More than 250 UF medical school alumni, guests attend reunion weekend

Former classmates celebrate accomplishments and memories

Alumni of the UF College of Medicine gathered for the Sept. 9-11 Alumni Reunion, which featured lectures, campus tours, a reunion dinner, Gator game day activities and breakfast with the deans and faculty. 

More than 250 members from the classes of 1961, 1966, 1971, 1976, 1981, 1986, 1989, 1991, 1996, 2001 and 2006 and their guests attended the weekend-long event. The class of 1961 celebrated their 50th reunion, while the class of 1986 reunited for their 25th anniversary.

Watch a video recap

Alumni reunite at class celebration


UF COM alumni from class of ’61 reunited at the class celebration. Photo by Jesse S. Jones

For Frank Fischer, M.D., and Sheldon Sbar, M.D., it seemed like yesterday when they were young UF medical students living in an old yellow house in Gainesville that was a popular hangout spot for the class of 1961.

“This guy was one of my best friends—and he didn’t deserve it,” joked Fischer, putting his arm around Sbar. “I was social chairman for four years.”

The two reminisced about the times their class of 41 graduates shared, and they caught up on their lives over the past five decades.

“We were a little young to be the greatest generation, but our class…they just don’t make them like that anymore,” said Sbar.

The two men were among the nearly 200 UF College of Medicine alumni and their guests who attended a Friday, Sept. 9 Reunion Classes Celebration, part of this year’s Alumni Weekend, at the Hilton UF Ballroom.

“I’m delighted so many of you are here,” said Michael L. Good, M.D., dean of the College of Medicine, who spoke at the dinner.

He said he met alumni from California to New York, which is evidence that the Gator Nation is everywhere.

“You are part of our legacy and our greatness,” Good said. “We thank you for coming back this weekend, so we can celebrate you and all your accomplishments.”

Good presented the Dean’s Award for Humanitarian Service to father and son graduates, Dr. John F. Lovejoy Jr., ‘66, and Dr. John F. Lovejoy III, ’01, for their work in Haiti following the devastating earthquake that hit the island in January 2010.  The orthopaedic surgeons are the subjects of an acclaimed documentary, “Angels of Milot,” that details their experiences.

The office of UF Medical Alumni Affairs, which organizes the alumni reunion weekend, presented a video that highlighted the medical school’s earlier days and its founding administrators and professors.

Alma Littles, M.D. ’86 and Ingrid Rachesky, M.D. ’81 with their guests at class celebration dinner. Photo by Jesse S. Jones

Much has changed in the past few decades. Like most alumni, Alma Littles, M.D., a member of the class of 1986, remarked that the campus has definitely grown since she was a medical student.

“There are a lot more buildings in places I didn’t know there were places for buildings,” said Littles, who is senior associate dean for medical education and academic affairs at Florida State University’s College of Medicine. “And certainly a lot more technology in those buildings, too.”

But the bond and memories that classmates shared remained, regardless of the years that passed.

“This fella here I haven’t seen since we graduated,” said Matthew Patterson, M.D., pointing to 1961 classmate Edwin House Jr., M.D.

House said the two friends kept missing each other coming to different reunions. But finally this weekend, they had a chance to catch up after 50 years.

Alan Siegel, M.D., and Peter Smith, M.D., both members of the class of 1986, said they are grateful for the training they received at UF and recalled the great times their class shared 25 years ago.

“We spent so much time together—it’s like we’re brothers and sisters,” Siegel said.


Once a Gator, Always a Gator


On a college game day, it doesn’t matter if you are student, faculty, staff or alumni. The only thing that matters is that you are a Gator.

More than 250 alumni, family and guests sported their best orange and blue outfits and headed to the UF Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine Institute on Sept. 10 to join in on the fun at the Alumni Tailgate, part of the annual Alumni Weekend hosted by the college’s Office of Development and Alumni Affairs.

Many things have changed since some alumni left UF. For instance, the parking spaces where students used to tailgate 30 years ago are now filled with buildings, said Joseph Sherrel, M.D. ’81.

“We used to tailgate on the back of a pick-up truck with a charcoal grill right by the stadium,” said Ann Galindo, M.D., the only woman in the class of ’61. “If you were lucky, you would get a burger, but I always had a beer in my hand.”

While most alumni shared memories of tailgating on campus or going over to classmates’ apartments to watch the game, some alumni had different memories.

“In medical school, there was no such thing as tailgating,” said Carl Trygstad, M.D. ’61, who flew all the way from California to attend Alumni Weekend.

Although many things have changed since 50 or 25 years ago, some things stayed exactly the same.

“When you talk about the passion and the rowdiness of the Gator fans, nothing has changed,” said Saul Cohen, M.D. ’61, who is still practicing medicine in Boston. “I still wear my Gator gear everywhere I go in Boston, and it always starts conversations with strangers.”

Cohen said it was great to see his colleagues and classmates again. He has met and worked with many students from all over the country but “none compares to the Gator grads.”

Later that evening, many alumni and guests made their way to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium to cheer on the Gators who played against the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Blazers and came out on top.