The 1984-1985 school year was marked by the anticipated, one year away, celebration of the centennial of the founding of Saint Ignatius High School in 1886. The Class of 1985 felt that somehow they had been bypassed amidst all of the pre-centennial hoopla, and the theme of the 1985 Ignatian yearbook perfectly expressed their sentiments about their place in Wildcat history: 1985: “The Forgotten Year” – HARDLY
Personally, I couldn’t forget the Class of 1985 if I tried. Ask parents who their favorite child is and they will rightfully say that it is impossible to choose – all children have their individual qualities that make them uniquely special to their parents. Ask me my favorite class in my 37 years of teaching and I will tell you that I love them all, but if you nudge me even the slightest bit I will unhesitatingly proclaim that my favorite is the Class of 1985. They, more than any other year are “my guys.”
We were freshmen together. When I walked into 227 Loyola Hall on the first day of class in the late summer of 1981 I could not tell who was more nervous to begin their Ignatius careers, the students or me. Well, since I don’t know if any of them lost their breakfast before entering the room, I’ll say that I was more nervous.
I had no such feelings as I walked with Jim Brennan ’85 into the back room of Market Garden Brewery on Monday evening. In previous years Chris Koehler ’85 has been kind enough to invite me to the Class of 1985 Christmas Party, but one thing or another has always kept me from stopping by. This year nothing got in the way –even my bad memory – and so I was able to revel in discussions of both the good old days and the even better new days in the lives of my favorite class.
Some of the guys I have seen often over the years. I see Jim Brennan every day and then some. I run into Mike Bornhorst ’85 at various West Side social gatherings, and the same with Chris Koehler on the East Side. I have even bumped into Chris at Notre Dame where his Chris ‘13 and my Mary Kate were classmates.
A few years back I would see Fran Adler ’85 quite a bit when our daughters were classmates at St. Angela Merici School. And I’ve had the pleasure of teaching the sons of Chris, John Lavelle ’85, Lenny Soeder ’85, Kevin Lenhard ’85 and Kevin Ginley ’85, with Owen Ginley ’10 and his dad having the distinction of being the first father-son combo to survive my class.
It was fun to hear the musings of the irrepressible Matt Mooney ’85, as he held court for me, Brennan, Tim Sweeney ’85 and Mike Atkinson ’85. On the quieter side, it was great to catch up with Bill Priemer ’85 and Matt Clemens ’85. These encounters reminded me that people get older, but at their core they are the same great guys I knew back in the early 1980s.
I left around eight o’clock, knowing that these youngsters were going to be able to reminisce way past my bedtime. My early departure kept me from seeing Kevin O’Neill ‘85, but as I made my final rounds I did see Ed Stevens ’85 and Kajo Paukert ’85 among the last group to whom I said goodbye for the night.
Kajo gave me the surprise of the evening by recalling an assignment from my class almost 40 years ago; an assignment where they discussed how lyrics from a favorite song related to the theme of love. Kajo even remembered the song, the band and the not totally “on topic” nature of the lyrics. We all had one final laugh together and then I strode out onto West 25th Street and made my way back to campus to retrieve my car.
I had time to think as I walked past restaurants that did not exist when these young men – and to me they will always be young men – were Wildcats, and I was both saddened by the all-too-quick passing of years, yet heartened that the words of the Alma Mater about “unforgotten faces” still ring true. And for me, that is especially the case when it comes to the totally unforgettable Class of 1985.