Published Date Written by Tom EastmanFRYEBURG — Eighty years.
That's how long it's been since Ruth (Smith) Twombly and Edith Finnemore graduated from Kennett High in 1932, the same year that Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected to the first of his four terms as president and a time when the country was in the midst of the Great Depression.
Along with 1936 graduate Oscar Comer Jr. of Conway, Twombly and Finnemore were the senior attendees at the annual Kennett High reunion cookout, held by the Kennett Alumni Association Saturday evening in the Crafts Building on the Fryeburg Fairgrounds.
Those three senior members were joined by 221 fellow alums and spouses, according to Kennett High Alumni Association president and reunion co-chair Richie Hansen of North Conway, a member of the Kennett Class of 1957.
“It was a wonderful evening, yes it was,” said Twombly Monday, two days after all the excitement.
An avid golfer until the age of 94 who didn't start the sport until age 70, she has been hampered of late by a pinched nerve, but before that annually knit hats, mittens and scarves for such organizations as Angels and Elves and the Gibson Center for Senior Services. “I saw many old friends and it was just a great time,” she added.
She said when she attended Kennett from 1928 to 1932, there were 38 students in her's and Finnemore's class who graduated.
“Ellis McKeen was our principal, and he ran a pretty tight ship, let me tell you,” said Twombly. “If he caught you smoking, you were expelled. If you were caught passing notes — which I did several times — you had to go and sit in the front seat,” said Twombly, a lifelong resident of the valley, except for 18 winters spent away, golfing in Florida.
“But I missed the mountains. This is home,” said Twombly, who turns 99 in September. She lost her husband Robert G. Twombly in 1989, and now lives on Mason Road with Cynthia and Wayne Hartford.
Finnemore after her Kennett years went on to nursing school and a career in nursing in the Boston area. She retired to Conway, and is now a resident of the Merriman House, according to her cousin, Barbara Wilkins.
Finnemore attended her first Kennett reunion last year at the age of 98. “She'll be 100 in February,” said Wilkins.
Both Twombly and Finnemore were presented corsages by the alumni association.
“She was very pleased to get the flowers,” said Wilkins.
Lots of smiles
“It was a great evening,” agreed Hansen. “We had classes that ended in '2' as well as those classes that ended in '5.' So, in addition to the two [Twombly and Finnemore] from 1932, we had former 10th Mountain Division member and ex-North Comway Fire Department deputy chief Bernie Peters from the Class of 1942 for his 70th; and 10 from the Class of 1952 for their 60th, to name a few. ”
Hansen especially cited members of the Class of 1950 for their attendance. “They always have a big turnout. They meet weekly at Banners for breakfast. They had 16 from their class there Saturday night,” said Hansen.
He said three generations of the Hamilton family helped out.
“We had Dale from the Class of 1954 and his wife Jean from the Class of 1958; their daughter Heather Hamilton Tower from the Class of '88 and her husband, Marc Tower (he's not a Kennett graduate but he helped out); and Heather's son Ryan of the Class of 2009,” said Hansen.
Hansen co-chairs the event with Diane (Hill) Smith, class of 1974.
The alumni association catered the event. which featured steak, chicken and vegetarian entrees; corn on the cob, potato salad, a garden salad, and a dessert of ice cream and cake, all for $15 per person.
In addition to Hansen and Smith, the group's treasurer, other members of the alumni association and reunion committee include secretary Saralyn Smith; vice president Karen Hildreth and husband Mark Hildreth; Dale and Jean Hamilton, Heather and Marc Tower, Nancy Wiggin, Brian Wiggin, Saralynn Smith, Ryan McDonald, Megan Darcy, Tiffany Gardner Murray, Jennifer Haley Lain, Deborah Gardner Eastman and Brenda (Ledoux) Roberts.
Helping to serve the food were members of the Kennett Key Club from the Class of 2014 led by Greg Garrick.
Among the notables in attendance were such local residents as John Cannell, Briggs and Bobbi Bunker, Willie Frechette, and Leona and Arthur Hill.
“We've been at the fairgrounds for six or seven years now,” said Hansen. “It's always on the last Saturday in July — mark your calendars now for July 27, 2013.”
Alumni association room
The Kennett High Alumni Association maintains a room at the old Kennett High, now the Kennett Middle School. It has yearbooks and photos from the years taken at Kennett, which was built in 1924. The room is named after late former business teacher and founding alumni association member Virginia Small. For further information, visit kennettalumniassociation.com