COOKEVILLE – Members of Tennessee Tech’s Class of 1968 have many accomplishments in a variety of fields. From arts and sciences, engineering, business administration and education, many have made an impact in the community and the university through endowments and donations.
Seventy of the 784 graduates returned to campus over the weekend as they were inducted into the Golden Grad Society.
“They really enjoy coming back to campus and seeing everyone,” Brandon Boyd, director of the Crawford Alumni Center, said.
This is the second year the reunion has been held on campus and the third year of it being held during homecoming celebrations.
Davis Watts, agriculture major, was one of the attendees.
“We had coffee and Ralph’s Donuts Friday morning, a meet and greet luncheon to catch up with others from noon to 2:30 p.m., then the gold medallion ceremony,” he said.
Watts is the former senior vice president of First Tennessee Bank in Cookeville. Throughout the years, he’s seen Tech’s campus change, but he got a close-up during the campus tour.
“When I was at Tech, the dairy barn that’s now at Hyder-Burks was where Volpe Library is now,” he said.
He also remembered Memorial Gym being much bigger when he was a student.
“We had lunch in Memorial Gym and that brought back memories,” he said. “I remember thinking that was the biggest building on campus.”
Education major and former women’s basketball coach Bill Worrell also attended.
“I thought the lunch and the presidential medallion ceremony was great,” he said. “The ice breaker was having coffee. That was a chance to see people you haven’t seen in a long time. It was enjoyable.”
During lunch, he enjoyed getting to sit down and talk with people he hasn’t seen in many years and reminisce.
“Having it in Memorial Gym was quite handy because that’s where I spent a lot of time there in my college career,” he said. “I’ve been retired 12 years now and I keep up with Tech (since I’m) local, but I think what they’re doing in science is great. That initiative allows students to come in and open the door to bring outstanding people to Tech. That’s what makes Tech great.”
Worrell retired from coaching in 2006 after being in that position for 20 years.
“I’m never one to look back, but I’m very satisfied with what I’ve accomplished and it’s because of Tennessee Tech,” he said. “The best thing I got out of Tennessee Tech was my wife, Suzanne.”
Suzanne also graduated in 1968 and currently operates her own State Farm insurance agency. They are also celebrating their golden anniversary this year.
Both attendees were pleased with the event.
“It’s a great experience for all of us,” Worrell said. “It only happens once.”
This year, members enjoyed a new way of touring campus. Local historians Eunetta Jenkins, Judy Duke and Calvin Dickinson led the alumni on a walk down memory lane.
Worrell also spoke of his time on the basketball team with fellow graduate Jim Greeson.
“We were on the team when it was integrated,” he said. “It went really smoothly and that’s something to be very proud of.”
They were also the special guests at the president’s tailgate tent and had reserved seating at the football game.
As part of the homecoming celebrations, class members also received a memorabilia book, which featured a memorial page commemorating those classmates who died in the Vietnam War.
That year also saw the crew of Apollo 8 enter orbit, the debut of the Big Mac and apple pie at McDonald’s and the Beatles take over the music charts with “Hey Jude” and the release of The White Album.