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Fayetteville High School classes of 1964-1968 to relive yesteryear

‘As teenagers, we were glued together by the loving responsibility of the whole community that raised us,’ says Ruth Ann Griffin, class of 1967. ‘I suppose that’s why we still get together more than 60 years later for reunions. And I suppose that's also why so many of those kids contributed in such huge ways to positively shape the future.’


They were more than just a sound academic class of old Fayetteville High School 1967.

They were a good class of teenagers, most all who came from homes with fathers and mothers who expected the best of them.

“Often, it seemed as though our backs were up against the wall, and our futures were already defined,” Ruth Ann Griffin says. “In one day, we went from being kids in school to being adults old enough to die for our country but not old enough to cast our votes. Consequently, some protested, many rebelled, a few ran away, but most of us just kept putting one foot in front of the other. We got jobs, we went on to further our education. We just kept going.”

They were all for one. They were one for all.

They came from neighborhoods to include Haymount, Murray Hill, VanStory Hills, Sky Drive, Eutaw Heights, Stratford Hills, Raeford Road and the nearby military base.

They respected their parents, and one another.

When the school bell rang along old Fort Bragg Road at FHS, they came up under the watchful eyes of John Sasser, the tough-minded principal but with a heart for what they would become in life. And under the stern disciplinarian Percy Warren, the assistant principal who took no guff when it came to following school rules.

“We managed to get ourselves into plenty of trouble,” Griffin says, “but we lived through it.”

Griffin looks back on those 1967 school days with fondness.

“Our teachers, we had the very best,” she says. “Those teachers had ‘heart.’ They knew that the teens of the late 1960s were facing difficult years ahead, and they accepted their responsibility to prepare us as best they could.”

Looming for the boys was Vietnam.

“From the classes of 1964 through 1968, these were the last few classes of the Vietnam era,” Griffin says. “Often times, our students graduated high school and immediately they were called to serve beside their fathers in the military.”

Most of all, her mind wanders to the best of times.

“We had a school dance in the cafeteria every Friday night when there was a home game of football or basketball,” Griffin says. “Teenage bands were a dime a dozen, so we always had live entertainment. Many teachers were the chaperones, along with the parents. Mr. Percy Warren especially enjoyed policing the notoriously troublesome places on the campus. There was a smoking patio designated, but whatever you do, don't get caught smoking anywhere else. Mr. Warren's notoriety remains to this day.”

There were other high school haunts.

“We had a few favorite places to go after school like Stribe’s Drive-In, Pappas’s Drive In, the Hillcrest Drive-In and The Torch Drive-In,” Griffin says. “But we didn't get to really hang out at those places for very long each day. Most kids had to work after school. If we didn't take part in extra-curricular activities, we usually had to go home and babysit siblings or go to ‘real’ jobs.”

And Griffin says you can never forget Dorothy Gilmore with Fayetteville Parks and Recreation.

“She was all about giving kids something to do that the kids actually wanted to do,” she says about Gilmore, for whom the Dorothy Gilmore Therapeutic Recreation Center at 1600 Purdue Drive is named. “Having a building named after her doesn’t come close to appreciating her gifts to Fayetteville’s youth. She came up with the age-appropriate teen clubs. First, there was pre-teen club on Thursday afternoon after school, then Friday afternoon Teen Club for junior high and finally the exceptionally popular Teen Club on Saturday nights at the Rowan Street Kiwanis Club basement. And Mrs. Gilmore made sure each and every one of us got home afterward, even if she had to drive us.”

An FHS Who’s Who

They all were “baby boomers” from the classes of 1968, 1967, 1966, 1965 and 1964, and the class of 1968 would be the last to receive diplomas from FHS that moved from downtown in 1954 before the school was named in 1969 for former Gov. Terry Sanford, who called Fayetteville home.

The FHS class of ’67 has scheduled its reunion for May 17-18, and it is inviting the classes of ’64, ’65, ’66 and ’68 to be a part of the reminiscing and memories, too.

“Through the years, there have been articles on many athletes such as Chris Cammack, Rusty Clark and Vann Williford, and judges Coy Brewer and John Hair,” Griffin says. “But there are so many more unsung leaders. Add in the doctors such as Herb Clegg, who is a prominent pediatrician specializing in infectious diseases; Walter Greene, a renown pediatric orthopedist; and Gary Cameron, a dentist and worldwide medical volunteer.”

She gives thought to lawyers to include Jorge Crowley, Chris Brewer, Wade Byrd, the late John Talley, Henry Campen and Larry McBennett, who was president of the 1967 senior class.

“We have first responders like Peppi Mass,” Griffin says. “We have our authors, such as Ruth Little, Bobby Ambrose, Mary Pope Osborne, Rhonda Odom Amato, Richard Folsom and Jennette Godfrey. And we can’t even keep up with the people who reached high positions in the military, all the way up to the Pentagon, like Tom Nollner and Dick Rogers, who was the Naval advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney. To this day, Tom Noller still works as the U.S. Treasury advisor to forming governments around the world. Those are only a small sample of classmates who earned success in their fields.”

Ruth Ann Griffin’s list of FHS Who’s Who is endless. There are retired college administrators from Jimmy Weeks to the late Brent Michaels. College professors to include John Cudd, who taught at N.C. State; Jim McDonnell and George Carter at Clemson; and Larry Passar, who was the 1967 Student Government president before teaching at West Point.

Her mind drifts to school superintendents such as Les Tubb and Frank Patterson. Those who pursued the cultural arts — from Susie Martin, Soni Martin, Nancy Waple, Linda Barton Tillman, Mike Caldwell, Danny Potter, Mayon Weeks, underwater photographer Al Hornsby and Cecil Truett Lancit, who made her mark as an Emmy-winning television producer.

She gives thought to Anna Fasul Finch, who founded the Autism Society of Cumberland County; Sue Parker Byrd, who founded Fayetteville Area Operation Inasmuch to support the homeless; and Pam Lewis Riley, executive director for the National Association of Students Against Violence Everywhere.

“As teenagers, we were glued together by the loving responsibility of the whole community that raised us,” Griffin says. “I suppose that’s why we still get together more than 60 years later for reunions. And I suppose that’s also why so many of those kids contributed in such huge ways to positively shape the future.”

Memories to treasure

Larry McBennett and Ruth Ann Griffin look with an anticipation to the May 17-18 reunion and catching up with their 1967 classmates Ray Aldredge, Bob Ambrose, Jim Baluss, Mary Jane Jennison Brooks, Richard Brown, Jeanette (Wren) Godfrey Chapman, Herb Clegg, Sue Averitt Creighton, LaRue Page Cooke, James Dew, Richard Folsom, Nancy Waple Gasper, Wayne Haddock, Harvey Holland, Marsha Wheeless Holland, Patricia Hoopes Jones, Bruce Kittleson, G.M. Knott, George Laws, Jere Lee McClendon, Cheryl Farell McFerren, Tom Nollner, Larry Passar, Vickie Gilmore Presnell, Larry Presnell, John Purdie, Pamela Lewis Riley, Dick Rodgers, Nick (Galt) Smith and Bill Sutton.

It will be a weekend to remember that Page Farrell was 1966 homecoming queen, Gail Robinson was crowned Miss FHS 1967 and that 1965 N.C. High School Athletic Association 4-A basketball championship with Franklin “Rusty” Clark and the late Eddie Martin leading the Bulldogs to a near-perfect season, and in 1966, when FHS defended the crown under the leadership of Vann Williford and the late Chris Cammack, the preacher’s kid and one of the greater athletes in school history.

There were the football Friday nights at old J.L. “Johnnie” Dawkins Stadium with Roger Gann, and the late Booten Jackson and the late Jack Almendarez providing the excitement and coming up just short in the 1965 NCHSAA 4A title.

Cheerleaders urging the 1967 athletes on were Sue Averitt, Margaret Gray, Kay Godwin, Brenda Masters, Rhonda Odom, Robin Jones, Martha Hobgood, Regina Vitolo, Page Farrell, Gail Robinson and Susan Pate.

“I entered Fayetteville Senior High School in the autumn of 1964 and graduated in the spring of 1967,” Larry McBennett, a retired Wake County attorney says. “It was a time of change in American society, and FHS was solidly part of the times. Students were open and accepting. Because they moved often, the Fort Bragg kids were particularly gregarious, ready to socialize and make new friends. Boys and girls dated, partied and played ball together, regardless of whether they lived on Lakeshore Drive or Stamper Road, in Haymount or Ponderosa Acres or off of Ramsey Street.”


It was life in more innocent days at FHS, and the classes of 1968, 1967, 1966, 1965 and 1964 can’t wait to gather again.

“So, here we are around 60 years later,” Ruth Ann Griffin says. “What did we do after we were handed our FHS diplomas? We applied ourselves and gave fully of our gifts, our talents and our passions. In 1967, our class motto was a quote of Winston Churchill that said, ‘This is not the end …not even the beginning of the end. But, perhaps, it is the end of the beginning’ of memories to cherish.

They may want to mind their p’s and q’s at the reunion. The ghost of old Percy Warren likely will be watching, but smiling to know what so many of his FHS kids from 1964 to 1968 became.


Bill Kirby Jr. can be reached at billkirby49@gmail.com or 910-624-1961.

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