Red and blue balloons galore, happy faces everywhere, the occasional tree draped in white tissue, and a gorgeous Samford blue sky overhead formed the perfect backdrop for a festive 2007 Homecoming Saturday, Oct. 20.
Thousands of alumni, ranging from the classes of 1941 to 2007, enjoyed a weekend packed with events for all ages.
Saturday's schedule of reunions, parade, hot air balloon rides, football, and Grammy award caliber entertainment made it easy for multi-generation families to have a good time.
"We want to be your university for life," Samford president Andrew Westmoreland told graduates at the Golden Bulldogs Brunch for classes of 1957 and earlier.
Col. Carl Cooper, U.S. Marine Corps, Ret. '43 of Vestavia Hills, Ala., took home the Lockmiller Award as the male from the earliest class at the brunch. Magdalene Wade Thomas '45 of Hendersonville, Tenn., was the female recipient.
Alumni and students filled the second floor reference area of the library to hear storyteller and popular author Kathryn Tucker Windham lament that in today's high tech world, "We've almost forgotten how to have a conversation."
However, her reassurance that "Everybody here is a storyteller" was affirmed throughout the day as graduates caught up on each other's lives and reminisced about their college days.
The parade was led by Homewood mayor Barry McCulley as grand marshal in recognition of the 50-year anniversary of Samford's move to suburban Homewood from the East Lake area of Birmingham.
Alpha Delta Pi sorority's "Impeach the Governors" float, encouraging victory over Homecoming game rival Austin Peay State University, was judged best of the 9 floats in the 28-unit parade.
Children of alumni scrambled to collect candy thrown by parade dignitaries, including alumni of the year Walter Barnes (Class of 1956), Dr. Sigurd Bryan (Class of 1946), Carol Guthrie (Class of 1993) and Dr. George V. Irons, Jr. (Class of 1952).
Five-year-old Ansley Allen could hardly be faulted for her observation that "It's a birthday celebration for Samford!" as she took in the gaily decorated quadrangle during the Homecoming Festival. She was with her two siblings and parents, Robert '98 and Gelaina Davis Allen '97 at the Baptist Student Union tent. The couple are both former BSU Choir members.
Cameras clicked rapid-fire at the ADPi tent when alumna Karen Fairchild '90 dropped by prior to an afternoon sound check in the new Pete Hanna Center with her Little Big Town band.
The Sigma Chi tent drew some non-fraternity members with its flat-screen television, which afforded sports fans a way to follow mid-day action of another football team from the state.
Art alumni assembled to honor veteran faculty member Dr. Lowell Vann `57, who has served more than 37 years on the faculty, 35 of them as department chair. A brief ceremony included the announcement of the Lowell Vann Endowed Art Scholarship honoring his long tenure and status as a true "Samford icon."
While many ate lunch al fresco on the quad, others, perhaps for old times sake, chose the "caf" as a place to reunite with former classmates. Little prompting was needed to solicit stories from yesteryear.
Joe McDade '61, who was a freshman during the school's final year in East Lake, recalled water fights and other mischief that ensued during their last night in the soon-to-be demolished men's barracks.
He and other classmates later regained decorum when, in a nod to continuity of campus spirit, they walked a mysterious box across town from East Lake to Homewood. They presented the contents, a stuffed bulldog (which now resides in the library's Special Collection department), to the student body as a gift from the Sophomore Class.
At Seibert Stadium, halftime activity included the introduction of the Homecoming court and the naming of senior religion major Ellen Donze of Birmingham as queen and senior journalism/mass communication major Jason Morales of Daytona Beach, Fla., as honor escort.
The Samford Bulldogs led 3-0 at halftime, but the game ended with 28-25 Austin Peay win.
Storytelling reached new heights at the Golden Reunion dinner for members of the Class of 1957. Fred Slaughter (class president) Bill Baggett (student body president), Jim Auchmuty (BSU president), Mel Deason (current Alumni Council class agent) and Chriss Doss led former classmates in recalling memories as the last class to graduate on the East Lake campus.
The newly dedicated multi-purpose Pete Hanna Center was christened as a music venue when Little Big Town country music band took to the stage Saturday evening. About 2,000 alumni, students and members of the general public enthusiastically approved the group, which includes former Samford students Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Roads. The two first sang together when they were members of the A Cappella Choir and Samford Singers in the late 1980s.
Sunday worship service in A. Gerow Hodges Chapel was led by Esther and Bob Burroughs, former campus minister and former music faculty member, respectively.
Esther Burroughs advised worshippers to leave legacies of a love for God's word, faithfulness, prayer, service and grace.
She introduced her 100-year-old father, whose advice to lean on her heavenly father rather then on herself was his gift to her when she left their Canadian home to attend college in North Carolina. "He gave me a legacy that day," she said.
Noting that it is up to each generation to relay spiritual guidance to the next, she said, "My challenge to you is to leave a spiritual legacy for your children, grandchildren and your spiritual children. Don't drop the baton."
Bob Burroughs' assemblage of singers in the BSU Reunion Choir that presented special music included Beth Crowe Webster '75 of Gadsden.
"Being able to see Esther and Bob was the drawing card," the former choir member and campus ministries member said of the drive to campus for the early morning rehearsal. "That, and being able to sing in this lovely chapel."
She had been in the building once before, she said, to attend the pinning ceremony when daughter Pamela Webster Gray '02 graduated from Samford's Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing. Other family members at the service who share the Samford legacy were Webster's husband, David Webster, J.D. '74, and her father, 89-year-old Richard G. Crowe '41.
Homecoming Slideshows: Friday, Saturday1, Saturday2