FHS Class of 1961 holds reunion
The Fairfield High School Class of 1961 enjoyed three days of activities to celebrate its 55th-year reunion Sept. 15-17 in Fairfield. The culminating event was a dinner the evening of Sept. 17 at the Fairfield Golf & Country Club, and included 62 classmates and 32 spouses, friends, and guests.
Honored guests included Robert D. Glocke, art teacher in Fairfield from 1955-1991; Ronne Holt, FHS Class of 1960 and husband of deceased classmate Karen Nelson Holt; and Connie Estle, wife of deceased classmate John Estle.
This year’s reunion was the 10th for the class. Eleven class members and one spouse claimed perfect attendance for every reunion since 1961: Janet Anderson Parsons, Susan Bean Cummings, James Cummings, Don E. Havener, Robert E. Leedy, John C.Martin, Phyllis Paxson Robison, Jack E. Raymond, Gene Stine, Christine “Tina” Turney Thomann, Terry Watson, and Ronne Holt (FHS Class of 1960).
Karen Holt, who died Dec.14, 2014, was the chairwoman for the first nine reunions, and there was a “moment of silence” at the banquet to honor her for her devotion to the class.
After arrival in Fairfield Sept. 15, classmates enjoyed many different activities:
• A “Welcome Home” reception the afternoon of Sept. 15 at AmericInn;
• Golf at the Walton Club and the Fairfield Golf & Country Club Sept. 16 and 17;
• A caravan to The Canteen in Ottumwa for lunch Sept. 16:,
• A special visit with Dot Louden, adopted class mother, at her new home at The Oaks the afternoon of Sept. 16;
• Spontaneous side trips to the Dutchman’s Store in Cantril, the Lunch Box in Douds, the 125th anniversary celebration of Lockridge No. 8 one-room school house, the Carnegie Historical Museum, the Kiwanis Kids Day parade and pancakes Sept. 17, and the 2016 Collector Cars Unlimited car show Sept. 18 around the city square.
For a gathering of 70-somethings, there was an impressive display of modern technology during the three-day gathering. Janet Masden Fretheim and out-of-towner Roianne Miller Hackett in Buckhannon, West Virginia, kept in touch using Skype the evenings of Sept. 16 and 17.
The first official event took place the evening of Sept. 16 at the Fairfield Golf & Country Club, where classmates and guests enjoyed nonstop conversation, a buffet, and a keg of beer provided by an unnamed classmate.
The memorabilia table organized by Janet Masden Fretheim featured the entire collection of Fairfield Daily Ledger clippings of the basketball team that went to state tournament in 1961. Classmates also were impressed with Fretheim’s junior prom dress from the Cinderella Ball in 1960 and the FHS letter sweaters worn or displayed by several lettermen in the class.
The morning reception Sept. 17 at the country club was hosted by Karen Acton Phillips, Martha Hunt Coil, and Janet Masden Fretheim. Classmates enjoyed coffee, fruit, pastry, juice, and a social hour of reminiscing.
The “best-ever” tour of FHS was led by activities director Jeff Courtright and former Trojan track and field coach Ron Hunerdosse at 1 p.m. Sept. 17. Later that day, the class voted to make a donation to FHS by purchasing a paver to be placed in the new plaza that will be constructed in front of the auditorium this year or early next.
Events that evening at the country club included a social hour and welcoming remarks from Master of Ceremonies James Cornick, senior class vice president, and reunion co-chairs Sharon Bonnett Potter-Johnston and Donna Smith Donald. The invocation was delivered by classmate the Rev. Bill Kaska.
After dinner, James Cornick gave a presentation on “Our Great Class.”
Robert D. Glocke, former art teacher for the class at both the new junior high that opened in 1956 and high school, educated and entertained the class with his review of changes in Fairfield from the 1950s to the present time. Terry Watson added to the program with a thoroughly researched presentation on the history of one-room school houses in Iowa.
Christine “Tina” Turney Thomann provided 16 table centerpieces, which became the most sought-after door prizes. Her hand-painted cups featuring the FHS Trojan were filled with orange and black wrapped candy and topped with an orange candle used during the “In Memoriam” candle lighting later in the evening.
Yolande Metz Farris and Sara P. Howrey had the honor of presenting the In Memoriam Tribute for 37 members of the class who are now departed. Since the reunion,classmate Carol Gwendolyn Wiles Peebler died Sept. 23.
Classmates sang The Fairfield High School Song, following the lead of Janet Miller Hickenbottom and properly-outfitted class cheerleaders Rose Coop Hendricks, Judy Cornelius Holmer, and Judy Johnston Pringle.
Special memories and winners
At the end of the evening, classmates took the microphone to share good memories of high school events. In particular, Principal Charles Joss was remembered with fondness.
Three special prizes were awarded:
• Terry Watson won an award for perfect attendance during four years of high school and all 10 class reunions.
• Two classmates won prizes for best late ’50s/early ’60s costume: Ronald Mike Bradley came as a punk biker with smokes rolled up in his T-shirt sleeve, and Margaret Drap Harrison stunned classmates with a top-to-bottom car-hop outfit for Dog n Suds Drive-In. She worked at Dog n Suds when it first opened in Fairfield.
The biggest surprise and other notes
Susie and Jim Cummings made a five-day trip in a truck and camper from New Braunfels, Texas, and kept it a complete secret from the class until their arrival at the country club Sept. 16. They are spending a few days in Iowa with their son Scott before returning to Texas.
It was good to see Sharon Larson Schafer, a first-time attendee, and Bruce McIntire dressed in Chicago Cubs gear Sept. 16, clearly anticipating the World Series. Christine Turney Thomann, a member of the board of directors for the Fairfield Evergreen Cemetery Association, invited her classmates to make donations to the cemetery memorial fund.
Karen Acton Phillips, St. Peters, Missouri; Jim Angstead, Bella Vista, Arkansa; Susan Bean Cummings, New Braunfels, Texas; Jerry “Jay” Boyce, Salisbury, North Carolina; Ronald Mike Bradley, Red Lion, Pennsylvania; Jerry L. Cook, St. Peters, Missouri; Judy Cornelius Holmer, Tannersville, Pennsylvania; James Cummings, New Braunfels, Texas; Margaret Drap Harrison, Palm Harbor, Florida; Nancy Earley Leazer, Kansas City, Missouri; Marcia Griffin Olafson, Milton, Florida; Jerry W. Hickenbottom, Georgetown, Texas; Sara P. Howrey, Highland Heights, Kentucky; David E. Keller, Holts Summit, Missouri; Robert E. Leedy, East Moline, Illinois; John C. Martin, Milan, Illinois; Yolande Metz Farris, San Antonio, Texas; Janet Miller Hickenbottom, Brea, California; Gayle Peery Fuller, Green Isle, Minnesota; M. Neal Rains, Westlake, Ohio; Joanie Robinson Peterson, Phoenix, Arizona; Kay Smith Martin, Parker, Colorado; Tom Stewart, Des Plaines, Illinois; Nancy Whitmore Smith, Lake Forest, Illinois; and Mary Alice “Mamie” Zillman Carter, San Antonio, Texas.
Iowa attendees from out-of-town
Larry D. Baldosier, Mt. Pleasant; Elaine Bekel Andeway, Richland; Myrintha Cline Jeffrey, Anamosa; James Cornick, Des Moines; Donnie D. Egli, Lockridge; Don E. Havener, DeWitt; Walter E. Hill, Birmingham; Helen Hufford Hotchkin, Atlantic; Martha “Myrt” Hunt Coil, Ankeny; Judy Johnston Pringle, Stockport; Bill Kaska, Iowa City; Karen Kennedy Smith, Davenport; Aaron McElderry, Batavia; Bruce McIntire, Davenport; Jean Martin Harwood, Danville; Janet Masden Fretheim, Marion; Phyllis Paxson Robison, Richland; Joyce Pohren Rauscher LeDuc, Lockridge; Jack E. Raymond, Stockport; Robert A. Ryan, Coralville; John Schuck, Stockport; Donna M. Smith Donald, Keosauqua; Ruth Smith Bruegge, Lockridge; Frank H. Stever, Burlington; Gene Stine, Birmingham; Christine “Tina” Turney Thomann, Riverside; and Terry Watson, Burlington.
Janet Anderson Parsons, Linda K. Billingsley Hendricks, Sharon Bonnett Potter-Johnston, William Briggs, Sue Coffin Beall, Rose M. Coop Hendricks, Sharon Larson Schaefer, Kenneth L. Nelson, Donna Peck Kennedy, and Gary Samuelson.
The Class of 1961 is now considering the date of its next reunion.