December 2000 Class Column

Col. William B. DeGraf
24 December 2000

As I start this column, it is Christmas Eve and there is even some snow on the ground here in Northern Virginia. So here are my best wishes to all of you for a wonderful New Year!

As we end the year 2000, it is nice to report that Joe Griffin was named Veteran of the Year for Dillon County, SC for his service on active duty and his accomplishments in retirement.

About the same time Will Hill Tankersley was a guest speaker at the Maxwell AFB Commemoration Ceremony for the 50thAnniversary of the Korean War. His talk stressed how unprepared the Army was for that war and the cost that took. All of that to remind his audience of the need to keep up our Armed Forces.

Lots of Golden Weddings, of course, and more will show up when I get to the cards, but Frank Thompson sent along a cute article he wrote for the Charleston paper about his courtship and marriage to Fran. Seems he was driving 2500 miles each weekend to see her in his ‘50 Ford Custom, so she “wised up” and they were married the day after Thanksgiving, or were they? Seems Frank can prove he was carried present for duty in TX that day and not in NC. Guess it worked out OK, since their daughter Terri Fairbanks and son Stuart(‘78) treated them to a seven day cruise to Bermuda for their 50th anniversary. Frank sent a nice shot of them. (P4)

In June, in response to their kids’ urging, Ray & Mary Hansencelebrated their 50th anniversary in western France. In the picture (P1) Ray & Mary are on the left with their brood, their spouses, and “many grandchildren” in front of Angers’ Castle in the Loire Valley. After that the Hansens took a lazy barge trip, ending with a day long visit with Mal & Marjory Johnson in St. Bres.

In Sept. Camp 2 of the Korean War POWs held a reunion at West Point. While Joe Green and Doc Watson didn’t make it, the other five did. Mike Dowe got a good picture (P2) of the group in front of Cullum Hall. L-to-R are John Streit, Paul & Virginia Roachwith their grandson Phillip, Mike & Barbara Dowe, Ernie Dunning, Marie Koneczny, who was with Mike DeArmond. Mike also said he recently had lunch with Chuck & Dianne Friedlander.

At Ft. Lee, VA Mark & Gloria Jones got a big thrill when their son Kevin took command of the 429th QM Bn, an Army Reserve command. Kevin served over ten years on active duty and now has another ten in the Reserve, where he is a LtC. His civilian job is with the Commonwealth of VA.

Several members of the Class have been lucky enough to attend the Passion Play at Oberammergau. Dick Steuart was part of one of those groups and sent along this picture (P3) of the gang. That’sBob & Carolyn Hughes on the left, Barbara & Bruce Petreewith Joy Viskochil between them, and Carol & Dick Steuart on the right. After their stay in Bavaria, the Petrees traced their early stations in Germany, while the others visited Vienna, Prague, and Budapest.


I’ve got a HUGE pile of cards before me, all of which we have enjoyed. Will try to pick out the highlights from them until I run out of space. Will save the rest for the next column.

Lou & Elaine Dixon - Celebrated their 50th in July and in Oct. went to Elaine’s 55th high school reunion in Wilkes-Barre, PA. Both have given up golf but enjoy keeping up with their daughter Pam in VA and son Jeff in FL. Granddaughter Megan is studying journalism at VCU in Richmond, VA.

Ben & Malvene Lewis - Sold their former FL home and moved to Indian River Colony Club in Melbourne, FL, joining a number of our classmates. Malvene attended her 50th high school reunion in Vancouver, BC in May. Oct. took them back to West Point for an AOG meeting at the same time daughter Debbie had her 20threunion. Son Alan retired from the Navy to work for Nortel in VA.

Bob & Gwyn Groseclose - Attended Gwyn’s family reunion in June and Bob’s in Sept, so it was a reunion year. Gwyn is still selling cosmetics, but they find time for golf, bridge, church, parties and trips. Both the girls are home schooling the grandchildren.

Shirley Thomas - Had a traveling year with two trips to CA, one to see June Elliott and one to be part of the wedding of Roy & Betty Easley’s son, Michael, who married Wendy Tanabe in San Francisco on 19 Aug. That was  followed by a trip to TX to see grandson Kristopher graduate from high school. Daughter Temple and Mike Wood (‘76) returned from two years in Korea. He now has a bde in Honduras, while she is living near Ft. Bragg.

Tom & Sam Strider - Attended several conferences, got an article published in American Scientist, trekked Brice, Zion and several smaller canyons, and managed Thanksgiving with Tom’s sister in IN.  Granddaughter Kimberly won a national trophy in sparring in the National Tae Kwon Do competitions in FL.

Ed & Lee Pierce - Ed is easing back on teaching,and both are golfing and enjoying their FL home. Also manage to spend some time in the vacation home in Steamboat Springs, CO, where daughters Nancy and Lynn and their families visited. The Pierces also managed to visit CA, WA and HI during the year.

Bill & Bettie Curry - They are happily settled at Patriots Colony in Williamsburg, VA. Managed a Carribean cruise, a reunion of A-7 pilots in Tucson, AZ, and the Passion Play in addition to our 50that West Point.

John & Ann Wickham - Ann is very busy with the Animal Assisted Therapy program, including training other therapy teams. John keeps abreast of things military. When there is time they enjoy camping and hiking, including a time camping with daughter Lindsley and her family in the NC mountains.

Pat & Elaine Wilson - In July family and friends joined them at the Thornton Ranch in Lamy, NM to celebrate their wedding there 50 years earlier. Pat’s restored 1950 Willys Overland Jeepster was in the Pecos Rodeo parade. Elaine continues to show her jewelry at a number of shows. Thanksgiving was spent at a soaring meet in Alamogordo, NM with daughter Anne.

Phyllis Johnson - A cruise in Sept., trip to Denver in Oct., skiing in CO over Thanksgiving, and Tucson for Christmas should put her in a mood to relax and watch her Purdue Boilermakers in the Rose Bowl.

Jack & Kay Magee - Fires in ID last summer did not effect them directly but it changed where they spent their flying and biking time. Kay is very much the outdoor girl with hiking, backpacking, mountain biking and skiing. 
She rode this year in OR and WA including the Historic Columbia Gorge Highway, which is open to non-motorized traffic. Jack keeps his biking around the local airport, but he is enjoying the new engine in his plane.

Joy Viskochil - Big news was a move down the street, next toDave Pettit’s place. Also went to two Elderhostel programs and, as noted above, went to the Passion Play.

John & Ann Howard - After reunion they gathered all their children and spouses together with 7 of the 8 grandsons (plus two girlfriends) and one granddaughter at Cape Canaveral, FL for their Golden Wedding. The children then gave them a week at lovely South Seas Resort on Captiva Island, FL. John is very involved in veterans affairs and Ann continues her china painting.

Peg & Ray Singer - Celebrated their 50th in the Grand Tetons with their children and grandchildren.

Bob & Martha Morrison - Another 50th this time in Duck, NC for a week at the beach with the kids, each bedroom with its own TV. Also Martha is really shining in Maj Jong.

Afraid that will have to do it for this column.


I am saddened to report the death of George Lear on 15 Nov of the cancer he had been fighting. Even though ill he has been instrumental in setting up the West Point Sailing Foundation to aid cadet sailors. He is survived by his wife Mary Ellen Shepherd, four daughters: Amy White, Dorothy, Mary, and Georgianna Lear, and two step-daughters: Heather and Beth Scharf. Mary Ellen lives at 9005 Kensington Parkway, N. Chevy Chase, MD 20815. Our sympathies go to all the family.

That’s it, as we await the new century. May it bring lots of good times with close friends - and good health for all.