Largest graduating class ever

Lee High School Class of 1965 to reunite

Just under 50 percent of the seniors who graduated from Robert E. Lee High School in 1965 will get together this month to reminisce about Then and share about Now.

“We have about 300 [registered] as of today and expect to have approximately 330-350 in attendance,” said Robert Fore, reunion event chair. “We were the largest class of baby boomers in history with 721.”

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Dr. Fore, professor and associate dean for academic affairs at the University of Tennessee College of Medicine, won’t be the only alumnus coming from out of state for the 50th anniversary reunion on Apr. 25 at the Deerwood Country Club.

“Our class is scattered across the globe. We don’t even know where everyone is,” Fore noted. “We have classmates coming from 16 states plus England!”

Unfortunately, Fore also said it was impossible to know how many have died, stating that just since the reunion plans began, four or five dear friends passed away.

Three of the 1965 grads who still live in Jacksonville shared a few memories prior to the reunion.

Kent Schmidt, who currently lives in San Marco, grew up in Ortega Forest and said he has three memorable events from that time. “November 22, 1963, we were going to have a pep rally for a football game and had the entire school meet on the football field for the death of JFK,” said Schmidt. “In 1964 playing quarterback for the State championship in football in the Orange Bowl in Miami. In 1965, graduation, my father gave the commencement speech to my class, the largest graduating class in Lee history.”

Schmidt also recalls hanging out at the Penny Burger after school when not participating in fall football practice and spring golf practice. He also, sadly, remembers classmates who are gone. “To all our classmates who gave their life in Vietnam then and even now,” said Schmidt. “RIP, Jack Dixon.”

Pamela Gooch Miller lived off McDuff Avenue and was able to walk to school – at least until her boyfriend got his first car and then in her senior year she had her own ’57 Chevy but, as she put it, “nothing hot like the boys were driving!”

After school, Miller and her friends would hang out in the park on Green Street or at her home, and enjoyed going to the Murray Hill Theatre or the drive-in on Normandy Boulevard on weekends with boyfriend Donald Miller (Class of 1964). They were married for 35 years when he passed away in 2000.

Her fondest memory was “walking the halls between classes and falling in love with Donald, my soulmate – the man I would marry after graduation,” Miller shared. She lost touch with Vicki Godsey, her best friend, and hopes that if she sees the story she will look Miller up on Facebook.

One classmate coming from someplace other than Jacksonville is Margaret Stradley Marquis, who is pastor at Ocoee (Fla.) Christian Church. A former teacher for 35 years, Marquis has fond memories of her own Lee High School teachers, including English teacher Lucy Coale, who lived at the Beaches and rode the bus to and from Lee every day for decades; Kathleen Vinson, an English teacher who forbade the use of the word “very” as imprecise and sloppy writing; Dorothy Thomas, a chemistry teacher who claimed to have dropped Marquis’ father out of a chinaberry tree when he was an infant; and Frances Lyon, a strict and demanding math teacher who became a close friend.

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Marquis, who grew up in Murray Hill and took a public bus to school, remembers the annual Thanksgiving Lee-Jackson football game. “It was a tradition for decades, over a period of three, maybe four, generations,” she recalled, “dressing up for the game and the family dinners planned to work around it.”

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

 

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