Arlington, VA, July 1996
Wow! What a weekend.
The gathering in Arlington, VA, July 26-27, was a significant weekend in
my life. As I stated during the dinner Saturday night, it closed
a circle that had been open all my adult life. The question that
lurked in the background of my mind was, "Would I ever see any of those
who graduated with me?" The question was answered, "Yes! Yes! Yes!"
Not only have I seen some of my classmates, but I know more will be found
and I will see them too.
Part of my despair was
not knowing how to begin looking for my classmates, and if there were people
looking for Wagnerites would they even want to find me. To my relief
and joy, when I arrived for the gathering you remembered me and were delighted
to see me. The circle was complete at last.
As I returned to San
Antonio, I reflected on the gathering.
One of the first people
to see me was Jettye Orth. She said, "I remember you. You were
really little. Whenever I saw your picture in my yearbook, I wondered
if you were still small; but you grew up!" That statement made the
trip. I told her as the weekend closed that it was worth the trip
just to hear her say that I had grown up. It was one of the therapeutic
events of the whole weekend.
On Saturday night, I
was talking with one Wagnerite and heard my name called out. I turned
to see Billy Wehunt, one of the classmates that I greatly admired in those
days. His voice registered in the recesses of my memory--it was one
I recognized. We visited that evening, and I learned why I
I had failed to make
hotel arrangements because of the price. On Friday night, Bill Woods
'64' offered to let me stay with him and his wife. What a special
family they are. We have more in common now than we had when we were
in school. Going to worship services on Sunday with him and his wife
was one of the high points of the weekend.
Ted Sharpe--went to
Nam and came back--a hero (In my eyes). Although I served during
those years, I was spared the trauma of the war, and I look on those like
Ted with great admiration and respect.
David Bird was someone
who, for very personal reasons, I especially wanted to meet. He was
there, and a long-standing prayer of 20+ years was answered. Thanks
Art Weiss. What
I remember of him from WHS days was "I wish I could be like him," and his
encouragement in spite of my size. At the gathering, he seemed to
pick up right where he left off.
Ruth Kent did a super
job of coordinating the event--Woman of the Year as far as I'm concerned.
An interesting note we discovered at the gathering: We swapped schools.
She did her Jr-Sr years where I spent my Fr-Soph years.
Looking back to my high
school years, I remember when I ordered my senior class ring, my dad did
not want me to buy it. He said that my college ring would mean considerably
more to me than my high school ring. Well, I never bought a college
ring, and my high school ring has become more treasured over the years.
It is something that indicates the uniqueness of my personal history.
My years at Wagner were more distinctive and more definitive than my years
in college. Out of our common history, I have the opportunity to
rekindle friendships. There had been an open, an unfinished, area
of my life as it pertained to who I was and where I came from. At
this reunion, I was able to close the circle. I have history, roots.
My history is different from most peoples’, but it is mine. The years
at WHS have defined who I am as significantly as if I had grown up in one
Although that is true,
my memories of events from the Wagner days are foggy at best with very
few details. The memories are not all nostalgic for me; during the
gathering I was not wishing for those good old days when I was young and
acted so innocent. But as I mingled with you all, there came the
realization that the bond which had been formed those many years ago was
The most significant
part of the gathering was seeing you and hearing about your lives. After
leaving Clark, you went on with your lives--married, raised children, laughed,
cried, felt joy and sorrow, knew a measure of success and a portion of
failure, were occasionally knocked downbut not out. And we all kept
going, successes one and all because we did.
Colorado Springs, 1997
When the news came that
some were going to gather this summer, I wanted to be there. Because
of my work situation and lack of finances it looked bleak. However,
when the notice with details arrived the desire to attend greatly increased.
One of the motivations was the hope of being able to see some more of my
classmates. Besides, I wanted to be part of the closing of the circle
for them. I was a little disappointed that more from '64' did not
show, but those I saw more than made up for the absence of others.
I met some who were in my yearbook that I did not know were there.
The youngsters from the 70's were especially generous in letting us crash
their party. Thanks for the bash.
Jerry Long and I had
a marvelous breakfast together. We not only reminisced about WHS
days but about the '96 gathering.
He let me express things that had been bottled up since high school and
which I discovered during the 96 gathering. We discovered that our
common history was not a liability.
Except for a few signs
of passing years, Dick Grice looked like he had not changed at all.
It was good to hear his pilgrimage.
The junior/senior proms
at WHS were difficult for me, but at the dinner-dance Sat. night, I finally
got up enough courage to ask a couple of the beautiful women to the dance
floor. It only took 30 years! Thanks, Terri.
Looking back on the
97 gathering, I compared my reunion with my brother's the weekend before.
Unlike me, he spent all his school years in the same place, and made life-long
friends. However, his 20 year reunion was not nearly as eventful
as was ours. He was a bit disappointed that the people he grew up
with were not very interested in getting together. What a contrast.
Afterwards, I had the
opportunity to browse the WHS web site on my brother’s computer.
John Prunier has done a GREAT job as our spiderman (Web Master).
Outstanding work John.
This fall I finally have
a computer with a modem. Although I am not yet connected to the telephone,
I hope it will be completed by Jan. or Feb. 98. Then I can do some
e-mail and browsing the WHS site. I am looking forward to the next
gathering. Gary McQuaid, ‘64.
The Charleston Reunion
was wonderful. Dianne Senn did a wonderful job of putting the event
together. The presence of many from the 58-61 Wurtsmith years added
to the atmosphere. it was great seeing those folks “find” one another
for the first time. Although I did not hear the initial conversations,
I suspect they were like mine, “I though I would never see any of
you again.” Indeed, I did hear that thought expressed Friday evening.
I had already reserved
a room, but Jerry Long ‘63’ needed one so we ended up roommates for the
weekend. I don’t know if he will ever recover from it. We got
along nicely, and neither of us kept the other up with noisy sleeping.
I happened to be at
the hotel guest counter when Dave Kight checked in. He had not changed
at all from his senior photo at WHS; he looked and sounded the same
At the Friday evening
gathering, I was able to visit with Bill Woods, Dave Kight, and their wives.
Dick Grice and Sherry Jackson, both ‘64’ displayed their dancing ability
for us non-dancers. They hadn’t lost a step, just got winded sooner.
It was great to see
again, for the first time since HS, Sherry who said she had fond memories
of me. That was a delightful surprise. She, Dick, and I reminisced
about our senior play, “Out of the Frying Pan.” Since Colorado Springs,
I rediscovered the prop I had kept after the play closed and took it along.
One of the more delightful
meetings of the reunion was seeing Ed and Terri Izor. I was delighted
when they sent me the notice of their marriage, and I was looking forward
to seeing them. They make a great couple. It was a real treat
to honor them at the dinner Sat. night.
The dinner/dance on
the Yorktown was the most special time of the weekend for me. Hearing
the Ostlin sisters sing was a highlight of the evening. Earlier that
afternoon I volunteered to play my harmonica during the “talent?” time.
I settled on two songs. The first was the serenade of the newly-wed
Izors, and the second was “Amazing Grace.” I was overwhelmed by the
response to “Amazing Grace.”. For a moment as everyone joined in
and sang, it seemed that time stood still; and, for me, God seemed to visit
our gathering in a special way. I certainly did not expect that kind
of response or the outpouring of thanks that came afterwards for playing
that song. It was not until later that I realized that both Art Weiss
‘63’ and John Prunier ‘65’ joined in with their instruments. Thanks,
your spontaneity made it all the more memorable.
At this reunion for
the first time, I was able to lay aside my own lack of ability and join
everyone on the dance floor. I danced more than I ever did at WHS,
still as awkward as then too, but absolutely enjoyable. Becky Char
came up to me and asked me to dance with her. I cannot remember anything
like that ever happening. I remember being so sure that I would be
rebuffed if I asked anyone to dance that I did neither.
After the dance, several
of the class of ‘64’ and the Char sisters met at the Jacuzzi by the pool.
It was hilarious. We swapped stories about our days at Clark and
other humorous happenings during the years following.
Sunday came and friends
began to return to their homes. My flight left late in the afternoon.
And as before, the departure was with mixed feelings.
Reflecting back on the
gathering, each successive reunion has brought some measure of resolution
and restoration of my days at WHS, each one building on the previous.
I have been able to let go of some baggage that I have carried all these
years. And, I have learned some things too. The reunions to
this point have been a marvelous pilgrimage for me.
Finally, I want to give
some special thanks to some special people from the reunion. To the
Char sisters, thanks for opening my eyes to some things of which I was
unaware, and for caring enough to give me a warning. To Ed and Terri
Izor, just the joy of seeing you together made the trip worth it--maybe
there is hope for me. To Jerry Long, thanks for the friendship and
constant encouragement. To Rick and Sherry, I still remember my opening
line from the senior play, . And to Debbie Boyd, thanks for letting me
talk your ear off for what seemed like two hours and you still said I was
a real nice guy.
Here is a very brief
summary of 32 years. After graduation from WHS, I returned to San
Antonio and entered college and succeeded in flunking out. Since
the army was ready to catch me, I enlisted in the AF. In the middle
of my enlistment the most significant event of my life occurred--an encounter
with Christ. This encounter has shaped every part of my life since
then. I separated from the AF, entered college, graduated too!.
Then went on to attend a Baptist seminary in Fort Worth. Enjoyed
it so much I decided to get another degree while I was there. The
result--a Master in Religious Ed. and Master of Divinity. I even
attempted to earn a PhD. but did not pass the entrance exam. I tried
to kill myself by degrees but failed.
I did not enter into
vocational ministry but began work as a freight delivery driver (a truck
driver). For 12 years, I earned a living by making freight deliveries
in Fort Worth. In 84 dad was diagnosed with cancer and had surgery.
In 87, the cancer reappeared and I moved to San Antonio to be with him.
After I moved back to San Antonio, I worked for a year at a local ministry
which fed the poor and then took employment at a local refrigerated warehouse.
In 94, I was asked to replace the retiring safety coordinator. In
Jan. of 97, I left that job for another, was let go in April and now am
doing safety training through two organizations. I think that in
God's time he will thrust me into a more active participation in ministry.
Till then--"Hi ho, hi ho, its off to work I go."
I never married.
It was not my intention to remain single all these years, but priorities
I have and decisions I made have been part of the reason. I came
close a couple of times and still hold out hope for someone special to
enter my life. The years have been filled with inner peace and steady
joy. In the midst of everything has been the wonder of God's participation
in the events of my rather ordinary life. Part of the expression
of God's involvement is through writing; the attached piece that appeared
in a small magazine is a sample.
Gary McQuaid, ‘64.