Mayo High School’s Class of ‘61 gathers for three-day reunion
By Vivian K. Wilds
Special to the News & Press
The Mayo High School classmates of the Class of 1961 were happy to come together once again to celebrate their 60th class anniversary. The decision to go forth with this reunion was challenging due to the pandemic and so many unpredictable circumstances. Yet our reunion committee led by Isaiah Hamlin held the first of a few meetings on March 26 to discuss plans to hold a 60th class reunion. At one of the follow-up meetings June 5, the decision was made to move forward with plans to hold the reunion during the second weekend of September for a three-day event. The Mayo Class of 1961 has been consistent over the years with holding reunions, beginning with the 10th year in 1971, the 20th in 1981, the 30th in 1991, the 35th in 1996, the 40th in 2001, the 45th in 2006 and the 50th, held in Washington in 2011. With the exception of the 50th, all of the reunions were held in Darlington. The Mayo Class of 1961 has very strong bonds. As a matter of fact, we have four couples who married their classmates and have celebrated 50-plus years of marriage. So we are like family! Coming together for this 60th reunion has given us a chance to look back over those golden years and be thankful that we are among the survivors. Out of our class roster, we had 87 graduates, and as of today, we have lost 43 members. Among the class members of 1961, there are retirees who have had successful professional careers. We have military retired veterans, health/nurse administrators, retired city and government workers, college administrators, entrepreneurs, community political activists, religious leaders, and many other careers. The three day occasion began with a “meet and greet” on Sept. 10 at the Mayo Athletic Hall of Fame. Members enjoyed mingling and feasting from a delicious buffet and enjoyed the oldies music by DJ Jr. Jones. On Saturday night, classmates and their guests shared in a momentous event at the Elks Lodge 1679 & Temple 790 on Timmonsville Highway. The event began with a photographer taking group photos. Afterward, a brief program was held with our Mayo Class ’61 president, Edith Rhodes Smith, serving as the mistress of ceremonies. She extended a welcome to all members and their guests. A prayer of thanksgiving was given by Thomas Black; a reflection of the class and remarks were given by Vivian Kelly Wilds; a memorial tribute of our deceased members was conducted by Janette Mance Warsaw, which consisted of the roll call and lighting of a candle in their honor. A certificate was presented to Isaiah Hamlin by Edna Pauley Barr for his many years of service and his dedication to preserve the tradition of holding the class reunions. After the program, everyone was invited to a buffet banquet catered by Mary Ward. Of course, the evening couldn’t close without a few folks dancing to the music, which was provided by DJ Doughboy. Our final act was the classmates coming together to sing our Mayo Alma Mater, beautiful wording written in 1952 by Alice Jean Mack, who was then an eighth-grader at Mayo. Sunday morning was the closeout event as a few of us worshipped at Flat Creek Baptist Church, where Rev. Dr. John L. Williams is pastor. We were invited by our classmate who is a member of the church. Special thanks go to the committee that worked very hard to make this event a success: Isaiah Hamlin, William DuBose, Castenia J. McDaniels, JoAnne B. Bonaparte, Walter G. Dubose, Edna P. Barr, Hattie M. Alexander, Vivian K. Wilds and some others. A farewell brunch Sunday afternoon at Quincy’s was our final gathering. Saying farewell to old friends is a parting that holds dear to the wish that we will see you the next time.