Hundreds Fill Courtyard at Alumni Reunion

During a group tour of Brentwood High School on Friday, 1964 graduate Elsie Link stops at her freshman locker. “It was one of these right here in this area,” she said. “You never forget that first locker.” As a student her last name was Kraft.(Photo by Steve Bowman)

Class of ’64 celebrates 50 years; school tours trigger memories

By Steve Bowman
Editor, The Brentwood Spirit
bowmansj@sbcglobal.net

Maxine Gray Reisenleiter tends the registration table at the Second Weekend in September. She graduated from BHS in 1941 and is on the Brentwood Alumni Association board of directors. (Photo by Steve Bowmann)

Fifteen people were touring Brentwood High School on Friday evening, led through the halls by Superintendent David Faulkner. As the group passed the door to classroom 206, Jeanne Cavender stopped suddenly, pointed at the door and whispered excitedly to a friend, “That’s where we found out about JFK.”

Cavender’s thoughts shot back 51 years to a Friday afternoon in November 1963. Her name was Jeanne Brunner then. She was a freshman sitting quietly in Madame Mason’s French class. The students had recently returned from lunch.

“A young man, a student, suddenly burst through the classroom door and said, ‘The president’s been shot,’” recalled Cavender. “Madame Mason acted like she was mad for him interrupting her class. Then the principal, Mr. Filley, came on the intercom and announced that the president had been assassinated. We all went home and sat by the TV for the whole weekend, just watching the events unfold. I’ll never forget that memory.”

BHS graduates enter the building for a tour. (Photo by Steve Bowman)
Brentwood School District Superintendent David Faulkner pauses inside the front entrance of the high school. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Cavender and an estimated 250 to 300 others filled Brentwood High School’s courtyard last Friday for the Brentwood Alumni Association’s biggest event of the year, the Third Weekend in September. Former classmates from as far back as the 1940s caught up with one another for several hours. Some took the tour. About 75 attended a BHS hall of fame induction ceremony in the auditorium. Some graduates stayed to watch the football team improve its record to 5-0 against Cuba.

“That’s the town of Cuba, not the island,” comedic emcee Ed Wright Jr. clarified at the hall of fame induction. “The island of Cuba beat our soccer team.”

The courtyard remained crowded for most of the three-hour gathering.

On Saturday morning the BAA held its annual golf scramble at Sunset Hills Golf Club. The winning foursome was Jeff Johnson, Ron Stahl, Dave Johnson and Scott Johnson.

Also on Saturday, at least seven classes met at restaurants to celebrate anniversaries. For instance, the Class of 1964 recognized its 50th at Bartolino’s Osteria in St. Louis, the Class of 1974 met at C.J. Muggs in Clayton, and 1984 gathered at Llywelyn’s Pub in Webster Groves.

Superintendent Faulkner wasn’t surprised to learn that his tour of the high school had triggered a memory of the JFK assassination. He hears all kinds of comments during the tours.

“I was showing one group the shop area,” said Faulkner, and one man said, ‘Hey, this is where a kid accidentally cut off his finger when I was in school.’ It’s not really a memory you want to dwell on, but it’s all the group could talk about while we were in there.”

All photos by Steve Bowman

Marvin Hayes and Barb Burkhouse met at BHS in the 1940s. They both graduated in 1948 and eventually got married.
Classmates who graduated in 1971 are Paul Young (left), Sue Higginbotham Byler and Bob Mark.
In the courtyard was a booth set up by the Brentwood Football Booster Club, whose members include Bill Koster and Beth Clay. Clay graduated from BHS in 1984.
Peggy Moeckel and her husband Forrest Moeckel. She graduated from BHS in 1947.
Ed Wright Jr. (left) graduated in 1967 and Marco Thompson in 1978.
Former classmates (from left) Jeff Johnson, Ron Stahl, Jan Stahl, Ginny Eastin Hoeper and Bob Meyers. All graduated in 1964 except for Jan Stahl, 1965.
Work by BHS art students was on display in the courtyard.
From left: Jan Niehoff, Gregg Niehoff (1966), Kurt Niehoff (’69), Marilyn Borghoff Niehoff (’60) and Randy Niehoff (’60)
Ginny Walsh Andrews (1947) and her husband Dave Andrews.
Charlie Dilly from the class of 1960.
From left, all from the class of 1959: Stan White, Joyce Rinck Arneson, Kaye Wessler Shumate and Craig Shumate.
David Faulkner answers questions in the industrial arts area.
Those arriving to the alumni celebration in the courtyard passed by BHS grad Barry Williams, who was encouraging alumni to donate money to the Brentwood School District to help save the large oak tree near the front of the BHS auditorium. In recent years, branches on the tree have been dying so the district had it evaluated by Davey Tree Co., which diagnosed it with oak wilt fungus. “Without treatment and care, this tree will likely die within the next year or two,” said Williams, whose class of 1974 is raising money to help treat and care for the tree. He asked that donations be sent to the Brentwood School District at 1201 Hanley Industrial Court, with the note “John Stewart – Oak Tree.” He said the tree is special because for decades it has provided a shady meeting place for students.

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