Grebel celebrates its 40th anniversary

Monday, September 8, 2003

Winfield Fretz, first President of Conrad Grebel waves to the crowd as Eileen and Ralph Lebold, the second Grebel President, look onFor four decades, fresh faced young adults eager to make a difference in the world have called Conrad Grebel home. This dynamic group of university students from across Canada, the USA, and the world, regularly demonstrate how “unity” fits into community. On August 22-24th, 2003, Conrad Grebel University College celebrated its 40th anniversary with a weekend long reunion.

All Conrad Grebel Alumni and past and present Faculty and Staff were invited back to Grebel to reconnect and to celebrate 40 years of enduring friendships, late night discussions, singing in the stairwell, getting more than an education, being a name not a number, and loathing/loving the word “community.” For the 400 people in attendance, highlights of the weekend included a president’s reception and program, Grebelfolk (featuring an all alumni lineup) and a celebration service with the Chapel Choir reunion choir. Special guests included Grebel’s first president, Winfield Fretz from Kansas, and the Grebel students from the early years gather togetherfirst Chaplain, Walter Klaassen from Saskatoon. Visitors also got a sneak peek into the new apartments.

Marcus Shantz, the Alumni Committee Chair, mentioned that there was a much larger turnout than expected, and the committee was

really happy to see so many alumni from the 70’s and 80’s. [He also commented that] the folk festival on Saturday night was a big highlight, even though it was a cold evening. It was great to talk with friends from way back and listen to songs that you hadn’t heard for a long time.

Henry Paetkau, Conrad Grebel President and alumnus, said

Grebel is essentially about people. This weekend was a celebration of the enduring relationships built through the common experience of being a Grebel student.

Alumni walking into Grebel after being away for many years noticed how Grebel has stayed the same even while expanding in all directions. Many were struck at once by the exact same smell – made up of socks, shampoo, popcorn, and other comforting smells of life – that permeated the air when they lived there.

Although the residence building has gone through some changes over the years (in the dining room, student services area, patio addition, and now the extension), the rooms themselves are original and still contain the dark wood desk/dresser, wardrobe, and bed they began with. Some original alumni mentioned that when they first moved into Grebel in 1964, the carpets and doors were not yet in place! Outside the famous peaked windows, the brand new apartment building curves around the chapel creating a courtyard where the trees have merely grown bigger, shading the geese that still make Grebel their home.

The crowd at GrebelFOLK enjoy music by their fellow alumni

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