By Jon Spayde
In January, Sanford Hall resident Eddie Hoey, a freshman, learned he was getting a new roommate. His name was Zachary Doffing, and he had transferred to the U from a Florida school. Eddie, of course, Googled his name.
“I didn’t realize he went by Zack,” says Eddie. “It’s a little morbid, but the only place a Zachary Doffing showed up was in an obituary.” That obituary was for Zack’s maternal grandfather, 86-year-old Clarence Tervola (B.S. ’51, D.V.M. ’55), who died in 2012.
“The thing is, I knew the name Clarence Tervola,” says Eddie. “My grandpa talked about a Clarence Tervola.” In fact, as Eddie learned after checking with relatives, his maternal grandfather, Al Mayers (B.S. ’57), had been Clarence’s closest friend.
Once Zack moved in, the roommates bonded over the coincidence. But a dinner with Eddie’s grandparents revealed a bigger coincidence. Clarence and Al had been roommates. On the St. Paul campus. In 1948. The two agricultural education/ veterinary medicine majors shared digs in the now-demolished Old Home building. After Al’s service in the Korean War, the men and their new wives became inseparable.
Zack and Eddie plan to stay in each others’ lives too, even after Eddie moves into the Kappa Eta Kappa fraternity next year. Al, 86, gives them his blessing. “It looks like they’re going to have the same kind of happiness that Clarence and I had,” he says.
Zack says the discovery has taught him awareness. “What you do now,” he says, “just might have an effect 70 years down the road.”