Class of 1972 Reunion Celebrates Success, Begins a Legacy
By Jordan Kellerman
1972. The Vietnam War continued to rage overseas. In June of that year, a break-in to the Democratic National Committee headquarters led to an investigation that revealed multiple abuses of power by the Nixon administration and kicked off the scandal known as Watergate. And in December, the City and County of Denver voted to give back its chance to host the Olympics.
Amid an uncertain future, the University of Denver (DU) College of Law graduated a unique class of individuals, set on making the world a better place. The class of 1972 is filled with talented, driven, and creative thinkers who have dedicated their careers to improving the lives of people they touch. On Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022, at Del Frisco’s in Cherry Creek, the class came together for its 50th class reunion to celebrate their storied lives and remember, fondly, their times at DU.
Organized by the Class of 1972 Reunion Committee, Robert (Bob) Zupkus, Herbert (Chip) Delap, Howard Kenison, and Dan Whittemore, the evening at Del Frisco’s turned into an opportunity to give back (more about that later), and then brunch the next day as the class was recognized as part of the DU Golden Barristers Society; an exclusive event for individuals who have reached 50 years since their graduation.
Reflections from Alumni
“It is hard to believe that 50 years have passed since my law school graduation,” wrote alumna Faye Riva Cohen. “I was one of five women in my law school class, and the only married woman until the last quarter of school. Our class was diverse and personable, despite their various backgrounds.”
Today, Cohen is known as the “tough lawyer lady” in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
“I have practiced my entire legal career in Philadelphia, but I fondly remember my time at DU,” she said. “The education I received provided me with the bedrock to establish my own law practice as one of the first women-owned law firms in Philadelphia.”
Fellow graduate Jim Martin came to the reunion excited to see his former classmates. During his career, Martin served as Colorado Assistant Attorney General and represented the Colorado Department of Institutions in federal and state court litigation. Today, he lives in Montana, but the Colorado lifestyle has never left him.
“Play still includes downhill and cross-country skiing, cycling, and motorcycling, as well as tennis, platform tennis and now, pickleball,” he explained.
For some, living the Colorado lifestyle was always part of the plan.
“Enjoyed it all, especially the solo work,” said Jim Engelking, reflecting on his career “And never having to leave Colorado, which was the plan when I decided to come to Denver after leaving the Navy.”
Alumnus Dan Whittemore is known for his extensive work in education, having served as Colorado State Controller for Governor Dick Lamm, Controller at Chicago Public Schools, Vice Chancellor for Business and Administration for all ten Maricopa Community Colleges, and Vice President for Finance of Colorado Community Colleges, to name a few. But when reflecting on his time at Denver Law, he offers a different sentiment.
“When spry and younger,” he said, “I climbed all of Colorado's fourteeners.”
The class of 1972 so loved their time at Denver Law, that they independently decided to give back to law students now.
“The law school is personal, interesting, and there are no limits to what you can do,” explains reunion committee member Bob Zupkus, who retired in 2017 from the law firm he founded. “The practice programs get you [students] hands on experience with legal aid, state government, clinical practice programs. It was an inspiring educational process. That keeps me involved.”
Leading up to the reunion weekend, the reunion committee created and launched the Sturm College of Law Class of 1972 Externship Fund. The fund will support stipends for law students in summer of 2023 pursuing unpaid externships with non-profits, legal aid organizations, judicial chambers, state and federal public defenders, and local, state and federal government agencies.
“The idea for students that there is so much you can do with a legal education is amazing,” Zupkus continued. “Business, nonprofit, government, this degree applies across many sectors.”
On his time at Denver Law, and his induction into the Golden Barristers Society, Zupkus is nostalgic.
“I never knew that fifty years went by,” he said. “I loved what I was doing, and in the blink of an eye, here I am.”
The class of 1972 never forgot where they started, or the way of life in 1972. Their uncertain graduation year propelled them into successful lives, and they continue to turn around and pull others with them. We look forward to celebrating their successes, memories, and legacy for years to come.
View Golden Barristers Photo Gallery