TCOM’s Class of 1980 returns home to reminisce and celebrate

Reunion 3772A tight-knit group from the first day they set foot on campus in 1976, the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine’s Class of 1980 reunited for the first time in 44 years as they celebrated together on the campus of The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth. The reunion, spearheaded by graduates Dr. Gregg Lund and Dr. Jack Cohen, was four years in the making when COVID scrapped their original plans of a 2020 reunion, but the excitement never ebbed.

“As the returning alumni step foot on campus for the first time in decades, they look up to the sky at the towering new buildings and compare it to the bowling alley used for classes and the single-wide for the student center, their comments will likely be “Dorothy, we are definitely are not in Kansas anymore,” Lund said.

Reunion 3852The Class of 1980 graduated 71 osteopathic physicians and the bond among the class was almost instantaneous. It was also a landmark class as Dr. Dralves Edwards became the first black student to graduate from TCOM in 1980.

“There was much comradery among those who wanted to work together,” Lund said. “We helped each other through the first two years and when we were out on clinical rotations. If one student saw something unusual, they ensured every class member in the facility heard about it.”

One story Lund recalls was an elderly woman on the internal medicine service at the old Fort Worth Osteopathic Hospital who had a “cardiac rub” as he described it. Lund said the patient was very kind to all of the TCOM students and allowed six or seven students from all the services to come and listen to her. The generous support of those patients was not forgotten.

Reunion 3900The class sent physicians to their internship all across the country, from Portland, Oregon to Honolulu, Hawaii, and Stratford, New Jersey.

“We spent a lot of time together and worked very hard,” Cohen said. “We all scattered after graduation, so it’s hard to recognize some of us now, but it’s important for us to be together like this. TCOM provided us with the fundamentals and beyond to be physicians and to see all of the joy hugs and smiles on everyone’s face was just great.”

The Class of 1980 began their medical education in 1976 as commuters, going to Denton and then North Texas State University for classes. They saw the construction and rise of “Med Ed 1” as it was commonly known at the time, but what is now known as the Everett Administration Building. The alumni got a tour of the Gibson D. Lewis Library, the Anatomy Lab and the state-of-the-art HSC Regional Simulation Center.

For some of the graduates, it was their first time back in more than 40 years, while others are still connected to TCOM as preceptors, such as Dr. Russell Thomas who comes back each year and visits with TCOM students interested in rural medicine.

“We were young, fabulous and handsome back then so It might be hard to recognize us, but I’m so glad we are back together as a group,” Cohen said.

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