Written by: 
Christiana Flores

In 1970, Dennis Raso ('86) took a life-changing trip from his Rhode Island home to Alabama to visit his uncle, Frank Buttler ('56). Frank lived in Texas after serving in the Navy and began his studies at North Texas. Fast forward to Dennis' visit: A student at Rhode Island Junior College, he considered attending other Texas institutions, but Frank interceded.

"He said, 'No. You want to go to Denton. Go to North Texas,'" Dennis says.

And Dennis would continue the family's path to a nearly seven-decade involvement with UNT. The four generations don't just study here, but have become active in all aspects of campus life, even beyond graduation.

Dennis began work toward an education degree. The fit wasn't right for him, so he switched gears to study business. While studying, he met his wife, Lori, who was visiting a friend on campus, and proposed to her after three dates. After graduation, Dennis continued a 41-year career at Coca-Cola. As special events manager, he was again connected to UNT working with athletics and auxiliary services.

Debbie Fladvid ('94), Lori's daughter from a previous marriage, continues the family's campus connection. UNT would shape her future in unexpected ways. Despite starting down the teaching path, she also detoured into business. Her passion for learning and problem solving helped in her career with the workforce management company Kronos and Trinity Industries, which builds freight cars.

"What I enjoyed about my education at UNT, the parts that excited me, are what I use in my work today, especially the research aspect," she says.

After graduating, Debbie met her husband, Bill Fladvid ('98), who was drawn to UNT by its affordability and magnetic appeal. He earned his radio/TV/film degree, gaining experience as a newscaster on 88.1 KNTU. He then obtained a teaching certificate at UNT and taught at Keller ISD. Like Debbie, he transitioned into the business world and is currently head of catering and customer relations at Chick-fil-A in Roanoke.

The family's legacy continues with the couple's son, William Fladvid, as he pursues a degree in game design and development. His lifelong love of music has led to him performing saxophone with the Green Brigade.

Through the years, the family's connection with UNT has deepened as they contribute to its vibrant community. Dennis and Lori are prominent figures in UNT's alumni network and members of the Diamond Eagles Society and President's Council. Debbie and Bill are lifetime members of the Alumni Association, and William is now a student member.

"UNT is such a big university, but feels small," Debbie says. "You're never lost. You feel home here."

From left, Dennis Raso ('86), Will Fladvid, Debbie Fladvid ('94) and Bill Fladvid ('98) show off their Eagle Claw at the University Union.