June 15, 2008
Hundreds danced the night away at the Gala Cocktail Reception and
Dinner Dance which was the highlight of Reunion Celebration Weekend
2008. The event was held June 14 on the Queens campus at Taffner
Field House which was transformed into a gorgeous venue for the
night. Attendees enjoyed sumptuous food, great music and the
company of fellow alumni and friends of the University. Members of
the classes of 1958, 1968 and 1983 wore commemorative medals to
mark their 50th, 40th and 25th year anniversaries, respectively.
The evening had an international flavor as flags from Italy, France
and the United States adorned tables at the reception and attendees
feasted on treats from various cultures.
Those present continued to soak in the atmosphere of camaraderie
and good times ever present at Reunion. Kim Nguyen ’78SVC came from
Cerritos, CA to join her friends, Denise (’78SVC) and Stuart Chase
’80SVC for the weekends festivities and said it offered the
opportunity for the group to reconnect. “We haven’t seen each other
in 30 years,” she said. “I wrote to [Denise] and we decided to
come. I had a great time here at St. John’s.” Likewise, Mr. and
Mrs. Chase said they were thrilled to be able to see Nguyen after
so many years of being out of touch. They are fond of alma
and their son Adam (’09TCB) is captain on the
University’s bowling team. “[Kim] was someone I was very close with
30 years ago and we’ve gotten reacquainted,” Mrs. Chase said,
Hon. Robert D. Kelly ’61CBA said those types of connections are
part of what make St. John’s so special. “This event has been
lovely,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to see old friends, but more
importantly, to meet those from other years.” The University, he
added, holds a special place in the hearts of many alumni who are
thankful for the start they received. “I love St. John’s,” he said.
“I was a kid from the South Bronx tenements and there was no out,
there was no way up. Somehow I found St. John’s and it found me and
it was my ticket to independence financially and intellectually. I
owe so much to this school.”
Alumni celebrating their reunion years reciprocated that sense of
indebtedness with a record-breaking class gift of more than $2
million that was presented during the dinner. The money raised will
be used to continue the University’s mission of providing a quality
education for those in need. The dinner also served as an
opportunity to honor three couples, Marie Kaiser Napoli ’89C, ’93L
and Paul J. Napoli, Esq. ’92L; Dolores C. Kaiser ’53UC and John E.
Kaiser ’53L; and Patricia M. Shea ’83C and Brian T. Shea ’83CBA who
were presented with the Fidelitas Award. The award is given to
alumni couples who attended the University, married and have
consistently demonstrated their deep commitment, dedication and
love, as a married couple, for alma mater
In his closing remarks, University President Rev. Donald J.
said such a weekend reminded him that as
different as St. John’s is from when many of the alumni attended,
it is yet still very much the same. The University has remained
deeply rooted in its mission and able to thrive partly due to its
graduates, he said. “We have much to celebrate in our traditions
and our embracing the future in new and different ways,” Fr.
Harrington told those gathered. “And it has all been possible
because of the great support of our alumni.”
The evening concluded with dancing and dessert.