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Many-class reunion brings out old friends, old stories

Carolyn Shepherd, center, talks with Kay and Frank Vollmer. (Cindy Yingst)
By Cindy Yingst, Friday, August 3, 2018

Saturday’s Warrenton High School reunion was 100 years in the making.

Dozens of people gathered in the WHS cafeteria to celebrate good times, connect with old friends and acknowledge the school’s first century of graduating classes.

“To me, this was one of the best educational systems that I’ve been a part of,” said Rod Hardin, whose first teaching job was at WHS from 1968 to 1974.

He left to become vice principal of a high school in the valley.

“They had great facilities,” Hardin said, “but the attitudes of the staff: they didn’t have high expectations of the kids.”

He was sitting with longtime friend Glenn McMurray, a WHS teacher from 1973 to 1975.

“It was a really good experience,” McMurray said of teaching in Warrenton. “Teachers here didn’t check out at 3:30. They were part of the community. … It was very much a family kind of place. Look at all these people that still get together.”

About 150 people poured through old annuals, took photos and chatted about high school days.

Don Whetsell, who now lives in King City, was a member of the class of 1950, the first to graduate from the new WHS campus after it moved from the site of today’s grade school.

“I was a Huckleberry Finn type,” said Whetsell, 87. “I used to disappear and be gone all day. We’d play on the log rafts on the Skipanon. They used to call me Skipanon Don.”

Doris Dunn Larremore was more into music than sports and, like many teenagers, often felt as if she didn’t fit in.

“I got married and dropped out and they wouldn’t let me come back,” Larremore said. “That’s how things were back then. I got married and so they figured I might bring some sin if I came back. But then I was told the school board can’t keep you out.” So she returned, graduated and proudly calls WHS her alma mater.

There also were adjustments for Ginny Schlecht Dyer, who graduated in 1981.

“I moved from a big school to a smaller school,” Dyer said. “It was a little different here at first. You don’t realize everybody’s related to everybody. But after living here for so many years, I can appreciate the bonds of a small community and I understand the kinship.”

For Robert Vollmer of the class of 1952, high school was a time of small rebellions and the comforts of community. The high school had no lawn back in the day, he said, and the father of a classmate who lived in a trailer across the street once came over and spun donuts with his tires in the dirt in front of the campus.

“As I look back, it was exciting,” Vollmer said. “As a kid, I was mischievous.”

He got a ticket at age 15 for driving without having a legal driver with him. His mother knew the judge and was able to talk him into a reduced fine.

Susan Jensen Walker, class of 1980, appreciated the small community and small classrooms.

“Teachers could look right at me and know whether I’d gotten it,” she said. Later, her family moved to Corvallis “and it was totally different.”

Her husband, Brian Walker, class of 1975, has never lost his appreciation for the small town of his youth.

“It was a nice small town and everybody knew everybody,” he said. “No. It’s not the same today. Today Warrenton’s got its own strip (near Costco). It used to be that the only strip in town was the one down Main Street.”

Would he rather forego today’s better shopping opportunities?

“I’d turn it back. I loved that time.”

Susan Jensen Walker, class of 1980, and her husband, Brian Walker, class of 1975. (Cindy Yingst)

The original Warrenton High School, which stood on the site of today's grade school, before the new high school campus was finished in 1950.

About 150 people attended the July 21 reunion. (Cindy Yingst)

Robert Vollmer, class of 1952, confesses he was a bit mischievous.

Members of the class of 1962 sit still for a group shot. (Cindy Yingst)

Jerry Beard of Napavine, Wash., left, and Warren Hubbard of Longview remember when there were no traffic lights in town. (Cindy Yingst)

Doris Dunn Larremore

Ginny Schlecht Dyer

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