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She called him

Alissa Widman Neese • May 6, 2013 at 6:30 AM

For the past few years, Milt Opper, 98, sat alone at the annual Townsend School alumni banquet.

He enjoyed reconnecting with fellow graduates but still felt disappointed. As years passed, Opper was certain he was the last remaining graduate of 1934.

This year, he didn’t plan on attending the event, which took place Saturday night — until a chance phone call reunited him with a long-lost classmate, Vera Colvin.

Colvin, 96, hadn’t attended an alumni banquet in years. After her husband died, she didn’t want to find herself in Opper’s situation.

This year, the two found a perfect solution: it’s a date.

“It only made sense to go together,” Opper said. “She’s 96 and I’m 98, and that’s kind of a ripe old age, but we’re picking up the loose ends.”

Click here for a photo gallery of the Townsend School reunion. 

About 150 Townsend School graduates like Opper and Colvin gathered at the old school building Saturday for their 79th annual alumni banquet. The event features a dinner, music and live entertainment, but most importantly, an opportunity to reminisce about years past.

Both Opper and Colvin recalled basketball games at the back playground and personalized attention in their small class of 17 students. 

“Us girls would go home for sleepovers at each other’s houses and then come back to school the next day,” said Colvin, who now lives in Clyde. “We were very close. I have a lot of memories, many good memories from that school.”

At one time, the Townsend building housed a well-established K-12 school. Its last senior class graduated in 1965, when it merged with Margaretta Schools. The district used the building as an elementary school for quite sometime until it closed in 2008.

Denny Simmons, who graduated from the school in 1963, is one of several individuals who formed a committee to keep the school’s spirit alive. They host the alumni banquet every first weekend in May.

“Everyone comes out of the woodwork because they love the nostalgia,” Simmons said. “It’s nice to meet the kids you went to school with who you haven’t seen in a while. Everyone has a story.”

Opper, who lives in Sandusky, said he’s pretty sure he hasn’t missed one. The event is fun, but fellowship is what’s most important, he said.

“I remember these guys when they were little kids with runny noses,” Opper said. “Now they’re old grandmas and grandpas. But we can laugh about it, because that’s what happens to all of us.”

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