1986–Spring ’18 Class Letter

Class Agent:

Dan McNaughton ’86

(612) 209-2996 / [email protected]

Spring 2018

Class of 1986,

All of us grieve differently, often reminiscing on the interactions and influence of these classmates we recently lost. Here are my personal reflections:  

The news of the early passing of three of our classmates recently put me in a reflective mood and revealed the influence DAN STRAND ’86 and ALAN DAUS ’86 had on me that I was blind to for years. I interacted a lot with Dan and Alan at Ripon. Even though DAVID GATZKE ’86 and I were both Philosophy majors, we did not have much contact.

With Facebook, we are able to follow the lives of classmates we would otherwise lose touch with, except at the occasional reunion. The revelation via Facebook that Dan had the devastating and rare disease MSA was shocking. With every update, more of Dan’s former students would express their gratitude for the ways in which Dan had made their lives better. Stories of inspiration lead to contemplation and reflection.

In a way I may have been Dan’s first student. We partnered on our lab project for Modern Physics sophomore year, recreating Millikan’s famous oil drop experiment. We had to calibrate equipment, determine the experiments margin of error, conduct the experiment, record and decipher the results. Calm when I panicked at the failure of our observed result, Dan was patient and kind when explaining errors I made calculating the margin of error built into the experiment. Our verified results and the joy he had in the shared success brought me a lot of pride. What I realized later, some of his joy, maybe most, was from helping another person grow. Dan knew and shared his talent with the world.

I became aware of the impact Alan Daus had on me after spending time with him at a reunion. Alan was a track teammate and Physics major. During our time at Ripon, Alan and I were friendly but not friends. He was order and discipline, a distance runner, in the ROTC program, an Eagle Scout, and organized. I operated a little more haphazardly. I ‘heroically’ met deadlines by pulling all-nighters and borrowing classmate’s notes. Jealousy of Alan would hit me around 4 a.m. with miles to go before the finish line.

It took a good fifty to sixty lost opportunities until I was able to apply any order to my chaos.  After hearing of Alan’s passing, I became aware that he was a big reason I strove for any kind of order in my life. I wish I could share this revelation with him.

I am sure many others have a great memory or story of impact from the three classmates we lost recently. Please send your remembrances and stories of Alan, Dan and/or David to [email protected] or [email protected] so they can be shared with everyone in the fall letter.