Our Stories

Appeal for YOUR Personal Stories!

It’s been said that the shortest distance between two people is a story. Between now and the reunion, we invite you to think about, write, record, and share your own personal stories as they may have been influenced by your time at LRCH. Based on submissions of blog posts and your written, verbal or recorded thoughts on the subject, we hope to select a few of you to be interviewed on camera during the reunion. We will also be filming much of the reunion events themselves – another reason not to miss this special reunion!

This nation needs our experience and the wisdom of our nearly 60 years of life. The world is a mess, but complaining gets us nowhere. Now, more than ever, the world needs bright, faithful, compassionate citizens dedicated to being part of the solution instead of wallowing in the muck, adding to the problems. This is the meaning behind “Tigers Stepping Up“.

Tiger stepping up (or out!) - 1

The more I’ve gotten to know our classmates during the 2012 and 2018 reunion planning processes and through Facebook, the more I realize how very accomplished everyone has been in the last forty years, each in his/her own careers or paths of life!

Thanks to Principal Morris Holmes and his dedicated faculty, we were prepared well at Central for a lifetime of striving for excellence, in whatever paths we followed. We have public servants, DC lobbyists, doctors and surgeons in our ranks. We have artists and musicians, actors and speakers. We have athletes and scholars, hard workers and laborers. We have marketers, advertisers, event planners, designers; classmates who served in the armed forces; classmates who became teachers influencing succeeding generations. We have mothers and fathers who have taught their children, and now their grandchildren, to be persons who strive for “excellence” in whatever paths they choose.

We want to get to know WHO YOU ARE TODAY! We hope to learn how our life experiences, especially our LRCH academic and social education, combined with our talents, our energy, our wisdom, our faith, have worked together to produce citizens of this great nation who shine their lights for the betterment of humanity, each in his/her own way. Prior to and during this 40th reunion, you are invited to participate in the creation of a new documentary sharing with others our personal stories of where our paths in life have taken us, shaped by our exposure to positive race relations and our experiences at Central.

Between now and the reunion, we are Tigers Stepping Up! After the reunion, we will be Tigers Stepping Out, as we work together to create a documentary and a movement of positivity, inspiration, and hope.

Interview Questions:

1) Some of my most noteworthy memories surrounding race relations or desegregation are: _______________________________________________________________.

2) My high school years at Central influenced me as a person in several ways,      including: _______________________________________________________________________________.

3) Since 1978, since leaving Central High School, I ___________________________________.

4) I think our LRCH Class of 1978 could tell the world a few things about getting along, like ______________________________________________________________________________.

If/When you would like to submit a blog post to be considered for publication on this website, please email as an attachment to: Ginny Martin Fleming at gmfleming1124@gmail.com. We also hope to use some of these blog posts for “stories” that might be used in a possible new documentary!  Check back often to read posts from our classmates, as we explore what it means to be a LRCH Tiger.

If you are interested in getting involved with this effort, please email Ginny Martin Fleming at gmfleming1124@gmail.

Classmate Bios – send us yours!

Classmate Profiles

We would love to get a little bio/profile information from each classmate so we can share a bit about our lives since 1978! Guideline: about 250 words. Email to: Ginny Martin Fleming (gmfleming1124@gmail.com).

 

Sandra Sealy Broussard, Louisiana

After graduating from Central, I finished my cosmetology training, which started at Metropolitan Vocational Center. That same year, I opened my first salon with the help of my parents.

In 1979, I met the love of my life, Ronald Broussard. We married in September 1980 and, as of today, we have been married for 38 years. We are residents of the great state of Louisiana. My motto for marriage is: love their strengths, pray for their weaknesses, while allowing God to lead you. From our union, we have one son Jamal (33). He is a licensed helicopter pilot and works as an indoor skydiver. We are praying for our daughter-in-law to come along, with grandchildren, in that order. LOL
I’ve been a licensed hairstylist for 40 years and a salon owner. I’ve entered and competed in many competitions. I received my doctorate in cosmetology under NBCL, where I served in many organizations on the state and local level.
I’m very active in my church; Minister over prayer and dance. God has afforded my family to truly walk in His blessing, so I give my Heavenly Father all the glory and honor.

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Barbara Baskins Mateus, Olivehurst, California

I was raised in Little Rock, Arkansas and after graduating from Central High I attended Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia for 2 years. I left the university and joined the United States Air Force, at which point I was stationed at Beale Air Force Base, California. I met my husband while serving on the Honor Guard at Beale AFB. We have three children and we were married for 21 years. One of my many duties as an airman was working on a port mortuary team. My Unit deployed to Dover Air Force Base Port Mortuary in Delaware on September 11th, 2001, in response to the terrorist attacks. My job was to process the remains of those killed when one of the hijacked planes hit the Pentagon. This was the hardest, yet most significant and honorable parts of my entire career in the military. It’s an experience that I will always hold dear to my heart. After serving 22 years and 8 months in the USAF, I retired in May of 2012 as a Technical Sergeant (E6).

My oldest son, Andres, is an operating room registered nurse in Chico, CA. My middle son, Ricardo, served 8 years in the Air Force working in Intelligence. My daughter, Rosalina, is a registered nurse working at a hospital in Marysville, CA.

Currently, I work at Recology in Marysville, California and I enjoy outdoor activities like walking, running, and sightseeing. I love having family gatherings, going to the movies, and my cats. I also live my life for the Lord.

I truly enjoyed my high school years, especially my junior and senior years. I’m very proud to have graduated from Little Rock Central High School. “Central High is Tiger High- Go Class of ’78!”

Barbara Mateus-2

 

Audrey Coleman, Little Rock, Arkansas

After graduation in 1978 I attended the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville for two years before transferring to UALR where I earned a B.A. in Journalism, and later a Master’s degree in Public Administration. My career has been divided between work as a journalist and as a nonprofit manager. In 2003, I began working at the Arkansas Regional Organ Recovery Agency (ARORA). It was a perfect career match for me, as my job as Director of Communications requires me to call on my experience as a journalist as well as my experience and skills in the nonprofit world as a public administrator.

I am married to Dr. Alan Wolfman, a smart, funny and kind man and self-described Yankee who can’t imagine living anywhere else than here in Little Rock. We share a fun and adventurous life that includes our love and care for our ragdoll cat, Alex, and our Yorkie pup, Angus. We enjoy traveling, hiking, going to concerts (70s music, of course!), and mostly, hanging out by our pond at home, which we fondly call the House of A (Audrey, Alan, Alex and Angus).

audrey and alan wedding

alex and angus

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Becky Edmonds Ponce, Corpus Christi, Texas

Born and raised in Little Rock, I carried on the Tiger tradition by attending Little Rock Central High. Not only did my older brothers graduate from Central, but so did my amazing mother, who I am lucky to still have with me. During my sophomore, junior, and senior years at Central, I managed my own dance studio at the Little Rock Air Force Base in Jacksonville and taught at a local dance school on the city’s Southside. Due to the increased popularity of the dance school, I only attended classes for half-days during my senior year to allow more class time for my students. After graduation, I put all of the business talents that I learned from Central’s business classes to use at a downtown CPA firm for a little over a year while continuing to teach dance classes at night. Later, as a new bride in January of 1981, I followed my husband and moved from the only home I had ever known to Corpus Christi, Texas. I was to be a stay-at-home wife, but boredom soon took over so I started working as a temp in the accounting department at what has become my career employer, CITGO Refining and Chemicals. 1986 had some major changes in store for me. Becoming a single parent, I switched my job attire from skirts and heels to FRC coveralls, steel toed shoes and a hard hat to better provide for myself and my 3 year-old daughter. I was determined to stay in Corpus Christi and make it in a “man’s world”. As a result, I have familiarity in several different career fields in the refining industry. From climbing towers and scaling the pipe-racks to operating multi-million dollar process units and working in the Environmental Department by reporting to government agencies, I have had my fair share of refinery experiences.

In 1990, I married my best friend and co-worker, Mike, with whom I’ve recently celebrated a 28th wedding anniversary. My witticism of “He was my boss, but now I am his” has been a running joke with us for many years. You’ve heard of “army brats”, well Mike and I have “refinery brats”, lol. We have three wonderful children between us: an amazing daughter that lives and works in Scottsdale, Arizona; a beautiful and talented daughter that lives in Baytown, Texas and works as a Guidance Counselor for the school district; and an amazing and successful son that practices Law in San Antonio, Texas. Also added to our family are four beautiful, smart and talented granddaughters, who we can never get enough of. Now, after 37 years of service with CITGO for me and 44 years of service for Mike, we are seriously contemplating the next road in our journey together – retirement. We love to travel and seek new adventures. I love to cook, sew, read, garden, go to the beach and volunteer for non-profits. Mike’s favorite pastimes… the Dallas Cowboys, San Antonio Spurs, New York Yankees, Texas Longhorns and the Auburn Tigers. I too am a fan, guilty by association, of all of those teams.

I remember my time at Central with fond memories, as well as those that weren’t so fond. I remember the Mighty Tiger school spirit, the cadence of the High Steppers, and the clamor of the mobs in the halls during bell change. I remember friendships that were forged and often wonder what became of many. Thanks to technology and social media, I’ve been able to reconnect with many of those friends and even a couple that are just as much of a treasure now as they were back in ‘78. I remember being confused by the racial hatred and tension, and being labeled an “Oreo” because I wanted to get along with everyone. I remember being shunned by certain social circles because of others that I considered my friends. I remember learning tolerance, acceptance and patience in all social settings and have carried those virtues, along with others, with me outside the campus of Central into my adulthood. Moving to South Texas with a predominantly Hispanic culture and marrying into that culture, I have been able to use many of the lessons learned while at Central to better understand the differences that were waiting
for me.

I attended the 2012 reunion and enjoyed every moment of it. Reconnecting with friends that I haven’t seen or heard from in years, catching up with other classmates, being able to answer the question, “wonder what they’re up to now?”, and once again hearing the rhythm of the High Stepper cadence was a lot of fun. Now it’s time for the 40 th reunion. A nostalgic visit back to the time and place that formed an important part of my life. A time that I still sometimes dream about and wake up from, sweating that I’m late for Mr. Hardin’s homeroom class again, or not studying and being prepared for a Psychology semester exam that I desperately needed to ace. Looking forward to seeing so many of you again.

In Tiger Pride – Becky Edmonds Ponce

 

 

Sharon Collins Porter, Little Rock, Arkansas

Hey Class of 1978 LRCH, a Tiger for Life I am. Here’s a little bit of what has happened to me over these 40 years. After high school, I married my first love and in this union two handsome sons came along, Xavier and Andy II. I had a rocky 15 years. I married right out of high school, joined the military, moved to a new city, and I was a party animal. All the poor choices I made led to where I ended up. Like a lot of us in our era, I was a victim of the crack epidemic. It’s funny because after GOD saw fit for me to get my life together, I wrote my Master’s research paper on The Opiate Vs The Crack: what happened and whose fault was it. I made a 100% on that paper. Fast forward – I came in out of that jungle called addiction on 9/23/1992. God saw fit for me to never use another drug or drink another drink. I have been drug and alcohol free since September 23, 1992 (26 years) and for this I am truly grateful. GOD knew I had a story to write and tell.
Today, I’m married to my best friend Christopher Porter. We met in the throws of my addiction and I always thought about him and I guess he thought about me as well. I remember him telling me that he would stop by my mom’s shop and ask about me all the time. I went back to school in 2008. I knew when I was in that life that I was not supposed to be there. I always wanted to go to college, but couldn’t due to my addiction. After being enrolled in school, I had a terrible accident; I fell down two steps in my house (funny because I lived in that house 15 years and never fell). I shattered my right radius head and dislocated my right elbow. I was in a cast from my shoulder to my fingers for eight months. The doctor commented on how many bone fragments he had to pick out of my arm during the operation. I was off work for a period of time, but after sitting out of school for one month, I went back and my classmates helped me so much to continue college. Today, I still have some issues with this arm, only 35% usage of my arm.
I have since graduated with a 3.75 GPA with a Master’s Degree working with at risk children. I went to work for an agency that allowed me to work with children who had mental health issues. Today, I work for Little Rock Job Corp Center as a Career Counselor. I am working on another Master’s in Marriage and Child Counseling with the emphasis on Career Counseling.  I am also in preparation for writing my biography, From the Bottom to the Top. I’m so looking forward to seeing the people and teachers that are still here with us. We all have a purpose.

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Tony L. Banks,  9534 Redbud Lane Lenexa, Kansas 66220 (913) 905-9982 

I was born and raised in Little Rock, Arkansas, one of eight children. Little Rock was home for my first 18 years of life before I enlisted into the U.S. Army. In 1978, immediately after graduating from LR Central, I found myself in Army Basic Training as a Medical Specialist/EMT. After three years of service, the last year and half living in Germany, I returned to Arkansas to attend college. As a freshman at UALR I enrolled in the ROTC Program and Majored in Business Management. I was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant upon graduating college and returned to the military as a Commissioned Officer. 

While in the military, second tour, I performed as a Communication, Electronic Staff Officer and got to attend Airborne Jump school. Upon completing my last three years of service, I left the military to embark upon a life in the corporate world. Combining my medical experience with my business degree, I went to work as a Pharmaceutical Sales Representative. After achieving every sales award the company had to offer, I earned several promotions including a promotion to District Sales Manager. I attended night school at Amber University, Dallas Texas to obtained a Master’s in Business, MBA in 1995. 

In 1998 I married my wife Natalie. We have three children, a daughter, Taylor, graduate of Hult International Business School, London England, Master’s in Finance, son, Tanner, Senior Pre-Law Student at University of Central Florida and a son Nyle, 15 y/o Honor Student and Tournament/Travel Baseball player. 

I have served on the Board of Directors for The Black Health Coalition of Kansas City for several years and currently acts as a Mentor in the Success Mentors Program run by the Kansas City Public Schools District. My current work position with Sandoz Bio- Pharmaceuticals covers the Midwest as Area Sales Manager. My email address is tony.banks@sandoz.com 

 

Tony & Natalie Banks 2Tony at age 13___________________________________________________________________________

Ginny Martin Fleming, Wake Forest, NC

I live in Wake Forest, NC with my (second) husband, Michael, of 18 years. We have four daughters between us, and 10 grandchildren. My oldest, Caroline, has 4; my youngest, Hallie, has one son, Emmett, born June 2017. All of our kids live in “the Triangle” – so within an hour of us. Originally from NC, I moved to LR the summer after 6th grade, and attended Horace Mann for middle school. Thankfully, the lines were redrawn and I ended up at Central instead of Parkview for high school! I got a BA in Radio, TV, Motion Pictures from the University of NC at Chapel Hill in 1982. I worked in sales and marketing, then as an Account Executive with an ad agency until I had my first child. I started my own PR/marketing firm so I could stay home with my kid(s). However, the day after my 31st birthday, when my girls were 1 and 4, I was stricken ill with what would later be diagnosed as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (now ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia). I have been on Social Security disability ever since. “Unrest,” a documentary I contributed to financially, and which helps explain this bizarre illness, was released in early 2018 and shown on “Independent Lens” on PBS. Since traveling is so hard on me, I am grateful that we have a little place at a beach about 3.5 hours away, where I have all my “stuff!” I feel better in the salt air and sleep better there, too! I love to shell, write, read, do yoga, and spend time with family. I’ve enjoyed pulling this website together and the reunion planning, and look forward to reconnecting with my Tiger classmates!

 

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Shirley Kay Savage Smith, Houston, Texas                           

I live in a Houston, Texas suburb, The Woodlands, with my husband John of 34 years. Both our sons are married, one living in Dallas, Texas, the other in Santa Barbara, California. One of our family’s favorite adventures was living in Perth, Australia for two years. I moved to Little Rock the end of my sophomore year in high school from St. Louis, Missouri and count my Central high school experience among one of my treasured memories. I moved back to St. Louis the day after our LRCH graduation and attended Oklahoma State University. I have been fortunate to have varied careers as a department store analyst, business account manager servicing Wal*Mart and an educator. I have degrees in business marketing and special education. When asked what my hobbies are I have to reply “friends and family” as there is nothing I would rather do than be with loved ones. I look forward to reconnecting with you dear high school friends September of 2018! ~ Shirley Kay Savage Smith Shirley Kay and husband current

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Garren Hill Mckinney, Little Rock, Arkansas

Since graduation in 1978 I have been married and I have three beautiful kids that I’m very proud of. My family has expanded and now consist of two daughters, two son-in-laws, and a son.  I also have seven beautiful grand kids.  Within the seven grand kids I have a set of 5 year old triples which are 2 boys and a girl that we are truly blessed to have in the family. I have also served the State of Arkansas for 34 years.  As of October 31, 2013 I retired from Arkansas State Police.  I was blessed to retired from Corporate America but I don’t retire from being a servant for God.  I now have the opportunity to do volunteer work at Jericho Way a homeless shelter. I also do volunteer work in the ministries visiting the Dorcas House and Nursing home as well.  I am very grateful for this journey of life that God has place me.  I would like to share with you a few pictures of my family and myself.

 

 

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James Sulcer, California

This is James Sulcer in California, I accidently stumbled across information regarding the 40th Class Reunion of 1978 by searching for hotels in the Little Rock to visit my mom late fall who still lives in Little Rock. I’m not sure if I remember any of you I went to Metro Vo-Tech half day. A little about me, I’m a retired Microbiologist Clinical Scientist for Quest Diagnostic California west coast 22 years, and during this time Music still remained in my life since moving from Peoria Illinois to Little Rock at 13 yrs old! After graduating Central I moved to Frankfurt Germany to finish college in Computer Science, moved to California in 1985 where my daughter was born in 1986 in Sacramento CA, 1990 my Son was born in Los Angeles. I continued my education to complete my Medical degree, and started working for Quest Diagnostic Clinical Trials. 1992 Founded B. B. Kings Gospel Brunch Hollywood Ca, Universal Studios that went nation wide (Gospel Brunches), had the honor of Booking/Managing many Exclusive Musical stars, such as “The Staple Singers, Howard Hewett, Bonnie Rait, the Clark Sisters, etc. and R & B Stars, Regina Belle, Fantasia and currently from Tyler Perry/Oprah “The Craig Lewis Band”. I usually visit Little Rock every year around early winter Nov, Dec. way too hot in the summer lol I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make the Reunion in September. If I can help out in any way, please feel free to contact me anytime for additional information.

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Bill Ridgeway, Cabot, Arkansas

William L. Ridgeway, Jr.

EMC(SW), U.S.N. (Retired)

Commissioning day for USS LITTLE ROCK 12-19-2017

Graduated Little Rock Central High, 01 June 1978
Joined the United States Navy, 30 June 1980. Retired as Chief Electrician’s Mate (Surface
Warfare) (E-7: Senior NCO), 30 June 2002. Crewmember of 5 ships and attached to two
major shore commands.

Education:

• Associate of Engineering Technology, Electrical Engineering Technology, State
Technical Institute, Memphis, TN, June 1988, Cum Laude
• Associate of Science, Business Administration, Colorado Technical University, Sep
2008, Cum Laude
• Bachelor of Science, Business Administration in Information Systems, Colorado
Technical University, Feb 2011, Cum Laude
Currently works for the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services. Dec 20, 2010 to
present. Since April 2014, I moved to the position of Automated Adjudications Specialist
where I review unemployment claims with issues to determine if we can pay unemployment
benefits or not.

Been married 3 times:

  • Barbara Hoag, 1984-1999
  •  Nancy Allen, 2000-2010
  •  Carole Whitted, 2011 and counting… ??!
  • Kids:
  • William L Ridgeway III, 1985 and Tyler J Ridgeway, 1990
  • Step-kids:
    • with Nancy: Nikiena 1986, Heather, 1988, Daniel and Dana, 1994
    • with Carole: Julie, 1986, Joe 1987
  • Grandkids: got 7, all through stepdaughters: Heidi and Haysten (Heather); Mesha and Isabella (Niki), Kaylee (Dana), Jordan and Jonah (Julie)

Extra-curricular activities:

  •  Boy Scouts of America: Celebrated 30 years in Scouting in Feb 2018
  •  Fleet Reserve Association, Branch Secretary/Treasurer, Branch 282, Little Rock
  •  American Legion Member-at-Large
  •  Disabled American Veterans Member-at-Large
  •  Namesake Commissioning Committee for USS LITTLE ROCK (LCS-9).
  •  Co-chairman, LRCHS Class of 78 Reunion Communications CommitteeBill Ridgeway and wife for Profile

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Dan Johnson, Little Rock, Arkansas

I grew up in Little Rock in Hilcrest and attended Pulaski Heights, Forrest Heights and…..well, you know. I met my life mate in the fall of 77′, T4L Judy Gaydon. We married in 79′ and are trying to decide what we should do to celebrate our 40th!
I have 3) old brothers: Tim (75), Jeff (73?) and Chris (68′ Hall) That’s not their ages!
We have 2) kids 36 and 32. Jeremy is an executive with Windstream in marketing and Jessie is Marketing Director at KTHV in Little Rock. Both live within a mile or two of us! They have kids too: Anna is 12, Connor is 8 and Oliver is 17 months old. Judy gets the joy of seeing and taking care of these rascals almost everyday!

I worked at Cajuns Wharf, went a few semesters to UALR, then my Dad decided I should figure out how to make a living. I went to work for him at a forklift dealership. That job ultimately got me transferred to Memphis, where we spent 7 years before moving to Conway, AR. About 2000 I got into the stationary battery business, selling DC power systems.

We moved back to the Rock in about 2005 to take care of parents.

In 2010 I got a contractors license and a friend and I bought a small company called New Venture Telecom. My partner passed away a few years ago, but we are still out there….we are a niche contracting company that specializes in Low Voltage Electrical Solutions for the Telecommunications and Utility industies. This has been a very rewarding experience for me because of the friendships and relationships I have developed. Two of our classmates and brother Jeff work for the company. Currently, we are working for Verizon Wireless and Suddenlink and other like companies providing backup DC power.

Judy and I spend our free time at our little cottage in Heber Springs and traveling in our camper.

Can’t wait to see you all.

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Amanda McCoy Hendrix (Mandy), Texas
After Graduating from Little Rock Central I attended Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, AR to study art. I attended HSU my freshman, junior and senior year and graduated from there with a BSA in Graphic Design. My sophomore year I had the opportunity to study abroad thanks to our classmate and friend Kelly Lawhorne and her family. Her father was teaching journalism at the American University in Cairo, Egypt and they invited me to come and attend the University and live with them for a year. It was an opportunity of a lifetime and a wonderful year of studying about the art,
architecture and culture of that area of the world. My first airplane ride ever was from Little Rock to Cairo in 1979!

After college graduation I went to work at Faulkner & Associates in Little Rock which at the time was the largest advertising agency in Arkansas. I soon married my husband Max in the summer of 1983. We have moved through the years around Arkansas, Tennessee and Texas to pursue his career in aviation. We have lived in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex area since 1987 when he was hired by American Airlines. Everywhere we have lived I have been blessed to continue my work in the graphic
design industry. In 1993 I started my own freelance design company from home. This allowed me to be home to raise our daughter Katie.

I continue to do freelance design, volunteer at a Children’s Alliance Center in our community, enjoy traveling and camping in our RV with Max. I have recently started learning to quilt and also enjoy gardening and cooking. Our daughter Katie lives nearby in Dallas which allows us to visit her often.
Little Rock Central was a great school with great students, teachers and administration. Little Rock was also a great place to call home. I still have family in Little Rock so I get to come home often to visit. I am very grateful for my years at Central and to the faculty, especially to my art teacher Mr. Robert McDonald. It was his influence and encouragement that led me to pursue a career in art.

I can’t wait to see everyone at the reunion in September. Thank you to all the classmates who have worked so hard to plan such a wonderful 40 th reunion event!

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Sondra La Joyce Peters Settles, Dallas, Texas

When I left Central High, I went to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock for a year. After that, I married my childhood sweetheart, Jeffrey Settles. Five awesome children were born to this union, Jeffrey Jr., Shauna, Douglas & twin girls, Kiarra and Kayce. We were married for 20 years and then divorced but we are the best of friends. I attended Capital City Business College for 2 years and then I became a licensed insurance agent. I met so many different people from all different walks of life during my time as an agent. It also made me think about my time at Central because there were so many
students from all walks of life that attended there.

In 1995, my mother passed and it seemed that my whole life was just shattered into pieces. I found myself trying to figure out what to do next. My marriage fell apart during this time as well. So, in 2004, at the age of 44, I made the decision to leave the only home I have ever known, Arkansas and I moved to Texas. When I told my family and friends that I was leaving, they thought I had lost my mind. They said I was kidding with them. Well, I packed up a lot of my things and moved to Irving, Texas. I left with $500
in my pocket and no job. I was in Texas for one month to the day when I got a job working for TXU, an electricity provider here in Texas.

During the time that I was grieving for my mother and my marriage, I began keeping a journal. As I began to write, a lot of it turned into poetry. My first book, To Whom It May Concern, is a book of poetry pertaining to my life and some of the relationships that I was in. I have three more books that I should be publishing but I have been procrastinating. At this time, I work for State Farm Insurance Company in Underwriting. This will be my first and hopefully not my last class reunion and I am extremely excited about seeing all of my former classmates.

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Bryn Fillers, LaJolla, California

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In Search of Our Classmates!

WE NEED EVERYONE’S ASSISTANCE IN HELPING US LOCATE AND CONTACT OUR CLASSMATES BEFORE THE REUNION!

We are “missing” 300 classmates of the 617 who walked with us at graduation; 600 of the 980 who attended some part of our three years at Central with us! PLEASE take a look at these names and become a detective to try to find your friends and ours! 

Thank you!

 

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Bill Ridgeway’s Story

Bill Ridgeway:

A question was asked when was my first time to encounter race. My grandparents were born in the 20’s, and my parents were born in the 40’s. I heard the “N” word a lot when they would talk about black people. When my dad married my stepmother, she slowly changed that in our immediately family. We didn’t associate with people of color. At Jacksonville Elementary, there were very few black children, but I never personally thought anything about it…they were kids just like me.

We moved to Little Rock in June 1970. I was excited because I was going to be able to walk across the street to go to 6th grade. Boy was I wrong. That is when desegregation hit and I had to go to Southwest Middle School. That is when I first was exposed to a larger number of black kids. My homeroom and first period teacher was a black woman, Mrs. Yancey. I probably gave her more grief than I should have, because that was my background as a younger child, that black people were not the same as the whites. We were part of that move to the private school in 7th grade. That lasted one year. I missed my friends and wanted to go back to public school. Our neighborhood went to Dunbar Jr. High. I went there in 8th and 9th grade, and black kids and white kids were just kids. I do remember a lot of records were played at lunch in the mid-70’s…my first exposure to MoTown. Many of those kids came to Central with me, or I with them…

To me, Little Rock Central was magical. America’s most famous high school, and there I am walking the halls, attending the same classes the Little Rock 9 attended…walking in the same steps they walked. The thing that impressed me the most is how well we all got along. Mr. Holmes was instrumental in that. His leadership, the way he genuinely cared about all of us…that spoke volumes to me. There were no racial incidents that I can recall. Sure there were fights, but none that were racially motivated. That is a fact I am still proud of after all these years. Little Rock Central had a major impact on my life that I came to realize more and more we moved away from graduation.

The next phase of my life was with the United States Navy. So many things I learned at Central I was able to put to practical use, especially in race relations. In the military, we HAVE to trust each other, DEPEND on each other, because that person standing or sleeping next to you is the person you may have to depend on to save your life, and they feel the same about you. I was able to draw upon my time at Central to treat each person, regardless of color or creed, as equals.

When I was stationed in Kings Bay, GA, I was the supervisor of the enlisted personnel in my shop. I would sit down with each of my guys, black and white, each month to go over evaluation points that would eventually make up their annual evaluations. One of my younger petty officers, a young black male, accused me of being racially motivated to give him lower scores. My response to him? I don’t care WHAT COLOR you are. If we both are cut, we both bleed red. I told him to speak with the other young black men in the shop and if they felt the same way, we could go talk with our Chief. They told him he couldn’t be more wrong, and he dropped it. About 4 years later, we ran into each other again. We both had been promoted. He said, “Chief, you remember that time when you were going over the monthly review with me?” I told him I did. He apologized for his accusation,  and said that he began to use that technique with his own shop, and it was going well for him. That apology occurred in 1999, and STILL means a lot to me.

Mother’s Day 2018, my wife Carole and I went to see the band Chicago. During the concert, they showed many scenes of the violence that occurred in Chicago during the time we were in school at Central. I have been thinking about that this whole week. I can’t get those scenes out of my mind. I am so THANKFUL that we attended the school we did, and have the relationships we have with each other. I am thankful for each of my classmates, black and white. We have an amazing class, and I can’t seem to find the right words to express my feelings for each of my classmates. Someone mentioned getting to know each other better through Facebook. I must state that I absolutely LOVE Kenneth Monts’ postings about Black History. I have learned so much, and I hope to learn so much more.

Central has been a major part of my life, and continues to be to this day. That is why I am pouring so much into this reunion. I am so pumped about this one. Thanks for letting me share this story.

 

Q & A: Can I purchase tickets for just one event? Short answer: Sorry, but no – explanation follows.

Q: If I or my guest can’t make all three events, can I buy individual tickets to certain events?

We’re sorry, but we’ve crunched and crunched the numbers, and in order to make sure we cover our costs, we need to stick to a flat price for the entire weekend. We need about 145-150 paid tickets to break even, and in 2012 we sold 105 tickets for Saturday night. Several classmates have already fronted $1,000 each, and several others are in for several hundred dollars each, all of whom we really need to reimburse. We also are inviting our beloved teachers as our guests and prefer not to charge them to attend, so we will need additional monies to cover those costs.. In addition, the bookkeeping and event check-ins will be so much smoother with just one paid ticket per person. We do hope you’ll understand that we cannot charge per event, and that you will be able to attend the entire weekend with us. 

That said, if the ticket cost is really a financial hardship for you, please let us know. We do not want anyone to miss this reunion because of money! Some classmates are choosing to donate additional funds over and above the $145/ticket (there’s a donation button on the website with the registration). We hope to have some surplus monies after all the reunion expenses are paid to allow us to help those who truly could not otherwise attend. Shirley Kay is handling these needs discreetly, so if you need financial aid to attend, please email her at jsks4@aol.com or call her at 832-588-8566. For those of you who are able to make any size donation above the ticket price, we would be most grateful. Whether it’s $5, $15, $25 or $50, every dollar will help! Thank you!

Also, we really hope everyone can attend all three events to maximize the reunion experience. We have designed the reunion weekend so that each event will have its own flavor, building up to Saturday night. We think you’ll get a very good value for your money! You still have until June 30 for the $145/ticket price. After that, tickets will be $165 each. We think you’ll feel like you got your money’s worth at either price! We’re not just talking about a chicken dinner here — prepare to laugh, reconnect, hug, dance, take silly photos, be entertained, and have a fun, meaningful and memorable weekend! This weekend price includes your ticket to Friday night’s football game, transportation between the Marriott and Quigley Stadium if you need it, and pre and post game gatherings at the Marriott. The same weekend ticket includes lunch at the school on Saturday and dinner Saturday night at the Marriott. And, it includes swag only available to ticket holders — mementos you cannot buy elsewhere at any price! You will shortchange yourself (and us!) if you don’t make it to all three events. Please plan to come for the entire weekend if at all possible! 

Mignon Smith Gastman: A Reflection of My Public School Education

A Reflection of My Public School Education

I always loved when school started in the fall (my favorite season).  The excitement of getting to see my friends everyday, learning new things and usually a new pair of shoes!  It was no different when going into 6th grade.  The Little Rock Public School District started the desegregation busing program.  Some of my friends were put in private schools as parents chose not to have their child go to class with black children. This was my first real awareness of discrimination.  Some students I was in school with spread fear of what would happen to us attending an integrated school – “They will cut off your long hair” or “Beat you.”  Despite being a little nervous, I quickly found everything was no big deal.  I had my first black teachers for Math, Science and English.  They were excellent!  The kids that were bused to our school were polite, smart and friendly.  I had a great year.  I attended Horace Mann and Dunbar Jr. High Schools before going to Little Rock Central High School.

My years at LRCHS were also good.  Both my parents graduated from Central.  My mother graduated with the class of 1958 and saw the riots firsthand.  She said most of the students were not involved with the mob crowds and inside the school was nothing like the outside.  My grandfather, Gene Smith, was chief-of-police at that time and worked to keep the 9 black students safe from violence.  I feel I grew up in a family who taught acceptance and fairness.

My education at Central was good although looking back I could have been a better student.  My teachers were caring and competent and always encouraged me to achieve.  I met my best friend and husband my sophomore year.  We have been married 37 years, have 3 children and 5 grandchildren.  We are fortunate to be living our dream and advocate equality and impartiality through our family and involvement in our community.

I feel that diversity at LRCH during my years there gave me a better life experience for living in this world.  I find it frustrating the our country still has so much bigotry and prejudice.  I know coming together as a class again will rejuvenate my hope to eliminate discrimination.  The Class of ‘78 is truly GREAT!

Mignon Smith Gastman