Six graduates of Mead High School in 1970 have more in common than a shared education. Along with a 50-year school reunion – postponed to September because of COVID-19 – three couples in the same class married within a few years of graduating. They’re still together, each approaching a golden anniversary.
All six Mead alums now share closer friendships, as well: Scott and Sandie Eymer, Steve and Kathy Brown and Tim and Marti Daniels. They credit marriage longevity to humor, always growing and common interests. “Interestingly, we weren’t really close friends in school, but we were all friendly,” said Sandie Eymer, 68. “Now, we feel very close.”
She and Scott Eymer didn’t meet in person until October of senior year. A newcomer to Mead, he arrived in 1968 after a move from Chicago. “We had mutual friends who got married and asked Sandie to be maid of honor and me to be the best man,” Scott Eymer, 69, said. “That night, sparks flew.”
They dated for the remaining senior year. She was a high school cheerleader. He was the student body president. A total of 253 graduates were in their 1970 class. “It was very rural,” he said. “Just coming in, I found it was a friendly group. We all went to the football games. We all went to the basketball games. We had the bonfire out in the parking lot.”
Marti Daniels, 69, and Tim Daniels, 68, were first matched up in chemistry class. She and her twin sister had just enrolled in fall 1969 after a family move from Minnesota. “I’d only been enrolled at Mead High School two days, and our chemistry teacher knew I was going to be in trouble, so he assigned Tim as my lab partner,” she said.
Tim Daniels had heard the rumors. “Mead was a little bit cliquish,” he said. “The story was going around school that there were these two new girls in school and that they dress funny.”
It had something to do with Midwest attire, but that didn’t matter. “Sure enough, fourth period, I show up, and here they both are in my fourth-period class. I didn’t know anything about style.”
He remembers being impressed both sisters stayed after school to catch up, but he wasn’t the best of lab partners. Errands for the school’s newspaper made him late to class, so he’d rush through the lab work.
The Daniels actually didn’t start dating until her sophomore year at Whitworth after the death of the twins’ father. A friend asked Tim Daniels for help, “taking these two girls out,” but as the fourth guy tapped for a double date.
Daniels teased his friend. “I told him, ‘Thank you for making me your first choice,’ and I decided at that moment I was going to decide which one I’m going to be with. They’re identical twins, right? I picked that one (Marti).”
They married Aug. 24, 1974. Marti became a longtime horticulture teacher at Shadle Park High School until retirement in 2017. Tim Daniels did substitute teaching. Mainly, he’s ran Daniels Sprinkler Systems, started by his father.
Steve Brown, 69, was known as a standout school athlete, playing baseball and three years of varsity football. But he and Kathy, 69, didn’t date until their days at Spokane Falls Community College, and she heard he skied.
“I walked up to him and told him, ‘You’re taking me skiing,’ and it was in the old lodge at SFCC,” she said. “So I walked up out of the blue and asked him. We went to Mt. Spokane December of 1971.” By their third date, he proposed. “I laughed at him; I thought he was joking,” she said. He wasn’t, of course, and they married Sept. 29, 1973.
The Browns first lived in Mead, then Deer Park for 20 years. He worked at the Kaiser Aluminum smelter in Mead for 29 years. The facility closed in 2000. “I was the guy who shut the lights off, literally.”
By 1999, they moved to Pend Oreille County, where Steve Brown is a fire commissioner and she served as an EMT engineer. Both recently retired from driving school buses.
Scott and Sandie Eymer, a retired teacher, returned to Spokane about 10 years ago. They married June 3, 1972, while students at Washington State University.
Scott Eymer started in sales at KHQ in Spokane. The couple moved to Boise, where they raised a family, and he worked in TV station management. Another move took them to Sioux City, Iowa, where he ran a group of TV stations before retirement.
The six classmates recall the cultural influences of the 1960s and that Mead students came from a mix of “urban” neighborhoods around Whitworth and “rural” farms. They were all in sixth grade when John F. Kennedy was assassinated and recall watching the TV news coverage in classes.
They were aware of the civil rights marches as well as riots in cities across the U.S. All three men later registered for the draft but weren’t called to Vietnam. However, the possibility was always in the back of their minds, Daniels said. In ROTC, he went to the University of Washington for two years. There, the protest group called the Weathermen were connected to explosives left at Seattle buildings.
“The Weathermen blew up our ROTC building at the University of Washington,” Daniels said. “We had cadets beat up by pacifists. There was a lot of marching and anger on campus. That was 1970 to 1972.” Spokane stayed relatively quiet, class members said. As seniors, they participated in activities for the first Earth Day, in April 1970.
They also enjoyed 1960s music, fast cars and fashion. They rallied against school rules prohibiting boys’ hair being too long and the girls’ skirts too short. They enjoyed the Beatles, Eagles, Creedence Clearwater Revival and “Age of Aquarius,” which they sang for their senior high school follies.
And in conversations, the Mead alums talk fondly about favorite teachers, including Clayton Kvenvold, Helen Nordby, Ruth Slind, Cash Stone, Bernice Kite, Cliff Goss, Eugene Fink, Gordon Brunette and Al Toutant. Mary Hyatt, who taught English at Mead and still teaches at SFCC, plans to join their reunion event, Eymer said.
He said they know of 46 classmates who have died. A website created for the 40th reunion, mead70.com, has drawn alums closer, with 84% of the class registered. Prior to COVID-19, a large group met for monthly visits.
Eymer said that other couples from the 1970 class married, but since, a spouse has died or some divorced. Sandie Eymer sees a pattern among the three surviving couples. It’s a blend of shared interests, learning together, supported goals, humor and compromise.
Over the years, the Browns came together to support the Fire Department. The Daniels spent hours together rebuilding sports cars. The Eymers juggled moves, with selling and buying property that usually fell to one of them. “I would say, constantly be growing,” Sandie said. “And laugh.”