05/24/09 — Goldsboro/Dillard alumni arrive in Goldsboro

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Goldsboro/Dillard alumni arrive in Goldsboro

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on May 24, 2009 2:00 AM

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Members of the Dillard/Goldsboro Alumni Marching Band perform during Saturday's parade.

Shortly after 8:15 Saturday morning, cheerleaders from Goldsboro Intermediate School found a quiet corner near the downtown fire station and began rehearsing a cheer for the Dillard/Goldsboro Alumni Association parade later that morning.

The fifth- and sixth-graders, along with Mary Hazel, their assistant coach, couldn't wait to perform.

"I feel excited," said Tiara Underwood. "It's fun to be doing this with my friends."

"I'm excited to be here. We did a lot of hard work to be here," said Ajee Booker. "We stuck together like a family. It's amazing to actually get to have this opportunity."

And it was a long-awaited experience for Ashley McNair, who said she has wanted to perform in a parade since she was little.

"I just feel I'm so grateful to be here with all of them. Can I get a hug?" she said, prompting her classmates to gather around.

Across the street, Monroe Addison of J&S Floats in Roxboro was putting the finishing touches on one of three floats he had driven down for the occasion.

"I was up at 3 this morning," he said. "We left the barn at quarter to 5 and got here a little after 8."

Christine Strowbridge, Class of 1959, lives in Goldsboro and was looking forward to seeing classmates she hadn't seen in years.

"We're celebrating our 50th this year, so we have people coming from all over the country that we haven't seen in years," she said.

Beneath a canopy at the end of Center Street, Raymond Smith Jr., the alumni association's director of technology, said he did not think the economy had kept away the crowd for the group's 54th homecoming celebration.

"All the venues that have banquets and other types of events are full," he said. "There was a tremendous turnout for the awards on Thursday and other events we've had."

Jimmie Ford, Class of 1961, also was enjoying the occasion.

"It's great, made me feel good to see classmates that I haven't seen -- we talk about old times, about the past and our present age, talk about it's good to be alive," he said. "We've had over 50 classmates to die since we have finished school, so it's good to be alive. This is like a celebration every year."

Thelma Coley Reid of Goldsboro and her twin sister, Helen Coley Harris of Dudley, are members of the Class of 1960.

"We're celebrating our 49th -- the big year will be next year," Mrs. Harris said. "We're already making plans for the Big 5-0."

"We're just excited every year during the time of this event taking place," Mrs. Reid said.

"We make no plans except to be a part of this," added Mrs. Harris.

Amanda Brewington of Goldsboro was there with daughter Danielle, 13. She is a member of the Class of 1984, which was celebrating its 25th anniversary.

"This is my first one," Mrs. Brewington said. "I haven't been to any other class reunions, but I was glad to see everybody."

Paul and Hilma Barnes arrived in town on Thursday. He's a member-at-large from the New Jersey chapter, graduating in 1940.

"I come every year," Barnes said.

Six actually came from New Jersey, said Rosa Jacobs Herran, Class of 1958 and president of the New Jersey chapter.

"We would have had more but there were weddings and graduations," she said.

Mrs. Barnes is originally from Oklahoma and said she has been impressed with the efforts of the Dillard/Goldsboro alumni.

"They give scholarships and I'm interested in what they do for young people," she said.

The Class of 1969 had a lively contingent primed for their ride in the parade.

"I look forward to the reunion -- it's like a family reunion -- to see all of the old classmates I haven't seen in years, it just brings back memories," said classmate Gloria Taylor Williams of Goldsboro.

Rosalinde Moore, who has remained in Goldsboro, agreed.

"It means a lot to me .... we were the last graduating class from Dillard High School," she said.

Audrey Hill now lives in Greenville, and just started attending the reunions a few years ago.

"It's just giving me the opportunity to reconnect with kids I went to school with," she said. "It's been really nice seeing people that I went to school with."

James "Ike" Barnes drove in from Fayetteville.

"Hey, these two right here," he said, pointing to Gloria and Audrey, "they got me through elementary school. I can point out a few that helped me through junior high and high school, but these two stuck with me for 58 years. We lived around the corner from each other."

"It's always been like that from day one," chimed in Leonard Harvey, who now lives in Raleigh. "The only things that have changed are we have gotten larger and older."

Walter Fennell, who will be 85 in October, can still recall his first class reunion, 10 years after graduating from Dillard High School in 1944. It was such a hit, he said, that the group decided to continue the tradition. The next year, 1955, is when the alumni association started, he said.

"I come most every year, to see all these people that I have known through the years," he said.

Dennis Turner, Class of 1972, may have traveled the farthest, coming all the way from his home in Germany, where he has lived since 1978 after leaving the military. But come Memorial Day weekend, he typically makes his way back to his hometown.

"I took my yearbook and I bring that back every year -- it's like I take my classmates with me, and I keep track of everybody," he said. "Coming back here is like a breath of fresh air. There's no place like home."