947 (most of whom live in the Denver area) will attend. A banquet is slated for Friday night, June 8, and a farewell luncheon after Commencement on Saturday.  

West says Wilkins called her last June to discuss the possibility of having a reunion and the two met about five times to plan the event.

“Grant deserves all the credit; he’s pulled this all together basically by himself,” West says.

Wilkins says he’s looking forward to it. “I know most of them and many are personal friends,” he says. 

Wilkins credits DU for much of the good that has happened in his life. “Everything I am and have done is because of DU,” he says. “I met my first wife here [Diane Schoelzel, who died in 1965], all my good friends are from here and I learned a lot about life here, too.”

And he adds he’s impressed with how the school has evolved over the years. “It’s on the leading edge and it’s one of the best schools in the country,” he says. 

Wilkins is particularly pleased that many students spend a year studying abroad. “That impacts world peace and promotes understanding. You don’t go to war with people you know.”

Wilkins was a student when World War II ended. “We went to Elitch Gardens to celebrate and have fun,” he recalls. 

He said that today only about a third of the class is still enjoying life, a third is disabled and the rest have died.  

“I guess that’s normal at our age, but some of us are still climbing mountains and traveling,” he says. “Hopefully we can be an inspiration to others.” 

Wilkins himself just returned from Russia on a humanitarian trip for Rotary International, a community service organization. Since he retired in 1985 from his Denver-based outdoor advertising business, Wilkins has been to 55 countries working to eliminate polio and get clean water into third-world countries.

“Did you know one billion people don’t have access to clean water?” he asks. “And 6,000 kids die every day because of it.”  

Wilkins says he can’t pin down a single fondest memory of DU. “I had lunch with two gals from the development office today and they asked me the same thing. I’ve been thinking about it all afternoon, and all I can say is my whole college experience is a fond memory.”

– Men’s swimming team participates in inaugural season.

And it’s likely Grant Wilkins can expand on those. Because that was the year he graduated.

Comments are closed.