My Flyer Family: Pinning together four generations
In 2000, Elizabeth Buergler ’05 visited her grandfather's alma mater on her college tour just to humor him. She ended up falling in love with the University of Dayton, as he had decades earlier. This essay is part of the My Flyer Family series.
I was rooting around my jewelry box when I came across a University of Dayton ’22 class pin. The Class of 2022 had just graduated, but this pin was much older than a few weeks. My great grandfather was given this pin at his University of Dayton commencement a century ago.
Edward George Sander II, my great grandfather, went to St. Mary’s Institute for high school (back when our school also educated boys) and then on to the University of Dayton where he graduated in 1922 with a degree in chemical engineering. All three of his sons followed him: Edward George Sander III ’60 (Uncle Pat); William Joseph Sander ’56, my grandfather; and Thomas Charles Sander ’58 (Uncle Tom).
My family of Flyers skipped a generation when my mother and her siblings moved to Florida and decided to stay local for college, but my cousin Jackie and I restarted the tradition when we decided to be Flyers. She graduated in 2012, making our sixth Flyer grad from four generations.
When choosing where to go to college, I knew that I wanted to major in religious studies or theology and attend a school with a strong Catholic identity. Dayton definitely checked those boxes for me.
As I was mapping out a college tour road trip in 2000, I mentioned to my grandfather that I was going to visit a few colleges throughout the Midwest. He never really talked to me about his college years, but he asked me if I would swing by the University of Dayton, his alma mater, on my trip.
I decided to humor him and stop in Dayton that summer. And, well, I fell in love.
We took another trip to campus over President’s Day weekend during my senior year of high school. My family and I went on this big tour to where my grandparents lived and the church they got married in, as well as Dayton staples like the Esther Price chocolate factory and Dorothy Lane Market. I just felt such a deep connection to my family history there, and I knew that was where I needed to be.
There’s just so much family history in Dayton for me that is all bound by the University. My great grandfather owned a bar down on East Third Street at one point. My grandparents met in Dayton. My grandmother went to a nursing school in Dayton and would study in Woodland Cemetery. When I went to UD, I lived in a house on Alberta Street that overlooked the cemetery. I began to see all these little connections with my family at UD.
After my four years were up at UD and I had graduated with a degree in religious studies, my great aunt and my great uncle Pat gifted me a pin from my great grandfather’s UD commencement ceremony in 1922. My grandfather and great uncle also helped me track down the class composite from 1922 that still hangs in St. Mary’s Hall. (Take a look at Great-Grandpa Sander's graduation photo on Page 17 of the UD Annual from 1922.) The graduating class was around 25 people back then.
I worked as a youth minister in Georgia right after graduating and got to send several of my high school students to UD as well. I know my own children would love Dayton and thrive there if they decide to go later on and continue the family tradition.
Elizabeth Buergler ’05 is a photographer and teacher in Woodstock, Georgia. This story is reported as told to Zoë Hill ’22.