The Ties That Bind: Lee Class of 1954 celebrates 67th Reunion

The Ties That Bind: Lee Class of 1954 celebrates 67th Reunion
Charles Arnold, Gae Cavanagh and John Cavanagh

The 1954 graduates of Robert E. Lee High School are proof that some ties can’t be broken. Every five years, since 1959, five years after their graduation from Robert E. Lee High School, the member of the Class of 1954 have faithfully gathered to remember their school days together, catch up on each other’s lives and celebrate the lives of those members who have passed on.

Now 85 years old, the classmates now try to gather yearly, last year being the exception due to COVID-19. Their enthusiasm for being together hasn’t dimmed, thanks in large part to the faithful planning committee, led by Wilson Smith.

“The committee has been together since the very beginning,” Ortega resident Marlene Nall Goodwin said. Goodwin is a Jacksonville native who attended Lakeshore Elementary and Junior High and then went on to Lee High School, where she met her first husband. All of her children live in Jacksonville.

Sherry Williams, Marlene Goodwin and Joanne Smith
Sherry Williams, Marlene Goodwin and Joanne Smith

Other committee members include Cynthia Seagraves, John Cavanaugh, Robert Delaney, Charlie Arnold, Bill Watson, Syd Jenkins, and two widows of former committee members, Sherry Williams, widow of Walter Williams, and Winnette Sandlin, widow of Thomas Sandlin Sr.

“Thomas Sandlin was our original leader who organized all of the reunions until he passed away,” Goodwin said. “Wilson has promised us that we’ll continue to have reunions into our 90s.”

Their class originally had more than 400 graduates. Fifty-two of the graduates gathered for this year’s luncheon reunion at Timuquana Country Club.

One graduate, Bobbie Woodman Macdonald, traveled to the reunion from Silver Springs, Maryland. Her husband, Donald (Mac) Macdonald, and she have attended almost all of the reunions. Bobbie met Mac on a blind date. He had come to Jacksonville for his pediatric residency. They married and he opened a practice in Clearwater.

After he wrote a book about the dangers of children getting hooked on drugs, the “Good Morning America” show interviewed him. When then First Lady Nancy Reagan saw the show, she told her husband, former President Reagan that she wanted Macdonald in the White House to help with her mandate against drug abuse.

Bobbie and Mac moved to Washington where Mac served as special assistant to the President and director of the Drug Abuse Policy Office from 1985 to 1988.

“Our class has many photos of the Macdonalds and the Reagans in front of the White House Christmas tree for the official White House Christmas card.

Some alumni came from Georgia. One of the class’s cheerleaders, Kate Thompson Simmons, came to the reunion from Sarasota.

“Some of our classmates are now in nursing homes. Their sons or daughters brought them, and the ‘kids’ enjoyed hearing about their fathers’ and mothers’ escapades,” Goodwin said.

Jane Brown, Fransis Nash and Shirley Taylor
Jane Brown, Fransis Nash and Shirley Taylor

By Karin Rieley
Resident Community News

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