Reunion Weekend 2024: A Connection at Birth Cemented at Davidson

Brad Christie and Ashton T. Griffin

Brad Christie and Ashton T. Griffin
Photo by Chris Record

Close friends Ashton “T.” Griffin ’79 and Brad Christie ’79 shared their 45th college reunion this past weekend, but their first reunion took place during New Student Orientation in the fall of 1975.

Standing in line to receive his room assignment, Christie remembers hearing his mother yell from outside the college union after recognizing Griffin’s father in the crowd. At about the same time, he spotted Griffin, someone he’d heard about for years and recognized from their families’ annual Christmas card exchanges. 

Eighteen years prior, the Griffins and the Christies got to know each other in the hallways of Duke University Hospital. Griffin was born prematurely and with cerebral palsy in November of 1956 — at the time, he was the smallest baby ever to survive at Duke, weighing only 2lbs and 4oz. When Christie was born the following May, Griffin had returned to the hospital for a series of surgeries. The two families met and quickly realized they had a lot in common. 

Christie’s and Griffin’s fathers had crossed paths at Duke University School of Medicine and both served as physicians in the military. Their mothers both worked as public school teachers in Durham. 

“My parents' closest friends for many years were families like T.’s who had kids around the same age,” Christie said. “Military families looked out for one another. My mom was part of a whole village of people who were helping T.’s mom, because she had this exceptional child.”

The two families frequently moved around the United States. The Griffins wound up in Rapid City, South Dakota, the Christies in Jacksonville, Florida. And then they remarkably reunited on ϳԹ’s campus. They’d kept in touch, but had not discussed their children’s college plans.

Griffin first became interested in Davidson in seventh grade, when his headmaster directed him to write a paper on the college. It stuck in the back of his mind until he visited campus for the first time with his father. 

Brad’s senior photo

Brad’s senior photo

T’s senior photo

T’s senior photo

“Growing up in the ’70s, Davidson was front and center in a lot of different ways,” he said. “They were on TV in the College Bowl championship, and Lefty Driesell had the basketball team playing with the best. When I walked onto campus for the first time, it just felt right.” 

Christie also remembers feeling instantly at home when he visited campus for the first time, but he waited until the last day to make his decision. As a result, he wound up in a first-year hall with a group of “stragglers”— all late to matriculate.

“It was the most bizarre group of people you could imagine,” he said. “We called ourselves the 4th Cannon island of misfits, but we became a very close hall, and many of us continue to keep in touch.”

At Davidson, Christie majored in English and became highly involved in theatre. Griffin studied chemistry and education and spent most of his time in the Martin Science Building or teaching off campus. Griffin joined a fraternity, Christie joined an eating house, but the two continued to cross paths through their college years. 

In the ’90s, Christie began his career as an English professor at Erskine College, and Griffin, who taught high school science at the time, decided to stop by on a whim while passing through. He began at the library, asking everyone he encountered if they knew where to find Dr. Christie. Eventually, someone pointed him to the dining hall. 

Christie remembers turning around, just as he did at Davidson’s orientation, to find Griffin standing outside the dining hall doors. That night, Griffin ate dinner with Christie and his family, and the two caught up as if no time had passed. 

It’s really a product of Davidson’s campus culture. It didn’t matter who was hosting a party, you felt welcome there. It’s always been easy to feel connected to my friends and classmates.

Ashton T. Griffin '79

For 50 years, different groups from the class of ’79 have remained close and committed friends. The night before commencement, Christie and several friends made a pact to get together at least once a year, a promise they’ve dutifully kept.

For both of them, Reunion Weekend is an important part of honoring their connection to Davidson and spending time with friends who don’t make it to campus as often. 

“Even though we’re a very tight class, there are still people I only get to see at reunion every five years,” Christie said. “It’s particularly special that we have this kind of friendship and commitment to one another. I really treasure that.”