A Lot of Familiar Faces in the Class of ‘54

By Ralphine Major

It was one of last summer’s highlights! Carol and Perry McGinnis graciously invited me to be their guest at Perry’s 60th Class Reunion for the Gibbs High School Class of 1954.  The couple has appeared in several columns in the ongoing series about his outstanding and successful career as the very first dentist from Gibbs High School.  Perry has helped me many times on other columns and pictures. “You will probably know many of the people there,” he told me.  I did!  Over a delicious plate of pasta at Louis’ Restaurant, decades disappeared!

I have known Barbara Fleming Tabler, her husband, Dennis, and their sons, Jeffrey and Douglas, from my earliest memories.  Barbara and Dennis sang in the choir at Fairview Baptist Church when I was organist, and Barbara was often a soloist.  For many years, Dennis and I rode in a van pool to work.  Wanda Jo Clapp Anderson and Bill are our longtime neighbors.  We also attended Fairview with them and their children, Teresa, Melissa, and Paul.  Our parents taught Paul and Melissa in Training Union.  Vera Howard Beckner’s family also attended Fairview, and her brother, Randy, was in our class.

Janette Livingston Anderson is a sister to Debbie, who was in my graduating class.  Henry Helton’s wife, Wilma, I knew as a business education teacher at Gibbs.  I worked with Martha Damewood Barker at Knox County and got to meet her husband, Bob.  His father, Herb, drove our school bus.  Larry Clapp’s wife, Gaye, was my music teacher at Gibbs Elementary.  My mother remembers making an Ol’ Red Rooster costume out of crepe paper for me to wear in our second grade musical.

I met some new friends in H. C. Corum and his wife, Mary, who read my articles.  H. C. is a cousin to Focus Publisher Steve Hunley.  I also met Bob Zachary and his wife, Judy, who are parents of the popular girls’ softball coach at Gibbs, Carol Zachary Mitchell.  We met Bob Johnson at cardiac rehab; his daughter, Melinda, and I were on the majorette squad together.

A couple of teachers who taught at Gibbs were present.  Betty Loy Sharp is a retired Gibbs teacher and her husband, Clayton, was a classmate of our father’s.  Their sons are Rancy and Monty; Rancy and I were in class together all twelve grades.  I met Edythe McNabb, a retired teacher, when I worked in the Knox County Executive’s (now Mayor’s) office, and she was on the Knox County Solid Waste Board.

Ironically, the Class of ‘54 graduated the year my class of 1972 was born!  The ‘72 crew met later for a 60th birthday celebration at Shoney’s!  From ‘54 to ‘72—what great fun to share with all!

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