Letter: Rappahannock reunion was ‘a delightful occasion’

Thomas Wolfe would appear to be wrong: You can go home again. I did so, when I returned to my native Rappahannock a couple months ago.

Had I not done so, I likely would not have made it to the All-Classes Reunion of Rappahannock County High School last Saturday (Sept. 15) at the Sperryville fire hall.

It was a delightful occasion to meet people I had not seen in years and years. I am only sorry that more classmates from the years I spent at RCHS did not make it. I was the sole representative of my class of 1965. Aside from the class of 1961, which had a fine turnout, and about half a dozen or more from 1968, there weren’t too many from those years. Sally Latham – class of 1963, whose mother once ran the Rappahannock News – was there, as were Donnie Deal and Linda Mills from the class of 1966.

Attendees pause for a group photo Saturday at the Sperryville fire hall, where members of Rappahannock County High School’s class of 1961 organized a reunion for all RCHS graduates. A good time was had by all. Photo by Jan Clatterbuck.
Attendees pause for a group photo Saturday at the Sperryville fire hall, where members of Rappahannock County High School’s class of 1961 organized a reunion for all RCHS graduates. A good time was had by all. Photo by Jan Clatterbuck.

What was surprising was the large number of people who attended the high school when it was in Washington, before the present high school opened in the fall of 1960. And even some from the 1940s – Cathryn Wayland, class of 1944, and Aline Johnson, 1947 – were there. They are to be commended!

Couldn’t say I knew too many of them really well. They were what was thought of as the “big kids” over in the “big schoolhouse” when I started first grade in 1953 at Sperryville Elementary in the small building which housed the first three grades and the cafeteria. I was in the classroom of Miss Della Hitt, who taught generations of children from the Sperryville area.

Among the Washington school graduates in attendance was John Browning, class of 1957 and author of the book “Flint Hill,” which is a magnificent account of life in that community in his youth. Anyone who collects books on Rappahannock history needs to own a copy.

Among the  older graduates were the Anderson brothers, David (Sonny) and Roger, whose brother Billy was my closest friend in first grade. There were the Brown brothers, Strother and Julian, whose mother headed the school cafeteria (or as we called it, the “lunchroom”). I shall not attempt a total list of everyone present as I would not want to omit anyone.

It was a very pleasant surprise to see Larry Bolyard, who taught, coached and served as assistant principal at both the old and new high schools from 1957 to 1964, and taught or coached many who attended.

It was a wonderful afternoon of reminiscing, recounting long-ago events, and indeed ended all too soon. There were sad moments when people were mentioned that were no longer with us; the class of 1961 alone had lost 11 members.

But there were light moments too, such as when events thought forgotten were recalled. Lawrence Ricker, class of 1968, reminded me of the speech I gave for Lyndon Johnson in the school mock election in 1964. Others from my years there in the 1960s filled me in on the whereabouts and doings of some not in attendance. 

We owe this all to the organizers Richard Belch and Shirley Brown Kushner from the class of 1961, who gave their time and energy to bring people together for this event. Hearty thanks to the both of them. 

This was an evening of comradeship, love and caring. It was part of what makes Rappahannock, and its people, so special.

The class of 1959 is talking about doing a reunion like this one next year. I certainly hope so, and maybe I will see many more of my dear friends from the past.

Patrick Alther
Sperryville

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2 Comments

  1. I also would like to congratulate Shirley Brown Kushner and Richard Belch on the outstanding job they did in planning,organizing & notifying all the graduates for the reunion. It was wonderful to see so many of the class of 1961 after 51 years.

  2. would like to know when the next Rappahannock class renion will be? Also find class mates from 1968.

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