102-year-old ECE alumnus embodies the spirit of Spring Reunion

From left: Dean Cristina Amon, Claire King, Alex King, Bill King and Helen Morgan outside of Convocation Hall. (Photo: Roberta Baker)

From left: Dean Cristina Amon, Claire King, Alex King, Bill King and Helen Morgan outside of Convocation Hall. (Photo: Roberta Baker)

June 8, 2015

Jamie Hunter

U of T Engineering alumnus Alex King (ElecE 3T5) returned to his alma mater on May 29, 2015 to attend the Chancellor’s Circle Medal Ceremony. He was presented with a medal celebrating 80 years since his graduation — the only alumnus to receive the designation this year.

“It makes me very proud,” King said. “Receiving an 80-year medal is pretty special.”

King, who is 102, attended the Spring Reunion ceremony with his wife, Claire, son, Bill and daughter, Helen. He lives in Collingwood, Ont. and had not visited the St. George campus in many years — far too many for him to remember. He said that King’s College Circle looks similar, but there are many new buildings he has never seen before. When he was enrolled in electrical engineering at U of T, all of his classes took place in The Little Red Skulehouse — the original home to U of T Engineering, which was demolished in 1966.

“We had to take organic chemistry,” he recalled. “I don’t know what that had to do with electricity, but we had to take it anyway. I had Professor E.G.R. Ardaugh, and I remember he gave us the formula for sugar, which had too many letters and numbers for us electrical engineers to remember.”

His affiliation with the renowned Class of 3T5 is one that he cherishes. He said that alumni from his class met regularly for many years, and were still having reunions when he was well into his 80s.

“I had a lot of buddies in those days,” he said. “It seemed like we got closer as we got older.”

King said that throughout his life he was a “victim of circumstance” — always embracing new opportunities. He feels that it’s important that students and young alumni alike embrace the same mentality.

“Never hesitate and don’t miss a chance,” he said.

King attributes his long life to his wife, Claire.

“God put my wife beside me,” he said. “That’s why I’m still around — and I’m enjoying life every day.”

Spring Reunion with ECE alumnus Lauri Hiivala (ElecE 6T5)

Lauri Hiivala.

Lauri Hiivala

What does Spring Reunion mean to you?

Other than my 25th reunion, which was a milestone event, I had not attended Spring Reunion until my 45th, shortly after I had retired. That is when I came to realize the importance of trying to reconnect with some of my classmates, most of whom I had not seen for many years. As a result, some of us who live nearby are planning to get together periodically.

Do you have a favourite memory from your time at Skule™?

Before the official opening of the Yonge–University line extension by the Toronto Transit Commission, the Engineering Society arranged for an unofficial opening by President John F. Kennedy, impersonated by one of our students. This event took place at the nearby Queen’s Park Station with all of us in attendance accompanied, of course, by the Lady Godiva Memorial Bnad [sic].

Why should alumni, who have never been to Spring Reunion, come out and get involved?

Having realized the importance of reconnecting with some of my classmates, we were able to contact 35 of the original 53 members of our 6T5 electrical engineering class, not all of whom are still alive unfortunately. Of these, 24 were able to attend at least one of our reunion events over the years. This gave us an opportunity not only to reunite with old friends but also to rediscover our alma mater and see and hear about all of the changes that are taking place. As one of my classmates said after it was all over: “I had the time of my life and will never forget it.”

Lauri currently volunteers his time helping to organize the monthly Skule™ Lunch & Learn events.

Visit our Spring Reunion gallery featuring photos from the various departmental lunches, kids’ activities, lectures and the engineering dinner.

More information:
Marit Mitchell
Senior Communications Officer
The Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering
416-978-7997; marit.mitchell@utoronto.ca