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Kenly High School Class of 1960

Kenly High Class of ‘60 meets yearly
By Keith Barnes, News editor

Members of the Kenly High School Class of 1960 are proud to talk about how they were always a close-knit bunch in school, going back as far as their grammar school days. As evidence of how much they enjoy each other’s company, the group held its annual class reunion on Saturday, July 16, just like they have done every year for the last 56 years.

While it’s typical for many high school graduating classes to meet for reunions every five or 10 years, this class vowed early on they would try to gather every year and they have succeeded in doing that. “We decided on the way home from our senior trip we would try to have a reunion every year,” said class member Jimmy Waddell. The first reunion was held in 1961 at Parker’s Barbecue in Wilson, but it has shifted around to various venues since then. Other sites have included Bill’s Barbecue in Wilson, St. Mary’s Community Building, Kenly American Legion building, Kenly Free Will Baptist Church, Kenly High School, Tobacco Farm Life Museum, various homes of classmates and the Steak Barn in Goldsboro. For the past few years the reunion has been held in Lowell Mill Restaurant at Big Boy’s Truck Stop, site of this year’s event, and it is generally held the third week in July.

Although an Elvis Presley impersonator (Jimmy Davis of Lucama), The Original K’s (later the O’Kaysions) dance band and a speaker or two (i.e. Kenly Mayor David Grady) have provided entertainment at their reunions, classmates readily admit they are not as much of a partying group as they are a conversation group. They say they would prefer instead to talk about things like the old Corner Grill in Kenly, their former hangout, their teachers and riding around town with classmate Pat Hinnant Pate in her Jeep. “We’ve always met at a place that had a room where we could sit and talk because that’s what we’ve enjoyed doing,” said classmate Edna Lane Luper. “We’ve always been happy to get together and we’ve been so many times now we don’t have to introduce ourselves anymore.” “Some husbands and wives from other classes say they would rather come to our reunion instead of their own,” said Janice Howell Batten. “We’ve always been a very close class, beginning when we were planning our senior trip to New York, Niagara Falls and Washington, D.C.,” said Luper.

Class members worked their entire four years in high school raising money in tobacco, cotton, and peanut fields after school and Saturdays and by selling magazines. “We were real proud of that,” said Class President Jimmy Bailey. “We worked really hard.” The group even had enough money left after the senior trip to pay for the first class reunion in 1961 and members have retained a fund balance that has allowed the class to do things like send flowers whenever a classmates dies. Bailey said of all the things he recalls about the Class of 1960 two things stand out the most in his mind. “One was the Tom Thumb wedding we had in about the first or second grade and the other was when our girls basketball team won the Johnston County championship in 1959,” said Bailey. The Class of 1960 had 27 graduates and of that group only six have died. Of the 21 remaining members, 16 attended the recent reunion. Many classmates still live near Kenly but some have traveled from the Charleston and Richmond areas and on a couple of occasions from as far away as Idaho or California. 1960 class officers were; Jimmy Bailey, president; Frank Woodard, vice president; Pate, secretary and Ida Jean Hooks Holland, treasurer.

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