May 16, 2012

Hortense Weir Smith’s “Tracing a Family’s Deep Hilltop Roots” (Mustang Memories, SMU Magazine, Fall 2011) prompted John B. Danna Jr. ’53 to continue the story in this letter.

John B. Danna Jr. with his granddaughter, Mackenzie Martin, a first-year business student at SMU

As I read SMU Magazine, I certainly have fond memories from my days at SMU. I remember receiving my diploma for a business degree in 1953, and thinking of my uncle, Ralph Beaver, about whom Ms. Smith’s article was written. Uncle Ralph was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega (ATO) fraternity and graduated in 1923. His wife, Hazel Matthews, also attended SMU at that time, and they were married upon Ralph’s graduation.

Also, my thoughts were with my father, John B. Danna, a prominent Dallas architect who attended SMU in 1920 and 1921. He pledged Kappa Alpha (KA) fraternity and was one
of its first members at SMU.

In 1949 I registered at SMU and pledged ATO like my Uncle Ralph. I graduated in 1953 and spent two years active duty with the U.S. Air Force. After my tour of duty I studied architecture in Austin, Texas. I returned to Dallas to work with my father in his architectural practice in 1958.

Another family member associated with SMU is my cousin, Claire McDougle Roberts ’57. After graduating from SMU and raising her children, she worked at SMU with alumni and is now retired.

Last year was another milestone in our family as my granddaughter, Mackenzie Martin, excitedly enrolled as a first-year student in fall 2011. I’m looking forward to seeing her graduate with the Class of 2015!

With so many changes over the years, it is great to see how SMU has grown and prospered as one of the prominent universities in the country.  The 100-year celebration, I am sure, will be an affair to remember. 

John B. Danna Jr. ’53, AIA
Dallas, Texas