To the Stars

One sunny afternoon in mid-October, several old friends slipped out of the Golden Reunion and commandeered a golf cart for the rough ride up the hill behind campus. Louis Geissberger '53 led the way to the new observatory he donated in honor of his wife, Norma, and posed before it with schoolmates counted among Saint Mary's most spirited and distinguished alumni and donors.

When Geissberger was serving on the regents' science committee, astronomy professor Dr. Ron Olowin made a case for an observatory. Says Geissberger, "I was fascinated by his enthusiasm, and the many benefits such an observatory would have for the science department."

At Christmas in 2004, he presented Norma with a replica of the observatory plaque that bears the names and class years of their four sons, all SMC graduates, along with a cast of Geissberger's own design that, deciphered, means "Five males love you."

"Norma was truly surprised and pleased, as she also had a true love for Saint Mary's College, and had a special devotion to Mary," says Geissberger of his wife, who passed away last spring.

Walter Spellman '53, Lou's former roommate, has also been a loyal alumnus, as a longtime President's Club member.

Robert Walthour '52 was once a Gael swim star and went on to coach swimming at Carmel Valley High School. After 20 years and 120 consecutive victories, they've named the pool after him. He established an athletic scholarship at Saint Mary's, and returned to campus last November to meet the recipient.

Don DeLong '51 owns and manages the Ross Tennis and Swim Club in Marin County. He has established two endowed athletic scholarship funds, the DeLong Family Men's Tennis Endowed Scholarship Fund, and the DeLong Family Endowed Scholarship to support men's basketball.

Arthur Verge '51, whose friendship with Walthour dates back to when they were 14 years old, has taught history at Santa Monica College for more than 30 years. He has been a faithful donor and member of the Los Angeles alumni chapter.

After the photos were taken, the friends climbed back in the cart, except for Lou and Walt, who walked down with the explanation: "Roommates always stick together."