After graduation, the Charles Drew High Class of 1965, one of St. Landry Parish’s last segregated classes, spread to the four corners to pursue, successfully, their career choices. They’ve tried to get back together since, but one thing or another kept it from happening.
At last, 46 years later, hair greying or gone, wrinkles here or there, but the enthusiasm just the same, most of the 18 class members renewed their bond on Friday and Saturday.
Their number includes ministers, business owners and executives, teachers and college professors,
The class’ first reunion began with a “Meet & Greet” and dinner Friday evening, then a breakfast Saturday morning with a Class Night Banquet Saturday evening held at the South East Community Center.
According to one of the class members, the Rev. James Robert Edwards of Eunice, the 18 classmates tried to meet several times in the past. “We tried different times to have a reunion, but it just never materialized,” said Edwards.
The final graduating class from Charles Drew High, where Central Middle School is now located, was the class of 1969. Integration began in 1970,
Charles Drew High’s mascot was the Cobras and class colors were purple and white. Principal of the school was Jonas E. Mason and basketball was the main and number one sport played. Edwards said, “We played basketball, had a boys and girls basketball team. Later on baseball, tennis, track, and football were introduced.”
Edwards played forward and guard for the team, and said, “I should have gone pro.”
Albert Taylor and Freddie Alfred were the boy’s basketball coaches while Gladys Blount coached the girls basketball team and taught girls physical education.
The junior varsity basketball coach was Moses Pickney.
A committee organized and contacted class members for the reunion. They included Carlton N. Frank, Jr., Edwards, Lorita G. Harris, Lovora Guillory, Johnny Williams and Rogers Allison.
The class of 1965 sported their purple Charles Drew Cobras T-shirt for Saturday morning breakfast. Many classmates caught up on current news and family lives. Others talked about memories at Charles Drew:
Curley Max Frank Jr. said, “I have so many fond memories. I was captain of the first football team and another memory is graduation day. ”
Barbara Gallow Lyman, class valedictorian, said, “Spending time with my friend Gladys Skinner. We were able to learn well while still having fun at school.”
Edwards said, “Playing basketball, May Day program we had every May, and May 28, 1965 our graduation.”
The 18 classmates were:
Rogers Allison, Sr. of Eunice, retiree from Enron, brother of Linus Allison of Allison’s BBQ;
Gertie Mae Doucet Bias of Scott, a social worker;
Johnny Williams of Galveston, Texas, semi-retired landscape specialist;
Rev. James Robert Edwards, pastor of Calvary Tabernacle in Eunice, and retired school teacher at Central Middle School;
Carlton N. Frank, Jr., of Eunice, director and owner of Frank Brothers Funeral Home;
Curley Max Frank, Jr., of Lake Charles retired from Citcom as a Lube Plant Operator;
Lovora H. Guillory of Eunice, Eunice Head Start retiree;
Rosella L. Guillory of Lake Charles, retired certified transcriber and clerk at St. Patrick’s Hospital;
Lorita G. Harris of Eunice, retired in sales;
Gerald L. LeBleu of San Jose, Calif., retired with IBM;
Lee Allen Leday of Houston, owner of a trucking company Miss Jo Transportation;
Dr. Barbara Gallow Lyman of Shippensburg, Penn., a university administrator and professor of Literature and Education.
Rev. Robert Ned of Phoenix, Ariz., senior pastor of Prince Chapel AME Church in Phoenix.;
Claudia Rene of Church Point, retired Garon Manufacturing Company;
Gladys Skinner, class salutatorian, was unable to attend the reunion. She is semi-retired as a hospital nutritionist and lives in Belton, Texas;
Ida Marie Jones Skinner of Houston, compliance and accountability worker;
Peter Simon of Missouri City, Tex., retired with Apache Corportation in Missouri City.
The student class president was Louis Savoy, who moved away after graduation.
Lyman was valedictorian and salutatorian was Skinner.
The class sponsors were Roy Batiste, Mary Ann Frank and Oscar E. Gauthier.