Even via Zoom, DMU reunion warms hearts

Reunion attendees connected via Zoom with DMU President and CEO Angela Walker Franklin, Ph.D., and staff.

Members of DMU’s classes of 1960, 1961 and 1962 clearly relished the opportunity to reconnect, tease each other and get a brief update on their medical alma mater during their reunion on June 9. Their camaraderie made the event much like their gathering a decade ago, although this year’s reunion took place via a Zoom conference rather than on campus.

In her comments to the group, DMU President and CEO Angela Walker Franklin, Ph.D., thanked Ralph Levy, D.O.’60, for “playing a big role in bringing us together today.” A retired internal medicine physician residing in Delray Beach, FL, Dr. Levy is a past member of the DMU Alumni Association Board and the University’s Board of Trustees.

“DMU allowed me to fulfill my childhood dream of becoming a physician,” he said.

Other reunion attendees shared similar comments. “I thank DMU for allowing me to do what I loved doing all these years and to have the life that I’ve had. It was a wonderful place to learn,” said Sheldon Kaftan, D.O.’61, who retired at age 81 and resides in Boynton Beach, FL. “I met my wife, Mari, in Des Moines, and we’ve been married over 60 years.”

James Grekin, D.O.’62, a retired internal medicine physician who splits his time between Michigan and Florida, called his medical alma mater “a special place.” A past College of Osteopathic Medicine Alumnus of the Year, he joined the DMU Board of Trustees in 1983, served as its chair and also chaired the search committee that selected President Franklin as the University’s 15th executive leader in 2010. “Hiring Dr. Franklin was the one thing I did right,” he said.

Dr. Grekin, who was set to serve as grand marshal at DMU’s Commencement this year before the pandemic turned it “virtual,” also was a key leader in the fundraising effort in the early 1970s to move the institution to its current Grand Avenue location. Then called the College of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery, it had occupied a five-story former insurance company building at 722 Sixth Avenue downtown. During the reunion, Harvey Ring, D.O.’60, described the time years after graduating he visited the old campus building, by then empty, to show his two children.

“They said, ‘Dad, you went to medical school there?’” Dr. Ring recounted. “But I have great memories of the school and was grateful to go there, and I’m proud of what it has accomplished since.”

Reunion participants also shared their pride about their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and pride in blazing trails as osteopathic physicians early in their careers. Overall, they expressed enthusiasm for future reunions – in person.

“Everyone has to stay healthy,” said Dr. Kaftan. “We should do this more often.”

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