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Blue Eyes

Blue Eyes

Debbie Juniewicz ’90 February 09, 2021

A 40-year-old mystery and the search for answers that only deepened one Flyer’s affection for UD.

Donna Fournier Nock ’83 enjoyed psychology class but, that morning in the fall of 1978 at Shenendehowa High School in New York, she skipped class and instead headed to the senior lounge to meet with college admission representatives.

Illustration by Dan Zettwoch“I didn’t have any particular school in mind,” she said. “I just didn’t feel like being in class.”

An admission counselor caught her eye. He had dark hair and, as she said, “the most beautiful blue eyes.”

“I’m a sucker for blue eyes,” she said. “I don’t recall what he said, but I took his paperwork — he was from UD. I had been receiving mail from them but I remember thinking, ‘Why would anyone want to go to school there?’”

“I’m a sucker for blue eyes.”

When she learned her family would be moving from upstate New York to Iowa later that school year, the prospect of an Ohio college became a little more plausible.

“I did not want to go to school in Iowa,” she said. “Ohio was in the middle.”

She was accepted to UD that winter and almost made a campus visit when her family was moving to Iowa from New York that March — almost.

“It was gray and ugly and when I was asked if I wanted to stop, I said, ‘No way.’ I went home and threw away all my acceptance paperwork.”

Nock later reconsidered and decided that she would go to Dayton for a year, maybe two at the most.

“But then I fell in love with the University, I stayed and I was super involved. I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.”

The 1983 graduate — who now makes her home in Nashville, Tennessee, and is the local alumni community chair — maintains her Flyer connection, attending alumni events, connecting with current and prospective students, and proudly wearing her UD mask whenever she’s out and about. And it all began with “blue eyes,” who left an impression that has lasted a lifetime — or at least four decades and counting.

“Anytime I’d meet with someone from the University, I’d always ask if they could find out who was responsible for me coming to the University of Dayton,” she said. “No one seemed to know who he was.”

“Anytime I’d meet with someone from the University, I’d always ask if they could find out who was responsible for me coming to the University of Dayton.”

Nock upped the ante last year, offering an additional $1,000 donation — above her annual gift — if someone could solve the mystery of “blue eyes.” Rob Durkle ’78, who was associate vice president and dean of admission at the time, was at a prospective student event in Nashville with Nock shortly after she made the offer. Durkle had an inkling he knew who the admission counselor in question was, a Flyer for whom Durkle had been the best man in his wedding years earlier.

“I came out of the ladies room and Rob handed me the phone,” Nock said. “He had called his friend Brian Lowry and told me he thought this is the guy.”

A few quick questions later and the mystery was solved. Lowry — who was in Rome on business at the time as deputy chief counsel for Bayer Crop Science — was “blue eyes.”

“I wanted to be able to thank him,” Nock said. “I’m a very proud alum, and UD has made me who I am today.”

Lowry was stunned by the unexpected call.

“It’s very nice to know that what you did had such a positive impact on someone’s life,” he said. “That, to me, was very heartwarming.”

“It’s very nice to know that what you did had such a positive impact on someone’s life.”

Lowry — a 1979 graduate — worked as an admission counselor from 1977-80 and went on to law school at Washington University in St. Louis. Lowry said he still remembers fondly his many high school visits and college fairs on the East Coast promoting the University of Dayton.

“It’s not the kind of job where the results can be recognized immediately,” he said. “It’s many years later when you discover you made a real impact.”

Forty-plus years definitely qualifies as long-term impact. And Lowry still can’t help but smile when he thinks that it all came down to his eyes: “I wouldn’t be one to talk about my eyes, but they are blue although a bit older now.”

Nock did write the check and, on the memo line, not surprisingly, were two words — “blue eyes.”

If you have a Flyer-to-Flyer run-in, adventure or experience that embodies the strong community and bond shared by the Flyer family, send your story to magazine@udayton.edu.

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