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Release: June 10, 1999

100-year-old alumnus to attend UI reunion

IOWA CITY, Iowa — One-hundred-year-old Ralph McIntosh is truly a loyal University of Iowa alumnus.

The 1923 graduate of the University of Iowa will attend the UI Alumni Association's Spring Reunion Weekend activities this weekend, his 76th class reunion. He will travel from his Rockford, Ill. home with his daughter and son-in-law and attend the All-Class Banquet Friday night in the Main Lounge of the Iowa Memorial Union.

"I'll be there with bells on," said McIntosh, who is looking forward to sitting at UI President Mary Sue Coleman's table at the banquet. At the reunion he hopes to find members of the UI swim clubs from the 1920s, including one woman who supposedly swam the Iowa River from Coralville to Iowa City.

McIntosh was a lifeguard at the women's swimming pool at the UI and knew many of the young women who swam there. He said he wasn't allowed to dive in and save them in distress, but could pull them out with a 10-foot pole.

Besides a few jobs to pay his way through college (tuition was $40 per year in 1923), McIntosh spent most of his time studying in the College of Commerce. He and his twin brother, Roy, enrolled at the UI after working in government secretarial jobs in Washington, D.C.

"Our mother told us that if you were going to attend college, you were going to pay your own way," McIntosh said, adding that he also waited tables at a sorority and did office work. He was able to graduate with money left over in his college savings account.

"We did 4 1/2 years of college work in 3 1/2 years. We took six-week sessions in the summer to finish sooner," he added.

McIntosh's brother died in 1983 while they were attending their 60th class reunion. His wife, LaPearle, also a UI graduate, died in 1993 at the age of 96.

McIntosh retired 33 years ago as a field auditor for the Illinois Department of Revenue, after also working with the Illinois Department of Finance. After retirement he was able to pursue his love of boating on the Rock River in Rockford, and he still remains active in the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. Two or three times a week, he oversees flag-raisings, handles repair jobs and instructs boater safety courses.

He lives alone in his home, exercises regularly and still has a sharp mind. He's able to add a long list of numbers without paper and pencil, and remember names of people in the UI swim club he met in the 1920s.

"For me, the good old days are yesterday, today and tomorrow," said McIntosh in a recent interview with the Rockford Register Star.

For more information on Spring Reunion activities June 10-13 at the UI, contact Staci Prochaska at the UI Alumni Association at (319) 335-3294 or (800) IOW-ALUM