The Fitch class of 1958 held their 55th reunion over the weekend with a three-day celebration that included a tour of the new elementary building. Of the original class of 127, 38 made it to the celebration dinner.
"We have 26 of the original 127 deceased," said Gene Shonce, reunion committee head and master of ceremonies.
The question was asked as to who traveled the furthest. From the west, it went to classmates Bob Chestnut and Diane Tompkins, who both reside in Arizona. From the north, the obvious choice was Bob and Pat Williams who traveled from Cherryville, British Columbia in Canada.
Photos by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Thirty-eight members of the Fitch class of 1958 held their 55th reunion on Saturday at Rachel’s in Austintown. Attending were, in front row, Connie LaCivita-Raupach, Sandra Koontz-Shessler, Pat Brown-Williams, Carol Proverbs-Brown, Elaine Evans-Pickens, Karen Shaw-Walter, Donna Jenkins-Check, Pat Kuty-Gibbons, Dianne Tompkins-Miller, Veronica A. Terzak, Joan Wester-Smith, and Penny Workman-Actonna. In second row are Ed Bailey, Thomas Stellers, Frank Trio, Gene Shonce, Benjamin Burton, Dr. Robert Barton, Madalyne Morrison-Pauley, Nancy White-Wilhelm, Doll Scardina-Rigby, Barbara Ann Stone-Couche, Judy Lanterman-Mellot, Shirley Hendricks-Schmidt, and Marie Fortunato-LaCava. In the back row are George Tessean, R. Thomas Hood, Carl Leonhart, Richard Learn, Robert Williams, Fred Romeo, Robert Chestnut, John Nelson, Stan Leonard, Fred Bassett, Jack Tatarka, John Haydu, and Atty. A. Robert Steiskal.
"We had to travel between 2,000 and 3,000 miles total," Williams said. "We flew for close to four-and-a-half hours to Ontario, then rented a car and drove another six hours."
The Williams are both class of 1958 members. They started dating in their senior year at Fitch. Bob went on to teach in the Niles school system and Pat became a registered nurse working at Woodside Receiving Hospital. The two eventually married and Bob ended up going into the ministry. That took the couple to Canada where they reside today, but maintain a dual citizenship.
When Williams looked back at his years at Fitch, he mentioned something that Pat did as a Fitch first.
"Pat was the first Freddie the Falcon mascot," Williams said. "Our class was always coming up with original ideas like the mascot."
The class of 1958 was also known for that year's Steel Valley championship basketball team, according to Tom Stellers. He also remembered the play his class put on in the final year.
"Our senior play in 1958 was outstanding," Stellers said. "It was 'Come Out of the Closet.' That has a very different meaning today, but the play was about a counterfeiter who was a poet and hid in the closet when the police came."
All three days of the reunion were full of memories, but the real eye-opener came on Friday when 34 of the classmates toured AMS. Following the tour, Diane Tompkins-Miller commented on what she had seen.
"It's all about security now," she said. "The new school was beautiful, but it will never be the Austintown Fitch I remember."
The classmates finished up their weekend on Sunday by having breakfast at Lucianno's before heading home with new memories to add to their old ones.