Platinum, Diamond, Golden, and Crimson grads, as well as WSU alumni who missed in-person reunions due to the pandemic, go back to their old school.


It wasn’t quite the same as going to classes, drinking coffee at the CUB with friends, and attending dances and football games as a student, but it was pretty close. In June, Washington State University graduates from 16 classes converged on the Pullman and Spokane campuses to relive some of their student days and reconnect with old friends.

A man looks closely at an animal skeleton
College of Veterinary Medicine graduate on tour of the teaching hospital (Photo Dean Hare)

This was the largest gathering of alumni classes yet for the WSU Alumni Association⁠—spanning from 1950 to 1983⁠—and the first chance since COVID restrictions prevented alumni from returning and connecting safely with each other.

“It was a very special weekend for us,” says Jim Lemery (’63 Busi., ’65 MBA). “The best thing is, it’s 60 years later and we can still come back.”

The visiting Cougs, around 250 of them, packed a lot into their time on campus. It started for some with a round at the Palouse Ridge Golf Club, a new feature of Pullman for many of them.

The reunion was more than just tours of buildings; attendees heard the latest news from WSU leaders, including WSU President Kirk Schulz, Pullman Chancellor Elizabeth Chilton, and WSUAA President Lester Barbero.

The visitors also learned about WSU’s work with industry partners on revolutionizing the senior living industry. The presenters, founding director of the Granger Cobb Institute for Senior Living Nancy Swanger and some of those senior living industry leaders, were instrumental in establishing the institute, propelling research, and creating a new WSU major in senior living.

And the grads went back to class⁠—although perhaps not the history course they expected. Instead, Mark O’English, the university’s archivist, told the backstory of WSU mascot Butch T. Cougar and some little-known history of both the live animal and costumed human Butches. Of course, Butch himself made an appearance at the reunion.

“Welcoming our alumni back to our WSU campuses is always the highlight of the year for our staff,” says WSUAA Executive Director Mariah Maki. “We see this as the perfect opportunity to showcase the university’s growth and strength in both research and education, as well as the chance to celebrate and reminisce with our amazing graduates about their time at Washington State.”

For the first time this year, WSU Health Sciences engaged alumni on Reunion Weekend on both the Spokane and Pullman campuses. The reunion attendees talked with students and professors, explored the labs, and learned more about the Spokane campus’s collaboration between nursing, medicine, pharmacy, speech and hearing sciences, nutrition, exercise, and physiology.

Group of Washington State University alumni tour the WSU weight room
On a tour of Athletics facilities (Photo Robert Hubner)

Over the course of three days, the visitors toured the libraries, Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art WSU, the Bookie, Ferdinand’s Ice Cream Shoppe, the WSU Bear Center, and more. Some hit their old stomping grounds at Rico’s Public House and The Coug. No matter where they went, graduates reminisced with classmates.

At a couple of events in the Lewis Alumni Centre and CUB, alums also shared their stories with Washington State Magazine staff at a pop-up recording spot: the Coug Story Corps.

Darrell Prowse (’73 Comm.) took his KWSU broadcasting experience to television stations around Washington state and Arizona, before returning to the Pacific Northwest. He produced videos for Boeing over 35 years. “I did tons of first flights, like the Joint Strike Fighter, the most complicated thing all year,” he says. Now retired, Prowse still works on community TV in Ocean Shores.

Lorraine Almy (’60 Bacterio.) and Peggy Gettles (’60 Bacterio.) were Kappa Delta sorority sisters at WSU who both studied bacteriology. Fast friends, they worked together after graduating as medical technologists at Swedish Medical Center. During training at Swedish, says Almy, “we got our room and our board and $30 a month that we could spend…any way we wanted.” They worked at Swedish for 25 years before heading in different directions, but they continued to have seats together for WSU home football games, along with Almy’s husband Don (’62 Busi.) and, before he passed away in 2022, Gettles’s husband John (’61 Poli. Sci.).

Jim (’63 Busi., ’65 MBA) and Nancy Mitchell Lemery (’63 Phys. Ed.) were both involved in fraternity and sorority leadership, but didn’t get together for quite a while. “I knew who she was, because actually in high school she dated a fraternity brother of mine, so she was really off-limits in the early years,” says Jim, who also played basketball for the Cougs. “He went to Hawaii to go to school, and so we didn’t really meet again until my senior year of graduate school.” They got married and have remained loyal Cougs as Nancy taught junior high school on Mercer Island and Jim worked as a CPA in Seattle and other places.

The Coug Story Corps heard more stories during the reunion weekend, which you can read. Watch for your opportunity to tell your WSU story at future reunions, home game weekends, and other events.


Check the WSUAA events calendar at for dates of Reunion Weekend 2024.


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Gallery: Pix from the 2023 reunions