1980 Alums Keep Their Paddles in the Water

It began in the summer of 1979, and has continued the last weekend of June every summer since. For Class of 1980 graduates Tom Thompson, Tim Lawler, Brendan Kelly, Bill McAfoos, Bob Hingtgin, George Gerwe, Matt Nagle, and Drew Bracken, there’s nothing quite like their annual canoe trip on the Iowa River.

This past summer marked the group’s 36th trip on the Upper Iowa River, which started as canoeing all day Saturday, camping on the banks of the river, and continuing the canoe trip Sunday morning.

“Brendan Kelly came up with the idea,” says Tim Lawler. “He used to go camping and canoeing there as a child. We were looking for a cheap weekend getaway, which has now turned into 36 years.”

For Lawler, his best memories are of conversations around the camp fire, where stories range from Prom and college, to careers, marriage, and children.

Recently the group has added a Friday golf outing to their festivities, while cutting back the canoeing portion of their weekend to a half day on Saturday.

“We’re getting too old to canoe that long,” said Lawler. “We depart Sunday morning, because we are all headed in separate directions. We still cook all our meals around the fire, catch up and laugh.”

While each classmate now has his own family and career and the friends are spread across the country from California to Michigan, it remains an important tradition to block out the last weekend in June for the trip, “to reconvene, and pick up where they left off.”

“While we all went to separate colleges and moved to different states, we never lost touch. A lot of us were in each other’s wedding. All of us have children that are older than we were when we started this annual trip,” said Lawler. “Though the conversations have changed over the years, the one thing that remains constant with this group is our love for Assumption.”

“For this group there truly is no place like Assumption,” Lawler said. We couldn’t have said it any better.