For three young men, attending John Brown University and rooming with childhood friends runs in the family.
Senior Joe Randol and juniors Tim Luff and Brian Mellema grew up within 10 minutes of each other in Colorado Springs, Col. They were coached in basketball by their fathers and heard many stories about their parents’ time in college.
Their fathers, Rod Randol, Bob Luff and Dan Mellema, grew up together, graduated from the University in the 1980s with majors in business administration and all moved back to Colorado Springs where they married University graduates and settled down.
Looking back on his days at the University, Luff talked about nights working in the cafeteria.
“On Sunday nights, the staff turned over meal preparation to the students working in [the cafeteria],” Luff reflected. “There were good times involving frozen cookie dough and jello squares.”
Randol remembered events such as throwing water balloons and snowballs across the J. Alvin atrium, which was not yet roofed over. All the water tossing created a mess.
“It was muddy and ugly in the middle,” said Randol, but “it was our pit.”
Pam Luff said the three fathers are much the same now as they were in college, “funny and crazy.”
“They were and still are wonderful, lifelong friends that can pick up where they left off even after not seeing each other for a time.”
Sue Mellema agreed with Mrs. Luff’s assessment.
“They were so much fun, and could always make everyone laugh,” she said. “And even though they all have such a good sense of humor, they all were, and still are, wonderful, godly men.”
The fathers first heard about the University through their high school principal, who was also a University graduate, explained Dan Mellema.
The three men decided to live together in J. Alvin because, at the time, it was the only available option for men.
Mellema described his time in J. Alvin.
“Let’s face it, J. Alvin was pretty much a dump back then,” he said. “There was no atrium, no air conditioning, and due to overcrowding no common room in the suites. For Colorado boys, the high humidity and lack of air conditioning was brutal.
“We also had rats to deal with, and when I say rats, I mean rats the size of small cats,” Mellema explained. “Having said all of that, I loved J. Alvin and the environment.”
It was not only the men who lived with one another. Additionally, Mrs. Mellema and Mrs. Luff roomed together in Mayfield.
Mrs. Luff told the story of how their friendship started.
“Sue and I met when she came out to Colorado Springs in the summer of 1980 to visit Mr. Mellema. Bob and I and she and Dan all went to a Barry Manilow concert together in Denver,” she explained.
They decided to live together when Mrs. Luff transferred to the University in order to finish her degree in psychology.
It was a natural choice for sons Joe, Tim and Brian to come to the University, Tim said.
Brian explained that he was the third generation to attend John Brown. Both of his parents, maternal grandparents and brothers all came to the University.
However, the young men have made their own memories here.
While living in J. Alvin, they were inspired by a fish tank to paint a mural of themselves looking into it. This idea quickly grew and became a mural that covered a whole wall in their dorm room. The painting portrayed life-sized versions of all the suite mates in black and white.
This was not the first time that a mural covered a wall in J. Alvin. Years earlier, Tim’s father painted a mural of the Colorado flag on one wall in his room.
Luff explained why he painted the mural. “We wanted to represent our home state… Painting your walls really helped with a feeling of community, dorm pride and probably retention.”
What is up next for the current University students? Joe is engaged and will graduate in May, while Tim and Brian plan on rooming off-campus together for their last year.