“The Gang” at their 74th reunion at Spruce Lake Retreat in July 2021. The group is 19-strong and includes several couples who met while at EMU. (Courtesy photo)

‘The Gang’: 38 years, 74 reunions…and counting

For your consideration, a unique EMU alumni story, began the email from Cheryl Kreider Carey ‘83 late this summer.

Unique is right. For 38 years, “The Gang” has hosted 74 reunions (“winter is for adults, summer is adults and kids,” Carey explained). The group is 19-strong and includes several couples who met while at EMU.

Several of them knew each other previously, including four classmates from Lancaster Mennonite High School. But most of The Gang coalesced on campus: they met in orientation groups, became class officers, shared time in YPCA activities, and became roommates. Ten of the 19 were on crosscultural to Jerusalem in 1981.

With her email, Cheryl included two photos.

Here isHow It Started,” dated November 1983.

And “How It’s Going,” in a slightly more sedate pose from their July 2021 gathering at Spruce Lake Retreat.

“The Gang” was also sighted (and sited) among other august company on the recognition wall of the Suter Science Center; spearheaded by Ed Brubaker, the group paid tribute to their relationships by funding renovations, fittingly, to the center’s student lounge. “We liked the idea of giving back to EMU as a group by funding a room in the Science Center,” Carey said. “Having all our names listed on the plate memorializes Gang presence on campus.”

In some ways, The Gang has never left EMU: Three are former employees:  Kevin Carey, 1982– 88; Denise Miller, 1988-89; and Sheri Smucker, 2013-16.

There’s also been second-generation Gang members on campus: Kate Baker Baer ‘ 07 (married to Austin Baer ‘06), Kelly Baker Fry ‘11 and Justin Carey MBA ‘21.

Repping The Gang now are current students Nicole Miller and Hannah Giagnocavo.

But the biannual reunions, usually a weekend, are a life’s constant. Since the first meeting was November 1983 at the Ramada Inn, Tysons Corner, Va., they have met 73 more times: in major cities such as Richmond, Washington DC, Philadelphia, New York City. They’ve shared bed and breakfasts, houses at the beach, their homes, and even a Caribbean cruise. When Kirk and Marilyn Hanger were working in Mexico City as church planters, The Gang even showed up there. (Mini-Gang meet-ups also occur “unofficially” through the year, Carey said.)

“In early years, we’d stay up late until 1 a.m., but now, lights are out much earlier,” Carey said. “We would schedule a full weekend to explore the local area, eat, talk, laugh, play…not necessarily in that order … Now, we like just being together to talk.”

Here’s the full Gang roster: 

Dave Baker ‘82 and Melanie Gehret Baker ‘83, Perkiomenville, PA

Carl Beckler ‘83 and Karen Glick Beckler ‘84, Middle Granville, NY

Ed Brubaker ‘84 and Lucy Yoder Brubaker ‘83, Telford, PA

Kevin Carey ‘82, MA ‘86 and Cheryl Kreider Carey ‘83, Lansdowne, VA

Kirk Hanger ‘83 and Marilyn Cassel Hanger ‘83, Alexandria, VA

Karen Yoder Hartz ‘82 and Owen Hartz, Leola, PA

Luke Miller ‘82 and Denise Yoder Miller ‘85, Plymouth, MN

Carole Roth ‘82, Lancaster, PA

Ed Shenk ‘83 and Christine Good Shenk ‘83, Lancaster, PA

Dave Smucker and Sheri Hartzler Smucker, Harrisonburg, VA

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