Magic in the Desert


The book is written by Dan Perry – BA in Journalism 1962- who passed a few years ago. His friends, Mike Waldner-BA in Journalism- 1963, Dr. Frank Thayer- who has three degrees from NMSU and was at the university when Dan Perry was on the Round Up as well,  Charlie Rogers- BS in Business Administration 1963- Aggie alumni and friends- all collaborated to finish the book and it is now a reality. Irene Perry, the wife of the deceased Dan Perry, started at NMSU and left in 1962 where they met, but finished her degree in Business Education at UNM. Then she went on and got her Masters at the University of Hawaii- Manoa in Education after that.

In 2013, Irene started the Daniel Perry Scholarship Fund in Journalism in honor of Dan and to support their wishes to help aspiring Journalism students at NMSU.

Beyond visiting old friends and haunts, the trip was about helping launch “Magic in the Desert,” a book about NMSU football over the years built around the undefeated 1960 Aggies.

The headliners of that team were Pervis Atkins, Bob Gaiters and Charley Johnson. Atkins and Gaiters would become longtime Ladera  Heights residents. Atkins played for the Rams when they were a Los Angeles team. He was the all-purpose All-American halfback in 1960. All tailback Gaiters did was lead the nation in rushing and scoring.

Johnson, the star quarterback, played 15 seasons in the NFL, at the same time earning a doctorate in chemical engineering. He returned to NMSU and joined the engineering faculty. “Magic in the Desert” was the brainchild of Dan Perry, one of my undergraduate roommates. When he died two years ago, NMSU journalism professor emeritus Dr. Frank Thayer, another old roommate, decided to lateral the assignment to me, which is how I became the ghostwriter of the book.

The why was to honor an old friend and help fund a scholarship in his name. Other than pre-printing and printing costs, there was no overhead, which will maximize the revenue stream to the scholarship.The target audience, quite obviously, is in New Mexico. This will not prevent football fans elsewhere from checking out the

Mike Waldner, Columnist

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