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Alumni Success Story

Shared Passion Keeps Friendship and AU Connection on Track

By Sarah Martone

AU Railfans

In the fall of 1957, Steve Gould, Kogod/BSBA ’61, Bob Kessler, Kogod/BSBA ’61, and Paul Waugaman, SPA/BA ’61, SPA/MA ’66, met as freshmen at AU. Nearly 60 years later, the three are still friends and members of the AU Railfan Crew, an informal club dedicated to pursuing their shared hobby of railroading.

While at AU, Bob and Steve bonded over their mutual love of trains, taking railroad excursions to Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland.

After graduating, the three pursued careers in different industries. Bob and Steve continued to pursue their shared hobby, and Paul joined in more than 25 years after graduation. In May 2010, on an expedition to southern New Jersey, the friends decided they should name their group. Due to their shared experience at AU, they decided to call themselves the AU Railfan Crew.

“The purpose is to pursue the hobby somewhere each year at an interesting railroad locale,” said Gould. “Camaraderie is always the result."

The AU Railfan Crew is currently spread out across the US, but they make a point to plan yearly sojourns to see each other and explore a new railroad. Bob, Steve, and Paul have met up in various parts of the country and even traveling abroad to visit the visit to the Great Central Railway in Loughborough, England.

The annual sojourns have provided many great experiences for the AU Railfan Crew, with one of the most memorable occurring in June 2012, when the three got to cross off a bucket list item on their sojourn to the Williams Grove Historic Steam Association near Harrisburg, PA. With training and guidance, the members were able to operate a small steam locomotive over several miles of track.

In addition to pursuing a shared passion with friends, the AU Railfan Crew credits their experience with helping them to maintain a connection to AU. “ We feel closer to AU because of our common experience there,” said Gould.

The connection to AU doesn’t stop at the Railfan Crew. Steve has remained involved as an Admissions Volunteer and, after hearing about Steve’s experience, Paul decided to join as well. The three have also remained engaged with AU as Golden Eagles and attended their 50th reunion at All-American Weekend in 2011, combining it with an AU Railfan Crew expedition in Virginia.

The AU Railfan Crew has many great adventures to come, with their next gathering planned for Kansas City in August 2016.

“You never know what will draw you closer to your alma mater,” said Gould. “Who would have thought trains would keep us “on track”?"