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Professors, nurses, CIA agents among those to attend Bremen 50th class reunion

So far more than 100 graduates are expected attend 50th reuniBremen High School Class 1962.  |  File photo

So far, more than 100 graduates are expected to attend the 50th reunion of the Bremen High School Class of 1962. | File photo

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Updated: September 29, 2012 6:03AM



When members of the Bremen High School Class of 1962 reunite at the end of September, there will be much reminiscing about early morning meet-and-greets in school hallways, of riding the bus because few could afford a car and of late-night powwows after Friday night football games.

“It will be interesting to see everyone again,” said Sandie Jordan, a member of the 50th reunion committee. “We all came from the same space, had the same education, the same opportunities, but we all went our different ways, found our own ways to contribute.”

Reunion festivities kick off with a varsity football game Sept. 28 and continue through that weekend, including a school tour and dinner at Bartolini’s in Midlothian on the 29th, culminating in a Sunday morning brunch at Granite City in Orland Park.

So far, more than 100 graduates are expected to attend. They’ll come from all walks of life — nursing, aerospace, the CIA — and from a vast geographic area, including Hawaii.

Because this year also marks the 50th anniversary of St. Jude’s Children Hospital, the committee is donating $5 from each registration fee to the medical center in memory of a classmate who passed away.

In 1962, Bremen was 9 years old, and it served a much broader area than it does today, drawing students from Tinley Park, Midlothian, Markham and Country Club Hills, to name a few towns.

Back then, Jordan, who was Homecoming queen her senior year, lived in Markham.

She went on to attend Illinois State University but dropped out to get married. Today she has three daughters and five grandchildren and lives in Ocean Isle Beach, Calif.

Reunion chairman Rich Kieffer said, “All of us came from lower middle-class means. None of us had any doubt that we could do better than our parents. We were very positive, idealistic — something that has kind of been lost today.”

Back in the ’60s, Kieffer said, high school graduates believed they could change the world. He’s not sure today’s young adults have the same sense of idealism.

Kieffer, a member of the Bremen swim team, went on to earn a degree in math from the University of Illinois. After graduation, he was hired by TRW Systems, an aerospace company in California. He worked on highly classified satellite systems. When the USS Pueblo spy ship was captured by Koreans, Kieffer’s team was able to gather satellite evidence that the ship had been in international waters at the time. Had the film fallen into the wrong hands, he said, it could have changed the course of history.

Other attendees went on to exciting careers as well. Virginia Chanda, of Markham, became a science fiction novelist; John Ferris, of Country Club Hills, worked as a helicopter pilot and for the CIA; and Tom Diehl, of Midlothian, worked as an FBI agent and a private investigator.

“Everyone has a story to tell,” Jordan said. “I’m so proud of so many of my classmates already, just learning what they’ve accomplished through the reunion organizing process.”

Everyone also has similar concerns about reconnecting with people they haven’t seen in half a century.

“Most people who contacted me said they would come to the reunion if they lost 20 pounds,” Jordan said. So she organized the 10-10-10 challenge, encouraging participants to lose 10 pounds or run 10 miles or donate an extra $10 to St. Jude’s.

The result was so positive that Jordan is getting emails from people who’ve met the goal and are offering to donate an extra $1 to St. Jude’s for each additional pound they drop.

They are also keeping the reunion events very casual.

“This is all about reconnecting with people,” Jordan said.

Among the good old memories they’re likely to revisit will be their own brand of social networking.

“We didn’t have cell phones back then, so the only way to know what was going on was to get to school,” Jordan said. “School was our whole world. You didn’t miss because if you did, you’d miss out on what everyone was doing.”

Kieffer said, “We’d always get there early to walk the halls, twice in each direction, saying hello and catching up on everybody’s news. It was a ritual. We did it every day.”

For more information about the reunion, visit bhsclass62.com.



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