In 1972, the tenth floor of the Stephenson South residence hall housed seven strangers. The stranger part didn’t last, as they soon became fast friends and poker buddies.

Today, those seven friends still meet and play cards, and have done so for the past 36 years.

“We just immediately bonded,” says Marc Anderson ’76.

WSU Stephenson Complex at night
Stephenson Complex (Courtesy Stephenson South Residence Hall)

Anderson was a sophomore when he lived in Stephenson while the rest of the group were freshmen. The friends hailed from all over Washington: Tonasket, Gig Harbor, Forks, Oak Harbor, and Seattle.

Most of the group still lives in the state while one is in Idaho and another in California. Despite the distance, the friends have stayed in touch and had their first gathering in 1982.

Without Facebook or text messages, at first the group would see each other at weddings or send Christmas cards. After a few years, they decided to formalize an annual get-together.

During their five-day reunions, which are held in rotating locations, the group kicks off with a weenie roast and catch-up session, followed by outdoor activities like golf and hiking. They also play poker, a game Anderson says the group bonded over in college.

He says it’s funny that they started as strangers. “We’ve become so close it’s hard to believe it was a random pairing at Stephenson South.”

Although the friends have fun every summer, they are also there for each other through life events. Anderson says they’ve supported each other through parent deaths, cancer, weddings, and funerals.

The group has had 100 percent attendance for about 30 years, Anderson says. He had to miss the reunion a few times at first, but now it is the norm for everyone to show up every time.

“We’ve got a commitment to each other, so we make it work,” he says.

It is a lot easier to connect these days with social media, but the group believes they are the longest-running, continuous alumni meetup.

“You gotta keep that Cougar spirit going,” says Anderson.