Eagle County High reunites
September 18, 2008
GRAND JUNCTION, Colorado ” The class of 1910 was the first class to graduate from Eagle County High School. The last class to graduate from Eagle County High School in Gypsum was in 1959.
But there’s still plenty of alumni around who remember how it was back in the day at the county high school ” a grand, stone block building located where Eagle Valley High School now stands. Last month, 168 guests turned out for an Eagle County High School reunion in Grand Junction (where many of the alumni now live).
They all have plenty of memories. The school, built of stone blocks, had the dignified look of a courthouse-type building. It was located where Eagle Valley High School now stands.
Eagle County High was the catch-all school for the ranch kids from throughout the Eagle Valley. In addition to Gypsum kids, the student body included kids from as far away as Burns, McCoy, Squaw Creek, Lake Creek, Brush Creek and ” during the World War II years ” Pando, which is between Red Cliff and Leadville. Most students boarded with families in Gypsum, and traveled home on weekends.
Football, basketball, and baseball teams competed under the Pirates banner. The school colors were purple and gold. Every town in the valley had a school, and athletic competitions were followed by the entire community. The big rivalry was always with the Eagle High School.
“There was kind of a pecking order,” remembers Starr (Conway) Doll. She and her husband, Mort, are both graduates of the class of 1941. The Eagle County High girls sometimes considered the Eagle High School girls to be a bit on the snooty side.
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The rivalries continued through the years.
Bob Mayne (Class of 1956), remembers playing in some spirited basketball games against Eagle and Minturn during his senior year.
“It was like a football game … I threw my back out, throwing a cross-body block, knocking a guy up on the stage,” he says.
“Eagle was always the big rivalry. It didn’t matter if you beat anybody else if you beat Eagle,” Mayne adds.
Pete Nolan (class of 1956) says the rivalry was often fueled more by the parents than the kids. When voters agreed to consolidate the downvalley high schools in 1960 “the parents had a hard time adjusting,” Nolan says.
He says the county high school had one of the best gymnasiums in the valley, a Quonset-hut type addition to the back of the school, featuring a generous amount of seating built by Mr. Ewing’s woodworking class. The countywide basketball tournaments were often held in that gym.
“I remember the band booster mothers would come in for those tournaments and cook wonderful food. We had a great turnout. People enjoyed it,” says Nolan.
The key organizers of the reunion were Nettie (Hurt) Reynolds (class of 1957), Evelyn (LaGrow) Horn, Bill Gates, George Decker, and George Zoelner. Lots of people helped gather the addresses and for alumni.
Lois (Stephens) Walker (class of 1938) and Art Davenport (class of 1939) proved to be especially adept at locating former students. Some grandkids pitched with typing and computer skills to make it all happen.
The alumni, it turns out, have been harboring mementos of Eagle County High for all these years.
Nolan located the old Eagle County High School purple and gold banner, which was strung up across the reception hall. Lois Walker brought a 1936 Eagle County High annual; and Ruth Brock brought several of “Pirates” newspapers.
George Decker (Class of 1952), had a Pirate’s license plate. Carl Mayne (Class of 1959) wore his letter jacket; and Nettie Reynolds had a school sweater. Ruth Brock still had her cheerleading uniform, and tried it on, but elected not to wear it.
The weekend-long event, held at the Eagles Hall, included a Saturday night dinner and dance, and a Sunday morning breakfast.
Phyllis (Murdock) McNeil, a resident of Cocoa, Fla., was honored for coming the farthest. Marie (Gates) Albertson, 92, was the oldest alumni to attend. Roy and Lois Reynolds, were honored for being the longest married alumni (62 years).
“It was great to see old friends and classmates,” says Nettie Reynolds.