Chesterton Tribune

Class of 1961 celebrates 40 years with a look back

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By ALEXANDRA NEWMAN

Almost everyone reaches a time in life that going back to one’s high school class reunion is a journey one looks forward to in order to get back in touch with one’s roots.

Each year, graduating classes meet for their respective 5th, 10th, 15th, 20th.....and so on. In some cases the 75th and 80th years join up together for that evening of memories.

This year, the CHS Classes of 1956, 1961, 1981, 1986 and 1991 already have made reservations and call-outs for classmates to make reservations for the separate get-togethers. Some groups will go “far out” in plans for the event. (Remember the phrase, “Far Out?” Remember the good old Country Boy who made the phrase famous? John Denver became famous after this group graduated from high school, but he was part of their generation.)

This class would remember Howdy Doody, The Mouseketeers, Dick Clark’s American Band Stand, Elvis, The Supremes, James Dean, Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, to mention only a few of the famous during their school years.

The Class of 1961 has notified the Chesterton Tribune of plans for an extra-special event this year to mark its 40th Anniversary.

The Class of 1961 has met every 5 years under the leadership of President, Pam Tavenier Babcock, and many of the Town’s community leaders are members of the graduating class. Also, many of the former teachers are still around who remember those community leaders, and everyone else - “when.”

At the celebration of the class, scheduled July 7, at Sand Creek Country Club, those in attendance will be treated to a video made in the studios of the current high school by some of those former teachers and some of the local VIP’s.

“We are going to give them 20 minutes of historical film and then donate it to the library’s archives,” said Tom Smith, who has had considerable experience in radio announcing.

This class began school in 1949 and education years spanned three decades - the 40s 50s and 60s. Some began at Thomas Elementary School in Chesterton, Hageman School in Porter, and St. Patrick’s Catholic School in Chesterton. Others came here later from Chicago, Gary and Pennsylvania as their families were transferred by the various steel industries.

“We have witnessed a whole lot of changes,” said Smith who spearheaded the video taping, and whose family tree goes back to founding this community.

“The Class of 1961 was the then largest to graduate from CHS. The Commencement and Baccalaurate exercises were conducted on separate evenings in Goldsborough Gymnasium what was completed in the fall of 1960,” Smith said.

“We have lost many of our classmates through the years; the first of which was our Valedictorian, Wilson Halley, who was killed in Vietnam. We dedicate our 40th to all those who have gone before us,” Smith said.

The reunion committee includes Mike Anton, Ron Bishop, Char Brechner, Bill Witte, Sandy Olson, Babcock and Smith.

The 40th Anniversary celebrants will find out what is on that tape when they attend the reunion. The rest of us can find out when it is filed in the Westchester Library archives.