By Dottie Dewberry
For the WPT
“Someday many years from now We’ll sit beside the candles glow Exchanging tales about our past And laughing as the memories flow And when that distant day arrives I know it will be understood That friendship is the key to live And we were friends and it was good.” ~ Eileen Hehl
I met them when I was 24; I was a stranger and so were they. We learned and laughed and loved from that day to this.
The Class of 1977 that was graduated from Maben High School had a reunion, the first in 36, at the Pleasant Grove Robinson M.B. Church on Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. Many of them drove less than 15 miles to get there as they never moved far from home; some drove hundreds of miles to see the smile on the face of a beloved classmate.
All came with happy expectant feelings in their hearts. As they talked, it was obvious the love they had for one another as they remembered events that happened “back in the day,” especially the football games and track meets. This was a very competitive group and represented MHS well.
As the evening progressed various ones reacquainted themselves with classmates they had not seen in so many years. Kevin Knox was sure they had a new classmate as he could not place Ms. Dottie Dewberry, who turned out to be faculty, not student. There were only smiles, laughter, and hugs and more hugs as all chattered and giggled at some silly event that happened so long ago but remembered with love.
Some had unexpected pleasure as the choir from Mt. Carmel Baptist Church from Brooksville came and led the Class of 1977 in singing beautiful hymns to the Lord in thanksgiving for sparing their lives for this many years. According to those that remember, only one since graduation has passed to be with the Lord. It was also an unexpected pleasure to hear Kevin Knox sing with a voice from heaven: “Like a Bridge over Troubled Waters.”
It was interesting to hear them discuss the merger of the two groups of kids back in 1972; it was acceptance from the beginning. It was a joy to watch them look at each other as they shared stories and then laughed because it was just all fun and games.
Most brought memory books or photo albums to share; “look how skinny I was, what happened to your hair.” Larry Tipton assured the crowd that the Lord would not put more on him than he could bear when asked “what happened to your hair?”
There were frequent standing ovations from the Class of ’77 as various ones gave the welcome, performed a solo, led in prayer, presented the sermon or told a joke. Obviously this is a group of people that loved one another and were proud of what they all had achieved and that they had matured with grace.
Special thanks go to Minister Marcella Jones Tipton for facilitating this event. Special thanks to her husband, Deacon Larry Tipton, for all the phone calls he made to classmates, faculty and staff, urging them to attend.
Praise to Pastor Jack Vaughn for delivering the sermon and praying for blessings on all that attended. Brother Vaughn serves as the pastor of Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in Brooksville. Special recognition went to the Mayor of Maben Larry Pruitt and to Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors member Marvell Howard.
Special recognition went to Mike Langford, who had served as class president in 1977; he and his wife drove all the way from Baton Rouge, La., just for this event. Special recognition went to Tammy Yeatman, Barbara Harris and Bruce Williams for assisting with the program. Ms. Dottie Dewberry, faculty, and Jimmy Fulgham, classmate from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., both brought greetings during the evening event.
Minister Daisy Totton of Pleasant Grove Robinson M.B. Church served as the evening emcee. Classmates Joe Jones, Clifford Sears, Abby Fulgham and Darlene Higgins Tate were also in attendance, plus several spouses were present.
Refreshments were served to the group after many, many class photos were taken by Dexter Jones, another alumnus of Maben High School.
On Saturday afternoon, the group reconvened at Ryan’s Restaurant for more reminiscing of days gone by. The group had a special welcome for class valedictorian Gay Fulgham Kelly. Sammie Ray Ellis and Mike Duke also got to attend the Saturday event.
Fifteen class members of a class of 30 were present for the Friday night program. It is safe to say a fun time was had by all.