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2017 Reunion C Newton Family Reunion

Morse High School Class of 1966

e l e b ra t i o n s !

Arce Family Reunion

35th Anniversary of The Wall

Sowell Family Reunion

VOL 27 NO 2 $3/USA




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WE’LL HELP PLAN YOUR REUNION. SO YOU CAN FOCUS ON ENJOYING IT. You can enjoy your reunion if you don’t have to deal with all of the details that go into making it happen. So while we have lots of entertainment options like Railroad Park, the McWane Science Center and the Birmingham Zoo, we also offer help in planning it all. From finding hotel rooms and transportation to scheduling caterers and photographers, we have everything you’ll need to make your reunion a success. Right here in Birmingham. | # INB irmingham | 800 - 458 - 8085

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in this special issue DEPARTMENTS FRONT WORDS – 4 ALUM & I – 6 Morse High Class of 1966’s never-ending 50th reunion by Vicki Tom-Nyi Generous alumni! from John A. Hill Yankton College Regional Reunion Horlick-West Alumni Club by Jim Bie Eva High School Alumni meeting from Jo Anne Makemson Lindley Richmond Hill High School, Class of 1967 from Nathania Branch Miles Brandywine High School Class of 1967 from Kevin Donohue

BRANCH OFFICE – 11 Make your reunion a life-story saving event by D. Fran Morley Archiving Burnette Family Reunions by Georgia Burnette Birmingham’s Civil Rights District National Monument and Presley Family Reunion Hottest ticket in Washington, DC! The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) Neal Family on StoryCorps by Carole Neal

SCRAPBOOK – 16 Reunion School Hospitality Answerman: 5 great things a CVB can do for your reunion

MASTERPLAN – 20 Rocket Man by Joseph DeMare National Tate Family Association Family Reunion by Dr. Andrea “Andy” Tate Vary Family reunion by Joanne Vary Schwandes Sowell Family Reunion by Pamela Trowbridge Webb Family Reunion by Vickie McCain Slagle Family Reunion by Phil Slagle Reed-Clay Family Reunion honors elders by Marilyn Reed GLB (Gladys Louise Baker) by Shanetta Thornton Gary Family Reunion by Angela Miller Emerson-Smith Family Reunion by Kiwanis Bishop Rogers Family Reunion by Jacqueline Miller Arce Family (dream) Reunion by Loida Arce Acosta Ballew Broaddus Simpson Noland Family Reunion by Gail Taylor Newton Family Apron Exchange by Leah Stark and Libby Stark Sanson More families: Hannibal Creft Stateman, Johnson and Barnes, Sims, Caywood/Rutherford, Porter, Love, Shaw-Wilson, Baez, Darden Rooks Johnson (DRJ)

REUNION VENUES & FEATURES – 37 Ranch reunions popular with families! Tombstone Monument Ranch, Lazy L&B Ranch, Cherokee Park Ranch

MILITARY REUNION NEWS – 40 The power of a Reunion Profile from Sharon Danitschek Love letters to the National World War II Museum! New Jersey Veterans Helping Veterans Nationwide from Jackie Mills USS The Sullivans DD-537/DDG-68 Reunion by Hal & Nancy Burke USS Hopewell (DD-681) Shipmate’s Reunion by Doug Graybeal USS Forrestal reunion by Edith Wagner In anticipation of the USS John Young reunion from Michael Trotta 35th anniversary of The Wall, reunion honors sacrifice of POW, MIA service members, National Aviation Boatswain’s Mates Association (ABMA), Veterans honored with quilts, The Folded Flag Foundation, Active Heroes, The Hawker Reunion

REUNION RESOURCES – 45 A directory of reunion-friendly places, services, vendors and products ON THE COVER See cover reunions in this issue.

Reunion Celebrations September 2017 Volume 27 • Number 2 PUBLISHER / EDITOR IN CHIEF Edith Wagner ART DIRECTOR Jennifer Rueth SALES ACCOUNT MANAGER Roberta McLoud OPERATIONS MANAGER Karla Lavin WEB WIZARD Sarah Christiaansen HOSPITALITY ANSWERMAN Dean Miller CONTRIBUTORS Loida Arce Acosta • Jim Bie • Kiwanis Bishop Deunna Bledsoe • Michael & Cathy Breaux Hal & Nancy Burke • Georgia Burnette Emmitt Carter • Gaye Cline-Schooler Joseph DeMare • Sharon Danitschek Kevin Donohue • Dorris Ellis Dave & Terry Evans • Doug Graybeal Jacqueline Harvey • TaSonja Hibbler • John A. Hill Dwight Johnson • Jo Anne Makemson Lindley Vickie McCain • Tom McCarley Nathania Branch Miles • Angela Miller Jacqueline Miller • Jackie Mills D. Fran Morley • Carole Neal Stanford & Sydney Morris Paulette & Phil Oinonen • LeVel Porter Parsons Kimberly Powell • JoAngela Pulley-Booth Marilyn Reed • Arthetta Reeder Joanne Vary Schwandes • Phil Slagle Leah Stark • Libby Stark Sanson Dr. Andrea “Andy” Tate • Gail Taylor Tamera Thomas • Shanetta Thornton Vicki Tom-Nyi • Jesus Torres • Sgt Trapper Michael Trotta • Pamela Trowbridge Reunions magazine, Inc. (ISSN #1046-5s235), is published 2 times per year. Send correspondence, queries, requests, submissions, advertising to Reunions magazine, PO Box 11727, Milwaukee WI 53211-0727 or email Written permission from the publisher is required for reproduction of any part of this book except pages which encourage sharing. Please explain your intended use when requesting permission to reprint and guarantee tear sheets of reviews and reprints. Reunions magazine, Inc., is not liable for information presented as facts in any of our advertising, byline stories or materials. We reserve the right to edit and/or refuse any material submitted for publication. We take responsibility for submitted materials but unless accompanied by a selfaddressed stamped envelope (SASE), submissions and photos will not be returned. All materials sent for publication become property of Reunions magazine, Inc. Individual copies $3 each, Reunion Planners Notebook $5 both plus postage. “Backward Subscriptions” are 6 back issues (last 6 or any 6 of your choice) $12 including shipping. Payment must accompany requests. See for free offers. Advertising information contact Reunions magazine, Inc., PO Box 11727, Milwaukee WI 53211-0727; 414263-4567; fax 414-263-6331 | © 2017 Reunions magazine, Inc. REUNION CELEBRATIONS SEPTEMBER 2017 v REUNIONS 3



Be in touch!

Mail to well as ideas that match where your his is one of two issues we are printing Reunions magazine planning should be, if your reunion is in the each year. This one kicks off the PO Box 11727 next season. Sign up on; reunion planning season, and the next Milwaukee WI 53211-0727 it’s free. (in March) is a countdown to the call 414-263-4567 As your reunion plan progresses, be sure reunion season. As always, this issue is visit to access planning steps outlined in Reunion chock-full of reunion reports from planners fax 414-263-6331 Planners Notebook. The Notebook’s just like you, who love to share their ideas e-mail uniqueness is that when you access it online and triumphs. Read about their reunions and @, all the steps and enjoy their passion for their reunion groups; forms are linked directly from the issue to start with the reunions featured on the cover, the same subject online. Have a question whose stories are all inside. There is an endless about registration forms? The Notebook links to registration high school reunion, many family reunions (including one on our website or Pinterest page right from the Notebook with its own Rocket Man). This is the start of the military page! You don’t even have to input the URLs/addresses reunion season, so those featured were last season’s events. yourself, just click. We added a short video ( But all include ideas that may encourage and inspire you as watch?v=9uEAN9MBcJE) about the Notebook that you plan your own reunion. demonstrates its special Our preference would be to be printing magazines every features, connective t(issue), couple of months, as we did in the past, but the cost has and how you can use online become prohibitive. So we continue to develop digital resources and social media resources that offer a lot more reunion planning leads, ideas connections for your reunion and information — from the germ of the idea all the way planning. Want to print out through the details of Reunion Day(s). The best part is that it forms? They are free at is all available 24/7, free of charge, whenever the urge to, or you can work on your reunion strikes. So between print issues, take buy fillable computer forms your reunion planning questions to our website (reunionsmag. ($25) on Etsy (also linked com). In fact, we are working on a new website which (we can from ISSUU pages, or call almost guarantee) will be online before our next print issue! 414-263-4567). In addition to tons of planning information, the website WANT TO SEE YOUR REUNION ON THESE PAGES? includes lists of upcoming reunions. And if your reunion isn’t We depend upon you to share your reunion celebration there, send your reunion name, date, place and contact stories to fill these issues. All the ways to contact us are listed information to; it’s free. There is an in the box on this page (we prefer email). We will acknowledge extensive gallery of reunion pictures; if you want to submit receiving your story, and when we begin to produce the issue your reunion picture (it’s free), send it to editor@reunionsmag. you’re in, expect to hear from us if we need additional com. There is an ever-changing list of giveaways, contests and information for clarification. Also, please either send or sweepstakes you might want to enter in hopes of winning indicate that you have high-resolution (300 dpi or higher) something for your reunion. Check out the ever-changing list reunion pictures. of reunion planning workshops — virtual and in person — VOL 26 NO 2 $5/USA

Reunion Planners Notebook

that you may wish to attend; most are free. In addition to our website, we have an extensive Pinterest page, where our boards focus on reunion planning resources from all over the internet — over 10,000 ideas and mounting! We have an active Facebook page where we post news, salute reunions and planners, and share fun ideas. We have an Etsy store featuring save-the-date cards, t-shirt designs, and current and back issues. We offer a monthly newsletter, as 4 REUNIONS v

And finally… As this issue goes to the printer, our thoughts and prayers are for our readers, their families and their reunions in Texas and Louisiana and states east being devastated by Hurricane Harvey. It is unimaginable what you are enduring and we hope everyone is safe and will soon be able to regain their lives on terra firma. Our prayers continue … Happy reunion planning season! EW


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alum & I

Morse High Class of 1966’s never-ending 50th reunion by Vicki Tom-Nyi


fter two years of planning with an awesome committee of 16, San Diego, California’s Morse High School’s Class of ‘66 celebrated their 50th reunion. We promoted reunion events early. Activities were decided quickly and we provided up-to-date information about our plans through emails, Facebook posts, and flyers. A reunion registration packet was sent to all known addresses for feedback. We searched for lost classmates for two years. In so doing we stirred up a lot of excitement and interest from classmates wanting to attend. We were thrilled at the number of classmates who came from all over the country. The main events started on Thursday with a dinner-dance at the Crown Plaza in Mission Valley. Event rates cost less on a weeknight than a weekend. Most of us are retired, so there were no worries about getting up for work the next day. The banquet room entrance had an enclosed foyer where attendees received laminated tags (to be worn at other events), and a

It was a poignant moment when everyone who served in the military, whether classmate or guest, was asked to come to the floor and be recognized with a salute and a special gift.

professional photographer immediately took memory book photos. Inside the banquet room were a memorabilia table, photo booth, no-host bar and a wonderful Hawaiian-themed dinner buffet table. The DJ was excellent. Throughout the evening, fun awards were given for various milestones. Classmates mingled and took pictures all evening. Friday morning we had a golf event for

Morse High School Class of 1966 picnic!


avid golfers. Friday evening was our casual ’60s night at the Lemon Grove VFW, organized by the chapter commander who is also a reunion committee member. Throughout the year he hosts alumni gatherings for classes from the ’60s. For the 50th he made it bigger and honored our class. The walls of the room were lined with photos of classmates from elementary to high school to military service. A

alum & I homemade street taco bar, desserts, and bar kept everyone happy. Dancing and trivia contests had the whole room energized and laughing. Saturday was our annual “Back to the Sixties” picnic at the Santee Lakes, an event for the first graduating classes from our school (‘64-’69). Of course, this year we had the most attendees. Actually, we usually have the most attendees because we were the founders of these annual picnics. Generous donations from classmates and excellent budgeting allowed us to change from a potluck picnic to catered food with costs covered. This event brought in a few more classmates who couldn’t come to other events. The plus of this picnic is reconnecting with alumni from classes before and after us. All the ’60s classes were invited to join a 7-day Princess Cruise along the California Coast to Ensenada, Mexico. We did a cruise at the 40th reunion and had a great time then. We expected more attendees this time, thinking that by now most classmates had retired. But while many wanted to go, issues of personal health problems or caring for aging parents prevented it. We had an amazing time that

We decorated tables in school colors of blue and gold. The gold tied in especially well, as this was our “golden celebration.” Centerpieces were vases personalized with the school name, year and mascot, and filled with popcorn for snacking during the cocktail hour and throughout the evening. Fresh flowers were my preferred choice, but I no longer live in town and wanted an easy, stress-free setup, so I had to come up with a clever alternative. The popcorn was a hit. Each place setting included a souvenir reunion booklet of reunion activities information, 1966 trivia from the world and from high school, and recognition of those who helped with the reunion. A personalized reunion glass filled with gold-wrapped chocolates was also on the table for each guest to take home.

just topped off the reunion experience. We want to plan more. Some of our cruisers came from the East Coast. Since the cruise embarked from the Port of Los Angeles, the area where I live, I hosted a Disneyland/California Adventure Day for the three cruisers who stayed with me. It was a “magical day” before the cruise. The next day we sailed. A memory book was sent with autobiographies of all who submitted information, photos of classmates who attended the dinner-dance, and candids from all the events. This was nice for those classmates who couldn’t attend. I call this the reunion that won’t end. The events rekindled so many lost friendships and memories. Since the reunion we have planned many lunch dates for anyone who wants to come. We plan the next date before we leave the one we are attending. I would like to acknowledge my passionate and dedicated committee who gave up two years of their lives to make this reunion memorable. Submitted by Vicki Tom-Nyi, Palm Springs, California

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alum & I

Yankton College Regional Reunion

Generous alumni!


ankton, South Dakota’s Yankton College (YC) alumni from all parts of the country packed up their YC memories, photos and keepsakes and headed to Florida for a Yankton College Regional Reunion hosted by Ernie Ferency, a 1971 graduate, and his wife, Bette, Boynton Beach, Florida. The itinerary included a poolside catered dinner where alums gathered for an evening, followed by a two-day golf tournament, a beach outing, a cooking class and an intracoastal yacht dinner cruise. Regional reunions are held in areas with a high density of Yankton College alumni. The Yankton College business office searches their database to create region-specific mailing lists. Regional reunions are held every odd year, and All-Class Reunions are held every even year in Yankton. Visit www. From a report in the Yankton Daily Press, Yankton, South Dakota


ver 17 years ago, Jim Bie, Palm Desert, California, a 1945 graduate of Horlick High School in Racine, Wisconsin, organized the Horlick-West Alumni Club for alumni living in California. The club meets annually and includes many who are just visiting California. Recently, the photographer, Jerry 8 REUNIONS v

(L to R) Dr. Ronald Speight, Alumni Association President, 2017 Inez E. Burge Scholarship recipients: Scott Austin Vinson, Timothy Speight, Khalicia A. Lee, Amanda C. Haskins, Jazmin Harper, Ikeiza Hardy, Ricquel Jenal Freeman, Alaysia Exum, David Luna-Cruz, Kieanna Bruinton.


xecutive Director of Greene County Training School-South Greene High School National Alumni Association (GCTS-SGHS) in Snow Hill, North Carolina, John A. Hill recently shared good news about their Scholarship Fund. At their reunion they raised just under $23,000 for the Inez E. Burge Scholarship Fund, exceeding last year’s receipts by more than $1,300. Eighteen classes from 1947 through 1973 contributed to the fund. Hill highlights the efforts of the classes of 1947 and 1949 in light of the fact that the classes have so few surviving members. He did not miss an opportunity in his report to encourage individuals and classes to continue to contribute. There’s still time for your class to “get on the board” or “‘look better” in the final accounting!

Wood, asked the group to line up in order of their graduation dates. This is what he saw (left to right): Jim Bie ’45, Al Christiansen ’51, Gene Mooring ’52, Leonard Harkus ’53, Ron Casperson ’56, Diana (Clausen) Gissell ’57, George Gissell ’57, Roger Tischendorf ’57, Ken Richardson ’58,

Judee (Fugina) Wood ’58, Marilynn (Wilda) Johnson ’60, Wendy (Arena) Connaughton ’61, Judy (Wilda) Amundsen ’61, Alex Sabo ’61, Lora (Lohmiller) Lee ’61, Carol (Matagrano) Fara ’61, Michael Dockery ’64, Tod Mikaelian ’69, and Nancy (Mikaelian) Madey ’79.

alum & I

Eva High School Alumni meeting


total of 168 attended the Eva (Alabama) High School Alumni Association reunion from as far as Virginia. The reunion is held bi-annually by the last graduating Class of 1972. The week before the reunion, Paul Lindler, Class of 1940, the oldest alumnus, was interviewed. Mr. Lindler was president of his senior class, FFA, and the Beta Club. He went away to college, then the military, and lived in Georgia for 48 years before returning to his hometown of Eva. Ray Cheatham (Class of 1969) Paul Lindler, Eva High School, provided sound and music. A Class of 1940. delicious barbecue lunch was topped off with fabulous assorted cupcakes by Marcy Stinson Holmes (Class of 1970). Pictures of teachers and of each graduating class were taken, starting with Lois Frost Newman (Class of 1943) and Luetta Crider Kinney (Class of 1944). The 2017 Most Outstanding Alumni was awarded to Louie G. McDonald, Jr. (Class of 1955), son of beloved late teacher Louie G. McDonald. When Dr.

Rolland S. Oden (teacher and Class of 1952) presented the award, he referred to Louie as a “chip off the ol’ block.” The Eva School Courtyard — an alumni project consisting of engraved pavers, a wooden pergola, sidewalks, and access steps to a concrete stage area — was met with appreciation by those seeing it for the first time. To pay for the project, the alumni association sold engraved pavers, commemorative Eva High School photo mugs, and the first-ever alumni cookbook. Brenda Pirkle Southern Mountain Cookin’ West’s title, Southern Mountain Cookin’, won in a contest over 23 other titles. The cookbook features recipes by cooks spanning the five decades Eva was a high school and sells for $20 (contact or 205-563-3290). A Decatur Daily editor said, “I am totally and completely sure that besides my mama, the best cooks in the world live in Eva.” Submitted by Jo Anne Makemson Lindley, Hoover, Alabama (Class of 1972)

Admiring the Eva School Courtyard and engraved pavers.


alum & I

Reaching the class This is a Q? + A! that we felt might apply to many other reunions.

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Good morning, I am desperately trying to get information out in Toledo, Ohio, about our upcoming class reunion. We went to Edward D. Libbey High School (which is now torn down) 1983-1987 and had a graduating class of about 160. We have never had a reunion, so this is our first (and probably our only) one. Can you PLEASE help us? What is it you need from me to get the word out? JoAngela Pulley-Booth, Toledo, Ohio JoAngela: We can add your reunion to our list of upcoming reunions. Class reunions are most searched on our website! But we’ll need more information. We’ll need the reunion date and place (city and state are enough) and contact information. What have you already done to try to find classmates? Have you asked everyone you’ve found to give you a list of everyone in the class whose whereabouts they know? Have you contacted parents and families whom you or other classmates know? Have you contacted students a couple years ahead and behind you? That’s where siblings of your classmates can be found. Have you googled all their names? or searched on Facebook and Instagram? Have you notified all the newspapers in your area (large and small)? Have you contacted radio stations that have live local shows to ask announcers and DJs to mention your reunion? Have you read how other classes have searched successfully ( Some people think searching is the most fun! Make your “one and only reunion” a great success!


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ichmond Hill High School is more than 100 years old and located in the borough of Queens, Richmond Hill, New York. The Richmond Hill High School, Class of 1967 reunion, was at the Coral House in Baldwin, New York, with more than 60 classmates in attendance. The evening consisted of a cocktail hour with roving waiters, DJ playing only music from 1963-1967 and a seven-course meal. Some of the girls of the Class of 1967. Seated Lynn Bemus, Nathania Branch, Sandra Gilliam, Patricia Lennon and Alicia Jones (Class of 1968) Standing, Corrine Palmore, Susan Sandler, Linda Brown, Georgette Taylor, Betty Wilson, Elaine Foy, Durene Cully and Bessie Reid. Shared by Nathania Branch Miles, Hyattsville, Maryland


evin Donohue, contact person from the Brandywine High School Class of 1967 in Wilmington, Delaware, declared that, “Facebook has made things MUCH easier in making people aware of our reunion. It’s the people NOT on Facebook and who have changed email providers or moved who are the challenge.” 10 REUNIONS v

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Make your reunion a life-story saving event by D. Fran Morley


in blanks, and help you develop a budget to create something from a simple book to a produced documentary that everyone will cherish.

eunions are focused on memories, so there is no better time to gather stories than when people are primed and ready to talk. As a member of the Association of Personal Historians (APH) from 2002 through May 2017 — when the association shut its virtual doors — I know the importance of saving life stories. Want to turn your reunion into a life-story saving event? Here’s what you need to know.


cheerleader remembers the “big game” differently from the way it’s remembered by the team’s star quarterback. That’s all okay. Give everyone an opportunity to talk. Do not leave out any willing participant. Don’t worry if people jump around, and don’t be discouraged if you only get partial stories. Any story saved is better than a story lost.

A good way to find a professional anywhere is with an online search. Along with “personal historian,” include other words and phrases in your search, such as video biographer, memoirist, legacy books, ethical wills, legacy films, tribute books, tribute videos, and oral historians. Groups on Facebook and LinkedIn set up by former APH members offer information about professionals and answer questions. Search for the groups “Personal Historians.” Visit for links to resources, information, and a state-by-state directory of websites for professional life story people. I mentioned earlier that the Association of Personal Historians ceased operation this year. After 21 years of advancing the life story industry, APH leaves the field at a time when a broader recognition of the importance of saving life stories has emerged and is flourishing through the work of other organizations and media outlets. There are many professional personal historians in the US and around the world to help save your stories. Look for us!


About the author

After the reunion, what do you do with your hours of recordings? The last thing you want is for those wonderful memories to languish in a drawer. Use the material to produce something that will have meaning for others! This is when you can benefit from the help of a professional — an experienced professional life story expert. S/he can help sort and organize the material, work with reunion members to find photos to illustrate stories or more information to fill

D. Fran Morley, Fairhope, Alabama, has been a full-time freelance writer and editor since 2001, specializing in travel and feature stories on many topics. She teaches life-story writing workshops and works with individuals and organizations to save their stories. She also loves dressing in period costume to tell the stories of significant women from the 19th century. She was Content Editor for APH for seven years. Contact her at


At most family reunions there are two groups: older folks sitting around sharing stories, and younger folks not really listening. Someday the young ’uns are going to wish they’d paid more attention. I wish I had. Recently, I discovered Clarissa, my great-great grandmother who died in 1895, in a search at If I had thought about it years ago at family reunions, would my grandmother have had stories to tell about her grandmother? I’ll never know. However, I can help collect the stories my generation remembers about our grandparents. One day our descendants will appreciate it. HOW TO SAVE THE STORIES

Set up a recorder (your phone or iPad will work in a pinch) and ask a couple of people to take notes. Invite willing reunion members to sit around a table. This isn’t a formal interview; you just want to get people talking. Start with a few general questions. When an interesting topic comes up, ask for details. When did it happen? How did you feel about it? What did others do? Why did you react as you did? Don’t worry if some stories contradict others. Memory is a subjective thing. Aunt Lottie’s memories of Thanksgiving 1970 — spending much of the day in the kitchen preparing dinner for 16 — differ from cousin John, who spent the afternoon showing off the farm. Likewise, the head

D. Fran Morley in character for talks about the founders of Fairhope, Alabama. Women featured in her talks exemplify what was happening for women in the late 19th and early 20th century. The women she features are Clara Gaston, wife of E.B. Gaston, the founder of the Fairhope “Single Tax” Colony; Marie Howland, a suffragist and reformer who worked to better the lives of workers and women; and Lydia Newcomb Comings, a progressive educator, author, and historian considered the mother of physical education in schools.


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Archiving Burnett(e) Family Reunions


ith the creation of the Burnett(e) Family Association in 1997, we knew we’d eventually want to archive family reunion documents as well as family history gathered over the years. From 1997 to 2017 the Burnett(e) Family Association held biennial reunions throughout the country. However, it wasn’t until 2014 that we located a suitable place for materials developed during that 20-year period. The purpose of the Black History

Commission of Arkansas and its Collection is “to preserve the history of Black Arkansas and promote the teaching of black history in Arkansas’s schools.” As Historian of the Burnett(e) Family Reunion, I felt that much of the family’s history was in the reunions themselves so I gathered related documents to tell the story. In 2017, I prepared a history of each reunion from 1970-2005 and forwarded it to the Commission. I also sent copies of The Burnett(e) Bugle, the family

newsletter published from 1998-2010. We are fortunate that a brief history of the family written by Elmer Burnett became the introductory portion of the reunion documents. Reported by Georgia Burnette, Niagra Falls, New York Note: Georgia Burnette has had her personal writings accepted into the University of Buffalo’s African American Women’s Collection.

Birmingham’s Civil Rights District named National Monument


Submitted by Emmitt Carter, Pinson, Alabama.

n one of his final acts as president, Barack Obama signed a proclamation naming the Birmingham (Alabama) Civil Rights District a national monument. It encompasses sites significant to the 1960s revolution in Birmingham streets. Most famous is the

Kelly Ingram Park. This statue depicts likenesses of the four little girls killed in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing.

The Presley Family Reunion on the steps of the historic 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.

16th Street Baptist Church, bombed by Ku Klux Klansmen in 1963 — an act that killed four African American schoolgirls. The bombing horrified the nation and the world, and was a turning point in race relations. Birmingham was Ground Zero for the civil rights campaign in 1963.

FamilySearch ends microfilm distribution FAMILYSEARCH PLANS TO DIGITIZE ALL RECORDS BY 2020.


n September 1, 2017 FamilySearch will no longer be distributing their vast collection of microfilmed genealogy records to thousands of Family History Centers. Heretofore, researchers could request microfilms of millions of not-yet-digitized records to be delivered on loan to a local center, giving them access to records without having to travel to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. Local Family History Centers will remain open and provide a variety of services to help researchers with their family history needs. FamilySearch’s online services and collections are vital to modern family history. Of course, with all of the digitization going on, FamilySearch will be needing many volunteers to index these important historical records. Without indexing, these records are not searchable.


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Hottest ticket in Washington, DC!


Photos by Dean Miller and Edith Wagner

he Smithsonian National Museum of ways to access group tickets is under African American History and Culture review, so a visit to is (NMAAHC) will celebrate its first essential. Tickets for individuals (not anniversary on September 24th, and is groups) can be accessed through etix. definitely the hottest ticket in DC. Eight On the first Wednesday of each month thousand people visit daily, and well over 120,000 tickets are released online one million have visited since the opening. three months in advance, so for There’s good reason, because the museum tickets in January, for example, you’ll has been centuries in the making and want to order the first Wednesday in contains many artifacts and treasures October. Tickets are timed, which donated by individuals and families all dictate when you will enter. over the country. The Museum is a strong, Smithsonian National Museum of Africian American History and Culture It is a compendium of African American impressive and imposing building on life, art, history, and culture celebrated and on display. the National Mall within sight of the White House. You’ll soon It’s an easily accessible destination for reunions in DC and discover that one visit is not enough, so choose your first stops nearby Virginia and Maryland, but you must plan ahead! Tickets carefully. Start underground at the slavery exhibition and progress through many aspects of the African American are free; however, they are not easy to come by. At this writing, experience and history on five floors. A goal for genealogists is the Robert Frederick Smith Explore Your Family History Center on the second floor, with access to the largest genealogy collections in the world. Pop culture, featured on the fifth floor, is reported to be a particular favorite of young people. Permanent collections are designed to interest all ages and, in addition to the history of slavery and the fight for freedom, include military, sport and culture (music, dance, art, theatre). Many exhibits are interactive. For younger visitors there are story hours, treasure hunts and special events. Docent tours can be arranged and lectures are often scheduled. The McCoy and Blue Family Reunions visited the NMAAHC. The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) is at 1400 Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20560;

1940s transportation is a very popular exhibit!

Jackie Robinson commemorated.

Neal Family on StoryCorps


ousins John Neal and Carole Neal participated in a project about family stories of migration from the American South during the Great Migration. They shared stories from their respective parents’ migration from Louisiana to California. AfroSurreal Writers Workshop and Pro Arts in Oakland supports artists and is affiliated with StoryCorps, a national project that records American stories. A collaborative effort produced StoryCorps’ Time Capsules Interview Series, Migration Stories: A Time Travel Journey of African American Migration to California. Over six

million African Americans left the Deep South from 1916 to the 1970s searching for the “The Warmth of Other Suns” that Isabel Wilkerson wrote about in her book of that same title. The Bay Area was the destination for many African Americans from the southern US during the Great Migration. Promises of employment in the shipyards and war industry, better opportunities for their children, and a desire to escape the harsh Jim Crow laws of the South, made the Bay Area a promising destination. StoryCorps records participants’ oral histories, which are archived in the Library of Congress. See REUNION CELEBRATIONS SEPTEMBER 2017 v REUNIONS 15

scrapbook Most of these events are sponsored and presented by convention and visitors bureaus. Most take place on Saturdays and, for the most part, are for people planning reunions in their area. All prefer or require advance reservations and most are free or at nominal cost. For information about new events added online, as soon as we learn about them visit and click on workshops, conferences and seminars. ALLIANCE OF MILITARY REUNIONS


Contact Skip Sander, 412-367-1376 |

September 16, 2017 Contact Dianne Lovett, 800-451-3480 | or Amy Metzler, 770-206-1552 |


Contact Rashelle Beasley, 229 317-4760 | ALPHARETTA, GEORGIA

October 7, 2017 Contact 678-297-2811 | ATLANTA, GEORGIA

404-521-6622 | AUGUSTA, GEORGIA

February 24, 2018 Contact “Cousin” Michelle, 800-726-0243 | 706-823-6600 BALTIMORE, MARYLAND

September 9, 2017 410-244-8861 | GREATER BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA

November 4, 2017 Reunion Planner Expo Contact Tara Walton, CTIS, 800-458-8085 | 205-458-8000 ext. 206 BRANSON, MISSOURI

May 2019 Annual Military Reunion Planners Conference Contact Julie Peters, 417-243-2117 | CABARRUS COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA

Contact Carrie Hendrickson, 704-456-7969 | CHESAPEAKE, VIRGINIA

Contact C. Jeff Bunn, 757-382-1352 | CHICAGO NORTHWEST, SCHAUMBURG, ILLINOIS

Contact Melinda Garritano, 847-278-3445 CLAYTON COUNTY, GEORGIA

Contact Tangie Carter, 678-610-4242 | 16 REUNIONS v


Sarah Doodan, CTA 614-222-6146 DEKALB COUNTY, GEORGIA

September 16, October 14, November 18, 2017 Contact Penny Moore, Group Services Manager, 770-492-5018 DETROIT, MICHIGAN

October 14, 2017 Contact DMCVB, 313-202-1985 | DOUGLASVILLE, GEORGIA

September 9, 2017 Contact Samantha Rosado, Tourism Program Manager, 678-449-309 DUNWOODY, GEORGIA

September 16, 2017 Contact Dianne Lovett, 800-451-3480 | or Amy Metzler, 770-206-1552 | FAIRFAX COUNTY, VIRGINIA

February 17, 2018, 10th annual Speaker: Edith Wagner, Reunions magazine editor Contact Dean Miller, 703-752-9509 | FREDERICKSBURG, VIRGINIA

Contact: Victoria Matthews, 800-260-3646 | 540-372-1216 | GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN

Heidi Schmitt, 800-678-9859 ext 3557 GREENWOOD, SOUTH CAROLINA

Contact Lindsay Burns, 864-953-2464 GWINNETT COUNTY, GEORGIA

September 23, 2017 Contact Maurice Odoms, Family Reunion Expert 770-814-6059



Contact Jennifer Williamson, 269-488-0057

Contact Erica Telsee, 800-551-8682 |


Regional Roundtables/ConFAMs (Conferences begin on varied days) RAPID CITY, SOUTH DAKOTA | October 10-14, 2017 PORTLAND, MAINE | October 22-26, 2017 NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE | November 29-December 2, 2017 BRANSON, MISSOURI | May 4-7, 2018 ERIE, PENNSYLVANIA | May 8-11, 2018 BILLINGS, MONTANA | September 19-23, 2018

Experience Kissimmee Military Reunion FAM April 2018 Contact Jadeine Shives, 407-569-4855 LAKE COUNTY, ILLINOIS

Contact Kimberly Ghys, 800-Lake-Now (800-525-3669) | LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY

September 9, 2017 Contact Kathryn Peck | 502-560-1491 | MACON-BIBB COUNTY, GEORGIA


Educational Summit FAIRFAX/RESTON, VIRGINIA | June 23-26, 2018 Contact, Sharon Danitschek, 425-501-1430 | VIRTUAL FAMILY REUNION PLANNING WORKSHOPS

Contact 478-743-1074 Contact Holly Townsend, 901-543-5320

September 30, October 28th, November 18th, 2017, January 27, February 24, March 24, April 28, May 19, June 9, July 28, August 25th, 2018 Contact Niko Cook,



September 23, 2017 Contact Andrea Moran, 888-493-7386 |

SAVANNAH, GEORGIA | November 6- 9, 2017


NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE | July 9-12, 2018

Contact Eric Matos, 678-216-0282 |

PORTLAND, OREGON | July 29 - Aug 1, 2018


MYRTLE BEACH, SOUTH CAROLINA | February 18-22, 2018 LAKE COUNTY, ILLINOIS | April 3-6, 2018

BLOOMINGTON, MINNESOTA | August 12-15, 2018


September 16, 2017 Contact Dianne Lovett, 800-451-3480 | or Amy Metzler, 770-206-1552 |

VIRGINIA BEACH, VIRGINIA | October 28-31, 2018

Contact |

Kissimmee, Florida, reunion planning workshop at House of Blues Gospel Brunch!



Hospitality Answerman 5 great things a CVB can do for your reunion

Q: A:

My sister-in-law was helping her husband’s family plan their reunion. Unfortunately, on their reunion weekend there was a NASCAR race nearby. They had trouble getting a bus to take them sightseeing and all the restaurants were jammed with NASCAR fans all weekend long. Is there any way they could have avoided this?

Yes! It sounds to me like they didn’t call the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) before they booked their reunion. The CVB would have let them know the NASCAR race was going on that weekend and suggested other dates when the city wasn’t as crowded. I’ve said this many times before, but a group’s first call should always be to the CVB. Before you pick dates, send out “Save the Date” postcards, contact a hotel, or do anything else, contact the CVB! Many people only think to call the CVB for maps, guidebooks, and discount coupons for their destination. And yes, CVBs do provide all of those things and in many cases, for free! But that’s only one valuable service you can call for … these are four others that could be even more valuable for your reunion. n The CVB can alert you to the best and “least-best” times of the year to visit, as well as when to get the best deals. They’ll know when larger “citywide” events are going on (NASCAR races, sporting tournaments, festivals, major conventions, etc.) that you may wish to avoid. Sometimes, just by shifting your reunion dates forward or back by a week, you may be able to save tens, if not hundreds, of dollars a night on your hotel rooms. Restaurants and other attractions will likewise be less-crowded and more enjoyable, n The CVB will help you find the best-suited hotel for your budget, and your reunion. Looking for a hotel that has a swimming pool and is close to shopping, restaurants, and a water park? They’ll know which hotels will fill the bill, and what rates the hotel is likely to offer you. n The CVB will suggest fun activities, sights to see, and attractions you might not have even been aware of. For example, here in Fairfax County, we have a specially

National Park Owners: that’s you!


ational parks are great places to enjoy kayaking, fly-fishing, hiking, biking, or yoga. Check out activities offered through the Active Trails program, and experience our national parks in new and unique ways! Visit parks across the country that teach about our diverse American history, from abolitionist sites in Boston to César E. Chávez’s gravesite in California. Get your free downloadable National Park Owner’s Guides at They’re filled with travel tips and inside information on what not to miss. 18 REUNIONS v

constructed playground that was designed for children with mobility issues. It’s called Clemyjontri Park, and it allows children who use wheelchairs, walkers, or braces to enjoy a playground experience. You won’t find it in most visitor guides, but if a child in your family has special needs, we’ll recommend you spend some time there. n And finally, a CVB can help you find local service providers of all shapes and stripes. Want to rent some costumes for your family’s talent show? We know where the costume rental shop is located. Need a wreath to take to Arlington National Cemetery to place on the grave of a loved one? We know which florists make them. Want to rent a video monitor to show old home movies of the family? We know who the local providers are. Why would you spend hours searching the Internet when you can just ask us? Again, you can make your reunion extra special (as well as avoid all sorts of potential problems) just by making a single phone call to the convention and visitors bureau. Hope you and your group have a wonderful reunion!

About the Hospitality Answerman Dean Miller, national sales director for Visit Fairfax (, the convention and visitors bureau in Fairfax County, Virginia, is a great friend of reunions. Contact him (703-790-0643; dmiller@ when you are planning a reunion in the Washington, DC, area. Fairfax County is nearby, affordable, and conveniently located to all the area has to offer. Also see all of his Hospitality Answerman columns on

Barrier-free travel


arrier-Free Travels; Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks for Wheelers and Slow Walkers by Candy B. Harrington ($12.95, C & C Creative Concepts; A new travel guide details wheelchairaccessible trails, attractions and lodging options in and near Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. This Central California edition highlights accessible trails, attractions, and lodging options in and near the national parks. This inclusive book is written for wheelchair-users and slow walkers. Moms with stroller-age kids will appreciate the access information in this guide. The author blogs regularly about accessible travel issues at



Kim Ghys Senior Account Executive


Things Everyone should consider

A great location like Lake County, Illinois should be at the top of your list. Conveniently located just 30 minutes north of Chicago, Lake County offers Six Flags Great America amusement park, more than 75 lakes and beaches, plus beautiful gathering spaces perfect for your big event. We also offer 60 hotels and three resorts. Choose Lake County for family friendly fun. 1-800-LAKE-NOW

Watch Kim’s Video. Kim has years of experience planning hundreds of reunions. Before you plan yours, visit to get Kim’s advice for making your reunion unforgettable.

5201 Reunions Ad 8.5x10.5.indd 1

1/28/16 11:58 AM


Emerson-Smith Family Reunion


his reunion will encompass our whole family who originated from the marriage of our great-great grandparents; our papa was an Emerson and our mama was a Smith. We charge by individual and family, and accept donations. Usually the president and the treasurer finance the reunion. I discovered this cool ice-breaker game that’s kind of like bingo. It has a series of statements, and players have to find someone who matches that statement and have them sign off on it. For example, players had to talk to someone who speaks a language other than English, or find someone who is left-handed. The catch to the game is that you can’t get a sign-off from anyone whom you’ve seen or spoken to within the last six months. The object is to get old and young folks talking to each other and learning about each other. The family reunion this year is in Indianapolis, Indiana, because everyone who attended last year was so impressed by what we did in Indianapolis that they voted to have the next reunion there, too. The year before that it was held in Virginia Beach,

Virginia. The whole family has a reunion every two years. Family branches hold reunions on off-years. At the end of every family reunion, we ask attendees to volunteer to host the next reunion. Sometimes we can get someone to volunteer and other times we have to coax them into doing it. Our family reunions can range from one day to a whole weekend, depending on who’s hosting it. We promote our family reunions now mainly through Facebook. The older generation felt it was time for the younger generation to take over planning, organizing, and hosting the reunion, so they can carry on the legacy of our ancestors. A memorial to our lost loved ones and a big old-fashioned barbecue are traditions. Reunion activities include an icebreaker game, basketball tournament, a forum for teens to talk about issues concerning school (classes, grades, future plans), DJ and a Memorial to those we’ve lost. Reported by Kiwanis Bishop, Indianapolis, Indiana

Rogers Family Reunion


bout 60 to 100 family members come together every three to four years to celebrate each other and the Rogers family legacy. We most certainly involve the younger generations. We felt that it was becoming too much for the older generation to handle as the family continues to grow. The last family reunion was in Las Vegas, Nevada, and the next one will be in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In order to get favorable participation, all family members

vote on the location, choosing from options that have been selected based on the drivability for the majority of family members. We change the location for each reunion so we can experience something new. The reunion becomes the summer vacation for most family members. At each reunion, we establish a committee for the following reunion. We assess family members an all-inclusive rate and pursue fundraising up until the reunion.

Rogers Family Reunion


Kids are involved in games as well as fundraising. They are assigned set-up and clean-up for various activities. We always have a formal Dinner Dance, bowling, swimming competition of some sort (Olympic style), miniature golf, card games, and sitting around with the older generation, sharing family history and stories. We end with a worship activity. Shared by Jacqueline Miller, Weddington, North Carolina

masterplan Photo credit Joseph DeMare

Rocket Man by Joseph DeMare


Photo credit M. DeMare

ur Mangefrida Family Reunions are fairly typical affairs. Every year we rent a pavilion at a local park, and every family brings a dish to pass and their own meat to cook on the grill. The elders tell stories about everything from how Italians used to be discriminated against to the time when Uncle Phil broke his neck falling out of a tree and then walked all the way to the hospital holding his neck together with his two hands. I loved reunions, even as a child. That may be what inspired me as an adult to resurrect one of my childhood hobbies – model rocketry – to add a little spark to our annual gathering.

Joseph DeMare preparing his rocket.

Photo credit M. DeMare

Rockets are inherently exciting as they blast off into the sky. Everyone, from toddlers to seniors, gets a shot of adrenaline watching a rocket roar off the launch pad and up into the clouds. Pushing the button to launch the rocket is a thrill for matriarchs and young nieces and nephews alike. Children enjoy chasing rockets as they drift down on their parachutes. I try to have two or three rockets ready each year, as some failures are inevitable.

Watching the rocket blast off.

Rocket equipment and supplies.

In fact, failures are often more entertaining than successes. One year I bought an elaborate new electrical launch system complete with flashing lights and buzzers. One of my young nieces stepped on a wire, rendering the whole thing useless. Unknowingly, we all counted down, the button was pushed, and nothing happened. I got quite a bit of ribbing from uncles and cousins as I frantically tried to figure out the problem. Finally, I drove my car onto the field and used a pair of jumper cables to launch the rockets. I usually use small hobby rockets, but one year I tried a four-and-a-half-foot-tall “adult-size” rocket that used an extremely powerful engine. The smoke and flame as it rose off the launch pad were truly impressive. Unfortunately, a gust of wind shortly after takeoff caused the rocket to arch over and head straight for a neighboring pavilion where another family was having their reunion. I went chasing after it, shouting warnings as it flew over the heads of our startled neighbors. It ended up taking a “core sample” (burying itself nose first into the ground) next to the parking lot. There is an element of danger involved because mixing small children and rocket engines can be tricky. We take all the necessary precautions and follow the Model Rocketry Code. We’ve never had an injury. Rockets also seem to have the magical ability to keep young people from scurrying off right after eating. I’ve heard teens say that they didn’t want to leave until “after the rockets.” Rockets are also able to draw people’s attention away from the screens of their electronic devices. If you add model rockets to your reunion, keep these things in mind. First, you’ll need a very large open area, far away from trees or people. A soccer field is the minimum. Don’t follow my example with the jumper cables; you should use an approved electrical launch system with a safety key. Also, you should have some experience before you try out your rockets in front of the crowd. Model rocketry takes some skill. It’s not like shooting off fireworks. Be sensitive to the needs of any reunion participants who suffer from PTSD. They may be uncomfortable around rockets. If there’s too much wind or rain, cancel the launch, just like they do at NASA. Finally, make sure there are no rules prohibiting rocket launches at your venue. The last time I brought my rockets to our reunion, a young third- or fourth-cousin started telling me about HIS model rocket collection. I’m hoping that, as the years go on, there will be other Mangefridas shooting for the sky. Reported by Joseph DeMare, Bowling Green, Ohio REUNION CELEBRATIONS SEPTEMBER 2017 v REUNIONS 21


National Tate Family Association family reunion


ore than 800 participated in the National Tate Family Association’s (NTFA) 2016 Tate Family Reunion in Burlington, North Carolina. “Our ancestors originally settled in Alamance County, but multiplied into the thousands and spread far across the United States,” said reunion organizer and genealogist Andrea Tate. “Some connected branches include Holt, Isley, Mebane, Tarpley, Thompson, Turner, Walker, Wiley, Wilson and Willis.” Tate explained, “Many of our family elders expressed a desire to learn more about their family and rediscover distant relatives. So we started a plan to reunite family branches that had lost contact over the past century.” A Diamond Jubilee celebration of family members 65 years of age was highlighted at the official Friday meet-and-greet. Saturday was the family’s main festive gathering at Burlington City Park’s Thataways Youth Center, and featured Southern barbecue, music, entertainment, games and presentations. Saturday evening was the signature event, the Family & Friends White Affair, including a silent auction, dancing, buffet and open bar. Sunday family fellowship was at Arches Grove United Church of Christ in Burlington, with a spirit-filled worship service led by Pastor Michael Thompson. After the service, family members enjoyed a farewell dinner. Visit to learn more about the National Tate Family Association, or about descendants of Haywood Tate and Edith Wilson Tate. From a report by Dr. Andrea “Andy” Tate, Colonia, New Jersey

Welcome to the Tate Family Reunion

Hannibal Creft Stateman Family Reunion

Hannibal Creft Stateman Family Reunion in Kissimmee, Florida.

Hannibal Creft Stateman Family Reunion in Kissimmee, Florida.


t each Hannibal Creft Stateman Family Reunion, the location for the next reunion is chosen at the family reunion meeting, and is symbolized by our traditional passing of two candles between this year’s host and next year’s host. The family is 22 REUNIONS v

together from Thursday evening to midday Sunday. Activities include a meet-and-greet, picnic, talent show, dinner and dance, and worship. Reported by Jacqueline Harvey, Kissimmee, Florida


Vary Family Reunion


e’ll be trying to cover all the bases for the 100th Vary Family Reunion! The first in 1918 was in the Upstate New York region where the family settled, a tradition carried on annually. The site has changed over time, but always along the NY Route 12 corridor. Reunions are promoted by newsletter, email, Facebook, word-of-mouth, and an announcement in the local newspaper a few weeks before the reunion. A yearly newsletter and invitation are sent by post and/or email and posted on the Vary Family Facebook page. There are also periodic email notifications of deaths in the family. Everyone is so excited about being together again that they all get involved upon arrival. Newcomers are welcomed immediately and invited to share their contact and genealogy information with the historian to see where they “fit” in the family! The reunion is supported by contributions

The oldest member: Irene Vary Manzer, 100 years old! Irene was at the first Vary Family Reunion in 1918 and plans to attend the 100th next year! Standing behind her (L to R) are Helen and Brian Vary of South Perth, Western Australia (who showed up “to meet their Vary cousins in America!” And they were not disappointed!) and Irene’s daughters, Sally Manzer Roseboom and Ruth Manzer Zubrzycki.

from individuals plus an annual auction and donations in memory of family members who have died. We have a treasurer, but the expenditures are approved by the president and the reunion body. Reunion activities include a Cemetery Association meeting, social hour, review of family archives (photos, genealogy, memorabilia, historical records), recognition of the oldest man, oldest woman and youngest child present; recognition of person/s who traveled farthest, M&M guessing game and potluck picnic meal. The business meeting agenda includes an address by our chaplain; the historian’s report of births, deaths, marriages, graduations, significant anniversaries, military service, and major events; a themed auction; and sometimes an organized activity for the children. Reported by Joanne Vary Schwandes, Silver Spring, Maryland

The 98th Vary Family Reunion in Carthage, Jefferson County, New York.


ere at Reunions magazine we often get questions from planners. We suspect that our readers, as always, have excellent ideas for addressing thorny issues and intimidating obstacles, so please share your experience: What are your reactions, answers and suggestions? Send your responses to


Joanne Vary Schwandes said: Our biggest challenge is doing most of the planning and preparation remotely, as we are mostly scattered up and down the US East Coast. We are looking for creative ways to involve the children in preparing for our 100th reunion in 2018 — focusing on family trees, interviews with their oldest family members, and recording memoirs. REUNION CELEBRATIONS SEPTEMBER 2017 v REUNIONS 23


Sowell Family Reunion


he Sowell Family Reunion gathers five generations descended from my Great-Grandparents. We gathered for years at the home of a family member in Davenport, Florida, but the group grew larger and we wanted to move indoors. We’ve met once a year since 1978, currently at The Yacht Club on Lake Ariana in Auburndale, Florida. It is centrally located for much of the family, and features a view and access to the lake, as well as a playground for the children. We gather on the third Saturday in June for a covered dish dinner and wonderful day of family and fun. Getting ready to promote the reunion, I always decide on décor for the room and then I design the invitation to match so that you get a little idea about what to expect. For last year’s nautical theme, I used a blue anchor on all correspondence and carried that motif throughout the room. This year will be country classic, with red gingham tablecloths and old-fashioned milk jars with daisies for centerpieces. We piped in music from the ’50s and ’60s, now that we have a sound system. We have a few key people who make sure everyone gets introduced. When we eat, we encourage members not to sit with the people they see all the time. “Let’s not sit at tables with our own families! Sit beside the cousin you haven’t seen in a year, not the cousin you had Sunday dinner with last week!” We pay for reunion expenses with funds raised from our raffle. I keep a ledger book and every receipt, itemizing everything. I also print a balance sheet showing what we did. Our budget is based solely on how much money we brought in. The first thing we do is pay for the room, then postage for invitations. Then, if there’s any money left I will try to do extra things like centerpieces (nothing extravagant — Dollar Tree is your friend!) and maybe door prizes, if we did

really well. I always like to have money left over. I like being in the black, not the red, but it’s a little trickier when you have an indoor venue to pay for. I announce the balance of funds at the end of the day, always verified by another family member. The raffle really gets everyone involved. Everyone is encouraged to bring items for the raffle table; tickets sell for $1 each. Everyone understands this is how we pay for the reunion, but you only purchase as many tickets as you want. It turns into a competition for who can get the best stuff first. They enjoy it so much that when we didn’t have it, members insisted we start the raffle again because they missed it. It came in real handy when they decided to move the reunion indoors. The raffle is all about fun, and we never want a family member to feel like they can’t afford to come to the reunion. For some family members it’s a contest. Some are getting strategic: paying $20 for 10 tickets now and the other 10 at the end of ticket sales. As with any family, some can afford to do more than others. I try to make sure that the kids have an opportunity to play together. That’s how they get to know each other and make sure the reunion continues to grow. We have little games kids can play and they love taking turns pulling raffle tickets and reading off the numbers. As they get older, I also let them help set the table. I’m the third generation to head the reunion, and I finally have a few nextgeneration members who have started showing interest in helping out, so I will be able to hand it off to the next generation soon. I ask the generation behind me when I need help with something. One makes sure everyone’s signed in, another helps with raffle ticket sales. Someone always double-checks the money count; it shows them what needs to be done. There are three girls I know will keep it going when I

Sowell Family Reunion in Auburndale, Florida.


finally quit. So far, they all tell me I can’t. It’s flattering, but one day I’m handing it off no matter what they say. I’ve said I’ll do it as long as they want me to and I’m still enjoying it. Sowell traditions include a family photo each year, a table of family photo albums and a family memorial tree. Each branch has a photo of a family member who is no longer with us and, when possible, a picture from a past reunion. Also at the end of the day members can take home centerpieces, which go quickly. I try not to do much more than the raffle because I want people to have time to visit with one another. This year, however, we are doing games. We have got six games of Minute to Win It! and will give ribbons at the end of the day for the top players. I thought it was a great choice because you can play or not and still have fun watching. This year I’m creating a memory book in which everyone can write down his/her favorite memories of reunions past. I will put the memories in a book, adding pictures of the person who is mentioned in the memory and a picture of the event if one is available. Reported by Pamela Trowbridge, Lakeland, Florida


Pamela Trowbridge’s dilemma: I need to know how to get help. The bigger we get, the more there is to do. I use our invitations, emails and Facebook to ask for help: “If you’d like to help out in any way, please let me know.” I get nothing. I have asked for suggestions for years. I’ve used a pad of paper, suggestion basket, suggestion jar, reunion surveys. I don’t get much feedback, other than “You do a super job.” I might do a super job, but I could do a stunning job with some extra help.



his year the Johnson and Barnes Family Reunion celebrated their 45th meeting in Virginia Beach, Virginia. In 1972, Reverend Monroe Johnson, his wife, and nine children had a family get-together in

Cleveland, Ohio. Reverend Johnson was inspired to broaden the reunion by inviting his sisters, brothers and other relatives. The Johnson and Barnes first “national reunion� was in Louisville, Kentucky.

Sims Family Reunion


ims Family Reunions are three-day weekends in Griffin, Georgia, where the last two of eight original siblings still live. In the future, I plan to organize a destination reunion to Alabama or Florida. A casino fundraising trip helped pay for the first formal banquet. I am the one who calls to check on family members each week, and saw the need for a reunion because we are losing so many relatives. Declining health also makes me value family even more. My husband is great at breaking the ice. We have people sit in different places according to a number we give them when they arrive at the park. They go to that table instead of sitting next to the people they came with. Then we play some crazy getting-to-know-you game. The family looks for me to plan the reunion. The first and last one was in 2005. I plan things for all ages: dance contest, arts and crafts, tug of war, card games, Family Feud. I am involving the younger generation. A small group of young girls help plan activities for the children only. Traditions include the meet-and-greet fish fry, and the cookout, which will be even bigger this year. Reported by Tamera Thomas, Locust Grove, Georgia

Since then, it has grown by leaps and bounds. The 46th reunion will be held in Indianapolis, Indiana. Reported by Dwight Johnson, Waukegan, Illinois

Caywood/Rutherford Family Reunion


he Caywood/Rutherford Family Reunion meets every two years at a different location each time. It changes so family members in different parts of the country can showcase their locations. The last reunion was in Baltimore, Maryland, the next is in St. Louis, Missouri. Changes provide a good learning experience for the children in the family. We collect dues and have officers who handle this. They report at the family meeting during the reunion. The reunion runs from Thursday afternoon until Sunday morning. Each host state selects their organizer. Thursday night is a meet-and-greet. Traditions include an update on the family tree and story time from the elders, as well as a family dinner and often a family church activity. We include all generations in all aspects of planning. Members are kept involved by e-mail, regular mail, a family reunion website and family reunion Facebook page. Reported by Arthetta Reeder, Shorewood, Illinois



Webb Family Reunion


y dad used to get the family together to have small reunions, and my cousin and I picked up where my dad left off. We found there were many family members whom we’d never met. To get them involved, we decided to take the reunion close to them! The last two reunions were in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, and Gring’s Mill Recreation Area in Reading, Pennsylvania. My cousin and I are the chairperson and co-chairperson; we finance the reunion, and we do fundraising and have a registration fee. We are working on creating a finance subcommittee. We promote the reunion on Facebook and flyers. We use tribalpages for our newsletter and they automatically send out a newsletter monthly. At our reunions, each family has its own color for their nametags. At registration, each person receives an index card of questions and has to find someone they don’t know to get the answers. An annual tradition is to introduce our members who are age 90 and older and give them a gift basket. Reported by Vickie McCain, Woodbridge, Virginia

Webb Family at recent reunion.


Vickie McCain’s challenge: The one thing that would be helpful is getting family members to pay their dues early and let us know how many people are attending. It’s hard to get accurate numbers for catering.

More Webbs!

Porter Family Reunion Family members chip in what they can.


usually start the reunion by thanking everyone for being there. I have been collecting family pictures and information and putting them in scrapbooks. I tell everyone where they are. Everyone has been really great about helping to collect the stuff. I’m now in the process of putting together a family directory. We have a Facebook page and have started a family website. Facebook has been a big help in involving younger family members. They have been great about passing information on to their parents and grandparents. My dad volunteered me to plan the reunion because he knows I enjoy doing this sort of thing. My 27-year-old daughter helps me. This year a 20-year-old is also helping. I hope they will continue when I’m not able. The annual reunion is at Rachel Baptist Church Fellowship Hall in Roaring River, North Carolina. It’s the family’s “home church.” Most of the family attended this church their entire lives. My grandparents are buried in the church cemetery there. I hope to have a family bingo game for starters. Most of my dad’s family are older and are not able to do a lot — but we’re working on it. Right now I’m just looking for ideas for things to do, and to see how others plan their reunions. Goal! I want ours to be something that everyone can’t wait to get to every year. Reported by LeVel Porter Parsons, Roaring River, North Carolina 26 REUNIONS v

And still more Webbs!

Love Family Reunion


he Love Family Reunion are descendants of Ben and Rosa Love. They meet in Greenwood, Mississippi, where the family lived. This is the first reunion. I just decided to have a family reunion so we can get to know each other. I was organizing a reunion for my dad’s sister and brother’s kids. This reunion will be for my granddad’s sister’s and brother’s kids. I’m the only one that will do this for now, with donations from the family. To break the ice, one person from each family will tell about their family — including mom, dad, sister, brother, aunt, uncle and grandparents. The family communicates by email, Facebook, mail and phone. They also promote the reunion on a Mississippi radio station. Plans for this first reunion include games for adults and kids, a bounce house, cotton candy and popcorn! Reported by Dorris Ellis, Detroit, Michigan



Slagle Family Reunion

Slagle Family Reunion in Franklin, North Carolina. The potluck is a great icebreaker.

Look at all those deviled eggs!


he Slagle Family Reunion members are descendants of Jesse Henry and Maggie Gillespie Slagle of Cartoogechaye (Franklin), North Carolina, married in 1888. One branch is now six generations from them. The reunion itself is usually only a few hours but there are dinners and other informal meetings both before and after. They meet every year on the Saturday closest to July 9th and depending upon weather, reunions are at the home site property in Franklin, North Carolina. Reunion planning responsibility rotates between branches … the oldest member of each branch “usually forces their grandkids into it.” While contact had always been by phone and email, now it is more often by social media. The reunion itself is fairly static though some members are trying to add guest speakers and other forms of information. There is always a potluck meal and games for the kids. Slagle reunion traditions include recognizing the oldest, youngest, farthest traveled and a memorial service. Note: Mr. Slagle had hoped to talk his family into scheduling the 2017 reunion on August 21st in conjunction with the Solar Eclipse, which should be passing over their area. Sadly, he did not succeed. Reported by Phil Slagle, Castle Rock, Washington

Shaw-Wilson Family Reunion


aSonja Hibbler, Mableton, Georgia, says no one else wants to plan the reunion, so “it’s been me and one cousin. The others just want to pay and show up. No complaints — because it’s worked out well.” The two cousins plan everything. Fortunately, the family goes along with it. Reunions are very informal. I keep receipts in case someone asks, but no one has yet. We charge a reunion fee and some family members also contribute extra funds. Fortunately, everyone pays their fees by the due date. We collect fees early to have seed money for deposits. I needed a way to collect the funds and get a good head count ahead of time so we don’t overspend on food and beverage. We have a meet-and-greet on Friday night and usually play a group game like Family Feud, Jeopardy, or Name that Tune, and 28 REUNIONS v

have a talent show and scavenger hunts. We want to try Minute to Win It games. We usually have a game activity (scavenger hunt) for the kids. Reunions last four days, and we move them from city to city every two years. We choose cities mainly on the east coast and in the south, because that’s where family is located. We have stayed in the major cities because there are more options for things to do, and family treats it as a vacation. The last reunion was in Atlanta, Georgia, and the next is in Orlando, Florida. We have started to involve the next generation — 20+ years — so they will continue to attend and not get bored. They have done the talent show and lip-syncing. We vary the activities every reunion — no repeats so far, but we probably will repeat the Family Feud game because it was so popular the last time.


Reed-Clay Family Reunion honors elders


he descendants of William and Lurah Clay Reed gathered in Grenada, Mississippi, for their annual reunion, a spirit-filled time of reflection, healing and joy. The story of the Reed-Clay family begins with enslaved Africans, Mollie Clay (b 1848) and Franklin Clay (b 1844), and Mariah Reed (b 1834). After being purchased, their final destination was the Grenada, Mississippi, area. Molly and Franklin Clay’s daughter, Lurah Clay (b 1875), married Mariah Reed’s son, William Reed (b 1870) in 1893. They lived in Hardy, Missouri and raised 11 children. A Meet-and-Greet was held Friday evening at the beautiful Grenada Lake Overlook/Sesame Street area. The family enjoyed the scenery, a carnival and fireworks. This gave family members a chance to get reacquainted and enjoy the fun of Thunder on Water. Saturday began with a family workout. Some members participated in a cardio and core workout led by Elder Derrick Reed at the Grenada High School stadium, while others participated in the Thunder on Water 5K/8K Walk/Run. The family banquet was at Faith and Grace M.B. Church. A resolution from Grenada City Councilman Lewis Johnson proclaimed the day as Reed-Clay Family Reunion Day. After the banquet meal, the family enjoyed a rousing message from Deacon Nicholas C. Moore (Grenada, Mississippi). Awards were given to graduates and those who achieved career promotions. Family members aged 70 or older were installed as Reed-Clay Family Diamonds and each was given a Medal of Honor in recognition of his or her life’s

Some of the Reed-Clay family at the farewell picnic at Grenada Lake.

journey. Additionally, the inaugural Sidney Reed Lamp of Learning award was given to longtime educators Bridgett Reed (22 years) and Vanessa Reed (29 years). The Lamp of Learning is bestowed upon any family members who work to improve their own lives or the lives of others via education, career opportunities or community service. Instead of a formal church service on Sunday, the family gathered at Grenada Lake for Praise on the Lake/Farewell Picnic. The message was delivered by Elder Derrick Reed. Prayers, praise and affirmations were extended, with each

family member declaring, “Shut down the book. Open His book so that our look can be pleasing to him.” The theme for the Reed-Clay Reunion Weekend was “One Spirit. One Family. One Love. WE ARE ONE!” Relatives traveled from Illinois, Tennessee, Michigan, Washington State, and all over Mississippi to enjoy the fun and festivities. The first Reed-Clay family reunion was held in Grenada, Mississippi in 1980. Since that time, the family has gathered consistently for more than three decades. Reported by Marilyn Reed, Jackson, Mississippi

The sounds of African drums echoed throughout Taylor Hall as the ancestral libation was poured. Libation is an African ritual and ceremonial tradition that gives homage to those who have passed on. During the libation, a prayer was offered calling on the spirit of ancestors. An ancestral shrine, which was the centerpiece of the room, honored three family members who transitioned since the last reunion. During the libation the oldest family member, Lonnie Reed, and youngest family member, Chase Moore, were acknowledged as the bookends holding the Reed-Clay family narrative together.



GLB Family Reunion


he GLB Family Reunion are descendants of Gladys Louise (Williams) and Ralph W Baker, Sr. Reunions meet in Pensacola, Florida, where the legacy began. A vote for the next reunion host is by ballot, choosing from a field of those who volunteer or are recommended. The GLB Reunion Planning Committee charges $75/person for adults (17 years and up), and $40/person for youngsters (6-16 years); children five years and under attend for free. Activities include a business breakfast, talent night, family worship and/or prayer service, and our traditions include a talent show and BBQ cook off. Reported by Shanetta Thornton, Pensacola, Florida

Reunion feather banner

Pensacola, Florida’s Minor League baseball team, known as The Blue Wahoos, is associated with the MLB Cincinnati Reds. Kazoo, the team’s mascot, with Shanetta Thornton.

GLB Reunion

Gary Family Reunion


he Gary Family Reunion is a spin-off from our Annual Labor Day Family and Friends Weekend. One Monday after all the weekend festivities were over, my cousin said, “We should do a family reunion.” Five of us sat down at the kitchen table to talk about it, and our parents heard us talking and chimed in. They were excited and gave us names of family members we’d never heard of. I looked up phone numbers and made a few phone calls and on Father’s Day Weekend 1998, the Gary Family Reunion was held. Almost 200 people attended, all my mom’s brothers and sisters, and even one of their uncles. We met many of these people for the first time that weekend, and we’ve stayed in touch. The reunion has continued — 19 years and counting. I send Requests for Proposal to designated cities. I select the location based on catering, park availability, and hotel rates. The city also must have activities. The last two reunions were in Jackson, Mississippi, and Little Rock, Arkansas, and the next will be in St. Louis, Missouri. The reunion is annual, so we don’t 30 REUNIONS v

publicize much. A Facebook page and website have replaced newsletter communication. We do a lot of group texts. We mail only about five letters to those who don’t use social media or a cell phone — our most senior family members. We use children everywhere we can: planning, set-up, breakdown, cooking, serving food. They also give us ideas for activities. They help at the registration table, read poems at the banquet, and are bingo callers. Everywhere we can, we use them. Our children have helped from Day One. They help design t-shirts, organize activities, help clean the park, and are part of the planning meetings. Each year at the reunion meeting, we open the floor to other people hosting the reunion. The reunion is still overseen by a committee. Every reunion begins and ends with prayer. We have family game night. Family Reunion Bingo requires everyone to get up and move around the room to get their cards filled out. We also have color-coded tables: Each

person pulls a color when he checks in, and the table of that color is where he will sit. This breaks up groups that traveled together. We also play team games according to the color coding, not by family. Saturday includes an activity — a visit to a black history museum, amusement park or skating rink. We also have a family banquet on Sunday. We alternate each year to attend a local church or have the church service included in the banquet/luncheon. We also have an awards banquet. Reported by Angela Miller, Prescott Valley, Arizona


Angela Miller’s dilemma, which could “afflict” other reunion planners! In the scheme of things, I wish I could find some day laborers to help with all the stuff I have to do. Although my family helps, it would be nice if we could just show up to the reunion and enjoy it with less or no work.

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Arce Family (dream) Reunion


ur family came from Puerto Rico but many members had never been there, or had not gone back in years. When my mom passed away after the last reunion, I vowed to take the family back to our heritage. I had no idea how many would participate, but I dreamed big. My goal was 100, but I was excited by 50. We spent four fabulous days in Anasco, Puerto Rico, right on the beach. Each day was an adventure. Day 1 was a meet-and-greet with a typical Pinchos lunch (chicken kabobs). In each villa we placed shirts, drink koozies, backpacks, beach towels, name badges, and a welcome package for each person. After settling in, we celebrated our traditional birthday party. Since we live in different parts of the world and can’t ever celebrate birthdays together, we do it at reunions — complete with cake, photo booth, decorations, music and gifts. The theme was “Favorite Reunion Tee Shirts Night.” It was beautiful to see all the past reunion t-shirts. At the end we had a bonfire on the beach and lit sparklers for the ones who couldn’t make it. Day 2 Pasa Dia (day trip): Three school buses full. I took my family on a private tour of some of the most beautiful places in Puerto Rico — San Sebastian Market, Gozalandia (waterfall), Statue of Christopher Columbus, Cueva del Indio (a cave), El Tunnel Guajataca en Isabela PR and its amazing beach (an old sugar cane plantation), lots of history and lots of memories. Back at the villas, the caterers were preparing dinner for our family Trivia and Picture show.

After a largo dia take a romantico stroll on the Playa. Day 3 was Sunday: beach, pool, sports, activities, scavenger hunt, family group pictures. The best part of the evening: Our first Arce White Party, complete with our traditional Puerto Rican dinner of rice and pigeon peas, potato salad, Yuca, plantains and a roast pig on a stick. The dessert “Favorite Reunion Tee Shirts Night” and birthday celebration was a great way to start the was limber, which is an reunion meet-and-greet. icy in a cup with fruit flavors. As the family was dancing, singing, and enjoying the DJ, I sprang a surprise on them: a traditional group of Bomba y Plena to introduce and play Puerto Rican folk music. I gave out Puerto Rican flags and fans, and the night was a great success. Both young and old just The author’s grandson, Zadien Luis Acosta Aunt Hilda Arce couldn’t stop smiling, (age 1) with his cousin Sofia Alicea (age 2). celebrating Puerto Rico. singing, dancing, and being grateful. It was thanks for our family members who had truly the best part. passed, and to love on each other. After Day 4 was a sad one. No one wanted it lunch everyone packed their bags and we all to end. So many memories had been made, said goodbye … We are a blessed family. and some family differences had even been Reported by Loida Arce Acosta, settled. We had a devotion time to give Orlando, Florida

Arces ready for a bus tour.



Ballew Broaddus Simpson Noland Family Reunion


he Ballew Broaddus Simpson Noland Family Reunion consists of two families; the sisters in one family married the brothers in the other family. Also of interest is that the original members were children of slaves whose families were split by slavery and other marriages took place. The purpose of the reunion was to bring together the families of mothers on one side and brothers on the other side. Our 75th Reunion was in Richmond, Kentucky, and the 76th will be in Stone Mountain, Georgia. Sometimes we do a getacquainted family fact sheet, but usually people just start by greeting those they don’t know or haven’t seen since last year. A letter is sent yearly, announcing where and when the upcoming reunion will be held. We have an established Executive Board/Planning Committee. The board consists of President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer (present and all past officers are a part of this group). Once an officer, always a member of the Executive Board. Families pay dues for the reunion. Sometimes we charge for activities that include entrance fees. The organizer is the person, persons or families who invited

Ballew Broaddus Simpson Noland Family Reunion

the reunion to their city. Stewardship generally passes every two years through general elections at the business meeting. Children participate in age-appropriate games. They attend all Saturday activities and take part in the talent show and dancing. They also give speeches or perform solos on our Sunday program. We get-acquainted with games and food on Friday. Saturday may consist of a morning tour, depending on the location. Saturday afternoon is the annual picnic and the evening is the banquet/talent show/dance. Sunday is church, business meeting and family dinner. Reported by Gail Taylor, Lexington, Kentucky


Gail Taylor’s challenge: Our biggest dilemma is getting members to the reunion who neither fly nor drive. It is becoming almost impossible to secure enough members to fill a 32- or 52-passenger bus. Arranging transportation after a set deadline poses serious problems. Younger members fly. Many aged members who do not fly still attend the reunion.

Ballew Broaddus Simpson Noland Family Reunion volleyball game.

Newton Family Apron Exchange


he apron exchange is a relatively new tradition to Newton Family Reunion women. It started when one cousin sent a touching poem about aprons to another cousin on Facebook. It reminded her of how their mothers and grandmothers always wore aprons and how they used them. All the women get together Saturday evening — sometimes before supper, sometimes after, depending on when we can get out of the kitchen. The exchange is like a White Elephant gift exchange. Aprons can be new, used, homemade or store-bought. I have seen some that are well used and close to threadbare, and at the other extreme one that had sparkling lights. Each woman models the apron she brought and then picks a number to determine who gets first pick. An apron can be exchanged only three times. Sometimes we end up with one we like, sometimes we don’t — those come back again the next year. Some of our less formal traditions include going to the creek, the kids trying to be brave enough to go into the graveyard at night, or the older generation sharing their funny or scary reunion stories. Thanks to Leah Stark, Houston, Texas, and Libby Stark Sanson, Tyler, Texas

Newton Family Reunion apron exchange. Left to right: Carly Hinds, Pam Wildblood, Martha Spetz, Mikala Noonan, Irma Defries, Skylar Vera. About 35 participated in the exchange.



Baez 29th Annual Family Reunion


aez Family Reunion members typically propose three locations for the reunion, then everyone votes for the winner. Locations change from one reunion to the next. The last reunion was in Longwood, Florida; the next is at Summer Bay Resort in Clermont, Florida. The reunion is governed by a board and committees. Each individual family prepares one to three pages recording what occurred in the past year, for a family newsletter. They stay in touch on social media, by phone, and in person. A Facebook page is used to pass information to the entire family, and

conference calls are used to discuss upcoming events or other issues. One Baez Family Reunion tradition is introducing every person in the family, from the oldest down to the youngest. Each family takes a turn introducing their respective members. This can take more than an hour.

Activities include prayers for those we have lost, games, activities, skits and impersonations. Last year “Donald Trump” and “The Rock” interrupted the reunion. Children in the family participate in games, and also help set up activities. Reported by Jesus Torres, Woodbridge, Virginia


Jesus Torres’ question: We have busloads of family and would like to find family-friendly parks and/or resort hotels to accommodate us. Our reunions occur from New York to Florida, because it is expensive to go off the mainland. Some good recommendations would be helpful.

Growing trend in family reunions


ega family reunions bring together large families and are a growing trend for families who may not get to see each other as often as they would like. In many families, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles once lived in close proximity. But modern families spread out. Families encounter challenges when some of the relatives live across the country or even on the other side of the world. Although social media and video chats present viable ways to keep in touch, there’s nothing like being together in person. Family reunions are nothing new, but rather than one day spent at someone’s home or park, “mega” reunions are major events spanning several days at a resort with generations of relatives. Such gatherings are a fun way for distant relatives to reconnect and enjoy one another’s company. Tourism experts say large family reunions are a growing trend. Warm weather seasons are popular for family reunions. Or, reunions may coincide with milestone birthdays or retirement. Mega reunions are a great way to preserve family history and get to know relatives better. Such reunions are large undertakings. These tips can get families started. GATHER KNOWLEDGEABLE FAMILY MEMBERS

Some family members are better at keeping in touch, managing family trees, and updating databases. You want these people on your reunion team. CHOOSE A CREATIVE REUNION SITE

Consider all-inclusive resorts, cruises, hotels and ranches. Choose a location with a solid transportation hub. Traveling

during off-peak times helps save money, which makes it easier for more members to join the festivities. USE TECHNOLOGY TO STAY ORGANIZED

Communicating with potential attendees takes creativity. One of the easier ways is a reunion website. Social media sites have event functions, where you can create an event, invite people, and communicate among those who participate. WORK WELL IN ADVANCE

Give family plenty of lead-time. Send save-the-date notices at least a year in advance to increase the likelihood that people can plan to take time off, save money and shop for transportation deals. INVEST IN A PARTY PLANNER

A party planner can take the brunt of the responsibility off one or more individuals. It’s well worth the expense to build a party planner into the reunion budget for peace of mind and added organization. Found in SurfKY News from

Darden Rooks Johnson (DRJ) Family Reunion


he Darden Rooks Johnson (DRJ) Family Reunion location is chosen by the host of each reunion. And the person hosting the reunion is chosen based on experience and loyalty to family and the cause. The three-day reunion changes locations every two years, and there is talk of having a destination reunion in the future. 34 REUNIONS v

The reunion committee determines the price of the reunion based on the venue and events., a family Facebook page, social media and events with family throughout the year keep everyone in touch. Activities include a meet-and-greet, dinner banquet, a day of activities, a day at

the park, candlelight ceremony, business meeting, prayer meeting, and departure breakfast. Kids are encouraged to show their talents at the reunion. A tradition is the family historian providing information about the family. Reported by Deunna V. Bledsoe, Chattanooga, Tennessee

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C Lazy U Ranch

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C Lazy U Ranch is known for its year-round reunions of all sizes. From 10-95 people, C Lazy U has luxurious accommodations, limitless activities, gourmet dining & an amazing children’s program.

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The True Family invites you to the ranch that is their home. Here, your entire family will enjoy riding, hiking, swimming, climbing and sharing quality time, at a carefree reunion full of love and laughter.

The Red Rock Ranch is best represented in the reviews from our guests on TripAdvisor. They really do say it best!


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#1 on TripAdvisor! Remote ranch close to Yellowstone. Enjoy unparalleled landscapes, horseback riding, fly-fishing, hiking and delicious food all in the heart of cowboy country. An adventure you won’t soon forget!

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reunion venues

Tombstone Monument Ranch

Visit Lunch at the ranch.


om McCarley, Hutchinson, Kansas, celebrated his 70th birthday at Tombstone Monument Ranch in Tombstone, Arizona, and wrote this: “We had a large birthday celebration at the Ranch last year, with more than 50 guests, ages 10 to 75. From campfire breakfasts to games in the saloon, our days were filled with activities for all ages. Some went shooting, others horseback riding, still others practiced archery skills. At the end of the week, there was a fabulous barn dance in the new event center with a live band. It was an event packed with memories that will last a lifetime! Thank you, Tombstone Monument Ranch!” Visit

At Miss Kitty’s Bordello in Tombstone, Arizona.

Elkhorn Ranch

Elk Mountain Ranch

Horseback riding, hiking, blueribbon streams & amazing food. At Elkhorn you will find outdoor activities for all ages. Located by Yellowstone & surrounded by Gallatin-Custer National Forest & Lee Metcalf Wilderness.

Colorado’s Highest Guest Ranch. Unique for its spectacular location, horseback rides of unmatched beauty, variety of activities, superb menu and intimate capacity. Families encouraged to ride, raft and play together.


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Greenhorn Creek Ranch

Rankin Ranch

Your California Ranch Resort Since 1962. Offering all-inclusive vacations that combine the simplicity of ranch life, great horseback riding programs, wonderful food, exciting activities and much more!

Special memories are waiting to be made at Rankin Ranch. Located in central California with fun activities for all ages - horseback riding, hay wagon rides, swimming pool, children’s program and more!


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reunion venues

Lazy L&B Ranch


he Lazy L&B Ranch is well staffed with wonderful, knowledgeable and well-trained wranglers, cooks and helpers. Owners Deb and Jason could not be nicer or more accommodating. This was our family reunion (19 people), with grandchildren ranging from age 20 to five months. The ranch offered everything for all age groups. Meals were wonderful, well prepared and served. Our daughter is a vegan and had meals that were well done for her needs. If you love horses, scenery, rustic cabins and fun times, this is for you! The trails are great to ride for seeing fabulous scenery. Horses are well cared for and take care of you on the trail! Square dancing in Dubois was a highlight for young and old! Deb and Jason’s three daughters are wonderful with the guests and we felt like they were family by the end of the week! “The family dog and cats were enjoyed by our grands, as was the petting corral with the pigs, goat, miniature horses and chickens. The diverse landscape is hard to explain until you see it from the back of a horse!” Shared by Paulette and Phil Oinonen Stoughton, Wisconsin

Ready to ride!

Lazy L&B Ranch 1072 East Fork Road, Dubois WY 82513 800-453-9488;;

Oinonen Family Reunion


reunion venues

Cherokee Park Ranch reunions


he Morris Family Reunion reported that Cherokee Park Ranch was the “Best Family Vacation! We took 21 family members, ages 6 to 83, to this ranch for a big birthday celebration. It was the right choice for us. Amazing staff, wonderful owners, great food (too good) — especially the desserts, wonderful horses and horse program. There was something for everyone and almost all of us rode. We can’t say enough about the Ranch, the cute cabins, the scenery, the hiking, the music, etc. If you are thinking about a dude ranch reunion, this IS the one. We felt like family at the end of the week and were sorry to leave. Educated wranglers chose horses specifically to match our levels of knowledge. Step-by-step rider training and two opportunities a day to ride. Riding was incredible! Walking, loping and galloping. Across meadows and up and down mountains with incredible views! Last day we had a rodeo for everyone to show off our new skills. Kids were given awards. Bikes for every age to ride around. Plenty of fishing poles. Plenty of hills to climb, animals to see (even a bear!), activities to keep everyone happily amused, bonfires, skeet shooting, stray baby calf and sheep for kids to pet. For those who just want to hang out there’s plenty to do. Great reviews from my entire family.” Reviewed by Stanford and Sydney Morris

Morris Family Reunion

And the Evans Family Reunion also enjoyed Cherokee Park Ranch. D Cherokee Park Ranch 436 Cherokee Hills Dr. Livermore CO 80536 970-493-6522

ave and Terry Evans wrote that the family trip was a bucket list wish for the family. “It couldn’t have been more fun. Watching our whole family — grandparents, kids and grandkids — have so much fun was worth more than one could know. The ranch’s Prince family are so gracious, and made us feel like part of their ranch. The staff are very professional and will do anything to make your stay as perfect as can be. Scenery is breathtaking. It is so serene to ride to a mountaintop and see snowcapped mountains in the distance. Besides riding horses, there are so many more activities to enjoy. We met new friends here at Cherokee Park Ranch and plan to return again. Our wonderful vacation won’t be forgotten.”


e military reunion news

The power of a Reunion Profile We found the following advice excellent for all reunions and got permission to share with our readers. It is from’s newsletter “Salute.”


eunion planners should take the time to create a reunion profile, separate and different from the Request for Proposal (RFP), with more detail about the reunion. It is created by and for the planner and can be used as a reference throughout the planning process. About us: include average attendee age, where attendees live and how many typically drive or fly. What are mobility issues? What are attraction preferences of the group? What are attendee date preferences? About our reunion: When does the reunion prefer to meet? Do you have a color guard? How many buses do you typically require? How do you use your hospitality space? How many ADA rooms will you require? What night is your banquet?

History: Where were your past reunions (city, state, hotel AND date)? What were hotel, banquet, bus and registration rates? What was your block? What was your pickup? When/how did you promote reunions? Keep this information for EVERY YEAR. Use the last three years on your Request for Proposal. Next list reunion wants vs needs. Create a “wish list” of every bell and whistle you may want for your reunion. Next to each item, write “must have,” “should have,” or “nice to have.” The must-haves are your “needs.” Everything else is a “want.” What is on your list of needs? Airport hotel? Complimentary hospitality space? Free parking? Limit the “must have/need” list to four or five items, if possible. The trick is finding a hotel, attraction, or destination partner that has no problem fulfilling your requirements. The longer the list of must-haves, the greater challenge it will be to find a reunion partner. You might be surprised to learn that the top need for military reunions is to have suppliers “just understand us.”

Planners want the hospitality industry to understand why reunions are so important and what attendees sacrifice to attend. Thank you, Sharon Danitschek of The Military Reunion Network (formerly Reunion Friendly Network), for sharing!

35th anniversary of The Wall


Veterans Day Observance At The Wall


he Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) in Washington, DC, is commemorating the 35th anniversary of The Wall in 2017. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated in 1982 with a promise to never forget the 58,315 service members who died in Vietnam, and to honor those who served. Nearly 5.6 million visit The Wall each year, making it one of the most-visited memorials in America. Visitors are struck by the number of names on The Wall. The Wall of Faces effort is collecting a photo of each service member on The Wall. It personalizes the individual sacrifice by displaying the faces of those whose lives were cut short and whose families were changed forever by their loss. The virtual Wall of Faces effort received its 50,000th photo recently. Search to see what photos are still needed.

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Love letters to the National World War II Museum!


any reunion groups make a reunion pilgrimage to New Orleans, Louisiana, with a goal to make a visit to the National World War II Museum. These are some of the love letters the museum’s Group Sales Manager, Shelly Dupuy ( received recently.

On behalf of the 145th Combat Aviation Battalion reunion, our deepest gratitude for the museum tour. I can die a happy man knowing I saw the Victory Belles show. Please extend our gratitude to the very talented young ladies who performed for us. Please continue to offer this show to all military personnel, since non combatants will never know the meaning or appreciation of the freedom they enjoy in this country. Respectfully, Michael and Cathy Breaux

We had a great day. All the out-of-towners were taken aback by the museum. Everyone loved the lunch and especially the show. Thanks for all the help. Lloyd USASA Reunion Camp Alamo & CO B Reunion 2016 Vietnam

I’m writing to say “thank you” again for all your help in getting our group to the WWII Museum. Our time there was great ... there just wasn’t enough of it! We could have spent the whole day there if we’d been able to get that worked into our short schedule. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed it and talked later about hoping to come back again sometime. Our WWII gents felt so honored, and they all made arrangements to speak with the people there about their wartime experiences. Also, the lunch and show at the Stage Door Canteen was really the hit of our whole reunion. Those Victory Belles are something! I think that’s one of the best “off Broadway” shows I’ve seen. All of our WWII (and a few other) fellows had photos made with the ladies and came back with lipstick kisses on their cheeks! Mr. Mayes, our 95-year old Pearl Harbor survivor, and his sons had to leave for home the next day, and he still had lips on his cheek when they were helping him into the car. He said that might be the last excitement of that kind he’d get to experience and he wanted to make the most of it! I really appreciate so much your help in getting our visit planned, and wanted you to know what a success it was. Gaye Cline-Schooler, USS Enoree Reunion Chairman

351st Bomb Group at The National WWII Reunion in New Orleans, Louisiana.


e military reunion news

Veterans everywhere honored


ew Jersey Veterans Helping Veterans Nationwide (NJVHVN) was created by a group of dedicated veterans whose single goal is helping other veterans. They see a gap in how we take care of our veterans today. NJVHVN is a very focused group of veterans looking to coordinate efforts and gain support of veterans, business owners, community leaders and others to take part in helping veterans.


In these demanding times we are all Soldiers for Freedom. Soldiers respond to their call to duty, defending our cherished way of life. NJVHVN recognizes and honors all US Military Veterans, Reserves and Active Duty for their service to our country. They provide a personalized certificate of thanks and will send 1 to 500 or more at a time. Reunions or individuals submit the names, rank when soldier got out (NOT PAY GRADE), branch of service and an address to mail them to. Add a contact email in case there are questions about spelling or rank.

Certificates are usually sent by 2-day mail. Of course, they also make personal certificates. So someone can request a certificate for just one person. A grandchild could order one for his grandpa! Contact Jackie Mills,, for questions or requests.

Annual reunion honors sacrifice of POW, MIA service members


embers of the 560th Flying Training Squadron (FTS) hosted the 44th annual Freedom Flyer Reunion and 20th annual POW/MIA Symposium at Joint Base San AntonioRandolph, Texas. The event honored all POW and MIA service members from the Vietnam War and included a wreath-laying ceremony and a missing man formation flyover. In the years following the Vietnam War, the 560th FTS hosted Pilot Requalification for POWs returning to flight status. Their first flight with the 560th FTS was designed to duplicate what each returning pilot’s last flight in South East Asia would have been. Traditionally, each pilot completing his 100th mission or end of tour was greeted on the flightline by his comrades to celebrate his safe return. Keeping with tradition, the 560th FTS provided each former POW with his long overdue “fini” flight. Since the first flight in 1973, the 560th FTS has flown 198 former POWs. Following the wreath-laying ceremony, former POWs shared their experiences and lessons learned from captivity. From a release by Senior Airman Stormy Archer, 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs in Air Force Link 42 REUNIONS v

National Aviation Boatswain’s Mates Association (ABMA)


he ABMA was founded in 1974 and chartered as a non-profit organization. Operated exclusively for purposes beneficial to the interests of the nation, our Navy and the association membership, their dependents and survivors, with the primary objective of stimulating improvements in naval aviation safety in the “aircraft on deck” mode, touchdown to takeoff both at sea and ashore. The ABMA is comprised of active duty, reserve and retired United States Navy Aviation Boatswain’s Mates, and several associate members throughout many corporations. Check-in for military active duty and Department of Defense (DOD) civilian personnel on Temporary Assigned Duty (TAD) orders meet for a week for workshops. Visit Contact ABMA Secretary Doug Thornton,; 619-578-1523.

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USS The Sullivans DD-537/DDG-68 Reunion


uring a Memorial Service at the Buffalo Naval Park at the next reunion, veterans of USS The Sullivans will commemorate the 75th anniversary of USS Juneau sinking at the Battle of Okinawa. 700 Juneau sailors perished, including the five Sullivan Brothers. USS Juneau Association members are invited to this reunion. They will also commemorate the 20th anniversary of USS The Sullivans DDG-68, and the 74th anniversary of USS The Sullivans DD-537 commissioning. They’ll be honoring shipmate George “The Kissing Sailor” Mendonsa, Quartermaster First Class. George is the sailor in Alfred Eisenstaedt’s iconic Life Magazine photo of the sailor kissing the nurse in New York City’s Times Square on V-J Day. He was helmsman of USS The Sullivans DD-537 during WWII. Reported by Hal & Nancy Burke, Westmont, Illinois

USS The Sullivans WWII Fletcher Class Destroyer USS The Sullivans DD-537 is a National Historic Landmark (Museum Ship) moored at the Buffalo (New York) Naval Park. Class Destroyer USS The Sullivans DDG-68, commissioned in 1997, is stationed at Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, Florida.


Fort Monroe

Hampton Roads Convention Center

· Hampton Coliseum · Hampton University · Virginia Air & Space Center



e military reunion news

USS Hopewell (DD-681) Shipmate’s Reunion


SS Hopewell shipmates select the next reunion site at each reunion, which usually lasts about four days. The location changes every two years. Branson, Missouri, was the last site; San Antonio, Texas, will be the next destination. They have a website and encourage inter-communication by shipmates. They promote reunions on the website, word-of-mouth, and ongoing contact by the association president. The President makes most of the financial decisions, Executive Board determines financial policy, and Treasurer maintains the books. The reunion planner is elected by the Association body at each reunion. All family members are welcome and some attend reunions. Activities include tours, a Memorial Service and a banquet with entertainment. Reported by Doug Graybeal, Blue City, Missouri

USS Hopewell (DD-681) in Branson, Missouri

The Memorial Service was held at the Missouri Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the campus of the College of the Ozarks, just outside Branson. Front row, l to r: Ron Cailteux, Dr. Jerry Davis, President of College of The Ozarks, Bryan Cizek, Pastor Roger Ely, Doug Graybeal, RADM Jack Natter at the podium.


Shipmate Al Ickler (BM3) was the “Duck” driver for The Table Rock Lake Run.

eterans of the U S Army HAWK Missile System AADC & ADA call themselves The Hawker Reunion. Here at their recent reunion in Huntsville, Alabama. Shared by Sgt. Trapper, Spartanburg, South Carolina


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USS Forrestal reunion


US Naval Academy, Mount Vernon, a Potomac River cruise, US Marine Corps Museum, Washington Navy Yard Museum, and a memorial service at Arlington National Cemetery and The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. Heavy rains moved the USS Forrestal’s Memorial Service at Arlington National Cemetery indoors. Members chose their tours, but most attended the memorials, which required 12 busses to transport everyone. They also enjoyed their farewell banquet at the Hyatt. Reported by Edith Wagner, editor of Reunions magazine Photo credit Dean Miller

ircraft carrier USS Forrestal’s recent reunion commemorated the 50th anniversary of a fire aboard that ship that took 134 lives, injured 161 more, and destroyed 21 aircraft that were on the deck fully loaded for an 1100 launch that morning. USS Forrestal CVA-59 was operating in the Gulf of Tonkin, during the Vietnam War. A Zuni rocket on the F-4 Phantom aircraft misfired, causing the fatal blaze. Firefighters were among the first ones killed, leaving the firefighting to untrained crew members. Senator John McCain was a survivor. It was an event that set in motion many changes in how fires have been prevented and fought in ships ever since. The United States Navy uses the Forrestal fire and the lessons learned from it when teaching damage control and ammunition safety. The flight-deck film of the flight operations, titled “Learn or Burn,” became mandatory viewing for firefighting trainees. All new Navy recruits are required to view a training video titled Trial by Fire: A Carrier Fights for Life, produced from footage of the fire and damage control efforts, both successful and unsuccessful. USS Forrestal sailors return every five years to the Washington, DC, area. This year over 650 members and guests attended the reunion at Hyatt Regency Dulles International Airport in Herndon, Virginia. The program organized by Brian Forrester, for their five-day reunion included many tours, including visits to the

Members who have died were memorialized in ribbons and on flags surrounding a lobby pool at the hotel.

History of the ship and the campaigns in which it participated were laid out in a very large banquet room.

In anticipation of the USS John Young reunion


he 40th Anniversary of the commissioning of USS John Young, DD 973, will be celebrated in June 2018 in Mobile, Alabama. In anticipation of the reunion, planner Michael Trotta, Holiday, Florida, already has

ordered t-shirts, mugs and mementoes for members to buy ahead and help pay for the reunion. He has also ordered “Challenge Coins” that will be awarded to members based upon their participation.



Welcome to Reunion Resources! We encourage you to tell the listings you contact that you learned about them from Reunions magazine. And if at any time you find any info that is inaccurate or e-mail or web links do not work, notify us immediately at; PO Box 11727, Milwaukee WI 53211-0727. And by all means, feel free to comment and/or suggest changes and additions you’d like to see in this section. Reunions magazine will not be held liable for information presented as facts in these ads. We reserve the right to edit and/or refuse any material submitted for publication.


2200 Ninth Ave North, Birmingham AL 35203 Birmingham is becoming one of the most celebrated reunion cities in the southeast. The success of your reunion depends on its early groundwork. The Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau is here to help. For more information regarding reunion services, please contact the Convention Bureau at 205-458-8000 | 800-458-8085| fax 205-458-8086 SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 1

THE ALISAL GUEST RANCH RESORT 1054 Alisal Road, Solvang CA 93463 800-425-4725 | SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 36

COLORADO COLORADO VACATION DIRECTORY: Make your search for the perfect Colorado family reunion destination easier! FREE FAMILY REUNION DESTINATION LOCATION SERVICE: reunions/groupform.html We will then send your requirements to Cabins, Campgrounds, Vacation Homes, Lodges, Motels, Condos, B&Bs that can accommodate your desires; each one will email you directly with additional information. OR download our FREE Colorado Vacation Directory to compare reunion locations, which includes Places to Stay and Fun Things to Do.

ELK MOUNTAIN RANCH PO Box 910, Buena Vista CO 81211 800-432-8812 | 719-539-4430 | SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 37



PO Box 379 Granby CO 80446 970-887-3344 | SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 36



9251 W Twin Peaks Road, Tucson AZ 85743 888-977-2624 | SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 36

ARKANSAS Plan your next reunion in Arkansas. Fun activities,

comfortable facilities, beautiful surroundings and great food at reasonable rates are just a few reasons. Enjoy great mountain views, crystal clear waters and plush forests to explore. Rest at our lodges, cabins, hotels, bed and breakfasts or other facilities. As for activities, you can dig for diamonds, relax at the spa, hike a trail, play a round of golf and visit any of our 52 state parks. FIND OUT MORE BY VISITING OR EMAIL SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 2


PO Box 36 HP, Caliente CA 93518 | 661-867-2511 fax 661-867-0105 | SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 37


2116 Greenhorn Ranch Rd, Quincy CA 95971 800-334-6939 | SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 37


Host your reunion at beautiful Holiday Inn San Diego Bayside across from San Diego Bay. Experienced staff will assist you to create a very special event. Complimentary hospitality suite. Special reunion rates. Beautiful guest rooms, heated pool, spa, shuffleboard, ping-pong, exercise room, family restaurant (kids 19 + under stay free, up to 4 kids 12 + under per dining adult eat free). Free: airport shuttle, Happy Hour appetizers (Mon-Fri), Keurig coffee makers, refrigerators, hair dryers. Parking fee may be reduced/waived. 4875 N Harbor Drive, San Diego CA 92106 619-224-3621; 800-650-6660; fax 619-224-1787. Contact SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 10 AND OUR VIDEO ONLINE! 46 REUNIONS v

436 Cherokee Hills Drive, Livermore CO 80536 970-493-6522 | SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 36

YMCA OF THE ROCKIES has two Colorado destinations – Estes Park Center and Snow Mountain Ranch near Winter Park-where your family can reconnect, relax and enjoy group activities. A variety of affordable lodging is available, from individual lodge rooms to a 16-bedroom cabin. Activities include zip line, horseback riding and guided hikes. (800) 777-9622

FLORIDA HOLIDAY INN St. Petersburg N/ Clearwater 3535 Ulmerton Road, Clearwater FL 33762 727-577-9100 | fax 727-573-5022. Centrally located in the heart of Pinellas County and minutes from area attractions and gulf beaches. 173 Completely Renovated Rooms; 2 King Suites. Room amenities include: keurig coffee maker, mini refrigerator, microwave, hair dryer, iron and ironing board. Aviators Tavern – Bar &Restaurant. 4,500 sq ft of banquet space up to 200 guests. Outdoor saltwater pool and whirlpool. Complimentary airport shuttle. Reunions are our specialty!

SOUTH WALTON, FLORIDA Hold your next event in South Walton, Florida. Twenty-six miles of sugar-white sand beaches and diverse accommodations along the coast of South Walton have beckoned visitors for generations, offering an upscale yet relaxing place to unwind. Distinguished facilities, award-winning accommodations, gourmet dining and unique teambuilding activities set South Walton apart from other coastal reunion destinations. Whether your group is traveling by car or air, getting here is easy. Find your perfect beach. Contact Dawn Truemper | SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 31

GEORGIA CALLAWAY RESORT & GARDENS offers exciting activities and seasonal events for all ages, plus exceptional accommodations and cuisine. A Family Summer Camp, golf, spa, butterfly center, biking, fishing and much more! Daily Gardens Admission INCLUDED in overnight stays is the top-rated benefit for our Reunion Guests! Ask about our remarkable reunion packages when you call. 60 minutes from the ATL International Airport in beautiful Pine Mountain GA 31822. Unplug, then reconnect. (844) 366-8899 |

ILLINOIS Plan an unforgettable reunion in Lake County, Illinois — We’ll work together to help you plan a family experience that lets you explore all the excitement of Lake County. From entertaining attractions like Six Flags to our convenient, centralized location close to Chicago, there are so many reasons to choose Lake County for family friendly fun. For free Reunion Planning Assistance call or email us with your reunion planning questions. 800-LAKE-NOW | SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 19

LOUISIANA ATTRACTION Make your family or military reunion a unique and memorable occasion at The National WWII Museum! Ranked the #1 attraction in New Orleans, this remarkable venue is an incomparable experience for all generations. Customize your reunion with a guided group tour, live Stage Door Canteen lunch or dinner show, and more!

The National WWII Museum

945 Magazine Street, New Orleans LA 70130 877-813-3329 x222

MAINE HILTON GARDEN INN AUBURN INN RIVERWATCH Discover your Maine Thing! Boasting a beautiful location overlooking the Androscoggin River, Hilton Garden Inn Auburn Riverwatch is a destination all on its own. With the ability to offer over 4,500 sq. ft. of flexible conference space you will find everything you need in one place…including fresh lobsters! Experience deluxe accommodations and friendly service from a seasoned staff of professionals. You can count on us to ensure your next reunion is a success! 14 Great Falls Plaza, Auburn ME 04210 207-784-4433 | fax 207-777-7328

HAMPTON by HILTON LEWISTON-AUBURN Hampton by Hilton Lewiston-Auburn is the area’s newest hotel, featuring 93 guest rooms, a heated indoor pool, fitness center, 24-hour suite shop, complimentary hot breakfast buffet, Wi-Fi, and parking. In addition, the Stephen L Griswold Function Room accommodates private events up to 40 guests and even has a built-in projector and portable screen for your slideshow or presentation needs. Located in the center of Lewiston-Auburn, the Hampton by Hilton is within walking distance of many local restaurants, shops, and special events. 15 Lincoln St., Lewiston Maine 04240 207-344-1000 | fax 207-344-1050

CATALOG OF REUNION RESOURCES MARYLAND UNITED STATES NAVAL ACADEMY Armel-Leftwich Visitor Center 52 King George Street, Annapolis MD 21402 410-293-8687 | fax 410-293-3365 |

THE DEEP CREEK EXPERIENCE Find the perfect reunion destination tucked away in the Appalachian Mountains of western Maryland. The Deep Creek area is a four-season destination with a bevy of outdoor adventure year round. Explore our cool mountain waters, whether it be on Deep Creek Lake, our rivers or waterfalls. Your group will love our location, central to several major cities (3 hours from Baltimore & D.C., 2 hours from Pittsburgh and four hours from Cleveland and Columbus). 15 Visitors Center Drive, Mc Henry MD 21541 301-387-5238 | fax 301-334-8073 | SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON THE OUTSIDE BACK COVER

HOWARD JOHNSON OCEANFRONT PLAZA HOTEL DAYS INN OCEANFRONT HOWARD JOHNSON OCEANFRONT INN Stay with us at one of our three Oceanfront properties, directly on the Boardwalk in beautiful Ocean City, Maryland. We have something for every reunion. We offer free meeting space with a minimum of 10 rooms reserved, as well as Group Leader incentives. Leave the meal and tour planning, and the Jolly Roger Amusements group discounted tickets to us! We are a full-service receptive, at no additional charge. Call Group Sales today at 888-465-3451

MICHIGAN DETROIT METRO CVB Host your family reunion in Detroit, America’s great comeback city. The Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau can assist you in planning to create itineraries, find accommodations, recommend activities and more. Detroit has many family attractions like The Henry Ford, Detroit Zoo, SEALIFE Michigan Aquarium, museums, festivals and outdoor spaces. For more information, call 313-202-1985 or visit

MINNESOTA DISCOVER AUSTIN MINNESOTA We take the “Minnesota Nice” reputation for customer service seriously and are eager to help you plan your next reunion. We offer FREE planning services and FREE welcome bags for all participates. Experience unique attractions like The SPAM® Museum~World Largest Berenstain Bears Collection~ Rydjor Bike~ Jay C Hormel Nature Center~ Nativity House~ and MORE!!! Enjoy over 60 delightful dining options. Relax and rejuvenate with nearly 400 hotel rooms. There are so many reasons for all seasons to Discover Austin, MN! 301 North Main Street Suite 101, Austin MN 55912 507-437-4563 |

WORRY-FREE REUNIONS AT CRAGUN’S RESORT Since 1940 Cragun’s has taken pride in creating memorable’s why: 1) trained coordinator will help plan it all, 2) arrival “Welcome” and registration areas with planned activity agendas, 3) activities including golf outings, lake cruises, picnics, fishing contests, horse drawn trolley rides and more, 4) indoor facilities to ensure you a “weatherproof” reunion, 5) private gathering areas, 6) special celebration meals, 7) professional group photos, 8) and best of all, enjoy a safe, secure friendly environment. Come to Cragun’s for your reunion. Named “One of MN’s ideal locations to hold a

Reunion” by AAA. Call for FREE Reunion Planning Packet or visit: 11000 Craguns Dr, Brainerd MN 56401 800-CRAGUNS (272-4867)




7300 Aliante Parkway, North Las Vegas NV 89084 877-477-7627 | SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 13

THE BRANSON CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU awaits to assist you in finding your lodging for your next reunion in America’s heartland! Branson, Missouri, the ideal destination, offers live music shows and attractions for all ages. Family values and budgets are honored! Branson’s breathtaking scenery and authentic Ozarks hospitality warms you any time of year! Call Julie Peters at 417-243-2117 or visit our website at and request a Reunion Planner Kit. SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON THE INSIDE FRONT COVER

BRANSON YELLOW ROSE INN AND SUITES 3140 Falls Parkway, Branson MO 65616 The award winning Branson Yellow Rose Inn & Suites features 103 beautiful, soundproof ultra clean & very comfortable Guest Rooms & Suites. Enjoy the quiet and beautiful views of the Ozark hills from your room, our gazebos, or the outdoor pool. Free hot deluxe breakfast included. Elevator on site. 417-334-1717 | SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 5 CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO on I-55 between St. Louis & Memphis. Perched on the Western banks of the Mississippi River, Cape Girardeau is a small city with a big heart and something for everyone, from families to history buffs, outdoor adventurer and everyone in between. Consider us the prime location for your reunion. Call the Cape Girardeau Convention & Visitors Bureau 1-800-777-0068 or visit us online SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 35


ROCKING HORSE RANCH RESORT 600 State Route 44-55, Highland NY 12528 Imagine a private lake in the beautiful Hudson Valley, just 90 minutes from NYC. The Ranch is a scenic backdrop for families, offering over one hundred activities including horseback riding, mountain tubing, entertainment and much more. Savor 3 delicious meals daily, prepared by our C.I.A. trained chefs. Schedule your reunion at this TripAdvisor award winning resort. Contact Alison Herburger, 800-647-2624 |

SILVER BAY YMCA — Conference and Family Retreat Center 87 Silver Bay Road, Silver Bay NY 12874 Located on beautiful Lake George is the Adirondack Mountains of New York State. Introducing the William Boyd Center, coming Summer of 2018, with 22 air-conditioned guest rooms, modern meeting spaces, and a new dining facility. Call today to learn more. 518.543.8417 |

NORTH CAROLINA WILMINGTON AND ISLAND BEACHES Wilmington, N.C. and its three island beaches offer extraordinary experiences from the river to the sea, from the historic river district anchored by a scenic Riverwalk and 200+ shops, cafes and vibrant nightlife, to a vintage beachside boardwalk and Ocean Front Park. Get together in N.C.’s most accessible coastal destination. For group itineraries & events: | 800-650-9064




33133 Gallatin Rd, Gallatin Gateway MT 59730 406-995-4291 | SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 37

13178 State Route 664 S, Logan OH 43138 The Hocking Hills are Ohio’s natural crown jewels and the perfect location for reunions.¬†The region is a mecca for nature based recreation. World class hiking, eco-adventure tours and more than 50 ziplines. Luxury lodges provide private resort amenities for groups of three to thirty. Located just 50 miles southeast of Columbus. Contact Karen Raymore, 740-385-2750 | fax 740-385-1146

BAR W GUEST RANCH 2875 Hwy 93 West, Whitefish MT 59937 866-828-2900 | SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 36



4000 W Flamingo Rd, Las Vegas NV 89103 702-251-3560 | 800-331-5334 x 400 SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 13


SAM’s TOWN HOTEL & GAMBLING HALL 5111 Boulder Highway, Las Vegas NV 89122 702-454-8122 | 800-897-8696 SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 13


We are ready to host your next family or military reunion. Our staff works closely with the hotels, attractions, tour companies and you to provide exactly what you need to have a great reunion. Contact Christina Petro at 800-964-8600 ext. 3017 or by e-mail at to begin planning your next reunion! SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 5

9090 Alta Drive, Las Vegas NV 89145 | 702-636-7050 866-816-7111 | SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 13




4500 W Tropicana Ave., Las Vegas NV 89103 702-365-7050 | 800-835-2300 SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 13

CANNERY CASINO HOTEL 2121 East Craig Road, Las Vegas NV 89030 866-999-4899 | fax 702-507-5778 SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 13

Located just minutes from Dallas, Plano is the perfect place to stay. You will find unique and entertaining attractions, a multitude of restaurants for every taste and style, and all the shopping you could ever want, as well as a variety of hotel and lodging offerings. Let Shane at the Plano Convention and Visitors Bureau assist you in all your travel planning needs. | 800-81-PLANO | SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 7 REUNION CELEBRATIONS SEPTEMBER 2017 v REUNIONS 47





Planning a family reunion can be stressful, so let Family Camp at Mount Snow do it for you. We’ll take care of your lodging, meals, and a variety of activities so all you and your family have to do is unplug and reconnect. Everyone can participate – no one is left behind to cook or clean or prepare. A stress-free family reunion is waiting for you right here at Mount Snow. 800.290.1823 | SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON THE INSIDE BACK COVER

1100 N Glebe Rd, Suite 1500, Arlington VA 22201 Whether you’ve gathered to reminisce with your extended family, military buddies, sorority sisters or other very important people in your life, Arlington welcomes you with open arms! Step outside your hotel and discover our unique mix of history, culture and fun! Arlington’s vibrant neighborhoods are home to national treasures, world-class shopping, diverse dining and more. To plan your reunion in Arlington and the nation’s capital, call or email our Destination Sales Manager, Portia Conerly, at (703) 228-0873 or today!



CA Holiday Inn San Diego Bayside


MO Branson Yellow Rose Inn & Suites


NV Gold Coast Hotel & Casino


NV Sam’s Town Hotel & Gambling Hall


NV Suncoast Hotel & Casino


NV The Aliante Casino + Hotel + Spa


NV The Orleans Hotel & Casino


NV Cannery Casino Resorts



Mount Snow Vermont




AR Arkansas, The Natural State


FL South Walton FL


IL Lake County CVB IL


MD Deep Creek Experience/ Garrett County OBC MO Explore Branson


MO VisitCape Girardeau


TN Chattanooga CVB


TX Plano CVB


VA Visit Fairfax/ FXVA


VA Hampton CVB


WA Travel Tacoma + Pierce County



KEY BRIDGE MARRIOTT 1401 Lee Hwy, Arlington VA 22209 703-524-6400 | fax 703-524-8964 Contact Wanel Alford,

RENAISSANCE ARLINGTON CAPITAL VIEW HOTEL 2800 South Potomac Ave, Arlington VA 22202 Contact Chanelle Johnson at 571-814-4034 or

FAIRFAX COUNTY, VIRGINIA 3702 Pender Drive, Suite 420, Fairfax VA 22030 Enjoy everything that Northern Virginia has to offer. From the monuments and memorials of nearby Washington, DC to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center to George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens, Fairfax County is the ideal location for your military or family reunion. Call Visit Fairfax at 703-752-9509, and Dean Miller, our reunion specialist, will go to work for you! | SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 2

HAMPTON CONVENTION & VISITOR BUREAU 1919 Commerce Drive, Suite 290, Hampton VA 23666 Nestled on the shoreline of the Chesapeake Bay, Hampton is an extraordinary city in the heart of Coastal Virginia. The 407-year old settlement is rich in Civil War history and home to Fort Monroe National Monument, the largest stone fort ever built in the United States. Within driving distance of 75% of the nation’s population, getting to Hampton is a breeze, making it ideal for reunion groups. Contact us to learn how the “Honors Our Veterans” promotion can enhance your next military reunion. Netti A. Fulton, Group Sales Manager | 757-728-5324 | SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 43

AZ White Stallion Ranch


NEWPORT NEWS — Get closer to ships, history and

CA Rankin Ranch


CA Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch


CA The Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort


CO Elk Mountain Ranch


CO C Lazy U Ranch


CO Cherokee Park Ranch


MT Elkhorn Ranch


MT Bar W Guest Ranch


the great outdoors with one central destination: Newport News, Virginia. Get all this, plus Williamsburg and Virginia Beach, too! Whether getting together with old classmates, shipmates or relatives, Newport News provides the perfect location and services to make your reunion a success. We offer the best value and plenty to see and do. Let Newport News make your next reunion a memorable one. Call Andrea Moran at 888-493-7386 or e-mail her at to book your reunion today!

WY Dude Ranchers’ Association

36 -37

WY Lazy L&B Ranch


WY The Red Rock Ranch


WY The Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch



STAFFORD COUNTY DEPT OF TOURSIM Military Reunions are easier in Stafford/Quantico VA! Our lodging choices, complete with hospitality rooms, are as close as 10 minutes from MCB Quantico. Washington DC lies only 35 miles north. Enjoy 100+ restaurants, including the famed Globe & Laurel, championship golf, civil war military museums, natural preserves, historic sites and spouse-friendly activities.

Custom tours available. Plan now to see the “Final Phase” of the National Museum of the Marine Corps. Contact Lisa Logan, 540-658-4580, |

SUFFOLK TOURISM Reconnect in Suffolk. Small town charm, big city amenities and a short drive to beaches, historic treasures and more! If you love outdoor adventure, performing & visual arts, history, festivals, boutiques, award-winning eateries, nature and water trails, golf and peanuts you’ll love spending time with us. Suffolk Tourism offers discounts on group tours of the Great Dismal Swamp, Historic Downtown district, Cedar Hill Cemetery and our popular Legends of Main Street: A Suffolk Ghost Walk. Learn more at | 757-514-4130

WASHINGTON SEATTLE SOUTHSIDE REGIONAL TOURISM AUTHORITY The ideal location for your Pacific Northwest reunion, Seattle Southside offers convenient access to Sea-Tac Intl. Airport, a short Link Light Rail ride to downtown Seattle, and more affordable hotel rates to make your event a success. We provide complimentary welcome bags and more to reunion groups. Contact Meagan McGuire206-575-2691

TRAVEL TACOMA + PIERCE COUNTY 1516 Commerce St, Tacoma WA 98402 Our region serves up an array of activities and meeting spaces for your guests. The area can accommodate meetings and budgets of all sizes with more than 5,700 hotel rooms including boutique, limited and full-service hotels and plenty of meeting + exhibit space. When in downtown Tacoma, stroll across the Bridge of Glass displaying artist Dale Chihuly’s work. Visit world-class history and art museums, take a glass blowing class at a local hot shop and see collector vehicles at the largest automotive museum in North America: LeMay—America’s Car Museum. In the evenings, check out the self-guided craft beer crawl or stroll along Tacoma’s waterfront, enjoying regional cuisine. Chelene Potvin-Bird, 253-830-6615 | SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 27

WYOMING DUDE RANCHERS’ ASSOCIATION 1122 12th Street, Cody WY 82414 Helping people find quality Dude and Guest Ranch vacations since 1926. Let us help you find the perfect all-inclusive location for your next reunion call 866-399-2339 or e-mail SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGES 36 & 37

LAZY L&B RANCH 1072 East Fork Road, Dubois WY 82513 800-453-9488 | 307-455-2839 | SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 36

RED ROCK RANCH PO Box 38, Kelly WY 83011 307-733-6288 | SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 36


unplug & reconnect

Your all inclusive family reunion A summer vacation for the whole family! Enjoy fun activities, great food, and outdoor exploration • Packages available with or without lodging • Fully customizable, all inclusive 3-day, 4-day, or 7-day family vacation | 800.290.1823

P.O. Box 11727 v Milwaukee WI 53211-0727 R EU N ION CELEB R ATIONS!

Four Seasons of Reunion Fun in the Mountains of Western Maryland!

The Deep Creek Lake area located in Garrett County is tucked away in the mountains of western Maryland. Your perfect reunion destination is just 3 hours from Baltimore and Washington D.C.; 2.5 hours from Pittsburgh, and 4 short hours from Columbus and Cleveland, OH. With four seasons of activities including Maryland’s only downhill ski resort to the state’s largest freshwater lake, we have something to offer all reunion types, ages and interests! Let us help you plan your reunion and make it a tradition for years to come!


Visit our website to begin planning your reunion today!


Contact: Jen Durben, Heritage Area & Groups Director 888-387-5237


Profile for Reunions Magazine

Reunions Magazine Volume 27, Number 2. September 2017  

Reunions magazine v27n2 sept 2017

Reunions Magazine Volume 27, Number 2. September 2017  

Reunions magazine v27n2 sept 2017