In 1969, Marlene Beck Guroff was standing on the field at Memorial Stadium, about to be crowned homecoming queen for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She had one thing on her mind: catch the football.
As part of being crowned queen, the Wilber native was to be handed a football signed by the Nebraska football team and then-govenor Norbert Tiemann.
Tiemann ended up throwing the ball out to her from the sidelines. She caught it.
“Thank my lucky stars I was a tomboy and grew up with three brothers who played football,” Beck Guroff said.
Beck Guroff, who now lives in Washington D.C., will be coming back home to be honored for the 50th anniversary of being crowned during UNL’s homecoming weekend Oct. 4-6.
“I’ll get to be in a parade Friday night, attend a luncheon Saturday and present a bouquet of flowers to the (2019) homecoming queen during halftime at the game,” Beck Guroff said.
Beck Guroff, who graduated from the university with a dual major in elementary education and human development, moved to the East Coast to work for the Department of Agriculture the following year.
She said she still watches Husker games when she can and said her husband Buzz is now a fan. Although he is an alumnus of Northwestern University, which Nebraska will play that weekend, have no fear.
“(Buzz) is a Husker fan by marriage,” Beck Guroff said.
She said she still has the program and ticket from the night she was crowned and an issue of the Wilber-Clatonia school newspaper when she was interviewed about the experience.
Beck Guroff still tries to visit Nebraska at least once a year, most recently for UNL’s 50-year anniversary celebration of her sorority chapter, Chi Omega.
“It’s nice being in the wide-open spaces and I love seeing the sky and sunsets in Nebraska,” Beck Guroff said.
During that trip, Beck Guroff said she took a tour of the campus and was thrilled to see how it has grown and changed over the years.
She also said it was an honor to be crowned queen in 1969 because candidates are selected by the student body, just like today’s proceedings. She even offered some advice for the upcoming queen, whomever she may be.
“Be yourself and accept whatever comes with it,” Beck Guroff said. “Stay true to the university and stay true to your values.”