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March 31, 2014

NHS alumna plans 50th reunion for 475 classmates

NORMAN — For Janet Morris Tyrrell, looking forward to the 50-year reunion of her Norman High graduating class is more than marking the dates of June 6 to 8 on a calendar. It is a frantic attempt to reach every one of the 427 class members, a project that has been on her desktop for the last 30 years.

Like many of the graduates of 1964, Terrell left town four years after graduating. With a degree in anthropology, she headed west and ended in the Silicon Valley in the earliest days of the computer evolution.

In 1983 she returned to Norman, just as another graduate was giving up the task of keeping track of the classmates. She picked up the record-keeping for the preparations for the 20th anniversary reunions and has held the job every since. Mostly the information was gathered by word of mouth as the news of the whereabouts of an individual would surface, she said.

The Internet has made the process easier, especially the sad task of recording members who have passed away.

“We have lost 54,” Tyrrell said, including the first Norman resident to die in Vietnam, Richard McWilliams. A few days ago, she had a list of nearly 40 for whom they have no information. A Facebook posting of the list yielded information on the whereabouts of several.

Since the 20th reunion, the group has hosted a reunion every five years, with participation growing each time. The 45th reunion was at a local restaurant, she said. It was a ‘no frills’ event, with no registration fee, no dance and no banquet.

“We thought about name badges at the last minute,” Tyrrell said. “We ordered our own meals and just talked. It was one of our best reunions.”

Among the grads are doctors, nurses, writers, professors, business owners, educators and men and women in a myriad of other careers. The great equalizer is that they all remember the high school days when “dragging Lindsey” and plain white t-shirts (some with a pack of cigarettes rolled up in the sleeve) were cool, when the girls wore pleated skirts and blouses to school and they all danced to the Beatles and Elvis.

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