The Gang’s All Here: Pottenger Family Shares Reunion Weekend

a white family consisting of a male, female and their daughters

The Pottenger Family during Reunion 2024

When Megan Pottenger ’19  decided to come to Davidson College, it meant she’d share an alma mater and every class reunion year with her parents, ’79 grads Dave and Sara Pottenger, and her older sister, Tatum Pottenger ’14. 

Dave remembers exactly where he was the day each of his daughters received their Davidson acceptance letters. 

“I was ecstatic,” he said. “Two of the best days of my life because we knew what awaited them. I also remember thinking, who wouldn’t want to go to their college reunion with Mom and Dad?”

Growing up in Durham, North Carolina, Tatum and Megan often accompanied their parents to Davidson basketball games. Dazzled by the Wildcats’ 2008 Elite Eight run, Tatum began to picture herself as a student there. 

“I looked at other schools, but I was always comparing every school to Davidson,” she said. “I wanted to know the people I passed on the sidewalk on the way to class, to experience the charm of running into someone wearing a Davidson shirt in the grocery store.”

A family of humanities majors, each of the Pottengers occupied different niches on campus. Tatum spent much of her time with her first-year hallmates and in the theatre, where she met some of her best friends and performed in a show almost every semester. Megan, an art history major, could be found working in the Van Every/Smith Galleries or pushing the Art Cart around the Alvarez College Union. 

Of course, Davidson in the 2010s looked much different from the Davidson Dave and Sara knew in the ’70s. Sara got to know the college while visiting her older brother, a hall counselor, and arrived prepared to find her place on campus among the third official co-ed graduating class.

“I knew Davidson was just starting to accept women,” she said. “It was sometimes intimidating to be in classes with all male professors, surrounded by male students, but to me, that was a challenge and something I wanted to be a part of.” 

She quickly forged close friendships with other Davidson women in her residence hall, through the women’s tennis team and over plates of home-cooked food at Fannie and Mable — the co-ed eating house where she first got to know Dave. 

“Simply breaking bread together every day enhanced our ability to connect and become friends,” Dave said. “Even though the day after we met, she called me Tom.”

For both of them, Davidson set the stage for lives of learning and friendships that have continued to evolve over nearly five decades. 

“Davidson allowed me to make friends in my hall, in my fraternity and across campus,” Dave said. “It gave me the confidence to pursue academics and taught me the value of living an honorable life. It’s been an extraordinary experience.”

a black and white photo of a young man and woman

The Pottengers during their Davidson years.

a black and white photo of a young woman

Sara Tatum Pottenger’s senior photo, 1979

Davidson friendships have remained a constant. A group from the Class of ’79 meets in person at least once a year — they’ve traveled together everywhere from the beach to the mountains to the Carnegie Guest House. Once a month, Sara attends a book club with women from her first-year hall. 

Nowadays, they keep in touch through social media and video calls, but Sara keeps a box of letters she’s collected from friends over the years. 

“We would write pages and pages,” she said. “I have letters from tennis team members, classmates and older students. It’s helped that so many people in our class are committed and intentional about staying connected. Reunion is an important time for many of us.”

a white family consisting of a male, female and two daughters

The Pottenger Family during Reunion 2024

This year marks Megan’s first Davidson reunion and Tatum’s second. For their parents, the event becomes more and more special as the years pass. Beyond reconnecting with old friends, it’s an opportunity to get closer with those they don’t see often — people like Dave’s former hallmate who returned to campus for their 35th reunion for the first time since transferring out in 1977. 

“The fifth year reunion feels unreal, like it snuck up on me,” Megan said. “I think in that time, I’ve become more and more grateful about my Davidson experience. It taught me a lot about being a good person and a good friend. It gave me the ability to look back with humility, and I hope that feeling continues to grow as I get older.”

Like her parents, Tatum’s Davidson friendships have deepened over time. As the college’s current director of donor relations and former staff member in the Office of Annual Giving, she’s remained an active part of the campus community and gained a new appreciation for the work happening behind the scenes. 

“Everyone reverts back to their Davidson self at reunion,” Tatum said. “I love seeing my parents, their friends and my friends get to interact, knowing we’re leaving feeling like our Davidson cup is filled. It looks different for each of us, but that warm, fuzzy feeling is the same.”