Class reunions offer a chance to reminisce, a chance to sit back and share memories while swapping stories about times past. Sadly, they also offer the opportunity to remember those who have gone.
Such was the case Aug. 17 when I had the chance to visit this year's Wintersville High School All-School Reunion. It's an annual event, held the third Saturday of August at Alladin Land. Those who attend are asked only to bring a covered dish, a place setting and a willingness to look back at all things Golden Warrior.
One of those who was remembered during the afternoon was Frank Gerard, who died on April 19 at the age of 84. Gerard was a a halfback on the 1945 team, which was the first undefeated squad in the school's history. Remembered as being "very fast and shifty," Gerard would go on to play football at West Liberty before landing at Riverside High School in Painesville, where he taught and coached basketball, golf and football and eventually became the school's athletic director in 1972.
Claire Unrue, Paul Taylor, Bob Gump, Fred Vogt and Cyde Morelli were more than willing to share their memories of Gerard. To a person, they remembered his speed - on and off the football field - and that he was an outstanding gentleman.
While they were happy to talk about that 1945 team, which allowed only 19 points, the conversation kept coming back to Gerard, who was remembered as not only one of the best players in Wintersville High School's history, but one of the top players in the Upper Ohio Valley.
Gerard was certainly an outstanding athlete and has a well-earned spot in Wintersville High School athletic lore, but it was interesting to learn from his obituary that Gerard received a heart transplant at the Cleveland Clinic at the age of 65.
This year's reunion attracted about 100 WHS alumni, organizers said.
As a member of the Class of 1976, it was interesting to see the display of athletic uniforms in the familiar blue and old gold, band memorabilia and class photos from years gone by. While I did see one of my classmates - Geno Morelli - I had to ask longtime friend Toni Jean (Morelli) Dondzilla, herself a Wintersville grad and a longtime educator in the Indian Creek Local School District who helped organize the event, about the perception of some later grads that the annual reunion was something only for those who had graduated a long time ago.
"That's nonsense," she told me, "It is what you make it."
She pointed out that they'd like to see members from as many classes as possible attend the annual reunion.
That's something to think about while looking ahead to next Aug. 16, and the chance to sit back and enjoy a late-summer afternoon sharing memories, enjoying homemade food and remembering Wintersville High School.
If you have been putting off nominating your friend or neighbor as one of this year's Community Stars, you are running out of time.
The deadline for nominees for the Class of 2013 is Friday.
The concept behind the program is very simple - we're looking to find 10 unsung heroes from throughout the Tri-State Area. The only criteria is that the nominee be a person who does the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do, not because he or she is seeking the limelight or looking to earn attention.
Nominees can live in Jefferson, Harrison, Brooke, Hancock or Washington counties, and there's no age restriction. Past stars have ranged in age from pre-teen through their 80s.
Since it was established in 1998, more than 150 residents from all parts of our region have been honored as part of the Herald-Star, Weirton Daily Times Community Stars, Presented by Weirton Medical Center program. This year's recognition dinner is scheduled for Oct. 7 at St. Florian Hall in Wintersville.
It's easy to nominate someone: Forms have been appearing regularly in the newspapers.
Complete forms can be mailed to Jody Wisbith, Attn. Community Stars, Herald-Star, 401 Herald Square, Steubenville, OH 43952. Nominations can be e-mailed to email@example.com or submitted on the Virtual Newsroom sites of the Herald-Star or The Weirton Daily Times,
In case you didn't realize it, the area's high school football teams return to action this week, with several games involving local teams set for Thursday night in Wintersville, Steubenville and Wheeling.
Probably the best way to prepare for the season is by reading our annual football edition, which will be included in Wednesday's editions. Under the theme of Leading the Way, this year's edition offers a comprehensive look at each of our area's teams, including rosters and schedules.
If you can't wait until Wednesday to get your copy, you might want to consider joining us Tuesday for our annual Community Tailgate Party in Herald Square Park, located at 401 Herald Square in downtown Steubenville. You'll be able to purchase an advance copy of the edition and get a hot dog, a bag of chips and a drink for $1.50. The event, which runs from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., will include a performance by the Steubenville High School marching band, and proceeds will benefit the literacy programs at the newspapers.
It's a great way to get ready for the coming season.
(Gallabrese, a resident of Steubenville, is executive editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.)