Roast beef at Arby’s
The little voices squealing in the yard across the street from my home belong to the children of my neighbors; both parents are Flyer alumni.
Down the street and around the bend, a longtime professor with whom I studied at UD has a home along a streambank.
There are many Flyers — staff, faculty, alumni — in my corner of the world. But I expect that. After all, I live a 20-minute drive from campus, and 26,674 of the University’s 124,234 living alumni are in the Dayton area. If I started singing “Go, Dayton Flyers” in the grocery store, a crowd would surely join in and help keep me on key.
Had I moved after graduation to, say, Pittsburgh, I would not have had similar expectations. Greg Pasternak, who graduated in 1971, did not. But his experience in the South Hills area of Pittsburgh is full of Flyers.
His next-door neighbor graduated from the University of Dayton in 1986.
A new grad — Class of 2022 — belongs to his church. (“I recruited him,” Greg said.)
Up the street lives a retired lieutenant colonel, UD Class of 1983; and across from him is a 1971 grad who lived in Marycrest with Greg’s wife-to-be.
“We truly have had a Flyer family — and neighborhood,” said Greg, whose brother, Gary, and sister-in-law, Beth, graduated from UD in 1976.
Greg returned to campus in June to be inducted with the Class of 1971 as a Golden Flyer. During a ceremony in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, he wore two nametags, the second reading “Linda Ann Atkinson Pasternak.”
Linda and Greg met the third week of their freshman year, September 1967, at a Sunday afternoon open house in Marycrest. While his friend chatted up one of the residents, Greg went exploring.
He walked down the hallway of One South and saw a woman approaching in a white long-sleeved blouse, red sweater, blue shorts, knee-high socks and penny loafers — with pennies in them. “She had to tell me what the pennies meant,” he said — that she was single.
They went outside and talked, and as evening approached, they walked to Brown Street and shared stories over Arby’s roast beef sandwiches. A few weeks later, they began to date. In 1973, they married.
Their romance was interrupted in 2019 by Linda’s death from cancer.
They had talked of the day they would become Golden Flyers, a distinction bestowed on alumni who have graduated 50 or more years ago. During Reunion Weekend, I watched Greg walk alone to the front of the chapel to receive pins for them both.
“How was it?” I asked.
He paused. “It was just super,” he said.
Life is full of connections that enhance and sustain us. And while not all of us are so near to so many Flyers, in Greg’s story we see the seeds of relationships built on campus and of relationships yet to bloom in our lives.
For Greg, the Flyers in his life and those he reconnected with during Reunion Weekend help him through his grief and continue to find joy.
“It’s near the chair where I sit with her in the evenings.”
He shares all this with Linda still. Her Golden Flyers charm now hangs on her photo in his home. “It’s near the chair where I sit with her in the evenings,” he said.
And on Sundays, Greg orders roast beef sandwiches at Arby’s.