This article was originally published on February 10, 2020.
Mady, an 11-year-old Michigan fan, is often in the Fieldhouse stands cheering at the UM-Dearborn women’s basketball games. Her grandpa Bill Rabe, '76 B.A. Economics, is the guy who has shared his maize and blue loyalty with his family. It’s caught on.
But he didn’t just bring her there because they are both Wolverine sports fans. It’s because he wanted to bring his granddaughter to the place where he feels it all started for him: His alma mater.
When Bill Rabe started attending college classes nearly 50 years ago, he had no idea what was in store for him other than a business education. But then he met Patricia (Key) his freshman year through mutual friends; she was an education student who he often saw at the campus cafeteria.
And today — 45 years of marriage, three children (two of whom are UM-Dearborn grads) and six grandchildren later — Bill says being the first in his family to pursue a degree led to the best connection in his life.
“When I met Pat, I just knew. She was easy to talk to. We had the same interests and similar views. And she wanted to see Jaws with me at the movies,” says Bill, who recently retired from Hewlett-Packard’s talent acquisition team and Sales Executives, Inc an Executive Search Firm.. “We got married right before our senior year at UM-Dearborn. Married August 22 and classes started back up in September. My ’71 Charger died on the way back from our honeymoon in Maine, but we made it back in time.”
In a recent conversation with the couple, Pat and Bill shared campus memories that included sharing fries together — the burgers were too expensive — in the black booths in the campus cafeteria while listening to Billy Preston on the jukebox, getting their marriage license blood tests — then required in Michigan — at a campus nurses’ station, Bill playing intramural football during the week and the couple going to watch Bo Schembechler’s Michigan team with Pat on the weekends.
“We’d carpool out there with friends to watch games nearly every weekend — it was free for us to go,” says Pat, who has a '76 B.S. in Education. “It was a good time and a nice break from us working full time and going to school. We were proud of our campus and the opportunities it gave us.”
Sharing now professor emeritus names like Orin Gelderloos, Richard Czarnecki and first Chancellor Leonard Goodall — Bill had him for an evening economics class — the couple says they had some classes together and often spent time in the Michigan Journal office where Pat worked, or with Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity members because Bill was a member. He even recalls a party AKPsi had on the Boblo boat, which he attended with Pat of course.
And through the years following their 1975 wedding and 1976 graduation, there have been more favorite UM-Dearborn memories — including the graduation of their sons Bill in 2005 and Dan in 2007, mentoring undergraduate students, and attending the first away UM-Dearborn alumni tailgate in 2019 when U-M played at Notre Dame.
And they continue to visit campus regularly. In the winter, it’s to cheer on the women’s basketball team with sports-loving Mady.
“UM-Dearborn has served our family well,” Bill says. “Thanks to UM-Dearborn, our lives look like they do today. We are grateful for the career, family and many positive memories we’ve been blessed with — with more to make.”