West Coast Alums Make Trek to Lehigh Alumni Weekend

Ken Buckstaff ’76
Manhattan Beach, California

In his office, Ken Buckstaff ’76 has a replica of the Lehigh doorknob once used in Packard Lab. “It’s on my desk because my wife wouldn’t let me put it on the door,” he says.

The doorknob serves as a memento of Ken’s 35th Reunion, and a reminder that he’s set to return to Lehigh to celebrate his 40th milestone year this May during All-Alumni Weekend

Ken, a utility industry consultant and frequent flyer, is making the trip cross-country to reconnect with his group of Theta Xi fraternity brothers. “We were a close knit group, and I still keep in touch with those guys,” he explains. “Last time I was at Reunion, everyone but one or two showed up, and I’m hoping that will happen again. By now, a few more of them will have retired, and maybe they will be able to make it.”

Originally from California, Ken had family who drew him to college on the East Coast. He moved west again after earning his Lehigh degree in industrial engineering and later got his MBA. Through the years, he has kept his Lehigh connections strong.

Ken admits that the highlight of the weekend won’t necessarily be the parade, the Sesquicentennial Finale, or the programs on campus. “I don’t keep close track of the schedule of events,” he says. “We come to sit and talk with each other. For me, this is all about getting to see all the people I miss.”

Dave Sloan ’66
Vancouver, Washington

Dave Sloan ’66 thinks of his alma mater every time he goes to a Portland Trailblazer’s home game. “Though I never went to a single basketball game at Lehigh, I’ve been a fan of the Trailblazers since the 1970s,” he says. “With CJ McCollum in the starting lineup, every time we attend a home game he is announced as ‘from Lehigh.’ So I know that there are at least two alumni in the building.”

That reminder – as well as a great experience at a recent high school reunion – convinced Dave to plan the trip back East for his 50th Reunion in May, during All-Alumni Weekend. “I’m looking forward to seeing what has changed on campus in the last 50 years and possibly meeting up with some old Phi Sig fraternity brothers from back in the day,” he says.

Dave, a native of Baltimore, has been living on the West Coast ever since he joined the Navy right out of Lehigh and was stationed on an aircraft carrier in San Francisco.

To others who might be thinking about making the trip, Dave offers this advice: “Just do it – while you can.”

Mitchell Zaninelli ’96
Alameda, California

“My best friends, to this day, are Lehigh people,” says Mitch Zaninelli ‘96. “We get together as often as we can, go skiing, take family trips all across the country.”

His group reunited in New York City in 2014 for the 150th Lehigh-Lafayette Rivalry and had such a good time, they decided to keep the momentum going with reunion and All-Alumni Weekend this May.

For Mitch, it means making his way from California to Bethlehem. “I don’t know if I would be making the trip if I hadn’t gone to Rivalry 150,” he says. “But it was like a multi-class reunion in New York, and now everyone’s excited to do it again.”

This is Mitch’s 20th Reunion, but his circle goes beyond his class to include friends from fraternities and sororities, the rugby, lacrosse, and soccer teams, and others. “I’m looking forward to seeing the changes on campus and checking out the events. I’m sure we’ll go to all the usual haunts, like the Tally Ho and Goosey Gander.”

Ultimately, though, the trip is about reconnecting with friends. “It’s not a formal pact, but we’ve loosely agreed this will be a family-free weekend,” he jokes. “We’ll be reliving some of the glory days of Lehigh.”

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