Williamsport class of 1943 celebrates 70 years

A warm day, food catered by D & L Catering, a ride on the Hiawatha and more than 70 years of connections with their classmates, made Williamsport High School’s class of 1943 yearly picnic a splash for the attendees.

Around 25 classmates attended the class of ’43’s yearly picnic, marking the 70th year anniversary since they graduated from WHS, and the fifth yearly picnic.

“I came hoping to see old friends,” said Arbutus “Bootsy” Smith Focht, Lemoyne. Smith was one of the attendees who traveled the furthest, with Christine Kinley Reachard, driving the furthest from York, Pa.

Focht said she was able to spend time with attendees Shirley Wagner, Vivian Stutsman Ball, Libby Testa Girio and Beryl Litick Schuker.

“I used to walk to school in third grade with Beryl and when I would lose my school roster, I would walk through the hallway past the classrooms. When I saw Libby I knew I was in the right classroom. Today I didn’t recognize her,” she said.

The class of ’43 doesn’t just meet during their yearly picnics, they also meet the last Tuesday of every month at The Villa.

“It’s wonderful,” said Mary Janes of Loyalsock Township. “Some people tell me ‘I wish I had that’ because people just graduate, move on and lose contact.” Janes said people ask her all the time how she can be in contact with people she’s known since the first grade.

“It’s not hard. We just socialize and eat a good meal at the The Villa,” she said.

Drivers and family members of the classmates also attend the monthly luncheons and yearly picnics, including Lisa Doebler, daughter of Shirley Wagner Peterson.

“I enjoy listening to the stories of what they did in school and now,” said Doebler. “Sometimes at the Villa they buy a dish of spumante with 10 to 15 spoons, and pass it around the table so everyone can try it.”

The class of ’43 also will be donating more than $600 in excess class funds from their recent picnic and Hiawatha ride to The Gatehouse Inpatient Unit at Divine Providence Hospital.

According to Dick Bower, a member of the class of ’43 committee, the money was raised by the class, through memberships and donations, mostly coming from their 50th anniversary celebration.

Bower also said that he estimates 155 living class members are left out of the original 433 graduates.

An average of 10 to 15 of those classmates attend the monthly lunches.