Under a banner of their iconic green and gold, the Greenwood High School class of 1969 gathered Saturday at Inn on the Square to celebrate their 50th reunion.
In 1969, these students took home the state football, baseball and soccer championships — and that was only the first year of their soccer program. The graduates went on to do great things throughout the country, some attending Ivy League universities and some later becoming prominent figures in their home town. Jimmy Burton, of the Burton Center, and W. Townes Jones IV are among these grads, along with many others.
“A lot of these people are realizing, ‘Well, I’m retired now, I wonder what everyone’s been up to,’” said David Patterson, emcee for the reunion and one of the many people responsible for gathering the grads. “To get everybody together here is so meaningful.”
Of the 346 that graduated that year, 142 paid to be a part of the reunion, Patterson said. They’ve made a weekend of it, starting Thursday night by going out to dine and enjoy Uptown and continuing the festivities well into Saturday night.
The 1969 class was the last housed at the old Greenwood High School building, now an apartment complex on South Main Street. They gathered outside the old gym to pose for a picture five decades in the making.
“It’s been a lot of fun seeing people,” Gayle Lofgren said. “It’s been 50 years since I’ve seen some of these people.”
Mary Alice Lindsey Poore said the class’ small size was a blessing. It meant everyone knew each other come graduation day. Some of the graduates attending the festivities Saturday, however, had never been to a reunion.
“As they said, they were nervous about coming, but then you get here and it’s a room full of love,” she said.
It was love and memorabilia — from black and white photos of people’s younger years on campus to jerseys and jackets people were sporting. Wayne Ridlehoover, to a peal of laughter from his fellow classmates, revealed he could still fit into a pair of his old high school gym shorts.
“I brought them along thinking David would have a display table for me to put this out on,” Ridlehoover said. “When he didn’t, one of my classmates said I should put it on.”
As the grads chatted and swapped old stories about favorite teachers, dramatic classroom moments and other sentimental memories, Patterson issued a somber note. Of the graduating class, he had accounts of 55 of his fellow classmates who have since died — another roughly 50 couldn’t be tracked down to invite to the reunion.
The food at Inn on the Square still served to complement the company, and the doctors, lawyers, teachers, business heads and community leaders who stemmed from the class of 1969 still came together as if there hadn’t been so much as a summer break between then and now.