Baltimore, Ohio 43105
Class of 1975
Gerald Ford is president
of the US
Years after graduation, classmates even better
The reunion invitation was a simple "join us for an informal evening of fun, celebration and catching up on the last 30 years." The calendar was clear. I'd go, but I swore I wouldn't write about it.
I pulled on my best pair of jeans and my newest T-shirt, both chosen by my 14-year-old daughter in her ongoing and mostly futile attempt to update me. At the advice of a more experienced sibling, I carried low expectations. And a camera, in case his warning was off the mark. I bolstered my self-confidence with a haircut I needed anyway.
The big fear was that I wouldn't recognize the older versions of the 105 or so kids I'd graduated with or, after so many years out of Fairfield County, I wouldn't be able to come up with names at all.
"Thirty years, that's about when it starts to get interesting," offered my mother, a retired teacher and fan of reunions. "The women will be easier to identify than the men," she advised.
Name tags, good. Greg, for instance, had added a foot to the length of his hair and at least half that to his stature since we walked across a sodden football field one June Sunday to claim diplomas.
I hadn't been to a high school reunion in a quarter of a century. If the 10th and 15th had been about success, as friends who went told me was the case, this one -- the first since 1990 -- was about survival.
Collectively, my classmates have been through the tragic deaths of siblings, the long illnesses of parents, business reversals, career turnabouts, failed marriages, the ups and downs of parenting teenagers. They have lived valiantly, if not well.
David, the class president, had bypass surgery a year ago, an experience he assured us could help a person renumber his priorities. That's when the idea of a reunion first occurred to him. When the notion refused to go away 11 months later, he sent invitations. His wife, Connie, prepared food. The rest of us only had to show up and say as much or as little as we wanted about the last three decades.
Beautiful Julie, poised and sweet, had experienced agonizing loss and needed the comfort of old friends.
John, retired from a career in law enforcement, trusted us with a candid account of his joys and failures.
Lynette -- still an irresistible mixture of genuine warmth, compassion and laughter -- found the love of her life in graduate school and followed him home to his Indiana pig farm, where they now maintain a boar stud service and raise worms, in addition to two boys.
Hank -- who got his start on the local volunteer fire department and had responded the night in July 1974 when our classmate was killed by a drunk driver in front of David's parents' home -- stuck with "fighting fires, saving lives" and is nearing the end of a 14-year tenure as chief with a greater Columbus department. (By the way, Rocky, he sends his greetings.)
Molly brought along a nice southern twang, gained honestly from 20-some years in North Carolina, where she teaches at a community college.
One Tom has dedicated his life to other people's kids, teaching science at Pickaway-Ross CTC. The second Tom is an official at a Lancaster bank. Our third Tom, the artist, had an early date with his maker, going the way of Lou Gehrig to the sadness of all who knew him.
Mike, now self-employed as "an interior trim guy," married classmate Kathy shortly after graduation. He is the luckiest man in the world, he said (as tears stung the backs of my eyelids), because he's spent 30 years with his best friend. Kathy agreed that she spoils him. It was clear she plans to keep doing it.
Some mentioned grandkids. Dave and his wife, however, recently sold their beef cattle to make room in their lives for three adopted children under the age of 3. Jokes at Dave's expense concealed only admiration for a task just begun.
We found ourselves rounder, grayer, bushier, blonder, broader, tempered, wizened. And essentially, better for the wear. We became adults. I should have anticipated that.
As the little party dispersed into a perfect September night after hours of talk about school days and absent classmates, we granted bear hugs for the road. Who knows when we will meet again?
I left feeling stupidly proud of us. For probably the first time in my life I realized I am glad my parents chose this rather ordinary little town to settle and raise their family. Thirty years ago, I took it for granted because its safety and simplicity were all I knew. I left it as soon as I could because I thought that was the way of things.
Its gifts are clearer from a distance, a blessing of age and experience.
I thought later of all the entertaining or gracious things I should have said when it was my turn to talk. I stuck to the facts: Twenty-five years in northern Ohio, three great kids, a newspaper job, a 20-year marriage, divorce. I wish I had thought to say I still ride my bike. I give blood. I believe in them.
My classmates shared their stories for friends, not for publication, so I must beg both your indulgence for not revealing more, and their indulgence for revealing as much as I have. They live among you. They are your neighbors, your friends. Whether their heads are shaved clean like Tom's or flowing free like Greg's (both Gregs, in fact), you can count on them too.
Holly Harman Fackler welcomes comments and information on their whereabouts from members of the Liberty Union-Thurston Class of 1975, or friends of same.
30th Reunion of the Class of 1975
The Group at 30th Reunion
Lori, Mark, & Hank
Molly and Lynnette
Dave & Jeff
Deb & Molly
Greg & Mrs. Bader Greg & Vicki
Grizly Greg Lori & Bev
Greg Bader Cathy Bair
Marla Bakenhaster Mark Barnes Patricia Betts Thomas Buck
Ryan Burgoon David Cain Debbie Clevenger Judy Clum
Beverly Creed Dave Eversole Paula Farrow Lynette Fenstemaker
Barbara Fox Molly Gates Brad George Tom Gillespie
Susan Gleich Jerry Grady Donald Graybill Marian Green
Peggy Green Valerie Green Holly Harman Tom Hoisington*
John Jenkins Henry Kauffman Bev Kinser Tim Laver
Jim Landis Ron Lehman Julie Lohr Brenda McCandlish
Vincent McCullough Mandee McDaniel Cheryl Magnuson Betty Masheter
Vallie Mathias Kathy Melick Glen Messerknecht David Miller
Doris Spradlin Miller Linda Miller Todd Miller Linda Miller
Orlena Phillips Joy Poff Tony Prestifilippo Becky Prouty
Brenda Reese Duane Roberts Randy Robinson* Gary Roshon
Roslyn Roshon Cecilia Schoffner Mark Smith Kevin Smurr
Darla Soland Mark Soliday Bruce Soper Greg Speaks
Barbara Spradlin Lori Stalter Harold Staniford Joseph Starcher
Vicki Stoughton Carmen Taylor Richard Thompson Debbie Thomas
Joni Tobin Laura Todd Patty Tucker Richard Underwood
Pam Vickers Jeff Wagner Betty Waller Crystal Weaver
Linda Whitsen Eric Welch Marcy Wiley Ed Willis
Christine Wilson James Wilson Shirley Yost
SENIOR PICTURES NOT AVAILABLE
* Denotes Deceased
1970 7th Grade
1968 5th Grade
1967 4th Grade
1964 1st Grade
1963 Kindergarten AM Class