Carol Ann Brown, c’72, shared this fun story with us recently as a testament to why you should always travel with Jayhawk gear. Brown, a former member of the association’s national board of directors, is a Presidents Club and Life Member who resides in Virginia. Her two sisters, Gwen Adams, f’74, and Susan Adams, c’77, c’78, PhD’85, and their mother, Maurine Adams, c’45, are also Life Members of the KU Alumni Association.
Last Christmas, my mom gave me and my sisters identical KU tote bags with the 1912 Jayhawk logo plastered all over it.
Two weeks ago, Gwen, Susan, Clif and I left for a trip to Amsterdam and Brugge. Without any prior coordination, we all used the KU tote as our carry-on bag. We connected in Detroit, and the plane was almost completely boarded when one of the flight attendants made a rather urgent announcement over the PA that everyone had to get off the plane immediately and take all our stuff with us. Someone had found an unidentified bottle of liquid where it didn’t belong on the plane and they had to call security, the police and fire department—it turned out to be sugar water.
As we were all coming off the jet bridge, a lady saw Susan and me with our matching bags and asked if we were twins. We replied, “No, we’re triplets!” and had Gwen come stand with us. The lady loved the bags and asked to take our picture, and we all got a great laugh out of it.
Kelly Cure, b’09, earned a degree in marketing with a minor in Germanic language and literature. She currently works as head of strategic initiatives for Montigny Investments and resides in Swaziland. Kelly is a Life Member of the KU Alumni Association.
I became a Jayhawk because…
On my first visit to KU I was immediately drawn to the infectious energy present on the campus and around Lawrence. I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to study, but I saw limitless potential to pursue my passions for dance and travel, while determining a major in one of KU’s fantastic colleges. I hadn’t found a University with this vibrant feeling that also offered a myriad of prestigious schools and areas of study.
How has KU propelled you into your current career?
It’s not an exaggeration to say that KU changed my life and set me on this phenomenal journey that I’m still enjoying today! Thanks to the KU School of Business Career Center, I started with Deloitte Consulting in Kansas City after graduation and began traveling the world through my work. When Deloitte sent me to London for several years, I had the chance to work and explore throughout Europe, the Middle East and was introduced to the continent that I now call home – Africa. After 6 years with Deloitte I was recruited to join an NGO in Swaziland where my eyes were opened to a new way of life in a country still developing with endless potential.
I now reside in Swaziland where I’m responsible for several projects and the Head of Strategic Initiatives for a local private company. The projects include developing renewable energy and managing community conservation projects. In the past year my work has taken me to London, Morocco, Israel, Italy and Johannesburg…There’s absolutely no way I would be in this brilliant journey if it weren’t for my education, connections and experiences in the Jayhawk family!
How did KU push you to try harder or to try something new?
KU introduced me to an incredibly diverse mix of friends, mentors and acquaintances, who inspired me through their work-ethic and constant commitment to growth in and out of the classroom. With such a vast array of clubs, activities and opportunities at KU, I found it the perfect place to experiment with new interests and see what I could learn. Specifically, joining the Rock Chalk Dancers dance team, attending the School of Business and studying abroad in Berlin were all instrumental experiences in my person growth while at KU that I’m forever grateful for.
My best advice for college students…
Take time to listen to yourself and not get swept up in the fast moving pace of college life – which I found difficult! This is your time to expand your knowledge in an area that ignites your curiosity…You know what these areas are better than anyone. Enjoy that.
What was the greatest gift you took with you after graduation?
This is the easiest question The greatest gift is the Jayhawk family that we all leave our time at KU with. My Jayhawk family never ceases to amaze me with their loyalty, love and unique but powerful approaches to life, work and friendship. It’s one of the greatest gifts I could ask for.
As the first member of his family to attend college, David Graves, b’73, calls his KU experience transformational. “It was a wonderful four years of my life, and a time for growth in many ways,” he says, “not just in academic terms, but we all grow up emotionally as well.”
Graves’ career as a commercial real estate investment analyst began in his home community of Kansas City, but in 1983, The Travelers insurance company transferred him to Hartford, Connecticut, beginning a journey that took him to several cities across the nation. As the first in his family to move away, Graves says he was thankful he had become a Life Member of the Alumni Association soon after graduation. “I truly did want to stay connected to the University, the state and my family, and my life membership was one way psychologically to do that,” he says. “My commitment to KU has always been strong. I owe a great deal to the University, because I’ve been blessed with a pretty interesting 40-year career.”
After 14 years with Travelers, Graves began a 17-year stint with State Farm Insurance companies in Bloomington, Illinois, where he became vice president of real estate and mortgages. When he retired from State Farm, he and his family settled in Dallas. Through the years, Graves had become a close friend of Dallas real estate developer and fellow Jayhawk John Eulich, b’51, who ultimately coaxed Graves out of retirement to become managing director of The Belmont Group, the Eulich family’s trust.
Eulich, who died Sept. 3, and his wife, Ginny Walsh Eulich, c’51, in the early 1980s provided a gift to the Alumni Association to fund the bronze “Eulich Jayhawk” sculpture outside the Adams Alumni Center. Graves has followed their example with his gift of $30,000 to create the David Graves Alumni Excellence Fund , which he hopes can help KU students and young alumni make valuable career connections with successful Jayhawks. He praises the Association’s Dallas Network for linking many young graduates who are beginning their careers.
As the second of three siblings, Graves began a KU tradition in his family, inspiring his younger brother, Dean, b’75, to follow him to the Hill, and his older sister, Donna Cooper Graves, PhD‘94, to choose KU for her doctoral degree. Naturally, their 93-year-old father, Don, is a converted Jayhawk, ardent basketball fan and, until recently, quite the hoops sensation in his own right. “He played basketball about a year ago,” Graves says. “You don’t want to take him on in a game of horse.”
Graves returns home several times each year to visit his dad. His January trip will include a visit to Allen Field House to watch his Jayhawks take on the Texas Longhorns as part of his annual birthday celebration with lifelong friend and pledge brother, John Ballard, b’73. “I always chide him into obtaining a ticket for me,” Graves says. “There’s a big piece of my heart that still resides in Kansas at KU.”
David O’Brien, j’86, has been the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Braves beat writer since 2002—but he’s been a Jayhawk since his arrival on the Hill in 1982. David joined the KU Alumni Association as an annual member immediately following his 1986 graduation, and after faithfully renewing for nearly 30 consecutive years, he recently demonstrated his unwavering loyalty by becoming a Proud Life Member. He always enjoys talking baseball, music, motorcycles, cool new restaurants he finds on his travels and, most especially, all things crimson and blue.
Trainer Henry Parker (l-r) and Steve and Teri Durr with Beware of Phog, Oct. 17 at Derby Lane in St. Petersburg, Florida.
When readers of Kansas Alumni magazine were introduced to the charismatic greyhound Beware of Phog with an item in the Jayhawk Walk section of issue No. 4, 2014, the fleet black flash was already making a name for himself at Derby Lane in St. Petersburg, Florida, with 11 victories in his first 33 starts.
“He’s a really cool dog,” Derby Lane’s Vera Rasnake said then. “There are no strangers with him. He loves people, he’s really nice looking, and just a cocky little guy. He knows he’s good.”
We’re sad to report that a tendon injury in his right hind leg prematurely ended Phog’s racing days; we’re thrilled to report he’ll soon be living the life of leisure in Enid, Oklahoma, with stalwart Jayhawks Steve, c’74, and Teri Wiggans Durr, j’76.
The Durrs, already the owners of two adopted greyhounds, have long supported the cause by assisting Tulsa’s Halfway Home Greyhounds, and their heartfelt allegiance to the splendid animals was rewarded in 2013 with the honor of naming a pair of unraced puppies.
They chose Beware of Phog and Wins Jayhawks, and both dogs with the KU-themed monikers established themselves as formidable athletes. Though not quite the caliber of his stakes-winning brother, Wins Jayhawks—who has moved from Tennessee’s Southland Park to Wheeling Island in West Virginia—is a quality runner at the AA level, one notch below Beware of Phog’s A races.
Even though they’d never attended a greyhound race, the Durrs followed both dogs’ progress in race results posted online. When they learned that Beware of Phog was injured May 23, during his 109th career start, the Durrs anxiously tracked the sometimes frustrating news about his recovery.
Beware of Phog won his first post-rehab schooling race, but was scratched from his second start. He reinjured the troublesome tendon and was officially retired. That’s when the Durrs swung into action, and were soon granted their wish: They could adopt Beware of Phog and bring him back to Oklahoma.
With a work trip already scheduled to the Tampa area, the Durrs on Oct. 17 made their way to Derby Lane to finally meet Beware of Phog and trainer Henry Parker. It was their first visit to a greyhound track.
“We asked his trainer to tell us some stories about Phog,” Teri Durr says, “He thought about it and said, ‘Do you remember back in high school, where there’s the good guy who was the quarterback and the star athlete and just an all-around good guy? That’s Phog.'”
He must first recover from his injury and also be neutered before he can be released for adoption, so the Durrs anticipate making the long drive to Florida in about three weeks to pick up Beware of Phog. Teri Durr can’t wait to introduce Phog to his own bed, a well-earned reward after a lifetime spent in kennels.
“We’re just thrilled that he gets to come to us,” Durr says. “It’s not something we were planning on, but when he got hurt, we said there’s just no way that we could not bring him home.
“Everybody needs a greyhound. They’re awful sweet, and they’re so beautiful. They just need homes.”
Few Jayhawks would appreciate being surrounded by a pack of tigers at a sports event, let alone on a daily basis at work. Reuben Shelton, a St. Louis attorney and immediate past-president of the Missouri Bar, is used to it. Not only does he accept his fate, he happily makes the most of it.
“Everywhere I go, I tell people I’m a Jayhawk,” says Shelton, j’78, who frequently speaks to large audiences of Mizzou-loving attorneys. “All over the state—from Cape Girardeau to Brookfield. Everywhere.”
Given Shelton’s diehard dedication to his alma mater—a particularly brave undertaking in Tiger territory—it was only fitting that the bar would find a special way to honor its outgoing president at its recent annual meeting in St. Louis. The organization enlisted the KU Alumni Association to write a humorous, Jayhawk-themed resolution for Shelton, one that would applaud his crimson-and-blue commitment in the rival school’s domain.
Sebrina Barrett, executive director of the bar, presented the resolution. A Mizzou graduate, she worked closely with Shelton during his tenure as president and knew she had to do it right. “I just thought, ‘I can’t do this unless I truly get into it and put on a Kansas T-shirt,’” she recalls. “I wasn’t even sure whether I could find one in Columbia where I live, but I did.”
When the time came, Barrett put on the KU T-shirt and began reading the resolution, much to the surprise and delight of the nearly 40 Missouri fans in the room.
“Everybody in the room was just dying,” says Shelton. “It was so funny because Sebrina is a dyed-in-the-wool tiger.”
Although it may have pained her to wear KU colors that day, Barrett was happy to honor the man who’s done so much for the bar during his presidency. “Reuben leaves behind a tremendous legacy of inclusion,” she says. “He believes everybody should have a seat at the table. This was a lighthearted way for me to show a willingness to do that, and to embrace Reuben’s culture and personality.”
This article was submitted by Mike Starkweather, c’67, one of the first residents to live in McCollum Hall after it opened. Read more of Mike’s memories of McCollum Hall here. Do you have stories of life in the residence hall to share with alumni? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Photos are welcome, too!
Working as a resident assistant at McCollum Hall also meant attending staff meetings. At one particular meeting in April 1967, something happened that changed the course of my professional career. It had nothing to do with the content of the meeting, but what several of us did while the meeting was going on.
We always looked in our mailboxes, located across from the meeting room, before going into the room, just in case there was something besides the meeting agenda that needed our attention.
One day our mailboxes held a recruitment booklet from the United States Peace Corps advertising for participants in some of the first programs going to the South Pacific—specifically Western Samoa, the Kingdom of Tonga and Fiji. The meeting wasn’t particularly captivating (sorry, Dean), and by the time it was over, several of us had completed the multi-page, in-depth Peace Corps application. We asked each other, “What shall we do with them?”
The answer was simple: We sealed the self-addressed, postage-paid envelopes, and dropped them in the mail box and forgot about them.
In June telegrams from the Peace Corps arrived, inviting us to training in Hawaii. After three months of training, I headed off to the Kingdom of Tonga while a fellow staff member went to Fiji. It turned out to be the single most life-changing event for me. After participating in the Peace Corps, I directed Peace Corps training in the South Pacific, earned a master of arts degree from the University of Hawaii, and lived and worked in education and international development in Hawaii for thirty years.
I returned to the mainland and continued working in international development, switching my interests from Asia and the Pacific to Africa. My resume now reads “lived and worked in 42 countries on five continents.” Not bad for a kid from Wichita.
Two years ago our Peace Corps crew from Tonga celebrated the 40th anniversary of our arrival there. Forty of the 57 of us who completed the program talked about the collective 1,600 years of experience among us. There’s something we all share: Don’t be satisfied with the things you’ve done. Keep looking for something new and different to accomplish. Basically, what do you want to do when you grow up?
And those are the minutes of a staff meeting in McCollum Hall, April 1967. Do I have a second for the approval of these minutes?
Jessica Nelson knew from a young age that she would go to KU.
With two parents who attended the University, Nelson was born and bred a Jayhawk. “The experience that I had at the University of Kansas, I want others to experience,” she says, explaining that while the level of education and learning opportunities at the university are incredibly useful in day-to-day life, “you also have that tradition and that legacy and that camaraderie…and I think that’s something you can’t find everywhere.”
Nelson, j’11, leads Team KC Life+Talent for the Kansas City Area Development Council, a regional economic development organization tasked with promoting Kansas City as a top lifestyle and business destination. Her role includes working with a variety of people—including college student interns and corporate level executives. Finding common ground as a Jayhawk often helps break the ice.
“My job is to tell the Kansas City story, and so much of the great talent in Kansas City comes from great individuals from KU,” she says.
This article was submitted by Mike Starkweather, c’67, an early resident of McCollum Hall. Do you have stories of life in the residence hall to share with alumni? Email us at email@example.com. Photos are welcome, too! Read more of Mike’s memories of McCollum Hall here.
Ah, McCollum Hall. Being one of the first residents to move in during the fall of ’66 was historic enough, but who knew what was yet to come?
McCollum was the first residence hall on campus to allow men and women to live in the same building. Even though they were separated by the “iron curtain” dividing the floor in the lounges, you don’t really think that stopped them from mingling, do you?
As McCollum residents, we wasted no time making a name for ourselves. We joined Alpha Omicron Pi sorority to become the first independent living organization to participate in Rock Chalk Revue. It was a big deal to take part in the iconic event. Having been the lead actor in the skit, “Where There’s a Will There’s a Play,” I appreciate the hard work, long hours and dedication of the many people that make Rock Chalk Revue happen. At the time, the sole beneficiary was the KU YMCA.
Today, Rock Chalk Revue serves the entire Lawrence community—congratulations on making this happen. I truly appreciate the annual invitation extended to Rock Chalk Revue alumni to return to the Hill and continue to be part of this long-standing tradition. It’s on my bucket list.
Serving as a resident assistant at McCollum, I was privy to many events not found in the pages of the University Daily Kansan.
One hysterical event that may have led to serious car insurance issues comes to mind. One night while I was working in the office, the phone rang. The caller was Dean Fred McElhenie. He said, “Mike, we have a situation I need you to check out. To confirm it, please look out the window and tell me what you see on the south end of Ellsworth Hall.” He asked me to defuse the situation and let him know what transpired.
I went outside and looked up to the eighth floor, taking note of where a particular blue-tinged light appeared. I ventured to the eighth floor, knocked and entered the room full of male residents looking out the window at the facing wall of Ellsworth. The blue-tinged light belonged to a slide projector that was showing a cavalcade review of Playboy Playmates of the Month on the blank wall of Ellsworth—in three-story dimensions.
Given the proximity of the wall to the adjacent highway, traffic had definitely slowed down in the area. Fortunately, no brakes were squealing, but the review was not going unnoticed by residents, drivers and pedestrians in the area. I asked the men to aim the projector onto their own wall. The auto insurance companies should appreciate not having to pay claims for inattentive driving and bumper damage.
Other incidents from McCollum Hall rival this one, but they’ll remain under wraps to protect the guilty.
Chip Hilleary fell in love with the University of Kansas after a football recruiting visit and knew Lawrence was where he wanted to spend the next four years.
Football fans will recall Hilleary as the quarterback who helped lead KU football to its first bowl win in 31 years with a 23-20 victory over Brigham Young University in the 1992 Aloha Bowl.
In our new video, Hilleary, d’94, describes how despite campus always changing with new construction and new faces, it’s always the same university that he remembers. “The leaders that are present now at the University of Kansas definitely have a vision and respect the past and the history of what it’s like to be a student here,” he says.
Hilleary, a Life Member of the Alumni Association, cherishes his memories of KU, including the final time he wore a Jayhawk football uniform his senior year and the camaraderie of the friends he made.