Story by Marcus Wilkins
“Hi, are you all here for a tour?” asks a beaming Alli Mowrer from behind the reception desk. “Welcome to Mizzou!”
The handpicked student desk attendants — or “deskies,” as they are affectionately called — often initiate the first face-to-face Mizzou interaction for new Tiger families as they enter the Office of Admissions. Friendly, knowledgeable and eager to help, each crew member seems born for the job, their DNA teeming with black and gold.
This is practically the genetic truth for Mowrer, a senior health sciences student and a fourth-generation Missouri Tiger. Her great grandfather, “Papaw” John Mowrer, BS Ag ’43, PhD ’74, was a professor in MU Extension. Her great grandmother, Valdeen Mowrer, AFNR ’42, worked as an admissions advisor from 1965–86.
“Growing up, I originally thought great grandma Valdeen worked in Ellis Library,” says Alli, of Kennett, Missouri. “But it makes it special that she actually worked in admissions.”
Mizzou diplomas festoon the Mowrer family tree like acorns on a Francis Quadrangle oak. Grandpa Mike Mowrer, BS Ag ’67, JD ’76, a U.S. Army Vietnam War veteran, was performing ROTC drills on campus when he learned of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Grandma Jean, BS Ed ’68, recalls the strict dress code and curfew for the women of Johnston Hall where she was a resident assistant.
“I also remember being serenaded by the fraternities between Johnston and Wolpers,” says Jean, an audible smile in her voice. “And Mike gave me roses.”
Alli’s mom, Melinda Kirklin Mowrer, BS HES ’93, and dad, William, BS Ed ’93, kept busy with Kappa Alpha Theta and Phi Gamma Delta, respectively.
“We never missed a game, and you had to be a true fan back then,” says Melinda, recalling some lean years of Tiger football. “We were at the fifth-down game and the first night game. We weren’t getting the W’s, but at least there was some history happening.”
If you’ve ever wondered how campus and Columbia have evolved through the generations, just ask the Mowrers. The Shack, The Stables, Ernie’s Steak House, The Old Heidelberg — some hangouts defunct, some still going strong. The family rarely misses a Homecoming, and William and Melinda returned Sept. 22, for the Georgia game and Family Weekend.
“Downtown Columbia has changed so much over the years,” William says. “It’s a destination now. We love MidiCi Pizza, but we still always hit Shakespeare’s even if we call it in before the drive home to Kennett.”
The latest in the lineage is Hannah, Alli’s freshman younger sister who lives in Johnston Hall, just like her grandmother. The sisters followed their parents into Greek life, both joining the Alpha Chi Omega sorority. Although the girls were raised in the Bootheel — and even took piano lessons from Bernice Crow, mother of Kennett native Sheryl Crow, BS Ed ’84 — CoMo is where the heart is.
“I haven’t felt homesick at all,” says Hannah, perfectly summarizing the Mowrer-Mizzou connection. “Maybe that’s partly because Alli is here, but I don’t really feel like I’ve left home. I’m at home, just in a different place.”