RHS Class of 1964 to reunite during Festival
By Jim Turner

Posted on August 6, 2014 11:18 PM

Final preparations are being made for the 50th anniversary reunion of the Russellville High School Class of 1964. As is the case with many groups in Russellville and Logan County, the reunion will be held during the Logan County Tobacco & Heritage Festival Oct. 10-11.

1963-64 was the school year which marked the end of Camelot in America when the image of the White House’s most beautiful residents came to an abrupt end. They year had begun with such promise as Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his moving “I Have a Dream” speech. The Beatles ruled the music scene and cool, beautiful people were everywhere. It was an era of sitting in convertibles watching movies at the drive-in.

Yet, the image young people had imbedded in their minds when they graduated was of Jackie Kennedy’s pink suit being stained with the blood of her dying husband, President John F. Kennedy—blood he shed while she held his head in the backseat of an open car in Dallas.

As they marched to “Pomp and Circumstance” at what then was called graduation more often than commencement, many of the young men in the Class of ’64 were wondering if they were going to be sent to the first war they had known in their lifetimes in the rice patties of a pace called Vietnam.

Soon to come were Flower Children, LSD, the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Dr. King, and the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

Some class members are known to be deceased. Kenny Bilyeu and Wayne Hullett died very young. Also no longer living are Frankie Brown, Maryl Richardson Higgins, Larry Loftis, Patricia Harbinson Bush Mooneyhan, Jimmy O’Dell, Suzi Rich, and Donna Tyree Woolridge, maybe more.

After 50 years, life-altering changes occur quickly. James McGehee, Bobby Sue Clark Silvey and Susan Fielder Ruby have lost their spouses fairly recently. Linda McGehee and Gary Silvey have been gone two or fewer years. Coach Tom Ruby’s died in the past month. Billy Markham’s beloved mom, Ruth Markham, died this week.

Yet most of the Class of 1964 have beaten the odds to remain vibrant and active 50 years later. Sherry Johnson Wilkins is Logan Circuit Clerk. Porter McLean heads a successful company. Wayne Reeves may be the best-known professional in the funeral business in Logan County. Betty Lou Williamson Wright is head teller for First Southern National Bank. Larry Ashby is a scientist and a pastor. Bobby Owen is a professional after dinner speaker. A guy named Jimmy Turner just started a new job with a college. And the list goes on.

Class President Tom Lennon has organized the reunion from his home in Hannibal, Mo. Pat Scott Carnesi, Jim Purvis, Lindagarde Johnson Dalton, Owen and Silvey have also worked on the project from long distances.

Plans call for a tree planting at the site of the former Russellville elementary school that Friday at 4 p.m. Then will come the ceremony in the lobby of deGraffenried Auditorium and induction into the ring of honor which is bestowed on the 50th anniversary class each year during the Russellville Alumni Meet & Greet.

The group will then stay at RHS for a “Tastee Treet Gathering” in the RHS cafeteria. Susan Stewart Hicks and Margaret Hollingsworth Humble have been organizing that event and a more formal meal at Ariella’s Saturday evening.

Saturday morning’s plans include a class picture on the steps of the central office facing Sixth Street. At that time balloons will be released in honor of the deceased class members.

After that, class members will go to Main Street to watch the parade. There has been talk of some of them riding on a float in the parade.

Reservations for the two meals are due by next Friday, Aug. 15. They should be sent to one of two class members, Pat Murphy or Becky Johnson.

Among those still making their homes in Russellville are Larry Appling, Larry Ashby, Joyce Shifflett Belcher, Mike Boyles, John Gragg, Dorris ‘Gabby’ Hayes, Bobby Hinton, Sarah McMillen Justice, Marilyn Simmons Slaton, and Fred and Barbara Wright. Ronnie Taylor lives in the Lewisburg area and Levi Hodge in Auburn.

Shown in the accompanying picture from this June are some of the ‘girls’ in the Class of 1964 who gather each summer in some southern paradise. From left are Marilyn Simmons Slaton, Sherry Johnson Wilkins, Becky Johnson, Bobby Sue Clark Silvey, Margaret Hollingsworth Humble, Pat Murphy, Peggy Sue Hall Moseley, Barbara Hinson Wright and Susan Stewart Hicks. Peggy Sue is married to class member Mike Moseley and Barbara to classmate Fred Wright.

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