Nancy Hurst, Joe’s beloved wife, died of pancreatic cancer in Whitefish Bay , WI , on September 5, about 11 months after her tumor was diagnosed.  There was a memorial service on September 9 at the Mequon United Methodist Church in Mequon , WI , which is in the northern part of Greater Milwaukee.  Denny Morrissey attended on behalf of the Class, and Bill Zierdt was able to attend the visitation on September 8.  The heartfelt condolences of the Class are extended to Joe, their daughter Beth, and to all of Nancy ’s family and friends.

45th Reunion :  Our contribution to the Long Gray Line.

Our much-anticipated 45th Reunion began on September 8.  The main body arrived at the Park Ridge Marriott on Thursday, September 9, to register, but some golfers arrived the day before.  Alas, golf was rained out on both Wednesday and Thursday, so we found other amusements.  The scheduled trips to the Rockefeller and Roosevelt estates were well attended.  George Day ran registration, issued our reunion hats and ties, and sent us off to an opening cocktail reception where hellos and handshakes were in abundance.  Nametags were in large print for squint suppression.  The crowd of 203 classmates, including nine widows: Patricia (McCahan) Buono, Maddy Davis, Terry Enright, Jean (Gercz) Erschnig, Judith (Whitesides) Lindeman, Rosalyn (Fannin) Meachum, Ellie Simpson, Carole Thudium, and Connie Tully, came to an estimated 400 when wives and friends were added.

45th Reunion:  Cutting the ribbon to open the Strength Development Center :  Dawkins, Ware, Malek, Hilmes, and Supe Lennox.

            Friday began with a business meeting covering the usual subjects, but concentrating on the theme of our 45th, our Class gift; and introducing the theme of our coming 50th: our Class history and affiliation activities with respect to the Class of 2009.  Jerry Jervell has agreed to be editor-in-chief of the 50 Year History Book, and he has great credentials, having edited Bazooka, the chronicle of our cow trip.  Jim Satterwhite encouraged us to sign up for the marchback from the plebe hike with the Class of 2009 next August, and hoped we could put it over the top with 59 (for ’59) participants.  Sandy Beach spoke eloquently of the Band of Brothers’ care for families of deceased classmates, and Sue Breen encouraged contact with and participation by the distaff side, both active and widows.  We gave Distinguished Graduate awards to Bob Riordan for keeping us so well informed on military medical concerns that he is probably the nation’s preeminent expert on the subject; to Jim Walsh for his outstanding work as our Class Secretary and webmaster; and, later in the day, to Fred Malek for his service to our Class and to his community and our country.  Then it was onto buses for the West Point Club and lunch.

45th Reunion :  Supe Lennox accepts $1.5 M check from Hilmes and Ware.

            After lunch, LTG Lennox, the supe, addressed us in Eisenhower Hall.  We then walked up to the cadet area where the Friends of Rocky Versace led us in dedication of Rocky’s plaque in the North Sallyport .  It seemed totally appropriate that our Class Memorial Service followed in the Cadet Chapel.

            Next it was off to the Kimsey Center adjacent to Blaik Field in Michie Stadium, where we presented our Class Gift, the Class of 1959 O’Meara – Malek – Dawkins Strength Development Center .  Pete Dawkins spoke, as did Fred Malek and the co-chairmen of the fund raising committee, Jerry Hilmes and Roger Ware.  We presented the supe with a check for $1.5 million, and he seemed pleased.  Pete says the facility is as good as or better than any in the nation, specifically better than any in the NFL.  We were amazed at how extensive in area it is, and with how many cadets were enthusiastically using it while we were there.  Afterwards, dinner was in the large Kimsey Center dining room overlooking Blaik Field, a beautiful sight.  Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky was there and said kind words about West Point .  Probably a mole from the U of Louisville.

45th Reunion:  Gurr at dedication of Rocky’s memorial in the North Sallyport .

            Saturday morning found a busload of us leaving an hour early for dedication ceremonies in the Jewish Chapel, which most of us had not seen.  New windows were dedicated to Bud Steinberg and Bill Lehrfeld (and two of Bill’s relatives who had gone before him), and moving remarks were made by Bill’s sister, by Bud’s three daughters, and by Hank Larsen and Bill Schwartz.  There were refreshments afterward in the beautiful chapel, and then we were back on the bus for The Plain.

            It was a Regimental Review, with skydivers, a cadet crack drill team, and then the splendid corps and the USMA band.  The Class of 1964 was also in the reviewing line, gave a demonstration of squad drill, and almost equaled our “uniforms” of khaki trou, blue blazers, WP tie and broad-brimmed straw hats.  We were a sight and got lots of applause from the stands (probably our wives, girlfriends and families).  We wound up with a photo shoot, and then it was off to Washington Hall (in the cheap seats) for lunch.

45th Reunion: L-2 on the steps of the 47th division:  Back row:  Nordgren, Hurley, Duggan, Dawkins, Tennant;  Front row:  Riordan, Salter, Passarella, Griffin , Corby .

            We sat in the nosebleed section of Michie Stadium, directly above the corps and the rally band, and had a great time.  There were the skydivers again, landing standing on the 50 yard line, and the most fantastic girl acrobatic cheerleaders doing serial somersaults with good cheer and lots of fireworks and canon booms.  Halftime was a moving remembrance of the tragic 9/11 three years before, and a dry eye was hard to find.  We talked about it on the buses back to the hotel.

            It was back to casual dress that night for the farewell dinner and hop with 50s music.  We sat with different classmates that night, as we had at other meals and on the buses.  There was much agreement with Pete Dawkins, who opined from the podium that it had been our best reunion ever.

Marchback 2004:  Leo, Russell, Turpin, Larsen, Satterwhite, Coen and Eberhard.

            I had to agree.  Spending time with old friends was remarkable.  I rode with Jerry & Sandy Fogel on one bus trip; Will Weber (who had bicycled to the reunion from Oakland, CA, with Larry Palmer); and with Sean Cummings, with whom I had spoken at Bill Guild’s funeral in 1984 but not so much as the hour’s bus ride afforded this time.

            We owe, and have offered, a great deal of gratitude to the Reunion Committee, chaired by Bill Fitzgerald, for the most memorable of our reunions.

45th Reunion , K-1 Party:  Front row:  McDaniel, Roth; 2nd Row:  Robinson, Moraski, Schroeder, Salvatore, McSweeney, Warren Smith; Top row: Cohen, Rothblum, Mullen, Moss, Croteau, Hilmes, Ware, and Dorsey.

            Howard Stiles reminds us that the mini reunions are equally as memorable as the big ones and he recommends the ski mini this spring.  Lenny Katsarsky said that there would be an Hawaii mini in 2006, and I think I heard Johnny Cox speak of a Florida mini in St. Pete in 2008.

At this reunion, we renewed our prayers for our children and grandchildren who are in combat and in this world’s peril.