class members' stories

Check these histories against the class prophecy!

Click on a name to go directly to that person's bio:
Cecile | MaryAnn | Linda | Yvonne | Patty | Pat | Gary | Don | Ron | Donald | Robert | Gary | Fran |

Our class sponsor Phil Maher

CecileCECILE: I began my venture into the world by working at Miller Wohl in St. Joseph the summer of 1961. I then moved to CMSC (the name has changed several times). My major was elementary education. I worked in the business office for extra spending money. I married Curtis D. Hutcherson in 1963, and our first child Valinda Marie was born in August. Back to school and moving numerous times. I finished my degree the summer of 1966. Ronald Lee was born in January 1967 and we moved to Bolivar, MO, in August. I taught at Dadeville making a whopping $3800 that year. From August 1969 - May 1972, I taught at Pleasant Hope.

Meanwhile, my husband who had been attending SWBU decided to re-enter the Army since he could not pass music theory III. In the summer of 1972, I packed up two kids and made my way to West Germany. That was scary! We lived there for five years. Bryan Christof was born in 1973 completing our family. We traveled around Europe quite a bit....enjoyed camping in Holland and Switzerland several times. Valinda and I went to England with the girl scouts and I lucked onto a trip to the Middle East. Ten days to Jordon, Israel and Egypt all expenses paid for $600.

We moved to Ft. Knox, KY, in the summer of 1977. I broke my ankle January 1978 and began my lifelong journey living with arthritis. We moved to Alaska in the summer of 1978. We drove the Alcan for great scenery and adventure. We were there only one year. I did pick up six hours at Anchorage University.

Next came St. Louis where I became Cecile: The kids and I arrived there on Labor Day weekend in 1979. I subbed for awhile and then in desperation took a job at Missouri Baptist Medical Center as a Unit Clerk. I transferred to the computer department and stayed there until retirement in 2000. Curtis had a midlife crisis in 1987, leaving me for a woman in South Korea. (That is another story!) I met Bennie Lee Talley in 1988 and we married in 1992. Another nice guy with no commitment. We divorced in 1998.

I moved back to the home farm on December 15, 2000, to care for Dad. He passed away in 2005 not long after I had major back surgery. I then moved to King City to a new apartment built where the old Tri-County News office was located. Had double knee surgery in August 2009.

My children are successful, healthy, and happy. Valinda lives in Romeoville, IL, She has one son who has graduated college. (A daughter passed away at age 15.) She is a Dean’s Secretary and her husband is an electrical engineer. Ron and Cathy live in St. Louis. He is a project manager at BJC Health Systems and works mostly with Children’s Hospital. Cathy is working on a master’s in counseling at SLU. Their foster son just had a new baby making me a great-grandmother. Bryan and Stacy live in Colonial Heights, VA. He is Captain in the US Army and they have five children ranging from almost one to 12. I usually have to fly to baby sit them. So far Stacy has only used her BS in biology as a mother.

My faith has been a big part of my life as well as a journey. I am currently a very busy Sunday School teacher, church secretary and clerk among other jobs at Flag Springs Baptist Church. I am treasurer at the King City Senior Center and spend time there working the thrift shop and playing cards.

MaryAnnMARYANN: How do you write about the happenings of so many years in a paragraph or two?  Here is the short version.  I worked for eight years at the Federal  Reserve Bank of Kansas City while taking night classes at Maple Woods Community College.  When I started working for Braniff International Airways my priority became traveling.  During my airline years I lived for short times in Chicago, Washington and Denver and for longer times in Dallas and Minneapolis before coming home to Kansas City.  I worked for eighteen years in reservations, airport operations and at the Braniff ticket counter.  Ray, my husband and I worked together...he was my supervisor.  We dated for nine years before we married June 7, 1996. 

In 1989 when Braniff filed for bankruptcy I started work for a computer company called WorldSpan as a customer service representative.  That's what they called it...we called it the 'help desk'.  In 2001 WorldSpan moved most our jobs to Romania and the rest to Atlanta.  They offered a buy-out or transfer.  I took the buy-out.  I have been basically retired since then, but have worked part time, have been involved with dog rescue, done volunteer work at the VFW in Parkville,  MO and the Veterans Home in Cameron.  I am still learning about computers, but enjoying it much more now that it's for my own benefit.
When Ray and I were first married we bought an old farm house on five acres near Platte Woods and remodeled it...we took the house completely down to the studs and replaced wiring, plumbing, the whole works. It took years to finish because we did most of the work ourselves.  We planted a garden and I learned to can vegetables and make jams and jellies. In 2008 we sold out, purchased a Winnebago, took a few trips and hope to do more.

We still have a home in Kansas City where we live in the summer and this is the fourth year we've spent our winter months in the Texas Rio Grande Valley.  I love both places.  The only part not so much fun is packing to be away for six months at a time and driving that long, long road across Texas!  We leave for the Valley about mid-November.  Autumn is my favorite time in the Mid-West and I always say you could not blast me out of Kansas City in October.  Our retirement park in Mission, TX is a gated neighborhood a few miles from the Mexico Border, but well away from any of the trouble areas.  It suits us perfectly. The nights are cool, the days are warm and we have a breeze almost every day.  The beaches of the Texas Gulf Coast are only a short drive away and there are lots of activities and friends to keep us as busy as we want to be.  We have met so many wonderful people including my high school classmate, Yvonne and her husband Tony.  It was a wonderful surprise to find her living in the same community.  We have made a lot of friends from all over the Mid-West and from Canada too.

I have  always strived to do some form of exercise. Two of my favorite things are bicycling and tap dancing.  My husband says I go to extreme over a thing for a year or two then something new comes along that peaks my interest and off I go in a different direction, but I always continue riding my bike and taking tap classes.  I hope I can keep doing those things for a very long time.
This is getting long and it's supposed to be a short paragraph or two, so I will finish by telling you I also love reading, photography, shopping, cooking if I have time and playing Bridge if the group is not too serious. I love to knit and crochet.  I keep a journal and write in it every day.  I have done the Red Hat thing.  I am a pound or two heavier and I have age spots on top of my freckles.  My hair is getting gray, my memory is failing and I am still an Elvis fan.  So, there you have it!  My last 50 years in a nut-shell!  I am looking forward to meeting all of you again in May and catching up in more detail!

LindaLINDA: This boomer mantra can't help but come to mind summing up life since leaving USHS: “Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, champagne in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming 'WOO HOO what a ride!'" Maybe I'm taking it too seriously.

Moving to Paris nine years ago is the chocolate and champagne part. Actually, Paris was where I started out the year after graduating from MU in journalism. A sorority sister and I spent a year there on a "post graduate study of the humanities." She ended up with a French husband; I went back to the U.S. to work for the Detroit News where I met my Belgian husband on assignment. He was a talented hair cutter who subsequently was offered a job in the fashion capital, Manhattan. This small-town gal was not ready for New York at the time and after two years fled to the 'burbs. Our house in Connecticut turned out to be a good investment and home for our two boys.

I freelanced 10 years before going back to full-time work and did marketing, print production and web sites for 14 years for a company that offered programs of cultural exchange - great for armchair traveling! Travel has always been one of my passions. Those interested can see photos of my adventures at

Of course, nobody gets to our age without a few bumps. Briefly, mine have been the death of my husband when he was just 47 (colon cancer), my older son becoming mentally ill at age 19 and getting into trouble with the law resulting in 14 years of incarceration, finding out the younger son is also schizoaffective (but luckily he learned to deal with it without such negative consequences), and a bout with breast cancer soon after arriving in Paris in 2002.

The good news is that a study recently concluded that  those who have gone through multiple trying experiences end up being more resilient!! Also on the positive side, exposure to the crazy way mental illness is treated (or not) in our society led me to a decade of working to better the situation. I put in a lot of energy and time serving on the board of the metropolitan New York chapter of the National Association for the Mentally Ill. Significant progress was and is being made toward securing insurance coverage for mental illness equal to that for physical illness (the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act went into effect in January this year, mandating that insurance companies provide the same coverage for mental health services as they do for physical health services.) Another goal was to establish mental health courts to keep as many nonviolent mentally ill persons out of the criminal justice system as possible. By far, most of the mentally ill are not violent, especially those who get treatment.

I am happy to say that the older son is out of prison and doing well. I went back to Connecticut in 2008 to help him readjust to life outside (after spending half his life in prison). Talk about a wild ride! Space here doesn't permit explaining why our prisons are filled with massive numbers of recidivists. Suffice it to say, transition is rife with obstacles. Cory is now working on his bachelor's, having already gotten the associate's degree. Now with the illness being treated (no thanks to the Corrections Department), he is active in his church and plowing through courses enthusiastically. The younger son just married a fellow Vermonter, and grandmotherdom is due in late July… at last!


YvonneYVONNE: After high school I started college at NWMS college then transferred to Central Methodist College, Fayette, Mo.  After graduation I started my teaching career at Union Star teaching 1st Grade.  To all of those first graders please forgive the first year teacher’s mistakes.  I learned much more than the kids did. Teaching for 44 years has been a lifetime of wonderful, rewarding experiences. As one of our friends questions to us was, “You guys have been so emersed into education and teaching, how are you ever going to enjoy retirement?”  I can easily say, “No problem!  Loved the kids, loved the people but don’t miss the 5:30 AM wake up call one bit!”

I married Anthony “Tony” Houchin August 20,1967 and joined him in Wakannai, Japan USAF base.  I was immediately hired to teach 45 1st graders with another team teacher.  That summer I taught Kindergarten and then first grade again that fall.  While over there we traveled around parts of Japan and made many lasting friends and memories. We still remember the 240 inches of snow that fell that winter and I didn’t realize that our apartment was on street level until the spring thaw came.  The Japanese government made some new laws that year.  No more dumping in the ocean.  Tony says it was because of my cooking goof-ups because I would just throw it in the ocean out by our front door.  Our duplex apartment was about 100 feet from the ocean.

Getting discharged from the service, we chose Baldwin City and Baker University for Tony to finish his degree, and I was hired to teach 4th grade.  Tony graduated from Baker and went on to get his Masters in Administration at Kansas University.  In 1979 our son L. Anthony Houchin was born. 

We lived in Baldwin for 30 years and both us worked in the school system.  I taught 4th, 3rd and 2nd grades while Tony became an administrator.  Eventually Tony went to USD 243 Waverly-Lebo, and was principal there for 24 years.  In 1999 I retired from Baldwin and we moved to a little “10 acre farm” in Waverly,KS and I was hired to teach First Grade.  Tony was my boss.  Later I was asked to transfer to Lebo to fill a vacancy there and I taught 2nd and 3rd grades.  Because I couldn’t see to do night driving, we moved to Lebo and that was where we lived until our retirement this past May.

Our son Anthony married a beautiful young woman from Peru and asked us to attend a wedding down there during the summer of 2003.  We had a great time traveling with the newlyweds to Macchu Picchu, Nazca, Cuzco and other points of interest in and around Lima.      

Anthony graduated from KU with his bachlor’s and two master’s degrees (one from ESC Clermont, France) and is now working in KC using his French, talking to French Canadians.  They have two boys 4 and 6.  Tristan and Ethan always make our days brighter and we love being Grandma and Grandpa.

We chose to retire in Mission, TX in a retirement community here in the valley where my brother and his wife are also living.  The dry, warm climate helps the bones and there is always something to do to keep us busy and learning.  As an added bonus we found MaryAnn and Ray here in the same park.

I have enjoyed many hobbies though the years and am now getting to refine them again.  I love shopping, cooking, reading mysteries and biographies, quilting, card games, biking, knitting, and crafts, entertaining friends, learning about my Mac Book Pro, and traveling and living in our RV 5th wheel.


Pat Gass ZionPAT: I will start with the jobs I had after graduation from USHS. I moved to St. Joseph and lived with Karen (Sample) Flach (class of '60), her sister and mom. I worked at W.T. Grant department store for a few months then got a job at Westab in the key punch department. From there I want to Whitaker Cable for 10 years and retired from U.S. Bank in 2005 after 26 1/2 years.

I married Neal Wilcoxson in 1962. Our oldest son, Lony, was born in 1963 and Jim was born in 1965. Neal passed away in 1974 and I worked part time in the school cafeteria so I could be there for the boys. I was hired by American National Bank, now U.S. Bank, in 1979 and worked as a teller until my retirement in 2005.

My family consists of hubby Frank; we've been married almost 31 years. Lony, his wife Stephanie and her children, Jordan 23, Alyssa 18, and Joshua 15, live near Edgerton, MO. Jim has a daughter, Mackenzie 8, and they live in Union Star. Tina, Frank's daughter, and her husband Jebb live near Savannah with their two boys, Dakota 14 and Justin 11 .

Frank and I still live in the house Neal and I bought in Union Star. He retired from Heartland Hospital two years ago after 20 years. We love to travel, having been to Hawaii three times. We travel every year to Casper and Lander, WY to visit a childhood friend in Casper who has a Christmas Store. She and my sister were classmates of Dick and Lynn Cheney. We go to Lander to visit my dear 95-year -
old step-aunt, Lucille Hall having traveled on to Montana to get reunited with cousins.

I like to do crafts, work on our water garden, play spider and mahjong on the computer and spoiling my two cats, Boots and Winston. I also volunteer one day a week at Heartland Hospital.

PattyPatty: After high school I attended Gards Business College in St. Joseph, then worked in the school office at Union Star for a year. I did similar clerical and secretarial work for short times at Dupont and Shurfine Foods before finding a job I loved driving the OATS (Older Adult Transportation Service) bus. I stayed for 22 years. Each driver has a home county and mine was DeKalb.

In addition to local trips I was a tour guide for OATS senior charters and took as many as 25 trips to Canada going to nearly all the Canadian provinces and many times to Mexico. I have visited every state, including Alaska and Hawaii. (I flew to Hawaii but am not crazy about flying. Trips from now on will be on wheels!) My work was very satisfying because it gave older individuals or handicapped persons the opportunity to travel to places they would not have otherwise been able to visit. The job also gave me the opportunity to meet many wonderful people.

I lived in Union Star many of my adult years and moved to St. Joseph 20 years ago. We have five children - James 46, Ron 42, Jerry 41, Janice 40 and David 39. We have 12 grandkids from age 27 to one and a half years. We babysit for four of our great-grandkids from five to one and a half years old. I lead a quiet life. My faith in God is the most important thing to me. My family is my life now.


DonDON: After USHS, I went to Northwest Missouri State University at Maryville, graduating in 1964 with a BS in secondary education with a major in science & math. I taught science and coached at Lathrop for three years and then biology at Central High School in St. Joseph for three years.  
I quit teaching in 1971 and started farming with Karon's dad and later taking over all the operation when her dad retired and moved to Arkansas.
In 1964 I married Karon Ott and we adopted two children - Lisa in 1968 and Bryan in 1970. Lisa is married to Gary Ashford. Son Trent, 22, from her first marriage got married this summer. Two younger boys are from her second marriage - Cooper, 11, and Gannon, 6. So we have three grandsons. Bryan is not married.
We built our first house in 1975 on Karon's home place and then built another one just up the hill from it in 2004. Lisa and her family live in the other house.

We love the Lord and are active in our church where we serve in different positions. In our spare time, we travel. The best places: an Alaskan cruise, New Hampshire, Hilton Head, SC, Costa Rica, and Lake Tahoe.

Ron YoungRon: Since graduation these  events -
Attended  NWMSC, Maryville, MO …known as  NWMSU now
Married Donna Fay Theis June 14, 1964
Joined the Army National Guard in St Joseph
Employment at Whitaker Cable
First daughter born, Jamie Rene, March 6, 1967
Second daughter,  Julie Christine, June 5, 1972
Third and last daughter,  Stephanie Suzanne Noel, Dec. 18, 1973
Employment at Peach Tree Doors
Employment at Wire Rope Inc.  until retirement March 31, 2010
November 2009 …double knee  replacement (a  success )

Donna and I have  enjoyed  traveling  through the years to many states  with family and  by ourselves -Yellowstone National Park,  Estes Park, Durango and Colorado Springs, Colorado,  Grand Canyon, South Dakota and Mt.  Rushmore, Holland and Mackinac  Island, Michigan, and Canada. Several trips have been to Disney World with our grandchildren as well as to Houston and Sugarland, Texas, to visit my sister, Darlene and family  (she passed June 15, 2010). Also to the New Orleans area to visit Tish Laffoon Breland and  family. We  have  enjoyed  bus trips  to the  coasts…the East for fall foliage and upper Northwest states. Our  last  trip was to Europe in June last year  to Hungary, Prague, Germany (the Passion Play ) and Austria. In March, 2004 we celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary  with Karon and Don Carrel in Hawaii; for the 35th we went to San Diego. We  have  enjoyed  Missouri vacations to Branson, Big Lake and  Kansas City...  to name a few. Our  next big  trip could  be  Alaska. Know anyone  with  two cheap tickets?

I enjoy our  five grandchildren and their many activities (sports, music recitals, contests, church programs, youth groups, and all our  family  dogs. At one time we also had four step grandchildren (now 2). Grandson, Aaron James Baker, son of  Jamie/ Bruce received his Eagle Boy Scout award July 2010 and then a week later attended the National Boy Scout Jamboree in Virginia….how special is  this?  Our granddaughter, Morgan Baker, has also made the  District Choir in her SHS Concert Choir plus other middle school state summer choirs. Every time one of our grandchildren receives Student of the Month or other special awards we are so thankful and  blessed  with their achievements.They are  following in the paths of their parents.

Active in the Savannah First Christian Church as deacon, choir member, vice-chair of the  board and  church treasurer, I also take part in  Bible study. I enjoy gardening and  taking care of my  lawn.

Donald SaundersDonald: After graduation, I went to live on a farm in Longton, Kansas, with an aunt and uncle.  Came home in late July and joined the army on 16 August 1961 going to  Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, for basic training and advanced individual training and was there until January 1962.

My first duty station was Fort Gordon, Georgia. I was reassigned from there to Okinawa in early July of 1962. Later that month the unit I was in (9th Logistical) was split with 20% kept on Okinawa as a rear detachment and 40% going to Thailand and 40% going to Vietnam. With the luck of the draw, I got to go to Vietnam for a year as an advisor, returning by ship (22 days on the water) to be stationed in Atlanta, Georgia until February 1965. Got married on 30 December 1963 and our first child (Wendy Sue) was born at Fort McPherson Army Hospital on 13 January 1965. Was assigned to headquarters XII US Army Corps while in Atlanta, then as a student at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana, from February until October 1965 in the Adjutant General School.

Next, reassignment to Headquarters VII Corps in Stuttgart, Germany. The tour was curtailed, and I was sent to Fort Leonard Wood due to the Vietnam conflict causing a shortage of troops in the U.S. (really just a farce to get troop strength up in the U.S. for replacement to Vietnam).

Just 122 days after I got back to the U.S. from Germany, I found myself in Vietnam again as an advisor. Our second child, Donna Marie, was born 21 March 1967 (while I was in Vietnam) in St. Francis Hospital, Maryville, Missouri. I returned to the U.S. in August 1967 and was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division in Fort Riley, Kansas.

In October of 1968, I requested and was accepted to duty as a reserve advisor to the 102nd Army Reserve Command out of St Louis, Missouri, and assigned duty in Topeka, Kansas. Our third child, Deanna Renee, was born in Irwin Army Hospital, Fort Riley, Kansas, 21 September 1968.

In April 1970 I re-enlisted for duty in Germany and was assigned to the 56th Field Artillery Brigade, with a duty assignment in the 3rd battalion 84th Field Artillery. Served there until July of 1972 when I again re-enlisted. I was on recruiting duty in Nebraska from July 1972 until 1975, and our fourth child, Charles Edwin, was born in St Anthony's Hospital in O’Neill, Nebraska.

In January 1975 I was reassigned to the U.S. Military Assistance Command in Thailand. I served there until March of 1976 and helped with the evacuation of American Personnel from Vietnam in April of 1975. A semester of a college course in law enforcement at the University of Hawaii at Hilo helped keep me out of the bars at night.

Reassigned to Combined Arms Combat Development Activity (CACDA) from 17th of March to the 31st of May 1981. Then reassigned to the 8th Infantry Division from the 1st of June 1981 to the 12th of June 1984 in Baumholder, Germany. Was a First Sergeant of a Personnel Service Company and an installation IG (Inspector General) while there. Reassigned to 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas, where I worked as the senior AG NCOIC. 

I retired from the Army on 31 August 1986 after 25 years and 15 days active duty. We relocated to Burlington Junction, Missouri, where my wife had graduated from high school in 1961. (She was in Rockaway Beach at the same time our class was, but I didn’t meet her until June of 1962 while I was home on leave from the Army). I took a job with Wal-Mart in sporting goods and then took a position as a campus safety officer at NWMSU working both jobs until January 1993 when I took a position as a deputy sheriff with Nodaway County Sheriff’s Department. I worked full time at both Wal-Mart and the sheriff’s department until December of 1995 when I quit Wal-Mart. I am still working as a deputy sheriff, although I spend little time out on the road. I usually serve as the court bailiff or transport inmates.

In 1996 I had a quadruple by-pass at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, and a pacemaker inserted. I must be a tough old bird as I am on my third pacemaker despite being told by doctors in San Antonio, Leavenworth and St Joseph that each should last 12–15 years. It’s only been 14 years, and I am already on my third one.


ROBERT: After graduating, I served in the Air Force from 1961-1965. This put me in Ft. Worth, TX, and later in Labrador. After discharge and marriage, I made my home in Union Star. I farmed and drove a truck and tried to keep up my coon hunting. I enjoyed driving my truck. I had many interesting experiences and saw much of America. Two vacations I enjoyed were seeing Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota and Disney World in Florida.

I am divorced but have two children: Robbie and Teresa and five grandchildren. I love the Lord and in spite of some hard knocks, I have been blessed. He was with me while I was driving on the road. He has blessed me with a kidney transplant which functions well. (Dialysis is not a fun way to spend your time.) After the transplant, I was diagnosed with a cancer which was removed. My last exam looked good. God is good!

GaryGARY: After attending college courses at MWSU, I served in the Army from 1964-1966. I've lived in El Paso, Texas, and visited in Mexico and Canada, been married and divorced, have children and grandchilren. I enjoy retirement but not my battle with heart disease. I enjoy sports and watching TV. Evidently, I have not lost my "gift of gab" and can often be found shopping in St. Joseph. That is a good time to visit. I have flown a plane and climbed a mountain.

FranFran (honorary member): I often explain that I have two sets of childhood memories – my grades 1-7 at Union Star, and my grades 8-12 at King City. Early education put me in 1st grade at the “Liberty” country, one-room school west of Union Star where Cecile Coats Talley and Charlie Gordon started also. The school was closed at the end of our 1st grade, and we found ourselves going to 2nd grade at the big Union Star school with Miss Stratton as our teacher.

Then came 2nd through 7th grade at Union Star R-2. These were the years where I formed classmate friendships that exist yet today. Girl Scouts, 4-H, church activities, roller skating parties, hayrides and wiener roasts, the Union Star theater, marching band and contests – all and more made some of the happiest years of my life. After 7th grade, my family moved to King City where I soon formed new friendships.

After high school I moved to Liberty, MO, and was soon employed by Farmland Industries, Inc. Little did I know at that time that I would stay with that company for 41 years. I held many positions during those years and each job provided new experiences and opportunities. My final 17 years were in public relations where I became Manager of Corporate Meetings & Events. This position allowed me considerable travel, both national and international, and I held a leadership role with a staff of six. I took early retirement in 2001.

I married Bud Quinn in 1966, and with our marriage came two sons, Curtis and Allen, ages 5 and 4. Then along came son #3, David, in 1971, and we now enjoy three grandsons and a granddaughter. In addition to church activities and committee work, I enjoy serving as a volunteer with the Shepherd Center, serving on its planning committee for the Adventures in Learning program. Like many retired ladies, I enjoy monthly Bunco and Hand & Foot afternoons. My husband retired after 31 years in law enforcement, and now appreciates his freedom to do whatever he feels like doing. He has had a lifetime interest in country music and enjoys playing guitar and singing with a small Kearney band.

I feel honored and fortunate to be invited and included in the Union Star High School class of ’61 50-Year reunion activities. Thank you very much.

Since graduating, two of us have departed:

Neal Wilcoxson - December 6, 1942 to June 5, 1974 
Wayne Shores - April 14, 1943 to December 10, 1995

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