Not many people can say they’ve come face-to-face with the president of the United States. But Mark A. Boggs can.

During his tenure as the Mountaineer mascot, the West Virginia University alumnus got to rub elbows with Ronald Reagan at Parkersburg High School, an experience that he calledvery cool.

As we approached the campus of Parkersburg High School, I remember encountering the various security perimeters set up by the sheriff’s deputies, state police, uniformed Secret Service and nonuniformed Secret Service,he recalled.We made our way to the Fieldhouse, and it was jampacked. I’ll never forget CBS , NBC, ABC . There was a boatload of media there.

That was Oct. 29, 1984. Reagan was just returning from a re-election campaign trip on the West Coast. For Boggs, who grew up in the tiny town of Linden, Roane County, it was the thrill of a lifetime.

He (Reagan) came out on stage, and shortly after walking up to the podium, he said, �€~How about those’Eers’and the place exploded,Boggs said.

Then came the former Mountaineer’s big moment. After speaking to the crowd, he got to hand the president a hat with the University’s signatureFlying WVlogo.

That was neat stuff. We rode the excitement of that presentation all the way into the weekend until Penn State came to town. With the victory over Penn State (the first since 1955), that week is one of the most memorable in my life,he said.I was struck by the fact that this was a gentle giant. He seemed very real. Even though there was pomp and circumstance, he was down to earth.

Boggs served as WVU ’s mascot from 1984 to 1985. He graduated from the University with a bachelor of science degree in chemistry in the spring of 1985. He currently resides in Frederick, Md., where he is the president and CEO of an environmental science and industrial hygiene consulting business. He can be reached at 800-203-7773.

Meanwhile, Robert DiClerico, a WVU political scientist whose primary research is on the American presidency, is available to talk to media about Reagan’s legacy. He is the author ofVoting in AmericaandThe American Presidentand co-author ofChoosing Our ChoiceandFew are Chosen.He can be contacted at 304-293-3812, ext. 5276.

The University will honor the passing of Reagan Friday, June 11. Classes will be suspended from 11:15 a.m. to 2 p.m. during the national funeral service at Washington National Cathedral