Skip to main content


July 2020

Volume 5 | Number 4

Welcome to Rise

Welcome to the July edition of Rise Grand Island the alumni newsletter for Grand Island Senior High published every other month by the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation. Rise is where we connect with thousands of Islanders across the globe, keeping you and them informed on what’s happening in Purple and Gold land, and reminiscing a little bit as well.

This is Volume 5, Number 4, as we move smartly in this new decade as the official publication for alumni of Islander Nation. Thanks for reading us and for your comments and support.

We really enjoy hearing from those of you who find Rise in your in-box every other month. Give us a shout, especially if you or a GISH alum you know has a done something new, newsy, or newsworthy. We’d wold love to include it in our Milestones section. You can reach us at

Our At the Top lead story this issue discusses the effect the pandemic is having on a summer of planned class reunions, where we renew friendships, reminisce, and yes, maybe tell a few whoppers.The formula: the greater the number of years being marked = the more exploits are expanded and inflated.

On the Island correspondent, Kendall Bartlett, details for us what a “return to normalcy” looks like for the intrepid musicians at band camp who are part of the GISH Marching Band.

Foundation Executive Director Traci Skalberg, recaps Go Big Give in her Your Legacy story, held this year on Tuesday, July 7. GBG is the community’s chance to support area non-profits on a single day. Normally held in early May, GBG was delayed because of the pandemic.

Our Class Reunion Update lets you know who is going to party and when, in case your class is on deck or maybe you just want to crash another class’s soiree and see a few old friends. Heads up, though: The pandemic may have moved some dates, so a call beforehand to class leaders would be wise. (See At the Top)

Distant Mirror correspondent, Mike Monk, Class of 1967, highlights the close encounters he’s had with famous people during his 44 years as an Angeleno.

My I’ve Been Thinking column examines three seminal moments from my high school years, a trio of incidents that, after all this time, I now consider to be life changing.

As usual we’ll see what songs were popular on the radio, what movies were wooing us to the big screen, what novels we were reading, and what television shows entertained us from each decade during July.

Finally, as we do every issue, we honor those Islanders who passed away the last couple months in our In Memoriam section.

We hope you find this Rise to your liking

Remember Islanders: Keep pushing on. And please stay safe.

George Ayoub, Class of 1968
Editor, Rise Grand Island

At the Top

Pandemic Pushing Reunions in New Direction

A stroll through the schedule for Grand Island Senior High class reunions set for this summer and early fall reads like a who’s who of who never arrived. 

That timetable, as usual, is elsewhere in this issue of Rise. You can also find it at the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation website on our Alumni Reunions page.

Concerns over COVID and the attendant machinations currently necessary for social gatherings have indeed played havoc with the annual rite of high school classmates convening to reminisce and renew old friendships. While Zoom has held us in good stead for work, family, and even video social gatherings, a wired or wified class reunion has apparently very little appeal. Most classes are either postponing or cancelling their reunions, not heading to the nearest screen.

Even though Zoom, Skype, and the regular practice of a phone call are excellent tools to keep us connected to classmates, reimagining the class reunion as an online event may be a technological bridge too far for alums across the country and specifically in Islander Nation.

Perhaps reunion rethinking should consider some in-person options that might actually turn out to be fun.

For example, if your class has to postpone until next year — say the pandemic has forced you to celebrate your 20th reunion in the 21st year — consider teaming up next year with the class behind you as it marks its 20th, for one big honkin’ Senior High soiree of sorts. Many of us were good friends with those in the classes ahead of us and behind us, so we wouldn’t be “reunioning” with total strangers. We shared the casts of school plays, the rosters of sports teams, and many academic courses with our before and after Senior High “bookend” brothers and sisters.

Moreover, the music, culture, and argot of our high school days did not dramatically change in one year. For example, my class, 1968, knew lyrics to the Beatles and Beach Boys, the difference between groovy and bummed, when to Bogart and when to book, and the trials of being on the wrong side of the “moon.” But so did the Class of 1967 and the Class of 1969 … so give me some skin, man.

Sure, each class has its own personality and history, but if the pandemic is pushing us to be creative about class reunions, maybe combining two classes into one reunion is a way to go. 

And now, from my class to yours, however each class decides to hold its next reunion, here’s to making it outta sight, primo, and down right neat. 

Top Rated Television Shows

from many a July 15th ago
  • 1950

    "Texaco Star Theater" starring Milton Berle

  • 1960

    "Gunsmoke" starring James Arness

  • 1970

    "Laugh In" starring Dan Rowan and Dick Martin

  • 1980

    "60 Minutes" starring Mike Wallace

  • 1990

    "The Cosby Show" starring Bill Cosby and Phylicia Rashad

  • 2000

    "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" starring Regis Philbin

  • 2010

    "American Idol Tuesday" starring Ryan Seacrest

Source: Nielsen Media Research

On the Island

Kendall Bartling, Class of 2021

New Band Camp Comes With Challenges

It’s an odd feeling, walking back through the band doors again. The last time I walked in those doors, I grabbed my instrument and left with no idea of if or when I would return. That was in March.

And on this sunny afternoon, outside door 29 of Grand Island Senior High, that’s exactly what’s happening. A return, some may say to normalcy. 

But it’s far from that. Rather, it’s an introduction to the new normal, the mode of operations that we will be under for months and months to come. 

The first step in entering the building happens hours before is a self-check, performed at home. Any symptoms, however seemingly insignificant, and you shouldn’t even show up. Assuming you’re feeling great and ready to tackle the day, you don your mask and head to the school. Upon arrival, you are screened using an IR thermometer, taking your temperature to check for fevers.

A band member gets her temperature checked before entering the Senior High band room for band camp as Activities Director, Mrs. Cindy Wells looks on.

Courtesy photo

After answering a couple of questions, you’re back in the familiar band room. Once you get past the distanced chairs, the masks, and the forbidden sharing of music, a common practice upon bandmates, it truly is still the thing we love: band. 

On that note, marching band is ramping up for an impressive season, in the face of COVID. This marks one of the first shows composed and charted “in-house” by Bobby Jacobs, the son of Mr. Jacobs, the band director. In his words, “It gives us an extra level of flexibility. If something sounds good to me, but ends up not working out in practice, we can change it on the fly.” Unlike shows purchased from large publishing firms, we have the person who wrote the music right next to us.

This year’s show is entitled “Icarus,” and takes cues from all sorts of genres — classical, jazz, and even 1700’s sea shanties. Without revealing too much, all I can say is that this year’s show will be one of the best in our recent lineup, and, most definitely the best since I’ve been in band. 

Senior Abraham Lopez plays the trumpet during band camp.

Courtesy photo

But there will be challenges. Band camp has always been a chance for friends to get together, to have fun, and to mess around, if we’re being honest. Goofing off is part of the experience. But because of the restrictions in place statewide, and the procedures announced and in the works at the district level, band camp will have a different tone: smaller practice groups to allow for compliance with gathering limits; no sharing of equipment, a staple of previous years, where seniors would just try new instruments, new things left and right; and traditions, such as sectional lunches, may not be possible. 

All of these limitations and, as some people in my friend group have called it, “letdowns,” does not even come close to the “letdown” of a serious, deadly respiratory disease. There is no doubt that if band camp were to be held with no changes to procedure, there would be significant spread of the coronavirus. School would more than likely be forced to be delayed, and bigger problems would arise. 

This isn’t the most ideal solution, But it’s the one that works the best for now. Stay safe, stay healthy.

Top Rated Movies

from many a July 15th ago
  • 1940

    "Andy Hardy Meets Debutante" starring Micky Rooney and Judy Garland

  • 1950

    "Father of the Bride" starring Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor

  • 1960

    "Psycho" starring Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins

  • 1970

    "Joe" starring Peter Boyle and Susan Sarandon

  • 1980

    "Cheech & Chong's Next Movie" starring Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong

  • 1990

    "Die Hard 2" starring Bruce Willis and Bonnie Bedelia

  • 2000

    "X-Men" starring Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart

  • 2010

    "Inception" starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Ellen Page


Shaking the World

No Pause on Scholarships!


98 students from the Class of 2020 were awarded 153 scholarships through the GIPS Foundation worth $530,058.

On March 16, 2020, our students did not return from Spring Break.  The Grand Island Public Schools Foundation, was right in the middle of our scholarship process when school was moved to an online environment.  

No worries…we refuse to stop investing in students!

In our case, luckily, the students had finished their applications and the review was already complete.  We had to fumble through the allocation process via zoom and figure out how to offer and award scholarships electronically.  Although challenging, it was achievable. 

The next step is to celebrate.  In a typical year, we host several scholarship receptions where donors and students can meet and visit.  These are always joyous days that really fill the bucket for donors, students and families.  In most cases this year, we had to cancel these receptions.  

There was however, one exception.  At the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation we offer every student who graduates Summa Cum Laude or Magna Cum Laude a scholarship of at least $500.  These scholarships are awarded at an Academic Honors Night complete with a dessert reception and students addressing the audience regarding their future plans.  This reception and presentation seemed non-negotiable.  We couldn't take that away from the Class of 2020.  So...we put our heads together.  

On the night of April 30, we hosted a Facebook Live Academic Honors Night.  It was complete with the Star Spangled Banner, speeches, and a narrated slide show about each of our 65 honor graduates.  But, that is not all!  During the afternoon of April 30, a small army of Foundation Board Members, Staff, and High School Counselors delivered packages of goodies to each honor student's doorstep.  The package included cake from our wonderful local Grand Island business The Chocolate Bar, a t-shirt, the program for the evening, and the student's scholarship award packet. All honors students who submit a scholarship application with the GIPS Foundation are awarded an Academic Aristocrat Scholarship of at least $500.

There were many smiles...on student faces and most definitely on the faces of our volunteer delivery squad.  We have linked up the Facebook Live event to our website.  You can watch the ceremony here.....

As I told the students, this virus has hit the pause button on their life, but we were not going to hit the pause button on scholarships.  Congrats the Class of 2020!  We celebrate them and we know they will be the most resilient and best yet!

For a list of all of our scholarship winners, click here: GIPS Foundation 2020 Scholarship Winners.

Your Legacy. Their Opportunity.

It's a Toss Up! The 70's Share Their Street Cred With the 40's!

The streak has been broken!  Well, sort of!  For the last three years the 1970’s have won the street cred associated with our Go Big Give effort.  Well, the 1940’s have proven that there is room for two on the podium this year.  It wasn’t a landslide…and frankly, the 70’s can still puff their chests with their numbers, but in all the rescheduled online giving day was a good day for our students.  

We are proud of the effort from our alumni and supporters who went big and gave to our students through the 2020 Go Big Give effort.  Our totals that day grew to $11,420 from 39 donors.  Of that total, $3,558.50 was given to the Stadium Project and $7,861.75 was given to our general campaign.  $4,380.25 came from alumni with seven decades represented.  We added $1,625.25 to the Purple and Gold Fund as this was the amount that was given by alumni and not restricted to a specific project such as scholarships or the stadium.  Watch for grants over the next year from the Purple and Gold Fund. 

Here is how the day shook out:

1940’s – 1 gift for $1,500

1950’s – 1 gift for $40

1960’s – 6 gifts for $777.50

1970’s – 6 gifts for $1,497.50

1980’s – 3 gifts for $178.75

1990’s – 2 gifts for $281.50

2000’s – 1 gift for $105

Thank you.  Thank you. Thank you for supporting opportunities for our students!

Top Rated Songs

from many a July 15th ago
  • 1940

    "I'll Never Smile Again" by Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra

  • 1950

    "Mona Lisa" by Nat King Cole

  • 1960

    "Alley Oop" by Hollywood Argyles

  • 1970

    "Mama Told Me" by Three Dog Night

  • 1980

    "Coming Up" by Paul McCartney

  • 1990

    "Step by Step" by New Kids on the Block

  • 2000

    "Everything You Want" by Vertical Horizon

  • 2010

    "California Gurls" by Katy Perry featuring Snoop Dog


Alumni Reunions

Planning a class reunion?

We can help get you started!
Contact us for your class list and send us information about your reunion. We will post it to our website.

Kari Price, Alumni Coordinator
308.385.5900 ext. 1148


NOTE: Reunion information in this newsletter is current as of the publication date. To see Reunion updates and additions go to our Alumni Reunions page.


(Editor’s note: Please read the following list carefully as nearly all the reunions planned for the summer have been either postpones or canceled. Check with the contact person or classmates for more details.)


Class of 1951

The Class of 1951 Reunion is scheduled for October 2, 2020 at the Saddle Club. Please direct any inquiries to Jim Marsh at (702) 946-1000.


Class of 1956

The Class of 1956 wishes to extend an invitation to fellow classmates to join them at their monthly gathering. They meet on the 2nd Tuesday of each month at the Midtown Holiday Inn at 6:00 pm. 


Class of 1960

The Class of 1960 gathers the 1st Wednesday of each month at TOMMY'S Restaurant at 11 am. Join us!
UPDATE: The Class of 1960 Reunion Cancelled
With regret, the Class of 1960 has cancelled their reunion planned for September until further notice. Stay well and we will meet again! Rogene Bainbridge, (308) 384-6904


Class of 1965

UPDATE: The Class of 1965’s 55th  Reunion has been called off until further notice. For more information email Loretta Catlett at

Class of 1966

The Class of 1966 wishes to extend an invitation to fellow classmates to join them at their monthly lunch gathering. They meet the 3rd Wednesday of each month at the Platt Duetsche at 1:00 pm.


Class of 1970

UPDATE: Class 1970 Reunion Postponed — GISH Class of 1970, the Reunion Committee has come to a consensus and we have decided to postpone our 50th High School Reunion Celebration until further notice. Just to be clear, our 50th High School Reunion is not cancelled, it is just postponed to a later date. Many of you have already registered and sent in your checks, and those will be mailed back to you. We are all looking forward to a Party and after all of this I am sure we can all use a fun weekend. We will monitor the situation and let everyone know when we have rescheduled. Contact with questions. (Craig Paro)


 Class of 1990

UPDATE: Class 1990 Reunion Postponed
The 30th Class Reunion for the Class of 1990 has been postponed until 2021. Join the facebook group at GISH Class of 1990, 30 year reunion for updates and to connect with classmates.


Class of 2000

UPDATE: Class 2000 Reunion Postponed
The 20th Class Reunion for the Class of 2000 has been postponed until June 5, 2021. Join the facebook group at Class of 2000 GISH. For more information please contact Elizabeth Patterson, or Erica Wilkinson at

Fiction Bestsellers

from many a July 15th ago
  • 1940

    "Stars on the Sea" by F. Van Wyck Mason

  • 1950

    "The Cardinal" by Henry Morton Robinson

  • 1960

    "Hawaii" by James Michener

  • 1970

    "Love Story" by Erich Segal

  • 1980

    "Rage of Angels" by Sidney Sheldon

  • 1990

    "The Burden of Proof" by Scott Turow

  • 2000

    "The House on Hope Street" by Danielle Street

  • 2010

    "Sizzling Sixteen" by Janet Evanovich

Source: New York Times

A Distant Mirror

Close Encounters

From 1976 to the present my family has lived in the Brentwood and Santa Monica areas of Los Angeles, though since about 2012, we have split the time between our Santa Monica house and our house at Lake Okoboji, Iowa.

I am not a Hollywood guy, and I am not good friends with any Hollywood stars. Nor do I hang in such circles. But anyone living in the LA area for over 44 years is bound to have crossed paths with celebrities just going about normal life. These “close encounters,” if you will, are always sort of interesting, and sometimes quite fun.

Over the years I have been in restaurants and seen as fellow diners Bob Newhart, Mel Brooks and wife Anne Bancroft, Henry Winkler, Tom Petty, Ben Affleck, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. At Peppone in Brentwood, my favorite Italian restaurant, I have seen Dustin Hoffman, Larry Flint (in a wheel chair), and a very drunk Charlie Sheen, carrying on loudly outside the entrance to the restaurant.

The Arnold Schwarzenegger sighting was maybe 16 years ago at a local breakfast place. With me were my daughter, Susannah, my niece Erica, and four of Erica’s college friends, who were staying at our house on spring break from Colorado College. There was Arnold, with his family, having eggs Benedict. All five of the college girls with me then had to go, one by one, to the bathroom so they could pass by his table and get a better look. They then got a double whammy later that day, when they again saw Arnold when they were roller blading along the bike path at the beach.

In spin classes at the spin studio near our house in Santa Monica, I have seen Helen Hunt, Will Farrell, Calista Flockhart, Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgewick, Jennifer Grey (“nobody puts baby in the corner” from “Dirty Dancing”), and Brooke Shields.    

The Brooke Shields encounter occurred when I was at a spin class taught by Tracy, my favorite teacher. I was spinning on the bike next to Tracy’s husband Mike, who is a TV anchorman for an Australian TV station. As the class ended, my friend Mike saw a woman walking out whom he knew and asked her why he had not seen her at his wife’s class recently.  The woman said her children were taking up much of her time.  I then piped in and joked, “Well what is more important, Tracy’s class or your children?” She then laughed and proceeded out of the class. I turned to Mike and asked who that was. He looked at me strangely and said, “Brooke Shields.” I had not even recognized her.

In the late 1970’s, one of my partners did law work for Jerry Mathers (the Beaver on “Leave It to Beaver”), and I met him briefly at a party. At a small grocery store near our Brentwood house, I saw Kathryn Ross (“The Graduate”) checking out in front of me. She seemed more petite than I would have guessed, but beautiful, and getting just a few items, including a pint of vanilla Häagen-Dazs ice cream. In that same small market, I also once saw a huge man entering, who upon a second look was Wilt Chamberlain. 

We have close friends from Australia, including teen age twins, a boy and a girl. During a visit a couple of years ago, I took them to a Los Angeles Kings hockey game. The twins  immediately recognized the actor Eric Stonestreet, from the TV show “Modern Family,” sitting near us. Once again, I would never have recognized him. They asked him if he would take a picture with them, and he graciously agreed. It made their day.

About 25 years ago, my wife, son, James, Susannah, and I were leaving a Mother’s Day brunch at the Café Four Oaks, a cute rustic place tucked into a leafy wooded area in LA’s Benedict Canyon. As we waited for our car from valet parking, a fancy new Range Rover pulled up. I then saw emerging from the car Warren Beatty and wife Annette Benning. They first had to extricate two young children from car seats. I am a huge fan of both Beatty and Benning, and, as I was later told, I apparently stood dumbfounded, staring with wide eyes and open mouth at their presence. Beatty saw me, smiled, and warmly asked me, “How are you?” 

I sprang to life, smiled and said, “Fine, and you?” 

He smiled and said “Fine.” 

Both of my kids later told me, “Dad, you were staring like an idiot.” Apparently I was.

Roughly 40 years ago, my wife Janet and then four-year old Susannah had an encounter in which I was not present. Janet was to take her to the doctor. They entered the elevator in which there was another man. My daughter was loudly singing words from “My Life,” the Billy Joel song she had just heard on the radio.  She belted out, “I don’t care what you say anymore this is my life!” At that point the man in the elevator then smiled and sang out, completing the next lyric, “Go ahead with your own life and leave me alone!” Janet looked up to see a very handsome man, with blazing blue eyes. It was Steve McQueen. McQueen then commented on what a cute little blonde girl my daughter was. Janet was blown away.

But my favorite close encounter was with one of my favorite rockers, Rod Stewart. In 1990, I coached then ten-year James’s little league baseball team at the Brentwood park where the Park Director was none other than my high school classmate, the late Mike Parmley, GIHS class of 1967. After our team’s game, I stayed with another friend to watch the next game between two other teams in our league. One of the ten-year olds playing in the second game was Rod Stewart’s son Sean Stewart. I then saw Rod Stewart, with his first wife, Alana, sitting in the bleachers. In law school, 18 years earlier, I probably listened to Stewart’s “Never a Dull Moment” album about 100 times. I particularly loved the song, “You Wear It Well.” So, while standing with my friend behind the backstop, maybe 20 feet away from Stewart, I got frisky. I began to sing, fairly decently I might add 

     I had nothing to do on this hot afternoon,
     But to settle down and write you a line.    
     I’ve been meaning to phone you but from Minnesota, 
     Hell it’s been a very long time.
     You wear it well,
     A little old fashioned but that’s all right.


My friend began to cackle with laughter, and I looked over and saw Rod Stewart smiling broadly and also laughing. He gave me a quick little wink. I cannot help but chuckle every time I think of that one.

But I have to admit, the most amazing “close encounter” in my family did not involve me or my children, and it did not occur in California. Rather it happened to my wife Janet in about 1956 in East Prairie, Missouri. Janet was about six-years old when her parents took a trip to New York City to see some plays and enjoy the city. Janet stayed with their housekeeper who lived across the street from the grandmother of Elvis Presley.  The housekeeper’s husband and son had recently died in a tragic trucking accident, and her grandson, about five-years old, was living with her. While Janet and the woman’s grandson were playing, they looked across the street and saw several large moving vans, unloading a variety of appliances, TV’s, a refrigerator, a stove, and much more. Elvis, who had just made it big, was treating his grandmother to some nice gifts. 

When Janet and the young boy saw the empty boxes out front, they asked if they could play in the boxes, and they proceeded to do so. A bit later, when back at the housekeeper’s house, they saw Elvis approaching. Elvis had heard of the tragic death of the husband and son, and he came over to pay his respects to the lady. He also brought over a toy fire truck as a present for the boy. But he did more than that, since he stayed for about an hour and played with Janet and the boy. Indeed, Janet remembers that Elvis actually put her on his shoulders and ran around the room, much to her delight. The King! Janet not only got to see him, in his prime, but got a shoulder ride. Not surprisingly, Janet is still a major Elvis fan to this day.

Mike Monk, Class of 1967, can be reached at

I've Been Thinking

Life Changing Years, Moments

Let’s skip the formalities and simply award the Class of 2020 the Lifetime Achievement Seminal High School Moments Trophy. What a year to graduate.

The hope here is that this year’s graduates will use this pandemic and its swath of death, fear, uncertainty, and at times chaotic confusion as a benchmark, a starting point, a jumping off place. Yes, despite the odious effects of COVID on the planet generally, living through this time as a high school student, let alone a graduating senior, could be enlightening. 

I admire those charged with trying to schedule and plan graduation, manipulate a fluid high school activities calendar, or sketch how the upcoming school year will look. 

Their work, however, has my wandering and occasionally devious mind thinking about what were the seminal moments in my three years at Senior High.

Full disclosure: This is not an exercise to compare the influential and determinant events in my experience with those of the Class of 2020. (Please refer to the award in the first paragraph.)

Nor would any comparison be apples to apples. I have the benefit of 50-plus years of hindsight, and it’s taken all of that (and perhaps more) to see the pivotal and formative sway of the three moments I detail below.

Leaving out trips to the principal’s office or other behavioral hiccups of note, I offer, in no particular order, a trio (out of many) imprinting events from high school at GISH:

#1 — As a retired (kinda) journalist, I have been blessed to be in the company of my journalism teacher, Mrs. Judy Barth, for most of the thousands of deadlines I’ve made over the years. Plenty of professions and the ups and downs of everyday family life require us to meet deadlines, but journalists have a particularly unique relationship with them. As in “dead” is half the word.

This moment’s lesson for me is steeped in irony. I always wanted to be a storyteller and have been fortunate to make a living doing just that. Mrs. Barth insisted we tell our stories on time … as in deadlines. And, after missing a second one (she gave me a stern warning on the first), she promptly ended my budding journalism career by leaving me off the list of those sophomore 4J Beginning Journalism students who would go on to be stalwarts on “The Islander” and “Purple and Gold.”

I was crushed. To my 16-year old way of thinking, Mrs. Barth had been unfair, overly strict, inhuman, compassionless, and just plain mean. Years later (sooner actually but I was never willing to admit it) I realized every time I filed a column or a news story or and editorial on a tight deadline, Mrs. Barth’s gift was working in my life.

#2 — On a beautiful autumn Friday night during the third quarter of a football game against the Columbus Discoverers, I heard a crack like a branch snapping. Unfortunately, the sound was my fibula ceding to the physics of it all  … well actually to the 200-plus pounds of a Columbus lineman, who would later become a friend at UNL. 

I’ll spare you the details, but suffice to say that by the time when Senior High trainer Barney McGahan loaded me into his station wagon and headed for St. Francis, I had a broken leg and a broken wrist. The fractures in my fibula and navicular bones were enough to keep me off crutches and in wheelchair until the doctor gave me a walking cast about 10 days later. 

Sports, which for some years had been the dominant force in my life (OK, yeah, girls and cars were pretty close), were out of the question. The unplanned, 11-week hiatus from games and fields and gyms was — please excuse the pun — a whole new ballgame. After some initial awkwardness, I realized that as much as I loved sports and competing, I had other interests, things about which I grew curious, things I wanted to know and master. As a purely logistical matter, going home after school, making a PB&J, and just hanging out proved to be a marvel in itself. 

In January I played in my first game in nearly three months. It felt good. But I had learned there was a world, a wonderful world, well outside the narrow confines of who I thought I was.  I still love sports, but hose broken bones had unlocked a curiosity in me that still serves me well.

#3 — The third entry in my reminisces is more of a conglomerate of memories from my senior year, fueled by a fleeting thought I had during our graduation ceremony, an awareness that made sense only years later. The notion wasn’t that these 421 classmates sitting around me had shaped, underpinned, and bettered my life, although they had. It was, rather, that Sunday afternoon in Memorial Stadium would be the last time we’d all be together, we shapers, and supporters, and influencers, and yes, friends. The Class of 1968 had endured the death of a classmate, bomb scares, and the uncertainty of wading into a world where war, discord, and violence seemed to dominate what Walter Cronkite told us each night.

The lesson, which was absolutely clear to me at our 50th class reunion, was this: High school can be a wondrous, life changing, and difficult place — sometimes all on the same day or even in the same class period.

But if I pay attention, its lessons can last a lifetime.

In Memoriam

May and June memorial list of GISH Alumni


JERRY ANDERSEN, Class of 1971, died Oct. 26, 2019, in Laramie, Wyo. He was 66.

CHARLENE (BUCHANAN) DIER, Class of 1960, died Dec. 1, 2019, in Yankton, S.D. She was 77.

ROBERT WICINA, Class of 1959, died April 12, 2020, in Palm City, Fla. He was 78.

JIM LUCAS, Class of 1980, died May 1, 2020, in Central City. He was 58.

BETTY (FISHER) DOWD, Class of 1949, died May 2, 2020, in Grand Island. She was 89.

KENNETH KIRKLAND, Class of 1963, died May 5, 2020, in Omaha. He was 75.

SHARON MCHUGH, Class of 1959, died May 12, 2020, in Waverly. She was 80.

BERNICE (BURNETT) BAILEY, Class of 1956, died May 13, 2020, in Omaha. She was 82.

LAVONNE (LARSEN) BUETTNER, Class of 1959, died May 16, 2020, in Lincoln. She was 78.

GARRISON ‘DALE’ HYDE, Class of 1954, died May 18, 2020, in Aurora. He was 83.

PATRICIA (CHRISTENSEN) PERRIE, Class of 1972, died May 19, 2020, In Grand Island, She was 66.

ANNA MAE (GREGORY) BECKER, Class of 1946, died May 21, 2020, in St. Paul. She was 92.

MARIA GLORIA RAMIREZ, Class of 1971, died May 22, 2020, in Grand Island. She was 56. 

STANLEY AGUILAR, Class of 1960, died May 23, 2020, in Grand Island. He was 78.

WILLIS ‘JOHN’ HANSSEN, Class of 1945, died May 25, 2020, in Grand Island. He was 92.

DAN BENNETT, Class of 1958, died May 25, 2020, in Tucson, Ariz. He was 79.

LEO LEE, Class of 1945, died May 28, 2020, in Syracuse. He was 92.

DAVID SHRINER, Class of 1954, died May 29, 2020, in Wichita, Kan. He was 84. 

FRAN (SHANNON) ELROD, Class of 1962, died June 2,2020, in Grand Island. She was 76.

JACK STOLLE, Class of 1964, died June 3, 2020, in Grand Island. He was 73.

ELDORA ‘DORIE’ (SEMM) SPECK, Class of 1944, died June 3, 2020, in Grand Island. She was 94.

DARRELL PENAS, Class of 1972, died June 9, 2020, in Omaha. Darrell lived in Grand Island. He was 65.

JANET (PACE) MCKAY, Class of 1967, died June 9, 2020, in Davis City. She was 70.

TRINITY (SHAFFER) SEDER, Class of 1976, died June 11, 2020, in Aurora. She was 61.

REBECCA (SCHUPP) LUCKETT, Class of 2000, died June 14, 2020, in Alda. She was 38.

LOIS (HONGSERMEIER) REDMAN, Class of 1949, died June 22, 2020, in Grand Island. She was 88.

LINDA (HERMSMEYER) MARS, Class of 1964, died June 25, 2020, in Grand Island. She was 74.

To report an alumni death since February 29, 2020, please send an email with the first name, last name, class year and maiden name if applicable to

© 2024 Grand Island Public Schools Foundation

Powered by Firespring