July 18, 2012

50th reunion celebrated

'It's a good class. We had wonderful people'

By ROBIN CAUDELL, Staff Writer

---- — PLATTSBURGH — Marty Bernstein and Dick Soper tried to identify their peers in an Elizabeth Street School kindergarten class photograph at the 50th reunion of the Plattsburgh High School Class of 1962.

They were among the 40-plus classmates with spouses who attended day two of the recent reunion weekend at the residence of Tim and Susan Ayres of Gunboat Lane.

After graduating from high school, Soper enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, where he spent three years in Germany in communications. After he separated from the military, he worked a decade for Pratt Whitney. He eventually relocated back to Plattsburgh and worked a decade for Ames and then for Bombardier, retiring six years ago.

Getting his classmates together is a challenge.

“When we are all together, a lot of the people were in the Air Force,” Soper said. “We had 99 people in the class. They have scattered all over the creation. We went to Arnie’s last night. Tomorrow night, we’re going to breakfast at the Elk’s Club. That makes our three-part weekend.”

Carolyn Comeau Piscitello and Mary Jane Wheeler greeted their classmates as they walked on the Ayres’ canopied deck overlooking Lake Champlain.

“Our 15th was our first one in 1977,” said Wheeler, who attended Oswego College and worked as a middle-school secretary for 35 years. “I just retired. I like retirement.”

Mike Lawson was in attendance with his wife, Susan. They live in Bay City, Fla.

After high school, he majored in teaching at Plattsburgh State. Later, he got his certification in administration and worked at AuSable Valley Central School for 31 years and then as a substitute teacher at CV-TEC.

“It’s wonderful,” Lawson said of the reunion. “It’s the only graduating class that has had a reunion every five years for the last 35 years.”

In her glory days, Carole McGiveny was studious. After a career in social work and as a systems analyst for the Westchester County Department of Correction, McGiveny sold her condo and divides her time between Lewis and Florida.

She and Mary LaBombard Gates’s lives had a similar trajectory. They both attended college in Ohio and went into teaching and then social work.

“I started as a teacher and went into the social services area,” said Gates, who lives in Lake George.

She and McGiveny have known each other since kindergarten. 

“We’ve been in contact on and off ever since,” said Gates, who attended the reunion with her husband of 47 years, Terry. “It’s a good class. We had wonderful people.”

Ann Baker Elliott was a beautician before she became a phlebotomist at CVPH Medical Center.

“I went south for health reasons and for the best man in the world, Wilburt,” Elliott said.

Bernstein recalls Plattsburgh as a bustling place.

“We had Plattsburgh Air Force Base,” said the retired health-care administrator who lives in Fort Kent, Maine. “We also had a lot of Canadians who came to swim in Lake Champlain and go the drive-in theaters. At that time, drive-in theaters were banned in the Province of Quebec. The church thought it was immoral. What that did, it enticed Canadians to come across the border. They came in droves.”

At PHS, Bernstein played center on the basketball team.

“I really enjoyed high school in Plattsburgh,” he said. “Everyone was friendly, courteous and thoughtful.”