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August 2019 followup note

August 11,  2019

To:    All Classmates

From:    Dwight Miller

Re:    Next phase of planning

Cc:    Class of 1970 and 1972 

It’s been a little over two months since we last met at Linda’s house.  Since then we’ve found a few more people and we’ve updated the spreadsheet which should have automatically shown up on the one I sent earlier.  If not, let me know and I’ll resend. In addition, I and some others have had the great joy of further connections through phone conversations or personal visits with classmates.  Paula Brown Rindell captured the idea so nicely with typical wisdom when she said in a recent text exchange: 

“Age gives us permission to speak freely and listen intently in ways we couldn’t do in our youth.  We are fermented with experiences and stories that we need to share with each other.”

I must also share a profound comment from Pam Stanley when reflecting about this event in ‘21:  

“You know, I think so many of us were wonderful people back then, but there were so many new events going on, life lessons to learn and we didn't even know who we were... this is truly a wonderful time of life and the type of event we want our reunion to be is almost like a celebration of all of us and how we have been doing our best to make a life worth living.  What a celebration to be part of!”

In addition, we had a delightful event (July 26) when Susan Anderson was visiting Exeter.  Her daughter, son in law, grandson and son all came with her so she could show them the places and people from her youth.  She has spent almost all of the time since high school in Virginia. The local folks able to make it were: Nita Cox Storms, Lana Miller Brown, Brian & Sherry Estabrooks, Mike Millsaps, Billy Britten, Jim Pitkin, Linda Gill, Pam Stanley, Julie Doctor, Peggy Stutsman Criswell, Irene Rodriguez Smith, Charlie Stearns, with my brother Terry and Becky Barnett Armstrong representing Class of ‘72; in addition to my wife Barb and I.  A great time was had by all sharing some stories and enjoying each other. Jim Strable ‘70 couldn’t make the event but had been in possession of Susan’s yearbook from our junior year. It is always a bit humorous to see what our 16 or 17 year old selves would write to each other. Mike and Jana Botkin couldn’t make it either but saw Susan and fam on the road up to Mineral King. It was pretty cool for Susan to get her book back after all  this time and for her family to see how highly regarded she is by those who occupied a place in her earlier life.

Please note that we are now looking at the weekend of April 16, 17, 18, 2021 for the reunion event.   Part of the thinking about that time involves cooler weather, no conflicts (now)  with the City of Exeter or Chamber of Commerce activities and travel considerations.  Easter is April 4, 2021 so we avoid conflict there. We’ve still got some work to do on the venue.  But it is only 19 months away!

We’ve found some websites that are specifically designed to facilitate class reunions.  I’ve signed us up for www.classcreator.com. Instead of big email messages, in the future we’ll be able to utilize the many unique features of this site to organize everything and keep people connected throughout.  I’ll be sending all of you a link to this customized site in the near future.

We will be needing to identify liaisons from the Classes of 1970 and 1972 to be conduits of information as we move forward to ensure that as many who would like to come are informed.

The notion of “host families” for the reunion weekend is one I’d like to float to the group.  There are a number of people who live in the area (including all of Tulare, Kings and Fresno Counties) who have a guest room in their home.  After getting a list of local people who would be willing to volunteer their home for that weekend, we could get that information to those coming from long distance and would need accommodations.  Those host families could be from the Class of 70, 71 or 72. This idea seems especially appropriate since a theme for this whole enterprise is maximum interpersonal connection. Besides saving travelers money on accommodations it would increase those inter-connections geometrically.  

Of the possible 280 or so people who were part of our 4 year experience, we’ve found less than 80 so we still need to prioritize finding people.  Please check out the spreadsheet to see if there are any folks that you could find that are not on the list yet. We are working on a date in mid-September for our next group conversation.  This time, we’ll be using videoconferencing software to enable everyone from far away to join in. More details to come.

We will be looking for volunteers to help with some of the details: 

  • Tracking down the obituary information on all  the classmates who’ve passed for a memorial service on Rocky Hill (by the cross) on Sunday morning. 

  • Event details, financial and logistical stuff

  • Matching up travelers with hosts

Anyone  interested and/or willing to  help with any aspect of the reunion, please let me know soon.  We’ll be putting committees together to focus on smaller aspects so that no one has a big burden.  I’m most grateful to all of you!