Longtime Staffer Celebrates 50 Years Since DU Graduation
Groundskeeper part of Class of 1969
By 5 a.m., Ronald Mustain is in his golf cart, zipping toward the University of Denver’s Mary Reed Building, picking up garbage and litter as he goes. The directory lists him as a groundskeeper, but in reality, Mustain says, “I’m basically a trashman.”
“I don’t make that much money,” and the job isn’t exactly glamorous, he goes on, “but I love doing what I do.”
Most of all, Mustain (BS ’69) loves where he does it. Frequently, while walking the DU campus, his mind flashes back to the time he calls the best four years of his life.
“Where does 50 years go, man?” he asks, before snapping his fingers. “It’s like that. It’s a time warp. It really is.”
Hard to believe that Commencement marks 50 years since Mustain finished up a DU pre-med degree. This weekend, he’ll take part in an array of events scheduled to honor the Class of 1969. Each member will be inducted into the Pioneer Alumni Legends (PALs) group, commemorating their semicentennial. Campus tours will highlight historical sites and memorabilia from the 1960s.
It doesn’t feel that long ago for Mustain, who has worked in the DU Facilities Department for the last 15 years. “I feel like I have one foot in this era and one foot in another era,” he explains, before plunging back in time.
In many ways, DU has been Mustain’s backyard. He grew up in the Observatory Park area, neighbors with the late Josef Korbel, who founded the international studies school that now bears his name. Mustain would bike to campus with his friends and watch the fireworks spurting from the old stadium on special occasions. He attended Denver’s South High School, and after a year at the University of Michigan, he returned home and enrolled at DU.
Mustain’s memory immediately returns to athletics. He’s noted as a “standout” diver in the 1969 Kynewisbok and was also part of the rugby and gymnastics teams. The hockey team won back-to-back championships, and the ski team was in the middle of a dominant run, where it captured 10 titles in 11 years.
Courses were enjoyable as well, though Mustain ultimately determined the medical field was not for him. But he says the liberal arts course work prepared him for a range of jobs in real estate, construction and as a stockbroker.
His decision to return to work at the place that shaped him was a special experience, he says. It has been meaningful to reconnect with his favorite buildings — Mary Reed, Margery Reed and University Hall — and keep the “little oasis in the Denver desert” beautiful.
“DU is a much bigger part of my life than it used to be,” he says. “It’s a family-like feeling here. The time that I spent here and the people I see, you develop a whole new little circle of friends.”
Mustain looks forward to reconnecting with his old circle. On Saturday morning, members of his class will don caps and gowns once more, posing for a photo and proceeding to the Ritchie Center to watch DU’s newest graduates cross the stage.
His advice: “Try to really realize what happened the last four years, both in and out of the classroom — the total picture. Try to realize how special this time in your life was.”