The Fayetteville Observer
August 12, 2006

Fayetteville High class holding 50th reunion

Section:Saturday Extra

By Tony Rogers, Community News editor

Every five years, the Fayetteville High School Class of 1956 returns to town to renew friendships. But this year is special. Today, about 110 people will gather for their 50th high school reunion. The Class of '56 was the first to go through a full year at the new school on Fort Bragg Road.

The school replaced the original school on Robeson Street.

"It was sad, but it was exciting," said Lois Black, voted most popular by her classmates, of changing schools.

"It was dramatic," said '56 graduate Jo Anne Lowder.

Black said high school has changed since 1956. "We went to the Pad and bopped," she said. "Even though now they call it shagging."

She said girls wore bobby socks and sweaters didn't button in the front.

"We buttoned our sweaters backward back then," she said.

Lowder said one of the biggest changes since 1956 is how time flies.

"It took forever for Friday to come," she said. "On Monday, we couldn't wait for Friday and football. Now, the week goes faster."

Lowder said there was more school spirit back then. After graduation, the class of 163 scattered, but they worked to remain close. Reunions began in 1969, when class vice president Al Cain took over organizing the events. The group hasn't gone more than five years without getting together since.

"We had a particularly close class, and everybody makes an effort to come back," Black said.

Lowder said a lot of work goes into organizing these events. A group of about 10 graduates met for the first time in the summer of 2005 to discuss the 50th reunion. They started working on the event in February 2006 and sent out three mailings to graduates.

Then, Lowder got on the phone to track down anyone still missing.

Dorothy and David Miller, one of three graduating couples to marry, gathered photos for badges, while Helen Corne, Bryan Carr, Sue Myers, Labinda Hodgin, Ralph Hoggard, Dougald Clark and Larry Hardee helped out.

Most popular Lois Black, then Lois Weeks, married Hector Black, who was voted best looking by his classmates.

"Hector and Lois were the power couple," Lowder said. "And they still are."

The group has talked about having reunions every two years, because of dwindling numbers, but that would create an even greater workload.

Lowder said when many graduates' parents were still alive, it was easier to return to Fayetteville. Now that many parents have died, the reunions offer the only excuse to return.

On Friday, the class attended a buffet dinner at Highland Country Club. Today, many graduates and spouses will play golf at Gates Four, while others will tour downtown and the Airborne & Special Operations Museum before returning to the old high school. A sit-down dinner at Highland is planned for tonight, with a DJ and speakers.

"On Friday, you will have trouble recognizing people," Lowder said. "But on Saturday, everyone looks the same as in high school. That personality is still there."


Most Courteous — Carolyn Darden married Bill Herndon and opened Fabrics Unlimited, a decorative fabrics business in Charlottesville, Va. They have two daughters. Franklin Martin and his wife, Sandra, have two children and live in Wilmington. Franklin is a lawyer.

Best Looking — Christina Harris is married to Kerry Gionis and lives in Charleston, S.C. They have three children and three grandchildren. Hector Black married Lois Weeks of the Class of 1956 and started Castle Uniforms. They have two children and four grandchildren.

Most Athletic — Michael Marr teaches at UNC-Pembroke and lives in Fayetteville. Arlene Erstling is deceased.

Most Popular — Lois Weeks married '56 graduate Hector Black in 1959 and started Castle Uniforms. She has two children and four grandchildren. Ronald Hendrix and his wife, Charlotte, live in Florence, S.C. He is an administrator at a nursing home.

Friendliest — Betty Ann Wilkins is a sales clerk and teacher in Oro Valley, Ariz. She has three children. Sonny Orts is deceased.

Neatest — Peggy Lenhardt married Monte Smith in 1960 and lives in Brick, N.J. They have three sons and four grandchildren. Jack Cain still lives in Fayetteville.

Most Original — Barbara Hauser is married to Jesse Bryan-Jones and is the volunteer communications director for the National Child Abuse Defense and Resource Center. They live in Roanoke, Va. Alston Cain is married to Mary Grace and started Cain & Cain Advertising in 1979 in Fayetteville. They have two sons and a granddaughter.

Best All-around — Lynette Downing married George Ehler and lives in Montgomery, Texas. They have two children and two grandchildren. Lynette works for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Southern Texas. Jim Humphreys is deceased.