June 11, 2009 in Washington Voices

Roosevelt classmates reunite

Web searches rewarded by strong turnout
By The Spokesman-Review
 
Dan Pelle photo

Kim Gardell prepares to photograph Roosevelt School’s Class of 1959 as they gathered Friday for their 50th reunion.danp@spokesman.com
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

They came from all over the country to meet in the shade of the pines, by the big soccer goal on Roosevelt Elementary School’s sports field. Many had not seen each other since the last time they were at Roosevelt, 50 years ago, as part of the graduating class of 1959.

“It took a lot of Googling to find everybody, and sometimes Google said to go to Yahoo and ask,” said Joyce Eltz, who now lives in Eugene, Ore., but was one of the people who set out to get her elementary school class together for a 50-year reunion.

The idea was adopted from Wilson Elementary, which had a reunion on Friday as well, said Eltz.

In Spokane, Jerry Malone spearheaded the effort and called Eltz.

“I figured it would be a bit of work,” Eltz said. “And I’m telling you, there were times where my computer was smoking.”

Since December, the Roosevelt reunion committee made contact with pretty much everyone, Eltz said, and on Friday 42 people from 10 states gathered in Spokane.

“Of course I wondered if people would come,” said Eltz, “but then I thought, ‘Hey, I would come,’ and we got started.”

When Nancy King of New Mexico, Robin Turner of Missouri, Steve Doughty of Oregon and Clint Rogel of Spokane joined Eltz and Malone, they formed a core group of six Roosevelt Roughriders – that was the mascot back in ’59 – determined to find all their old classmates.

And it was a bit of a task.

They had one old class photo from ’59 with people’s names on it and a variety of other photos from elementary school, but many had only spent a few years with the class.

“We had one picture with the students that had spent nine years together,” said Eltz, so that became their guide.

Ricki Carlson, who now lives on Vashon Island, Wash., came home one day to find a message from Eltz.

“I was really surprised, but I called her right back,” sCarlson said. “I mean, this was grade school, this was a long time ago, and I couldn’t even remember my friends from back then.”

Carlson was with the class in seventh and eighth grade, she said, as she was hugging old friends.

“I’m telling you, a lot of people are barely recognizable,” Carlson said.

On the nametags were portraits from ’59 which helped some people reconnect.

A new class picture was taken in front of Roosevelt and so was a portrait of the Roosevelt Roughriders’ basketball team – city champions in ’59 – now sporting some gray hair.

Then it was the cheerleaders’ turn to line up and smile big on the count of “one, two, three – Roosevelt.”

Dinners and other get-togethers were planned for the weekend, Malone said, with some time spent together with the reunion group from Wilson Elementary.

Carlson summed up the sentiment of many Roosevelt alumni: “I really like that this is a smaller, more intimate setting. At a high school reunion you are part of a class of 600 or maybe 1,000 – here it’s much easier to visit with people. I’m so glad I came.”


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