Fifty years after graduating from DeKalb County High School, members of the Class of 1967 gathered for their golden anniversary reunion Saturday evening at the New Life Connection Center to reminisce about the good old days.
This class, freshmen when DCHS came into existence after the consolidation of Smithville and Liberty High Schools, was the first to complete all four years at the school.
“This class is very important to me. We were a very close knit class. We all got along together and many of us have stayed in touch with each other. Some of my best memories and best friends are in this class,” Vivian Banks Hill, a member of the Class of 1967 told WJLE.
“My twin daughters were at our house this past weekend. They had gone with me to my 40th year class reunion. I asked them to tell Kimberly, my wife about the people I went to school with. The exact quote from one of my twins was, “They are the most down to earth honest people I’ve ever met”. She said “you’ll love them”, said Donnie Elledge, another member of the Class of 1967 who lives in Clinton, Tennessee and serves as a Criminal/Circuit Court Judge in Anderson County
Judge Elledge remembers the rivalry that once existed between Smithville and Liberty High Schools and how that the consolidation helped bring people together. “There was no love of the under the hill people by the on top of the hill people and vice versa. In fact, Liberty didn’t have football but they had excellent men and women basketball teams and so did Smithville and if you look back through the history, there were several times going to the state that Smithville either put Liberty out, men or women, or Liberty put Smithville out, men or women. They were just very competitive and did well. There was some concern by everybody involved as to how they were going to handle it (school consolidation) but we all handled it well. In any school, then or now, you’re going to have some people who don’t get along but it had nothing to do with location. They called us (students from under the hill) groundhogs and we called them (students on top of the hill) billie goats but it was a good bunch of kids, good people and we got to really enjoy being with each other,” said Judge Elledge.
Prior to consolidation, local schools were racially segregated but that all changed by 1964 and for most at DCHS, integration was accepted without any racial tensions. “We, the kids, never had any problem. I was playing football at the time and Coach Brock was our coach. Right after we started school, Nottie Tubbs (an African American student) was going to come out for football. Coach Brock came out and said to us just treat him like anybody else. He is just one of us. Nottie came out and we treated him just like everybody else. In fact, he later decided to leave and it really was a huge loss when he left because he was a tremendous athlete. We were all teammates and it didn’t matter where you were from as long as you could help,” said Judge Elledge.
Many from the class also had to come to grips with the harsh realities of the Vietnam War which had claimed friends from here at home. “Dale Hutchings was the first (in this area) killed in Vietnam. The second one was Ronnie Reeder. Ronnie was a junior when I was a freshman. He actually took me under his wing and made me feel comfortable on the football team. I was so close to Ronnie. He was such a good friend of mine. His brother Dennis was in my class. Dennis never got over Ronnie’s death. In fact many of us never got over his death. He (Ronnie) was a Marine and got killed by a sniper. It was in all of our minds,” said Judge Elledge.
Members of the class who registered to attend the reunion were: Katherine Wright Pack, Mary Evins Overton, Susan Clayton Driver, Donald Elledge, Diane Neal Evans, Joan Arnold Hamilton, Judy Mathis Craig, Robbie Joan Cook Frazier, Eddie Malone, Jane Trigg Loring Morris, Margaret Vandergriff Jones, Melinda Cantrell Young, Linda Cook Clemons, Linda Herndon Armistead, Frances Pinegar Johnson, Doyle Curtis, Linda Good Clark, Jerry Vanatta, Donald Page, Jane Ervin Parsley, Joyce Evans Norred, Larry Cripps, Diane Knott Mays, Wanda Malone Tramel, Sue Marie Truitt Brown, Susan Jones Young, Patricia Redmon, Larry Davenport, Vivian Banks Hill, Peggy Barrett Scott, Judy Hendrixson Johnson, Ronnie Davenport, Robert Joins, Tom Tidrick, Freddy Martin, Wanda Spence Cripps. Dixie Lou Smithson Crook, James Mason, and Sue Owens Thacker.
Other members of the class are Virginia Adcock Smotherman, Jimmy Alexander, Janie Anderson Armstrong, Brenda Arnold Bates, Austin Atnip, Jean Bain Hackett, Ammon Billings (deceased), Harold Blankenship, Michael Burton (deceased), Kathy Buterbaugh Klasek, Mary Ann Byars Knight, Gail Cantrell Poss, Wanda Cantrell Taylor, Angela Conway May, Brenda Cook Hibdon, Eddie Crips (deceased), Judy Crook Driver, Roger Davis, David Dickens, Aubrey Driver (deceased), Jeloy Driver (deceased), Brenda Ellis Stewart, Donna Felt (deceased), Wayne Flemming, Martha Frazier Brown, Paulette Fuson Keith (deceased), Wayne Fuson, Lois Griffith Christensen, Roger Griffith, Robert Hale, Wanda Hale Byford, Paulette Hathaway Stevens, Sherry Hawker Smith, Harold Hill (deceased), Diane Hooper Kirby, John Inglis, Phyllis Jaco Norrod, Yolanda Joins (deceased), Carl Judkins (deceased), Linda Judkins, Bennie Lou Keith Turner, Carolyn Keith Maynard (deceased), Joan Keith Washer, Joyce Lewis Meadows, Dwight Malone (deceased), Judy Martin Mathis, Johnny Mason, Michael Maynard, Sharon Nichols Beaty, Donnie Pack, Lonnie Pack, David Parsley, David Peck, Dennis Reeder (deceased), Jo Ann Sherrard Graveley, Tyree Smith, Roger Snyder, Peggy Squires Fuson, Jerry Stokes (deceased), Barbara Taylor, Delane Taylor, Jean Maxwell Taylor (deceased), Paul Taylor, Doris Thurman, Martha Thweatt Rowland, Terry Trapp (deceased), Judy Vaughn Anderson, Dwayne Vickers (deceased), Dwight Vickers (deceased), Dorothy Waggoner Bratcher, Larry Webb, Patricia White (deceased), Tony White, Marie Wright (deceased), Iris Young Bauerschmidt and Joe Mason Young (deceased).
Class Reunion Committee members were Vivian Banks Hill, Susan Clayton Driver, Larry Davenport, Susan Jones Young, Patricia Redmon Redmon, Sue Marie Truitt Brown, and Katherine Wright Pack.
(Photo provided by Loving Touch Portraits & Designs in Smithville)