Classmates reunite after 50 years

Members of Greenville High School’s Class of 1963 get together for their 50th reunion Aug. 2 and 3. Back row from left: Jim Meyers, Bill Story, John Batson, Jim Greco, Janice Hall, Jammie Phillpot, Ross Posch and Dowanna Bettis. Middle row: Charlie Neer, Pam Prideaux, Gladys Harrison, Charlene Thomson, Dennis Rhoades and Bob Freeman. Front row: Kay Gates, Diane Parsons, Rocky Bohne, Jim Geil and Steve Housel. Not pictured: Ben Cunningham. Photos submitted
Samantha P. Hawthorne

  During the weekend of Aug. 2, alumni of Greenville High School’s Class of 1963 returned to the town of their alma mater for their 50-year reunion. Returning classmates spent the weekend reliving their glory days and, in some cases, re-establishing connections that were lost after graduation.

  Out of the 41 students who graduated that year, 20 celebrated this academic milestone with their peers and 13 have since passed away. Many of the students were educated together since the first grade, when classes were still held at the old schoolhouse on Main Street.

  While most of the graduates have long since moved out of the area, some still live in Indian Valley. Thus, a number of graduates had not seen their fellow classmates since graduation; for others, it had been more than 15 years since their last meeting; and for a select few, their high school romance resulted in a lifelong marriage bond.

  One such couple, high school sweethearts Jim and Rocky Geil, married the summer after graduation and were able to celebrate their 50-year anniversary in conjunction with their 50-year high school reunion.

  This reunion was the first held for the class in 15 years. Charlene (Thomson) Phipps, grade seven through 12 cheerleader and one of the reunion coordinators, explained that Richard McCutcheon, a GHS alumnus from a different class, organizes a school-wide reunion every three years; rather than organizing a separate reunion, the class of ’63 previously decided to join the school-wide reunion. She said because this year marked a significant milestone, however, the class decided to organize the 50-year class reunion.

  “The really wonderful thing was that we were such a small class that it felt more like seeing brothers and sisters. We picked up right where we left off with hugs, kisses and shared memories — we were like a big family,” said Phipps.

  As part of their celebration, the names of deceased classmates were read off one by one. For some, this was the first time learning of the deaths. “There were so many tears; it was very emotional and special,” said Phipps.

  To lighten the situation, the class said the deceased had simply “gone fishin’.” Others in the group related their near-death experiences, and Phipps said the whole event highlighted the fact that, for many in attendance, it would be the last time seeing their classmates. She said, “We are getting older and people go fishin’.”

  The reunion was split up into several events, including the main party, which was hosted Friday, Aug. 2, at Kay North’s house in Crescent Mills.

  On Saturday, the group met at the Cy Hall Memorial Museum where Janice Hall Thomas gave them a private tour of the new museum. Out of the class’s two living teachers, social studies teacher John Schramel, joined them in the tour.

  Afterward, the party was moved to the Way Station where the group enjoyed dinner and a late night of playing catch-up. “We shared so many fun memories about times when we got in trouble as kids, and who was boyfriend/girlfriend at the time … no one wanted to leave,” said Phipps.

  One of the graduates even brought along several issues of the Indian Valley Record from 1963 to help rekindle memories from that year. Several alumni reminisced further by staying the weekend at the Hideaway Motel, which was where their graduation dinner was held in 1963.

  Although Phipps said she was very excited to revisit her hometown, she also expressed her sadness over how the population of Greenville has decreased over the years. “Greenville was a thriving community of around 5,000 people when we graduated. The high school was the center of our community and we were all proud of it.

  “It is hard to see Greenville in its present condition. When we were in school, every one of the stores that are now boarded up was still open and people were walking along the streets all day long. It was hard to hear that the high school is struggling to stay afloat.”


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