Alumni eNewsletter: Gallaudet alumni booth proves to be a popular gathering place at Deaf Seniors of America conference (Archives)

Greetings, beloved alumni!

It was absolutely wonderful to be a part of the Deaf Seniors of America (DSA) conference in Las Vegas, Nev., June 21-25. The entire week flew by in the blink of an eye! Not only was I busy greeting and meeting new and old alumni, I was also busy running to each of the nine class reunions that occurred during the conference as well as taking in the sights of Las Vegas. What a vibrant city and a vibrant conference! In all, 14 class reunions were held.

Alumni kept the alumni booth busy from morning until closing time every day. It was truly inspiring to see how strong the alumni spirit is nationwide. Alumni stopped by for updates on Gallaudet, to talk about upcoming class reunions, or just to chat. Many stopped by to contribute to the portrait of President Davila, making a gift to Gallaudet University, and helping with fundraising for the painting.

The four Gallaudet University Alumni Association (GUAA) Board members who helped volunteer at the booth (Gerald "Bummy" Burstein, ’50, Nancy Evans Kensicki, ’65 & G-’67, Pauline Bienvenu Wood, ’74, and June Rothenberg McMahon, ’74) and I were kept extremely busy by alumni with questions regarding their memberships to the GUAA alumni e-newsletter and about Gallaudet’s 150th anniversary in 2014. It was thrilling to see how loyal and excited alumni are about Gallaudet.

Not only was the booth a source for updates on Gallaudet, it was also an information center for the many class reunions that occurred during the conference. Some were already planned, some were impromptu gatherings. One class met in the hallway to discuss their upcoming class reunion, another had a catered dinner in a private room, another class had several reunions during the week, and the rest ate at various places from the Paris Hotel and Casino to the Bellagio to Harrah’s Las Vegas.

I attended nine class reunions in all, and went to a few each day starting on Tuesday morning with the Class of 1961, which met during breakfast. Later that evening, I went to six class reunions, starting with the Class of 1960, then the Class of 1957, both of which were at the Paris Hotel and Casino. After that I was on to the Bellagio Hotel where the Classes of 1962, ’63, and ’64 were holding their own reunions at The Buffet. All of them occurred around the same time. The alumni spirit kept my energy flowing throughout the evening, and it was wonderful to be able to attend each class reunion and bring Gallaudet to them.

On Wednesday afternoon and evening, I visited with the Class of 1956, which had a luncheon at Le Burger Brasserie inside the Paris Hotel, and the Class of 1966, which celebrated its class reunion with a catered dinner in one of the meeting rooms of the Paris Hotel.

Thursday morning found me attending the Class of 1969’s reunion and breakfast, also at the Paris Hotel. What a rowdy and raucous class that was! A total of 82 members showed up for that, alone!

In addition to the other class reunions that were held, the Classes of 1954, 1968, 1972, and 1978 held their own reunions elsewhere. The number of alumni attending the class reunions ranged from 16 to 84 members! Many are already planning their upcoming class reunions during Homecoming. The Class of 1964 is preparing now for its 50th class reunion, which will occur in 2014--the same year as Gallaudet’s 150th birthday!

I brought Jane Norman, who was also at the conference, with me to class reunions to promote the Gallaudet University Museum she is trying to establish. We got lost going to the Bellagio from the Paris Hotel, and were awestruck at how huge everything is in Las Vegas, so we were running late and short on time. So I would run into one reunion, speak for a few minutes, then run to another. I was supposed to visit the Class of 1959 but ran out of time; no one seemed to mind! Thank you to those who were both patient and understanding with us!

In addition to the booth and class reunions, I assisted Jane with her museum workshop. Over 70 people attended the workshop, where she gave an absolutely wonderful presentation on the history of trying to establish the museum, and explained the concept of it. As a result, many said they would show their support. Many also expressed interest in seeing the museum happen. The Class of 1958 has made the museum its baby by raising money for it, but the Class of 1957 surprised us twice by donating money to the museum.

There was also a raffle for the gorgeous blanket of Gallaudet University, and Edmond Holland, E-'57, won it! Bummy Burstein did the drawing and gave the blanket to Mel Carter, ’66, master of ceremonies at the banquet on the last night of the conference, to announce the winner.

All in all, it was a wonderful week. I truly enjoyed seeing and meeting many of you, and I am looking forward to seeing you at future events and reunions. You all have made me feel even more proud to be an alumna, and to represent Gallaudet.

I would also like to extend very special thanks to the GUAA Board and Bummy for all of their incredible help in manning the booth. The booth itself would not have been successful without them.

Yours in alumni spirit,

Abigail Drake, ’97 & ‘G-99.

Posted: 10 Jul 2009

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