Youngstown Tekes Celebrate 60th Anniversary
This story originally appeared on The Vindicator
Written by: Sean Barron
After having seen the Youngstown State University campus for the first time in nearly 50 years, Ray Talbot struggled briefly to find the words to capture how the experience struck him.
“I’m blown away,” the Asheville, N.C., man and 1967 graduate finally said. “The buildings and grounds are so beautiful. I was just astounded, and after today, I’m proud I graduated from Youngstown State University.”
Talbot, who also belonged to the university’s Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, took part in a campus tour, which preceded Saturday evening’s Red Carnation Ball reunion in YSU’s Williamson College of Business Administration building.
The festive gathering brought together an estimated 166 fraternity alumni members and guests from 18 states to reconnect with friends and become better acquainted with the university’s growth and offerings. The event also honored TKE’s 60th anniversary on the campus, noted Catherine Cala, YSU’s director of alumni engagement.
Attendees, all of whom earned their degrees from the 1960s through the 1990s, also had an opportunity to meet current TKE members, Cala added.
Talbot recalled that tuition during his time at YSU was about $26 per credit hour. Before graduating, he worked for U.S. Steel Corp., then owned a commercial construction company in Pittsburgh, he said.
“When I began at YSU in 1958, there were three main buildings on campus: the library, a snack bar and the engineering building,” recalled John Russ of Montgomery, Ala., who graduated in 1965 and majored in business administration.
Russ, who came with his wife, Sherry, and son Greg, retired after having worked 40 years in the restaurant business. That included having owned three Burger King fast-food eateries in Alabama, he said.
It’s probably safe to surmise that if asked, Steve Garasic of Columbiana won’t be shy about delving into a passionate discussion about some of the cherished relics he owns from the 1960s.
Those include a vintage 1962 Chevrolet Impala, which sports a 409-horsepower engine and carries a logo that reads, “409,” named after the popular Beach Boys song.
Also, Garasic brought to the reunion the original TKE jacket he had bought in 1963. Fifty-three years later, it still fits, said Garasic, who’s affectionately known as “Too Tall.”
“I’m 5 feet, 18 inches tall,” he said with laughter.
Garasic graduated in 1966 and earned his degree in business administration, with minors in psychology and accounting. Now he works in sales for Pittsburgh-based Skyworks Equipment Rental LLC, which sells equipment to the oil and gas industry, Garasic continued.
Also carrying a piece of originality with him was T.R. Rogers of Kitty Hawk, N.C., who brought his original pledge card dated May 14, 1963. Rogers, a 1967 grad, worked for General Motors Corp. and served six years in the Army, including with its Special Security Group.
“It was a really great school, even back then,” he said of YSU.
The event also gave Rogers and Talbot a chance to reunite with Bob Shidemantle of Harrisville, Pa. All three pledged TKE together, they remembered fondly.
Many guests enjoyed browsing around a display table on which were yearbooks, framed photographs, an official scroll and numerous other pieces of memorabilia from the 1950s through the ’90s.
Cala, the alumni-engagement director, thanked Mike Stephany, planning committee chairman, for working with her organization to make the reunion possible. She also said that many of those who saw the campus for the first time in years were impressed with the ways it has changed over the years.
“Many of the [fraternity] brothers on the tour were amazed by how much YSU has improved,” added Cala, who noted that proceeds from the reunion will support four YSU scholarships.