By Mark Weber
FORT WAYNE — Although they walked, rode bikes or took public transportation to high school, this was the class that ushered in the atomic age, associated high school with WWII and observed the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the only U.S. president they had ever known. This was the class that at an impressionable age watched worried parents pray for siblings far away in the heat of the tropics or the frozen forests of Europe … parents who tensed forward and stared at the family radio as battle news or any news about the armed forces came forth.
Twenty-two members out of 282 of Central Catholic’s class of ‘45 met for a reunion luncheon at the Towne House Retirement Home in Fort Wayne on Wednesday, July 22. They were joined by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades who in his prayer before the meal asked for a blessing on those present who came from California, Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio and Indiana and the entire class including those absent and the 168 known deceased.
Jack Krouse recalled that he didn’t actually graduate; he was drafted into the Army and spent what would have been his senior year in the field artillery. One day an officer looked at the lanky Jack and asked if he had ever played basketball. “Yes, sir” was the answer and Jack was redrafted as an Army jock and spent the next 26 months playing basketball and baseball. He was then discharged, completed a GED test and received his diploma from Central Catholic.
Maurice (Moe) Ehinger enjoyed sports at Central Catholic. He played various positions on the basketball team and halfback in football. As was the custom, he went home for lunch near St. Peter’s and continues to be a parishioner there today.
Norma Gerhardstein Wilkinson lived across the street from St. Mary’s Church. She went home for lunch, too and then hurried back to school to join 50 others for glee club practice, her favorite high school activity. Norma still sings. For 57 years she has been a member of the funeral choir at St. Therese in Fort Wayne.
One of Joe Dahm’s vivid memories of Central Catholic is that two students drove cars to school. Everyone else walked, biked, bussed or got dropped off. Joe also recalls 7:30 a.m. daily Mass in the gym, a nearly solid religious faculty; priests and Sisters of Providence … favorite hangouts — Gardners, Manicho’s, Maloley’s grocery store — and tuition of $75 a year.
Pulling a 70th reunion together is no easy task but Sandy Kowal did it with style. Sandy is the daughter of class member Grace Troop Ley, and has the sincere appreciation of the following members of the Central Catholic Class of ‘45 who attended. Ray Sanders, Florence Knight Issacs, Marie Meyer Jordan, Ralph Deitche, Betty Herber Landin, Tom Kleber, Ray Tobin, Martha Jane Wolfe Zuber, Barbara Bonahoom Davenport, Joe Winebrenner, Bernice Gebhart, Bob Morken, Maurice Ehinger, Jim Fanger, Tom Seculoff, Norma Gerhardstein Wilkinson, Joe Dahm, Joe Naumcheff, Patricia Furge Waltke, Grace Troop Ley, Jack Krouse and Dick Weaver.
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