Class of ’62 to celebrate 60th reunion with a gift

By Page H. Gifford

The class of 1962 will be having their 60th reunion on Sept. 30. Members of this class attended the original high school, which is now Carysbrook Performing Arts Center and Social Services. 

Other than waxing nostalgic about their youth they are also celebrating by giving back to the community. Their goal was to raise $1,000 among the 28 alumni left and donate it to the Palmyra Volunteer Fire Department.

“With our limited numbers, we set a modest goal of $1,000 to be funded by donations from the class. I am excited to report that we have exceeded our goal by $260. I anticipate there will be several more donations before we party on the 30th,” said Jack Stoughton, one of 36 members of the class.

The idea of a legacy gift came up at the 50th reunion in 2012.

“It was a great celebration and the focus was on us. When I was asked to organize this reunion, I approached my classmates to consider paying homage to and giving back to this place we call home,” said Stoughton. “Further, our goal was to set an example for future class reunions to consider their legacy gift. We considered several worthy possibilities. We quickly settled on the Palmyra Volunteer Fire Department (PVFD).”

Stoughton says the “selection of PVFD made sense in two ways.” PVFD and the two other county volunteer fire stations provide a service to all Fluvanna citizens and funding comes from grants and donations.

“The second reason is personal. When the county created the Fluvanna Volunteer Fire Department in 1953,  the cinderblock station house provided a home base for a new Boy Scout Troop (54) that several of my classmates and I joined. My classmate, Mary Wills Tilman, and I had family members who served with the unit. Mary’s youngest brother, “Boots” Wills served as chief.” As for looking back 60 years to a different time, their memories are entwined with a historical moment.

“At the time we graduated, Fluvanna was still in a “separate but equal” education mode,” he said. “Fortunately, Fluvanna and Virginia have moved on. Certainly, the kids in Fluvanna today have advantages we didn’t have with an awesome new high school including strong academic and sports programs. At Carysbrook, we never had night ball games because there were no lights. However, we did have excellent, caring, patient, old-school teachers who provided a steady hand and discipline. Undoubtedly, my success in college and graduate school was a direct product of their instructional expectations.” The original Fluvanna High School was built in 1934 and two years later the Abrams High School for African-American students was built. Integration did not occur until the 1960s.

“First, 60 years represents a lot of life experiences and opportunities to grow as a person. When I think back to those school days, we were filled with the arrogance of youth,” he said.

“Now I look back and find great joy and humility in how God has been working in my life, being blessed by being married to my soul mate, being in reasonably good health, and enjoying a loving family and good friends. While working on this project, I have had the honor and pleasure of getting to know some of my classmates anew, as we all have changed.”

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