My Old Kentucky Home

Weep no more my lady.
Oh! Weep no more today!
We will sing one song
For my old Kentucky home
For the old Kentucky home, far away.

As a child of just seven years old back in 1973, I remember watching on Wide World of Sports an amazing horse race featuring Secretariat and his rival Sham.  Many will recall the moment when Secretariat pulled away from the pack during the Belmont Stakes to win by an astonishing 31 lengths, capturing the Triple Crown and finding his way into horseracing legend.  Those memories all came flowing back to me when I visited Pat ‘72 and Gail Evans in Louisville, KY, this past fall. As gracious hosts, Pat and Gail guided me through a wonderful set of experiences that included a back gate tour of Churchill Downs, home to the Kentucky Derby.  What an amazing place, and there they have enshrined Secretariat as likely the greatest horse to ever race. 

The trip would not have been complete without spending time touring a few of the famous bourbon distilleries on Kentucky’s Bourbon Trail.   If you haven’t heard the story of bourbon, it’s worth the trip…and the tasting! 

Though Pat has long been at home and comfortable in Kentucky, his hometown is Le Sueur, MN.  Pat met his wife Gail after meeting in the restaurant business, and they were soon married. Gail then spent her career as a CPA in an accounting firm and Pat was the Director of Training for the Yum Brands Company (KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut).  Pat’s career eventually moved them to Louisville, where they have lived for decades and raised their two sons, Charlie and Tom.  Kentucky became their home, and their Kentucky hospitality is amazing. 

Pat travels back to Saint John’s several times each year, and lots of reasons lure him.  As a student Pat was a manager for Jim Smith’s basketball program, and that has kept them in touch throughout the years.  Pat’s friendships with Fr. Wilfred Theisen and Fr. Don Talafous also bring him back to Saint John’s, and at Saint John's he also connects with college friends John Grobe, Mark Wegleitner, Larry Kukla, and Mark Kramp, all from his Class of 1972.  You may even have found Pat and Gail along with Larry and his wife Mariann strolling through the Great Hall, celebrating the annual Outdoor University Christmas party and scientifically calculating the number of acorns or pinecones in the guessing box.  Winning a case of Saint John’s maple syrup is a very competitive venture!

Pat and Gail have been generous supporters of Saint John’s throughout the years.   Pat supplements that generosity with his service on the Class of 1972 reunion committee in preparation for their 45th celebration.  As he and fellow committee members have begun to learn, the work of the class committees is crucial to the success of our reunion program.  The class committee members not only encourage classmates to return to Saint John’s, but they also ask classmates to consider a contribution to their reunion class gift.  These gifts come in many shapes and forms, and they include the Student Fund, support for a current campaign project, or a contribution to a class or family endowed scholarship fund.  Contributions in honor of a class reunion are then added up and celebrated at the class reunion dinners each year.  

Pat’s love of Saint John’s and his involvement surely make Saint John’s his second home, after his Old Kentucky Home.   As for me, Saint John’s was our connection, and spending time with Pat and Gail at their home in Louisville has created a friendship and a bond.   Now, like Fr. Wilfred and Fr. Don, I too look forward to Pat and Gail’s annual trips to Saint John’s.