BYNG — Saturday night was a highlight for those who came to Byng for the reunion of the class of 1971. I didn’t get the exact number present, but I’d guess than more than half of the class of 1982 were present. Some had traveled a considerable distance such as NewYork (Nancy Engel Brown), California (Ronnie Gray) and Iowa (Ruth Crisp Gambino).

I counted at least three couples who had been highschool sweethearts who were still married to each other. They included Bradley and Denise Deaton Adams, Tuttle; and Pete and Lisa Whitwell Adams and Carlton and Mary Dew Tilley Paula Candida is still married to Clinton Sturdevant III, but he is from a previous class.

I was very grateful for nametags with photos that showed what seniors of ’71 looked like during their last year in school, because there were a number of them I didn’t recognize. In most cases, however, I have to say they are better looking today than they were 35 years ago. Of course, girls of that class came along at a time of long, flowing hair or tresses  piled high with wiglets. Their skirts were as short as the school code allowed. If the skirt did not meet the code’s rules on modesty, they were sent home or they called home to have someone bring them more suitable attire.  The boys look very proper in their senior pictures with suits and ties.  (I met a fellow at Wal-Mart recently who said, “Remember me, Mrs. Milligan, you found a suit for me to have my senior pictures  made.”

The class of ’71 was a good one with bright students who were very competitive.   Most wanted to excell, and they did.  They are still a diversified group which was to Paula Canida Sturdevant’s and class president Carlton Tilley’s advantage when they co-chaired the reunion planning committee.  A private investigator, Monty Bolen, was of great help in locating students with missing addresses. Food for both the Friday night get-together and the Saturday night dinner was catered by restauranteer Tommy (Blue Moon) Miller.    If they needed financial advice they could call on Pete Johnson who is the school audtor. 

Entertainment of a caliber not usually found in country schools was provided  by Nancy Engel and her husband, Paul Brown, who are from Westchester County, N.Y., (A short distance from the home of Bill and Hillary Clinton.)

After graduating from Byng, Nancy attended the University of Oklahoma for her bachelor’s and masters’ degrees in music. She taught music in Noble for three years. After attending two summers at the American Musical Institute in Grez, Austria, Nancy moved to Germany and sang opera professionally for four years.  She returned to the United States in 1990 and attended Indianan University where she received her doctorate in music.  She now teaches music, conducts a church choir, and continues to perform.

Her husband, Paul, grew up in Checotah, the son of a Baptist minister. He began singing in church at an early age and sang, as a teen-ager, for more than 10,000 people at the Falls Creek Church camp. He first began singing opera at OU where he and Nancy met. He currently sings opera and church music professionally in the New York City area. The couple has one daughter, Barbara.

Nancy and Paul presented a program of songs from Broadway hits.  Rozzie Purdy, former Byng band instructor, provided piano accompaniment. John Roan was DJ for the evening, playing music from the 1960s and ’70s as well as requests from the group.

Prior to the invocation by Mike Morris, the group observed a moment of silence in memory of the only deceased classmate, Kenny Taylor who was killed in a car wreck shortly after graduation.

Steve Foster, superintendent, welcomed the group.  Carlton Tilley, class president, expressed his gratitude for help from Paula Canida Sturdevamt, Denise Roddy Gilliam, Dixie Wood Luttrell, Janice Cheek Dobbins and Tim Scroggins in planning and decorating for the event.

“An embarrassing moment” was the topic addressed by many of the students (Although most were more eager to tell of others’ embarrassing moments rather than their own.)  A few confessions may have been surprises to RozAn Fraser and yours truly. Urban McArthur brought Tommy Miller, Mary Dew and Pete Johnston (all excellent students) forward to confess that when they were seniors they came into possession of the answers to a big test in accounting. They all made use of the data, but Tommy Miller was the one who got caught.  He did not implicate any of the others, and they declared their consciences had bothered them through the years. Another former English student  (who generally made all A’s) confessed that she had written eight different Pride in Oklahoma essays for various composition-challenged students.  “One of them made only a C-plus. I was indignant but didn’t dare complain,” she admitted.    Ronnie Gray was declared the winner with his story of crawling into a cedar chest he was building in shop class and getting struck there just as class started.

Bill Barrett who had been coach, teacher and principal at Homer when a group from this class started school had multiple funny stories about their entrance into education.  Bobby Johns took up the narrative from seventh grade on, and both men displayed a talent for remembering incidents the class would have preferred to forget.


If you’re a Byng alumna from any year, don’t forget the get-together this weekend.   There will be a ceremony involving the bricks on the “Wall of Fame” at 10 a.m.  The school will be open for tours following the brick ceremony.  The dinner in the school cafeteria is at 6:30.   For further information call Betty Allred, 332-0525; Adriana Lancaster, 272-0081; or Prestlene Gray, 332-7729.    This will be the first time for a summer get-together for the alumna.  Heretofore the event has been held the Saturday following Thanksgiving.


          My walking time at the track goes more quickly now, for my walking buddies are back after being gone 10 days.  Bette and Vestel Cole flew to Ellensburg, WA, to attend the graudation exercises for their granddaughter, Candace Mienke, and son-in-law, Dan Dunnagan from college.    Dan had a roadblock when he was diagnosed with colon cancer early last spring and had to withdraw from his student teaching assignment.   He has had surgery and has been pronounced cancer-free, so he will complete student teaching next fall, but he participated in the Commencement exercises and left the following day for his usual summer work at fishing in Alaska. 

          The Dunnagans entertained Saturday afternoom following the morning program for 45 friends and family members.   Bette and Vestel said they were glad to have gone a few days early to help prepare for the party.

          The Coles report that their flight went well with no delays or excessive searches in the airport.  “Everything about our trip went well,” they say.





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