Reunion in Florida

By Pat Andrews, Heritage Newspapers


June Swanson Delsi wouldn’t think of living any other place than Florida. But she missed the camaraderie of her pals back home, especially those she went to school with at Melvindale High.

A 1943 graduate, she lives in the Boynton Beach area and works at a local school as a secretary.

"I try to retire every now and then, but the principal of the school won’t hear it," she joked.

Delsi decided nine years ago to gather up all the so-called snowbirds from up north that share diplomas with her from MHS and get them together for a mini reunion.

She contacted a local Holiday Inn and then sent out the word through various sources. The breakfast party was a huge success and stretched into late afternoon.

The party has continued each year since then and the list of attendees grows.

"So does the time spent. Now, they are coming in the night before, having breakfast, lunch and dinner and possibly a round of golf or two the next day," Delsi reported.

The 2001 event was held Feb. 10 and for the first time, another Derda was able to make it to the party. Nina Swanson Derda of Wyandotte, a new retiree from the staff of Northwood University in Midland.

"I turned her into the official photographer," Delsi said.

The gathering this year, some 75 strong, was delighted to have a former social sciences teacher from the ’40s and ’50s, Carlton Kissner, and his wife, Linda, in attendance. They live in Altoona, Fla.

Another special guest is former Congressman William Ford, also a 1943 graduate, and one of the students who came from the Taylor area to attend classes in Melvindale. His current home is in Venice, Fla.

The eldest in the group were Beulah Straubel Clark, class of 1929, Inez Farrell Coffey, class of 1936, and Mary Lebenta Campbell, class of 1938.

"Beulah is 88 years old and just phenomenal," Delsi said. "She attends every year with her husband, Chester. They live nearby in Dover."

The youngest graduate was David Browe who resides in Winter Haven. He is a 1990 MHS alumni and joined right in the fun.

Most of the graduates have permanent Florida addresses, but several, like former cheerleader Elise Gorringer Viger, class of 1953, came from Cedar, Mich.; along with Eleanor Short Schneider, class of 1945, Melvindale; Diane Shepard and Ted Poliac, class of 1947, Colorado Springs, Colo.; Mary Widdis and Marvin Watt, class of 1941, Allen Park; and June Silvani Coogan, class of 1951, Southgate.

Delsi said the group appeared to thoroughly enjoy seeing classmates of years past and she has no intention of stopping the reunions.

"This event has spread by word of mouth mainly, although I do have a master mailing list. Many of the people attend come with their own sisters and brothers, and even friends," Delsi explained.

The second weekend in February 2002 has already been inked in the books. Delsi can be reached at 1-561-736-1083 or P.O. Box 3333, Boynton Beach, Fla. 33424 for more information.

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