Class of 1953 Celebrates 45th Reunion

 

The class of '53 has probably had more reunions than any other, but the last one was the greatest. Held in Hilton Head, South Carolina in October '99, the event "raised the bar" on class reunions.

A very unlikely individual started it all back in '97. John Anderson, who left Chatham after 12 years in Chatham schools, got the urge to look up some of his classmates. John, who admits that he never looked back after his departure just prior to his senior year, has a condo in Hilton Head and a house full of telephones (18) in his Mentor, Ohio home. To make a long story short, John did the phoning, while others did the mailings and planning.

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The committee - Paul Harris, Ellie Schleicher,  John Anderson and Kitty Reams

More than 18 months of planning paid off. Hilton Head, everyone found, was more than golf and tennis. During the eight days of the reunion, there were "open condo" nights for socializing, as well as the "centerpiece" semi--formal dinner dance, at the Hilton Hotel, of course. Classmates stayed an average of 5.5 days, with one flying in just for the dinner--dance.

Minigatherings occurred all through the the week, along with a croquet tournament, sea kayaking, and bike riding. John Anderson the cheerleader and phone freak simply smiled and told others that "I KNEW youd love it here!" Kitty Reams of Chatham and Ellie Schleicher of Arvada, Colorado, both organizers, shared in the excitement. "We took a risk, theres no doubt about it. People thought we'd run out of things to say to each other. There was not one complaint. We are truly connected, and people are now asking about the next one", said Reams, a lifelong resident of Chatham.

Paul Harris of Eureka, CA who says he never has a day go by without a thought of Chatham and his class, arrived in his motor home, the reunion being his favorite event on a 16,000 mile, three month odyssey. "The highlight for me was sharing the spiritual side of life with several classmates. We are all facing the same things in life, and in a lot of different ways. The older we get, the apparent our similarities become, just the opposite of the high school experience", Harris said. Another element is the role of the spouses. Time and time again I was told that many spouses now feel part of the class. My wife Cynthia first thought all of this was something to endure, and now I've noticed she is initiating communications with MY classmates!"

Another highlight of the week was an auction that netted over $l,000 for an as yet unnamed cause. "Another reason for us to start phoning", indicated Del Bell of Richardson, TX, who came to his very first reunion, and who "purchased" a bed and breakfast stay at a classmates home. Schleicher summed it up for everyone: "We are a very, very, close class. I feel very grateful, and am already looking forward to the next one."

ADVICE TO OTHER CHATHAM ORGANIZERS:

"Dont try to do it all yourself", said Schleicher. Keep in touch through regular mailings from a committee of at least 4 or 5. People are procrastinators, but eventually they will respond. Use the phone and other means of communicating regularly. Dont let four months go by without reaching the class.

Pick your location carefully. Ask for a small committment up front, such as $25.00 for expenses of phoning and mailing. Working on a class reunion and watching it happen is not work, unless you let it be. The class of '53 is already looking to two minireunions before their 50th. If you want to ask questions, call Paul Harris (707-445-9000), John Anderson (440-257-7079), Ellie Schleicher (303-456-0789), or Kitty Reams at (973-635-8009)

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