“50 years ago, the Class of 1963 was starting their final year of college. That year, football games were still played in Roanoke, the Corps had just moved out of Eggleston Hall and Washington Street did not have any residence halls lining it,” said Gene Huffman last weekend in a speech to current cadets about the Class of 1963’s senior year.
This past weekend, that same class returned to Virginia Tech to be inducted into the Old Guard.
P.B. Earle, who graduated in 1901, first mentioned the Old Guard in 1967 as a means to help older alumni stay in contact with each other. Later that year, the Alumni Association agreed, and established the Old Guard at Virginia Tech. The only requirement for membership is that a class is 50 years removed from the university. There are no dues associated with membership in the Old Guard in order to encourage participation in reunions held on campus.
Each year, the induction ceremony for the Old Guard takes place during Homecoming weekend. David Lowe, who served as Regimental Commander of the Corps of Cadets, as well as the president for the Class of 1963, was one of 177 graduates from 1963 that returned to campus for the induction ceremony this year.
“While much has changed, the qualities that define our alma mater have endured — a commitment of service embodied in “Ut Prosim” and a strong sense of family that the world has come to known as ‘The Hokie Nation,’” Lowe said.
After graduation, Lowe spent five years in the United States Air Force, and then 35 years in the telecommunications industry. Lowe is a past president and an honorary lifetime board member of the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, as well as being a member of the Ut Prosim Society.
In addition to the Old Guard ceremonies, Alumni of the Highty Tighties, the oldest collegiate band in the Commonwealth, returned to campus for a joint performance with current band members. This year marked the 38th year the Alumni Band has marched in the Homecoming pre-game performances.
The alumni group marched in the Homecoming Parade down Main Street in front of the Corps of Cadets under the direction of Lori Keck, Class of 1991, the first female drum major.
For the pre-game performance, the Alumni Band marched under the direction of David Garthoff, the Drum Major for the Class of 1953. Garthoff lead the Highty Tighties to the first of three first place trophies for the Presidential inaugural parades.
The Highty Tighty Alumni Association was organized in 1975 to support the Regimental Band and allowed alumni to stay in contact with each other. Each year, alumni personally fund a $1,000 stipend to all incoming freshmen in the Highty Tighties to help ease the difficulties of paying for college.
“It’s a great time for all who have lived the Highty-Tighty experience to come together, not only to enjoy the opportunity to march again as a band, but to also reflect on what it means to be a Highty-Tighty,” said Bert Kinzey, Class of 1968 alumnus, and current Highty Tighty Alumni President.