The Sidney Lanier High School Class of 1965 held its 50 year reunion on the weekend of April 24 and 25, 2015. Over 220 persons attended the Reunion, including more than 125 classmates. There were approximately 700 seniors in the Class of 1965.
The weekend began with a dinner and reception at the Alley Station Ballroom at 130 Commerce Street on Friday evening. Many classmates who had not seen each other in almost 50 years were able to reconnect and exchange memories. Mrs. Marjorie Dubina and Mr. Ted Jackson, who were teachers at Lanier during 1965, attended the event. Barbeque buffet was provided by Red’s Little School House and liquid refreshments were provided by B&B Bartending.
On the morning of Saturday, April 25, members of the class gathered on the steps of Lanier High School for a class picture. The group included not only members of the class but also Dr. Antonio Williams, the current principal at Lanier, and Wylie Cutts, a former principal and teacher at Lanier. Following the class picture, group pictures divided by junior high schools attended were taken. One person apparently attended multiple junior high schools. Paul Robertson, brother of David Robertson, a member of the class, took the class and group pictures.
Following the picture taking, Dr. Williams made a presentation on the status of, and his plans for, the School. Mr. Cutts and C. J. Harris, the head football coach at Lanier, also spoke to the class. Dr. Williams explained his plans for “Reclaiming the Castle” (a name given to the Lanier Building in the 1970’s) and improving the academic and other programs at Lanier. Everyone was impressed by Dr. Williams’ plans, energy, enthusiasm, and commitment. Although Dr. Williams was candid about the obstacles facing Lanier, he was optimistic about making substantial improvements to the School for the benefit of its students and teachers and the City of Montgomery.
After Dr. Williams’ presentation, a number of members of the class toured the School. Although the exterior of the building has not changed much in 50 years, its student body is much different. In 1965, almost 3,000 students attended the School (10th - 12th grades); today there are less than 900 students in four grades (9th - 12th). In 1965, the first African American students attended the School, with one student in each of the three grades. Today, the demographic makeup is completely reversed.
The Class of 1965 made a gift of $1,000 to the Principal’s Fund at Lanier to be used at Dr. Williams’ discretion for the benefit of the School. Dr. Williams encouraged members of the class to make financial and other contributions to the School and many classmates indicated their willingness to do so.
On Saturday afternoon, a number of classmates toured the Alabama Voices Exhibit at the Alabama Archives and History Building. Others took a tour of the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, arranged by Barrie Harmon.
On Saturday evening, everyone attended a seated dinner at the Alley Station Warehouse. Dr. Williams, his wife Latoya, and Coach Harris were guests. Preparations included light and sound demonstrations featuring a large blue script L. The Decorations Committee was headed by Beth Gordy Dubina and Virginia Moody Butler. Music for both nights was arranged principally by George Howell, who also served as the Master of Ceremonies. The music consisted of 102 popular favorites from 1962 - 1965, and were selected by Howell, Jim Goodwyn, and Winston Sheehan.
Reverend Fred Zeigler offered blessings for both evenings. His blessings were moving and personal. The food for Saturday evening was prepared by Debbie Kemsel and B&B again provided bartending services.
The Reunion provided an opportunity for classmates to reunite. Members of the State Championship football, basketball, and track teams were able to share fond memories of great victories (excluding one upsetting loss by the football team). Among the memories and matters discussed were the Selma to Montgomery March, which occurred in March 1965, the death of President John Kennedy in November 1963, and the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962. Classmates remembered “hanging out” at the Dairy Queen on the Mobile Highway, Cordell’s Hamburgers on the Mobile Highway, Dog & Suds on Fairview Avenue , and Susie’s on Fairview Avenue as well as Pop’s Stand at Cloverdale School.
Several of the sports teams were able to reminisce, including members of the State Championship football team, which included Ed Alford, Whit Armstrong, Arthur Britton, Bob Childs, Buddy Hardwich, Winston Sheehan, Richmond Flowers, Johnny Hanna, Alan Hargrove, Fred Russell, Calvin Sanders, and Rusty Sheehan. The State Championship basketball team was represented by Johnny Robertson, Jim (Buster) Williams, Rob Howe, and Robert Talley. The State Championship track team members included Carlton King, Jeff Samuel, Richmond Flowers, and Calvin Sanders. All three State Champions were represented by their super manager Nathan Segall, famed editor of Nathan’s Notions in the Blue & White.
Classmates from all over the United States attended the Reunion, including Rick Jabour, Jim (Buster) Williams, and Phil Anders, who, traveled from different locations in California. David Young returned from a multi-year mission trip to Sri Lanka in time to attend the Reunion. Jeff Samuel, Katherine Robbins Pool, and Karolyn Payne Elliott served as the welcome hosts at the reception desk during both evening events.
A number of other classmates came from out-of-state, including Mary Jane Armour Augustine, Anne Atherton Randolph, Linda Cauthen Singleton, Randy Cloud, Freddie Collins, Mike Delaney, Ed Donaldson, Lyn Gilbert Starling, Mary Grabill Hartmann, Ray Hanks, Kay Grobmeier Hanks, John Higgins, Jimmy Hightower, Bob Hubbard, Shelley Huddleston Stewart, Tim Jennings, Catherine Jones Price, Larry King, Richard Kirschman, Rainer McGuire, Mary Anna McClendon, Bernice McCurdy Croan, Janice McLain James, Richard Priest, Frazer Rankin, Mac Richie, Robert Sabel, Tom Sheehan, Betsy Shelburne, Mike Slade, Lynn Snider Franklin, Charles Stagner, Mary Ann Thinnes, Sandy Walker Durham, and Mac Watson.
Also attending the Reunion were Mike Armstrong. Ann Ashley Sweeney, Lila Ashley Dryer, Lee Barnes, Carolina Bear Novak, Ken Beringer, Anne Bernstein Enslen, Brian Bodine, Howard Bryan, Danny Bush, Mary Jane Childress Sanford, Sally Christian Harper, Penny Collier Brightwell, Bobby Connor, Noni Cound Haigler, Randall Culp, Mike Davis, Toofie Deep, Charlotte DuBose Gaston, Jayne Eaton Ward, Charlotte Estes Denton, James Farmer, Fran Folmar Miller, Lois Folmar Tunipseed, Betty Greene Woodson, Laslie Hall, Jim Hodgson, Nan Holley Cunningham, Charles Holliday, Steve Kermish, Carlton King, Lester Mack, Danny Massey, Kathryn Maxey Dickey, Lamar McDavid, Margaret McGuire Clark, Vernelle McKemy Brannen, Wilbur McNair, Ellen Mertins, Barbara Meeker Flowers, Buddy Metcalf, Beth Morgan Kaye, Buddy Morgan, Jack Mooresmith, Mike Mullen, Linda Patterson Suttle, Margaret Allen Sellers Bok, Jim Simon, Amelie Smith Lucas, Jackie Smith Baltzell, Robert Stacy, Patty Stinnette Copeland, Nancy Thompson Sledge, Kathy Williams Coxwell, Mary Ethel Williamson Gross, Lander Marshall Dean, and Ginger Virgin Smith.
The Reunion was organized by a planning committee consisting of Sandy Benkwith, Virginia Moody Butler, Beth Gordy Dubina, Joel Dubina, Karolyn Payne Elliott, Jim Goodwyn, Buddy Hardwich, Barrie Harmon, Louise Jones Hill, George Howell, Hank Hutchinson, Steve Kermish, Carlton King, Mike Owens, Katherine Robbins Pool, David Robertson, Johnny Robertson, Jeff Samuel, and Winston Sheehan.
Everyone attending the reunion received a 182 page reunion book, which includes pictures of most members of the class including many of whom were not in attendance at the Reunion. The book also includes personal pages for a substantial number of classmates. The book was produced by Wells Printing Company.
On Sunday, May 17, the Lanier High School Class of 2015 held its graduation ceremony. The 1965 Class was recognized by Dr. Williams as part of the program. Sherlon Hosea (formerly known as Shirley Martin), who was a member of the Class of 1965, but did not graduate at that time, was awarded an honorary degree from Lanier at the ceremony.
The Class of 1965 and Lanier’s many other classes intend to Reclaim the Castle, promote the School and its current students, and retain and cherish their fond memories as Poets.