Students Organize Surprise Birthday Party for Professor Emeritus Russell Roberson
Prof. Calvin Howell, the current director of TUNL, also spoke a few words, saying what a pleasure it was to hear how experiences at TUNL had affected the lives of the students.
Roberson, clearly moved, thanked everyone for coming and took a moment to remember Professor Henry Newson, the driving force behind the establishment of TUNL in the 1960s. Many of the attendees seemed to enjoy the reunion as much as Roberson did, whether reconnecting with former classmates or meeting new people who shared similar experiences and interests. Stories abounded—of antics in the lab and life-changing advice given or received at crucial moments. While in Durham, out-of-towners enjoyed visiting the Duke campus, Duke Gardens, and the Nasher Museum, and a group toured TUNL on Saturday afternoon. The Sunday morning after the party, the Roberson family hosted a brunch at the hotel. Afterwards, Roberson said the party was a “joy.” Colleen Fitzpatrick said, “When I first had the idea for the party, I don’t think I realized how meaningful the get-together would be for so many of us. This was meant as a birthday party, but it was much, much more than that.” Doug Wagenaar, PhD 85, had to rent a flat-bed truck to get his rental car through flooded roads on Emerald Isle in order to make it to Durham in time for the party. Yet it was worth it. He said the event was a “magical experience. It was a lifetime of memories compacted into a few hours of perfect nostalgia.”