Brother President Ronald Gallagher '69 (right) welcomes fellow Gaels back to campus during the Alumni Reunion.

More than 700 Saint Mary’s graduates and friends returned to campus for the July 18-20 Reunion Weekend, seizing the opportunity to catch up with classmates and share stories from the glory years.

“It was gratifying to see so many alums return to campus for the reunion,” said Brother President Ronald Gallagher ’69, who split time between his contemporaries from the late 60s and younger alumni he’s taught through the years.

“It’s a great reminder of the many deep friendships which have been made during the years here at Saint Mary’s.”

In warm-up events on Friday, individual classes held golf tournaments, barbecues and dinners at various off-campus locations, including the Orinda Country Club, Pyramid Alehouse in Walnut Creek and Joe’s of Lafayette.

“It’s a bit surreal to be back,” said Sarah (Souza) Lewis ’03, part of the young guard who joined 5th reunion classmates staying in the dorms.

By Saturday’s main event, currents of nostalgia swirled through afternoon gatherings at the Poplar Grove, Galileo Lawn and Ferroggiaro Quad. And with the campus’ Mission-style buildings glistening in the midsummer sunshine, one could be forgiven for thinking, if the weather was any indication, that God must indeed be a Gael.

Members of the classes of ’58, ’63, ’68, ’73, '83, ’88, ’93, ’98 and ’03 — some from the later years trundling strollers with potential Gaels tucked inside — took tours of the campus. Many were seeing the School of Education’s Filippi Academic Hall and the School of Science’s Brousseau Hall for the first time.

George Silvestri, Tim Wong and Bill Corrigan — members of the centenary class of 1963 celebrating their 45th reunion — could hardly believe how much the place has changed.

“Back then, the first floor of De La Salle Hall was the only classy place you could meet people from off-campus or hold big events,” remembers Silvestri, an Integral major who helped organize debates on pressing topics of the day, such as the creation of Medicare.

A rare exception was when conservative then-wunderkind William F. Buckley spoke on campus and commanded half of Madigan Gym back in the early 60s.

Over at the makeshift Delphine Lounge pub, Charlie Wilson, Nick Massetti and Rich Meiss of the class of ’68 recounted the playful hazing they received their freshman year from older students.

“I still have the SMC beanie that they made us wear around campus,” Wilson said. “I remember one day they made us wear all our clothes inside out and backwards.”

The ’68 crew was not always on the receiving end of the mischief, however, as archrival Santa Clara learned to its peril.

“A group from our class calculated what it would take to turn the Santa Clara pool into seawater,” said Meiss, highlighting an immediate application of the lessons from Brother Myron Collins' chemistry class.

“And then we put leopard sharks we caught in the Bay in the pool,” Wilson remembers.

The evening drew to a close with class dinners in Oliver Hall and the Soda Center, where classmates snapped photos and danced the night away to the music of Diamond Dave Hosley.

“It was very exciting and emotional to be back,” said Rick Reviglio ’88, who traveled from Nevada for his 20th reunion.

“When you live in this beautiful campus setting for four years, you become very close to so many special friends that had such an impact on your life.”

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