The Advocate hosts inaugural reunion, celebrates 65 years

Former editors, staffers gather to honor work, contributions, legacy

By Roxana Amparo, Associate Editor

For the first time ever, former and current Advocate staffers will reconnect on Saturday night at The Advocate’s first ever reunion.

Inspired by an idea of the late Rowena Millado Walton, 1993-94 Advocate associate editor, the reunion is set to happen Saturday night in Berkeley to keep the connection going between staffers from the different years and decades.

“When Rowena  Millado Walton passed from cancer in February, it hit people hard,” Melanie Reyes-Soqui, 1994-1995 Advocate editor-in- chief, said. It was at Walton’s funeral service that her dream of bringing Advocate staffers across generations together was taken up by her friends.

Closely connected with Walton, Reyes-Soqui and 1995-96 Editor-in-Chief Genoa Barrow gathered to enact Walton’s vision.

“Genoa took up the torch,” Reyes said.

Barrow said, “After years and years and years of trying to plan the reunion, it is finally coming together.”

The dinner reception will be held at HS Lordships Restaurant in Berkeley for the estimated 85 guests from the different years and decades, including current Advocate staffers and supporters of the program, journalism department Chairperson Paul DeBolt said.

“It’s been 20 years (since I was on staff),” Barrow said. “We are old.”

DeBolt said, “We are all part of the history of The Advocate, and we get really close to (each other).”

Barrow said they are coming together to celebrate DeBolt’s 35th year of teaching journalism classes at Contra Costa College, his leadership role and his contributions to the class to be able to have a strong college paper.

She said although many staffers went on to careers outside of journalism, Contra Costa College’s The Advocate was the foundation where it all started for everyone.

During the reunion there will be three scholarships given out in memory of Advocate staffers who have died, but have not been forgotten, DeBolt said. Those are the Rowena Millado Walton Scholarship, John Baldonado Scholarship and Con Garretson Scholarship, in honor of the associate, sports and associate editors, respectively.

DeBolt said there has been a lot of history made by students while being part of The Advocate, but what makes this special is that the reunion is actually happening for the first time.

“We’ve had many Advocate alumni who have done some pretty cool things,” DeBolt said.

Reunion attendees will be coming from Southern California, Wyoming, Oregon, Washington and the Bay Area where they have pursued careers in journalistic and related, or unrelated, fields.

Barrow said she is looking forward to hearing where everyone went after they left the Advocate Newsroom. There will be laughs and it will be fun, she said.

Apart from catching up over dinner, there will be a slideshow, raffles and awards to honor contributors to the paper who were never on staff.

Barrow said there also will be hall of fame inductees to honor former editors, writers and photographers for their contributions to The Advocate.

Excited to reminisce about the good times with everyone, Reyes-Soqui said the memories spent in the newsroom will be relived once everyone comes together.

Prior to the reunion, some former staffers will meet on Friday night to revisit the newsroom, in AA-215 from 6:30-8:30 p.m., where they once spent countless hours producing The Advocate.