Over the last two days the 1969 graduating seniors of Goldsboro High School gathered in celebration of their 50th class reunion. Naturally, with this being the Sunday after, I cannot report on its success, but if anything like past years their gatherings proved to be enjoyable affairs.

On Friday classmates socialized at the home of Wes and Jacque Seegars. Of course Wes was a member of the class and is pictured on the football team and the varsity club and with mentions of other school activities in which he was involved. I have never met Wes but I have to wonder whether he still has that crop of heavy dark hair.

On Saturday they gathered at the Walnut Creek Country Club to sup and to celebrate and reflect upon yesteryears.

A couple of weeks ago I shared some background on the Dillard graduating class of 1969. Combined, Goldsboro and Dillard graduated almost 600 seniors. The following year the schools were fully integrated and consolidated. The name Goldsboro High School would be retained, however it spelled the ending of the monikers, Earthquakes and Tigers. The new name, “Cougars,” was coined and is still in use today.

The tone of my column and much of its contents were written by those seniors as they reflected upon school experiences and accomplishments. There were expressions of hopes and dreams and expectations for a bright and happy future.

President of the class was Bill Leonard. Other officers were Karl Eikenberry, vice president; Susan Derby, secretary; Chris Wise, treasurer; and Maxine Pike, sergeant at arms. Jack Smith was president of the junior class, and for the sophomores it was Jeff Wooters.

Chris Wise was number one in his class. He also played football, basketball and ran track. He was a member of the Varsity Club and was honored by being chosen to attend the Governor’s School and receive a Morehead Scholarship.

Near the beginning of the 1969 Gohisca were penned some words of wisdom which could have well been crafted by a mature sage. No credit was given, but the writer was likely a teenage senior:

“The greatest gift in all the world, is at our feet today. The gift of our youth, to accept or deny. Our choice will show the way. However long the road may be, however hard the way, success will come eventually with guidance, hope and faith.

“When comes the autumn of our years, we’ll look upon the times, of willingness to do our best, the Class of ’69.”

Culture

The performing arts, music and cultural events continued to bring refinement to and build confidence in those who participated. Readers of my column will recall that I’ve written much about those efforts, especially of Mr. Clifton Britton and George Trautwein. Mr. Britton passed in 1962, but Trautwein, who, by the way, Mr. Britton hired, continued his choral leadership for these seniors. As written:

“Mr. George Trautwein has been the director of the Choral Department for the past twelve years. During this time it has grown in size to three hundred members. This year the Choral Department is divided into two parts, the Touring Choir and the Mixed Chorus. The Touring Choir, which meets at seven forty-five each morning, is a small group made up of the more outstanding musicians.”

Many graduates of Goldsboro High have sung praises about Mr. John Thompson, the high school band director, and have encouraged me to write a column about him. Someday it may come to pass because his impact upon students would rank right up there with the two aforementioned leaders. Mr. Thompson was still at the helm in 1969.

Officers of the band were listed but not with specific titles: Gene Dillman and Dan Vinson were seniors. Three of the officers were black students, juniors Lois Artis and Samuel Jefferson (member of the track team), and senior Sandra Stovall (also a majorette). Other majorettes were Irene Darden (head), Mariedna Scott (assistant head) and Wanda Wallace. Mascots were Sheila Wince and Debbie Mitchell.

Miss Gohisca

For years it had been the custom of the Gohisca staff to select a well-known celebrity to judge submissions for “Miss Gohisca.” This year it was noted singer Dionne Warwick, who in response wrote: “Enclosed find pictures of the Gohisca Court. I have selected the winner as Miss Kathy Best.”

From the staff: “On Friday, May 9, the Gohisca was proud to announce the selection of Miss Kathy Best. She is the second sophomore in a row to receive this distinction. She is an exuberant underclassman, characterized by her friendly smile and saddle oxfords.

“The Gohisca is honored to have her represent us. The Court is made up of seniors Angie Clinton and Babs Bouras; juniors Jody Johnson and Becky Harper and sophomore Carol Howard.”

Sports

High schools tend to place more emphasis on football than any other competitive sport. One of the highlights of the year is, of course, homecoming; a time fans crave victory. The players obliged.

“With confetti blowing in the breeze that swept through the Earthquake stadium, the GHS Varsity team turned up a 28-7 homecoming victory over Raleigh Broughton. During half-time Beau Ward was crowned Varsity Club sweetheart. She has contributed much to her school. She has served as a cheerleader since the 8th grade and this year was chosen assistant head of the Varsity Squad.”

With the fine coaching staff headed by Gerald Whisenant, David Odom, plus new coach Lonnie Baker, the Quakes compiled an 8-2 third place conference record.” It was their best showing in 27 years. Toby “The Toe” Harrell, C.B. Owens and Louis Williams were Quake tri-captains.

The basketball team had a rough season, compiling a record of 8-12. One of Goldsboro’s own sports stars of 1960, George David Odom was head coach. He had quarterbacked the 1959-60 football team and with David Peacock was co-captain. He was also captain of the basketball team. He and Beverly Griffin were named that year’s most athletic seniors.

While this is not about David, readers would likely be interested in knowing that he played football and basketball at Guilford College and in 1965 was named the school’s most outstanding athlete. In 1985 he was inducted into their sports Hall of Fame.

After the 1969 season at Goldsboro High, Odom took the head basketball coaching position at Durham High School where he remained for seven years. His climb to the top of the coaching ladder was not an easy one, but Goldsboro stands proud of his success as one of college’s elite coaches. 

Quake matmen shine

“Quake matmen rallied this season to put in fine performances at the Conference and State Tournaments. Finishing the season with a 9-4-1 record, they surprised their fans with a second place finish at the 4-A tourney in Wilmington and 4th in the state tournament. Under coaches Whisenhunt and Baker, the team provided students with much excitement this year.”

Members of the team other than Monty Lee, pictured, were Mike Lane, Stuart Willis, Tom Collins, Steve Swinson, Johnny Kornegay, Larry Johnson, Tommy Anderson, Eddie Bass, Gary Hoover, Ross Willis and Jerry McGuirt. Monty was also the starting center on the football team and manager of the baseball team. I was privileged to see him wrestle in that 1969 state tournament. Why a little more exposure for Monty? Well I’m proud to say he was, and is, my brother-in-law.

The baseball team under new coach Danny Southerland had a rough season. The team had a fair offense but lacked the defensive backing to be a major contender. However at the end of the season the defense shaped up and in the last 25 innings only one earned run was given up. Thus they were able to finish the season with five wins.

Other sports

“Golf team ‘putts’ on.” Coaches C.W. Twiford, John Parker and the golf team had a disappointing season due to lack of depth, with only three returning lettermen. The team was unable to have a winning season. (No record of wins and losses was given.)

“Track team sprints to victory.” The track team under Coach William Garner outshined their opponents in the running events and scored some in the field events this year. Aided by the running events, they were able to place third in the sectionals. Part of the team’s success could have been attributed to the 10 black players on the squad; some were likely Dillard transferees.

“Netters have ups and downs.” Although the Goldsboro Netters with new Coach Gerald Whisenhunt had a rough season, they were still able to carry on their long tradition of having a winning team. With five returning lettermen, Freddie Mitchell, captain of the team, Danny Phillips, Johnnie Van Roekel, Joe Thornton and Scott Cox, along with three newcomers, Tony Phillips, Jim Lawson and John Duro, the tennis team ended with a 6-5 record.

And there were spirited cheerleaders, pretty ones at that: Jody Johnson, Beau Ward, Betty Jo Bell (head), Judy Medlin, Nita Mansour, Maxine Pike, Leslie Wyatt, Mahala Dees, Claudia Taylor and Mary Rose Hood.

•••

“On June 3, 1969, at five o’clock approximately three-hundred and fifty seniors received their diplomas. The threatening sky, after a few drops of rain, gave way to sunshine and the exercises were held in the stadium.

Two members of the school board, Mrs. W.D. Ray and Mrs. Kenneth Wilkins, presented awards and handed out diplomas. The seniors presented Mr. Shugart the senior gift to the school, an American flag. Two seniors, Bill Leonard, class president, and Chris Wise, valedictorian, made speeches.

Immediately following graduation, the class headed for their all-night dance, and then the beach.

A 1969 parallel to remember. Fifty days after those seniors turned their tassels, Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon’s surface, with half a billion people watching on television, and proclaimed “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Here is a suggestion for the class of ’69 and others. Consider having your reunions every year. Doesn’t need to be elaborate. Keep it simple and affordable. I graduated 14 years ahead of you from “little” Grantham High. We’ve met annually for at least 25 years. Almost half have passed, but it keeps the remainder of us close.

I close with an apology and correction. When two weeks ago I wrote of Dillard’s 50th reunion I mentioned that Dr. Ray Gavin’s sister Geraldine and brother Charles were living on Walnut Street. Had a call from Bertha Gavin, retired nurse, reminding me that it was she and Charles and that sister Geraldine passed away some years ago. I have visited in Bertha’s home, a gracious lady, more than once and should have known better.

Sherwood Williford writes a weekly column for the News-Argus. Contact him at 919-440-8811, Sherwoodowl@hotmail.com or P.O. Box 175, Princeton, NC 27569.