Each year, alumni celebrate milestones by gathering with classmates at Homecoming. Honored classes are reconnected to celebrate the times they experienced together at Pacific University and their success since. When alumni reach their 50-year reunion, they leave their permanent mark on campus.
The History of the Old Guard
In 1965, a proposal was made to create a special group in honor of those alumni who had graduated more than 50 years ago. This proposal was aptly named the “Old Guard.”
The purpose of the group was stated as “providing special recognition of the senior alumni of Pacific University; to insure that all alumni classes, no matter how large or small, have a “home” when they return for reunions; to provide a vehicle for communication and contact among the senior alumni.”
Membership in this group was granted to all graduates and former students of Pacific University whose class was graduated 50 or more years ago as well as all Tualatin Academy alumni.
On April 18, 1966, a letter was sent to alumni who graduated 50 or more years prior announcing the “Old Guard.” The first gathering of the Old Guard took place during commencement on May 15, 1966. The class of 1916 was inducted into the Old Guard by alumnus Arthur Prideaux ‘06, who was the oldest alumnus present.
Fifty-year alumni have been inducted into the Old Guard every year since 1966. The class of 1937 was right around the corner from reaching their big anniversary and the class had some comments to make.
From "Old" to "Golden"
Alumnus Ted Stook ’37 wrote an editor’s note to the Pacific Today magazine on behalf of his class in spring 1987. Their thoughts were simply this, “the term 'Old Guard' was no longer logical or applicable to this organization as many of the group participates in active lives of travel, sports exercise and volunteer associations. We do not believe we are 'old.' Therefore, so that this honored group may have a more practical and realistic title we respectfully suggest a change in name to 'Golden Guard'."
Looking back to the proposal created in 1965, there were many names suggested for this group. Names like the Mid-Century Club, the Boxer Brigade, the Golden Circle, and even the Fiftieth-Year Club. Eventually, the Old Guard was decided and this established group moved forward by inducting honored classes every year.
Since 1966, more than 25 classes had been inducted into the Old Guard. Each year, members were presented with medallions engraved with the University seal which signified the milestone they achieved.
During Homecoming Weekend in 1993, the class of 1943 and the members of the Old Guard were invited to sign their names in wet concrete outside Old College Hall to signify a place the alumni called home, previously documented in the proposal.
Once the cement dried, the alumni would become a piece of Pacific University’s campus and history. With this event a new tradition of the Old Guard was created.
An Evolving Homecoming Tradition
Another change was made in 1997. The editor’s note sent in from the class of 1937 lingered within the Office of Alumni Relations. Did the “Old Guard” truly represent this group? After many discussions, it was confirmed the Old Guard definitely wasn’t “old.” During Homecoming Weekend 1997, the class of 1948 was officially inducted into the “Golden Guard.” Since 1966, 45 classes have been inducted into this prestigious group of alumni whether it was called the Old Guard or the Golden Guard.
In 2003, Old College Hall was set on wheels and rolled into the street, around the block to a new location on College Way. At the same time the Golden Guard sidewalk, which wrapped Old College Hall, was also picked up and moved. Each year a square is removed, re-poured and the 50th class and the Golden Guard carve their name in the wet concrete.
This longstanding tradition is one that will be continued year after year. As Pacific University grows, so do the classes graduating. Each year the Golden Guard gains new members. After being inducted, members are invited to meet semi-annually at exclusive luncheons on campus or in local restaurants so they can continue the connections they made so many years ago.