SHS Class of 1962 celebrates 50-year reunion

On Friday, Sept. 7, 2012, many members of the 1962 class of Sweetwater High School will gather in Sweetwater to celebrate their 50th year reunion. This Homecoming will being at the Exes Tea and Pep Rally at Sweetwater High School for those classmates who have come in for Friday's activities.At 4:30 p.m., the 1962 Class are honored to serve as the Parade Marshal for the Homecoming Parade. The front car, a red and white 1959, will carry the 1962 Homecoming Queen, Betty Jamison Swann from New York City, and the 1962 Mr. Mustang, Buddy Alldrege, a Sweetwater veterinarian. The car, owned by Bill Haley, will be driven by a 1962 classmate, J.V. Martin, retired president of First Financial Bank in Sweetwater.The remaining members of the class will ride on a float in a Pickrell Wrecking Service truck behind the car.Those classmates that have arrived for Friday's activities will gather at the Mustang Bowl to cheer on the Sweetwater Mustangs. At half-time, Betty Swann and Buddy Alldredge will help crown the 2012 SHS Homecoming Queen.All classmates will be in on Saturday for the day's activities. At noon, there will be a luncheon at the late Dr. T.D. Young Ranch, which is now owned by his daughter and a 1962 SHS Ex, Diane Young Coleman. At 7 p.m. on Saturday, a banquet and dance at the Sweetwater Country Club will highlight this 50th year reunion. Since 2002, the '62 Class voted to have a fellowship and farewell gathering on Sunday morning every five years when they all meet for reunions. This year this gathering will be at J.V. and Betty Martin's home. With five ministers in this class, a spiritual message is always given along with much singing, fellowship, a tasty brunch and of course many heart-felt goodbyes.This SHS '62 class graduated 134 students from SHS, who was then called Newman High School. These students and all others who attended any of the schools in Sweetwater in those 12 years are invited. The first reunion for this class was in 1982 for their 20th year. Since then there has been a 25th, 30th, 40th and 45th reunion. In 1998, the local classmates voted to meet once a year at lunch on the Saturday after homecoming for mini-reunions. They communicate by e-mail or Facebook but do not send mail-outs to these yearly mini-reunions. The class always has some people from Sweetwater, Snyder, Midland, Big Spring and Abilene, and one or two from the Dallas area. In 2010, after their yearly luncheon they joined the "All Class Reunion" and enjoyed the classmates from the different classes.At their reunions every five years, they have classmates coming from different states. At the 40th reunion, classmate Sven Kado and his 22-year-old son, both from Germany, attended the 2002 reunion. Sven attended Sweetwater school at Reagan Junior High (now called middle school), and one year in SHS. Sven's dad came to help train pilots at Avenger Field in Sweetwater. After two years his Dad moved the family back to Germany. This year there are classmates coming from Pennsylvania, Georgia, New Jersey and all over Texas.They have more than 100 classmates who are on the mailing list and more than 25 live in the Sweetwater area. Sadly, 43 of the classmates have died. One of their classmates, Glenda Condray, was killed in the "lightning bolt" that killed two students at middle school in 1957. Twelve other students were injured, many from the class. They, like many classes, have about 20 classmates that they have lost contact with, some as early as after graduation.The class has six lawyers — including Lance Hall from Sweetwater, two or three doctors, authors, business leaders, nurses, teachers, community leaders and good mommies and daddies.Tommy Leonard, one of the lawyers, who had attended all the reunions, passed away one month ago. He had written several bills that were passed as laws by our state legislators.Betty Jamison Swann has had much success in spreading the word of God in countries like Russia and the Middle East.Two classmates were lost to the Vietnamese War. Joey Dollar and Bobby King both had many honors for their service; both had Purple Hearts. Many of their classmates served in the Vietnamese War, like Arlion King.Dr. Bob Martin, who is attending this year's Homecoming reunion, will be a speaker next month at the National Academy of Space Conference in D.C., called Reimagining the University. He attended a conference last month also in D.C for America Enterprise Institute (AEI) on college costs and quality. He wrote a paper on stretching the higher education dollar, which was presented at the conference and will be published in a book by AEI. Jesse Ortega from Sweetwater, who was also a classmate and was employed by SISD, helped migrant students and their families. She had been awarded many awards for her distinguished lifetime of service before her death in 2010."There are many more stories about our classmates," said reunion organizers, "but this brief history on our class and classmates shows that most all of us believe Sweetwater schools are a great place to learn.""Sweetwater was a great place to live. We are a close class and our classmates are family. We had some wonderful teachers and a caring community. For our class, endless possibilities for our future did begin in our Sweetwater schools."