Hugh Dellios ’83

Hugh Dellios

Half kidding, I tell people my Dad tricked me into getting a Lawrence education. I was a jock coming out of high school and just wanted to find a small college where I could play football. My Dad graduated from a liberal arts college in our hometown, but he pointed me toward Lawrence. Yes, I could play for the Vikings, and I did. But my Dad knew Lawrence’s reputation. He knew what I would find on campus – beyond the Banta Bowl -- and how it would shape the rest of my life. And he was right, again.

If not for Bill Bremer, Charles Breunig, and the rest of the Lawrence history department, and if not for Spanish professor Hugo Martinez-Serros, I never would have become so interested in the full sweep of human experience. If not for a chance encounter with an editor of The Lawrentian, up against the bar in the Union, I never would have spent 30 years working as a journalist. Without an LU-related semester at the Newberry Library in Chicago, where I studied Jacksonian populism, I would be even more perplexed by the moment our country is passing through. Without Russian Professor George Smalley’s norm-shattering “Slavic Trip,” where 47 of us Lawrentians traveled in VW buses behind the Iron Curtain for an entire summer, I never would have had the gumption to become a foreign correspondent for a news organization. We learned to navigate challenges no suburban kid like me could have imagined. Years later, these things were still lighting my way as I reported and wrote about Nelson Mandela steering his country away from apartheid, the collapse of the Oslo peace process during the second Palestinian intifada, and the migration of so many Latin Americans toward the U.S. border, in search of a more secure life for their families. Bit of a stretch for a kid who once thought the earth revolved around touchdowns and cheerleaders.

Not so tongue-in-cheek, I tell people that everything I am and everything I have traces a path back to Appleton, Wisconsin. By sophomore year, living in Brokaw Hall, I had met all these strange, brilliant, and extraordinary fellow students. They were so curious and passionate and contrarian. They held rites-of-spring parties on the fire escapes, and danced barefoot on Union Hill. They introduced me to the Talking Heads and German playwrights. They expanded my sense of the world and its boundaries. Forty years later, these oddballs are still my closest friends. And that includes my favorite Lawrentian, Cindy Johnson, also ’83, who has been my spouse and partner for three decades, raised two fine sons with me, and continues to broaden my outlook every day. Thanks, Cindy. Thanks, my friends. Thanks, LU. And, in particular, thanks, Dad.