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Gee to visit OSU Alumni Club of Dallas

You can take a Buckeye out of Ohio State, but you can’t take OSU out of a Buckeye.

In Dallas, Texas, a group of OSU alumni and enthusiasts will join OSU President E. Gordon Gee for a reception Monday night.

The OSU Alumni Club of Dallas will host Gee for an update on campus events, followed by a question-and-answer session.

While in Dallas, Gee will make several appearances, including one for the annual meeting of the Association of Public Land Grant Universities, where he will make a keynote address in front of 1,000 people, said OSU spokesman Jim Lynch, in an e-mail.

Bob Elwell, club president and a 1964 OSU graduate, said it was not difficult to get Gee to attend the event.

The university called and asked if the club would like Gee to make an appearance while in town, Elwell said.

“That was the easiest question to answer,” he said. “People are excited. Everyone knows what a fabulous president he is.”

The club organizes many events and activities throughout the year, including game watch parties at a Dallas bar, Austin Avenue Bar and Restaurant, every football game.

There are about 6,000 OSU alumni in the Dallas area. About 200 Buckeye fans come to the bar to watch OSU football games each week, Elwell said. The Michigan game draws several hundred.

“There’s 20 TVs in the main bar and they’re all OSU,” he said. “We control the bar.”

The club’s main objective is to support its scholarship fund. Each year, the club awards two to four OSU students from Dallas about $4,000 each. Each year’s recipients can renew the scholarship for three additional years.

The money is raised through membership fees, game day lotteries, raffles and profits from merchandise sales.

“The scholarships make you feel good, like you’re doing something worthwhile,” Elwell said.

Caitlin Leddy, a third-year in finance and risk management, was a scholarship recipient in 2008.

Leddy said she was already planning to attend OSU when she applied, but the support from the club confirmed her decision.

Her twin sister enrolled in Texas A&M but transferred to OSU after learning of Leddy’s experiences.

There are a lot more Buckeye fans in Texas than one would expect, she said.

“You’d be surprised,” she said. “On game days, they just appear out of nowhere.”

Leddy is grateful for the club’s support, she said.

“Without their encouragement, I would have never been as involved,” she said.

The club also focuses its efforts on OSU recruitment. Right now, about 82 OSU students are from the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, Elwell said. The club has been working with the university to double that number for next year.

Dave Francis, club vice president and a 1963 OSU graduate, wants to recruit students because “Ohio State is the greatest university in the world,” he said.

Francis, who played fullback for Woody Hayes, has been living in the Dallas area on and off since 1979, he said.

Until 2007, his 186-yard, two touchdown performance was the most yards gained by an OSU running back against Michigan. Chris “Beanie” Wells broke the record with 222 yards.

Elwell remembers watching Wells beat the record with Francis.

“I was sitting beside him, and he was about ready to cry,” Elwell said. “But (Francis) won’t tell you that.”

Francis said his best memories from OSU stem from his relationships with friends and teammates, and the twosome tries to make the trip back to Columbus a few times a year, they said.

“It’s a great place to be from and a great place to visit,” Francis said.

Elwell agreed. Many members of his family are OSU alumni, including his grandmother, mother and daughter.

“My blood’s scarlet and gray,” he said.

Elwell said it isn’t difficult to stay connected to OSU more than 1,000 miles away.

“When you get out of college, you’ll never find the spirit OSU has anywhere else,” he said. “But if you see someone who’s loud and obnoxious, they’re Buckeyes.”

 

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