Bottom to Top, L-R:   Row 1:  Julia Warner Lewis, Betty Chaos Rice, Patricia Ratcliff Shamyer, Anitia Jones Owens, Sue Cardea, Judy Christian Thomas, Janie Young Ratcliff, Elinor Turner Bright, Linda Spencer Sutphin, Wanda Lambert Smith, Pam Miller Rose, Nancy Wilson Hames

Row 2: Coach Tony Colobro, Larry Blanchfield, Ronnie Collins, Kaye Cardea Greene, Penny Money Cooper, Lynn Earnest, Geraldine “Gerri” Day Lewandowski, Glenna Mullins Nesmith, Fran Mabry Rouse, Emily “Sue” Lambert Mullins, Phylenia Snow French, Joan York Shipman, Linda Lockhart Parsons, Anita Roncella Spence
Row 3: John Goslin, Jim Dalton, Doug Cox, Tom Mills, Nick Bohin, Tom Bary, Tommy Ted Ferrell, Carolyn Norris Shoemaker, John Mitchell, Evelyn Hearl Goldston, Trudy Tucker Andersen

Row 4: Peter Villani, Don Boyce, Jim Smithberger, Bob Hubbard, John DeFelice, Jimmy Phillips, Connie Collins, Garland Murphy, Jennifer Bivens

Row 5: Mike Vallo, Allen Lloyd Asbury, Bruce Lewis, Tom “Silas” Greene, Russell Rice, Eddie Christensen, Mike Mosko, Greg McMorrow

 Not Pictured, but attended on Friday night:  Don Roberts and Nancy Waldron Blaisdell


          “The most wonderful, memorable reunion ever” was the phrase used by many in attendance to describe the recent 50-year reunion of the Welch High School Class of ’64.  Fifty-five class members plus their guests journeyed to Pipestem Resort State Park on the weekend of August 8-10, 2014 to reunite with friends and acquaintances to reminisce about the good ‘ole days at Welch High School.  It was also a celebration of life…..being blessed to be there to participate in such a milestone event as a 50-year high school reunion.  The 19-member reunion committee had been working on plans for this event for 16 months, and the only thing that kept it from being perfect was the rain during most of the weekend.  But that didn’t dampen the spirits of anyone but the golfers!

          The weekend festivities began on Friday, August 8, with registration and a reception in the Hudkin Conference Center with plenty of food and time to chat and catch up on the lives of classmates.  Music was provided both Friday and Saturday nights by DJ Kes Blackwell.  On Saturday evening a class photograph was taken by David McNeil of Grubb Photo in Bluefield, WV.  A delicious buffet dinner followed at 7:00.  The invocation was given by Penny Money Cooper before the meal.  After the dinner Master of Ceremonies Ronnie Collins welcomed all.  He then summoned Pam Miller Rose to the podium and presented her with a gift from the Class of ’64 in appreciation of her efforts in organizing the reunion, chairing the reunion committee, and “keeping us all together over the years”.  Gift bags were then distributed to each class member containing some unique items.  These included 2-sets of drink glasses engraved with the WHS crest, provided by Peter Villani;  small barrels made of coal from Coal Camp Creations in Kimball, WV, painted maroon and white by Penny Money Cooper and her husband Thom;  acrylic coasters containing a cross stitch of WHS Class of ’64 50-year reunion, made by Pam Miller Rose;  notepads with the class and WHS crest;  memory booklets filled with 28 printed pages, assembled by Pam Miller Rose….lots of pictures and memorable information, besides the classmates’ contact information.  The focal point of the cover of the booklet was a sketch of WHS done by class member Rick Decker, which had been used for the inside front and back covers of the 1964 WHS annual “On The Hill”.  The remaining art work on the cover of the booklet was done by Penny Money Cooper.  The notepads and memory booklets were printed by Venture Printing of Bluefield, VA.  Another item in the gift bags was a copy of the April, 2014, edition of the magazine “Wonderful West Virginia”, which contains an article about the interactive documentary about McDowell County entitled “Hollow”.  These copies were provided by Connie Collins.

          After the gift bags were distributed a program followed.  Ronnie Collins introduced four of the six WHS ’64 senior class officers in attendance.  They were:  President, Don Boyce;  Vice-President, Tom Bary;  Student Council Representatives, Greg McMorrow and Tom Ferrell.  Greg McMorrow then spoke on behalf of the class.  After greeting everyone and thanking the reunion committee for their part, he shared some of his “firsts” and “first times” experiences in his life, many of which occurred during his high school days at Welch and involved many of his classmates.  He stated, “Here we are fifty years later, and for better or worse, most of our lives have been lived.  Quite frankly, I’ve never been one to look back or live in the past”…..”but there are certain times when certain situations will bring to memory events and people from our years at Welch High and, invariably, they will bring a smile, a chuckle, and, occasionally, a tear”….. “My life has been truly blessed.  Many of those blessings were some of the firsts that started 50 or more years ago with our years in McDowell County, and, more importantly, with those of you in this room and those who are no longer with us.”  At the end Greg shared that he hoped that this “first” (our 50-year reunion) wouldn’t be our last.

          We were honored to have our football coach Tony Colobro with us for the whole weekend.  After Greg McMorrow’s remarks, Coach Colobro took a few minutes to celebrate the Class of ’64 in general, and his football team in particular, and to share how proud he was to have been a part of such a special school.  He stated, “I left Welch in 1964, but Welch never left me.”  He further stated, “Everyone says how wonderful Welch High School is.  You know what Welch High School is?  Bricks, mortar, boards, glass, and pipes.  If you people, you graduates, right now…..if we had a barn out there, a red barn, an outhouse on this side and an outhouse on that side, and you people were in there, it would be the best school in the country!”  In conclusion, he claimed he remembered all the words to the pep song and joined by the cheerleaders, he sang all of “Cheer, cheer for Welch High, we’ll shine tonight…”

          Following Coach Colobro’s remarks Master of Ceremonies Ronnie Collins spoke of the times he misses from his days at Welch High School.....our principal Mr. Richardson, meeting classmates on the first day of school each year and finding out who he had classes with, the candy counter girls, the clocks on the walls that had unique minute hands, the football games and the dances afterwards, the Record Hop at the Pocahontas Theater every Saturday morning…..and the list went on.  At this point Ronnie announced that there were some very special guests about to enter the room, who had come to entertain the group with some songs.  They were a ladies’ choral group from the Sunny View Retirement Community, all former cheerleaders (Lynn Earnest, Penny Money Cooper, and Kaye Cardea Greene) and majorettes (Pam Miller Rose and Sue Cardea) from the class of ’64, directed by a former pep club member (Evelyn Hearl Goldston).  They came into the room aided by a wheel chair, two walkers, a cane, a large boot, and various other aids for the aged.  Their attire consisted of white wigs, long white bath robes, and white socks and tennis shoes.  Their director had quite a problem trying to keep them in line and getting them to where they were to sing.  They asked the audience to join in singing with them “Michael Row the Boat Ashore” and “Blowin’ in the Wind”.  Following the songs the gals made their way to a large screen,  behind which they removed their robes and wigs and threw them over the screen and came back out to the tune of “Let Me Entertain You”.  They were now dressed in crepe paper maroon and white uniforms, similar to what they wore as cheerleaders and majorettes at Welch High School.  The cheerleaders had pom- poms and the majorettes had their original batons.  The majorettes did some twirling to a march played on keyboard by Trudy Tucker Andersen.  The cheerleaders did one of the favorite cheers from school, “G-R-E-A-T”.  Then the Pep Song was played and sung by all.  The skit was produced and directed by Lynn Earnest.  She also made all the uniforms and the decorative screen.  Following the fun of this skit, all stood to sing the Alma Mater of Welch High School.  The rest of the evening was spent dancing to the tunes of the 50’s and 60’s, played by DJ Kes Blackwell.

          Sunday morning began with a buffet breakfast, followed by a memorial service, planned by Penny Money Cooper, to remember the 45 deceased classmates.  Penny shared that it had been a wonderful weekend coming together with dear friends of the past and remembering the “fun and crazy times we had On The Hill,” but this morning “we’ve come together to remember those who are unable to be with us today”.  Penny wondered if our 45 classmates who had gone before us and possibly had “rest in peace” engraved on their headstone by loved ones, would want to send us a message.  If they did, it would be “don’t wait until you die to ‘rest in peace’!  The good news is that we can “rest in peace” during the course of this life…..the peace that passes all understanding, the peace that Jesus gave us, the peace we can rest in when we know that we are loved and accepted, chosen in Him before the foundation of the world, the peace we experience when we know we are loved unconditionally, not based on what we do but based on who God is…..God is Love!  Trudy Tucker Andersen performed a solo, “You Raise Me Up”, as a video played in remembrance of our deceased classmates, followed by a choral benediction sung by all entitled “An Irish Blessing” (or, “May the Road Rise to Meet You”).  Penny Money Cooper then pronounced a traditional benediction, after which the tears were wiped from the eyes of most everyone in the room.  It was such a wonderful tribute to our beloved classmates who are no longer with us.

          Classmates lingered for awhile to say their goodbyes to their friends, vowing to keep in touch and expressing their appreciation to the reunion committee members for planning such a memorable event.  Several suggested that there be an informal get-together every year or every other year in the future to stay connected and be able to catch up more often.  With the class photograph and reunion gift bags in hand, as well as the wonderful memories of the weekend at Pipestem, classmates departed for home…..eyes filled with tears of joy for having had the opportunity to share in such a wonderful celebration of life, school days, and true friends. 

The planning committee for the reunion included:  Trudy Tucker Andersen, Connie Collins, Ronnie Collins, Penny Money Cooper, Jim Dalton, John DeFelice, Phylenia Snow French, Evelyn Hearl Goldston, Tom Greene, Bruce Lewis, Julia Warner Lewis, Sue Lambert Mullins, Betty Chaos Rice, Russell Rice, Don Roberts, Pam Miller Rose, Linda Spencer Sutphin, Mike Vallo, and Peter Villani.

Contact: Pam Miller Rose