Facetime April 2016

Welcome back to Alumni Facetime. Here you'll find news on your friends and classmates organized by decade, with links to more in-depth explorations of their lives and work.

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Alumni Class Notes by Decade

2010s News
2000s News
1990s News
1980s News
1970s and Earlier News

The Difference that Matters: a letter from Bill Jacobs, '83 BSBA

Ken Hott Memorial Gathering
Bill Jacobs, '83 BSBA and former classmates gathered on north campus to honor the life of Ken Hott, '84 BS.

While most of the students were away on spring break, something special occurred on the lawn in front of Taylor Hall at noon on Saturday, March 12. Though extraordinary, it involved the most mundane items: A Frisbee. A marker. And a gathering of 20 former residents of Taylor and Morton Halls from the early 1980s. We reunited from around the country to celebrate the life of our beloved friend and Taylor resident Ken Hott, who passed away last month. Many of us had not seen each other for over 30 years. We stood in a circle and one wrote Ken's name on the front of a Frisbee.

Ken was a free spirit and a Frisbee is an appropriate symbol of his life. You see, Ken literally chose NAU by opening a book of colleges, randomly opening the book to a page and placing his finger on Northern Arizona University. When he moved from Pennsylvania and into Taylor, he didn't know a single soul. And his first roommate was a very poor fit.  During that first week, Ken was wondering if he had made a huge mistake coming to NAU.

As he sat on the lawn in front of Taylor on one of those gorgeous late August days in Flagstaff contemplating his next move, two guys came out of the dorm and started to toss a Frisbee. And as Ken watched, the two invited Ken to join him. And from that moment on, Taylor Hall became his home.

Ken Hott Frisbee

On that chilly Saturday, we passed the Frisbee with Ken's name on it around the circle. And as we held the Frisbee, we told our favorite Ken stories. We laughed. We cried. But we laughed more than we cried. Then we all signed the back of the Frisbee and sent it to Ken's family.

Though Ken was the first of our dorm friends to pass, he outlived us all: He traveled the world multiple times. He climbed many of the world's highest peaks, rode a bicycle across the United States. He became a millionaire as a computer programmer, only to lose it all in the dot.com bust. Through it all, he remained a free spirit. Ken knew that he carried a genetic defect in his heart that would eventually take his life. So he lived large to the end. He died of heart failure last month while riding his bicycle touring the Patagonia region of Chile. 

As we reunited, we were mostly rounder and grayer. Our ability to chase down a Frisbee had definitely diminished. But our successes and failures in life since we left Taylor didn't matter. We are the same kids that walked those halls so many years ago. The death of an old friend is a scary reminder how short life is. And it can force us to reevaluate how we are living our lives. I want to encourage the current students of NAU to never be so busy preparing for your future life that you miss out on living.

Grab that old Frisbee of yours and head outside. Ask someone you don't know if they want to play. Who knows, you might make a lifelong friend.

-Bill Jacobs
Class of 1983

Lumberjack Q&A: Creating 'field to glass' distilled spirits with alumni Chris and Elise Burnette

Burnette Collage_470
"We both had experience while at NAU working for other organizations and learning about marketing, management, organizational development and related issues. We draw on these experiences daily.

Chris, '04 BS, and Elise Burnette, '07 BS, are the owners of Coulter & Payne Farm Distillery of Union, MO., which focuses on high quality, sustainable, hand-crafted distillery spirits produced in small batches. We sat down with this Lumberjack couple to learn more about the family business and what motivates them to share their passion with others.

Read the complete interview

Benefits and Discounts

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