Kilgoreites bond thru a lifetime

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In some instances, the mere mention of a school reunion can cause a cloud of dread to overshadow the event. Thoughts of how much weight gain, gray hair, what to wear and how successful you have been can be overwhelming until the event comes and goes. In Kilgore, reunions have taken a step beyond the one day reunion to make sure a bond between classmates become stronger with the passing of time.

On October 13 the Kilgore High School graduating class of 1961 held a reunion celebrating their 75th birthdays.

“The reunion took place at an extremely nice local party barn with a total attendance of 66 classmates, their spouses, and guests in spite of the rainy day,” said Jonny Ferguson, class member. “In addition to classmates from the local area, attendees were from the areas of Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, and the Hill Country. Present were many successful educators, doctors, lawyers, engineers, military personnel, law enforcement personnel, first responders, Christian leaders, medical professionals, business personnel, petroleum industry personnel, entrepreneurs, etc. However, two classmates are still in school,” he quipped. “They are still teaching. Bennie Watts Brown will be celebrating her 50th year at Kilgore College this year and Lawrence Guess still teaches in the Dallas area.”

 Brunch, provided by local classmates, began at 10 a.m. followed by a late lunch at 2 p.m. catered with a delicious fish and chicken fry with trimmings. Of course, a birthday cake topped with KHS 75 and decorated with a bulldog was served. “Our local Brookshire’s made the cake for us and it was really good,” he said.

The known statuses of classmates not in attendance were discussed during brunch and recognition of first time reunion attendees were made. One member, John Sweet, reported that “his demise” has been greatly exaggerated. “We were all very glad to have him at the reunion!” Our class military veterans were gratifyingly recognized; deceased classmates were remembered and pictures were displayed. Door prizes drawings were performed which included: two copies of  “Echoes From Forgotten Streets” by Caleb Pirtle and Terry Stembridge, a Bulldog lap quilt by Betty Baker, two souvenir Kilgore Heights building bricks, two souvenir Eastview building bricks, and various other Kilgore-related items. Souvenir bags of goodies were provided by the Kilgore Chamber of Commerce.

“The bricks from the now demolished elementary schools make excellent discussion items, even though a little strenuous for some of the seasoned citizens to handle, but they were proud to have them,” he explained. The background music was popular music from the 1950s and 1960s compiled on CDs by late classmate Wayne Zatopek. Videos of past reunions and pictures of school days remembrances were shown.

Most of the attendees were able to leave the reunion late afternoon between the heavy rains. However, six of got rained-in for a while and enjoyed more visiting awaiting slacking in the rain. “By about 6 p.m. we were able to wade out to our vehicles and leave through an ankle-high lake in the parking field.”

“Everyone expressed they had a wonderful time and are looking forward to our 60th anniversary reunion in 2021,” said Jonny.

 “During our graduation class 50th anniversary reunion in 2011, we decided to have reunions more often than every 10 years,” continued Jonny. “We decided to celebrate our 70th birthdays followed by our graduation class 55th anniversary and now our 75th birthdays. We also have a monthly social for area classmates where we meet at a local restaurant for a meal and visiting. We also visit and help with ailing classmates.

“Going to school in Kilgore has offered us the privilege of developing enduring friendships over up to 12 years of school and even years of college education. We have deliberately maintained contact information on our classmates and kept up with them over the years. Our friendships have flourished over these many years and continue to do so. That’s the benefit of living in a small town. It makes it easier to bond and love one another,” he added.

DECORATING PUMPKINS for breast cancer awareness has become an annual event for the staff at The Willows Nursing Facility and if you stopped in last week, you know you had to vote before leaving. Winners were announced on Thursday afternoon and first place went to the creative team of Lee Ann Fleming, Ann Grantham and Lynn Watt.

“We didn’t win anything but notoriety,” laughed Lee Ann. “This is something we do every year. It is team-building, a lot of fun and it’s positive for everyone. Our residents love it.” The winning pumpkin was painted pink and white and filled with popcorn, set in a wooden crate filled with other snacks and labeled “Let’s Pop Cancer Check Your Kernels.” 

DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME is fast approaching. November 4, 2018 will be the day to turn your day back. Everyone is scrambling to get things done beforehand, but the rain and cooler weather has put quite a damper on it. Hang tight; the sun is supposed to start shining again in our area Sunday. The congregation at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church is holding their breath, hoping the sun pops out quicker as this Saturday is their Pumpkin 5 K run beginning at 9 a.m. and Family Fun Day & Craft Show from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. In past years, this proved to be the biggest event of the month.

MAY His Love and Laughter Fill Your Hearts and Your Homes throughout the week. In the meantime, we may be reached at 903-984-2593 or chitchatlinda@aol.com.

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