“This is where I was, when I heard that President Kennedy had been shot,” Forsberg said, standing on the second floor, outside the chapel.
He and the rest of his classmates then saw the flag in front of the school being lowered to half mast, and they knew the president had died.
Memories like those came rushing back to the alumni who returned for their 50th reunion. While seeing their classmates again after so many years was rewarding, it was the chance to walk the familiar halls again and talk with some of the teachers and coaches who had shaped their lives, that left an impact.
“Saint Viator gave us a strong Christian foundation that has successfully supported us throughout our lives,” says Bill Demmert, who chaired the reunion. “We did not fully appreciate the value of our Viator education until it stood the test of time, but when the winds of change were shifting, we were rooted with a strong foundation that withstood the storm.”
In all, more than 50 alumni returned for the reunion weekend (nearly 80 with spouses) which opened Sept. 9 at Morris Field in Arlington Heights, for the Lions’ home game against conference rival Marian Catholic.
They included Bill Roser, who played football all four years during his time at Saint Viator, and was the team’s leading receiver his senior year. He addressed all levels of the football program on Sept. 8 at the teams’ Thursday night pasta dinner.
Roser talked about overcoming adversity in the game by playing for their teammates, and “playing for the guy next to you.” He also encouraged them not only to show up for the game, but to bring their effort.
“Win or lose, your teammates expect you to bring your best effort to the game,” Roser said.
But it was when he closed, and referenced the legacy they shared as “ye fighting men of Viator,” that he drew the biggest response.
Alumni who attended the game, gathered at a sideline tent and formed a tunnel as the Lions took the field. At halftime, they were introduced to the crowd.
“We all noticed that the game was far more enjoyable with female cheerleaders,” Demmert quipped, “versus the male only cheerleaders we had back in the pre-coed days.”
Saturday’s activities started with a Mass in the Alumni Memorial Chapel, celebrated by Fr. Dan Hall, C.S.V.
The liturgy opened with a tender moment when classmates carried a rose up to the altar for each of their 17 deceased classmates, including Jack Jage, who passed away in May before the start of their senior year.
Tours of the school followed, and alumni marveled at such improvements as the Marie Gallagher Academic Commons, the state of the art Querbes Hall dining facility, the updated fine arts facilities and the Murphy Wellness Center on the third floor.
“The tours were a bit surreal,” Demmert said. “One moment we were in a familiar classroom where we could see ourselves being taught algebra by Fr. Perham, and the next minute it felt like we stepped into the future.”
In fact, they had returned to the future and they took comfort in seeing how their beloved school had been updated and adapted to meet the needs of the iPad generation of students.
“We’re proud to see all the changes,” Denny Wilkinson said, “and that our school is still state of the art.”