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Bill Kirby Jr.: Seventy-First High Class of 1962 celebrates 60th reunion


Editor's note: This story has been corrected to say Chris Disney is a 1966 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and the Navy Officer Candidate School program.

They gathered this night to remember what many might recall as the best of their days growing up with one another at the old Seventy-First High School along Raeford Road, just up the way from Doodle Hill.

Theirs was a time of innocence.

And best of all, they had one another.

“There were 103 classmates,” Murray Duggins would call the Class of ’62 to order on this Aug. 6 evening for reliving school days of yesteryear, but days still close to their hearts. “Let us first take one minute to remember” those who are gone.

The moment was tender as they would give memory to classmates including Johnny Avery, David Bledsoe, Steve Brown, Roy Duke Jr., Gary Gordy, Bruce Green, Mary Frances Isenhour, Phillip Johnson, Martha Penland, Jerrie Parsons Robertson and Jimmy Wade among them.

“We were young, and we’re here to share memories tonight,” Duggins would say. “Think about 60 years, and we’re still here.”

Call it an evening of remembering downtown movies at The Colony and Carolina theaters, watching Gregory Peck in “To Kill A Mockingbird” and “Lawrence of Arabia” starring Peter O’Toole and “The Music Man” with Robert Preston and Shirley Jones. Of listening to 45 rpm records like “The Twist” by Chubby Checker, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” by The Tokens and “I Can’t Stop Loving You” by Ray Charles. JFK was president, and Jackie Kennedy took them on a television tour of the White House.

There were Tuesday and Friday night basketball games with Bennie Ralph McMinis, Buddy Latta and Tommy Bell on the court. And that Friday night football game against Pine Forest, a 36-35 victory, and Latta scored every Falcons point. Natalie Fowler and Judy Tingen were among the cheerleaders along the sidelines urging the athletes on every basket and touchdown along the way.

And teachers like Lois Lambie, Hilda Sneed, Verlin Secrist, Dwight Miller, Alma Marie Lovette and Marie Piggott taught them in the classrooms, and Dorothy Ennis “the best French teacher in the United States of America,” Duggins said. And Ennis was there to celebrate the evening with her students, too.

“Everybody just got along,” Jimmy Gillis says. “Everybody cared for each other. It was just a good time to grow up.”

And the Class of ’62, Will Gillis says, was like a big family.

“There was a little mischief now and then,” he says. “But nothing you’d call trouble.”

Although Bennie Ralph McMinis recalls the time he and Duggins and Steve Brown “got locked in jail for an hour at the beach for driving my 1932 A-Model (Ford) on the beach.”

‘Mr. Auman’

Tommy Bell was the class president. Duggins was the vice president. Pat Shaw was secretary. Jean Miller was treasurer, and one of the better girls’ basketball players in Cumberland County athletic history.

“The best thing about our class was Mr. Auman,” Bell says about Loyd E. Auman, the long and lean principal who loved his students like his own children.

There would be no argument from Latta.

“My senior year when I would get my report card, he would call me to his office,” he says. “I didn’t have a father. Mr. Auman would go over my report card with me and tell where I needed to improve.”

Latta would graduate and become an officer with the N.C. Highway Patrol for 30 years.

“I owe my career to Mr. Auman,” Latta says. “I was working at Tart’s TV and he called and said you have an appointment with Romney Williamson, who was the NCHP commander. When I got there, they had all of my records.”

When Latta was sworn in as a patrolman, Loyd Auman was there.

“And I never got a promotion,” he says, “that he didn’t come to for it.”

Class superlatives were Diana Anderson and David Prather, who were Most Likely to Succeed; Duggins and Joan Honeycutt, who were voted Most Popular; Fowler and McMinis, who were Most Dependable; Will Gillis and Jerrie Parsons, who were Most Talented; Jimmy Wade and Carolyn Woodring, who were Best Looking; Nancy Brown and Jimmy Gillis, who were Friendliest; John Chenault and Frankie Isenhour, who were Best Dressed; Ann Caine and William Graham, who were Most Intellectual; Latta and Miller, who were Most Athletic; Billie Clark and Johnny Snipes, who were Wittiest; Steve Brown and Ann Newton, who were Best Sport; and Chris Disney and Judy Tingen, who were Best All Around.

Brenda McKethan Edge was crowned Miss Seventy-First in 1959 as a freshman.

“We had good friends,” she says. “We felt safe and secure. We enjoyed being and playing together.”

Chris Disney was the Student Government Association president and spent his long government career in the nation’s capital working in intelligence and security for Henry Kissinger, who served as United States Secretary of State and National Security Advisor under the presidential administrations of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. Disney is a 1966 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and the Navy Officer Candidate School program. He was a Naval officer during the Vietnam era and later became a special agent with the U.S. Department of State from 1974 to 2019.

“I remember the dedication and enthusiasm of our teachers,” Disney says. “Those were a good two years, and 60 years later we’re still maintaining friendships.”


It was an evening of sweet memories and old acquaintances and friendships renewed.

A special evening for Billy Kirby, too.

I grew up five years behind them. I knew them and their parents. They came from Lafayette Village, Drake Park, Gallup Acres, Gillis Hill Road, Breezewood Avenue and Arlington Street, too. They were the best of kids, and they became the best of adults. They came, as my mother liked to say, from good stock.

While McMinis wasn’t at the reunion, he treated me like a kid brother. And, yes, I rode in his 1932 A-Model Ford with the squawking horn many a day. And all of them will tell you Loyd E. Auman was loved, respected and admired by every student who called Seventy-First High School our home away from home.

“Until we meet again,” the Class of 1962 60th Reunion program read. “Until we meet again.”

Bill Kirby Jr. can be reached at billkirby49@gmail.com or 910-624-1961.

Column, Bill Kirby Jr., Seventy-First High School, Class of 1962, reunion