When the Class of 1967 graduated from Elon 50 years ago, Elon was still a college, the mascot was a Fighting Christian and Doctor J. Early Danieley was the president.
Sandy Bergman Inman, a class of 1967 graduate, had not been back to Elon since her 10th reunion in 1977. Inman said when she stepped on campus for the first time in 40 years, she "could not believe how much it had changed".
“It’s so beautiful, so gorgeous,” Inman said. “I remember the four walls and everything was in there except for the church and the gymnasium.”
There were less than 2,000 students enrolled at Elon when Inman graduated. The school now has more than 1,000 people in each graduating class and more than 6,000 undergraduate students enrolled.
While many things have changed about Elon since Inman graduated 50 years ago, some things never will. Wayne Seymour and Phil Shaw, classmates of Inman and members of the class of 1967, had played together in a folk duet throughout high school and college.
Seymour recalls one performance in West Parlor where he first met the love of his life.
“My wife was sitting in the corner and I didn’t notice her but she turned to the house mother and said ‘I’m going to marry him, he just doesn’t know it yet,” Seymour said. "And she did."
Seymour and Shaw stopped playing together in 1965, but decided to give it another try at the class reunion on Saturday. Seymour gives Shaw all the credit and said he was amazed that Shaw remembered so many of the words to songs that they hadn’t played in over 50 years. Not only was Seymour impressed with Shaw’s recognition, but also with his unwavering talent.
“It was great fun to sing with him because I found that his voice has changed less and mine-- I used to be quite higher,” Seymour said. “I had to adapt but I was surprised that we could still do it.”
Seymour and Shaw spoke to the differences between the Elon they knew compared to the Elon today. Seymour was a member of the Elon’s first drama class, and was planning on majoring in drama until the major was cancelled. Instead, he double majored in English and History. Seymour said that he is "so happy to see the drama community thrive today at Elon".
“It just delights me to see what they’re doing now because it’s so good,” Seymour said. “We had to do with just like spit and string…it’s grown a lot, a lot, it’s just gigantic.”
Seymour and Shaw also share their stories of President Emeritus Dr. J Earl Danieley. Danieley served as the sixth president of then-Elon College in 1957 for 16 years. His death in November 2016 rocked the university, since he was an active part of the community for nearly 70 years.
“Dr. Danieley was an amazingly active man,” Shaw said. “He kept his eye on everything.”
While he did a great job as president, Seymour and Shaw agree Danieley’s heart was always in the classroom.
“Everybody who had him as a chemistry teacher said he was absolutely, astoundingly brilliant and when he left the presidency and went back to teaching, you could just see a load come off of him,” Seymour said.
Shaw recalls one trip he took with Danieley and Seymour up to Virginia where a pit stop for food lead to an unforgettable story.
“We ordered a steak…and he ordered his steak rare but when it came out, it was beyond rare,” Seymour said. “He said ‘bring me a bandage this cow might walk again!’”
Inman was extremly involved on campus by participating in Greek life, yearbook and cheerleading among other activities, and said she can easily recall Danieley’s impact across campus.
“He was fantastic…he was involved in everything and encouraged people so much,” Inman said. “Everybody loved him. You always felt like you could go and talk to him and whenever he saw you, there was a big bear hug.”
While very few things about Elon are the same as they were in 1967, Inman said the sense of community will never change.
“It was such a family,” Inman said. “The ties that you make are so close and the people are so genuine.”