Fifty years ago, 138 young men and women representing the 100th class to graduate from Saline High School, walked across a stage, shook hands with Saline Schools’ Superintendent Harold Hintz and received their diplomas as their family and friends cheered. Little did they know that as they exited, they would begin a journey where most would still be going strong five decades later. On that day in June of 1968, seventy men and sixty-eight women, like most 18-year old graduates, looked to the future with hopes, ambitions and dreams.
The Hall of Fame country music group, The Statler Brothers, sang a song about one of the group member’s graduation day titled “The Class of ‘57”. Adapted for this story, it would go like this:
“The class of ’68 had its dreams,
But living life day to day is never like it seems.
Things get complicated when you get past eighteen
But the class of ’68 had its dreams.”
But 1968 was not an ordinary year. And for the graduates, life did get complicated.
Some went off to college. Some off to war. Some took jobs, others stayed on the family farm. Some knew what they wanted, some had no clue. Some got married, some did not. Some have stay married, some have not. Some have stayed local, some have traveled across the globe. Some would fly the friendly skies. Some would sail the seven seas.
Some buried their parents. Some buried their spouses. Some buried their siblings. Some even have had to bury their child. Some experienced the thrill of victory, some the agony of defeat. Some have remained healthy. Some have fought serious medical issues. Some have lost their battle with medical issues.
And through it all, The Class of ’68 has been resilient.
The Saline Post has talked with the Class of 1968, posing questions and asking them to reflect on fifty years of living. As a reader of this story, think about this: If you were asked whether your life had turned out the way you thought it would and you had to reflect back over the years, how would you answer? The members of the Class of 1968 were asked to reflect back over fifty years and talk about their lives. In the stories to follow, in their own words, you will read their answers to the following questions:
- Has your life turned out the way you thought it would?
- What was the most meaningful educational experience you had while attending SHS? What “stuck” in terms of meaningful learning with your academic studies? Do you believe that SHS prepared you to live a meaningful life in the community?
- What career(s) did you have during your working life?
- Where have you lived?
- What are the “highlights” of your life? What are you the proudest of?
- What advice do you have for the SHS graduating Class of 2018 for their lives after Saline Area Schools?
- Anything else you would like to share about your life?
The Class of ’68 included ordinary people, from an ordinary town, living ordinary lives during an extraordinary time. Borrowing a chapter from radio icon Paul Harvey, The Saline Post presents to you: The Saline High School Class of 1968—and “now you know the rest of the story.”
April (Beach) Pronk:
My life has turned out better beyond my wildest expectations. I always wanted a family and that happened. I found a wonderful man and we’ve been married 44 years with three children and six grandchildren. But I never dreamed of the numerous other things that would occur. These involved extensive traveling; living in seven different states and experiencing the cultures and lifestyles of those places. And it was incredible being a part of several “adventures” that most people only dream or read about. It has been a life full of more than I’d ever imagined possible.
The most meaningful educational experience at Saline High School was taking
Latin class with Mrs. Haswell. I was nervous about signing up for Latin but once
in that class, I was fascinated and mesmerized by all of it. Even today, I see many
words, especially in medical and scientific areas, being used which have their roots
in Latin. And I’m doubly pleased my granddaughter is now in a school where she
is able to take Latin classes. I found that I was not immediately prepared for college after graduating from High School, so I dropped out of college after 2 years. Going from a small town
school to a large college campus like MSU was drastic and I was not prepared for the difference in culture. Yet, I was prepared for “the world” and so, after traveling and learning from that, I returned to college at EMU and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Master’s degree.
Prior to graduating from college, I was a waitress (today they call it a “server”).
However, I did work on a square rigger (4-masted barkentine) sailing passengers from
California to the South Pacific (Tahiti, Bora Bora, Nukuhiva, and many places among
the Marquesas Islands. After graduating from college, I was a Special Education
teacher for almost 20 years.
I grew up and lived in Saline, Michigan until I was 18 years old. After that, I’ve lived
in Nevada, California, Louisiana, Texas, Connecticut and on a Square Rigger in the
I’m proudest of going through 2 hurricanes while living on the Square Rigger.
One of the hurricanes did major damage to the ship and we were taking on lots
of water. We were sinking. However, with the crew and passengers, we
worked together to bail water out of the ship with positive energy for more than
24 hours. We were finally able to radio an SOS that reached Hawaii. I think all of us,
not just me, kept our heads and our spirits high in this adventure. We never gave
up the ship. We saved her.
I feel extremely fortunate that my life has been filled with more than I ever could have
imagined. I have been blessed. I have a private pilot’s license. I sail. I have a close family. I sing. In fact, in May 2018 prior to my High School reunion, I will have sung with a chorus I’ve been in for 20 year at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC for Memorial Day with the United States Air Force Band. In the past I’ve sung with this same chorus at Carnegie Hall in New York and in Jamestown, Virginia for their 400th anniversary concert. I started choral singing in
high school and with Musical Youth International (MYI). I toured with MYI, performing in Europe and Mexico. I sang at Michigan State University with State Singers. And after that I sang with the Musical Choral at the University of Michigan in Hill Auditorium. Now I sing with the Lenawee Community Chorus. Singing is a part of me, my second language. Once I started, I’ve never stopped.
Cecilie “Ces” Robison:
Did my life turn out the way I thought it would. In a word - NO. I thought I would marry and raise a family. I was not particularly career oriented. In high school I thought I wanted to be a veterinarian but I guess that wasn’t for me. I never had a specific path to follow.
I really enjoyed my biology class with Hallie Jane Mehler. I don’t know that anything really stuck for me academically. I believe that I was not given information on the possibilities I could have participated in such as student exchange programs, other learning possibilities, career paths. Though I believe that SHS taught me the value of hard work and to take advantage of the good education offered to SHS students to prepare for college.
Initially after attending MSU, I worked in a couple of different medical and dental offices. Next, I worked for Kroger for five years. After that, I moved to the Seattle area where I worked for a video production/post production company for six years before being hired by The Boeing Company where I worked as internal computing support. I retired from Boeing.
I have lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan and Seattle, Washington. I am now retired in Jefferson, North Carolina. I really enjoyed my years at Boeing. It’s a great company. One of my jobs was supporting the 777 program and later the Flight Center. It was exciting and fast paced. But, I guess what I’m most proud of is that I have traveled and seen a lot of this country and I have supported myself throughout my life.
Did my life turn out the way I thought it would -- absolutely not. When I graduated from high school in June 1968 I thought my future look dim. Bleak even. The last year of high school, I was on the work-study program where I apprenticed at a local gas station. I would leave school at noon (I think) and go to work pumping gas, repairing vehicles. I was not on the track to go to college and I would assume that the guidance counselors pegged me to be some kind of manual labor guy for the rest of my life. Vietnam was raging and for a young male, the choice to do nothing was not a choice. My 18th birthday was 2-13-68. Vietnam loomed. After you turned 18, you had to go to the draft office and register. If you did not want to be drafted you either got married and had a baby, went to college, joined the National Guard or joined a military branch that did not send many people into Vietnam, like the Navy or Air Force. Of course, you could also choose to move to Canada or another country. But unlike today’s graduates, you really didn’t have the choice to exist and ponder life for a couple of years. Doing nothing was not an option for a young graduating male in the USA at that time. So no, in June of 1968, my view of the world and what my life would be was myopic, narrow, somewhat limited and certainly not full of aspirations or hope.
I thought SHS provided a solid fundamental educational experience. Nothing really stands out but I believe I received a solid foundational education in reading, writing and arithmetic. In addition, I think growing up in a German farming community, having parents that lived through the depression and WWII and having teachers who cared about what they were doing, instilling values and self-discipline. The school and staff made sure you understood you were in the school for a reason. I am fond of the memories and I appreciate the foundation that the high school and community gave me. It has served me well in my life. I learned to appreciate attending school in Saline though I did not always agree with what they were doing. I did not understand the big picture (it was a crazy time, in essence, a modern civil war between the changing views on segregation, Vietnam, values of our parents versus the questioning of why we should honor those values. But you know, fifty years later, I am glad I lived four miles out of town (a town of 3,000), on a farm and I cherish all the life lessons that Saline has given me. And as time has passed by, I understand how the lessons I learned has influenced the life choices I have made.
It took a while but I ended up with a BS in Business, with a background in the sciences. I became a professional pilot. It quickly became clear to me that I did not like all the constant travel of being a professional pilot. After five years, I stopped being a pilot and parlayed my BS in Business to forty years of leadership/management positions with companies in banking, auto, aviation and 27 years active and reserve duty in the military. I started out as a high school graduate with a dim future. I became an enlisted man in the Navy. I then applied some of those life lessons, received more education, passed all the Army's tests so that I could attend the Army Officer Candidate program at Fort Benning, GA and in December of 1976 I was commissioned as a 2nd Lt in the Army. Even though I retired, I still hold my commission and after 26.5 years active and reserve enlisted and officer, I retired from active participation in 1996 as a Major (O-4 rank). Of the 25 ranks in the military (E-1 through E-9, Warrant 1-5, Commissioned 0-11), in my career I went through 18 of them. Not too bad for a person that was doing work/study in my senior year, slated for a lifetime of menial labor-type jobs.
I have lived in a lot of different places. From Ann Arbor, brought home to downtown Willis and then to nearby Pitman road. My family had a brief stay in Bellville, at the southeast corner of Willow Run airport, then in 1960, our family moved to Bemis Road in Saline. I then joined the Navy in November 1968 and spent two months at boot camp in Great Lakes, IL. It was then onto Lakehurst N.J. for "A" school till July 1968, then to Alameda CA, Naval air station for two years. I then spent one year in Vietnam (multiple locations) until July 1972, then back to Alameda for three months, then back to Saline. In December 1972 I moved to Chico, CA (100 miles north of Sacremento) to attend Chico State University. From there I got employed in Redding, CA (1979) (200 miles north of San Francisco-100 miles south of Oregon border). I am still in Redding, living in the same house since March of 1979.
You asked about the highlights of my life. I can answer that in one word – everything. I am thankful to still be alive and functional (sitting here today answering these questions 50 years after leaving Saline High School). There is not one particular thing, it is everything that I have been able to do. But, if forced to choose one thing, it would be that I have never stopped wanting to learn more. We only have so many days on planet earth. Time is the only commodity we cannot get more of. It was so very meaningful to me when I realized a long time ago that time is limited, that knowledge has dominated my choices ever since. My salutation at the end of all my emails is: “The greatest gift you may give anyone... is your TIME".
You ask if I have anything else to share? Nope. I have been blessed to have been able do a zillion things. It is my hope that I live to be 100 (but if I don't, I don't), fully functional, still learning, experiencing the bounties of the world around us. I will be kicking and screaming to the end but would not have it any other way. No matter your particular beliefs (religion, non-religion) we do not know what waits for us when our time has ended, so I choose to live life to its fullest with whatever time I have left. THAT IS MY STORY.......... AND I AM STICKING TO IT!
In response to your questions a brief bio on myself: Western Michigan graduate 1972, hired by General Motors aircraft division flying corporate executives. I entered the Navy in 1974 and received my wings in 1976, flew E-2c Hawkeyes off the USS Constellation. I retired from the
Navy as a Commander with 10 active/10 reserve years, hired by Piedmont Airlines in 1985 and retired as a Captain with American in 2015.
SHS was a great start for me with fantastic teachers like Mr. Bonich, Mr. Schwartz, Mr. Garret, Mr. Bradley and many more. Thank goodness we didn't have cell phones or the internet!!!! We grew up in wonderful time!!! We all had jobs during high school and most of us paid for everything we had. Five of us started a band called "Honey & the Graham Crackers". We had a blast. With Bob Segar and Motown singers playing local venues for a few bucks, we were living in musical Nirvana. Joining the Navy was the best thing to ever happen to me. I encourage all soon to be graduates to serve your country in the military. It is not for everyone but for me, all I can say is I would do the same thing all over again.
I have lived in Virginia Beach since 1976 and still fly a small airplane out of PVG. I own a cottage in Oyster, VA where I help the Nature Conservancy manage the coastal wetlands in Oyster and the barrier islands. I built my first boat in Mr. Garrett`s shop class and just completed a Rowing Wherry this fall. I spend time in Key West, FL. and Las Vegas as our son lives there. We have also lived in Hamburg, Germany. Looking forward to the 50th!!!
When asked if his life has turned out the way he thought it would, he replied, “Oh no. It has been so much better.”
Has my life turned out the way I thought it would? No. I thought I would teach forever but life brought changes that put me into Emergency Communications that I came to love. I never thought I would leave Michigan but here I am in Minnesota.
For a meaningful educational experience and one that stuck, I have to cite a teacher (whose name I don’t remember) who taught me how to answer essay questions. I continue to use that knowledge today (they don’t have to have long answers, just be direct and to the point). SHS was a small school in a small town and that gave me community. I had teachers who cared and made learning a challenge. I had fellow classmates who provided friendship and community outside of school.
I have had several careers over time. My time as a clerk at Cunningham Drug store near Arborland made me push to finish my teaching degree at EMU. Subsitute teaching in Southgate and Westland schools gave me a boost toward getting a Master’s Degree in Research and Development. With a move to Minnesota, I worked as the Media Supervisor at the large hospital then moved on to be the Communications Supervisor for White Bear Lake Police Dept. From there I worked as a 911 Operator for the City of Minneapolis Emergency Communications and really put my education to work dealing with people via the phone and developing training materials for the department from which I am now all gleefully retired.
After graduation from college, I lived in Ypsilanti, Southgate and Northville, Michigan. I moved to Slayton, Minnesota (on the prairie near Sioux Falls, SD) in 1983. In 1984-86, we lived in Menomonie, Wisconsin while attending University of Wisconsin-Stout. In 1986 we moved to the small town (all 509 of us) of Willernie which is a 2nd tier city northwest of St Paul and have been here since then. What I have found to be a highlight of my life has been having a satisfying career path and a partner/spouse to share it with.
Suzanne (Hollenback) Hill:
Has your life turned out the way you thought it would? No. Does anyone’s? I thought I wanted to be a Latin teacher. Experience told me that I’m a lousy teacher. So I became an air traffic controller/flight service station specialist for about ten years with the FAA and then went back to school and got a post baccalaureate certificate in accounting and became a CPA. I worked as an accountant until I retired in the fall of 2016.
Nothing stuck in terms of meaningful learning. I don’t think high school or even college can prepare you to go out into the real world. You can learn some skills, but practicing those skills is what leads you to becoming a successful person in life.
I have lived in southeastern Michigan, central and northern Indiana, Washington DC, and Oklahoma City OK. I am proudest of my ability to change careers in midstream and be flexible enough to always land on my feet regardless of the circumstances.
Sharon (Burkhardt) Michakoff:
How to answer did my life turn out the way I thought it would? Well, not exactly. I thought that I would marry once, have a couple of children and teach school in a traditional classroom.
I had many meaningful educational experiences while in high school. The SHS science teachers planted the seeds of curiosity in me. Mr. Bonich, Ms. Mehler, Mr. Sala, Mr. Vie and even Mrs. Washburn through Home Economics left lasting impressions for me. That curiosity led me to focus on nature and gardening in ways that I was able to use in my business and in turn plant seeds in my day care family members to produce doctors, nurses, teachers, photographers and animal lovers. I believe that overall, those years of learning and growing in a respectful, disciplined environment led me to be someone who was respectful of others and open to learning new things every day. If I have any criticisms of my educational experience at SHS it would have been that it lacked topics of “practical education” like life skills, personal finance, and a more diversified population that better represented the world outside of Saline.
I had a number of careers during my working life. Some were related to my support of my husbands in each of my marriages while for 40 years my main occupation was as the director of my own day care business. My business was done in my licensed home and varied from group to family day care over the years (having 6-12 children during all of that time). Nearly 300 children were under my guidance along with a number of day care assistants who were many times co-op students or college students. The mission of those day care years was to assure safety, provide good nutrition, and provide for school readiness while supporting parents. My additional “jobs” included being the co-owner of a local tavern, a licensed real estate agent/assistant, “flipping” 40 homes in 12 years with my late husband and managing real estate rentals. I also had early “side businesses” of my own as a single parent cleaning homes, commercial buildings and creating a line of children’s hand-made puppets. Needless to say, there were very few dull moments in my working days!
I have always lived in the mitten—16 years in Clinton, 51 in Saline and the last year in Howell.
I am most proud of the character of my two sons, step-daughter and the influence that I was able to have in the lives of my day care children and grandchildren. Highlights of my life have been my children, grandchildren, extensive travel in the U.S. and world and realizing my dream of a lake home with my best friend/husband.
My life has been a roller coaster ride with highs that were more exciting than I could have imagined and some of the lows so drastic and tragic that they have left depressions on my heart. I do think that growing up in Saline in the 60’s did provide an optimism that things could be improved and be better. That essence of hope has served me well in my life!
Amy (Sanders) Shankleton-Novess:
No, my life is completely not what I expected. I married my high school sweetheart but unfortunately the marriage ended 10 years later. In 1995, I married Dave Novess and we live in Milan.
I was not academic-track headed or minded at the time of graduation, simply not sure. My favorite teachers were Mrs. Washburn and Miss Kulenkamp who taught home economics. I learned many skills to survive as the stay-at-home mom I always thought I would be. But it wasn't to be. The office procedures and business courses I took in school were helpful in developing my work at U of M and later in my own business. I must add the English and history classes at Saline were foundational in developing the skill set needed for my eventual career as a court reporter.
Upon graduation I obtained employment at U of M in the mechanical engineering department as department secretary and was there for about a year and a half. I married my high school sweet heart who was in the Army and stationed in Augsburg, Germany. We lived there for about a year and a half. Eventually as a newly single mom, I obtained employment at 14th District Court in Ann Arbor and was Judge Robert Fink's secretary for five years. When he retired, I held various county court recording positions and ended up as an official reporter at circuit court in Ann Arbor. In 1988 I started a freelance court reporting business and have maintained that company ever since. We purchased a building on North Lewis Street here in Saline in 2010 and it has worked out really well.
I have lived in Washtenaw County most of my life except in 1969-1971 when I lived in Augsburg, Germany in Army housing. The highlights of my life are my two children, Scott, and Kristen Shankleton. Scott has twin 17-year-old boys who will graduate in June 2018 and I adore them. Kristen is my associate and business partner as a court reporter with our company, Modern Court Reporting & Video, LLC.
Phyllis (Alexander) Miller
I’m not sure how to answer whether my life turned out the way I thought it would. I’ve had several major losses over the years, besides losing my parents and a sister. I never expected my husband to have a massive heart attack and die at age 38. Nor did I foresee losing my job of 29 years due to downsizing. I’ve had 3 bouts of cancer that I beat. I do have a loving husband, two great kids and stepson and between them we have 8 grandchildren. Life is now good.
I have to say the most useful experience was the time spent in typing class with Mr. Bradley. It led me to a great position as manager over a word processing department for many years. However, having lived in South Florida since the mid 70’s, I realize that I should have paid more attention in Spanish class so I’d be better at communicating down here!
Growing up through middle and high school, I always had to work in my Dad’s restaurant. After moving to Florida, we used to spend our summers in Ypsilanti helping my in-laws run Bill’s Hot Dog Stand. Later, I joined an insurance company at age 30 and worked myself up to manager of several departments. I’m very grateful for those years because I made many dear friends. I have lived in Michigan, southern California when I was a Navy wife and now south Florida.
I have to say the highlight of my life was accepting Jesus Christ as my Savior. Also, that I’m very proud of my children and grandchildren. Just ask me about them and I could go on forever!
Did my life turn out the way that I thought it would, no because at the time I had no idea how it would turn out. But it has been good.
I don’t know what “stuck” in terms of an educational experience. I taught at Three Oaks Middle School for two years. I then taught at Willow Run Community Schools for 27 years as a teacher and counselor. I have lived in Ann Arbor, Saline, Bridgman, Sawyer, Ypsilanti, Okemos, Howell, Dandridge,Tenn, Canton, Boyne City and Wayne. I think the greatest moments of my life would be marrying my wife, Christine; and my kids, Mathew and Sarah; and my grandkids, Zachary, Madison, Aubrey and Dylan.
PS - I hated playing football and I never missed a day of school in 12 years.
Yes, I think my life did turn out the way I thought it would. I didn't have any specific expectations beyond assuming I could have what appeared to be our birthright; a job, home and family.
You know, I’m not sure what I could call my most meaningful educational experience. I do know the only thing I still use is typing. I don't think I had careers, only jobs. The two longest were cook (5 years) and factory production and warehouse (18 years). Others were video technician and commission sales.
I have lived mostly around Saline and Ann Arbor until 30 years ago when I moved 40 miles west. I was really proud of my porch conversion to a 1st floor laundry. It was an engineering marvel.
Most of what I've been told in life is probably true but fighting it keeps me limber.
My life has not turned out the way I thought it would. Not at all. I always knew I would be an artist or work in an artistic and creative occupation, but I had no idea that the “art world” would take me on such a fantastic journey to see great art all over the world and teach so many others!
Answering what stuck in terms of my academics is challenging to answer. Life has taught me the meaning of life. I can’t remember anything that “stuck” as far as meaningful. I know I always did my best and everyday we learn new things, I continue on that journey. I love to learn and we all are teachers in our own way.
My first job was accounting at the “then” Citizens Bank, Main and Saline-Ann Arbor/Milan road. Then after getting my BFA from College of Creative Studies in Detroit, a Graphic Designer for 20 years (12 at Chrysler Corporation, Art department in Highland Park, MI). Then after getting my MFA at EMU, I’ve been teaching art to students at Art Associations around the state. I have lived in Saline, Detroit and Whitmore Lake. My life highlights include getting married and having a son. I am really proud of my son and my ability to keep moving forward even after times of trouble and rough patches in life. Creating art and teaching others and seeing the joy in their eyes always makes my day!
I compete with national and local artists in Paint-Outs around the state and have been honored to receive many top awards for my accomplishments. I continue to teach weekly pastel classes at the Visual Arts Association of Livonia and every summer at Interlochen Center for the Arts. I instruct high school teachers and adults and I enjoy watching student's creativity and excitement develop as they learn to see as an artist.
Traveling has also been a huge part of my life. In the 70’s, I traveled throughout the United States and lived in California for a brief time. After college I traveled six months in Europe, Egypt, and Greece to view historical art through the ages. Recently Tim and I went to St. Petersburg, Russia and five countries around the Baltic Sea for our 25th Wedding Anniversary. In 2007, our family took a month long Missions trip to Cambodia, Vietnam, and Thailand. In 2011, Daniel, our son, and I went to Joplin, MO to help with the National Relief Network after the F-5 Tornado tore through their city. I’ve been fortunate to travel with Tim and Daniel and I always count my blessing and strive to contribute to community and share my talents and gifts. See more of my paintings at: www.janetkohlerarts.com.
Tom has said that it was exploring places all over the world tha provided his meaningful education. He explained that it was his wife Marsha who wanted to travel, while he was content to stay local. When she finally convinced me to travel, it opened my eyes to the world. We took many independent trips to Western Europe, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and South America.... Staying in small towns, taking public transportation, eating in the local restaurants, meeting the local people. The attractions were the various cultures, languages, philosophies, ideas.... Things that we usually are not exposed to unless we choose to venture.
How did it impact me? Well, after working in finance for the corporate world for many years, decided to get into more of an international business that involved dealing with people around the world. So I started a sales business on the internet in which about 50% of the sales are international. My enjoyment comes from the dealings and communications with people around the world. Like the business so much, that I may never retire.
Mary Beth (Danneffel) Mandlekorn
Did my life turn out the way I thought it would? Not sure. Life throws you so many curve balls, that I doubt if anyone’s life turns out the way they thought. I had a strong desire to obtain a college degree and go to medical school. Several external factors steered my plans in a different direction. My parents divorced when I was ten. Both parents worked very hard to provide for us, particularly a good education. While they couldn’t afford private schools, my mother moved to Saline because she felt their schools were the best. While in high school, I lived with my mother in Saline. I walked to school every day, as did my siblings. After high school, I attended the University of Michigan as a premed major. My first year, I lived at home and drove daily to Ann Arbor with my mother who worked in the Academic Affairs office at UM. At UM, I became more aware about social issues, joining the Black Action Movement and protests against the Vietnam War. After two years, I changed my major to nursing and transferred to Wayne State University, College of Nursing in Detroit. I enjoyed the anonymity of a big city like Detroit, as well as its cultural diversity, compared to the small town Saline. I was socially inept and always felt under constant scrutiny in Saline. Detroit offered many exciting opportunities and people. I received my BSN in Nursing with distinction in 1974, and accepted my first position at Wayne State in Hypertension research based at Hutzel Hospital. I achieved my desire for a college degree but I did not attend medical school.
What education stuck? Looking back, high school is a very short time in someone’s life. What I remember about high school is taking French and chemistry classes which were my favorites. I avoided the popular kids and became best friends with Cindy, and later Doug Houghton. Saline sheltered us from the outside world. While I attended SHS I was on the honor roll and a member of the Honor Society. I don’t recall any conversation with teachers or friends about the Vietnam War or segregation, beyond the awareness that classmates were drafted and the deaths of former students were announced in assembly. Politics are pervasive in every aspect of our lives. I was unaware if this was ever addressed. In my twenties I shunned politics in medicine but ultimately found it unavoidable; I learned it the hard way. Sexual harassment was a topic that women kept silent about in the 1960’s. And gender equality was another that we continued to fight for in the workplace. My mother was my role model; she was one of few women managers at UM. Saline sheltered us from the rest of the world. Life experiences, your education, your faith and your significant others shape your journey to a meaningful life rather than four short years in high school. Yes it is a crucial component, but it’s what an individual makes of their life that’s important.. SHS prepared me; I was awarded a four year State of Michigan Higher Education Scholarship and a University of Michigan Regents Alumni Scholarship.
Now I am blessed with a beautiful 15 year old daughter who has completed her first year of high school; I am reliving my high school experience and comparing it to hers. It is totally different. We had no internet while today the internet is routinely used for assignments and homework. We had textbooks – today instead of textbooks students are online. I am awestruck by how advanced the high school students of today are. They are light years ahead in academic subjects and have a broad array of tools to speed learning along. These young people have a broad view of the world, thanks to technology and global travel. They live in a different world than we did, it’s truly amazing.
My first career following college graduation was in the field of hypertension, as nurse practitioner at Hutzel Hospital in Detroit. I had research and clinical responsibilities and there I first learned about the mainframe computer. We stored data in a mainframe and communicated via dial up modem. My next major life-changing position was in Detroit involving cornea/eye banking and transplantation. I worked for the Michigan Eye Bank. I moved from Detroit to Ann Arbor and then Sacramento when UC Davis Medical Center hired me to become director of their eye bank. This was followed by the Director of the Lions Eye Bank at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. At Baylor I was given a faculty appointment at the medical school, served as principal investigator for research studies and published papers on cornea banking.
I have loved the places I lived. These include Tokyo, Hawaii, California, Texas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Florida.
I think my life has included so many highlights. I attended a faculty dinner with Barbara and George Bush. I was voted to a two year term as Chairman of the Board of Eye Banking Association based in Washington. D.C. I performed research and published several papers. I traveled around the world teaching about Eye Banking. I’ve been to Africa, India, Pakistan, and Japan. I’ve also visited Russia, Israel, Singapore, Thailand, China, France, Greece and Great Britain. The absolute best highlight of my life is when I married my husband Robert and we adopted our baby daughter, Rachel Sophia, from Vladivostok, Russia. (see attached photographs). Rachel is the light of my life. She is a loving and gifted individual. Rachel is in the Center for the Arts as a dance/ballet major at Cypress Lakes High School. She has danced in the Nutcracker with the Moscow Ballet. My husband and I are extremely proud of Rachel.
My last thoughts are that hindsight is 20-20. I’d like to start life over with what I know today. I feel that my 60’s is the best time of my life. I am blessed with a wonderful loving family and feel fortunate to live in a warm sunny place where I can enjoy life.
Eleanor (Feldkamp) Beitelshees:
Life always includes unexpected twists and turns. I always wanted to be a nurse but during a relationship in high school and beyond, my boyfriend did not want me to go to school. So it didn’t turn out the way I wanted and I pursued a path in dental assisting.
Do I believe that SHS prepared you to live a meaningful life in the community? Yes, I do. Mr. Mike Rotunno walked up to me when I was in 8th grade and asked me to babysit for his family. I took on the job and the Rotunno’s treat me as family to this day. Miss Hallie Jane Mehler was a wonderful science/biology teacher and I was very happy to be her teacher’s assistant my Jr. and Sr. years.
Throughout my life I have been a daughter, wife, mother and dental assistant for 27 years. Also 13 years as a care giver at Brecon Village. As a child I grew up on our farm on Weber Rd. Then I lived in Saline for 12 years and at our present home for 35 years with country living on Bemis Rd., Saline.
I am proudest of getting my education, getting married and raising three successful children.
As a high school student who thinks about how your life will turn out, I just wanted to be free from going to school every day! Thinking back now it wasn't all that bad compared to the real world we were about to enter. Working outside in the cold on construction jobs all winter, using dirty portable plastic bathrooms, eating lunch sitting on an old picnic table in the cold and being bossed around by the foreman (that was kinda like being in school again). Of course when I got home my day isn't over as dinner must be prepared, grass has to be mowed or snow shoveled, and being bossed around by my new boss (wife). How bad does school sound now? I think school just taught me to get along with other people in daily life, a very valuable trait in the working world.
After graduating from SHS I had to go to college or be drafted and sent to Vietnam. So off I went to EMU and Washtenaw Community College. Unfortunately I wasn't such a good student and failed a class which led to my being called to the Army for a pre-induction physical. This sounds bad but turned out very good. I failed my physical so was now free to do what I wanted! I have had numerous jobs like working at the A&P store in Saline, stockman at the Kmart in Ann Arbor and driving/loading a moving truck for Godfrey Moving and Storage in Ann Arbor. Finally my dad convinced me to get a good job and I entered the Electrical Apprenticeship program in Ann Arbor to become an electrician like him. So that was my job until retiring in 2010.
I probably should mention another important happening in my life, I married my best friend’s sister Sherry Heskett (Rick Heskett). I have to give her credit for a lot of the good things in our life. We bought our first home in Milan and lived there until moving to Manchester in 2001 where we are living now. We are enjoying the retired country life on our 11 acres when we are not traveling around the country in one of our campers. We both like to camp, kayak, bicycle, ride our motorcycles, atv's and snowmobile. Lately "Jeeping" has become part of our life and really enjoy taking in to the mountains out west when possible.
Donna Murray Tillinghast Heilmann:
I would be surprised if any of our lives turned out just as we planned them. Mine certainly has not. I have many outstanding educational memories from school. The ones that helped frame who I became are the greatest. Among them are:
*Mr. Kessel convinced me I was intelligent which enhanced the way I view all learning opportunities.
*Learning that all knowledge is a building block to later challenges has been a lifelong asset.
*Mr. Von Dette made me aware that NO teaching in the line of history, philosophy, etc. is totally objective in spite of the authors’/teachers’ best efforts. Personal bias trickles into how we project and perceive data. I have since applied this to other fields including religion, science and definitely J advertising!
Shortly after college I moved to northern Ohio just south of Cedar Point. It is a rural environment similar to what Saline used to be. It has been my home ever since.
Most of my jobs have been as an Administrative Assistant. I have learned that I prefer being supporting Indian to a role as head chief though I have had stints of both. I am most proud of my two daughters. They both are more intelligent, confident and successful than I have been so I guess I must have done something right.
My second marriage was to Hank Heilmann. He has three wonderful sons. We have eight fantastic grandchildren between ages 1 and sixteen and are blessed to have them all living within 45 minutes from us. I still enjoy writing, mostly letters. I do home improvement repairs and projects including electric, plumbing, flooring, gardening, etc. Yeah for YouTube! I love all kinds of puzzles (except Crosswords) and have quite a collection of 3-d puzzles which I loan to libraries for display.
My biggest weakness is overanalyzing everything – which has both its good and bad sides and can be quite annoying to family and friends. My greatest asset is perhaps determination (known by some as stubbornness).
The most meaningful aspect of my life has been my faith. Although it has been severely challenged, I look back to see how the Lord has woven hardship into good. An easy life is not necessarily the best life. We often need to be stretched to get a better understanding of life, people, situations, God and even ourselves.
Terri (Nowlan) Hand
I have lived a rich, full life and continue to daily with my wonderful husband Curtis. Between us, we enjoy 4 daughters and 1 son and 3 granddaughters and 1 grandson. We adore our grands who are 19, 17, 15, and 11 and live near them. I have lived in several states over the years: Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida, Utah, Colorado and settled down in North Carolina. I was a Human Resources Director and Training Director for various companies for 25 years and retired a few years ago. I also got a degree in Theology 16 years ago and my husband and I run a Christian Bible fellowship in our home. We love to share God's love and Word with people and care for our fellowship. We enjoy making things (I'm crafty and creative, my husband is a master builder), fixing up our home (inside and out and landscaping) and helping others with projects. We are as busy as we were before we retired, and that keeps us vital and alive! There's nothing we enjoy more than time with each other, our kids and our grands. We travel some, especially within North Carolina, since we live in such a gorgeous part of the country. I enjoy writing poetry and have a goal to write a children's book of motivational poetry (almost Seuss-like). It's hard to believe we graduated 50 years ago, are we really that old????
Jackie (Leonard) Rowe
Life in Saline has been very good for me. My dad and grandpa grew up here, Saline has always been my home. Saline schools prepared me for a meaningful life here. I grew up wanting to remain in Saline, get married and have a family. It may sound like a stereo-typical 50’s childhood, but that was me. I had very good friends, great teachers, and administrators whom I knew “ruled the roost.” What they said was the rule, and for the most part, I lived by that! I had teachers who taught my dad; there were administrators for our kids who had taught me. The continuity of this was good, as a friendly face is always welcome, whether “the kids” are doing well or were in trouble.
We are fortunate to have had wonderful community in Saline and in our Faith community. Growing up in Saline, there were very few Catholics. I believe in our graduating class in 1968, there were three Catholic classmates and Mass was held at the small Mission church on Monroe St. When our children were in high school in the 90’s, St. Andrew Parish, now on Austin Dr., was bursting at the seams and expanded to fit the needs of this growth.
My husband and I are retired now and we are still enjoying life in Saline. We have checked out neighboring communities but if and when we move “down the road,” it will be a major life experience! And now, looking back over the years, I have even more reasons to be thankful. I was raised in a neighborhood where the neighbors watched over us, helping whenever there was a need. When our children were growing and we moved to W. Textile Rd. (then a dirt road with no subdivisions), we were happy knowing more kids would be moving into the neighborhood within the next few years. Many carpools helped get the kids into music, athletic, and church activities.
What I didn’t know was the reuniting with many of my ’68 classmates. I still had my core group of friends, “forever” friends, as I called my early elementary classmates. What I didn’t know was that at one of my classmates’ spouse’s funeral 9 years ago, there I would see some “long lost” ’68 friends. We were not the closest of friends in high school but we were happy to see each other. It was at this point that we looked around and said, “Hey – we need to get together!” This truly was a life altering moment.
From this group who gathered at a funeral, we reached out to other ’68 friends. We gathered at the Top of the Park, for dinner, for some theater event or whatever one or two of us thought might be fun to include the others. What has developed is a most amazing group of friends who are all living life to the fullest as we can at this time. We now meet monthly at The Bank in Bridgewater. All are welcome – friends and spouses sometimes join in. Now, the men might not agree but this is truly a great support group! Many of us have been through experiences that lend to helping others going through the same type of life event. We congratulate each other on our grandkids, love hearing about vacations and most importantly, lend a friendly ear when needed. And recently, a lot of us have been helping to plan our 50th Class Reunion.
To come full circle in Saline has been a true gift. A quote from Mohammed Ali: Friendship is not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything. I have witnessed friendship in every facet of my life while here in Saline. I am surrounded with good people who want, need and love good friendship. I would not trade this aspect of my life for anything.
My husband and I might “move on down the road” at some point. But Saline will always be home. The Saline Schools, St. Andrew Parish, and my “forever” friends are home. When I comment to others about the “old days” in Saline, they look at me as if they’re wondering, “Have you really lived here that long?” And, they look even more incredulous when I comment about my “forever friends.” I also think it is pretty incredulous!
Tom is a 1968 graduate of SHS. I had the opportunity to talk with Tom one evening at the Bridgewater bank and Tavern, at a gathering of the Class of ’68. Tom did not want to respond to the questions. He asked that I write this down.
“In the eighth grade, I was kicked out of class. In the office with Mrs. Mehler, as I was sitting there, I had heard over the radio that was on, that President John F. Kennedy was shot while riding in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas. I was right there when the news about Kennedy was broadcast.”
I asked Tom about his time in Vietnam. He facial expression said a lot more than his words, which were, “all I can say is it wasn’t fun.” And with that, our conversation was over.
Brian Clay Collins:
I was very fortunate to have been raised in a loving and stable home and family with certain assumed expectations. I’d have to say that my life turned out pretty much as imagined during my teen years. My parents and three of my four grandparents were all college graduates so there was never a question but what that experience would be mine, too. I enjoyed my college years at Michigan State University and gained my BA in Human Environment and Design, College of Human Ecology that prepared me well for my career in Interior Design which I continue in independent practice to this day.
For several generations, Saline has been considered ‘home town' to my family. However, due to a career opportunity for my father, we relocated to Trenton, MI for ten years. As a result, when we returned to Saline in 1965, I enrolled in the tenth grade. Among the excellent SHS faculty were two in particular who stand out in my memory since they taught in areas that were of particular interest to me. They are Taylor Jacobsen in fine arts and David Mieras in mechanical and architectural drafting. Experience gained in their classes honed my natural talents and put me in excellent stead when I entered fine arts and design studies at MSU.
After my high school and college careers, resulting in a solid foundation in the arts and design, I was interviewed and subsequently selected to be among five recent design graduates hired, in 1972, by the J.L. Hudson Co. Studios of Interior Design immediately after graduation from MSU. At that time, Hudson’s had the largest residential interior design studio in the country spread among the flagship and several branch store locations and with an excellent national reputation. It was a thrill to work in the iconic city-block-square, 19 story tall red brick department store building at 1206 Woodward Avenue in downtown Detroit. It was truly a city within a city. After a three month orientation and training period overseen by the renown Director of Design, Milka Iconomoff, I began working with clients and remained with the company for more than 34 years and through its rebranding as Marshall Field’s and finally, Macy’s. In 2006 I formed an independent practice near my home in Grosse Pointe and retain a large clientele throughout the midwestern states and beyond. It can be said that I am among the fortunate few who have enjoyed a long career (46 years and counting) which is best suited to my talents, interests and education. When asked about impending retirement I state that I am ‘working hard at working less, with limited success’!
I have been a ‘Michigander' all my life, I was born in Ann Arbor in March of 1950 and was nearly 5 years old when my family left Saline for ten years in the Detroit Downriver community of Trenton. We returned to Saline in 1965 where my parents have continued to live. After dormitory and apartment living during my university years in East Lansing, my first ‘independent’ home was a small studio apartment with a Murphy Bed in the Palmer Park area of Detroit. Subsequently I lived in Dearborn and then in the historic district of Northville. Since 1985 my residence has been a circa 1928 Tudor revival English 'terrace home' in Grosse Pointe.
Highlights of my life include retaining my design practice through these many years, all the while enjoying the creative process combined with always striving for high professional practices and sound business principles. Through it all, I have benefited in developing wide and, in some instances, decades long relationships with my clientele. For many years, I was very active in the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), a membership that I retain to this day, and holding numerous positions on the state, regional and national levels. Travel, during those years of heaviest involvement, to meetings and conferences in many locations around the nation, afforded nice opportunities for expanding my horizons and for professional development and personal enrichment.
In the year 2000, I was greatly honored to be named a Fellow in ASID, the highest level of membership, and in recognition of my body of work and my many years of contribution to the society. This distinction is shared with only three others in the state of Michigan and some 200 nationwide. Family has remained important to me and I am blessed that my parents lived into advanced old age and even celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. Siblings and their families, cousins and many ‘friends of longstanding’ enrich my life. For 28 years, I have owned a circa 1878 cottage in the National Historic Landmark Chautauqua community of Bay View, MI on the shore of Little Traverse Bay near Petoskey. It is there that I enjoy ‘nesting and resting’ at every possible opportunity. Further, my volunteer contributions to the design, restoration and adaptive reuse of many of the Victorian era public campus buildings has been particularly rewarding.
Has my life turned out the way I thought it would. I have no idea. The funny thing about my life is that is seems to "go with the flow".
Going in the service seems a no brainer. I'd had enough of school and wanted to see the world. I could get my service obligation out of the way and have college paid for when I came back through the V.A. benefits! My second wife is 12 years my junior. This sounds like like a dream of a lot of guys to marry a young and beautiful girl! I did, and I love it, and we've been together for 37 years! She keeps me young thinking and acting and doing. But, she hasn't finished her work life. She cleans people's homes and just like I love her so do the ones she works for love her
The factory job, which I took right after graduation (a summer job) happened to be a Fortune 500 company with Union benefits. Little did I know when I left for the service that when I came back four years later there would be a recession and no jobs were available in 1972. I had a job. It lasted 30 years. Of course, I couldn't retire at age 48 even drawing a pension, so I started working for the State of Indiana as a school custodian. The advantage there, besides another pension, was it kept me young-thinking around all those kids and teachers and physically in shape. It's hard work! We visit Florida to get away from the northern winters, but only in the month of February. My short range goal is to be a snowbird. I'm only a snowflake now the southerners tell me. I keep telling my wife that we will get that sailboat someday and fish the Gulf waters! No definite plans but, dreams, yes always!!
I hear pensions are fast becoming a thing of the past. A financial advisor told me that to have an annuity take the place of my pensions, one from a Fortune 500 company and one from the State of Indiana, I'd have to have hundreds of thousands of dollars invested in the best of the stock and bond market! As it was, I just went with the flow and the years I spent in the Navy, which paid very little for 4 years, has made up for the losses by a low interest loan on my first house, paid for college years later and the V.A. benefits include low cost medical care, prescriptions and various other services now.
Nicola (Widmayer) Crumb:
I never could have imagined facing and going through a divorce, though after the "no fault" law came into being, my life was rocked by it. The rest of my life has been a gift and an adventure with Charles, my second husband whom loved me with passion, selflessness, and godliness.
What stuck with me in my education was physics: The one thing I have quoted multiple times over the years was how to keep these measurements in order...Millimeter, Centimeter, Decimeter, Meter -- Marilyn Monroe Can't Do Much...'cause she's dead! I can still hear our teacher's big booming voice blasting that out. I've never had cause to use this in my life, but I was prepared! I feel Mr. Corona's American History class had an interesting learning jewel. I loved the class but did poorly in it. I've learned over the years of homeschooling 8 of our children that I'm not a column learner and in teaching the children, I have been able to embrace multi sensory learning. My greatest life lesson is the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different outcome. Knowing our American History is pivotal in maintaining our country's sanity.
My career of choice, that I have pursued actively, has been that of Motherhood. I have loved my career and count it likely the most challenging venue of education I could have chosen. I have cheered my accomplishments, and grieved my failures. Mrs. Washburn's Home and Family class found me setting the goal of being a wife and having 6 children. Except for two years in college and a few years of being a CENA, I became a wife, twice, birthed 6 children, embraced two stepsons, fostered many, one still a large part of my life and adopted 5 special needs children, attending close to 350hrs of training in foster care and adoption.
I attended college in FL, have lived in LA and San Francisco, Ca., Saline, Clinton, Manchester, Reed City, Leroy, Luther, and Calumet, MI.
The highlights of my life could fill a book. It's been a wonderful adventure, filled with a life of education. I am most proud of my family, giving them life and living it with them.
Karen (Krempel) Underwood Szafarek:
I can honestly say I knew from a very early age I would be a teacher. My mom said on the first day of Kindergarten, as she and my teacher, Mrs. Mac Millan, were meeting, I was busy exploring the large letter and number tiles on the classroom floor. “Jump A, jump B, jump 1, jump 2…” I remember saying out loud as I hopscotched my way through my first visit to school! My mom also let me set up a little classroom in our playroom. My brother and sister were my first students. They sat on the floor as I pointed to letters and numbers written with white chalk on the little easel. Bruce and Kathy appropriately responded. We practiced reading words from our Dick and Jane flash cards. “I love school!” I remember thinking. “I want to be a teacher!” (Note: Our class was the first Kindergarten class to attend Jensen Elementary School in 1955 when it opened its doors! We attended Jensen through 4th grade. We attended Union School for grades 5 through 7 and moved on to the high school for grades 8 through 12. We graduated from Saline High School, which is now known as Liberty School, in 1968.)
One of my favorite memories at Union School was discovering the Laura Ingalls Wilder series of “Little House” books. I consumed those books, as I read about Laura and her family and the challenges and adventures she faced as a pioneer child and later on as a teacher. I remember thinking how lucky Laura was to have attended a one room school and even luckier to have grown up and become a teacher in one of the same one room schools she attended as a child. I thought to myself, I want to be a teacher when I grow up!
After 13 years of studying, friendships, sweet memories and challenges, I graduated from Saline High School with my classmates on June 16, 1968. (Note: Our class was the 100th class to graduate from Saline Area Schools.) I attended Eastern Michigan University where I received my BS and MS degrees in elementary education, along with my teaching certification. I am a teacher!
Now here is where things get interesting for me…I began my teaching career back at the same school I attended as a kindergarten student, Jensen Elementary School but now I am a Kindergarten teacher! How lucky am I? But things get more interesting as my years of teaching continued. Because Saline was a growing community, more schools had to be built to accommodate the needs of our families. When Pleasant Ridge School was being built, literarily on the playground of Jensen School, I taught Kindergarten at Union School, where I attended as a student in grades 5, 6 and 7. Then our district moved some of the Kindergarten classes back to Jensen School for one more year before closing Jensen and tearing it down to make way for the Pleasant Ridge playground and parking area. (Interesting Fact: I was a Kindergarten student the first year Jensen Elementary School opened its doors AND I was a Kindergarten teacher the final year Jensen Elementary School closed its doors!) Kindergarten moved back to Union School until it was sold and all kindergarten classes were moved to Houghton School. More schools were built and the Kindergarten classes were divided among Pleasant Ridge, Woodland Meadows and Harvest Elementary Schools. Houghton School was sold and torn down. When this occurred, I moved to Pleasant Ridge, where I taught Kindergarten until I retired. And yes…I ended my Kindergarten teaching career on the same piece of land that I began my school journey, in the shadow of Jensen School, as a Kindergarten student those many years ago!
However, my story is not quite complete…for I am now mentoring students back at Pleasant Ridge and am a docent at the Weber-Blaess One Room School House in Saline! My little girl dream of becoming a teacher DID come true! I thank all of my wonderful and amazing Saline Area Schools teachers who believed and encouraged me along the way and thank you to all those dedicated Saline teachers that continue to believe in and encourage children every day!
I AM A TEACHER!!!
Cindy (Christner) Niedermier:
My life has turned out so much better than I ever thought it could. It has been better than I ever could have imagined.
The courses that impacted me the most was forensics class. That made me more comfortable speaking in front of people, and that has helped. But I learned so much more after I graduated from high school. I learned all about life. I worked as a psychiatric nurse at Ypsilanti State Hospital for seven years until it closed. After that I was a homemaker for eleven years, becoming a Cub Master in the Cub Scouts and a volunteer for the Washtenaw United Way. Once my kids were in school, I was a lunch room attendant at Saline High School for fourteen years. I found that there was nothing more satisfying than feeding a bunch of very hungry teen-agers. I retired from this in 1998.
I have lived in Saline, Ann Arbor, Britton and Tecumseh. I have happily settled in Tecumseh in retirement. Highlights in my life have included been welcomed into the Catholic Church. I have lost a son but still have one that I see regularly. I have and wonderful granddaughter and step-granddaughter. I am looking forward to seeing everyone at our 50th reunion on the 23rd.