Memory-making marks Dillard-Goldsboro celebration
By Dennis Hill
Published in News on May 30, 2010 1:50 AM
Alumni from all over the world returned to Goldsboro this weekend for the annual Dillard-Goldsboro Alumni reunion, with festivities starting Thursday and running through today.
On Saturday, hundreds of people lined Center Street for the organization's parade, which had nearly 75 entries. It was a giant party from one end of the street to the other, with old classmates greeting one another at every turn.
"We arrange our vacation around coming here every single year," said Rosa Baker of the Dillard Class of 1958. She was riding in the parade with her husband, Eddie, of the Class of 1957. She said this is her 52nd consecutive reunion. Even while the couple were living in New York, they always made the reunion, she said.
Thomas Hunter is the president of the Dillard High Class of 1969. He and a number of other members of the class were joking around prior to the start of the parade. They said they take special pride in being the last Dillard class. The school systems in Wayne County were integrated the next year. The class has maintained its closeness over the decades, Hunter said. Its motto is "Stay connected." Members go so far as to meet monthly.
"It's just the fellowship, the camaraderie, seeing old friends," Hunter said, explaining the connection that just seems to grow stronger each year. He said the group is more than just a class, it's a community service group, sponsoring charities such as the Adeen George Crisis Center and joining the Adopt-a-Highway program.
Raymond Smith of the Goldsboro High Class of 1979 was a little busy. As director of the parade, he had his hands full. But he stopped to chat for a minute, saying the reunion was "something we do for the community and our hearts."
The annual event is something he has been a part of all his life, Smith pointed out. Both his parents, the late Raymond Sr. and Wayne school board member Thelma Smith, are Dillard alumni.
"I was raised in the organization," Smith said, as floats and cars carrying beauty queens lined up, awaiting the parade's start. "Our mission is very simple, to uplift this community."
The Dillard-Goldsboro Alumni and Friends has chapters in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., as well as Goldsboro, Smith said, and there are plans to open new chapters across the country.
Jouette Cowan Smith of the Class of 1967 is president of the New Jersey chapter. She said what makes the Dillard-Goldsboro graduates different is the bonds they developed as youths and the value they place on one another.
"It's about the dedication, the love and the commitment to our alumni association," she said. "We love what we do."
For the Goldsboro High Class of 1985, it was a special occasion -- the 25th reunion.
Pamela Hardy said she and her friends come from all over to enjoy one another's company. They definitely feel they are continuing a great tradition, she said.
"It's something that will be here forever," she said. "It's beautiful."
One member of the Class of 1985 might have taken the longest route to the reunion. Kevin Council flew from Australia to be part of the event -- a 27-hour flight.
"Because I love my class," he said proudly. "It's like an extended family."
Mayor Al King is not an alumni, but he stood watching the parade line up Saturday and marveled at the enthusiasm that swept through the crowd.
"I take my hat off to them," King said. "They're awesome. I don't know of another its equal anywhere."
Events started Saturday night with the organization's scholarship and awards program. It continued Friday with a golf tournament, the second annual Norvelle Lee basketball tournament and an alumni show and dance. It continued Saturday with several picnics in the afternoon, banquets and dances at night.
A worship service was to be held this morning at the H.V. Brown Hall, with more picnics planned for the afternoon and a gospel concert this evening.