1969 50th Class Reunion

By Don Dodge

Our Colorado Academy Class Reunion began Friday morning, May 24. Eight classmates attended the all-day events on Friday (Bruce Bistline, Charles Cavness, Bruce Cranmer, Don Dodge, Henry Johnson, Greg Mehlmann, Will Perry, and Frank Smith). Another classmate, Dr. Chris Filley, joined us for dinner on Saturday.

On Friday, the day started with a greeting from our favorite Alumni Director, Sue Burleigh, and a videotaped session in the newly remodeled and expanded Welborn House. Great discussion took place about our memories of the quality of education, diverse campus life, athletics, and how the school has changed from an all-boys day and boarding prep school. Names most mentioned with fond memories included former Headmaster Charles Froelicher, Coach Robert Simms, English teacher Frank Slevin, and of course, teacher and disciplinarian, Tom Lee. A slew of other teachers (Griggs Dayton, AJ Musil, Ben Priest, Ned Amstutz, Frank Kimmel) and student names fondly came up, as well as beloved staff members, Chef Harry McGinnis and bus drivers Joe Martino and Elio Sotolongo.

Of course, we went over the outstanding Senior pranks during our time at CA: Chuck’s Bentley parked on the classroom building steps and grass sod placed in Slevin’s classroom seemed to be the most notable.

Certainly, we asked each other about our life’s journeys. Some interesting stories—both fun and serious. Fifty years is a long time, but surprisingly, many of the CA memories came out clear and fresh as if it were yesterday.

Sadly, we remembered our classmates that have passed—Steve Adler, Marshall Dickson, Gary Freeman, Bob Gottschalk, Jim Honey, Todd Jones, Trip Maytag, John Steakley, and most recently, David Price, who passed in May 2018. Last year a CA Memorial Fund was started for David Price. Athletic Director Bill Hall joined us in the Welborn House living room to accept the gift and to announce that the funds will be used to build stands behind home plate at the baseball diamond. A memorial plaque for our friend David will also be erected.

Lunch followed in the Carolyn Smith Alumni Center (replacing a building known to us back then as the Infirmary, run by Nurse Brignac). Joining us for lunch and more stories were former teacher and Lower School Principal Tom Fitzgerald and former CA parent, Tim Burleigh.

Before Giant Relay got underway, we were taken on a full campus tour. Now encompassing 97 acres, the campus is quite impressive. Instead of one old gymnasium, now stands a giant athletic complex, complete with a field house and an east and west gym. We even saw a female athlete in the Training Room getting taped up. In our day, I think we if we needed athletic tape, we would have to borrow some from a locker mate. Also impressive were all the championship plaques and trophies won by CA teams (both boys and girls) over the years. As a matter of fact, CA girls teams had just brought home 2019 State Championships in lacrosse, soccer, and golf. Before departing the athletic complex, we heard from the ever-popular Head of School, Mike Davis. The tour continued through the new two-story main Upper School classroom building, Lower School, the Schotters Music Center, and the new/refurbished Ponzio Arts Center (one of our old dormitory buildings—Stevens House).

Unfortunately, it was in the Ponzio Arts Center where we found the sculpture of Icarus, less than prominently hanging in a stairwell. We all remembered the impressive sculpture hanging over our main study table in the Kassler Library in the Knowles Academic building. At that point we were joined by the Class of ’74 to start a movement to “FREE ICARUS” and move our old friend to a more prominent and fitting location. A formal request is being sent to the Head of School and Director of Fine and Performing Arts. More about that in the Fall.

Also noteworthy, our tour included the Harry McGinnis Kitchen, named for our friend and favorite chef.

Giant Relay then started with Student, Faculty, Alumni, and Parent Teams. Now, the relay is held within the campus boundaries, but it is still a fun event.

All-Alumni Party, From Left: Paul Whistler ’66, Will Perry ’69, Henry Johnson ’69, Bruce Bistline ’69, Don Dodge ’69

After Giant Relay, an all-alumni reception was held on the front lawn of the Welborn House—the exact same lawn where our class assembled prior to our graduation 50 years ago.

Our Reunion Weekend concluded with a dinner at the Denver Country Club. Joining us were Sue Burleigh and Tom Fitzgerald.

It’s always difficult to coax all classmates to attend, but, I know those that did not attend missed a very special weekend. To those old classmate friends, we send best wishes, wherever you may be. GO CA!

Reunion dinner, First Row (L to R): Jana Dodge, Bruce Bistline, Frank Smith, Carol Mehlmann.
Second Row: Don Dodge, Tom Fitzgerald, Henry Johnson, Chris Filley, Charles Cavness, Greg Mehlmann.