An Irish reunion in Yachats

Some members of Waldport High School Class of 1959 gathered at the Adobe Resort in Yachats last Saturday afternoon. Pictured l to r are Kay (Hallowell) Miller, Jim Torrey, Judy Lott Bateman, Richard Cook, Dorothy (Mashek) Gillhoover, Jim Hurt and Bob Sims. (Photos by Cheri Brubaker)

Class of 1959 gathers to celebrate 60 years

The Waldport High School Class of 1959 has traveled far and wide in the years since they graduated, but many came together last weekend to celebrate their 60th reunion.

Their 96-year-old principal, Robert Churchill, travelled from Citrus Heights, Calif., to join the class for the weekend.

Eleven classmates were on hand to reminisce and celebrate old friendships. Judy (Lott) Bateman, of Newport, and Kay (Hallowell) Miller, of Seal Rock, coordinated the weekend-long event held at The Adobe Resort.

Many of the class have made Lincoln County their home. Denise (Hall) Grady and Patty (Nyus) Smallwood make their home in Tidewater. Jim Hurt and Colleen (Cochran) Nickerson reside in Waldport.

What Dorothy (Mashek) Gillhoover, of Coos Bay, remembers of her high school years is “loving school, loving to learn and playing chess with Bob.”

Her chess partner, Robert Sims, traveled from Great Falls, Mont. with his wife, Donna, to join his classmates. Sims declined to go on record as to who won those chess games in high school, and said that he and Gillhoover didn’t play chess at the reunion.

“It was just a fun time,” Jim Hurt, of Waldport, said of going to school in Waldport in the late 1950’s. “Sometimes we hunted, sometimes we fished. Sometimes we raised hell.”

Richard Cook traveled from Grey Cliff, Mont.

“It was friendly,” he said of the time he was in high school. “Everybody just got along.”

“We do this every five years,” said Miller. What she remembers of her high school years is Elvis. “It was the rock and roll era,” she exclaimed.

Hunt recalled, “Logging was big. There was a lot of work.”

“We had a wonderful school here,” said Bateman. “It sat right down by the bay.”

The class of 1959 was the last one to graduate from the original Waldport High School.

Barry Hoffos became a teacher himself. “There was a wonderful innocence about our life then,” he said, reflecting on the time he was in high school in Waldport. He and his wife, Carol, drove from Keizer to be with his class.

Also joining their classmates in Yachats were Vernon Kimball, of Fort Mohave, Ariz.; Jim Torrey, of Eugene; and Chuck Sommer, of Ogden, Utah.

Nickerson didn’t graduate with her classmates, she left in her senior year. However, at 58-years-old she earned a two-year business degree. Well known in Waldport, Nickerson serves as President of the Alsi Historical and Genealogical Society, which manages the Waldport Heritage Museum.

Like Nickerson, Bateman is an active member in her local community, spearheading the Bayfront Bench Project that works to restore the benches that line the Newport Bayfront.

Perhaps it was the example of their teacher, Robert Kuehlwein, who still volunteers at the Lions Thrift Store in Yachats, that inspired the students. Kuehlwein, still a resident of Waldport, was on hand to celebrate with the class of ‘59.

“All of us try to give to give back to our community,” said Bateman.

Don Poe, another teacher, travelled from Clarkson, Wash., to join the festivities. Linda (Wunder) Wall came from Albany.

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