UBC Sauder Alumni

BCom Class of 1958

Alumni profile

Six decades strong

Image of BCom Class of 1958

by Julia Escaño

The sounds of laughter magnified as graduates of the Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) Class of 1958 trickled into the Terrace Room of the Robert H. Lee Alumni Center. On May 10, 2018 – their 60th reunion – former classmates and long-time friends eagerly anticipated each other’s arrival like it was the first day of school.

For many of them, it wasn’t just a class reunion; it was a chance to reinforce the bonds that have kept them close for six decades and more.

“I can remember a guy like Frank MacTaggart,” recalled John C. Williams at a later interview. “We’ve known each other since we were in knee pants at cub scouts."

It was this laughter and the good times they shared at school that drew them closer together.

Charlotte Warren, in a similar vein, says she first met John Williams at summer camp. “We were both 12 years old. We went to the same camp on Vancouver Island.

Frank MacTaggart as Dean Earle MacPhee

It wasn't until their days at UBC in the 1950s, however, that their relationships truly began to flourish. As a class, they agreed that humour was a big factor in bolstering their connection. One of the fondest memories shared by several alumni was a classmate dressing up as then-Dean Earle MacPhee, complete with wing collar, bow tie, shorts, and socks held up by garters. It was this laughter and the good times they shared at school that drew them closer together.

But what kept their friendships so strong all these years later?

Self-defense,” joked Frank MacTaggart. “If you’ve got somebody out west or down east spreading stories about you, you need to find out about it beforehand to correct it. No Twitter available!”

Looking out for one another was a common thread for members of the BCom Class of ’58. Through cross-country moves, divorce, sickness, and death, they phoned each other, sent cards, and touched base whenever possible. During their 60th reunion, the concern from many was most apparent when they gathered around a poster with 1958 yearbook photos. In it were the bright and smiling faces of their late classmates. As they waited for dinner, many paused to remember those who passed.

BCom class of 1958 reunion
BCom 58's 30th Reunion in 1988
BCom Class of 1958 reunion in 2008
BCom 58's 50th Reunion in 2008

“Ron Johnson was a classmate, a high school friend,” Frank commented. “He passed away about ten to twelve years ago. I’ve maintained contact with his wife. Every February, I still send her a birthday card.”

It wasn’t just loss or life’s challenges that has kept many BCom ’58 alumni together, though; they also celebrate each other’s victories. When they toured the Henry Angus Building and saw the John C. Williams Breakout Room, the class cheered and showered John with pats on the back, many insisting that he get a photo taken with the plaque.

After 60 years and countless personal accomplishments and major life events, the respect they’ve fostered for one another has only grown.

BCom Class of 1958 reunion
The Vancouver South Men's Social Club at a gathering in 1994

Activities they organized themselves were also crucial in keeping them connected.

“We founded something called the Vancouver South Men’s Social Club,” Bernie Treasurer said. “We’ve played poker once a month since 1959. It used to be dinner, but now it’s lunch because we all have to go home at four.”

“To nap!” added John Bishop, laughing.

After 60 years and countless personal accomplishments and major life events, the respect they’ve fostered for one another has only grown.

For instance, John Williams’ childhood impressions of his classmates reflected his current opinions of them: he said Charlotte Warren, who served as a UBC Alumni Association president and a member of the UBC Senate for nine years, had been a leader and a go-getter since their days at summer camp; John Bishop, on the other hand, was the quiet guy who led from behind; and Ross Fitzpatrick, their class president, had been pinpointed as someone with exceptional capabilities – even back then. Ross has since established himself as a force in business, community and philanthropy, having made a landmark donation to the UBC Okanagan campus in early 2018. He has also been inducted into the Order of Canada.

Image of John Williams pictured in his breakout room

John Williams pictured in his breakout room

The class also continues to value the place where it all began.

“UBC gave us confidence,” John Bishop said.

“I certainly got a good grounding,” Charlotte added.

Many members of the BCom Class of ’58 have continued to support their alma mater in various capacities over the years. From volunteer work to advisory board roles, the enduring concern they have for the UBC Sauder School of Business is undeniable. Their unparalleled giving over the years has accumulated to a total of $2.8 million donated to UBC, which led to the dedication of a classroom in the Henry Angus Building in their honour.

BCom Class of 1958 reunion 2018

BCom 58's 60th Reunion in May, 2018

The best thing from that time was the people you met. Sure, you got a degree and did things, but you made lifelong friendships.

Even more impressive are the lifelong friendships, affection, and respect for one another that defines this class.

“The best thing from that time was the people you met. Sure, you got a degree and did things, but you made lifelong friendships,” Bernie said.

“I had friends a year or two older, and two brothers who attended UBC,” John Williams said. “Their reunions are coming up, but they’re not that interested or sure if they’ll go. Nothing like what we experienced. We had this intermingling of relationships that were unique.”

The bond of BCom ’58 is unmistakable, a testament to the positive impact of resilient connections--not just for the individual, but for the UBC community at large. This is their true legacy. And for this, they are indeed a class of their own.

Image of BCom class of 1958

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