Auburn News

Alumni Reunions Embody the True Meaning of the Auburn Family

[et_pb_section admin_label=”section”][et_pb_row admin_label=”row”][et_pb_column type=”1_2″][et_pb_image admin_label=”Image” src=”http://wp.auburn.edu/auburnmagazine/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/1985_editedv-copy.jpg” alt=”Auburn friends gather at their first reunion in 1985″ title_text=”1985 Reunion” show_in_lightbox=”on” url_new_window=”off” animation=”left” sticky=”off” align=”left” force_fullwidth=”off” always_center_on_mobile=”on” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”] [/et_pb_image][et_pb_image admin_label=”Image” src=”http://wp.auburn.edu/auburnmagazine/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/AU-Reunion-Pic-2015.jpg” alt=”Auburn alumni gather during their 2015 reunion. They’ve been getting together for 30 years.” title_text=”2015 AU Reunion” show_in_lightbox=”on” url_new_window=”off” animation=”left” sticky=”off” align=”left” force_fullwidth=”off” always_center_on_mobile=”on” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”] [/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”1_2″][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”left” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”]

Although the phrase the “Auburn Family” conjures up varying favorite memories and pastimes for different alumni, most would agree that an exemplary example of this spirit is the group of Auburn friends who have been gathering for reunions for more than 30 years. This assemblage of alumni travel from their homes in places like Minnesota, Texas, Florida and Georgia to converge together for a weekend of relaxation and nostalgia nearly every five years.

The reunions are hosted each time at the farm of Jim MacKenzie, one of the original group members. These events provide an opportunity for the good friends to get together and discuss their lives.

“My favorite thing about hosting the reunion is catching up with great friends I haven’t seen in a while, yet with that same old comfort level we always had, talking about what has happened and plans for what will happen,” MacKenzie said. “It also is easy as well as fun because this group can adapt to the current situation on the farm and enjoy being outdoors.”

These reunions started in 1985 as a happy accident. Several friends in the group happened to be going to the farm at the same time to help build a catch pen to herd cattle into.

“There were several of us that were going to be on the farm in Uniontown,” said Mary Ann Taylor, an initial member of the friend group. “It was not planned. It was just, ‘We’re going to be here. Hey, why don’t you come?’ and that was the first one. It was a working reunion. Over time, it’s less work and more socialization…”

The 10 students originally met during their time working with the University Program Council. The majority of them served on the Outdoor Recreation committee, bonding over their mutual love of nature. This passion for the outdoors is one reason why the farm is the perfect setting for their gatherings.

“It’s the right atmosphere because…we all love the land,” Taylor said. “There’s always something to do and it’s relaxing. We all love the outdoors and we’re conscious about the environment.”

The farm has all the necessities needed for a good time. The friends fish, ride the tractor, hike through the fields and traditionally have a huge bonfire on the Saturday night of their weekend-long reunions. The get-togethers have grown over the years as the alumni bring children, spouses and even pets to the event. They have also gotten to know people in Uniontown who come to the reunions sometimes. It was one of these town friends whose ill-fated generosity contributed to a favorite reunion memory.

While driving down to the farm for one of these gatherings, Rob Dudley, a member of the original friend group, witnessed the car in front of him hit and kill a deer. Thinking it would make for a good dinner, he strapped the roadkill to his car and brought it to the farm. The friends dressed the deer out and borrowed the grill of their friend from town to cook it.

“The last thing our friend said was, ‘This is my wife’s new grill, just make sure it comes back clean,’” Taylor said.

As if these words jinxed it, disaster struck. The friends went for a hike across the farm and completely forgot about the deer on the grill. When they returned, they found both destroyed.

“We have this charred carcass of the deer that we come back to and the new grill is of course charred as well,” Taylor said.

Like most good stories, this one has a happy ending, as the group all chipped in to pay for a new grill. The tale has now become legend and is a favorite to recount at reunions.

The latest get-together took place a few weeks ago on the weekend of October 24, with 16 people in attendance.

“It definitely shows the Auburn Family and how people 32 years [later] can come together and remain friends.” Taylor said. “And not just friends, but good friends, close friends. I think that is the epitome of the Auburn Family.”

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