Back to
Columns Magazine
Nifty Fifty

LATER THIS MONTH, A MOTLEY GROUP of U.S. and Canadian citizens will gather at a restaurant in Mukilteo and you can be certain the authorities will be on guard. For there’s a good chance that entourage is going to carry on and make a lot of noise—mostly in the form of loud laughter. And why not? It will be the 50th reunion of this gang of McMahon Hall alums. Even though they are scattered all over two countries, they gather every year.

This gang met way back when Lyndon Baines Johnson was president and McMahon Hall—one of the UW’s first co-ed dorms—had opened in 1965. And what a time it was. “It was a very interesting and often tumultuous time,” recalls Randy Williamson, ’73, of Seattle, “given the protests about the Vietnam War, the hippie movement, etc. However, most of us were not part of that and just tried to survive in an atmosphere of studying hard and getting good grades.”

But studying wasn’t the only thing on their minds. While the women lived in one wing and men in another, they would often meet in the room of Charlie Zimmerman, ’72, and Lionel E. Ditz, ’67, the group’s lone foreigner (OK, he was from Canada) for a smoke or a beer. “I was the only one over 21, so I ran out for beers,” Ditz says from his home in Winnipeg. “Then I ran downstairs to get some ice from the kitchen.”

On the academic side of things, Zimmerman and Dave Tegeler, ’67, ’68, both engineering students kept things entertaining by making homemade rockets and launching them to see how they would lift off. As you can imagine, it made for fun viewing.

Lionel E. Ditz, ’67
John Huguenin, ’69
Susan K. Lemke, ’68
Robert Malstrom, ’68
Gary Neeman
Lou Sackmann, ’68
Dave Tegeler, ’67, ’68
Douglas Thompson, ’67
Mary Westcott Svela, ’68
Gary Wirt
Charlie Zimmerman, ’72
Pat Cranston (professor emeritus)

9 Responses to Nifty Fifty

  1. Leroy Keith says:

    I just noticed Gary Wirt is one of the Nifty Fifty who are featured in the latest Columns magazine. I used to have a very good friend in the seventies and eighties who was from Yakima, a music major, and a pilot in the FAA. He was also a resident of McMahon Hall I believe. I was in the FAA in the seventy’s and eighty’s also, any chance you could send him my message or my email address at least and tell him I’ve been looking for him for the last 10 to 15 years? I graduated from the UW in 1964 with a degree in aeronautics and astronautics. We had some great times skiing and flying a Cessna 205 to the ski resorts in the West. Thanks a lot for your efforts if possible.

  2. Jeffrey N. Golub says:

    How can I join this wonderful group of McMahon Hall alums? I was also a resident of McMahon Hall in 1965, the year it opened and admitted students. I had just completed my junior year of undergraduate work at the U. of California, Riverside. Came up to Seattle in the summer of 1965 to visit family members; loved the city; so I transferred to the UW for my senior year, applied for admission to McMahon Hall…and was accepted. My roommate was Claude Greene, and he was just a terrific person and good friend. Went on to become an English teacher in Seattle and then an Associate Professor of English Education at the U. of South Florida, Tampa. Retired in 2004; moved back to the Pacific Northwest; and am living now in Bothell. And that’s my story. My best wishes to the other alums of McMahon Hall’s first year. Fond memories of the place.

    • Gregg Herrington says:

      Jeffrey

      I, too “opened” McMahon in the fall of ’65, transferring as a junior out of Clark College in Vancouver, Wash. I was a journalism major and became Daily editor in spring 1967 and graduated on June 10, ’67. I was in room 311 both my junior and senior years and loved McMahon, partly because it was so close to the Communications Building, my home away from home.

      This item in Columns was the first I had heard about a McMahon alumni group and its annual gatherings. Please tell me more, assuming you’ve now heard more. Is there a contact person or Website or phone number? Have I already missed the 2015 reunion?

      Thank you, Jeffrey,

      Gregg Herrington
      East Wenatchee, Wash.
      9-14-15

      • Jeffrey N. Golub says:

        Gregg, thanks for writing. I read about this group of McMahon Hall alums in the latest issue of the “Columns” magazine. However, I should have read the article more closely before posting here: evidently, this is a group of alums who have been meeting together annually for many years now. I thought it was an invitation for *all* interested McMahon Hall alums to meet; but now I don’t think that’s the case. You and I will just have to be satisfied with our McMahon moments and memories…but they are good memories, indeed. My best wishes to you.

        • Gregg Herrington says:

          Jeffrey

          Darn! I’d like to have attended a reunion of McMahonites from the early years. By the way, my Vancouver, Wash., pals who also moved into McMahon the fall it opened (Dick Showalter and Steve Derby) remind me that the infamous Ted Bundy — yes, the serial killer — lived in McMahon during at least part of the first two or three years the place was open.

          Dick and Steve were roommates that first year (1965-66) in the south wing — which was mostly for women, but a few floors (two or three, I think) were for men. What was your room number and do you remember the name of your floor advisor, usually a grad student? Ours (3rd floor, north wing) was Larry Stone, a chain-smoking, delightful frat guy (SAE house) who introduced me to beer drinking at the Iron Bull tavern on 45th Street. Great memories.

          Thanks again for the reply.

          Gregg Herrington

          • Jeffrey N. Golub says:

            Thanks for writing with your news and notes about your memories of the Hall. No, I don’t remember my room number or advisor’s name. Suggestion: If you’re feeling ambitious, call or write the UW Alumni Association office and persuade them to put out a call for *all* 1965 McMahon Hall residents to check in and make themselves visible. Then the Alumni Association itself might schedule a reunion of all those who reported in. Wouldn’t that be something?? Just a thought.

  3. Jeffrey N. Golub says:

    Thanks for writing with your news and notes about your memories of the Hall. No, I don’t remember my room number or advisor’s name. Suggestion: If you’re feeling ambitious, call or write the UW Alumni Association office and persuade them to put out a call for *all* 1965 McMahon Hall residents to check in and make themselves visible. Then the Alumni Association itself might schedule a reunion of all those who reported in. Wouldn’t that be something?? Just a thought.

  4. H Kirk Willard says:

    Thanks for the article. Fred Weinmann and I(McMahon roommates)were hiking in Port Townsend last week and still contact Jack and Joanne (Morse) Evans — McMahon graduates 3 in 1969.{PhDs; JD; BS}1965-69 were great years at McM. Entry flour different now. -HKW

What Do You Think?

Use the form below to comment on this story. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

Personal attacks, insults, profanity, solicitations and spam are prohibited. The UW Alumni Association reserves the right to remove comments. For more information, please read our comment FAQ.