Memorial High School Class of 1959
Home of the Old Abes --- Eau Claire, Wisconsin


Gail's After-Dinner Comments

Presented by:  Gail Dean Halmstad, program chair person and MC



As we read the autobiographies and memories you sent in, we have been both fascinated and amazed by the interesting adventures, life’s accomplishments…and the different paths we have taken as a class. During those four, short adolescent high school years, many of us were trying to figure out who we were and where we were going.  There is no doubt now that we figured it out! This evening we hope you too, will find our classmates’ life stories interesting and inspiring.


We discovered some common threads that were woven throughout in our stories. We also realized that the characteristics attributed to our generation, the period 1926-1943, were reflected in our lives. And because we were born in the early ‘40s, we came at a time of change.  For example, we are identified as the peacemakers and the silent generation even though we were sandwiched between two wars. We were also known to be tolerant, loyal, and respectful of authority.  We weren’t part of the peace rallies and the civil rights marches of the Baby Boomers era, but our generation influenced them and the whole social justice movement.


The description of our era that fascinated me most is this one:  a collective concern for others and their plight in life. It is reflected in our career choices and it is obvious in the way we continue to be involved in the lives of our families, and our local and world communities.  There is an incredible number of us who donate countless hours to our churches or other organizations, some even doing volunteer work abroad.


The fact that we grew up in Eau Claire and had a top-notch education has been very important to a number of us. We had teachers who influenced our career choices and our ultimate successes.  They, along with others were people who made a difference in our lives. And in fact, a number of us have maintained high school friendships throughout the 50 years.


Now we come to the 3rd chapter of our lives and we are celebrating the fact we are embarking on new ventures while about 3% of our group continue in our chosen fields. We are learning new skills and developing talents we didn’t realize we had.   And some are pursuing unfulfilled dreams and ambitions. 


Some of us have survived catalytic moments in our lives:  marriage, divorce, death of a loved one, major illnesses, career changes and new and significant relationships. Resilience, the ability to find humor in even the most dire situation and courage have helped us meet these challenges.


Betty, Kathy, John and Larry will be sharing some of the things that have happened in our lives from our high school years to today.  As we listen to their comments we can all think back over our 50 years and celebrate what we have become.




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