More than 40 people returned to Lander University in mid-April for the annual Retirees Brunch in honor of their years of service to the school - and whether they came from near or far, everyone enjoyed good food, reconnecting with old friends and sharing memories, and hearing the latest on school developments.
"My wife and I came all the way from Chesterfield County," said Charles Agnew, who started with Lander as a maintenance worker in 1972. "We try to come every year - and I've only missed one time since retiring in 1995."
The gathering included former professors, department coordinators, service directors, and a Lander Hall of Fame librarian.
"It's fun seeing people I used to work with," said Betty Williams, who retired in 2009 after 44 years as the university's reference librarian. "And my job at Lander is the one and only job I ever had."
The annual brunch honors and recognizes all former employees, many of whom were with Lander for more than 30 years.
"I try to attend every year," said Kenneth Mufuka, originally from Zimbabwe, and teacher of Western Civilization from 1976-2010. "I was one of the first black professors here, and while I miss teaching, now I do missionary work and enjoy that."
Other attendees included: Emily Collier Phillips, former director of procurement services, who retired in 1998; Wilma Reeves Phillips, former associate professor of home economics; and Aron Tannenbaum, professor of political science and Russian politics for 33 years - and who still possesses a trace of his original Brooklyn, N.Y., accent and an original Brooklyn Dodgers shirt from 1955-57.
"I don't think it fits me anymore," Tannenbaum said. "But the brunches do - it's always fun to see everyone and catch up with them."
Part of the catching up included a report from Lander President Richard Cosentino, who told the gathering about upcoming plans, challenges, and transitions.
"The room you're in right now will not look like this next year - It will be completely reconfigured to accommodate the increase in students enrolling at Lander in Fall 2017," he told everyone. "We're also introducing new programs in the fall to better prepare our students for graduate school and employment opportunities."
He added that, thanks to the groundwork and pioneering efforts of many of the attendees, "the students who come here next year will, at the end of four years, be some of the most highly prepared academic students you will find in any university anywhere."
"Next year will be transformational for Lander, and all of you here were - and are - a part of that," Cosentino said. "And I know you'll be proud of what we accomplish."