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FSHS Class of 1960 reunion had a whole lot of talkin' going on

FSHS Class of 1960 reunion had a whole lot of talkin' going on

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Organizers of last month’s Fort Smith High School Class of 1960 reunion made a command decision about the style of our 55-year reunion. There really wouldn't be a schedule – no big dinner with speeches or prizes for who had been married longest or had the most grandchildren, or traveled the most miles to attend, the committee agreed.

Instead, all attending would be given most of the day to simply get together and TALK to each other at the River Park Events Building. Some classmates left for a while in mid-afternoon to tour the Fort Smith Historic Site, watch the Razorback baseball team playing in the College World Series on TV, or to check out how Garrison Avenue looks since they last saw it, planning committee member Sherrell Stallings Buchanan told me when I arrived.

Since my weekly multiple myeloma lab results have been steadily improving lately, I was able to talk to quite a few classmates for a couple of hours. I would love to have stayed longer, but what a joy it was to get to talk, even briefly, with some favorite former classmates I hadn't seen or heard from in years. I even had a mini-family reunion with one of my cousins, Margaret Kidd Moss and her husband, Bill.

I also finally got to thank Penny Packard in person for the flower seeds she mailed me soon after she learned I had been diagnosed with cancer in the fall of 2013. The seeds were to be planted the next spring, so they were a special encouragement to me to believe that, in spite of being informed that the cancer had spread throughout 97 percent of my body, I could still be around the next year when it was time to plant those seeds – and I was!

Lynda Harris McDaniel, looking terrific as always, made sure to tell me again, as she had while we were still in high school, how much she appreciated me for being the first FSHS student to befriend her when she moved here with her family – away from all her longtime friends in Shawnee, Okla.

Donna Erickson Wintory is still just as cute and bubbly as she was in high school. It was a treat to see her and another lovely Grizzly cheerleader, Carolyn Schneider Hubbard, who also still lives here. Sallie Ladage and Cyndie Baber Coulter looked terrific, too.

Cyndie and I reminisced a little about our high school years and my beloved pinto pony, Amigo, that she got to ride with me a time or two.

I was disappointed to miss seeing Greer Farris and his daughter, Delaney, who had been there before I arrived. They have been on the cover of this magazine and subjects of more than one feature story.

Classmate and world traveler David Patterson and I finally got a chance to chat while at this reunion. I got a quick, across the room introduction to his distinguished wife, Fort Smith native and U.S. Ambassador Ann Wood Patterson, and wish I could have stayed longer to talk to both of them – and others. But I wear out faster these days and left for home when the buffet line began forming.

Cheers to this reunion’s planning committee members – Barbara Price Coleman; Sherrell Stallings Buchanan (and their husbands Kenneth and Bill); Frances Beckman Willis; Nancy Newlon Wells; Larry Ruth; James Priest; Carl Riggins (whose daughter-in-law, Linda, served as our reunion photographer); Janet Wyatt Wilson; and Jim Winn, who made sure I didn't miss the deadline for registering to attend the reunion.

“This was the first time we planned a casual, no program reunion, so all of us could just visit at will,” Sherrell said, “but just about everyone who attended told us they enjoyed the change.”

She said Phillip Plunkett made it a special point to tell her how he had especially enjoyed this year's reunion, “because everyone had a better chance to talk to each other.” Phillip is a former Grizzly football star and has been her friend since they met at Mrs. Brown's preschool and went all the way through Peabody and Ballman elementaries, Ramsey Junior High and Fort Smith High School together.

Fifty-five years have sure seemed to whizz by in a hurry. There were 505 of us who graduated in 1960 and now nearly a fourth of the class is no longer living. Sherrell says many at the reunion said they favor gathering again in two years, instead of five and I agree. I can’t wait to get together and talk to everyone again.

Special thanks for Linda Riggins for sharing class reunion photos with the magazine. 

The Fort Smith High School Class of 1960 also has a Facebook Group named "FSHS class of 1960." To join that group and see more photos and news, navigate to the page. At the top of the page you will see a button allowing you to ask to be added to the group. You may reach that page by following this link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/906038309455230/

This article appears in the July 2015 issue of Entertainment Fort Smith Magazine.
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Entertainment Fort Smith Magazine, Online