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Classmates celebrate 60 years

A group of classmates share stories from their high school days.

Staff photo by Gabby Boyd

By Gabby Boyd

gboyd@dailycorinthian.com

The weekend was full of hugs, smiles, laughter and memories for a group of classmates.

Corinth High School's Class of 1959 celebrated their 60th reunion.

"It's so good to see familiar faces and be with friends from 60 years ago. I'm just so excited to hear about their life experiences," said Kenneth Williams, a 1959 CHS graduate and owner of Corinth Coca-Cola Bottling Group.

The last reunion was in 2009 and since then the number of students has decreased. There are only 86 surviving graduates.

"We need to start seeing each other more," said Sam Kemp, one of the organizers of the event.

Several classmates came from as far as Texas and North Carolina. Waynelle Bradley Strachan was one.

"It's a blessing to come back after this many years. This is a time to renew old friendships and enjoy being around these beautiful, sweet and crazy classmates of mine," said Strachan, who owns and manages a 20,000 acre cattle ranch in Clint, Texas.

Dennis Felker assisted Kemp in planning the reunion and he said he's "tickled to be back in the Crossroads."

"When we started putting this together I was just so excited. I looked forward to this for years and I want to get to know some of the classmates I didn't connect with in high school," said Felker, who now resides in Hendersonville, North Carolina.

Kemp and Felker began planning the reunion last December. They came up with lots of activities for the group to do.

The reunion kicked off Friday evening at Pizza Grocery for a mix and mingle. There the classmates enjoyed dinner and brought up memories from their school days.

On Saturday, the group met at the Coke Museum for a tour and enjoyed coke floats, which was hosted by Williams. They also had a memorial reading of the names of 32 classmates who have passed away.

Afterwards, they took the 60 Sites 60 Minutes Historic Downtown Walking Tour. Later, they had a class photo session on the court house steps. The reunion ended with dinner at Vicari.

Some classmates believe the reunion has brought them closer than before.

"I think its the closeness of the people in this particular class. We have remained friends throughout the years. It feels so good to just get caught back up on all this lost time," said Kemp, a Mass Mutual Life Insurance broker.

Wray Kent Cox left Corinth years ago and became a clinical psychologist in Memphis.

"I'm so glad I got to see the people I grew up with, but most of all I'm so fascinated by how much they look like their parents," said Cox, who is now retired.

According to Kemp, the Class of 59 has accomplished so much and has even left a legacy.

"We have all kinds of people in our class and its amazing what all they went on to do with their lives," he added.

There are many people who have done tremendous things in this class.

Some of the classmates include Ralph Horn, the former Chairman and CEO of First Tenn. Bank in Memphis and Eddie Gatlin, who has bought and sold a number of successful businesses.

The class was full of teachers, engineers, doctors, lawyers, business owners, consultants, homemakers and even an ex CIA agent.

Classmates agree the reunion was a success, and plans include meeting again before the next decade.