NHS Class of 1975 Virtual 45th Reunion (2020)

School: NHS Class of 1975 Virtual 45th Reunion (2020)

Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon
E-mail: dolores@wiclarkcountyhistory.org 

Surnames: Smagacz, Johnson, Carl, Spiegel, Gress, Mattson, Mohr, Artac, Opelt, Meier, Hansen, Schiltz, Meredith, Rueth, Lewis, Simonson, Watz, Vincent, Schultz, Steinbring, Marshall, Tresemer, Lewis, Gallagher, Oestrich, Kosmosky, Steltenpohl, Marty, Woytasik, Stitt, Bullock, Appleyard, Becker, Ehlers, Bender, Malovrh, Brey, Chadwick, Crothers, Darling, Watz, Donahue, Dopp, Eddy, Henseler, Embke, Popple, Eron, Stromberg, Fitzmaurice, Fox, Theiler, Grap, Donahue, Gross, Hagen, Porter, Tesmer, Harder, Kohnert, Kotcon, Poziombke, Kronberger, Friedemann, Kuchenbecker, Garbisch, Kunze, Roberts, Ladd, Lewis Marty, Lukes, Magnuson, Zahn, Marvin, Kabus, Menne, Garramone, Miller, Moennig, Moore, Soviak, Olson, Lundstrom, Peterson, Raine, Marg, Rakestraw, Ross, Smith, St. John, Swenson, Thoma, McLean, Urban, Dieball, Vetrone, Laufenberg, Walker, Watenpuhl, Sours, Zelenyji, Ziegler, Barclay, Zilk

----Source: Clark County Press Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 1/06/2021

NHS Class of 1975 Virtual Reunion (45 Year - 2020)

When COVID Hands You Lemons, You Hold a Class Reunion anyway, kind of

Contributed by Lori Smagacz Johnson

No one could have predicted when the 114 members of Neillsville’s class of 1975 threw their caps in the air at graduation time, that 45 years later, in 2020 they would be in the middle of a pandemic that would shoot down a face to face reunion.

The great people who have coordinated previous gatherings at first had been thinking along the lines of holding a reunion, according to the COVID recommendations. Ultimately, the health and safety of their classmates was more important, causing them to reluctantly drop the idea. But one classmate wanted to “stick our tongues out” at COVID and hold a reunion anyway, even if it couldn’t be face to face.

So, what was the next best thing? A “virtual” reunion with a Facebook page as its center! Questionnaires were sent to as many classmates as possible and each return or contact in any way counted as a “attend”. Over 50 class members responded, as memories took them back to 1975. As it said on inside the covers of their yearbook, “it was a very good year”

The “reunion” of the 100th class to graduate from Neillsville High School featured a graduation announcement and program, pictures from previous reunions were posted. Mention was made of their Junior Class Prom “Sunshine”, their class plays - “You Can’t Take It With You” and “If a Man Answers”. Honor graduates were listed, Warrior Key of Merit winners revisited. Recognition was given for National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, Warrior Annual and Warrior Post Newspaper Student Council, FFA and WJDA members. The football team was the best since 1947, two team members awarded recognition on the Channel 7 All-stars, and All Northwest, for the first time in Warrior history. Cross Country journeyed to State, Baseball second in conference, Golf first in Conference. The GAA evolved into girls’ sports.

Further memories recalled favorite teachers and classes, gathering in the annual room, attending all the football and basketball games, a few memorable parties, dances at the Silver Dome, skating at the Hatfield Roller Rink. There were still mimeograph machines, dictaphones, shorthand and manual typewriters used, word processors and computers weren’t even around, and what was a cell phone? A pandemic was a catastrophic event that happened in the early 1900’s.

As questionnaires were returned, everyone who was part of the page enjoyed checking in to see how their fellow classmates, some of whom they had not seen since graduation, were faring. In addition to questions regarding current information, etc. classmates were asked to think out of the box with questions about the Virtual part of the reunion - such as “What meal would you have liked to have if we could have had a face to face reunion?” Answers varied from surf and turf, prime rib, picnic food, and healthy eating to “the lunchroom’s hamburger gravy” and “I still crave Mrs. Marty’s snow-capped meatloaf”

Asking what music would be playing brought forth a variety of 70’s favorite artists and groups like Eagles, America, Heart, Fleetwood Mac, ZZ Top, Elton John, Abba, Springsteen, Aerosmith, KC and the Sunshine Band, Queen, David Bowie, KISS, Four Seasons, Gary Wright, Pink Floyd, Jefferson Starship, CCR, and Cat Stevens.

What drink would you raise in a toast to the class brought answers from fruity chick drinks, a good Italian red, various mixed drinks to good old ice water and a cold glass of milk.

Favorite travel destinations for many of the class were Alaska and fishing trips, Canada, Colorado, European and world travel but the most heartwarming were the responses, coming back home to Neillsville.

As with any reunion, the first order of business on the page was remembering the members of the class who passed away. 1971 - Ronnie Carl , 1974 - Mary Spiegel , 1981 - Brad Gress , 1983 - Jeff Mattson, 1987 - Eunice Mohr Artac. 1992 - Keith Opelt, 1993 - Mike Meier , 2002 - Lori Hansen Schiltz, 2005 - Tracey Meredith Rueth, 2005 - David Lewis, 2007 - Marilee Simonson Watz, 2013 - Valerie Vincent Schultz, 2014 - Lana Steinbring Marshall , 2016 - Marcia Tresemer Lewis, 2016 - Debbie Gallagher Oestreich, 2017 - Roger Kosmosky, 2019 - Debby Steltenpohl Marty, 2019 - Sherry Dierks Woytasik, 2020 - Kevin Stitt. They will never be forgotten.

Providing a little fun was Classmate Trivia. Everyone learned of years of dedicated service from two classmates who are EMT’s, the classmate who traveled on vacation one step ahead of a hurricane, one who braved driving on Germany’s Autobahn, and rang the bells in the Westminster Cathedral in the UK. How about the classmate who enjoyed a trip to Jamaica without leaving their back yard? Or the classmate who had something in common with Sandra Bullock? Or the one who enjoyed an hour long phone conversation with Gary Puckett of the Union Gap? One was elected to the Meat Industry Hall of Fame. One classmate has one child who works for the FBI and another who is a nurse who got her doctorate and so is a nurse who is referred to as Doctor and another whose daughter participated in the DIY Chicago Marathon and was featured on NBC news.

There also wouldn’t be a reunion page without a little sense of humor thrown in and several “old” jokes were bandied about, giving a laugh. After all, we aren’t getting any younger!

And as far as the first thing said or done if and when the pandemic is over? Everything from, saying “It’s about time“, “ok, so what’s gonna hit us next?” and catching up on hugs missed--lots of hugs!, burning masks, renewing travel plans and having a face to face reunion.

Those “attending” this, one can only hope, once in a lifetime event were: Mary Appleyard, Altoona, WI, Cindy Becker Ehlers, Neillsville, WI, Sandy Bender Malovrh, Marathon City, WI, David Brey, Zumbro Fall, MN, Wendell Carl, WI/FL Diane Chadwick Gress, Bloomington, MN, Mark Chadwick, St. Johns, FL, Ed Crothers, Neillsville, WI, Jacquelie (Missy) Darling Watz, Granton, WI, Bill Donahue, Neillsville, WI, Mark Dopp, McLean, VA, Sandy Eddy Henseler, Granton, WI, Sue Embke Popple, Eau Claire, WI, Terry Embke, Sioux City, IA, Cathy Eron Stromberg, MI, Jeff Fitzmaurice, Neillsville, WI, Bonnie Fox Theiler, Humbird, WI Kevin Grap, Neillsville, WI, Sherri Grap Donahue, Baraboo, WI. Jerry Gross, Neillsville, WI, Audrey Hagen Porter, Sun Prairie, WI. Juli Hansen Tesmer, Fort Atkinson, WI, Tim Harder, Hugo, MN, Gene Kohnert, Independence, WI, Susan Kotcon Poziombke, Neillsville, WI. Diane Kronberger Friedemann, Stratford, WI, Kent Kuchenbecker, Winter Springs, FL, Lois Kuhn Garbisch, Granton, WI Cindy Kunze Roberts, Holmen, WI, Dale Ladd, Neillsville, WI, Tammy Lewis Marty, Neillsville, WI, Gary Lukes, Spring Valley, WI. Debi Magnuson Zahn, Marshfield, WI, Terry Marty, Neillsville, WI, Christine Marvin Kabus, Eau Claire, WI, Julie Menne Garramone, Evanston, IL, Janice Miller, Neillsville, WI Doug Moennig, Mukwonago, WI, Dianna Moore Soviak, Ladysmith, WI, Ellen Olson Lundstrom, Nashwauk, MN. Rick Opelt, Mankato, MN. Wayne Opelt, Neillsville, WI, Mickey Peterson, FL, Candace Raine Marg, Neillsville, WI, Patsy Rakestraw Hansen, Whitehall, WI, Gary Ross, Custer, WI, Lori Smagacz Johnson, Hixton, WI, Charlotte Smith, Madison, WI. Phyllis St John Marty, Merrillan, WI. Mark Swenson, Plover, WI, Paul Tesmer, Fort Atkinson, WI, Patsy Thoma McLean, Monona, WI, Brenda Lee Urban Dieball, Colgate, WI Deborah Vetrone Laufenberg, Hixton, WI Laura Walker, Gainesville, VA, Barb Watenpuhl Sours, Chippewa Falls, WI, Zona Zelenyji Roberts, Neillsville, WI, Sharry Ziegler Barclay, Murchison, TX, Bill Zilk, Neillsville, WI.

In addition to “attending” this virtual reunion, the class was invited to celebrate their class at home by enjoying a special meal, listen to 70‘s music, raise a toast to their classmates and share their experiences on the page. Other suggestions included sending in current pictures, scheduling Zoom conversations, making a donation in the Class of 75’s name to a favorite charity, or volunteering using COVID guidelines.

Nothing could possibly be better than a face to face reunion, but this virtual reunion had a few advantages. “We’ve had the page open since August - there’s been a lot of activity since then and I think we learned more about our classmates than we would have in the short time that a regular reunion would last” explained Lori Smagacz Johnson, administrator of the reunion page. There has been a lot of give and take, a lot of conversations back and forth, friendships renewed and lots to catching up with our classmates. About the only thing we didn’t learn for sure is who was under the mask of our mascot, B.A. Boone! We had about a 50% response and I will be continuing to try to contact classmates in the future just because it felt so good to reach out. The page will still be there for anyone to add items of interest, give shout outs to birthdays, etc. Hopefully, everyone will continue to keep in touch, have fun, and remember that “We are the Class of 75 and nothing, not even COVID, can take that away from us!”

A “booklet” showing items from the reunion page is in the process of being created and will be made available in 2021 via email for classmates not able to see the Facebook page. Classmates who would like to add their name and contact information and receive the email, please call Lori Smagacz Johnson at 715-963-2531 and leave a message with telephone number, or email heart_of_hixton@yahoo.com  with “reunion” in the subject line.

1975 – 10 year reunion

1975 - 25 year reunion

1975 – 35 Year reunion

1975 – 40 – Year Reunion




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