Homecoming 2006 will be filled with the usual exciting activities, from RavenFest4 to the football game. But two special events are being planned this year for music lovers and for Dativus alumni. A second Celebration of Song is scheduled for Saturday morning at 10 in Park Place Church of God. And throughout the weekend, Dativus alumni will be celebrating the club’s 35th anniversary through service and fellowship.
During Homecoming 2003, alumni packed Byrum Hall for the reunion concert of male quartets from the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s. This year the program has expanded to include women’s quartets and trios and other mixed groups.
One of the groups that will be reunited for the event is the Anderson College Trio of Rowenna Dodge Anderson, Betty Zumwalt Tufts, and Evelyn Allen Harper, with pianist Louetta Hency Beard. The foursome traveled together the summer of 1954, going south through Tennessee and Mississippi and heading west through Texas, Arizona, Nevada, California, up north to Oregon, where they sang at the International Youth Convention. Along the way they gave concerts every night and sometimes two or three on Sundays. The concerts would be interspersed with their testimonies of faith and their experiences at Anderson University.
It was a long trip for four young girls to take alone, but Beard, who was also the main driver, says, “We were too young to know any better.” They did have to be careful at service stations, where an attendant often tried to persuade them to buy more than just gas.
“We would stop and get our gas and if they told us we needed something, we had to stop and think are they trying to bamboozle us four girls or do we really need a new fan belt,” says Beard. “It was really amazing how many fan belts we were told we needed that summer.”
“The Lord took care of us,” remembers Tufts. “We only had one flat tire during the trip, and that happened in a minister’s driveway”
This year’s concert will feature more than 10 groups from the 1940s through the 1990s.
One of the youngest groups there will be Presence, a late 80s/early 90s quartet of Randy Miller, Tim Hatch, David Anderson, and Jeff Bell. The group, which debuted at Cheap Thrills, had a repertoire of 1950s music and of old hymns and Southern gospel music. The group traveled during the summers of 1990, 1991, and 1992, going out west and doing two tours of Florida, mostly at Church of God venues.
The members of Presence have a rather big weekend planned. Not only will they be singing together for the reunion concert, as Dativus alumni, they will be celebrating 35 years of the Dativus social club.
Miller, who was raised in Anderson, grew up going to the Dativus show Cheap Thrills. “I always wanted to be a Dativus member,” he recalls. “I loved Club and I’m excited that we’re celebrating 35 years. It’s meaningful because we’re coming back to a Club that’s still flourishing.”
Steve Mahuron was an original member of Dativus when it began in the early 1970s and served as the Club’s president for a year and a half. The 23 men who started the club did so in an effort to create something that reflected themselves and their vision.
“I remember attending the first Cheap Thrills — and believe me that’s what they were — shows and listening to the buzz of the audience wondering what would happen this time,” remembers Mahuron. “We had come up with a campus activity that a person could attend for a quarter. We served refreshments — a cup of Coke and three cookies for a dime at intermission.” They used the proceeds to help the college — purchasing a spotlight for the drama department and a pizza oven for the Student Center.
Over the last three years, Mahuron as the President of the Dativus Alumni Association has been helping contact Dativus alumni and is looking forward to putting names with faces during the anniversary celebration at Homecoming. Dativus’ Greek letters are Delta Kappa Alpha, which stand for Service, Fellowship, and Integrity. “I am encouraged by how Dativus has continued to evolve in its ministry to others as well as its ministry to its members,” says Mahuron. “Their passion for the Club today reminds me of why we started Dativus in the first place.”
Dativus activities for the weekend (weekend theme is also "Service, Fellowship, and Intregity") include a campus service project, a golf tournament, an alumni breakfast and businees meeting, dinner, a worship service, and, of course, Cheap Thrills. For costs for any of these events, contact the Alumni Office at (765) 641-4100, check out the www.dativus.org/35th web site and or email Steve Mahuron at email@example.com .
— Deborah Lilly [Signatures, Summer 2006]