Friends for 46 Years, Some of Loras First Female Students Meet Regularly

They came together at Binz Hall in 1973 as members of the third Loras College class comprised of both young men and women.

“We gravitated toward each other early on and the relationships just grew.” Eileen (Klein) O’Donoghue (’77), of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, said of the women who rank among her closest friends. “There weren’t that many girls on campus. We became quite bonded.”

Their bonds have lasted nearly five decades.

“It’s a very spirit-driven group,” said Dr. Donna (Metz) Loewen (’77), Dubuque, Iowa. “We supported one another as young women. The quilt of our relationship has just continued to get more colorful and more spacious throughout the years.”

In addition to O’Donoghue and Loewen, members of the group include: Florence (Troester) Schuetz (’77), Dubuque, Iowa; Susan (Genzler) Wakefield (’77), Burr Ridge, Illinois; Kathryn Ryan Braband (’77), Willowbrook, Illinois;Dr. Kristine (Heissel) Melloy (’77), Loveland, Colorado; Dr. Debra (Eckerman) Pitton (’77), Burnsville, Minnesota; Theresa (Hentges) Ashmore (’77), Saint Paul, Minnesota; Catherine McEnroe (’77), Plandome, New York; Colleen (Dolphin) Kramer (’77), Green Oaks, Illinois; and Jeanne Duffy (’77), McHenry, Illinois.

Members of the group plan a get-together nearly every year and they take turns hosting the gatherings. They last gathered together in 2018 in Santa Clara, California, and are planning to meet next in 2020 in Westhampton, New York.

McEnroe, who transferred to the University of Colorado as a junior to study TV production, reconnected with the group in her mid-30s when she brought her father, the late Louis McEnroe (’49), back to Loras for Homecoming.

The close relationships the women enjoy are common to most Duhawks, McEnroe said, including her brothers: Timothy McEnroe (’79) and Mark McEnroe (’82), who both live in Algona, Iowa. Her older brother, Michael McEnroe (’73), who died in 2006, also graduated from Loras.

“They have also experienced the same long-term friendships with guys and girls they met at Loras,” Catherine McEnroe said. “It’s Loras that is unique. It provided an environment to establish these friendships. I never made those same connections or friendships at Colorado that I made at Loras.”

Theirs is a bond that has withstood many of life’s challenges. Loewen turned to the women for support and advice the summer she learned she would be moving that fall to a new school, after serving as principal for many years at a different school.

“I could be really open and honest like I really couldn’t be with my co-workers. I was able to say things I needed to say, get feedback I needed to hear and get encouragement and support. It really helped me,” she said. “We are very tuned into each other’s lives.”

Added McEnroe: “The beautiful and special thing about our friendships is that we chose to be with each other from the beginning of our freshman year at Loras. The minute we get together now we start figuring out where we’re going to meet the next time. I expect we’ll be together until we choose our retirement homes together.”