Fifty years of memories

Catching up with members of the GHS Class of 1969

By Marlys Good

With graduation just around the corner, we got to wondering how much seniors actually “take away” from the exercises —  aside from their diplomas, that is.

We decided to look back and test the memories of members of the Class of 1969 — to see what they recalled from that Thursday evening in the old GHS auditorium, filled to capacity in the auditorium itself, and the balcony above.

The valedictorian, Charlotte Temme, daughter of the Rev. Ralph and Ruth Temme, couldn’t remember very much about that Thursday evening, other than she was very nervous. She admitted she had no idea what she said in her valedictory address, adding that somewhere in her mementoes from the past she probably had some notes she had kept.

But she always knew she would attend college and get a diploma that led to a career in the medical field. She became a medical technologist — now called a laboratory scientist — to more correctly identify what he/she does

She worked in Cheyenne and Denver. When she and husband Bill Crago and their family (they have two children) moved to Billings in 1985, she took several years off to help him start a business — Executive Recruiting, which originally started with an emphasis on banking, but has expanded to include other businesses.

Did she work for her husband? No, she said bluntly. “I didn’t like it, but I did the accounting for him.”

Charlotte was the top graduate, but she flunked our test when she couldn’t name the 1969 graduation speaker.

Summing up her life, Charlotte said, “It’s been good.”

Unlike his classmate Charlotte, Bill Hansen, earned an A- for remembering that their commencement speaker had graduated from Greybull High School – although he misidentified him as Bill Reilly (Class of ’48) instead of 1953 grad and Greybull native Russell Simpson, who was then assistant dean and director of Admission’s Law School of Harvard University.

Hansen, the son of railroader Harold and Esther Hansen, the head cook at the school lunchroom, couldn’t remember what Simpson’s speech was about, and looking back through the Greybull Standard archives, we could understand his lapse of memory. Simpson’s topic was “Irreverent Comments on Youth and Revolutions.”

He never forgot as he sat there in cap and gown, “wanting to go to the graduation party but Mom wouldn’t let me because we had family visiting.” And leading up to graduation he missed the traditional “skip day” and it was all Miss (Nellie) Fletcher’s fault. “She made me stay and take an Algebra II test” which he had to pass to graduate; Miss Fletcher was very relentless about that. I bet I took it at least six or eight times. But I finally passed it.”

Looking back, Bill said Miss Fletcher and Jim Golden made lasting impressions on him. So much of the “knowledge” they “forced” on him then, he used frequently in later years.

When he enrolled in Casper Junior College he thought he would go into wildlife management, but soon realized that entailed taking “26 hours of zoology, geology, other ‘ologies,’ forestry, chemistry I and II, and other subjects I couldn’t even pronounce. So at semester I switched to computer science, which was ‘primitive’ then.”

He transferred to Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, N.M., earned his degree in computer science, got married, worked for Haliburton as a truck driver for five years, for Yates Petroleum for 11 years until he established his own company, WRH Inc., an oil field fishing and rental service business in 1990. He still serves as the CEO, still lives in New Mexico, is happily married and is a very proud grandfather. “Life is good,” he said.

Connie Henderson, daughter of Leonard and Lucille Henderson, began her education in a private kindergarten taught by Patty Hamilton. She went through elementary and junior high until her parents moved to Meeteetse, then to Cody where they lived on the South Fork, but returned to her Greybull roots when she entered her senor year.

She remembers J.C. Quigg was the superintendent; Hillman Snell the principal.

What did she plan to do after graduation? “Honestly, we were moving around a lot, I didn’t really think about it, and back then for a lot of girls, college was not a top priority – you got married, had a family, that was the in thing then.”

She followed that tradition; married Bill Stoelk in 1973, lived in Sheridan for many years; adopted a newborn baby (girl) seven years later whom they named Misty; the family later moved to Basin.

Life has been good. When asked what comes to mind when she thinks of Greybull High School, she quickly answered: “Family. My dad, two uncles, Vern Tolman and Bob Tolman, and two aunts, twins Betty and Beth — all of them graduated from Greybull High School. My aunt (Pat Fletcher Black – town clerk for years, then mayor of Greybull) is the only one who didn’t; she graduated from Meeteetse.”

Thinking back to high school days, Connie’s thoughts turn to the classmates who have passed away — Margo Asp, Don Bristow, Linda Burton, Elvin Collingwood, Lee Foe, Jan French, Ginger Heiser and Becky Tomlinson.

Billy Craft said the single most significant thing he remembers about graduation was how sad he was. “I realized it was the end of my youth; my playtime was over. It was a tough time for me.”

He does recall that it was Marv Hankins who handed him his diploma and shook his hand. “I didn’t know then that I would marry his daughter,” he laughed, but said how honored he felt to shake Marv’s hand.

As for his future, Billy said, “When I was 16, I knew that my future would be in farming and ranching, but when the family farm ‘vaporized’ I was in a state of flux; there was Vietnam, and I didn’t know how I would deal with being in the military.”

He did not join the military; he enrolled in Casper College in 1969, married Marva Hankins in 1971, earned his AA degree – in agriculture, still believing his future would somehow be related to that field.

But, he said: “Life shuffles the cards.”

He and Marva established a machining and fabrication business in Sheridan in 1981 and life has been very rewarding.

Now retired, they are still involved in overseeing the business but are enjoying themselves to the fullest.

The couple has three children and 10 grandchildren – all living right there in Sheridan.

“I’m still roping – and have more projects that I can deal with. And we are enjoying our grandkids. Life has been damn good. I have no complaints.”

Donna Snyder, son of Bert and Nina Snyder, can be forgiven for any memory lapses. On that Thursday evening her thoughts were probably focused on her wedding to John Harrington, which was to take place just two weeks later.

She does remember “Audrey Hunt and I getting our pictures taken in our cap and gown with her brothers, but I don’t remember who the speaker was or anything he said. High school is where I made lifetime friends and got a solid education. I had some excellent teachers. I was worried that I wasn’t prepared for college but found that as long as you do your assignments and go to class, you will succeed.”

But that was later – on that day in May, “I planned to be a homemaker and later on, a stay-at-home mom,” she shared.

But John was attending Casper College, and he told his bride that she needed to get a job.

“I had a hard time finding a job since my only (work) experience was hoeing beets.” There weren’t many calls for a beet hoer in Casper, in the middle of winter. “I finally got a job as a car hop at the A&W – all winter long. It was hard when the wind would blow away the hamburgers and fries or upturn a malt on my head.”

Donna’s days as a carhop didn’t last long. Her mother-in-law,

Carolyn Brome Harrington, offered to pay for her books and tuition if she wanted to further her education. It was a no-brainer for Donna. “I had helped my mother in the nursery and the First Baptist Church and taught Vacation Bible School in both Greybull and Worland, so I enrolled in Casper College in 1970 and majored in elementary education.”

She received her degree in elementary ed with an early childhood specialty degree from Boise State University in December 1974.

The Harringtons moved to Worland in 1975; Donna taught kindergarten for nine summers at the Worland Migrant School; substituted at the elementary schools, and after her first son, Jeff, was born in 1976, she babysat for several families. (The Harringtons have a second son, Brian.)

In September of 1979, Donna, Lori Russell Moberly and Kathy O’Neil Shelledy started Worland Preschool; Donna and Kathy owned the business for 30 years, selling it in 2009 when the Shelledys moved to Colorado. Donna continued to work for the preschool until she retired in 2013.

She loved her job, being involved with her sons’ activities; is a member of several organizations and has had the opportunity to travel extensively. “Life is good,” she said.

Of that long-ago graduation night Donna admitted, “I never dreamed of the life I would have.”

Looking back on the four years he spent in Greybull High School, Jackson Noyes went back in his memories to his final year in junior high school – and then beyond:

“After leaving junior high school and Mr. Golden’s English class, I promised myself never to use a double negative – or the word ain’t.

“In the fall of 1965, as a freshmen, my class found itself in a different building with different teachers and the anticipation of fun times. Now the maturity level and seriousness of high school was upon us as an expectation I was not ready for. It took about  a year for me to realize this was the last free go-round before becoming a responsible adult.”

Jack said one of the first rules that was reinforced that year was that gravity remains the same at the high school as it was at the elementary school.

“This was proven when an upperclassman, upset with his drafting class, left school and proceeded to throw a bottle of India ink in the air. To his astonishment, and my amazement, the bottle that seemed to disappear and be swallowed up in the sky, came down, landing on the hood of a beautiful silver Pontiac – that turned out to be his.”

Jack also learned something he thought was important at the time: “I watched how few senior boys it took to make a Volkswagen bounce its way into a position where there is no room between bumper and fence – and bumper and cement incinerator. I just knew that someday what I had witnessed was going to help me!”

Looking back 50 years, Jack shared: “All in all, from dances to six week’s finals, as we procrastinated our way and crammed for tests, we made it through a wonderful time at Greybull High School.”

Cheryle Rainey recalls she and a lot of her classmates started kindergarten in Pat Hamilton’s mom’s (Patti) basement and had the same friends all through school. “We were excited about graduating but none of us wanted to wear those gray choir robes that had been around since the beginning of time.” But they did – they had no choice. “My group of friends got together and exchanged gifts and cried because we might never see each other again. We were all going to get out of this town; we were anxious to be on our own.”

After graduation, Cheryle’s family got together for a barbecue at her grandparents’ place. “I just knew my friends were doing something more exciting, of course!”

Cheryle had never been far beyond Wyoming’s borders, so she had “big plans to be a nurse or secretary or stewardess because they got to travel ALL over.”

She attended NWC for a semester, then quit and moved to Thermopolis with friends. She worked at two different nursing homes and as a waitress – sometimes two jobs at a time because she could manage.

She married Mike Howe and they had three children – Cheri, Michael and Robb. Mike’s work in the oil fields eventually led to the family moving overseas where in 15 years they lived among the “locals” in four different countries. They came back to Greybull when their third and fourth granddaughters were born. Those two granddaughters — Avery Howe and Tatem Edeler — are members of the GHS Class of 2019. “Fifty years after I graduated. That is amazing to me.”

Looking back, Cheryle said, “Lots of my high school wishes came true by the way.”

If we had asked, Bonnie Ward Coyne would have flunked the “Who was the grad speaker?” question. She had few memories of the ceremony – other than her thought, when receiving the diploma, was, “Oh my God; I graduated.”

She does remember graduations were much more personal then; girls wore nice dresses under their gowns, boys were also dressed nicely; the old GHS gym held fewer people by far – just estimating it might have held 200-250 where today’s ceremonies fill the Buff Gym to capacity.  “I knew there must have been a party, but I can’t remember.”

Bonnie’s thoughts were elsewhere: “I was ‘kinda’ engaged,” she said, adding with a laugh, ”Well, I knew I was going to be engaged.” She was, to Johnny Coyne (who was attending Regis College in Denver), an “older” man who “walked out of high school the year I walked in. I didn’t look beyond that.”

Graduated in May, married in December, moved to Denver. Bonnie and John both worked; John graduated and five years later, Wyoming beckoned them home.

“We knew we wanted to live in Wyoming but never dreamed we would be back in Greybull,” she shared. In fact, Johnny had interviews in Cody, Powell — but when a job in Greybull opened up, John jumped at the chance, applied and got the job; it was a dream come true.

“We always wanted our kids to have the kind of a life we had,” she said.

Son John, born after they settled back in Greybull, and Michael, born 10 years later, enjoyed growing up here, friends, relatives, a small school, freedoms only small-town living affords.

John and Bonnie are retired. They spend summers in the Big Horn Mountains, one of their favorite places, have two grandsons who live in Greybull, growing up in the same small town as their parents and grandparents, and a granddaughter in Lander.

Looking back 50 years, Bonnie said, “The choices we made were good choices.” Life has been good; she feels that they have been truly blessed. And while they enjoy traveling, “It’s always good to come home.”

Kip McIntosh said, “I honestly can hardly remember being there but I do remember one of my classmates was wearing a big pair of cowboy boots and really clunked as he walked across the stage to get his diploma.”

Kip has spent his entire life in Greybull, except for the 18 months he spent in Casper. “My brother was crew chief for a surveying crew down there and he said if I went down, I could stay with him and he would put me on a crew.” After the 18 months, working and attending Casper College, Kip came back to Greybull where he worked for Big Horn Motors, Minter Auto Supply, for Eddie Huddleston at his Phillip’s 66 station and then went to work for Dresser for 10 years.

His father, “Red” McIntosh owned McIntosh Oil, a bulk plant, and Kip went to work for him and purchased the business when his dad retired. He sold the business to his brother Dane in 2008 and concentrated on his Burlington Car Care business; he retired in 2014.

Kip and his wife have two children, three grandchildren – and the entire clan is involved in drag racing – avid fans of the sport.

“Life has been good; I have no regrets,” he said.

All nine of the alumni we interviewed have led what they describe as fulfilling lives – whether they followed the paths they chose 50 years ago, or whether, as Craft said, “life shuffled the cards,” and took them another direction, life has been good.

 

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