Saltillo High Class of '69 doesn't miss a chance to get together

·3 min read

Oct. 24—SALTILLO — In late 2018, a group of Saltillo High School Class of 1969 graduates got together at a restaurant to start planning a 50th class reunion.

There were eight core members: Benny Campbell of the Fairfield community in Union County; Rex Mann of the Dorsey community in Itawamba County; Dianne Hood of Guntown; Cheryl Bradley, Beverly Turner and Gary Easterling, all of Saltillo; Carolyn Tucker of Mooreville; David DeVaughn of Corinth; and Jill Austin of Mobile, Alabama, a ninth member who attended as often as she could.

"We had a 10-year reunion and then one at 20 years where everybody went on a cruise," Campbell said. "And that was the last one we had. We were ready for another one."

At one of the planning sessions in 2018 — they always take place in Saltillo restaurants — it was decided that Turner would get on Facebook and put out a post to see if anybody was interested in getting together in May 2019 to celebrate their 50th.

The response was tremendous.

"We had a wonderful turnout," Campbell said. "There were almost 60, counting spouses, but not all spouses came. We'd only rented the venue for a couple of hours, and we knew that wasn't going to be enough time for everybody to see other and visit. So afterward, we all went back to my house."

There was talk that night of the group getting back together in 2021, not for a reunion, but to celebrate their 70th birthdays. And of course, that would require more planning sessions.

"The eight of us have gotten together every month, except for a few months during COVID, just to enjoy each other and plan things," Campbell said, as they gathered at Skybox in Saltillo one night last week for a regular monthly meeting and meal.

"In my case, I didn't see a lot of folks for a while, so getting back together to plan things felt like those 45 or 50 years had never passed," Mann said.

"We talk about old times," Hood said.

"We kind of act like 18-year-olds getting together again," Bradley said. "We talk and fuss like brothers and sisters. We all feel that way."

"We talk about classmates, if we know anything that's happened to any of them," Tucker said.

Campbell said there's always been a special bond among the members of the class of 1969.

"We may be a little selfish, but we feel like we had a special class," he said. "Almost all of us started school the same day in the same class. I think we had close friendships even then."

The Class of '69 did end up celebrating their 70th birthdays with a party at Campbell's home earlier this month, and about 35 attended. They had a disc jockey, a catered meal and a big cake.

At the end of the evening, the group released nine sky lanterns, one in memory of each class member who has died. The original class of '69 had 62 members.

"The night was great, but the lanterns just made it," Tucker said.

"We've heard stories of classes that couldn't even get along well enough to have a reunion," Campbell said. "We just want to encourage and promote friendship. When we were in high school, we didn't know about life. We were just trying to get through and plan the future. But as you get older, friends become real important."

Hood said the group is now planning a 55th class reunion, to take place in 2024.

"We're thinking of inviting the class below us and the two above us," she said.

"They haven't had one yet and we've been so successful, we thought we'd invite them to ours," Bradley said.

"We're just going to keep doing what we're doing," Campbell said. "And every now and then, we'll try to get everybody together again."

ginna.parsons@djournal.com

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