Saturday, October 31, 2015

54th Class Reunion – DeVeaux School (NY)

The Internet can be a very helpful tool!  Over the last year or so a significant number of DeVeaux School’s Class of 1961 have ‘found’ each other.  These renewed contacts led to discussions of a reunion…54 plus years after graduating!

The top photo shows the main classroom buildings which also included the chapel, dining area, kitchen and library.  The first part of this structure was completed in 1857 with the last part being completed in 1894.  The second photo shows the dormitory where many of us boarders lived… The 51 acre property, with most of the buildings gone, is now owned by the New York State Office of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation and it has been renamed as “DeVeaux Woods State Park”.

A little history… The property near Niagara River’s whirlpool was originally deeded in the mid-1850s as “The DeVeaux College for Orphans and Destitute Children” by Judge Samuel DeVeaux and operated by the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York. 

DeVeaux’s vision was to create a preeminent institution of learning which would train young men in academics, trade professions and to give them an education that did not neglect religious training.  For nearly 80 years course work included mandatory military training with cadets dressed in uniforms in the tradition of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.  Happily (for me at least), the last day of military influence on campus came on Founder’s Day in 1950 when the uniforms were replaced by coats and ties.  I joined DeVeaux in the fall of 1957 as a freshman.

This is the Junior Class photo for DeVeaux School’s Class of 1961.  Only individual photos were taken in our senior year so this is the only group photo showing all of the 1961 grads who attended our reunion.  There were 31 of us in the Junior Class photo but our Senior Class totaled 27 graduates.   

Can you spot these 9 members of DeVeaux School’s Class of 1961 in their Junior Class photo above?  ‘Only’ 55+ years have flown by since the group photo was taken… Some of us are recognizable but for others (like me) too much time has passed.  I don’t even recognize me!

From the left: Jere Krieg, Ed Fairchild, Tim Southwick, Bill Dunn, Jon Woolverton, Don Alderman, Dave (Thomson) Myers, Gary Scott and Tom Reid…

Nine out of 27 represents a pretty significant level of attendance given those who have passed on, those with family/health issues and grads that we couldn’t locate.  In addition to the 2 members of the group who live in East Tennessee, attendees came to this gathering from Arizona, California Delaware, Kentucky, Michigan, Texas and Ontario Canada.

A key factor in the success of those of us attending this soiree are the women that put up with us and keep us on the straight and narrow path!  The ladies mingled and got along extremely well… The only thing that they had in common was the fact that their miscreant husbands had gone to the same school together. (Of course, they also have had to train us…and with some of us, that project is ongoing!)

Bottom row: Cheryl and Bill; Sue and Jon; Don and Rhonda; Linda and Ed.  Second row: Laurie and me; Julie and Jere; Nancy and Tim; Belinda and Gary; Margie and Tom.  Julie, Jere, Laurie and I sponsored the opening night’s event.

Our opening night event on a Thursday night in mid-October was a reception and buffet at Julie and Jere’s home.  The guys spent a lot of time catching up and telling ‘war stories’ from our shenanigans back at DeVeaux and the ladies just got acquainted with each other…

The first night’s main event other than eating some good food, drinking and telling stories was when each of the classmates took the stage and told their personal stories…post DeVeaux until the present.  This was Tom telling us about his life over the previous 54 years.

One of the highlights the next day was a pontoon boat ride on Tellico Lake.  Jere recruited a couple of his long time buddies from the area to make this event happen…on a beautiful sunshine filled fall day!  This boat had 9 passengers including the captain…

Our pontoon boat had 11 passengers including our captain…and that is part of the reason that our boat ride was a bit different than the one experienced by our compatriots in the other boat.

Yikes!  With Bill blocking the vision of our captain on the right side of the boat and me blocking his view on the left…and 11 of us on board…the captain couldn’t see an oncoming wake and we nosed right down into it!  Nancy and Margie took the brunt of the wave!  Troopers that they are and wet though they were they took the semi-disaster in good humor.  We continued on! 

Almost all 6 passengers in the front got wet to some degree.  In addition to Nancy and Margie, Cheryl got quite wet.  All 3 ladies purses took a ‘bath’!  I thought that they’d never get all of the water out!  Nothing like a little excitement for us to remember for future gatherings… (Sorry ladies!)

Much of our time was spent socializing over drinks and food.   We frequented local establishments for lunch and dinner on Friday and Saturday.  This is the Tanasi Golf Clubhouse and Grill in Loudon Tennessee where we had dinner on Friday.

At one point or another, everyone stopped by our home to sit back and relax.  Linda, Laurie and Belinda spent some quality time together getting to know each other…

While the ladies were downstairs chatting, Ed, Gary, Bill, Cheryl and I were upstairs in the bonus room watching an American League championship game in support of Jon and Sue who are from Canada. (It was the Toronto Blue Jays vs. the Kansas City Royals.  Don was the lone Royals fan in the room and he picked the winner… (Sorry Jon and Sue!)

Note: I was rooting for the Blue Jays in the American League and the Chicago Cubs in the National League.  Never bet on my choices for any championship event! 

On Saturday, the group drove on over to Oak Ridge Tennessee to visit a American Automobile Club “Gem” attraction, the American Museum of Science and Energy.  This museum was designed to teach both children and adults about energy, especially nuclear power.  The major focus of this facility is to document the role Oak Ridge played in the Manhattan Project with the development of the nuclear bomb and the role it played in ending WWII.  Everyone learned something new and this visit was well received by our visitors from out of town.

The American Museum of Science and Energy is located at 300 South Tulane in Oak Ridge.  Phone: 865-576-3200.  The museum’s website can be found at

Following our edification and exploration at the museum, we headed over to the Riverside Grill in Oak Ridge for more food and conversation.  No…we hadn’t run out of things to talk about!  As a matter of fact, we probably solved a world crisis or two…

Our final event for our reunion was a dinner in the Blue Heron Restaurant at Tellico Village’s Yacht Club in Loudon Tennessee.  Unfortunately dinner was at 7 PM so it was too dark to enjoy the normally beautiful view of Tellico Lake from the restaurant.

And so our 54th Class Reunion came to an end… Everyone had caught up on their classmates lives and several of us probably gained a couple of pounds after all the food we consumed.  The group’s consensus was that this had been a great event…a very satisfying renewal of friendships…and that we should do it again in about 2 years!

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit with DeVeaux School’s Class of 1961!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave   

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