Shelby County class holds reunion at governor’s mansion

Published 5:01 pm Monday, May 16, 2011

SCHS Class of 1961 50th reunion on the steps of Alabama’s Governor’s Mansion. Bottom Row: Joel Lovett, Earl Niven, Mary Chelsea, Carolyn Ray Dennis, Patricia Mooney Shaw, Alma Vanderslice Jordan, Patricia Kendrick Weldon, Mary Armstrong Freeman, Yoby Sims Whipp, Beth Jones Turnipseed, Loretta Oaks Argo, Jimmy Ivey. Second Row: Jane Isbul Windham, Nancy Graf, Gay Clark Blalock, Gail Joseph Owen, Mike Dorough, Sandra Carlson Morris, Sara Maynard Vick, Maxine Boaz Davis, Agnes Moore Poole, Kathleen Perkins Bryant. Third Row: Glenda Davis Anderson, Joyce Edwards Harwell, James Jones. Fourth Row: James Schrader, Charles Arledge, Susie Rowland Williams, Earl Tyus, Gov. Robert Bentley, Edwin Atchison, Oliver Milstead. Back Row: Jimmy McDow, Ronnie Chesser, Jimmy Blalock, Larry Whisenhunt, Lloyd Sims, Larry Wheeler, Stacy Oliver, Neal Weir, Charles Coleman, Robert Hughes, Wendell Evans, Fred Hall, Carl Coward, Lynn Merrell. (Contributed)

By PHOEBE DONALD ROBINSON / Community Columnist

Governor Robert Bentley and First Lady Diane Bentley hosted the 50th reunion of the Shelby County High School’s Class of 1961 at the governor’s mansion in Montgomery on May 14.

Forty-five of the 48 seniors attended with their spouses the much-anticipated event.

Planning for the event began more than a year ago.

Gov. Bentley and the First Lady greeted each classmate.

The Reunion Committee consisted of 1961 classmates: Chairman Mike Dorough, Gail Joseph Owen, Sara Maynard Vick, Maxine Boaz Davis and Joyce Edwards Harwell.

Former Docent Carol Hill, wife of State Rep. Mike Hill of Columbiana, spoke to the group about the history of the Governor’s Mansion. Hill is also the daughter-in-law of Elvin Hill, principal of Shelby County High School in 1961 and retired superintendent of the Shelby County Board of Education, whose health did not permit him to attend. Former teachers Robert Hughes (agriculture) and Mrs. Barbara Joiner (speech) attended.

Classmates attending were: Bentley, Dorough, Owen, Vick, Davis, Harwell, Loretta Oaks Argo, Charles Arledge, Edwin Atchison, Gay Clark Blalock, Jim Blalock, Kathleen Perkins Bryant, Mary Chelsea, Ronnie Chesser, Charles Coleman, Carl Cowart, Glenda Anderson Davis, Wendell Evans, Mary Armstrong Freeman, Nancy Graf, Fred Hall, Robert Hughes, Jimmy Ivey, James Jones, Alma Vanderslice Jordan, Joel Lovett, Oliver Milstead, Sandra Carlson Morris, Jimmy McDow, Earl Niven, Lynn Merrell, Stacy Oliver, Agnes Moore Poole, James Schrader, Patricia Mooney Shaw, Lloyd Sims, Beth Jones Turnipseed, Earl Tyus, Neil Weir, Patricia Kendrick Weldon, Larry Wheeler, Yoby Sims Whipp, Larry Whisenhunt, Susie Rowland Williams and Jane Isbell Windham.

Dorough gave the formal welcome to the reunion classmates as they met in the mansion’s foyer in front of the grand staircase.

“To us, the governor will always be Robert,” welcomed Dorough. “To others, Robert is now Governor Bentley.”

Gov. Bentley personally inscribed a copy of his inauguration booklet for each of his classmates as a memento. The classmates feasted on a traditional BBQ dinner with all the trimmings: baked beans, potato salad, cold slaw, blackberry cobbler, strawberry shortcake and vanilla ice cream.

Gov. Bentley was president of the student council his senior year with officers Vice President Jeff Falkner, Secretary Gay Clark and Treasurer Esta Myers. Senior class officers were President Larry Wheeler, Vice President Earl Niven (Mayor of Chelsea), Secretary Joyce Edward and Treasurer Gene Leonard.

Classmates told stories and recounted their days at SCHS.

Gov. Bentley brought classmate and friend Neil Weir up to the front. Bentley told his classmates that everyday Neil and I went to the Dairy Queen and Neil always loan him a quarter for ice cream.

Bentley presented Weir with an autographed $20 bill for all those ice cream cones, to the delight of the crowd.

Deceased classmates remembered by Dorough were: Ralph Barnes, Linda Mooney, Sara Chesser, Woody Furney, Sarah Taylor, Gene Leonard, Benny Owen and Brenda Whitten. Patsy Hughes Armstrong was unable to attend due to poor health.

“It was a very relaxed and wonderful night,” Vick said.

“The word to describe the feeling of each classmate attending was proud — so very, very proud,” Dorough said. “It was a special feeling, and we were all so honored to be there.”

Phoebe Donald Robinson can be reached by email at

About Phoebe Donald Robinson

I am President of Donald Real Estate and Ins. Co., Inc., a company that my grandfather , Charles J. Donald, founded in 1925. I am the third generation owner of the business. I am also the Columbiana Columnist for the Shelby County Reporter.

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