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Clinton’s Georgetown Class Celebrate 25th Reunion in a Changed World

June 5, 1993

WASHINGTON (AP) _ They graduated 25 years ago, five days after Robert F. Kennedy was shot. Martin Luther King Jr. had been killed two months earlier. America was at war with Vietnam. Their futures were very uncertain.

They canceled their senior week luau and prom because celebrations seemed inappropriate right then.

Now the Georgetown University Class of 1968 is back in town - for a reunion which includes not just a dinner cruise and the long-postponed luau, but a party in their honor at the White House. Bill Clinton, their classmate, lives there. ---

In the Class of ’68 25th Reunion Newsletter, there is the following entry: ″Kevin Mahony is the managing director and chief investment officer of Copley Real Estate Advisers in Boston. ... Kevin showed one of his children the ’68 yearbook with Bill Clinton’s picture. He remarked, ‘He looks the same and Dad, you look so much older.’ Welcome to the club.″

Clinton does look much the same in his college pictures - taken when he ran for freshman class president and for sophomore class president.

Everyone in the class claims they knew him way back when, and only a few of them are fibbing, classmates say.

Even then, he made a point of meeting everyone, shaking every hand.

″He’d say, ’Hi, I’m Bill Clinton from Hot Springs, Ark.,″ said his roommate Jim Moore, who now lives in Westfield, N.J., and runs a bank. ″And a lot of people were put off by him at first. They thought, How could anyone be so friendly? But then they realized he really was like that.″ ---

In their college years, America was shaken by the Vietnam War, civil rights and anti-war protests, and the assassinations of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. and Kennedy. It was the era of Watts, Selma and Haight-Ashbury.

But Clinton’s class stood on the cusp of change, mostly accepting the attitudes and aspirations of the previous decade.

″We were very well balanced kids, we were good kids. We didn’t look at teachers as the enemy. We didn’t look at government as the enemy,″ said Tom Campbell, a USAir pilot from Orange, Calif., who was one of Clinton’s roommates and closest college friends. ---

In Clinton’s day, Jesuit-run Georgetown was known as a largely Catholic bastion of well-bred, well-to-do students, inclined toward quiet obedience.

″There is an almost royalist air about Georgetown that makes the prospect of student revolt seem as distant as winter on a muggy day in August,″ said a Washington Post article in 1967. ″Revolution, if there is any, lies obscured by layers of dignity, discipline and social success.″

The class of ’68 came to Washington in September 1964, when the school had about seven men to every woman. Their senior yearbook is a sea of white faces, with only one black student in the class.

Female students still had to wear skirts and dresses on campus. Men wore coats and ties. And in the dorms of the university, there were still nightly curfews and bed checks.

Girls from other Catholic schools were regularly bussed in for mixers. And students drank beer, but drugs were not in evidence.

Many of the women who have turned out to be career trailblazers weren’t yet expecting to play that role.

″I remember saying my freshman year that my ambition was to be a girl Friday to an international businessman. That amazes me now,″ said Juliette Heintze, who became the first female officer at USAir, where she is vice president for investor relations.

Georgetown was safe to wander around in the middle of the morning. The breakfast special at Sugar’s Drugstore - two eggs, toast, two slices of bacon, orange juice and coffee - cost 65 cents. ---

The spring of ’68 was rough for the class. King was shot April 4, and his death sparked riots across the country. Then came the assassination of Robert Kennedy in June.

America was mired in the Vietnam War, and many of the young men were being drafted. When they parted ways June 9, some students traded caps and gowns for Army uniforms.

″We thought the whole world was coming apart,″ said Charlie Zimmerman, now a trial attorney in Louisville, Ky. ---

Today most of the Class of ’68 is prospering. The reunion class news lists nearly 40 lawyers among just over 200 entries. There are dozens of CEOs, bankers and brokers, lots of people in public service.

Some people thank the Jesuits for a head start.

″The Jesuits always felt they were training people for real jobs, real life. They were giving us the skills we needed,″ said Moore.

Being in Washington also gave Georgetown students an outlet unavailable to frustrated students at Kent State or Berkeley.

″If you wanted to make an effort, if you wanted to change something, you could get involved directly,″ Moore said. ″You could go get a job on the Hill.″ ---

Vinnie Convery says his work as an assistant general counsel at the Federal Election Commission has given him a nice house and a nice car but leaves him little free time for two sons, ages 8 and 13.

He voted for Clinton, but thinking of a president his age scares him.

″In a way it’s frightening,″ he says. ″When I think of what I do in work, when I think of my responsibilities and duties, and then think of what he has to shoulder, it’s very, very frightening.″

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