The Rutgers University–New Brunswick Reunion celebration reunited members of classes with landmark anniversaries from 1973 through 1948.

The scarlet in Bill Sansalone’s tie has faded, but his passion for Rutgers University has not.

Bill Sansalone in his freshman tie that dates back to 1949.
Bill Sansalone in his freshman tie.

Sansalone wore his 74-year-old freshman tie to the Reunion celebration on Friday, November 3, at the Rutgers University–New Brunswick College Avenue campus. His tie’s scarlet stripes have dimmed to a burnt orange color in the 70 years since he graduated, but his gratitude to Rutgers remains bright.

“Rutgers gave me a priceless gift,” said Sansalone, 92, who was the lone representative of the Class of 1953. “At age 18, when I graduated from high school, that priceless gift was a full-tuition scholarship. That changed my life.”

Sansalone, who was the first in his family to go to college, grew up in a “farm family” in South Jersey. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in nutritional biochemistry at Rutgers in 1961, launching a distinguished career in which he made many contributions to medical education and research. His accomplishments include serving 25 years with the National Institutes of Health and finishing his career with the Georgetown University Medical Center.

He was among graduates from the classes of 1973, 1968, 1963, 1958, 1953, and 1948 who attended the reunion on Friday that featured sessions on the Rutgers Oral History Archives project, an address from President Jonathan Holloway, a parade preceded by a Rutgers Glee Club performance, a tour of campus, and a reception.

Class of 1973 alumni outside Van Nest
Class of 1973 alumni outside the Rutgers Alumni House at Van Nest Hall. Paula Braxton is third from left.

“It’s a great opportunity to see old friends,” said Paula Braxton, a retired school principal who was celebrating her landmark 50th anniversary with members of the Class of 1973. She was among the first class of graduates from Livingston College, which opened in 1969. A lifelong resident of Rahway, New Jersey, Braxton said her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Rutgers helped her to become principal of Rahway High School, her alma mater.

After President Holloway’s remarks, which focused on the Rutgers commitment to the common good, Braxton said a great example of that is the Rutgers Future Scholars program, which helps underrepresented New Jersey students earn college degrees. Rahway Public Schools, she pointed out with pride, is one of five school districts that partner with Rutgers Future Scholars.

Two alumni from the Class of 1948, Bart Klion, 95, and Bill Shepherd, 97, attended to mark the 75th anniversary of their Rutgers graduation, which happened when Harry Truman was president of the United States.

President Holloway with Class of 1948
From left, Class of 1948 alumni Bart Klion and Bill Shepherd with Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway. Shepherd gave Holloway a book about Paul Robeson written by Robeson's son.

Klion and Shepherd have remained deeply involved with Rutgers in many ways throughout their years as alumni. Shepherd has served on the Rutgers University Foundation Board of Directors. Klion has served as president and remains a member of the executive committee of the Rutgers Living History Society, which supports the Rutgers Oral History Archives. Klion’s late brother, Stan, a graduate of the Class of 1942 who died when he was 70, was one of the founders and a generous donor to the oral history project.

Klion says he has remained committed to Rutgers through the years because of his memories of “good friends and a lot of good times.”

Click here for a photo slideshow from the Reunion.