Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

December 9, 2023

Alumni return to relive and make new memories

While there are many events at Augustana’s homecoming that have been around for plenty of alumni, homecoming weekend is constantly changing. Alumni often have their own favorite stories and events that they participated in during homecoming week at Augustana.

This year, classes celebrating five year reunions were honored.

Don Peterson, class of 1951 and a retired Education professor at Augustana, had an interesting trip to first becoming a student at Augie.

“I was in the army, so I came with the GI Bill,” says Peterson.  “My brother graduated from high school and wanted to be a pastor, so we came down and lived off the GI Bill as much as possible.”

Peterson said that when he was at Augustana, homecoming was much smaller, which was in part due to the actual student body being much smaller. The student body had just passed one thousand students during Peterson’s junior year.

“We had fraternities and sororities and independent groups, but there weren’t a lot of student groups that put on activities,” said Peterson. “Homecoming was very nice for alums, but not a lot of alums came.  It was much quieter than it is now.”

However, Peterson still has fond homecoming memories from his time as a student, including the parade that was held every year.

“Every fraternity and sorority had a float, and the independents had floats as well,” said Peterson, who is an alumni of the Phi Omega Phi (POP/Poobah) fraternity.  “It was a nice parade down seventh avenue.”

Peterson recalls that at that time, Augustana also had a marching band that took part in the parade. However, he says that the main draw of the parade was the floats.

“One year, (Poobah’s) float was a guillotine.  There was a great big arch with a blade, not metal, that came down with a sound, ‘THWUMP, THWUMP,” Peterson excitedly recalled. “Some dummy in a football uniform was there to have his head chopped off.  It was a pretty gross float.

The parade was a large event even recently, with class of 2001 graduates Nathan and Jen Sondgeroth (Jen King, when she attended Augie) also remembered taking place in the parade. Both Nathan and Jen were part of Augie choir and Nathan was a member of the Delta Omega Nu (DON) fraternity, with Jen a member of the Phi Ro sorority, and some of their favorite homecoming memories involve these groups.

“For Nathan and I, being in the choir at homecoming time was a big deal,” says Jennifer. “Our Greek groups were paired together senior year for homecoming, which was awesome.”

Peterson said that Greek life events , Sing and Yell, weren’t yet created when he was a student.

“Well there were ‘yells’, but no real “Yells,” said Peterson.  “There was no real thing that signified the whole community besides yelling.”

Augustana Alum not affiliated with Greek Life also have many fond memories of Homecoming week. Maury Bischoff, class of 1976 and who was not involved with Greek life, also remembers the parade fondly.

“A professor was having an ongoing feud with Thomas Tredway, who was having “East Hall” torn down,” says Bischoff.  (For our float) we had a gal dressed up as Miss East Hall and I wore a Tredway Mask and followed her around with a screwdriver.”

Bischoff also had specific reasons for coming back for Homecoming this year.

“The photographs of renewing your vows if you met your sweetheart at Augustana is something we’re going to do,” said Bischoff.  “I ended up marrying a gal from the class of ’81.”

Nearly every alum who returned for homecoming this year seemed to come for that one common theme: reconnection.  The Sondgeroth’s were on campus with a large group of other friends from the Class of 2001, Bischoff was here with a group of friends along with the goal of getting his vows renewed, and Peterson was returning to the school where he had not only been a student, but a professor for 42 years.  Each one came to relive their memories of homecoming, along with making some new ones along the way.

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Alumni return to relive and make new memories