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As Class of ’63 plans 50th reunion, members search for 14 missing classmates

The countdown is on. With only one month left until the Halifax County High School Class of 1963 celebrates its 50th class reunion in style, planning committee members continue to reach out to 14 missing classmates.

The clock is ticking as the Aug. 1 registration deadline nears. 

Unaccounted for, according to committee treasurer Tom Griffin, are classmates George Bowling, Robin Bradley, Jerry Chaney, Judy Compton, Brad Flinchbaugh, Roger Jones, Ruth Lowery, Glenn Martin, Stephen Morse, Barbara Owen, Peggy Welcher, Barbara Winn, Hubert Womack and Bill (Richard) Worthington.

The class reunion is set for Aug. 23-25, and the theme is “50 Is The Magic Number.” 

During the three-day festive event, members of the Halifax County High Class of 1963 will enjoy a Friday social at Sparetimes Grill, a Saturday morning tour of the Berry Hill Mansion and afternoon get-togethers at Ernie’s, Café Peroni, Greenwoods winery and several other places.  

On Saturday night, 1963 classmates will participate in a social hour and buffet dinner followed by dancing at Halifax Country Club and a Sunday brunch at Berry Hill Mansion and Resort.  

Ernie’s Restaurant will cater the Saturday night social, and disc jockey Bo Bowen will provide music. 

Those interested in attending who haven’t registered yet are asked to contact Griffin by phone at 919-650-1467 and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. via email. 

A total of 262 people were on the graduation seating chart, and 269 were pictured in the annual, Griffin said. Some 265 names are on the commencement program, and the committee has contact information for 203 of those, he added. A total of 58 classmates are deceased, and 18 of them have died since the 45th reunion held in 2008.

According to the planning committee treasurer, 98 members of the Halifax County High School Class of 1963 remain in Halifax County, while 66 reside other places in Virginia with a large concentration in Richmond.

Griffin said 23 live in North Carolina, two reside in South Carolina, three reside in Georgia, and four make their homes in Florida, while one resides in Alabama, one in Mississippi, one in New Mexico, one in Wisconsin, one in Oregon, and one resides in New Hampshire who spends half of the year in Argentina.

Griffin, along with other planning committee members including Donna Ratcliff Strange, Nancy Dunn Bane and Harold Bane, recently reminisced about their senior year as they anxiously await their 50th reunion.

The four recalled some of the high school sweethearts who ended up marrying each other in their class. 

According to the four, John Walden and Patricia Satterfield Walden, Joe Mylum and Brenda Witt and Bobby Ford and Brenda Clark were sweethearts in high school and later married each other.

The Banes also are married but said they really didn’t meet until after high school.

The four reminisced about what they liked the most about being students at Halifax County High School.

Griffin said he enjoyed the diversity of his classmates because   the students came from all over the county.

“I liked meeting different people because all I knew were the people from my elementary school. I also liked the extra-curricular activities,” Nancy said.

“I really enjoyed learning and being around people from all walks of life,” Harold added.

Strange said she just enjoyed high school as a whole.

Favorite teachers were also a topic of discussion amongst the four.

Griffin and Strange agreed Erna Glasscock, who taught advance math, was their favorite teacher.

Harold and Nancy said Mildred Henderson, the algebra and geometry teacher, was their favorite.

The four also recalled Martha Penick, Willie Jones and Carl Burke as enjoyable teachers also.

 According to the four, Burke attended their 45th reunion back in 2008.

Extracurricular activities were next on the list of recollections as the four reminisced about their favorite high school clubs and organizations.

Strange recalled being a member of Mu Alpha Theta (math club), the great books club, the National Honor Society, and she was on the staff for both the Star and Haliscope.

Harold was a member of the football and baseball teams and the diversified occupation and Spanish clubs.

Donna also was a member of the Spanish club, the pep club and the Comets drill corp that marched with the band and performed during half-time.

Griffin said he was pretty much a wallflower during high school, but he managed to join Mu Alpha Theta.

The four recalled the senior class officers for 1963.

Sam Brookes was president, Eddy Medley was reporter, Lynda Loftis Starnes was secretary, Nell Lacy was vice president, Ted Johnson was treasurer, and Jim Marrilla was sergeant-at-arms. 

Brookes also came up with the theme for the reunion and has helped to orchestrate the reunion along with previous reunions, the four said.

Homecoming also came to mind as the four continued to reminisce about the past.

Strange was homecoming queen that year, and back then they didn’t have a homecoming king. However, her boyfriend, Ned Strange, who is now her husband, escorted her.

The four recalled it was the first year the homecoming queen was chosen by popular vote. Previously, they said, the football team would choose, and it would usually be a cheerleader.

Prom was another cherished memory for the four.

 Griffin said he went to the prom alone and just watched everyone else dance, while Nancy said she was too shy and bashful to attend.

 While he didn’t remember much about the event, Harold did remember the gym was decorated nicely.

“You could get out of class if you worked on the senior prom, so I volunteered,” he said.

Strange remembered her now husband, Ned, was her date to senior prom.

The four said back then students arrived in their parents’ cars and not anything fancy like today.

Strange remembered wearing the same dress she wore to the state fair to the prom, and her date just wore a suit.

While at the prom, students were introduced by their superlatives and later escorted by their dates.

Superlatives included Em Edmunds and Allen Fuller as best all around and most intellectual, Rusty Campbell and Em Edmunds as most likely to succeed, Ray Kilgore and Nell Lacy as most spirited and most athletic, Sam Brookes and Candy Canada as the friendliest, Royster Hedgepeth and JoAnne Bennett as most courteous, Jim Marilla and Strange as best looking, Candy Canada and Bob Gordon as most talented and Sam Brookes and Mary Lou Gilliam as the class clowns.

Following the prom, Strange remembers going to a party in Clarksville. 

Harold also remembers attending a party in Clarksville at Gravel Hill.

The four recalled their graduation day also.

“I felt relieved that I had made it, and I was ready to move on to the next thing,” Griffin said.

“It was a pretty exciting achievement,” Nancy added.

 Harold agreed he also was very excited to graduate high school.

 “It was a nice occasion,” Strange said. “My parents were there, and all the teachers were thrilled. It was a big step.” 

The Halifax County High School 1963 commencement exercises included an invocation and benediction from local pastors Dr. W. W. Glass and the Rev. Woodrow A. Giles, greetings from Superintendent Rhoderick L. Lacy and selections from the concert choir and band.

Other important events that occurred in the days leading up to graduation included class night and  baccalaureate services.

After graduation, Griffin attended Wake Forest University and received a degree in chemistry before joining the military where he fought in the Vietnam Conflict.  He has lived in Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana and now resides in Cary, N.C. He worked for an oil field company until 1998 and then consulted for 14 years before retiring.

Nancy went on to attend Smithfield Massey Business Center in Richmond and graduated with a degree in the medical secretarial field. She worked at an insurance company before moving back to South Boston in 1968 and began working at the U.S. Plywood Corporation for 28 years.

Harold attended Ferrum College for two years before attending the University of Richmond and VCU and later becoming loan officer at BB&T Bank. He now works as a salesman at Lowe’s in South Boston.

Strange went on to attend Mary Washington University where she studied mathematical analysis before getting married the following summer. She then transferred to VCU and majored in elementary art education before eventually moving back to South Boston and receiving her degree in marketing communications from Averett. She worked at Halifax Regional Hospital for 22 years in the marketing department before retiring.

The four said they went on to have fairly successful lives and children, and some now have grandchildren.