Reunion 2022: We Were There!

We did it! The East High Class of 1960 held its 62nd Reunion on a beautiful weekend in Wichita, September 30-October 2, 2022. A total of 55 classmates attended, accompanied by 22 spouses, children, and friends. Many people attended both Friday and Saturday for a grand total over two days of 125 guests. We came from all over the U.S.:  Florida, New York, Massachusetts, Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Texas, California, and, of course, Kansas.

Who Showed Up? The cast of characters is listed throughout this report. Keep reading.

Attendees: Marilyn Ash Barbeck, Lee Ayres (Zoom), Pearline Blackmon Smith, Kay Brinnon Alldritt, Judy Seefeld Butz, Steve Buxton, Gene Carter, Janice Collins Bailey, Kay Ellen Consolver, Martha Dunlap Bogle, Dennis Ebert, Fred Elder (Zoom), Gerald Fry, Skip Granger (Zoom), Barbara Hammond, Ron Haun, Rich Hayse, Janet Hotsapillar, Charles Howard

Friday’s Activities. Ron Troy hosted us at Reflection Ridge Golf Club, starting at noon with golf games that went on until after late afternoon. By 4:30, classmates began gathering and most arrived early.  Each classmate received a face-size mask, made from a copy of the yearbook portrait attached to a stick. Jane Thompson Olson created these masks, which helped us recognize each other and also set off quite a number of impersonations. After dinner, we participated in a Zoom session led by Calvin Ross, calling in from Tennessee. The Zoomers were enthusiastic, but our session was cut short by technical difficulties. Dan Kinney, Kay Ellen Consolver, George Palmer, and Ron Troy told entertaining stories about what they had been doing all these years. After the stories, we went back to chatting, the reunion’s most popular activity.

A Family Affair.  Three classmates were accompanied by a total of seven of their children – Mick Sullivan, Dan Tontz, and Carol Weaverling Chambers. The kids were also lots of fun.

More Attendees: Jake Jacobs, Dan Kinney, Jack Kleinheksel, Ric Knorr, David Kroenlein (Zoom), Mert Lancaster Curtis, Jerry Leisy, Merle Lewis, Evelyn Rose Maddox, Jerry Mason, Eric Menne, Mike Messick, Susan Mustard Gilliland, George Palmer, Glenna Payne Hartman, Perry Ann Porter (Zoom), David Robinson, Calvin Ross (Zoom), Diane Rusch Zinn

Yo-Yo Trivia. George Palmer shared memories of weekly yo-yo demonstrations at Tompkins Sundries (owned by Marilyn’s dad), where Philippino yo-yo experts dressed in lavishly embroidered satin jackets put on awesome shows. Then, they taught kids how to do yo-yo tricks. Dan Kinney recalled that he never went anywhere without a yo-yo in his pocket. Dennis Ebert, who lived in the Philippines for 45 years, explained that the Philippinos invented yo-yos as deadly weapons that later became very popular toys for us.  

 A Full Day on Saturday. About 25 members of our class toured East High School with a guide, who showed us the new performing arts theater, new gyms and swimming pool, the renovated library (full of books, not computers), and many other familiar and unfamiliar facilities. “The Hangar” is the name for the cafeteria (above). Gerry Fry noted that one hall featured the flags of every nation in the world, something he had never seen anywhere else. Many of us stopped in the student-run store to buy East High apparel like the Blue Aces Alumni t-shirt pictured at the top of this story.

On Saturday afternoon, 15 classmates toured the Allen House, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, 1915-1918. Regarded as the most livable of Wright’s Prairie Style residences, Allen House is very modern looking and filled with innovations not typical of Victorian-era homes. The comfortable-looking home and its gardens are quite beautiful. Many thanks to our classmate David Robinson, an Allen House volunteer, for arranging this tour.

Starting at 4:30, early bird classmates poured into Crestview Country Club, where we were hosted by Ric Knorr. Much chatting, many hugs, and more to eat and drink. From 6:00 to 6:30, we Zoomed with 12 classmates located all over the U.S. The technology worked better for us this time and allowed both the group as a whole and individuals to talk with the Zoomers. At future reunions, we hope to provide more opportunities for individual video chats with faraway friends. More classmates – Gerry Fry, David Robinson, Linda Soderberg McKay, and Dennis Ebert –  shared stories of their life journeys, which brought many laughs as well as recognition of shared issues like wondering who you are after you retire.

Saturday night Zoomers

Still More Attendees: Barbara Shacklett Adams, Linda Soderberg McKay, Glenna Stearman Park (Zoom), Mick Sullivan, Tom Tatlock (Zoom), Jane Theakston Stalker, Glora Thomas Welborn, Jane Thompson Olson, Marilyn Tompkins Bellert, Dan Tontz, Ronnie Troy, John Van Slyke (Zoom), Muriel Walpole, Floyd Watson, Carol Weaverling Chambers, Carolyn Wharton Holloway, Judy Zyskowski Moon (Zoom)

The BIG Photo! Mick Sullivan’s kids organized an outdoor photo of us all, masks in hand for Then and Now comparisons. Enlarge the photo to see individuals.

Shared Understanding. We recognized that we were fortunate to have grown up in Wichita in the 1940s and 1950s and that our very diverse class is full of interesting and impressive people – those who went to college and those who didn’t, those who worked internationally, and those who were the backbones of their families and local communities. All kinds of people, all important and valuable to us.

Poignant Moments. Barb Hammond created nine large posters to show the faces of 218 deceased members of the Class of 1960. One classmate said, “I’m afraid that I will find the face of my best friend there. I’ve been looking for him my whole life since I left Wichita.” His friend was there. Most of us scanned the posters, sharing memories of many friends.

Several times, we saw two classmates recognize each other, smiling joyfully, so overwhelmed that they could not speak.

Mobility Challenges? Part of our lives, but disabilities did not keep classmates at home. Canes, a walker, and a wheelchair were just part of the scenery.

Where was the Photographer? Favorite visual: Jerry Leisy, balanced on his walker, peering closely at the corner of the Zoom screen. “Is that John Van Slyke? That can’t be John Van Slyke. No way!” In fairness, John would not have recognized Jerry either, unless he had seen Jerry’s nametag and the familiar devilish twinkle in his eyes.

A Special Sunday.  Brunches, farewell chats at the new  Eisenhower Airport, and more celebrating happened on Sunday. The rest of us were visiting family, relaxing at home in Wichita, or hitting the road back to faraway places. Kay Ellen Consolver and Gene Carter, Senior Prom dates, stopped at a Dairy Queen for a treat while site-seeing in Wichita after the reunion.

 

Thank You’s!

  • More than 30 classmates donated over $11,000 that made this reunion possible!
  • Jane Thompson Olson, with help from Kay Brinnon Alldritt, assembled lovely blue and white table decorations and produced the individual masks.
  • Ronnie Troy brought a full set of Messengers, which made great reading.
  • Barb Hammond created the Deceased Classmates posters and the souvenir programs.
  • Glenna Stearman Park designed the Welcome poster with Shaking, Rattling, and Rolling 80-year olds having a wonderful time together.
  • Jake Jacobs recruited his brother Steve, AKA Mr. Wizard, to set up the Zoom sessions and sound systems.

What Happens Next? Kay Ellen Consolver led a standing ovation for Reunion Organizers Fred Elder, Ric Knorr, Diane Rusch Zinn, Marilyn Tompkins Bellert, and Ronnie Troy. On both Friday and Saturday nights, votes to hold a 65th reunion in 2025 were nearly unanimous. How to make it happen along with the Virtual Reunion Website and Zoom sessions? Stay tuned but also volunteer to help!

Photos and Videos – Send  your photos, with names included, to Diane at ddzinn@aol.com.  Of course we will create a 60th Reunion Gallery as a remembrance and tribute for the entire class.

Your Comments and Recollections. Please add them in the Comments box below.

We had a great time in Wichita and look forward to seeing you again, sooner rather than later.

Diane Rusch Zinn (ddzinn@aol.com), Marilyn Tompkins Bellert (mbellert@niu.edu), and Fred Elder, who Zoomed from home.

 

 

 

 

3 Comments
  1. sandboxdev 2 months ago

    Thank you so much for all your efforts to provide a great reunion for everyone! A highlight for me was your giving “voice” to many who never had a “voice” in high school…through the website and reunion. Additionally, I was able to reconnect with Dan Tontz. Our parents made us step-siblings in our 50’s when his father married my mother. The last time we were together was 2010, the year both of them died. The first person that recognized me was Richie Hayes‘ wife, Linda, who was my classmate at Southeast. I was able to let her know about the Southeast Reunion tomorrow, she had not been notified. We both lived in Topeka the past 30 years and did not know it. Amazing! Once again, thanks! I had a great time!
    Susan Mustard Gilliland

  2. Gene 2 months ago

    I’m exhausted from reading….You did remarkably well given customers and labor force. Thank you all.
    Remember we’re still right side of the grass.

  3. Marcia L. Odonnell 2 months ago

    When I saw the big picture I said to myself, `Who are all those gray-haired people?` I am so proud to be part of your group, just without the gray hair! Thanks to all who contributed. Without you, this would not have happened. Love and a BIG hug to all, Marcia

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