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CHS alumni celebrate 70th reunion

When I close my eyes, I see again the wide lawns beneath giant maple trees that supply syrup each spring, and views off to the east of distant hazy mountains. In this bucolic setting, the Concord High School Class of 1943 recently held its 70th reunion. Members of this class like getting together so much that they have reunions every year. For the 70th, they chose a bring-your-own-picnic lunch with ice cream and brownies provided by the hosts, Gerry Little Strachan and Dottie Piper Bottalico. The event was held in the shade of the giant maples in the Strachans’ back yard in Bow.

The Class of 1943 graduated 212 students and was, at that time, the school’s largest graduating class. Sixteen alumni attended the 70th reunion, some accompanied by spouses. Dottie Bottalico, planned a program of questions whose answers would have told us much of the class history, but everyone was so busy catching up with each other that the questions never got asked. Being of approximately the same age as these folks, it was fun for me to learn who they were and where they’d been for 70 years. A review of their year book reminded me of loafers and saddle shoes and permanent hairdos and pullover sweaters worn with a single strand of pearls. Several of the alumni had married their high school sweethearts and, odd these days, were still married. Also of note, they all looked quite physically fit – not one example of today’s widespread obesity.

Of course, after 70 years, most of the class are retirees. Most of the men are World War II veterans. Thyey came home to become teachers, school principals, accountants, nurses, parents, grandparents, a psychologist and a Episcopal priest. Some have retirement careers: Dottie Bottalico still teaches piano; Manson Donaghey, who retired as a school principal in New York State, has a Christmas Tree Farm in Pembroke; and Charlotte Holbrook Sanborn, a psychcologist, works in substance abuse and suicide prevention at Dartmouth.

Some of the class remained in Concord; some had careers that moved them away but came “home” to retire. Some still live in lifelong homes. Several live at Havenwood or Heritage Heights. Some have been close friends since high school. Dot Bottalico and four friends stayed close from kindergarten through high school. Some friendships have come about through the reunions. Many classmates have died.

Millie Thomas Rice came to the reunion for the first time this year. Her husband, Donald Rice, graduated the same year from Hopkinton High who had a reunion on the same day. The Rices attended both.

Wayne Wyman, who was captain of Concord’s football and basketball teams, attends all the reunions. He lives in Vermont and travels the farthest to get here.

Manson Donaghey was voted most popular in school by his classmates. He was captain of the track and cross-country teams. He became a teacher and high school principal. He finished off the reunion with hilarious excerpts from the class of 1943 history and prophesies for the future they have all now experienced.

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