SHS CLASS OF 1971 -- PART III
CLASS OF 1971: 50 YEARS & GOING STRONG
On Tuesday, September 9, 1958, 115 local youngsters reported for their first day of kindergarten. As The Saline Reporter wrote back in ’58, “They go in as babies, wide-eyed and leery. They come out people, full of a new independence, with one foot already firmly planted in the world of ‘knowing things’.”
Of those 115, 60 attended Saline Schools for the entire twelve years. These students include: Kevin Armbruster, Doug “Mr. Pretty Legs: Bacon, Jim Bilyea, Barb Braun, David Brown, Liz Campbell, Linda Ceronsky.
Sarah Christner, George Cogar, Don Craigmile, Kathy Dieterle, Steve Drake, Jim Ecarius, Joanie Erskine, Keith Feldkamp, Jim Fiegel, Bill Glaze, Cindy Hammond and Jean Herter.
Others include Jerry Hill, Steve Hoeft, Barb Jackowski, Gary Jedele, Kathy Klein, Mark Klein, Tom Komorowski, Steve Kring, Greg Kuhl and Roger Leutheuser.
Paul Lindemann, Donna Luckhardt, Gary Marion, Fred Milkey, Duane Murray, Sally Nelson, JoAnne Noye, Laurie Ormsby, Kathy Payeur, Daivd Reid, Keita Rieckhoff, Trudy Riggs and Ralph & Ruth Riley.
Joan Robison, Linda Sells, Mike Shafer, Judy Sharkey, Lee Seitz, Keith Smith, Jane Steiner, Jackie Tobias, Patsy Van De Water, Don Van Doren, Sue Wackenhut, Dave Wanty, Charlene Whipple, Wendy Weidmayer and Bob Wild.
And the Saline High School Class of 1971 walked across the stage on that June afternoon, in the yet unfinished gym at what was to become the new high school, shook hands with Superintendent Harold Hintz, hugged one another and walked boldly out into the world awaiting them.
Some chose to remain in Saline. Others left to begin their journey someplace else. And for some, anyplace else. For some, leaving high school and Saline, presented a very difficult challenge. For others, Saline was just too stifling, too confining. For some, Saline provided the safety and comfort that was perfect for them. For others, they were ready to spread their wings and fly.
And for one, the day after graduation, she rode her thumb all the way to the west coast.
For some, they remained on the farm, carrying on their family tradition. Others found a place learning a trade or finding work at the Ford plant in Saline. Others become a part of the University of Michigan in a variety of roles. And one, turned his youth passion into a career, biology. He was able to combine his professional passion with his personal passion and spend a lifetime pursuing bugs and birds.
Still, a sizeable chunk of the class enrolled in college, both at in-state and universities across the country. They became lawyers, physicians, psychologists and teachers. Others became social workers, worked in labs or in the City of Saline workforce.
Others designed buildings, became a COO or a broker of worldwide deals. Some flew the friendly skies or sailed the seven seas. One has gone on to write and publish 68 books. And some proudly served their country in the United States Military.
Wherever their journey took them, whatever direction their life took, the Class of 1971 had one common bond between them. During the four most formative years of our lives, we were in it together. As the sign on the commons area at the new Saline High School proudly reads:
“Once A Hornet, Always A Hornet”.
As the SHS Class of 1971 gathers to celebrate fifty years of living, while remembering our classmates who have lost their lives along the way, some of the Class of 1971 have answered the following questions:
- Has your life turned out the way you thought it would?
- What memories do you have from your years at SHS?
- What have you done and where have you lived?
- What advice to do you for the Class of 2021?
So, in their own words, the Class of 1971 responds. And in the words of the iconic broadcaster Paul Harvey, “now you know the rest of the story”.
JANE (STEINER) BERASLEY
- No, it’s been much richer and more of an adventure than I ever dreamed it would be.
- RELATIONSHIPS: I remember many wonderful friendships that were part of my time at SHS and some that continue to this day. MUSIC: INSTRUMENTAL: A lot of my memories are from the years spent as a trumpet player in the SHS Band. The camaraderie that developed because of these many shared experiences as well as learning discipline, practice, working for common goals (concerts, marching band – home football games, annual band camps, marching a postgame show at the BIG HOUSE after a home Michigan football game) - were great lessons for life as well. VOCAL: Chorus and female lead in “So This Is Paris.”
- POST HIGH SCHOOL: Summer 1971 – Musical Youth International (MYI) Chorus and Band tour to the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Luxembourg and Belgium. I was an alto in the Chorus. I spent the summer singing in the countries mentioned above along and stayed with host families along the way. The song we opened every concert with was based on St. Francis’ prayer, “Lord, Make Me An Instrument of Thy Peace” and this prayer became a life goal for me. I completed a BS degree in Special Ed and Elementary Ed at EMU. I moved to Massachusetts where I lived for 13 years working at various jobs related to health care and attended a seminary, graduating with a master’s degree in theology. I participated in two short term overseas missions’ experiences in South Africa and Southeast Asia. I moved to Los Angeles planning to complete a master’s degree in Teaching English as a Second Language and return overseas. Those plans changed. I got married! We continued living in LA where we worked, our daughter was born, and survived the 1994 Northridge Earthquake! A year and 8 months later, we moved to Ann Arbor to be closer to family. Two years later, our son was born. Besides parenting our children, I have had the privilege to homeschool them and participate in a homeschooling co-op where I also prepared for and taught classes. I have had many volunteer roles in each church I have been a part of including singing in the choir, teaching classes, and leading worship. I am thankful for the various life experiences and the richness of my life.
1. Has your life turned out the way you thought it would? I was raising tadpoles, fish, mice, collecting insects, marveling at caddisfly larvae in the Maple Road swamp, and observing crayfish and mudpuppies in the Saline River since early childhood, so I’ve known for a long time that I was going to be a biologist and I have never strayed from that path. I’m so, so grateful to Ms. Mehler for helping me find the perfect path. I will never forget our first Biology II field trip when, as we walked out to the cars, Ms. Mehler pointed out Taraxacum officinale (dandelion) growing in the lawn, my first scientific name. She then hooked me up with Dr. Wagner and I was able to take 2 adult education classes in plant taxonomy at the U of M Matthaei Botanical Garden in high school, I’ve never looked back. I just can’t imagine my life without knowing Ms. Mehler and Dr. Wagner, they helped me prepare for a rich and rewarding life and career.
2. What memory do you have from your years at SHS? As a retired high school teacher, I’ve come to appreciate all the great teachers I had in Saline. High school was a hoot, but I just can’t get over the fact that our homecoming floats came in last all four years (perhaps that’s a false memory!).
3. What have you done and where have you lived? In college and graduate school, I majored in aquatic biology (phycology, the study of algae). I had a great time working in Kentucky and then Minnesota from the late 70s to late 80s. Part of my job was to describe new species of algae and my favorite, you guessed it, was Gomphonema mehleri. It was so much fun working with algae and I still marvel at their amazing diversity (in scientific articles and two books I described 33 new species and was honored in 1998 by the naming of Gomphonema camburnii). After hanging up the lab coat and turning off the microscope, I taught high school for 24 years in North Carolina (Biology, AP Biology, AP Environmental Science). What a fulfilling experience! For the last 40 years I’ve been trying to see all the birds in the world, my current total is 4916 species which I’ve seen in 59 countries (5700 more species to go, won’t happen of course but I’ll keep traveling and looking just the same). My lifetime appreciation of historic architecture continues to thrive, no doubt fueled as a child by the Davenport Curtiss Mansion.
LESLIE THOMAS CARLSON
Can’t say that I had a clear picture of my future at the time I graduated – I knew I wanted to pursue higher education, build a career / contribute to a team, have a family, travel and explore different areas of the world, and stay physically active - which I’ve done. So, I am grateful!
I remember taking my classes seriously, but also having such fun with friends, sports, band, the yearbook, etc. It was a special time.
Most of my career I served as a Chief Operating Officer of a corporation – I loved being part of a team finding ways to make things work in the most effective way. I finished my career as COO of an international company (safe drinking water enterprise in Africa) – which served my desire to give back – and my wander lust!
Most of my adult life has been spent in Colorado – after going there for graduate school, I found it was an excellent fit for me – lots of blue sky and sunshine, beautiful areas in which to run, ski, bike and hike, and lots of fun people (including my husband!) who enjoy outdoor activities.
SUE (WACKENHUT) COWENS:
My life turned out the way I thought it would. I always thought I would marry and have children. I am blessed to have lived close to family for most of these past years.
The best memories I have of high school are working on the prom my junior year, the senior class trip, and hanging out with classmates Gary Busha, Gary Jedele and Keith Feldkamp.
I have lived in Saline for the most part. Married in 1989 to Tom and had a daughter, Sarah, in 1990 and a son, Tyler, in 1995, both of whom are married. I retired from Washtenaw County in 2003, then worked for Saline Schools in the office for several years. We vacationed every year on Lake Huron in Oscoda and now have a lovely condo there.
1. My life certainly did not turn out the way I thought it would. Yes, we all got a SHS education, but that was just a foundation. In hindsight, I didn’t know anything. I know that I have learned much more in the 50 years hence. We all learn something every day of our lives. I feel there may be only a couple people in our class or any class whose life has unfolded in the manner that they thought or even hoped it would.
2. Like everyone, I have many memories from our years at SHS. There are several memories that I cherish the most. Most of them were extracurricular activities. I enjoyed distance running on our Track team and the inaugural Cross-Country team our senior year. But most of all, I enjoyed being a member of the SHS Band. I loved being a member of a group that strived to play its best to create a wonderful sound. I enjoyed band camp where we all learned to become one cohesive marching band and concert band during a week in August. Our band did very well at Festival competitions with other schools and another highlight was when we got to perform at Cedar Point and I believe our proudest moment was when we were chosen to perform a postgame show at Michigan Stadium band day our senior year. It was a wonderful magical moment and as we were marching off the field those in the stands stood up and cheered including some members of the U of M Marching Band.
3. After 1.5 years at U of M I learned I was not a very good student and did not have any study skills. At the time I had a part time job at the U of M Michigan Union bowling alley. One of my fraternity brothers got me a job at Ann Arbor Publishers on Church St. near the edge of campus. The small business decided to move to Worthington, OH at the end of April 1973 and I was the only employee who went with it. I lived with the owner and his girlfriend and helped set everything up and train new employees. Yes, Ann Arbor Publishers moved right next to Columbus, OH. I moved back to Saline on my birthday in August and 2 weeks later I started working at the Saline Ford Plant. I started renting a house in Ann Arbor in 1975 with 2 friends and bought my house in Saline in September 1979. I really enjoyed my time at the Ford Plant and the last 14 years I was deeply involved with helping to keep the parts and the production records in the computer system to properly match the inventory of what was on the production floor and the warehouses. After 32 years there, I retired at age 52 and then believe it or not I got married to Sue Collar in July 2006 and I moved to her new house in Milan. About a year and a half later I started renting my house in Saline to a friend. Sue has 2 grown sons and her oldest has 4 daughters ages 19 to 12. I enjoy playing card games, euchre, cribbage and especially poker. I love watching movies, history and documentary shows, listening to music, shooting pool and bowling. In 2007 I was enshrined in our local bowling association’s Hall of Fame. There is one bowling accomplishment that is noteworthy. On March 16, 2009, my wife and I both bowled a perfect game during the 2nd game of a 3-game series, in 2 different leagues, at the opposite ends of Maplewood Lanes in Saline! She finished her 300 game on lane 1 and I finished mine on lane 24. I’m so proud of my wife!
JEAN (HERTER) MARTIN
1) No, my life has not turned out the way I thought it would. Working at U-M hospital for 45 years has been fulfilling and I have gained a lot of knowledge and friends. But I had always dreamed of being a veterinarian (large animal). My dad told Doc Davis this when I was about 12 and his response was "knock her in the head." I really wish I had taken a year off after high school to work and really think about what I wanted to do with my life.
Have you heard the phrase "I thought I was going to Paris, but my plane landed in Holland?" If you haven't raised a special needs child, you may not have heard this. My daughter, Holly, was born in 1987. I always suspected there was something not quite right but until she reached 18 months, we really did not have anything definitive. Then she stopped using her hands - stopped feeding herself and grabbing things. Unofficially she was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome. So, from then on my life took a different path. Her smile and her twinkling eyes and giggles would light up my world, but she required total care. In 2006 she passed away rather suddenly. Holland was beautiful while we were there.
2) Football and basketball games, gym uniforms (!), Junior and Senior plays, Mrs. McNally and Mr. Schwartz, Miss Mehler, Mr. Bonich (fixing up an "electric chair" in chemistry class), Mr. Taylor (typing), Mrs. Walker (German). During a homeroom class with Mr. Crabtree, Tom Laskey was sitting on the trash can next to Mr. Crabtree's desk and chatting with him. Mr. Crabtree mentioned "intestinal fortitude" and Tom turns to the class and says, "he means shit."
3)I have lived in Washtenaw County my whole life. In the late 70's I moved in with my grandmother to help her out. My husband and I still live in that house almost 50 years later. I have been a 4-H leader for over 25 years - I have watched these kids grow up and become successful adults. Hopefully I have played a small part in their development. My oldest daughter was also raised in 4-H and still works for MSU Extension and the 4-H program.
- At the age of 18 I didn’t have much of a vision of how my life would turn out other than knowing I wanted to go to college and probably end up in business. I achieved the first goal of attending college (Go Spartans) and ultimately ended up in the business world doing things and going places I could never have imagined in 1971.
- I remember being dropped off early every morning at the doors at SHS and playing euchre with Ralph Riley, Mark Klein and others when I wasn’t trying to finish an assignment, I should have done the night before! While I was never particularly good at wrestling, I have fond memories of Coach Slee and rolling out the wrestling mats in the cafeteria for practice.
I always stated my most useful classes at SHS were auto shop because it gave me confidence to work on my own car for years after graduation and typing as it gave me the skills to use a keyboard accurately and with speed which is as useful today as it was on an IBM Selectric 40 years ago.
- I effectively left Saline in January of 1971 as my parents bought a motel in South Haven, Mi and I commuted to South Haven every weekend until graduation. In the fall of ’71, I started my freshmen year at MSU with a goal of re-inventing myself from what at best was a mediocre high school student who did just enough to get by into a more serious student. Three and a half years later I graduated Magna Cum Laude from the MSU Honors College and went from East Lansing to Chicago where I spent two years earning an MBA from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business and met my future wife, Susan Bell after spending nearly 18 months of study to become a Jew by choice. For the next few years, I was an econometric consultant with Dri/McGraw-Hill including a three-year stint in Detroit setting up a global automotive practice which eventually counted every major auto manufacturer in the world as a client and introduced me to international travel with regular trips to the UK to meet European clients.
- Our oldest son was born four weeks after moving from Detroit back to Chicago in February 1982. Three years later in 1985 my career changed course with a call from Rueters where I spent the next six years running the North American business with constant travel to the six regional divisions and Canada. In February 1986 our daughter was born in Chicago and we moved from the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago to suburban Deerfield where our youngest son was born in February 1990. When our youngest was 2 years old we moved to London for three years where I managed Rueters business in London. The day before the company announcement was due on our move to Singapore where I was to run Rueters SE Asia business, the MD of Rueters asked that I move to NY to build and manage a healthcare informatics venture. Three years later I recommended the Rueters Board sell off the assets of Rueters Healthcare as we were too far ahead of the market for electronic medical record systems. In 1997, I left Rueters to dive into the world of managing companies financed by VCs and PEGs which subsequently involved our moving back to the Chicago area. The last twenty years we have lived in suburban Rivenwoods and I have managed/built six companies ranging from legal services outsourcing (including building a company in Hyderabad which involved 36 trips to India) to SaaS software and home healthcare businesses.
- On a personal note, I learned to scuba dive after promising my then 8-year old daughter on a vacation in Eilat that I would become certified with her when she turned 12 (she didn’t forget). This turned out to be a great way to bond with my daughter as we have been dive buddies ever since – logging dives in the Florida Keys, The Red Sea, the Great Barrier Reef and Cozumel over the years in addition to trekking in Nepal, Tibet and Scotland. My other passion for those who don’t follow me on FB is cycling on the nearby Des Plains River Trail where I’ve ridden nearly 25,000 miles on my mountain bike over the last 12 summers.
I’m currently working only on projects that interest me including an early stage AI software company focused on medical claims and providing M&A advisory services to middle to lower market companies such as my current client, a $6M manufacturing company which I anticipate will be sold by October.
Well, I guess I could say I would have liked it to be better, but
things happen in life that you can't control. I would say life as a
cook was amazing. I enjoyed feeding people from all over the world.
From my start at the Big Boy in Saline to the Navy.
2. Not having Clem on my ass because he had an Assault Charge hanging
over his head if he touched me again. Trolling Michigan Ave in the
morning before school and in the evenings during the weekend wondering
where the parties were. Watching Carl Milkey and Steve Drake play
bumper cars in the morning at the four corners, Carl in his 55 Chev
and Steve in his battered pick-up. Being the Manager of the wrestling
team in 68 and having a bodyguard
by the name of Leon Gull protecting me from a classmate bully.
3. After graduating I went to WWC and took classes in Cooking and
Management. Avoided the draft because number was too high. I got married
and had a beautiful daughter Sara. Had my own business in flooring
until the economy bottomed out in the 80's. Then I joined the Navy.
Cooking of course! After boot camp at Great Lakes and "A" school in
San Diego, I was assigned the Ship USS Thomas C. Hart (FF 1092) in
Norfolk and served aboard her for 4 years and traveled to many
countries. Got station for shore duty in Williamsburg, Va. while there we
had another amazing daughter Lisa. While I was aboard the Hart, I
served with a Capt that kept in mind because while on shore duty I was
getting closer to go to another ship. Well, I received a call from the
Supply Officer requesting my presents to the new ship USS Mobile Bay
(CG53) being built in Mississippi. So I served with this Capt again.
and saw more of the world including Japan. After the we rehome ported
there. From there I had orders to Sardinia, Italy. Served there two
years then Retired. Moved back to Jacksonville, Fl. After awhile I got
divorced and moved with my girlfriend to the UP and cooked up there
for 6 years until my new wife and I moved to Tennessee where I lived
for 6 years and we divorced and I moved to Jacksonville again until I
moved back to Michigan in 2015. And retired and loving it.
KATHERINE (KATHIE JOHNSTON) RAMSLAND
1. Has your life turned out the way you thought it would?
My life has turned out far differently from what I’d anticipated while in high school. Shortly after graduation, I swore I’d never go to school again. I thumbed my way out west, living in Wyoming, Oregon, and Arizona. But then in Flagstaff, on a whim, I took a course in philosophy. I fell in love with learning and went on to get five graduate degrees (the fifth one completed just this year). I also never wanted to be a teacher, and here I am, a university professor and assistant provost. I credit my three years on the road after high school, where I experienced many different places and people, with shifting my ideas about education from “getting by” to “getting more.”
2. What memory do you have from your years at SHS?
One outstanding memory is how I designed Snoopy for our junior year Homecoming float. I worked hard to make him look good. With pride, I watched him ride on the doghouse toward the judges’ stand, only to see that big doggie go tumbling down right in front of them. Who was in charge of the dog-to-house connections, anyway? (Being in the field of forensic psychology, I realize that this could be a totally flawed memory, but Joe Schwartz did sign my yearbook with “Remember Snoopy!”) I also recall Jake’s art classes, the “midnight” crew that brought Camelot to life in the gym for the prom, and dancing as Fingerbell in our cool play, Hip Hippie Hooray!
3. What have you done and where have you lived?
I hitched to Wyoming in 1971, then on to Oregon, Colorado, and Arizona, before going east to live in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Got married. Got divorced. No kids. I’ve traveled to every state and three-dozen countries. For a while I taught philosophy at Rutgers University before changing course entirely to forensic psychology. Now I’m a consultant for forensic death investigations and an international serial killer expert. Weirdly enough, this career had roots in Michigan with the John Norman Collins case. I’ve published 68 books, sold several shows to Hollywood, and appeared as an expert in over 200 documentaries and magazine shows like 48 Hours and Dateline.
- Has your life turned out the way you thought it would?
- I left high school unprepared in so many ways for what was ahead. My life did not turn out the way I thought it would but I really had no vision of what my life could look like. I attended the Presidential Classroom for Young Americans in Washington DC during my senior year. I left DC saying to myself that someday I would be back. I thought I wanted to be a public servant serving in Congress. I met and talked with Sen. Phil Hart on my trip and he was everything I thought a politician should be. I did dabble a bit in local politics but quickly got disillusioned with that. I followed the typical script of going to college, getting married, buying a house, having children and being a father and husband. After my children were grown, I divorced and lived alone for a while. It is not often that people get a second chance, a “do-over” in their life. I got that second chance when I met and married Anne. Though she has recently passed away from breast cancer, my time with Anne were the best years of my life. I am so thankful and grateful for our time together. Did my life turn out the way I thought it would, no. It was so much better than I ever could have hoped for. Dreams really do come true.
- What have you done and where have you lived?
Except for a couple of years in my childhood when I lived on the south side of County Road in Milan (which was Monroe County) I have lived in Washtenaw County my entire life. I spent most of my adult life in Ann Arbor, having moved back to Saline with my wife Anne and stepson John. I have three grown sons, an attorney, and my twins are a chef and a chef assistant. I have five grandsons, aged 15 – 5. I spent my entire career in the mental health and substance abuse field, first as a clinician and then an administrator. The last half of my career was dedicated to the integration of primary and mental health care. While I have traveled throughout the United States, (and I did manage a trip of a lifetime with Anne going to Australia and New Zealand, the year before COVID), I have lived in Washtenaw County my entire life.
- Share one memory from high school.
- I have so many memories about the people from high school, wonderful memories, I had one shining moment while in high school. My good friend Ed Aluk (who knew his first name was really Shaun) and I decided to do the planning and work for a fund-raising event for the local March of Dimes. We came up with the idea of a charity basketball game to benefit the March of Dimes. The women teachers and staff of the school would play against the girls’ basketball team, while the male teachers and staff would take on a team of Red Headed women. Though the Red Heads won the game it was clear to everyone in the stands that the guys really did let them win. But the big winner of the evening was the March of Dimes, as the gym at the high school (now Liberty School), was packed. Before the start of the game between the guys and the Red Heads, principal Paul Thibault made comments to the packed gym, and asked Ed and me to stand, to the applause of the crowd. That was my one shining moment in high school. And who remembers the band who played when we were freshmen at the Homecoming Dance? Anyone? None other than the Bob Seger System.
Marilyn (Leonard) Vanover:
My life has turned out BETTER than I could have ever imagined! My husband and I graduated from WSU Medical School in 1981, moved to San Antonio for our residencies (me: Obstetrics and Gynecology, Randy: Internal Medicine). We stayed in San Antonio, had private practices and have 2 children: Melissa-pediatric surgeon @ Brown in Providence and Brad-social worker/counselor in Minnesota with 2 (grand)children. We are currently navigating and enjoying semi-retirement.
Memories of SHS. So many memories of the small community, open neighborhoods, knowing everyone AND the extended families they were a part of. So MANY memories have been re-kindled thru this group. Thank you. It was the framework for making strong friendships in whatever life situation I was in.
I am most proud, and humbled by, our active involvement with an organization called Christian Medical and Dental Association. We shepherd medical students and introduce them to life-long dedication to bible studies and to missionary work. We have participated in international medical missions thru Samaritan’s Purse for many years. For the past 10 years we have spent a month working at a teaching hospital in Kenya. I believe our children’s lives have reflected God’s influence in our family also.