MEEKER I The Meeker High School Class of 1961 celebrated the 55th anniversary of their graduation on Sept. 13 at the home of Jerry and Mary Ann Seely.
A bountiful potluck lunch consisting of hamburgers, brats, hot dogs and all the trimmings prepared by Jerry and Mary Ann Seely and Lonnie and Peggy Shults, was enjoyed by classmates, spouses and guests.
Sharing of memorabilia of those days and friendships with fellow classmates followed. The traditional reading of the “Class Prophecy” predicting the lives and choices of classmates was enjoyed with some humorously accurate and many not-so-accurate predictions. Carol Brown brought a class roster, scrap books and yearbooks with numerous photos and autographs of classmates, and newspaper articles depicting “the way we were” at MHS.
Letters and messages from classmates and teachers who were unable to attend were shared expressing their fond remembrances of the four years between 1957 and 1961 at the then new “Million Dollar High School.”
MHS celebrated the 60th anniversary of the construction in October 2015, and featured remembrances of those early days by our revered typing and stenography teacher Ethel Starbuck who recently celebrated her 99th birthday at the Walbridge Wing. Classmates all acknowledged how important learning typing skills under Mrs. Starbuck had been in their careers and lives as we evolved into the computer age.
Revered music director and teacher Dale Jens and his wife Pat were unable to attend the reunion but shared a letter commending the class and recalling the outstanding band, dance band, marching band and choir members along with the extraordinary music events that involved more than half of the high school student body in those great years. The band got all new striking black, white and gold uniforms which really built esprit de corps for band members. Exciting band day trips to the University of Colorado at Boulder and Grand Junction were recalled, along with the invitation for the band to participate in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif. Unfortunately out-of-state travel was prohibited by the Colorado High School Activities Association in those times.
A special reunion highlight was the invitation of 1961 classmates to tour the high school while classes were in session hosted personally by MHS Principal Amy Chinn. A number of classmates had not been back to the high school since their graduation so were impressed with the growth and technology advances of the more than 60-year-old building and in particular the quality of curriculum, academic and extracurricular program accomplishments, enthusiasm and outstanding achievements of the students and teachers. Copies of the original program used for the 1955 opening dedication ceremonies were provided to classmates, which included names of school board members and administrators, and the cost to build the structure with oil royalty funds. It was estimated that the cost of a building of that scope in today’s funds would likely exceed $30 million. A very special thanks from the Class of 1961 goes to Principal Amy Chinn and MHS students and teachers.
Remembrances of 13 classmates who are now gone but not forgotten was conducted by Lewis Anderson and include: Elbert Jacobs, David Benson, Myron Dull, Bill Jones, Glenn Miller, Jeanne (Elliot) Ridgeway, Nina (Hauck) Simonson, Greg Berthelson, Earl Eliasen, Larry Hilkey, Judy Brown, Gracie (Hughes) Petrakian and Reilly Hopson. Beloved teachers who have also passed on were remembered including Sam Barone, Paul Starbuck, Harry Skaro, Joan Ball, Ted Ammerman, Marshall Steen and Mary Villa.
The 1961 seniors who were members of the MHS Northwest Conference championship basketball team reunited for a team photo 55 years later at the high school by their championship trophy. Teammates included Fred Oglesby, Lewis Anderson, Mike Martin, Lonnie Shults and Jim Lancaster.
An especially respected and popular former teacher and coach, Dr. Gary Eyre, sent a special greeting to classmates and expressed regrets for being unable to attend. Dr. Eyre shared information about his national recognition for 50 years of dedicated service as an educator specializing in adult education. Dr. Eyre’s son is a Major General in the U.S. Air Force and was retiring on the same day as the reunion, consequently Eyre could not attend.
A prominent MHS class of ’61 alumnus who was unable to attend due to a scheduling conflict was Dr. Mike Martin who is a Professor Emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley (UCB), and served as Chair of the Department of Architecture for more than 20 years. He previously served as Chair of the Departments of Architecture at the University of Colorado at Boulder, University of Kansas, and California Polytechnic University respectively and has written many books and technical articles. At the 50th reunion in 2011, Mike visited Meeker High School and shared with the MHS principal and several teachers how MHS had shaped his academic career as a university professor. Mike presently serves as UCB international education director and has been teaching as a guest professor at the Royal Academy in Denmark and other Scandinavian countries.
Classmates unable to attend included: Dan Renfro, Dr. Mike Martin, Jim Lancaster, Larry Sutton, Donna (Meade) Dye, Myrna (Dull) Rauch, Pat (Turner) Tabb, Butch Proctor, Carl Steerman, Carl Sivage, Carol (Rosenlund) Mitchell, Steve Russell, Sharon (Saddoris) Gallegos.
Classmates are looking forward to returning for the 60th reunion in 2021.