Friendships formed during college often last a lifetime. Close bonds like those between roommates, club brothers and sisters, and best friends have a way of persisting over years and miles. For Robert Owens (’85) from Loop, Texas, Vance Reaves (’85) from Denton, Texas, Charlie Hernandez (’85) from Odessa, Texas, Jeff Key (’85) from San Antonio, Texas, and John Smith (’85) from Moore, Montana—who’ve called themselves “The Boys” for decades—the lifetime friendships have sustained each other through countless highs, lows, trials, and triumphs.

The Boys, a group of five friends, have met at least once a year for the nearly forty years since they graduated from then-LCC in 1985.
“The five of us met in various ways and became friends during our years at LCU,” Vance explained, recalling a story reminiscent of so many others from their time on LCU’s campus. “Robert, Jeff, and John were all in the same social club,” he shared. “Charlie helped lead Jeff to Christ. Jeff and I worked summer camps as recruiters one summer, and Charlie and I were RAs together. John and I dreamed of backpacking in Montana, and eventually made two trips.”

For all of their escapades during their time at LCU, though, it wasn't until after they all graduated in the Spring of 1985 that the group truly became known as, "The Boys." Over the Labor Day weekend in 1986, the five young men regrouped for a camping trip in Menard, TX, which they dubbed their "Last Hurrah."

“Jeff and John were just beginning as teachers,” Vance recalled. “Charlie was just beginning work for a church in Odessa, I was about to begin grad school, and Robert had been working for Texaco for just a couple months.” In light of the ways their lives were changing, it was only fitting that they close a chapter of life in which they’d been so close with a final trip, a sense of closure to that phase of life as they moved on into the next. “It was a great weekend.”

But while a “Last Hurrah” usually implies finality, for The Boys it ended up being anything but the last.

“After the trip, we kept in touch—usually by writing letters, as this was before easy phone calls and email—and sometime during that year we came up with the idea of getting back together on Labor Day 1987 and calling it the ‘2nd Annual Last Hurrah,’” Vance recalled, adding that this time they met in Midland, where Robert and John were living at the time, and it was from this trip that an annual tradition was born.

The Boys have been a part of each others' lives in countless ways, from celebrating new children and anniversaries to harder moments like funerals and loss.
Over the following decades, there have been 36 such “Last Hurrahs” for the Boys. These men have made it a point to get together at least once a year, to share a weekend together, away from the hustles and bustles of life and the day-to-day stress they each battle individually. This time together is usually spent enjoying the elements of nature, good food, lots of coffee, prayer and studying scripture. It’s a period of revival, renewal, reflection, relaxation, and recuperation.

While the annual trip has been a staple in each of their lives, the connection extends beyond those times and into the day-to-day of life. The Boys have spread out over the years—John now lives in Nunnelly, TN, Vance in Allen, TX, Charlie in Austin, Robert in Houston, and Jeff remained in Lubbock. Even across the distances, however, they remain invested and involved in each other’s lives.

“They do a pretty good job of showing up for each other,” shared Maddie Hettick, Vance’s daughter. “I know when my grandpa died (my dad’s dad), Bob and Charlie drove to Denton to attend the funeral. Every time my parents come to Lubbock, Jeff comes over for a family dinner—he’s basically like our uncle,” she added.

“We have been in each other’s weddings,” Vance shared, “we've been to funerals of parents, and have basically shared life together for over 40 years. Rarely does a week pass in which one of us is not talking with at least one other, and we often share through a group text. I can say with certainty—for me and for each of the others—that our lives have been abundantly blessed because of the friendship. This friendship has been life changing.”

Robert, who now works for Chevron in Houston, agrees. “Over 40 years of deep friendship has enriched my life tremendously,” he shared. “We have been through life experiences in every chapter of our lives since our association began in ’81 at LCU. Shared experiences obviously played a role of us getting together in the first place, and the opportunity to be able to further develop those relationships over the decades has been a source of strength that I rely on weekly.”

The men have shared life together for years, and those bonds give each of them a strength they wouldn't otherwise know.
“Time together now includes reminiscing about things we experienced together, intertwined with our families,” he continued. “We know we have each other backs whenever one of the others need something. We have had ‘special sessions’ when we have challenges such as family deaths. Total acceptance and transparency have enabled us to be accountable to each other and focus on our higher calling. Our passion and energy have evolved over the years as our families and careers have changed, but the fellowship we enjoy has remained constant.”

The Boys, true to their roots, plan to meet this summer for their 37th annual “Last Hurrah,” and the significance of such a friendship is not lost on any of them.

“We’ve carried this tradition for nearly forty years,” Vance shared. “In a world that seemingly longs for deeper and more meaningful relationships, The Boys continue to watch and experience what so many would love to have. From heart throbs to heartaches, from weddings to funerals, in joy and in sorrow, we have been there for each other. Our unity and brotherhood were formed by the blood of Jesus Christ, and LCU was place where it all started.”