On the “Road to a Reunion, where Friends renew friendships, old stories take on a new meaning an
appreciation for the life we now enjoy is key”.
Wow, the Class of 53 Reunion committee did an awesome job with the 60th reunion.
THE GREAT MORNING:
Thanks to Marty Drummond Close and Major Close, for arranging for the Tram Ride in the Nathaniel
Green–Close Memorial Botanical Gardens. My wife Glenda and I had visited Springfield many times over
the past 50 years and were not aware of this fantastic attraction. It was over the top to think that one of
our classmates was involved in the development of this one of a kind attraction.
THE EVENING WAS ANOTHER MEMORY ADDED TO THE “CLASS OF 53”
The White River Conference Center was an exquisite choice and the “Dog Wood Cannon” room was a
fantastic site to those of us who do not live now in the Ozarks.
In 1953 we all were so excited at the “Shrine Mosque with the magic diploma in hand, the dreams and
goals only known to us and the open road ahead. We really had no road map, many of us were the first of
our family to get that High School diploma. We embarked on a road of dreams and goals. That road had
forks and detours. Some stayed true to the dreams and goals. For others, the forks took us down unknown
roads to other States and Countries. Some were just short travels and they remained in Springfield. Some
reached their dreams, some reached their goals, and some found obstacles just to difficult to climb. Yet
on September 21st 2013 over 150 classmates and friends, from all over the United States, traveled the
road to the corner of “Campbell & Sunshine”. To those who didn’t find that road you were sincerely
Take a look at the pictures on this Web Site, the tables were full, conversations were recalling events that
others had forgotten, some shared the road of life they had traveled since 1953. The groups of excited
just graduated seniors were now truly “senior citizens”. The road of life had taken its toll on many but not
taken the life from the class of 53.
Like most Glenda (my wife of 56 years) and I were anxious to make connections with our classmates of
The conversations with classmates revealed that life took many of us down detours or forks in the road
that would take us down paths that were beyond our wildest dreams. Now those memories are the gift of
Little did we realize that those friends we were able to keep in touch with from time to time would become
so important to our memories of the years at central? Oh how important the few minutes we would spend
together at the reunion were, they would add to the already precious memories. All of us are so thankful
for each of you who made the effort to attend and to chat for a moment or two.
I will get personal here for a moment. In my work as an educator everyone who worked with knew me as
“Joe”. Yet for a short time on the night of September 21st. it felt so good to hear “Joe Bill, You still
running”? “No,” I would reply, as I laughed to myself. I have a replacement titanium Hip. I always thought
in 53 they were both were Titanium. Or the comment “Cute little Joe Bill in those shorts”, wow what a
lasting impression” LOL
Those of you who were so kind to share a few minutes of your time with Glenda and me during the reunion
time. It was so good to renew friendship. The shared hugs, the recollections of those little moments in our
lives that have made memories. I am sure each classmate had the same great experience. We all had
close friends who weren’t able to be with us, I think of the one who was best man at my wedding Tommy
In a few days I felt some disappointment of not making connections I had hoped to make. I took a closer
look at the deceased list (Over 180). Gosh so many of those whom I knew had completed their journey of
life. Over 60 names of friends and teammates were on that list.
Then looking at the pictures posted by Barbara Crandall Sapp, I had a feeling of disappointment. We had
missed an opportunity to renew several other friendships. “Ouch”
And to each of you who were there and we didn’t get a chance to chat I feel a great loss.
I observed our class in action, I was impressed with the way our compassion for each other was so easy to
see. I witnessed compassion as classmates, friends or significant others made this evening more special.
Health and other conditions of life are now, and will continue to be, a part of the lives of the Class of 1953,
For those of you who attended write your reunion story “On the road to the 60th” Send it to me.
Should a classmate who for what ever reason was not able to be “On the Road to the 60th”, I suggest you
make the effort to contact your classmates for they I am sure would love to hear from you. If you don’t
have access to addresses, send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the name you would
like to contact. Or call me at 309 824 6234 (My Illinois cell), or mail me at. Joe (Bill) Underwood , 106
Melissa Drive, Lexington, Illinois 61753
“A GREAT TIME WAS HAD BY ALL”
Well, the “Party’s Over” and what great fun we had at our 60th Class Reunion!! I certainly hope that all
of you that attended enjoyed it as much as I did! There were 105 at the morning event and 143
attended the evening banquet. These were pleasing numbers to me considering how many are
deceased (46) since the 55th in 2008 with a total of 194; plus the many who expressed that they would
love to attend if able.
There were lots of pictures taken that day that will be posted soon so watch for them!! -
Also if you have any such pictures, please share by e-mailing them to Bob Osterloh
We were so blessed that the weather was beautiful for the Reception and Tram Rides that Saturday
morning. The Planning Committee arrived at “Nathaniel Green/Close Park”
at 8:00 a.m. loaded down with coolers, boxes and bags filled with food and drinks to be set up in the
Meeting Room for the “Park”. When we finished arranging everything for our Classmates, spouses,
and others, we had 2 long tables with all kinds of “Goodies” and plenty of coffee and juices. The
Refreshment Committee headed by Ella May Patton Bryant also provided the red & black motif (our
SHS colors) with table cloths, plates, napkins, forks, spoons - even a Bulldog Figurine at the Serving
Table. The room had several round tables with lots of chairs and was a perfect gathering place for the
beginning of our Reunion day!! The use of the facility and the Tram Rides were donated by our
Classmate Marty Drummond Close and her husband, Major.
When people began to arrive, at first I stood by the door to greet them. I definitely do not know all of
our Classmates - especially if they didn’t attend the 55th. I’ll admit sometimes it was embarrassing when
I wasn’t sure which one was the Classmate when a couple came in. Many of them I had talked to on the
phone or e-mailed back and forth but didn’t recognize them. I Soon got smart and waited until they
attached their Name Tag to greet them. I think I did welcome everyone there during the 3 hours of the
party. This also was a great help to me when they arrived for the banquet that evening.
THE TRAM RIDES WERE A REAL HIT!! Everyone loved the beautiful gardens in the park with the lake
and statues. They really loved Peter, the English gentleman who was such a great, knowledgeable
Tour Guide. They were so enthusiastic when they returned from the Tram and most of the “Comment
Cards” given out in the evening bragged about the Tram Ride and Peter. Those of us on The
Committee, with some of the husbands, had the privilege of doing this Tram trip 2 weeks prior to the
Reunion and thoroughly enjoyed it, also.
THANK YOU MARTY AND MAJOR!!
As I was getting ready for the evening at White River Conference Center (Dogwood Banquet Room) I
thought about 5 years before when I led the Planning of the 55th Reunion. That night I was so
disappointed that when I finished my duties and the final speech, many started to leave before I could
get to them to at least say “Hello” and “Thanks for coming!” - SO, I made up my mind “Tonight is going
to be different!!” I was going to treasure every minute and try to talk with each one that attended.
My husband, Jimmy, and I arrived at 4:30 to help prepare items for Registering guests, give the
technicians instructions for the background music, adjust my microphone, and how to set up my
computer for the Slide Show of 300 pictures (created by Nancy Haymes Dunham) (these began with
Grade Schools thru High School plus all of our Reunions!!)
The Registration Tables were covered with white cloths, and everything on them was in our School
Colors of Red and Black, The ladies did a wonderful job of giving out Name Tags, Meal Cards (these
to be placed on the table to indicate which meal was requested), Hand-outs that included “Events for
that week-end”, “Classmate Info Changes”, “Deceased List”, “Thank You Donators”. and “Comment
Cards” - also the 55th Reunion Red Books for those who did not attend that year.
The Conference Center building itself has spacious halls and sitting areas with beautiful chandeliers
and rustic atmosphere. Actually if they opened all the Dining Halls (3) they could serve 900 people at
This is truly Springfield’s finest new establishment and many events are held here.
When I entered the “Dogwood” banquet room, I again had the thrill of it’s beauty. The beautiful floral
arrangements with the tower vases, red roses, black ribbon, mirrors and candles had been added that
afternoon on white table cloths with alternating red & black napkins. The typical “Bass Pro”decor across
the front of the room had a huge leafed tree, birds, a bear, waterfall, etc - the ceilings were covered with
translucent Dogwood- shaped chandeliers hung at different heights. The carpet was also rustic
It was such fun when people began arriving all excited and hugging and kissing each other. This was
the time I had looked forward to after a year of Planning!! I also loved to stand at the door as they
entered the “Dogwood” room and hear their comments on it’s beauty. It seemed to happen so fast- the
whole room was full of people sitting at their tables and time for Joe Breshears (our Class President)) to
offer a beautiful “Invocation”.
I was relieved when everyone was served their entrée and no one had the wrong meal! Many raved
about the food served so beautifully, was tasty, and plenty of it.
This was when I put my plan in action!! I would eat a few bites and then go visiting. I would return to the
table and have Jimmy tell them to take my plate. I would take a few bites of the next course and go visit
some more, and so forth. I believe I talked with everyone there, thanking them for coming, at least, and
sometimes lots more conversation.
With many, I wished there was more time to catch up, but it was a wonderful experience just to hug
them and be grateful that they came!! Several were girl and boy friends when I attended Phelps Grade
School and Jarrett Jr High which doesn’t seem so long ago. This was a real Reunion!!
I presented my speech of welcome, introduction of Planning Committee, words about the Website, and a
few facts about those attending. Carole Don Tidmore Wensel then presented me from the Planning
Committee - a dozen beautiful red roses and a lovely silver necklace with a BULLDOG on one side and
the other saying:
”S.H.S. Class of 1953
(WHICH I WILL ALWAYS TREASURE!!)
Then was when I was amazed - many people stayed, sitting, standing, visiting and watching the Slide
Show. I think they hated to think “The Party’s Over”!!!
Many talked about a 65th Reunion. WHO WILL DO IT???
Your Classmate, Barbara Crandall Sapp
|Springfield Senior High School
Class of 1953
60th Reunion - September 21, 2013
Memories Then and Now!
|Here is a message from Joe Underwood
|A Parting Message from Barbara
|Now, click next to view Reunion pictures!