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Looking back

Klenda ‘wouldn’t miss’ reunion

Staff writer

Deanna Klenda’s memories of attending school in Marion are happy and warm.

A class of 1962 graduate, she even remembers when Bill Meyer, former publisher of the Marion County Record, was her bus driver.

She’d started schooling at rural Wren School. When the school closed, only 10 students were left.

“We had to go to Pilsen to school, and then they opened Centre,” Klenda said.

Families had a choice of Centre or Marion schools, and her family chose Marion.

“Bill Meyer built a station wagon and picked up six or seven kids,” she said. “He was great.”

Klenda, whose brother went missing in action in 1965 during the Vietnam War, spent many years trying to locate him.

The family never gave up on finding Dean Klenda. His remains were identified and returned to the family in 2016. He was buried in the Pilsen Cemetery.

Klenda began the National League of POW/MIA Families, for families and has been a member 57 years.

She’s helping put on this year’s Old Settlers Day class reunion with Norma Kline. Part of that includes contacting classmates.

One of her responsibilities is getting food for a dinner at Eastmoor United Methodist Church.

“I was active in high school and at the farm, and I wouldn’t think of not showing up,” Klenda said. “Our class always had 13 girls.”

She looks back fondly on high school years when kids would get together at each other’s homes for dances.

“We had good days,” Klenda said. “The classes above us and behind us were great.”

All the boys played sports and the class was really active, she said.

When the class of 1962 has its 60th reunion for Old Settlers Day, the group will have a casual get-together at Rocky Hett’s office and then ride in the parade.

As of Monday, it still wasn’t decided what they were going to use for a float, Kline said.

“We plan to ride in the parade if we can find something to ride in,” she said.

After the parade, class members will have lunch at Central Park, where they will be introduced along with other classes celebrating on the fifth-year anniversary marks.

Kline said that out of the 46 who graduated together, 17 were expected to come for the reunion.

“I’m just thankful we get to get together,” Kline said.

The class has lost 13 members over the years, she said.

Many are far-flung, but 23 classmates still live in the region.

Kline said the class produced social workers, an architect, farmers, plumbers, former sheriff Mike Childs, teachers, quarry owner Rocky Hett, salespeople, office workers, service members, an actor, an attorney, a shop owner, and an IT expert.

Not only is Kline the reunion coordinator; she remains class treasurer.

“I’ve been treasurer since I was in high school,” Kline said. “I didn’t know it was a lifetime job.”

Last modified Sept. 22, 2022

 

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