St. Ambrose Bee Happy Hour to invade Sublette

SUBLETTE – There is a high chance of a swarm of bees in Sublette anywhere from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 9. 

Not a Honeybee, a Bumblebee, an Andrena, or a Colletidae…but a St. Ambrose Fighting Bee.

“It started out as a joke. A few years ago, I went to the Bee Happy Hour in Davenport (Iowa) and I just wasn’t too impressed with the way it went,” said Don Dinges, a Sublette native who graduated from St. Ambrose in 1957. “They also had one in Sterling and a woman I know went to it. She said, ‘Where were you, why didn’t you go?’ I told her, ‘I did, but just went to the one in Davenport.’

“I told her I wasn’t too happy, and she said she wasn’t happy about Sterling’s event either. We laughed and said, ‘Maybe we should just have one in Sublette.’”

The Bee Happy Hour, which will be held at La Fiesta, is a two-hour, St. Ambrose University alumni get together for Fighting Bees to catch up, tell stories, hear stories, and network with people who are born and raised in the same area, and also went to the four-year school located in Davenport.

St. Ambrose has held the special happy hours for 14 years. But it has never called Sublette home.

“Well, we think it’s just nice to be able to bring together the alumni from this area. Then they don’t have to travel to a bigger town,” said Dinges. “I’m sure people laugh when they see the website ( and Sublette is listed with all those major cities. Now, they have it in all the major cities, including Sublette.

“I called the school and I asked if they’d consider us hosting the event in Sublette. The woman said we would have to get the approval from the alumni office. It wasn’t very long, and they called back to say, ‘We think it’s a wonderful idea.’

“They’re really promoting it and there may be a representative from the school at our Bee Happy Hour.”

Dinges is co-hosting the Bee Happy Hour with Linda Grady, who graduated from St. Ambrose in 1982 after wearing a cap and gown during an Ohio High School graduation in 1978.

She heard Dinges’ idea and wanted to be part of bringing St. Ambrose to Sublette.

“I thought it was a great idea by Don. Over the years, I haven’t been as active, but Don has gone to a few of these in recent years,” said Grady. “It’s funny because you read about the Bee Happy Hour in the emails from the college and they’re in Scottsdale, Ariz., Chicago, St. Louis, Louisville, and other big, giant cities.

“To think that we’re going to have one in Sublette (a village of 383 people), I think it’s great. I’ve kept in touch with most of the St. Ambrose graduates in the area.”

The social gathering of St. Ambrose graduates will offer a T-shirt, along with food and drinks from La Fiesta.

Dinges said every year Amboy has one or two students who attend the university, including four in the class of 2022. 

Add the surrounding area and they expect around 40 Fighting Bees to swarm together, although more are welcome.

As Dinges gets ready for the June 9 event, he remembers how he went from a college student studying art to a banker who retired after 57 years at Pioneer State Bank in Sublette.

“I needed a job. When I graduated, I intended to go into advertising,” Dinges said. “There just weren’t any advertising jobs available at that time. I still have a sign shop where I paint signs. I had the sign shop all through my banking career where I’d work weekends and evenings. I started out with a full-time sign shop. At that time, every truck in Illinois had to have a name, address, and the empty weight painted on the door. So, I had a really good business. Then they took that law off of the books and my business went downhill. I had a few signs, but nothing like it was. 

“I happened to be in the bank one day and a guy asked me if I ever thought about being a banker. I told him, ‘Not really.’ He told me that they were looking for someone. I tried it and 57 years later, I retired. I took an early retirement at 80.”

Grady retired three years ago after being a long-tenured fourth grade teacher in Amboy.

Her plan is to get the five kids of the 26 in her Ohio graduating class who went to St. Ambrose to attend the happy hour.

She is also putting her daughter, Megan Grady, on the guest list as she graduated from St. Ambrose last year and teaches in Sterling.

“I think this is a great opportunity for us. I can’t talk about other schools because I don’t know, but I don’t see much activities going on for alumni,” Grady said. “I love that St. Ambrose has a designated time of the year for a get together; every June is Bee Happy Hour. 

“Everyone knows it’s coming. I haven’t always attended, but I read the alumni newsletter and they talk about the gatherings. I’ll see people I know in the photos who are living in some of these other places. I like that they’ve consistently have done it for years and everyone knows when it is.”