05/27/07 — Dillard-Goldsboro graduates gather for annual reunion

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Dillard-Goldsboro graduates gather for annual reunion

By Lee Williams
Published in News on May 27, 2007 2:01 AM

Blue, gold ... and memories.

More than 1,500 alumni and friends of all ages from all around the country gathered Saturday morning to officially usher in the Dillard/Goldsboro Alumni and Friends reunion weekend.

From businesses to bands and queens and kings, those who lined the Center Street parade route had the chance to meet old friends and to share in a little class spirit.

Annie Wiley, 73, of Goldsboro was one of those who spent the morning hugging, greeting old friends and reminiscing.

She never misses a chance to reconnect. On this day, she had her family along with her -- her daughter is a 1972 Goldsboro graduate, while her son is in the Class of 1982.

"I come here every year," Mrs. Wiley said. "I have to because this is a part of me. I love it."

There were a few classes celebrating milestones at this year's parade.

Class of 1967 president Annette Simmons Fullen was perched on the brightly decorated class float as it made its way along Center Street.

She had about 15 classmates by her side -- all of whom had come home to mark the class's 40th reunion. There was no shortage of spirit on the float that day.

"I come back because it is a big, big event," Mrs. Fullen said. "It has grown each year because it is a way of giving back. We give scholarships every year."

This year, the Dillard/Goldsboro Alumni gave more than $80,000 in scholarships to graduating seniors at a special awards program Thursday at Goldsboro High.

Philanthropy is not the only reason to don the old blue and gold, however, she added.

"We come back to worship and fellowship," Mrs. Fullen said. "This is our way of staying connected."

Echoing their leader, Jouette Cowan-Smith of Parlin, N.J., and Mittie Coley of Goldsboro, paused to lead a cheer.

And although they were quite ready to talk about their classmates, none of the women on the float were too excited about revealing how old they were.

"We are all at 39 and holding," Mrs. Cowan-Smith said.

Shenika Robinson, 33, of Staunton, Va., came back to celebrate a milestone, too. She is a member of the Class of 1992.

"I come on Memorial Day every year, and this year is special because this is the 15th anniversary," she said, pausing to wave at a friend in the crowd.

"I encourage people to come back every year," she added. "It is a lot of fun. You see people you haven't seen in years and you get to catch up."

One of those lining the streets Saturday was Jerry Davis, 52, a member of the Class of 1973.

He waved at his daughter, Akish Davis, 33, who was marching with the Class of 1992.

Both are from Riverdale, Md., but came home to celebrate the alumni group's 52nd reunion.

"This is great," he said. "This is the event of the year in Goldsboro."

Next to him on the corner was his childhood friend, Tic Lewis, 53, of Goldsboro.

As the parade progressed, bands from several schools as well as cheerleaders and the fourth-graders from North Drive Elementary strutted their stuff. The Cougar Cubs stopped to do a special cheer and dance along the parade route.

Several limousines also transported Dillard/Goldsboro alumni royalty.

Among the honorees waving to the crowd was Ann McNair Rowe of the Class of 1974, who was crowned Dillard/Goldsboro Alumni queen on scholarship night.

Near the end of the lineup, the Goldsboro High School marching band thrilled the crowd with its high-energy routines.

Watching intently from the sidewalk were Zavion Hardy, 5, and his brother, Jahari. Both boys had their drumsticks in hand, ready to play along with the band.

Their mother, Renarda, 23, of Goldsboro said the boys are determined that they, too, will be in the band someday.

That would make their aunt, Destiny Walters, 12, of Goldsboro proud.

"I love the Goldsboro High band," she said.

Bringing up the rear were members of the Ponderosa Saddle Club.

The 14 riders and their mounts did fancy footwork down the street -- almost seeming to march with the band.

On top of Peek-A-Boo was Jessie Jones, 53, of Mount Olive.

"We love to come show off our horses," he said. "We do it every year."

Editor Renee Carey contributed to this report.