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Uncovering old friends

Colorado School of Mines classmates connect 60 years after graduation

Created date

April 26th, 2011

When Jim Cross matriculated into the Colorado School of Mines in 1945, his freshman class included newly minted high school graduates, like himself, and returning war veterans intent on getting their degrees. We had a real mix of people, says Cross. Some of the guys had already served in the military, and some had families. They were focused on their studies because they wanted to graduate as soon as possible. Others were fresh out of high school and tended to get more involved with extracurricular activities.

I knew Jim (Cross) lived here, but I ' decided to come anyhow. ' Dennis Gregg, ' joking about his move to Eagle s Trace Cross wasn t the only one from his high school class to attend Mines, located in Golden, Colo. Dennis Gregg, one of Cross s classmates at Wheat Ridge High School, enrolled the same year. Jim and I sang in the Glee Club at Mines together, says Gregg. But I entered the service after my freshman year and was on active duty for seven months, so I graduated a year after him. The friends kept in touch through their high school and Mines alumni groups, and both ended up in Houston at the end of their careers.

Reconnecting at ' Eagle s Trace

Cross and his wife, Donna, moved to Eagle s Trace in 2005, shortly after the community opened. When we heard that Erickson Living was coming to Houston, we put down our deposit while the community was literally a pile of dirt, he says. Gregg followed five years later, moving to Eagle s Trace in 2010. I knew Jim lived here, but I decided to come anyhow, he jokes. It was over dinner in the community s restaurant that Cross made the connection with two other Mines graduates who attended the school at the same time. I was having dinner with Joe Miller and we started talking about schools, says Cross. We realized that we were both at Mines together. Shortly after that conversation, Cross met Harold Hall, who moved to the community around the same time as Gregg. Hall, who worked on his family s farm after he graduated from high school in Montgomery County, Ill., was the first one from his area to join the service. He entered the Army Air Corps in 1940 and served for five years before enrolling at Mines in January 1946. And while all four graduated with different specialties in the engineering field, they agree that their education prepared them for a host of career opportunities. We were exposed to a lot of different things civil engineering, mechanical engineering, geology, geophysics, and mining, says Gregg. It increased our versatility in the workplace. Mines had the reputation of having a very strenuous academic program, adds Cross. Other universities might have required students to take 15 or 16 hours a semester. We took 24. Cross worked for Standard Oil Company of Ohio, then Occidental Petroleum in Houston. Gregg worked for Conoco, Miller worked for Exxon, and Hall worked for Boeing.

Parallel experiences

And while their work experiences have taken them all over the globe Gregg and Miller have each moved over 20 times their lives have some interesting parallels. All four lived in Europe at some point during their careers, and they ve all spent time in the service. Miller, Cross, and Hall joined the ROTC at Mines and were called to active duty during the Korean War, serving in the Corps of Engineers. Close to friends. Close to family. Close to perfect. Learn more about Eagle s Trace today by calling 281-661-1443. You ll find Mines graduates all over the world, working in a variety of capacities, says Hall, who worked for Boeing during the latter half of his career and had the opportunity to train astronauts at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. I got to be good friends with Ellison Onizuka, one of the seven astronauts killed in the Challenger explosion, he says. My wife and I were sitting in the bleachers next to his wife and his two kids watching the shuttle take off. When it exploded well, there are no words for a moment like that.

Some things ' never change

On a recent Saturday morning, the four men gathered to reminisce about their college days, poring over yearbooks and talking about old friends. All four have held onto significant mementoes from their college days. Our diplomas were made of solid silver, says Cross. I still have mine in my apartment. Me too, reply the other three, simultaneously.