Roanoke Mini Reunion: April 27-30, 2017!

Roanoke Mini Reunion: April 27-30, 2017

They say Roanoke is the best kept secret on the east coast. It is alive with economic development, a dynamic historic downtown featuring a bustling farmers market, an avant-garde museum of art, galleries, shops, and cafes and restaurants. There has recently been an explosion of converting historic factories and warehouses to modern condos and apartments. All this is happening in a city that is nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Roanoke has been called the city that was built by the railroads and is now being rejuvenated by science. Our weekend together will introduce you to all of this, and more. Of course the city and its environs provide the back-drop for another chance for the Class of ’65 to reconnect and renew and strengthen our bonds.

Thursday, 4/27    Welcome to Roanoke

We’ll get settled into the Hotel Roanoke, the grand dame of southwestern Virginia hospitality.  Built in 1882, this elegant Tudor structure is on the National Register of Historic Places. You’ll learn the story of the hotel’s resurrection as a joint venture of the hotel, the City of Roanoke, and Virginia Tech.  Find more at

Those wishing to come in early may want to plan a round of golf, a kayak run down the Roanoke River, or some exercise on the 30+ miles of the Roanoke Greenway. Contact information is included below.

5 – 7 pm:  We’ll get the weekend started Thursday with a 5 pm reception in the historic Market Building. This is a short hop from the Hotel Roanoke across the covered pedestrian bridge over the Norfolk and Southern tracks. The reception will be followed by a sit down dinner at the Wall Street Tavern. It’s one of the best in town. My stepdaughter, Catherine Justice, and stepson Dan Mock, are the owners/operators. They have graciously closed the restaurant for the evening so our dinner will be a private affair.

Note: On the registration form you will need to make an entrée selection. After dinner you can retire or hit the streets. Roanoke has a very active live music scene.

Friday, 4/28 Hello Roanoke

9 – 10 am:  Chris Morrill, our dynamic City Manager, will start us off with a one-hour walking tour of the downtown, which will cover about four city blocks. We’ll start with Chris’ brief history of the hotel, cross the tracks again, learn more about the Market Building, stroll down Market Street through the farmer’s market, visit Elmwood Park and the brand new amphitheater, and end up back at Billy’s, one of the oldest restaurants in downtown.

10:30 – 11:30 am:  Before lunch we’ll get a presentation from Ann Blair Miller, Director of Business Investment for the Roanoke Regional Partnership. Anne will talk about the recent string of remarkable successes the region has had in landing several key businesses, including a couple of major west coast micro-breweries, a large Italian auto-parts maker, and a significant expansion of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute. One of the city’s key selling points, cited by new arrivals, is its beautiful natural setting and extensive outdoor offerings. The Partnership’s Peter Eschelman, Director of Outdoor Branding, will add to Ann’s comments from his perspective.

11:30 – 12:30 pm:  We’ll follow the presentation with lunch served in place by Billy’s.

1 – 3:30 pm:  Following lunch we will head down Jefferson Street via bus to the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute to get a talk and tour from Director Mike Friedlander. He has assembled a world class collection of 25 research teams, which will double to 50 in the next few years. The Institute is conducting research in a variety of areas related to neurosciences. One remarkable program is the linking of several different peoples’ brains at the Institute and world-wide as they communicate with each other in real time. Some of the areas of research are too extensive and impenetrable for this history major, but you will be fascinated. Google the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute to learn more.

4 – 6 pm:  Tour of the Taubman Art Museum. This event will feature a guided tour of the museum’s exhibit of American Impressionism plus the galleries of their permanent collection. The building, designed by Frank Gehry disciple Randall Stout, stands in stark contrast to the venerable red brick structures from the 19th century that define much of the downtown. It’s an experience all in itself!

7 – 9 pm:  Dinner will be on your own downtown. There are numerous outstanding restaurants within a few blocks of each other. You will receive a list when you register. I will give you my suggestions and encourage you to make reservations as Friday night is the most popular night for Roanokers to dine out.

Saturday  4/29    Tour the Blue Ridge Parkway

9 am:  The bus will leave from the Hotel and head for the Star, sitting atop Mill Mountain. This will be a quick stop to view the entire Roanoke Valley and learn the interesting story of the 40’s star which gives the city its name.

9:30 – 11 am: Heading south on the Parkway, there will be a couple of brief pull-offs, visibility permitting, into two of the numerous scenic overlooks.  You will be able to grasp the extent of the wilderness and incredible beauty of this region that make the Parkway one of the most visited parks in the country.

11 – 2 pm: Tour, taste, and dine at the Chateau Morrisette. Virginia has emerged as one of our major wine producing states, and Morrisette is one of the leading vineyards. After touring the wine production facilities and tasting their best efforts, we’ll have lunch in the Chateau’s restaurant.

2:30 – 3:30 pm:  History of the Blue Ridge Parkway presented by Gail Webb, Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Back on the bus for the return to Roanoke.

3:30 – 6 pm: Free time to relax at the Hotel or visit the downtown shops and galleries.

7 – 11 pm:  Reception and Dinner at Mountain View. We’ll bus out to the stately 40-room turn-of-the-century mansion of the Fishburn family, one of the leading families of the period. After we eat, the dance floor will be cleared and we can work off some of our dinner. There will be an opportunity to return to the hotel prior to 11 pm if your dance legs give out.

Sunday  4/30 Time to say goodbye

There is no scheduled event for Sunday. The brunch at the Hotel Roanoke is excellent, running from 11:30 – 2 pm as is the 11 am brunch at Wall Street Tavern. Reservations at either spot are encouraged. If you missed your golf game or kayak excursion, this is the time to fit it in before your depart. 

Susan and I have lived in Roanoke for close to 20 years and we have loved every minute of it. All four of our children are here close by so that adds to our pleasure. We both know this will be a wonderful weekend in Southwest Virginia. We truly hope you will join us!

~ Malcolm Douglas

Hotel Information:

Hotel Roanoke –

Reservations at (540) 853-8217 / (800) HILTONS, group code “Yale Reunions”

King or Queen/Queen (block of 29)   $169 + taxes/13.5%

King Suite (1)   $259 + taxes/13.5%


Transportation:  Direct flights to Roanoke/Blacksburg Regional Airport via the following airlines:  Allegiant, American, Delta, and United.

Please notify Malcolm Douglas @ (540) 986-8524 or via email at  with your flight arrival time so we can coordinate the shuttle to the hotel. There is a courtesy phone in the baggage claim area for the Hotel Roanoke, but if we can group flight arrivals you may avoid a wait for the shuttle.

Registration:  The mini reunion registration fee is $400 per person not including lodging. Please register by February 1, 2017 online at If you need to cancel after March 30, 2017 refunds will be based on the Class’s recoverable costs. In the event of inclement weather all class activities will still be held.

Optional Activities:  Come early April 27th! Discover what makes visiting Virginia’s Blue Ridge unique. I encourage you to take advantage of all Roanoke has to offer:

Golf Outing @ Roanoke Country Club 

Contact Jim Pascal at (540) 345-1508 ext. 8  

18 holes plus cart, $65 per person

Roanoke Mountain Adventures

Contact James Revercomb at (540) 525-8295

Kayak the Roanoke River- sit-on-top kayak – ½ day, $30 per person

Rotary Park in Salem shuttle – 8 miles to drop off for up to 10 people, $48 per person

Bike the Greenway – cruiser bikes -½ day, $20 per person