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North Central sweethearts: As class of ’71 prepares to reunite, couples reflect on meeting in high school

By Cindy Hval For The Spokesman-Review

Last year, COVID-19 canceled many anticipated events, including the 50th reunion of North Central’s class of 1971.

This year the event is back and organizers have dubbed it the 50th+1 reunion. Many of those planning to attend don’t have to wait for a reunion gala to see their former classmates. That’s because they’re married to them.

Meet some of the high school sweethearts from the class of ’71.

Jim Crouch and Alanna Borgen

Jim and Alanna met the summer before their senior year when both worked at the Safeway store on Francis. Jim bagged groceries and Alanna worked in the bakery. Jim would come to the bakery on his break to purchase a donut.

“Our friendship continued in Miss Allison’s history class at North Central,” said Alanna. “I asked him out.”

They attended prom together and knew they wanted to marry, but both had more pressing goals. She wanted to graduate from college and he wanted to buy a house. When both of those goals were achieved they married on April 10, 1976.

Forty-six years later, Jim said, “I can’t imagine not being married to Alanna.”

Paul Meredith and Kathy Ballard

Paul and Kathy met in the sixth grade at Central Baptist Church. They attended junior high and high school together and were part of the active youth group at the church. In their junior year they started dating.

“I did all of his auto shop homework for him and ironed his shirts,” Kathy recalled.

They got engaged in February of their senior year outside of North Central and married June 11, 1971 – five days after graduation.

“It was the Vietnam War and Paul’s draft number was 16,” she explained. “He decided to enlist in the Navy. By the first week of July, he was at boot camp.”

The couple lives in Desert Aire, WA and celebrated their 51st anniversary last month.

“I wouldn’t have picked anybody different, that’s for sure,” said Kathy.

Sam Saxton and Tina Tintor

Sam and Tina met in math class when they sat next to each other their sophomore year.

“He’d moved to Spokane from a small town in Wyoming and was very shy, a definite country boy,” Tina recalled. “I, on the other hand liked to talk.”

They started dating as juniors.

“He carried my books home for me and when he got a Ford station wagon, he taught me to drive a stick shift,” she said.

It took Sam a while to propose, but they married Sept. 9, 1978.

“I always just thought it was right and he was the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with,” said Tina.

Dunny Sorensen and Debbie Williams

Debbie (class of ’72) and Dunny met in the North Central band room and started dating during her junior year and his senior year.

“We started talking and ended up going out for an ice cream,” said Dunny. “We’ve been together ever since, marrying on June 10, 1972.”

They moved to Eugene for grad school in 1975, and made the city their home.

“We’re active in the local music and arts community along with enjoying cycling, cooking for friends, and travel,” said Dunny.

Dave Elliott and Kristine Youngren

Dave and Kristine (class of ’73) met in choir at NC.

“I flirted with her, but she was shy,” he recalled. “I wasn’t going to give up and we started dating two weeks before I graduated.”

Their first date was dinner at Arby’s, followed by a movie at the North Cedar Drive-In. Kristine was too nervous to eat, so Dave finished both of their meals.

They married after she graduated on July 29, 1973. After many years in Seattle, they relocated to San Diego.

Dave recalled a bit of advice he heard long ago, “A wise man once told me, ‘never stop courting your wife,’ ” he said.

Ken Everett and Cindy Smith

Ken and Cindy grew up in the same neighborhood and attended school together from elementary all the way through high school.

“After high school, we kept in contact by email every once in a while,” said Cindy. “When my twin sister Connie died, I called to let him know. He let me know his wife Sue had passed.”

She visited him Arizona, and the rest is history.

“We’ve been together since 2013, but we have been married since 2018,” she said. “We celebrated our fourth year of marriage in April, but a lifetime of friendship.”

Dennis Casadoro and Pam Read

Dennis noticed Pam (class of ’72) on the first day of school in 1968.

He was on the school bus and she was with her mom in the family car. She was a freshman; he was a sophomore.

“A couple of weeks later, I spied her from the top row of Albi Stadium at Friday night football,” he recalled. “She was eating cotton candy near the concession stands.”

He hurried down to meet her. They went to the Sadie Hawkins Dance together and had several dates.

“I bumbled months later, and we went our separate ways,” Dennis said.

Years later, he visited Spokane from his home in the Midwest and attended a North Central All Class Reunion where he ran into Pam’s mom, who urged him to give her daughter a call.

He did.

“I soon moved to Seattle for my job, and she relocated from Spokane,” he said. “We were married in 1988 and are coming up on 35 years this summer.”

Dave Snyder and Barbara Reel

Dave and Barbara sat next to each other in creative writing class and he asked her to senior prom. However, she was dating someone else and turned him down. Her boyfriend was older and didn’t want to go to prom, so she stayed home.

Fast forward to the class of ’71’s 40th reunion.

Barbara was on the reunion committee and Dave walked in with a friend.

“I recognized him the minute he walked through the door,” said Barbara. “My heart skipped a beat.”

They chatted and Dave said, “Hey, you owe me a prom!”

Within eight weeks of reconnecting they’d moved in together.

“It just felt right,” said Dave.

Barbara is a huge Zags fan and has attended every West Coast Conference game since 2004. In March 2013, they couple traveled to Las Vegas for the games and were married under the big Las Vegas sign.

“Every year we go back to the sign and get our pictured taken beneath it, holding our anniversary number Barbara said. “This year it will be 10.”

And that prom?

Shortly after their wedding, they finally attended North Central’s senior prom and were named honorary king and queen.

The sentiment on their wedding napkins sums up their story: “It’s never too late to live happily ever after.”

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