Mid-May the letter with the familiar print arrived in mailboxes and the anticipation began. As recipients unfolded the pages and began to read, memories of earlier times nudged their way past thoughts of current problems and future plans.
The Shepherdstown High School Alumni Association annual banquet date, June 7, 2014, was added to members' calendars. There was no doubt in the minds of the 200, plus, graduates who received the announcement. They would present themselves at the Martinsburg Holiday Inn for an evening of "remember when", warm laughter and quiet thoughts for those absent.
It is an emotional evening for most of those attending. The Shepherdstown community, during the years that there was a Shepherdstown High School, included the villages of Kearneysville, Shenandoah Junction, Bardane and Duffields. Graduate Connie Barron Washborn, who comes yearly from te Carolinas to join the celebration, declared that "People just don't get it." Her friend Kathy compares Connie to Rose Neiland of the TV show "Golden Girls," who relates quirky stories about her early life in St. Oaliffs. Connie is proud of her hometown and the closeness of its residents, especially "back in the day" when she lived in Shepherdstown and attended local schools.
Association president, Richard Blue ('62) welcomed alumni and steered the proceedings during the evening.
Executive committee member Donna Weister ('67) led the celebration of the lives of those graduates who had died during the preceding year. Included in the list of those remembered were Georgie Whitmer ('35), Thelma Lamp McDonald ('37), Walter Fuss ('49), John Day ('55), Eleanor Willingham Jamison ('55), Mary Lowe Campbell Watson ('56), Susan Knott ('57), Michael Buracker ('58), Sara Althea Shade Reid ('58), John Seal ('58), David Park ('59), John Woodson ('61), Jesse Henderson, Jr ('61), Douglas Elliott ('63), William Unger ('67), William Hilliard ('70), Gary Sager, Jr. ('71) and Larry Thomas ('71). Flowers placed on the podium honored these deceased ones.
Wilson H.S. White III ('64) presented the invocation. The dinner, catered by the Holiday Inn staff, featured carved beef, chicken, fish and an array of well-prepared vegetables and salads. Dessert and coffee preceded the annual business meeting.
President Blue called the meeting to order and brought association secretary Margaret Rose Orndorff Peterson ('66) to the podium for the presentation and acceptance of the 2013 minutes. Treasurer Wayne Goodrich (''67) reported that accounts were satisfactory and thanked all who donated to the scholarship funds. Nominating committee chairman Ann Hunter presented the findings of her committee with the organization reelecting Tom Banks ('50) and Mary Lee Blue('70) to the Executive Committee for two-year terms. Joining these two will be President Richard Blue, Vice-President Zach Fleming ('62), Secretary Margaret Peterson, Treasurer Wayne Goodrich, Donna Fleming, Ann Hunter, John Lucas ('58) and Rebecca Horn, Liaison, Shepherdstown Middle School.
President Blue thanked the middle school principal for a Saturday tour of the school building and announced financial assistance from the association to the facility for security cameras and insulation.
Zach Fleming, chairman of the Scholarship Committee, introduced the four 2014 scholarship recipients. Hanna French, granddaughter of Robert French ('57) and great niece of Charlie ('57), George ('59), and John ('62) received a scholarship from the Welshans Fund. She will attend Shepherd University and major in Secondary Education with her goal to become a teacher of mathematics.
John P. Marshall, son of Stephen Marshall ('68), will attend the University of Virginia for a major in Computer Science or Mathematics, using his Hendricks Fund Scholarship.
Adri Persad, a Jefferson High graduate and grandson of Robert Mason ('54) will use his scholarship to attend West Virginia University for a major in Engineering.
Samantha Yates, currently a student at McDaniel College with a major in English Secondary Education, will further her education with the John Lowe Fund scholarship. Samantha's parents Bill and Beth Wanger were students at Shepherdstown Junior High School.
During the roll call of graduating classes, Pam Link Wilmer ('63) quieted the festivities as she reminded her listeners of the history of November 22, 1963, the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. She told of the American flag in front of the school building lowering itself to half-staff in a puff of wind when the announcement was made. Dennis Barron ('64) assured all in attendance that he and fellow graduate Sandra Watson had made a pact to be the last Shepherdstown High graduates on earth.
Missing from the proceedings was Michael Skinner who had shared school experiences in 2013.
Executive Committee member Mary Ellen Blue, 2012 recipient, introduced the 2014 Mary Hartzell Dobbins Outstanding Alumnus Award winner, Dr. Jeffrey Saville Shultz. Dr. Shultz attended Shepherdstown Graded School and High School. In high school he played basketball, baseball and football. He was a Hi-Y Club member and played trumpet in the SHS band. In the summers he worked for Sam Skinner in his orchards and on local farms assisting with threshing and on the dairy farm of Junior Hammond with his friend John Woodson. Dr. Shultz graduated from Shepherd College with a BS in Biology and was named to Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities.
Dr. Shultz graduated from the WVU School of Medicine where he was awarded the Edward J. Van Liere Award for Excellence in Student Research. Upon completion of his internship in Interna Medicine at WVU, he served as captain in the US Medical Corps. He was honored with a feature in the Pittsburgh Magazine's cover story "Top Docs...Who Do Local MD's Trust?" He has had a teaching career at several medical centers and was voted Teacher of the Year by the Ohio Valley Medical Center's House Staff in 1997.
Dr. Shultz's career placements are numerous and he has been a member of many professional organizations. His scientific articles in medical publications are numerous. He is the father of Michael and Julie and grandfather to Mallorie. (Information about Dr. Shultz has been shared by a sister Merelyn Shultz and organized by Mrs. Blue.)
The Shepherdstown Alumni Association has two traditions. One is the meeting date...the first Saturday of June. The second is closing the meeting with the members of the 50-year class leading the school song. And so... it was "hats off to thee! To your colors, true we will ever be! Firm and strong, united are we!" as final farewells were said and cars filled with SHS graduates disappeared into the night with thoughts of "next year" drifting across the warm air.