Ohio Journalist

Paradise Found

By Tiffany Ogden | Photos by Eli Hiller

(December 1, 2015) — You might say that Dave Venz was a high flyer who recently came back to Earth.

Venz, former vice president of corporate communications for Airbus North America, has now touched down in Athens for the next phase of his life.

His student days in the early 1960s included involvement with Beta Theta Pi fraternity, working as a bus boy in a dining hall, being a resident assistant in Lincoln Hall, writing for the Athens Messenger and coming into contact with celebrities on campus.

“In 1964, I came out from lunch one day, and there was all this commotion out in the street with guys in black cars and black suits,” he said. “All of a sudden, a door swings open, Lyndon Johnson steps out of his limo, sees me, comes over to shake my hand and said, ‘How ya doin’?’ I was in shock.”

After leaving OU, Venz was offered a job by telegram to work for the General Electric Co. in Schenectady, N.Y., where he remained for two years until being hired by Trans World Airlines. He worked for TWA and later Eastern Airlines, after which he was hired by Airbus as vice president of corporate communications for North America, where he stayed for the next 20 years.

Having experience working as a writer in college was considered “a great asset” in the professional world of public relations and marketing. “To be in corporate communications, training in journalism is the best thing one could possibly do,” said Venz. “You have to understand the media if you are going to work with the media.”

After retiring from a successful career in the professional world, David and his wife, Lucy, were considering what to do next. “We were watching the news one night, and they did a piece on retired couples moving to small university towns. She looked at me and said, ‘How about Athens?’ I said, ‘How about Athens?’” After a quick phone call to a fraternity brother, they were set up with a realtor and moved in Aug. 1, 2013.

“We have never looked back,” said Venz. “This place is paradise. Athens is great, especially for retired people. There is just so much going on here.” He describes attending the Science Café in The Front Room in Baker University Center, where a group of students and faculty present scientific information and research, and going to wine tastings and sporting events.

Dave is not the only high-profile alumnus who has returned to OU to enjoy the sporting events and campus culture.

Also thriving in Athens, Dan Dahlen, who graduated from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism in 1976 with a bachelor’s degree in advertising, became the writer for the award-winning “Where’s the Beef?” Wendy’s campaign and later discovered Jared, who became the representative for the Subway advertising program.

“We have really enjoyed not only the vibrancy of the little college town and the kids, but having everything so close,” including Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium, CVS and basketball games.

Dahlen currently works as CEO of Dahlen Communications, Inc. He and his wife moved from a Court Street apartment to Hocking Hills in the spring, and then back into town when the commute to campus got too long. “I continue on with my own marketing and consulting firm. I spent 35 years in corporate America working primarily for advertising agencies,” said Dahlen. Dahlen travels between OU and Ohio State University to speak to college students about his personal philosophies and experiences.

Like Venz, Dahlen got involved in Beta Theta Pi fraternity during his college days and was active on campus. Both men have invested time in advising the Betas.

After great success in their respective professional fields, their journeys have come full circle finding in Athens a new pathway to continue the cycle and foster growth.

“I am not going to retire,” Dahlen said. “I’ve got too much energy and too much to accomplish, and I think some of my best work is still ahead of me.”

Venz talked about how one small event can change someone’s life, and after so many years of being involved in the media, the media led him to return to Athens. “And here we are,” he said. “Right here in the center of the earth.”

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