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It was a “welcome home” for many of the 1959 Thomas Dale High School graduates attending their 50th class reunion, bringing with them memories of sock hops in the gym and rhythm and blues shows with the sounds of Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, The Platters, and Chubby Checkers. Moore’s Lake was their summer meeting place and it was swimming and dancing every night. Nineteen members still call Chester home, and of the 110-member class, 53 members had registered to attend the reunion held Saturday, September 19 at King’s Korner Resturant.
Twenty-three members of the class have passed, and no one has seen or heard from their homecoming queen, Brenda Bush, since the day of graduation. King and queen of the class were Claudia Dodson and Waverly Carr. Dodson passed in 2007, leaving a legacy for all to remember. Her career led her to be entered into the Virginia High School League Hall of Fame and in 2002, she was inducted into the National High School Hall of Fame. Beth Goodwyn was valedictorian of the class, followed by Cecilia Turnage as salutatorian. Aleta Goodwyn received the Balfour Award and Janie Sinclair received the SCA Citizenship Award. Class officers were Claudia Dodson, president; Brenda Butler, vice president; Marlene Quafe, secretary; and Bobbie Sligh, treasurer. Class sponsors were Mrs. Daisy P. Reams and Mrs. Myra G. Crump. J.Wilson Crump was principal. Their class colors were blue and white and the class flower was a rose. Their motto was “Give to the world the best you have and the best will come back to you.”
One of their members, Tommy Crump, arrived and said, “Gee – a lot of old people.” Crump says he was actually a member of the class of 1958, but failed his English class that was taught by his aunt. “Even though I was kin to J. Wilson Crump, it didn’t help me a bit.”
George Robertson was there with his fiancé, Carol Sparks from South Boston. Both were married for 42 years, meeting after losing their spouses; they will wed this Christmas when Sparks turns 65.
Three gentlemen who played football, basketball, and baseball together through the years – Charles Redmon, from Texas, Allen Mason from the Chester area, and Johnny Gilliam, from Roanoke – had a good ‘ol time catching up. “Chester was nothing but a little po dunk place,” says Gilliam. “The bus driers wouldn’t pick you up if it snowed. You had to walk to school.” They all praised their principal. “We had a great principal, J. Wilson Crump,” says Gilliam. “He was all about the students. He really cared about the students.”
Reunion committee members included Pat Murpy Dvorak, Barbara Elwards Holzback, Nora Harvey Foster, Jane McGee Mason, Barbara K. Spicer, Marlene Quafe Wheelhouse, and Pete Wilson. Marlene Quate was honored during the evening for her 30-year leadership and commitment on the reunion committee.
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