Magazine Feature

Denny Liggitt: College life after World War II

H. Denny Liggitt II. Photo by Wayne Armstong

H. Denny Liggitt II. Photo by Wayne Armstong

I am 89 years old now, and for most of my life I have been acquainted with the University of Denver.

My father was an ardent DU supporter, as was my mother, who didn’t graduate but was nevertheless as much of a supporter as my dad. She volunteered her time to help raise funds for the Kappa Delta sorority until I was a teenager. My father was president of the alumni association in 1949, the year I graduated.

I graduated in January 1943 from East Denver High School and then attended the only quarter of my college education that was spent at the DU campus at Evans and University. It was a strange time because the fraternity houses had all been taken over by the Army, and the student population had shrunk drastically. Most of the fraternities virtually closed down, and the S.A.E. 1943 spring quarter pledge class was made up of me and Don Anderson, also a 1943 East High graduate. Our so-called fraternity house was the empty storefront on the alley just west of Evans and University. At the end of the spring quarter in June, I joined the Navy and left for almost three years of Navy life.

Fall of 1946: Everybody was coming home, the G.I. Bill had been enacted, the shrinking student population had been reversed, and DU was a beehive of activity. My field of interest was business administration, mainly because it was a good, safe field to specialize in. I don’t know where the business school was located before the war, but afterward it was in downtown Denver in whatever empty buildings, stores and offices could be obtained.

Registration day in September of 1946 was a madhouse. I have no idea how many G.I.’s were there, but the lines were three and four abreast and stretched for blocks.

September of 1946 to June of 1949 was, for me and for most of my friends, sort of like a job. We were all trying to make up for lost time, and the “college joys” pretty much didn’t exist.

My fraternity life consisted of that one quarter in 1943. The years went by fast, and it was soon 1949 and graduation time. The business administration school opened a new building downtown just after I graduated, and so my entire college life (except for the very first quarter in 1943) was spent in old store buildings. No one I know minded it one bit—we all knew we were having a unique experience, and that the education that we received was as good, or better, than the nicest college campus could offer.



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