Last week, Carol Reighter and her husband John met Cliff and me at Panera in Jacksonville. I knew Carol from Elizabethtown Area High School as Carol Hall, headed for nursing school in Harrisburg after she graduated.
My memoir Mennonite Daughter has brought us together recently. But for the first time in a long time she also appeared last year at Aaron’s Books in Lititz, PA during a book signing. She drove all the way from Mechanicsburg, an hour’s drive away, bringing with her other classmates, Bonnie Heisey and Lois Herr, all of whom I hadn’t seen for decades. I wrote a post about it!
This time (January 2020) she and her husband John traveled from up north on their way to Cocoa Beach and points south, planning to winter in Florida until Easter time.
Except for visits with relatives, I have been away from my home state for over fifty years. I’ve attended only a few class reunions. Carol, however, has kept in close touch with her classmates.
As we reminisced about out class, Carol brought me up to speed about the accomplishments of other graduates in the E-town class of 1959.
“Did you know what happened to Judy Groff?”
“Not exactly,” I replied. “The last time I saw her she apologized for making fun of my lack of coordination in gym class.” 😀
Carol was quick to bring me up to speed: “Well, she has had an amazing career in sports. There is even a baseball field named for her!”
The tagline reads . . .
Judy Groff Field is the home of the Amerian International College softball team and was dedicated to legendary head coach Judy Groff in a ceremony held April 29, 2006.
Carol continued, “And you won’t believe Dick Hilsher either. Remember him?”
“Yeah, he seemed to be a nice guy, but I don’t remember much about him since he was in the commercial track, and I in the academic one. What about him?”
“Well, he has really outdone himself. He runs a big enterprise in Port Trevorton, PA with a bunch of stuff: a restaurant, a grocery store, hardware, home décor outlet, sporting goods, a meat processing plant, a gas station and bakery. It’s really something!”
“He has quite a story,” and Carol filled me in with his steps up the ladder of success.
- Got a job at a local bank near his hometown. (His mother asked the banker to give him a chance!)
- Majored in accounting at NYU
- Earned a position in accounting at Tiffany’s New York
- Returned to Pennsylvania and bought a general store north of Harrisburg and expanded its offerings. Now it’s a mini-conglomerate!
Yearbook photos of Judy Groff and Richard Hilsher, class of 1959
The script for Judy’s life was evident in her yearbook thumbnail and in the detail of her extracurricular activities.
Dick’s blurb gave only the tiniest hint of his business achievements later on in life. Extracurricular activities were very sketchy, just “gym club” as a high school junior.
Other classmates have made their mark in the world, like Lois Herr, active for decades in Pennsylvania politics. But not all of our classmates have had prosperous lives. Some have had deep losses and daunting challenges. Others are no longer with us.
Have you stayed connected to any of your high school, college, or work colleagues?
Have the lives of some high school or college classmates you know about surprised you?
Has the blurb in your yearbook matched your life path – or deviated from it?