Armstrong Honors Golden Grads with Luncheon

(May 2, 2012) Armstrong honored its Golden Grads, alumni from the classes of 1937 to 1962, and commemorated 75 years of Armstrong theatre history with a luncheon on campus and matinee of the Masquers' Much Ado About Nothing on Sunday, April 15.

On the sunny April afternoon, about 50 guests gathered for lunch at the Student Union. For all of the Golden Grads, the occasion provided their first opportunity to see Armstrong's new student union and experience a key component of contemporary campus life. For several of the alumni, the visit to Armstrong was their first to the Southside campus.

Upon arrival, guests first encountered a multimedia presentation from the university archives that focused on life at Armstrong from 1932 through 1962. Alumni pored over the ephemera and reminisced over a selection of yearbooks on hand.

Golden Grad Dr. William S. Ray, Jr., a prominent Savannah dentist, was presented as the 2011 Distinguished Alumni Award Winner and accepted the honor with some touching remarks to the crowd assembled. Dr. Ray attended Armstrong for only one year, 1957, but he credits that year with giving him the education and confidence to forge ahead with his dream of becoming a dentist.

One of the highlights of the afternoon was the day's celebration of the Masquers 75th anniversary, aided in no small part by the presence of Jack Porter, former Armstrong English professor and director of the Masquers from 1952 until 1955. Porter brought along his own archival display of Masquers artifacts and enjoyed regaling the group, which included some former students, with stories and anecdotes from the 1950s.

“I was gratified but bemused to have the spotlight shine on me at the Armstrong Golden reunion and 75th Masquers Anniversary,” said Porter. “Apparently the period of 1952-1955 Masquers when I was their director still holds interest for people sixty years later. To be at the luncheon shows how much Armstrong meant and means to me, a sentiment all of us ‘Golden Oldies' feel.”

After lunch and remarks from President Linda Bleicken, the group moved on to Jenkins Hall where the Armstrong alumni faithful were greeted by actors from Much Ado About Nothing, who acknowledged Porter and the assembled Golden Graduate Pirates before the curtain's rise.

The day wound down in a celebratory, nostalgic mood, with today's Armstrong community inspired by the Golden Grads' return to campus and encouraged by the alumni to move forward in success.