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2019 Reunion

Jacobs/Neal Family Reunion

Fuller Family Reunion

14th Annual Military Reunion Planners Conference

C e l e b ra t i o n s !

Johnson Barnes Family Reunion

DeLeon Family Reunion

Vol 29 no 2 September 2019

IN HONORING VETERANS 365 DAYS A YEAR 15TH ANNUAL MILITARY REUNION PLANNERS CONFERENCE MAY 12-15, 2020 For the MRPC Application or a Reunion Planner Sales Kit: Julie Peters, CTIS, CEP at JPeters@BransonCVB.com


Stories you’ll share.


A reunion is a chance to reconnect on a deep, personal level, sharing the stories and remembrances that make you who you are. And Birmingham is that special place to reminisce, laugh, and love being together. Whether it’s family, classmates, or a military reunion, you’ll find you want to stay just one more day…in Birmingham.

inbirmingham.com/RM2 | 800 - 458 - 8085


in this special issue DEPARTMENTS FRONT WORDS – 4 Forever 29 …

ALUM & I – 6

Reunion Celebrations September 2019 Volume 29 • Number 2 PUBLISHER / EDITOR IN CHIEF Edith Wagner

A. L. Brown High School by Jane S. Parker Malden High School by Joanne Torosian

ART DIRECTOR Jennifer Rueth



Willie’s Daughters by Monique “Emjai” Johnson Salute! Georgia Burnette Elusive family mysteries Dig your roots from Thelma Jones

SCRAPBOOK – 9 Reunion School Celebration cakes! Going Down Home With Daddy, a review The Home Inside of Me by Kelly Starling Lyons

MASTERPLAN – 12 Warrick Family Reunion by Phalanda Boyd Mack Family Reunion by Mary Thompson-Jones Peters Family Reunion from Oliver Peters Brock Family Reunion by Annette Clark Jackson & Williams Family take over the Windy City by Francia Malone Talton Haywood-Suggs Family Reunion by Charlotte Lee Hardy/Walton Family Reunion by Erica Frazier Sween Family Reunion from Louelle Sween Jacobs/Neal Family Reunion by VLynn Sawyer Williams Family Reunion by Kandace Ward Austin-Withey Family Reunion by Marilyn Thayer Johnson Barnes Family Reunion by Dwight J.J. Johnson Fuller Family letters by Terry Davis Daisy Temple Memorial Reunion by Stacie McDowell Groshek Family: The importance of reunions by June Groshek Czarnezki Sumrall Family Reunion by Sylvia James 9 Sisters Reunion from Bambi Davis White Family Reunion by Peggy Peterson Miller Rainey Family Reunion by Michele Howard Reese Family Reunion by Elizabeth Small DeLeon Family Reunion by Rafael DeLeon

MILITARY REUNION NEWS – 33 Bravo, Branson! by Michael Trace Thank you from the Schwacking Kosovo Guys by Jeff Western National Museum of the US Army USS Inchon Association by David Fix

REUNION RESOURCES – 35 A directory of reunion-friendly places, services, vendors and products ON THE COVER Many reunion celebrations!

OPERATIONS MANAGER Karla Lavin WEB WIZARD Sarah Christiaansen HOSPITALITY ANSWERMAN Dean Miller CONTRIBUTORS Rebecca Atkins • Phalanda Boyd Annette Clark • June Groshek Czarnezki Donald Daniel • Bambi Davis Terry Davis • Rafael DeLeon David Fix • Erica Frazier Michele Howard • Nina Humes Sylvia James • Dwight J.J. Johnson Monique “Emjai” Johnson • Charlotte Lee Kelly Starling Lyons • Allie McCarty Stacie McDowell • Peggy Peterson Miller Jane S. Parker • Oliver Peters VLynn Sawyer • Elizabeth Small Louelle Sween • Francia Malone Talton Marilyn Thayer • Mary Thompson-Jones Joanne Torosian • Michael Trace Kandace Ward • Jeff Western 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 editor@reunionsmag.com. 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 reunionsmag.com for free offers. Advertising information contact Reunions magazine, Inc., PO Box 11727, Milwaukee WI 53211-0727 | 414-263-4567 editor@reunionsmag.com | reunionsmag.com. © 2019 Reunions magazine, Inc. 2019 REUNION CELEBRATIONS! v REUNIONS 3



es, we’re for sale. Advertising in print and online, eblasts and posts have long been among our sales portfolio but now, sadly, Reunions magazine is for sale. We will entertain any offers to buy any of our assets. Those include the magazine you’re holding in your hands or reading online, our online assets on the web and Pinterest and also our rich and lengthy lists of qualified reunion planners. Contact editor@reunionsmag.com, 414-263-4567 or write Reunions magazine, PO Box 11727, Milwaukee WI 53211.

up and those who have come to depend on us might be wondering where to turn now. We will leave our web assets online as long as we can and continue to add to them for the time being. We will continue to send newsletters twice a month, so if you’ve not subscribed, sign up online now to receive reunion news regularly. People who know magazines, know publishing, have wondered at how long we’ve held on. But it’s not been without sacrifice, and now financial issues which we’ll have to face head on. We have run out of time, but more important, we’ve not only run out of money but we owe a lot that will keep what little income FOREVER 29 … there is in For almost 30 years, jeopardy for the Reunions magazine has months and been the love of my perhaps years to life. It started as a come. Then, kernel of an idea and sadly, like so grew and grew. many other These two pictures are taken almost 30 years apart. The black and white taken in spring Hundreds of issues, publications, 1990 includes two who are still here while the other three have all moved away …. far thousands of reunions away. The second is our current intrepid team (left to right) Karla Lavin, Edith Wagner, Sarah bankruptcy is a and an exciting Christiaansen, Roberta McLoud and Jennifer Rueth. 2019 Photo by Ashley Glad Michaels. consideration. nationwide audience. It Not, of course, the way we’d hoped to go out, but a was added to the web very early when none of us, or reality that’s been biting at our heals for the last you, could even fathom yet what lay ahead. Looking several years. The sadness is one of a close family back, our web presence was rudimentary at best but it slowly disintegrating, but not without little glimmers was anybody’s guess what that was all about. Some of hope though not for the product. said: whadda waste of time! We thought: get a handle For all these years, our employees have all become on this … what a great way to reach our readers! Our close friends. The younger ones were encouraged to web presence has migrated from oh-so-simple to now leave the nest as their skills grew and their creativity hundreds of pages about thousands of reunions flourished. We stay in touch and get together regularly, presented in categories of interest to reunion planners. which I hope will continue. Perhaps most unique, we Then we added a Pinterest page with dozens of are mostly neighbors so no one will be far away as we boards featuring more reunion-related categories and each pursue our next adventures on someone else’s pins (ideas) that has become a great driver of reunion nickel. While neighborly and good, good friends, we planners to our website and the magazine. have never become so close that we spend a lot of But, as with all magazines, it has become overtime together outside of work. We’ve welcomed births whelmingly expensive to print and mail, and so we (mostly grandchildren), marveled at growth, cheered must, like so many other publications, face our future. graduations and advancing careers, celebrated We have always enjoyed enthusiastic supporters/ weddings (no divorces), mourned deaths and been advertisers for our issues, as we have with this one. there for one another without injecting ourselves in Advertisers paid to reach reunion planners and that’s each other’s personal lives. Recently, someone asked what we deliver. And because we offer a readership of whether you have to be a neighbor to work here and reunion planners, we have essentially provided the after some thought I said, “I guess so!” magazine and web material free to planners. And now, So the fact that we became a recognized national loyal advertisers are still supporting us, while some publication might seem a bit of a mystery but it was are looking to new markets, as they looked to an idea that took root and spread and was welcomed reunions for almost 30 years. by reunion planners throughout the land. It’s that I can’t deny that this feels like a serious loss in the phenomenon that always caused curiosity and wonfamily. Everyone is sad and lamenting an end, but der, along with working with both supporter/advertisnot without thoughts of praise we’ve received over the ers and readers who never knew that we were not years and a sadness that new reunion planners coming 4 REUNIONS v reunionsmag.com

Be in touch! Mail to

working on the product if that located somewhere in a fancy office Reunions magazine interests anyone. We will be updating complex but rather ensconced in a PO Box 11727 and polishing our mailing list (NOT converted living and dining room Milwaukee WI 53211-0727 email list) for sale. just north of downtown Milwaukee, And back issues we still have are Wisconsin, in the Riverwest neighcall 414-263-4567 FREE … speak up soon because even borhood. Most everyone walks to visit www.reunionsmag.com those will have to be moved beyond work and going home for lunch took e-mail editor@reunionsmag.com our control. If your reunion has no longer to walk than to the lunchbeen featured and you want copies room in most office buildings. for everyone, or if you want copies to hand out at your Longevity reigns. Once they started, they stayed. It’s reunion, or to encourage members with ideas to help comfortable. And, sadly, I have no idea what the cats you plan your reunion, now’s your chance because and I will do without the constant traffic of people later you’ll be outta luck. We will ask you to pay the coming and going. small amount of shipping. Contact Karla (414-263-4567 There’s no dress code and comfort has always been or klavin@reunionsmag) to determine the amount. the watchword. Once years ago, a salesperson started and boy, was she out of place with her fancy salesperson outfits, perfect hair and makeup and high heels! Rather than demur to our standards, she soon found this not to her liking and left. That was rare because over our almost 30 years we’ve really had very few employees. Most everyone has been part-time, mothers with kids at home and then in school, student interns who stayed on after graduation and subcontractors for specific projects. And so, we have several pleas for you to consider. HERE’S WHAT WON’T STOP First, don’t forget our amazing longevity. We braved We’ll try to keep these going as long as we can, so and survived the long economic downturn of earlier stay tuned and in touch on www.reunionsmag.com, this century when many niche publications managed to podcasts, ISSUU, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and soldier through with their dedicated audiences and Etsy. Reunion Reports: we’ll add your reunion report advertising supporters. Second, continue to visit our web, and pictures to reunionsmag.com as we receive them. Pinterest and facebook pages, which we will support as Reunion resources: listings from reunion hosts and long as we can and sustain for as long as possible. services; search the listings to help find places and And now, a bit of a BEG, which we’ve always venues for your reunion and follow links to their resisted but now given what seems like a last chance, websites. Upcoming reunions: we’ll continue to list we can’t pass up. Imagine this is our gofundme page. If them. Reunion Photo Gallery: add your reunion to the you feel you’ve gotten something from our efforts that hundreds of others celebrated online! Giveaways and has helped you plan and stage your reunion, we will contests! Reunion Freebies: we’ll add new offerings as thank you heartily for a contribution. Recently, we we find them. Reunionsmag.hotelplanner.com for free received an Etsy order from Joyce M. Rucker of Rancho hotel search. Myevent.com 20% discount for Reunions Cucamonga, California (near where I lived many years magazine readers. Monthly newsletters with news, ago!) saying that she was receiving a complimentary reminders, links and offers for your reunion so if you’re subscription and that she would like to contribute by not receiving it, sign up now. Back issues: as long as paying for a subscription because Reunions magazine is they last, we’ll continue to give back issues free for the AWESOME! Her emphasis, not mine. I have collected cost of shipping. Planning Podcasts: listen to reunion hundreds of pages of kudos and comments, only a few planning ideas. Reunion Planning Workshops: we will of which appear on our webpages. And it was often continue to add info as we learn about workshops. those comments that kept smiles on our faces and joy in We thank readers, contributors, advertisers, sponsors, our hearts to continue in good and not so good times. supporters and employees who have been a part of You will not be demeaned for shedding a tear with Reunions magazine over these 29 years for making this us, as we are very sad to be in this position, having to a happy, joyful enterprise. abandon a long-time love without an apparent final Reunions rule! EW reward. We are not above declaring that should anyone of you, or anyone you know, want to buy our product, we are eager to hear from you. We would love to keep 2019 REUNION CELEBRATIONS! v REUNIONS 5

alum & I

A. L. Brown High School 60th reunion


he A. L. Brown High School, Kannapolis, North Carolina, Class of 1958 held their 60th class reunion. 77 class members and guests attended. The reunion was a luncheon so members wouldn’t have to drive at night, and it worked out very well. Tables were decorated in green and white, and the theme was “Diamond Reunion.” A nice assortment of memorabilia was displayed. Door prizes were presented, and each attendee received a commemorative bookmark. Members of this class have been meeting on the last


he seashell exhibit is a tribute to classmates who have passed away. It has been a longtime project of classmates Sandra Sharpe Cody and Donald Daniel who keep it updated for the yearly meetings. Sandra hand imprinted the names on the shells and Donald made the back and painted the seascape in acrylics. They hot glued the shells on the memorial. When they started the project, the plan was to toss the shells into a small lake where they were having their

Thursday of each month for dinner and fellowship for several years. Then they decided to do luncheon meetings in the future to make driving safer for attendees. In addition, a reunion is held every October with a catered or potluck meal at a local park. This has been a way to keep in contact and update everyone on any news from the year. There is always a good turnout. Jane S. Parker (wife of a deceased class member), Salisbury, North Carolina. reunion, as they called out each name. But Donald thought they were too pretty and that Sharon “had worked entirely too hard for a one-time use.” For someone wanting to duplicate this idea, Donald says he made the display of one-inch thick foam board which is light enough to transport and stable enough to support the weight of the shells. This one has over 100 shells on it, each with the class member’s name and dates.

A.L. Brown High School, Class of 1958 photo exhibit.


he class of 1973 from Malden High School, Malden, Massachusetts, celebrated their 45th reunion. 150 attendees had a wonderful time re-connecting with former classmates at Anthony’s Functions in Malden. Some of the attendees keep

6 REUNIONS v reunionsmag.com

in touch on social media and in person. The farthest traveled from California. “Let It Be” by The Beatles was our class theme song. Shared by Joanne Torosian, Malden, Massachusetts.

branch office

Willie’s Daughters


ncestryDNA results to my utter surprise can allow families to welcome new members and change lives. I took the AncestryDNA test in November 2017. In May 2018 there was a sibling match. Her name is Tamatha (Tammy). I reached out online and asked questions. At first, she answered then, silence. I knew something was amiss. Did DNA reveal something unexpected to both of us? With a bit of trepidation, we exchanged numbers. Meanwhile, feeling confused and wounded I told my mother I have a younger half-sister who was conceived when she and my father were still married. They divorced when I was about six. I wanted to criticize and judge, but I never got a chance. My own mother said, “You weren’t there, you don’t know the circumstances,” back then women’s choices and options for birth control were very limited. My mother reminded me no one is perfect. I agreed with her, remembering my own mistakes, and quickly got off my high horse. She showed me how to move past my feelings and have compassion and understanding. I already knew my parents did not have a perfect marriage, but they loved me, and she reminded me of that fact. My mother told me to be happy I now have a sister, something I’d always wished for. The best gift she ever gave me was the permission to accept, embrace, and, most of all, love Tammy. Sadly, soon after, my mother became very ill and within months passed away. I know she would have loved Tammy. Once I got over myself, I wondered

Monique (left) and Tammy.

what it would be like to talk to and meet my sister. What would we discover? For exactly one year we’ve gotten to know each other by phone because Tammy lives in another state. We shared pictures and stories about our lives. I told her our father, Willie passed away in 1977, at age 41. He was a trailblazer, one of the first African American CHP Officers in California, and a good man who was liked and loved by all. We’ve shared many emotions, related to this discovery. We’ve had charmingly

awkward conversations some of which included heartbreak and shame. We cried, comforted, empathized, sympathized, shared truth, asked and answered questions, unpacked baggage, listened to each other and naturally, questioned our parents. Then, finally, we met for the first time. Someone asked me how it felt and I said I felt like a proud parent of a new baby. Pure love and joy. We embraced and I wanted to behold this beautiful woman who is my sister. The next day, Tammy, her son, my nephew Brandon and his girlfriend came to our family reunion in Los Angeles. We can’t go back in time but we are creating our sisterly bond now. Tammy took me to her old neighborhood and to the schools she attended so I could see where she grew up in Southern California. And forever more we will share bits of information comparing our similarities and every chance we get, to eat our favorite food, pancakes. Shared by Monique “Emjai” Johnson, Sacramento, California.


branch office

Salute! Georgia Burnette


eorgia Burnette has been a regular contributor to Reunions magazine over the years reporting about her reunions and about genealogy and history she’d been collecting for a very long time. So we were delighted to learn that Georgia’s “papers” were accepted into the archives of the State University of New York at Buffalo (UB). She explained, “That means that all my writings plus other life happenings will be archived at UB. This includes Burnett(e) records from The Black History Commission in Little Rock, Arkansas, Burnette Family Reunion reports (1970-2005), and the Burnett(e) Bugle newsletters.” Georgia wrote “I felt that too much would be lost if I just let everything I‘d written or accomplished just get thrown into the trash. If you don’t value your own worth, no one else will either. “First up, someone has to recognize that no one else is doing anything and go from there. But I have to say, writing the Burnett(e) Bugle was both a pleasure and punishment but a valuable document I think people will find they’ll want to see again. Also, I’m 90 years old and figured it’s now or never to get this stuff out of the house before the undertakers arrive. The dumpster is then not far away.” Ione Vargus, PhD, Professor and Dean Emerita and Founder/Director of the Family Reunion Institute at Temple University, often called Mother of Family Reunions, has also been responsible for sharing and archiving some of Georgia’s work. She reminds that Georgia wrote Bylaws For A Family Organization for the Family Reunion Institute to sell and that it is still their most popular product. Dr. Vargus has already put that, copies of the Burnett(e) Bugle and other papers by Georgia in the African-American Blockson Library at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. EW

Dig Your Roots


earn your family health histories in detail. Family history is where you can really create a personalized strategy for cutting cancer risk and catching it early. So next time you have a family reunion, gather information about who’s had what health condition and when. Gather on Skype or Facebook or face to face and talk about it. The Surgeon General’s Family Health History Initiative lets you create a personalized diagram you can download to your computer, or copy and share with family members to keep the information flowing. From an article on webmd.com, shared by Thelma Jones, Washington, DC.

How can Legacies help you capture and preserve your stories?


egacies, LLC | Personal, Family & Organizational Historians, The STORY Experts, offers Legacies On-Line Classes: The Making of a Family Historian starting in October. Learn how you can become a family historian at http://www.legaciesstories. com/classes.html

Elusive family mysteries


yHeritage.com has helped many families solve historical mysteries and now they are offering solutions to some lucky winners. They want to hear about your family mysteries that evade or perplex you. For the chance to resolve your family mystery, send details to their talented Research team at stories@myheritage.com. They say, they can’t wait to begin breaking through those brick walls! Could these be possible mysteries in your family? Do you have relatives you’ve 8 REUNIONS v reunionsmag.com

lost contact with? Would you like to learn the truth about a family legend that has been passed down for generations? Do you have old handwritten letters sent to or by someone you don’t know? Have you found an old diary written by someone you’ve never heard of? Are you an adoptee eager to find your birth family or a birth parent who wants to reunite with a child given up in a closed adoption? Yours could be the challenge MyHeritge researches take on. Share your story now.

scrapbook Most of these events are sponsored and presented by convention and visitors bureaus. Most are family reunion planning sessions, unless noted otherwise. Most take place on Saturdays, are free or at nominal cost. All prefer or require advance reservations. We add new events online as soon as we learn about them. Visit reunionsmag.com and click on Reunion Planning Workshops.

ALPHARETTA, GEORGIA October 19, 2019 Spring 2020 Contact 678-297-2811 | reunions@awesomealpharetta.com www.awesomealpharetta.com AUGUSTA, GEORGIA Contact “Cousin” Michelle | 706-823-6616 | Michelle@VisitAugusta.com GREATER BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA October 12, 2019 Reunion Planner Expo for reunions to be held in Birmingham/Jefferson County Contact Tara Walton, CTIS | 800-458-8085 or 205-458-8000, ext. 206 twalton@inbirmingham.com | birminghamal.org/reunion-planner-expo BRANSON, MISSOURI May 12-15, 2020 15th Annual Military Reunion Planners Conference Contact Julie Peters | 417-243-2117 | jpeters@bransoncvb.com www.explorebranson.com/groups/reunions CABARRUS COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA Contact John Poole | 704-456-7969 | John.Poole@VisitCabarrus.com visitcararrus.com CHESAPEAKE, VIRGINIA Contact C. Jeff Bunn | 757-382-1352| jbunn@cityofchesapeake.net COLUMBUS, OHIO Kaela Krise | 614-222-6146 | kkrise@experiencecolumbus.com experiencecolumbus.com/tours-reunions DEKALB COUNTY, GEORGIA Sep 21, November 16, 2019 Contact Penny Moore, Group Services Manager | 770-492-5018 discoverdekalb.com/reunions DETROIT, MICHIGAN September 28, 2019 Contact Jennifer Miller | JMiller@visitdetroit.com visitdetroit.com/event/2019-family-reunion-seminar/ FAIRFAX COUNTY, VIRGINIA September 5-8, 2019 (Thursday – Sunday), Army reunion planners only. February 15, 2020, 12th Annual Family Reunion workshop Marriott Falls Church/ Fairview Park, Falls Church, Virginia Contact Dean Miller | 703-752-9509 | dmiller@fxva.com | www.fxva.com

LAKE COUNTY, ILLINOIS Contact Kimberly Ghys | 800-Lake-Now (800-525-3669) Kimberly@lakecounty.org | Lakecountyreunions.com MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE Contact Holly Townsend-McElyea | 901-543-5320 hollymcelyea@memphistravel.com NEWPORT NEWS, VIRGINIA November 16, 2019 Contact Andrea Moran | 888-493-7386 | amoran@nnva.gov newportnewstourism.org PEACHTREE CITY, GEORGIA Contact Eric Matos | 678-216-0282 | visitpeachtreecity.com PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA May 1-2, 2020 Family Reunion Planners Conference & Expo Building Legacy Through Excellence in Family Reunion Planning Email to register niko@webuildlegacy.org | Facebook: webuildlegacy SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA Annual Family History Seminar Sponsored by the Greater Sacramento African American Genealogy Society www.aafhs.com/ SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER CITY, LOUISIANA October 5, 2019 Family Reunion Workshop and Vendor Fair Contact Erica Telsee | 318-429-0652 | etelsee@sbctb.org shreveportreunions.com VIRTUAL FAMILY Reunion Planning Workshops 3rd Saturday of every month September 21, October 19, November 16, December 21, 2019 Contact Niko Cook | webuildlegacy@gmail.com THE MILITARY REUNION NETWORK MRN Partner Events (days vary) SHREVEPORT, LOUISIANA | October 11-13, 2019 LAUGHLIN, NEVADA | November 8-11, 2019 RAPID CITY, SOUTH DAKOTA | May 14-17, 2020 MRN Educational Summit COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO | June 15-18, 2020

FREDERICKSBURG, VIRGINIA March 7, 2020 Contact Victoria Matthews | 540-372-1216 vamatthews@fredericksburgva.gov | www.VisitFred.com

Contact Sharon Danitschek | 425-501-1430 | sharon@militaryreunionnetwork. com | militaryreunionnetwork.com/

GWINNETT COUNTY, GEORGIA September 21, 2019 Contact Maurice Odoms, Reunion Market Specialist | 770-814-6059 maurice@exploregwinnett.org | www.exploregwinnett.org/reunions

ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO | October 13-16, 2019 CHESAPEAKE, VIRGINIA | February 16-19, 2020 SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS | May 10-13, 2020 BUFFALO, NEW YORK | August 30- September 2, 2020 ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI | October 18-21, 2020

HOUSTON, TEXAS Contact Neidra Billings | 713-853-8321 | NBillings@visithouston.com www.visithoustontexas.com/reunions/

YMRC – YOUR MILITARY REUNION CONNECTION Military Reunion Planners Conferences

Contact Debbie Stewart | Ymrcusa@gmail.com | ymrc.net www.facebook.com/militaryreunions 2019 REUNION CELEBRATIONS! v REUNIONS 9


Celebration cakes!


t should come as no surprise that many reunions include special cakes on their menus. When we encounter cakes, we often include them with the story of their reunion. This time, however, there were a significant enough number of cakes that we’ve decided to share them all together. They are all celebratory, acknowledging the occasion and sometimes special occasions. The A.L. Brown High School Class of 1958 was celebrating their 60th anniversary. The Jacobs/Neal

Family Reunion included a family tree cake but had a second cake celebrating all their June birthdays. The Jackson & Williams Family Reunion extended the Prom theme of their banquet with a large prom cake. The Sumrall Family Reunion celebrates their reunion in Miami on their cake. It is clear that cakes are, of course, always popular and a welcome addition to the reunion and that many bakers express their special reunion creativity in their baking.

A.L. Brown High School

Jacobs/Neal Family Reunion

Jacobs/Neal June birthday cake 10 REUNIONS v reunionsmag.com

Sumrall Family Reunion

Jackson & Williams Family Reunion prom cake

White’s of Bastrop Family Reunion

Groshek Family Reunion


Going Down Home With Daddy


Illustration by Daniel Minter

oing Down Home With Daddy is a children’s book about family reunions. Author Kelly Starling Lyons and illustrator Daniel Minter, focus on the importance of family, tradition and family reunions. A review in the Philadelphia Tribune by Chanel Hill quotes Starling Lyons as saying that through this book, she hopes children will want to know more about their own family history. “There’s an African proverb that says ‘when an elder dies, a library burns to the ground.’ The only way for that to stop is to make sure kids are keeping their family history alive. “Family reunions connect us and show that we stand strong together, always. They celebrate

the ties that bind us together. It’s a time together to eat good food and celebrate what makes you kin. Reunions are all about family roots, resilience and rejoicing.” In the story, a young boy named Lil Alan tries to figure out the perfect tribute to give his great-grandma for their annual family reunion. Lil Alan’s weekend is marked by memories connected to the land and his family, the living and ancestors who have passed on. Ultimately, he gifts a lesson that emphasizes the legacy of love that brings them together as a family. Going Down Home With Daddy by Kelly Starling Lyons (2019, Peachtree Publishers; $16.95, 32 pages)

The Home Inside of Me by Kelly Starling Lyons


rips to the country with my grandparents were magic. My brother and I hopped into my grand-dad’s brown Zephyr station wagon and rumbled from our Pittsburgh home to Gibsonia, Pennsylvania. It was just 40 minutes away, but it always felt like a journey back in time. As we parked and walked on land where wild blackberries called from bushes and a spring ran free, we saw the world through my grandmother’s eyes. Her parents owned more than 30 acres here, once named for her family – Woods Grove. They ate on dishes her mother handpainted and snuggled beneath quilts patched from fabric and outgrown clothes. Her dad cranked the juke box, so they could Lindy Hop into the night. Get togethers rang with laughter and love. Her words painted a portrait of relatives who left Alabama for a new start up North and found hope in each other. But right behind that memory was another story – a devastating turn that could make my grandmother’s voice crack and her eyes get misty. The land was eventually sold though she longed to keep it and pass it on. Her parents worked and saved, sacrificed and dreamed. In spite of the broken promise of forty acres and a mule, they owned land just a couple generations from slavery. It broke her heart – and mine – that their legacy was gone.

Woods Grove

But was it really? I began to ask myself that question decades later when my husband took our kids and me to rural southwestern Georgia where he has roots. We parked on land that their people had been on for generations and belonged to Native people long before. I watched my kids walk in the footsteps of ancestors and listen to cousins tell stories with passion and pride. As I gazed at relatives hugging and sharing, a realization slowly dawned. I’ve gone to many family gatherings and reunions over the years, even helped plan some, but this was different. From the pecan trees to the cotton field to the wood-frame house filled with knowing pictures, everything around us was part of who they were. Having a physical home place was a powerful connection to the past. But home wasn’t just in the

land, it lived in the heart of each person who remembered. I listened to the stories of my husband’s grandfather being one of the first Black men in the county to vote and could hear echoes of my grandma’s voice. I heard her share that when white-owned companies rented her parents’ land for events, they were always surprised that Black people owned it. As I savored tales about my husband’s grandmother being a teacher and herbalist who could make healing tea from nearby bushes, I remembered stories of my grandmother’s mom soothing her children with lullabies, sweet milk, tea cakes and loving arms. Then I looked at my kids marveling at the field that seemed to never end and saw myself. I was a child again standing on land once called Woods Grove that Grandma brought to life with every word. The legacy of my family wasn’t gone. Home endured in the photos we preserved, the food we cherished, the people and memories that made us smile and sigh. It was always inside us, there when we needed it. The magic lives on.

About the author

Kelly Starling Lyons is the author of numerous children’s books including Going Down Home with Daddy which received rave reviews. Learn more at www.kellystarlinglyons.com. 2019 REUNION CELEBRATIONS! v REUNIONS 11


How can we attract more members to attend?


his is a very real, live reunion dilemma of Roberta (Robbie) McLoud, a Reunions magazine sales person. She brought this common conundrum among many, if not all, reunion planners.



These are some ideas we’ve learned from others! Write a report from this reunion (soon after while it’s still fresh) and send it along with great pictures. Some people feel like they’re missing out. In fact, you can make a point of saying: Look what you’re missing! Or see what you missed! Or the only thing missing is you. Or enough description to make them wish they’d been there and make it a point to come next year. Do a survey. Ask questions to elicit answers about attendance issues but also about reunion plans, solicit suggestions and input. Make sure you have everyone’s emails so you can continue to communicate and save on postage. Be vigilant to stay in touch with the few remaining members who are not hitched electronically. Send a personal, clever save-the-date card to attach to the refrigerator door. Start a website to post news, announcements (births, deaths, marriages, graduations, retirements), pictures, online reunion registration. Members can charge fees and memberships and make donations to the reunion on myevent.com. How do you generate more attendance at your next reunion? I’ve already decided to send save-the-date cards. But that’s only a start. How do we encourage poorly represented branches of the family to be involved? How do we entice younger generations to come to reunions?

Start a facebook page for pictures, announcements, updates, polls and discussions. Start a private, member-only facebook group for younger family members (35 and younger) so they can stay in touch. Start an Instagram account to engage younger family members. Encourage cousins to meet socially outside the reunion to get to know one another better. When they come, make sure they’ll see themselves in lots of pictures. Encourage cousins to pursue like interests together. Go fishing. Play golf, softball, tennis. Camping, hiking, travel. Maybe some don’t want to camp but don’t want to say so. Maybe some can’t or won’t camp. Make sure they know about alternatives. Particularly for younger members, be very direct! Ask what they want to do at the reunion. They might well suggest something that would never have crossed your mind. If it’s what they want to do, do everything in your power to grant their wish. Do they want to go bowling? roller skating? to a ball game? amusement park? Send relentless, clever reminders. Need ideas? Look at Neal Family Reunion and Brandywine High School reunion reminders on reunionsmag.com and Fuller Family Reunion in this issue. Make reunion communications something members can look forward to opening.

Warrick Family Reunion


L to R. Dale Hayes (DJ), Ezekiel Platt, Darryl Watkins and his son Dylan (10), Dashaun Watkins, Jamail Jenkins, Caleb Jenkins. 12 REUNIONS v reunionsmag.com

halanda Boyd has organized four Warrick Family Reunions. Her late sister used to do it, then Phalanda took over to keep it going. She delegates and asks for help, suggestions and ideas. She sends a flyer, messages and emails. Then, leading up to the date, she sends monthly flyers. This year they had a call-in line, with an access code. The family gets together at her brother’s house in Ellenwood, Georgia, because he has no transportation and his wife is bedridden, Phalandra organized a clean-up and renovation weekend. Her brother’s house needed painting and some yard work so the latest was a working reunion. There are also games and activities for the kids. Reunions are every two years, over a three-day weekend; Memorial Day weekend this year. Everyone is asked to pay a certain amount which this year was $50 per adult. Reunion traditions include seafood Friday, BBQ Saturday, and dinner on Sunday. Reported by Phalanda Boyd, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.


Mack Family Reunion

Mack Family Reunion in Detroit, Michigan.


ast year was our first Mack Family Reunion in 16 years, since the passing of our parents. Our reunion is held in a park in Detroit, Michigan, where the majority of our third and fourth generations were born and live. Normally reunions are for one day, about six to seven hours. Over 100 family members attended last year. We’re trying to do something different this year by providing thank you bags to all our adults and children, with a little gift and information about our grandparents. A couple cousins and I also provide favors for the bags.

We ask for a small donation from each family member, to pay for our main dishes, and ask each member to bring a side dish. We have a get-to-know-you icebreaker bingo game, team races, horseshoes, chess, color pages, a dance contest, word puzzles, raffles, and prizes. We have games for the children and teenagers. This year we want to try to have our teenagers lead activities for the smaller children. Each family member brings a photo of their parents that are added to a memorial table. Reported by Mary Thompson-Jones, Detroit, Michigan.

Brock Family Reunion



uring the 45th Peters Family Reunion at Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia. Oliver Peters Jr., Leesburg, Virginia, re-created a 48-year-old photo. Back in 1970 his father shot the first photo of Oliver’s cousins on the Delaware River in New Jersey. 48 years later, Oliver re-assembled the same five cousins, same poses. Cousins are (l to r) Terri Kraycik, Jill Peters, Melanie Hayes, Nancy Rowan, Ted Kraycik.

he Brock Family Reunion chooses places that are centrally located for all family members, like Lightning Bug Springs, Concan and Canyon Lake, Texas. They have just completed their first reunion in over 10 years and hope to start Brock Lyle (3) is the holding reunions great-great grandson of annually again. They Ozzo & Evelyn Brock. plan long weekends, usually Thursday-Sunday and 60-75 attend. Annette Clark, Williston, North Dakota, talked with her husband about planning a reunion and, she says, “I somehow became the delegated person. I’m a planner by nature.” She hopes to be able to pass it to the next generation, as they are assisting her now. They have a BBQ the day everyone arrives, plan games and awards and have a memorial service. Annette says there are “a lot of laughs, a lot of food, a few happy tears, and more hugs than anyone can count!” Reported by Annette Clark, Williston, North Dakota. 2019 REUNION CELEBRATIONS! v REUNIONS 13


Subject line: h-e-l-p

N Q?

ina Humes, Upper Marlboro, Maryland, was faced with an unpleasant dilemma about her Jackson Family Reunion.

How do I handle cancelling a reunion that is scheduled for this September? (question received in June) My co-coordinator has not been active much until today, informing me that her siblings said the reunion cost is too high and that the program was “not a reunion.” I am disappointed and a bit angry that these concerns were not addressed sooner. I would like assistance on how I should proceed. Thank you for any guidance. So sorry this is happening to you/your reunion. Was this a first reunion? Or have you been having reunions for many years? That would really make a difference in how you approach your disappointment. In either case, and depending how much you’ve promoted the event, I think you have to make the announcement as quickly as possible. If it’s the first reunion, you might want to explain the discovery that planning the reunion was more complicated than anyone expected. If it’s the continuation of a long-standing reunion that has never been cancelled before, you may need more thought. I just hope you don’t stay angry because, after all, this is family and always will be. Did you ask if your co-coordinator’s siblings had ideas for cost and program? I’d ask for their ideas AND assistance, not just a negative response. And what does “not a reunion” mean? Have you collected any money? If you have, you’ll have to think about refunds and making that revelation in your announcement will be important. If you’ve made deposits, that may be where it gets sticky, because you’ll not want to lose that money. Hotel deposits often can be applied to an event at a later date; or, if you are early enough to be eligible for a


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LOOKING FOR A HOTEL? Let reunionsmag.hotelplanner.com help find hotels for your reunion. We’ll assign you a local planner in your destination. This planner will assist in negotiating meeting space, food and hotel room rate terms for your family reunion. They can also advise on what hotels have the best proximity to activities and dining. Get competing bids from reunion friendly hotels. Their services are free! Visit https://reunionsmag.hotelplanner.com/

LOOKING FOR A REUNION? Upcoming family, class and military reunions edited daily online @ reunionsmag.com. Add yours. Someone may be looking! https:// reunionsmag.com/add-upcoming-reunion/ 14 REUNIONS v reunionsmag.com

refund, otherwise expect to pay some kind of penalty. I think it’s probably far enough in advance to get refunds for activity or catering deposits. But you really must act quickly, because time is getting short. You can make your announcement short and sweet, with little explanation or long and detailed about what happened. Just state the facts, not in anger. I have no doubt many of your family members will be disappointed, so you might want to build on that and solicit their help/assistance/ideas for a reunion next year with a new co-coordinator — and be sure to check in with one another oftener! I’d love to learn what happens. Include me on the list when you send your announcement. Hope this helps. Nina’s response to our advice. I truly appreciate your response. I plan to move to new dates to avoid a high cancellation fee. I am hoping that will give any family members who may have financial problems enough time for them to make payments the entire year. I have received payments and I will reach out to those individuals to see if they want a refund or just keep it for the future reunion. The only deposit was a small one and I will check with the hotel about applying that to new dates. I like your idea about getting feedback from family members about reunion costs and activities, as they don’t know all the time and expense involved in planning and executing an event. This is our second reunion in 20 years. I was part of the team that planned the first one. I am in the meeting planning industry and I find that a person will pay for what they want to pay for and, based on the response I received, it appeared that the reunion was not a great value. Thank you again for taking the time to respond. More follow up … If I do postpone our family reunion until next year, what are the most popular times of the year? It may not be that simple. If you send the question “When should we meet” to 50 people, you’ll get 50 different answers. Offer a few dates and ask them to indicate which one works best. Most family reunions are held when school is out, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, though some schools are going back earlier in August. But many of the family-friendly choices may cost more during the summer season. You might want to explore off-season times that cost less. For example, business hotels are busy during the week but not on weekends, but other facilities may be just the reverse. Or consider places where high season is winter (ski resorts) and you may find big bargains in summer. Be sure to involve your co-coordinator’s siblings who have opinions you’ll want to take into consideration. For example, if someone indicates that your suggested cost was too high, what do they think is reasonable and are they willing to help make that happen? If the program you suggested was “not a reunion,” then what would they do? And be sure to recruit them to help you! It’s always easy to have an opinion but, as you know, doing the work is the important (and hard) part! Good luck!

Q? A!


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Jackson & Williams Family take over the Windy City

Brunch the following day was at Shepherd’s Community Church Fellowship Hall. The food was awesome everything from grits, made-to-order waffles to chicken strips, spring rolls and everything in between. As brunch came to a close, 14-year old cousin Taya Brown, read a heartfelt poem, about the purpose of family and a testimony was shared by cousin Yolandra Knowles. Both brought most of us to tears. After the brunch


he Jackson & Williams story began in the South with Willie Jackson, Sr. and Lodenia Williams. They met in Louisiana, married and lived in Clayton, Mississippi, for a time, then called Tunica, Mississippi, home. They had 10 children, seven of whom survive. Clara the oldest was first to leave Tunica. She migrated to Flint, Michigan, with her baby girl and husband, who shortly began working at General Motors. Three more siblings moved to Flint, while two migrated to Chicago and four children remained in the South with their parents. After the passing of both parents, the siblings remained closer than ever. A 2017 reunion was held in Flint while the 2019 reunion was in Chicago. When we received the reunion letter last fall, from the Chicago family, there was mention of a Prom. I loved the idea because I‘d never heard of a family reunion with a Prom. As the reunion approached, we were especially anticipating Prom Night. It would be different, exciting, and a chance to dress in formal attire. Also, a King and Queen would be crowned. Finally, reunion weekend! After checking in to our hotel, we left for the Meet & Greet at Aunt Pearlie Reed’s. The festivities kicked-off with a “Taste of Chicago.” The Chicago family had tickets for each person registered for the reunion. We could get eats/treats ranging from one to four tickets. Chicago Style pizza – four tickets, Submarine sandwiches – three tickets, popcorn – three tickets and chips – one ticket. We also received registration packets with itineraries, maps, t-shirts and ballots to vote for King and Queen of the Prom. The Meet & Greet was saddened by

Reunion sign

news that a relative had just passed away. We had a moment of silence, tears were shed, but in grief, we continued. After a day of mixing, mingling and the news of a loved one passing, this made the reunion, even more special.

Prom King Clifford Smith and Queen Clara Smith start their dance.

(Left) Terrell Reed, his mother Aunt Pearlie Reed and her brother, Terrell Jackson

Children of Willie Sr. and Lodenia Jackson (left to right), Kitty Gray, Pearlie Reed, Clara Smith, Noble Jackson, Walter Jackson, Leroy Jackson and Curtis Jackson. 16 REUNIONS v reunionsmag.com

some relatives went to the mall while others chose to relax until the it was time to prepare for the Prom. Arriving at Martinique Banquets, there was a beautiful marquee photo of Willie Sr. and Lodenia Jackson that read “Jackson & Williams Family Reunion.” There was also a red carpet experience and photographer to take photos. Each adult received a keepsake inscribed reunion tumbler and a corsage or boutonnière before entering the venue. Everything was top notch and you could see a lot of thought and hard work went in to planning the Prom. After dinner, special awards and gifts were presented to each aunt and uncle plus their spouses. The MC, cousin Rhoda Reed-Plummer, asked the family to join hands in a big circle to sing “We Are Family...” by Sister Sledge. Then, the moment we’d all been waiting for … who would be elected King and Queen. Before the King and Queen were announced, Rhoda stated that there was no competition for the king and queen. First the King was announced … Clifford Smith and then, the Queen,


Clara Smith of Flint, Michigan, my mother- and father-in-law … were crowned, followed by a special dance for the newly crowned royalty. Best Dressed Female and Best Dressed Male were also announced. It was a beautiful night and the food and the ambiance were top notch. After a long day and late night, Saturday was a free day, so we could sleep in late! Saturday we could enjoy Navy Pier, shopping, excursions, movies, a ferris wheel, relax, catch a White Sox game or visit with family. Saturday night, the family went to Tommy’s Place (a Sports Bar) for an Adult Mixer. A special area was set up for the family where light appetizers and drinks were served. It was a night of fun and dancing minus the little ones.

The weekend seemed to fly by very so the children will know one another, quickly. Sunday after breakfast, and their family history, and where they checking out of the hotel, we headed to a come from. I’m truly glad to see the family reunion picnic at Wicker MemoJackson & Williams reunions are still rial Park in Highland, Indiana. going strong. Even though they may not The picnic menu included barbeque, have a huge reunion every year, the corn on the cob, spaghetti, children of Willie Sr. and baked beans, green beans, Lodenia Jackson still meet potato and pasta salads. After every Labor Day in different the picnic, everyone hugged states to carry on the family and said their “I love you’s” legacy that was left to them. and goodbyes. Plans are in the works for the What started as a tradition next reunion in Tunica, in many African American Mississippi/Memphis,Tennessee. families seems to be slowly (This report is in loving fading away. Nowadays many memory of DeAndre Mario families only get together when Jackson who passed away there is a funeral. It is so during the reunion.) important that not only the Reported by Francia Malone adults stay connected but also Francia and Larry Talton Talton, Flint, Michigan.

Haywood-Suggs Family Reunion


aywood-Suggs Family Reunion committee members discuss possible places and vote to determine where the next reunion place will be, usually a place where several families live. Every third reunion they go back to their family roots in Paducah, Kentucky. Reunions are every odd year for two to three days; 50 to 75 attend. During the closing, the announcement is made about their next destination. They pass a “torch” at the closing night banquet to the next reunion host. Later, all paperwork (like attendance, current addresses and phone numbers) is sent via email to the host. A financial committee is made up of four people. Family households pay $25 per year for membership fees. They have a Facebook page to keep commu- Mildred Arnold (90), Paducah, Kentucky, who started the Haywood-Suggs Family Reunion, and her daughters nication channels open and stay in touch Alanda Williams and Susan Arnold. through email, a newsletter, and social media. Activities include a Meet and Greet where they play a “dirty” Bingo game that involves interaction and movement, a picnic, a Cruising down the Mississippi River on memorial service, businessthe Natchez boat in New Orleans meeting, entertainment Hermes Lee and grandson, Micah Anderson. and tours. Traditions include a family history presentation, recognition of first attendees and new members, a semi-formal banquet, prayer breakfast and passing the torch ceremony. There are outdoor activities like the bouncers for the kids. Kids input ideas at the meeting, they also participate in the history presentation assisting with the technology part or acting in a play. Some like to play the piano, trumpet, sing and dance Awaiting lunch on the Mississippi River boat (left to right) Joel Anderson (8), at the banquet. Lindsey Anderson (13), Susan Arnold, Nicole Anderson, Micah Anderson (10), Reported by Charlotte Lee, Jackson, Tennessee. and Hermes Lee. 2019 REUNION CELEBRATIONS! v REUNIONS 17

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Hardy/Walton Family Reunion

Sween Family Reunion


ardy/Walton Family Reunion location changes each time. The last reunion was in Orlando, Florida, and the next will be in Atlanta, Georgia. They meet every two years for three days (Thursday evening to Sunday). 50-120 attend based on location and other factors. Each family member pays for their participation. On the first night, each family member (18 and older) makes a blind recommendation for the next reunion location. The top 3 recommended locations are then placed on a ballot. During the family meeting on the last night, each family member (18 and older) makes a blind vote for the next reunion location. The location with the most votes, is where they go next. This process encourages each family member to participate without feeling peer pressure to vote a particular way. My family voted to make me president, wrote Erica Frazier of Alpharetta, Georgia, and the other committee members volunteered. The committee plans all reunions. Before, responsibility was passed based on the next reunion location. Families located in that area organized and hosted the reunion. Unfortunately, the family reunion was in jeopardy of not happening one year, when the host family did not plan the reunion and notified the family too late. As a result, the family decided to move responsibility to the family committee.

(left to right) Marsha Ryan, Louella Sween, Alaska Sween (kneeling), Dorsen Sween (15), Daniel Sween (12), Lorna Ryan, Natalie Ryan.


he Sween Family Reunion was our first and it was amazing. We traveled to Silver Spring, Maryland, and explored Washington, DC. We began with seven family members. Thanks to Reunion magazine which helped us get organized. The forms we used were amazing. This year we’ll travel to Alexandria, Virginia, with 14 family members. Shared by Louelle Sween, Saint Albans, New York.



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Jacobs/Neal Family Reunion


he Jacobs/Neal Family Reunion was at Blueberry Hills Cabins outside of Hillsboro, Ohio. In addition to cabins, there was a pavilion to use for the reunion. The family was together for five days with one special day of celebration where everyone was there. VLynn Sawyer and two sisters did the planning financed by donations from family members. There were games for kids and adults, food and fun each day, campfires, singing and a raffle table for kids and adults. In response to how the family breaks the ice to get everyone involved, the response was “The big mouth of the group yells, it’s time to eat!” In addition to the games and raffle, spending more time than just

an afternoon together were listed as reunion traditions. Being there for five days gave everyone a chance to come by and visit and over the days, 75 people visited. We send letters, make phone calls, put it on Facebook, then calls again, then a letter to remind. The children get help in picking games and prizes, they put their request for drinks and food. They make decorations and help put them up. The big day, the children help set up things and help with clean up. They also keep games going. We try to have plenty for all to do. Even ones that like to sit and chat. Shared by VLynn Sawyer, Orange Park, Florida, who said “planning a reunion can be stressful, but so much fun.”

Children waiting for their prizes after the games. Photos by Allie McCarty and Rebecca Atkins.

VLynn Sawyer (left) and Jan Frantz helping her grandson Caelum Christopher Payne (2) play ringtoss.


he Williams Family had a wonderful time in Grand Rapids, Michigan despite severe thunderstorms, a tri county power outage, and unprecedented temperatures and humidity! They even had a family member who needed to be rescued by the fire department from an affected elevator...

20 REUNIONS v reunionsmag.com

At the end, everyone was safe and enjoyed one another! The picture is from their ‘picnic’ that was forced inside c of weather. Reported by Kandace Ward, Grand Rapids, Michigan.


Austin-Withey Family Reunion


arilyn Thayer, Mexico, New York and St. Petersburg, Florida, has shared several reports from her Thayer Family Reunions and recently submitted these pages as examples from a book she is preparing for her Austin-Withey Family Reunion. My biggest project this time is a family “yearbook” that I’m putting together with Shutterfly (also printing pages for those who can’t afford to buy Shutterfly!). I’ve asked EVERYONE to contribute SOMETHING. ANYTHING. to put our family into context with the rest of the world. I have SOME stories

from the past as well as some from the present and am still trying to get people to share before it’s too late and they are gone. Samples are about one cousin, Robert Wayne Austin, who already passed, and one is about my sister, Judy Withey Hall, who is still very much alive. I have about 60 pages done so far and the reunion isn’t for several months. Wish me luck!



Johnson Barnes Family Reunion “


ake It Back to A Place That Feels Like Home…” was the theme for the 47th annual Johnson Barnes Family Reunion in Valley, Alabama. The Valley crew went all out to welcome our family to some southern hospitality. As in previous years, a few of the family members arrive a few days early to scout out the area and direct members arriving on Friday to the location of local establishments. When the majority of the family started arriving Friday afternoon there were plenty of smiles and hugs from all. After everyone had the chance to settle in, we all gathered in Auburn, Alabama, for a Meet and Greet where t-shirts and goodie bags with the Valley Family Reunion logo were passed out. We then sat down for some good southern food and, of course, sweet tea to wash it all down. After we enjoyed a great meal, there was a business meeting and Chicago was nominated and selected to host the 48th reunion. Waukegan agreed to help Chicago, so the 48th reunion will be a Chicago/Waukegan Family Reunion in 2020. It was an early rise and shine on Saturday morning for those who signed up for the Heritage Tour in Montgomery, Alabama. First stop was at the Legacy Museum and then the Peace and Justice Memorial Center. Both allowed time to look back at African American history. On returning to the hotel a few family members ventured out to sample some local cuisine and shopping in the area before preparing for the evening banquet.

Gertrude Brooks & Earl Samuel

Christine & Eddie Gregory

African attire was the dress theme for this year’s reunion and there were some interesting matched couples, individuals and children donning colorful outfits. Although we didn’t have a photobooth like last year, many photos were taken as family members entered the banquet hall. The evening began with a Welcome prayer and blessing of the food. After dinner we gathered for the reunion photo. A Memorial Tribute informed the family of members we have lost, followed by the Family History reading by our family historian. A member from each table was asked to introduce themselves and all family members at their table. Special Family News gave members the opportunity to update their family about accomplishments (graduations, new family additions, etc). Prizes were given to the family member who traveled the farthest, and oldest and youngest family members. The African Costume Contest paraded children, adults and couples passed the judges table and a prize was awarded to a winner of each category. To round out the evening there was a Talent Contest and we had performances by a young singing group, a praise dancer and a break dance preformer. After Prayer Breakfast on Sunday morning and during checkout, Dwight Johnson made a video interview asking what members enjoyed about the reunion and wishing them a safe trip home. Reported by Dwight J.J. Johnson, Waukegan, Illinois.

Twins Trinity (5) and Amaya (5) Reed, Chloe Reed (7), Joshia Burnett (10), Peyton Busbee (5) and Macy Oldham (7), the contest winner.

Johnson Barnes Family Reunion 22 REUNIONS v reunionsmag.com

masterplan Introduction Weeks before the Fuller Family Reunion (descendants of Thomas Edward Fuller) in Batesville, Arkansas, planner Terry Davis began sending weekly reminders to members. While these are edited for space, we felt the information Terry shared could be an inspiration to other planners who want to build momentum and excitement about an upcoming reunion. The Fullers meet every two years.

Fuller cousins! First Letter 4 weeks before the reunion Terry Davis

Linda Fuller Brooks (left) and her daughter Melanie Miller in front of a quilt that was raffled at the reunion.

Adeline Fuller Davis (the author’s mom) and her niece, Judy Hawkins, who made and donated the afghan for the raffle.

Hey Fuller cousins! Hope you are doing great, and also hoping that you are planning on attending next month’s reunion! We DO have some needs and if you can help, it would be greatly appreciated. First, on Thursday, we will be meeting at Ramsey Heights Baptist Church to set up and decorate. The more bodies we have, the easier it will be on everyone. This is one of the best parts of the reunion (seriously), and if you have never helped before, this would be a great time to begin. All you need to do is to show up, and we’ll find a place for you to pitch in! Second, we are going to need more tables this year! If you have any folding tables or camp tables we can borrow, please let us know. Third, we need food! In the past, we have had an amazing variety and a great quantity of dishes! We need side dishes, desserts, fried chicken, ice, tea, water, soft drinks, paper towels, plastic ware, paper plates, etc. Fourth, raffle tickets are a dollar, $5 for six tickets. And, we will also have our Tip Jar for you to help out financially. AND don’t forget to bring money to purchase Fuller Family Recipes cookbook for Christmas or birthdays presents, or wedding gifts. Fifth, we need you to help get the word out about our reunion. Don’t assume that everyone has gotten the word. Not everyone has access to the internet, so when you see a cousin at church, or grocery shopping, ask if they’re coming to the reunion! Sixth, If you have old photos to share, please bring them. We all love looking at pictures, especially those old black and white photos of our ancestors. Put your name on anything you bring. And finally, we need YOU!!! We have cousins coming from all over the United States, and they want to see YOU!!! So, remember the dates – June 21-22 (and the 20th for setup and decorating!) See you next month!!! Terry Davis Continued on page 24

Fuller Family Reunion 2019 REUNION CELEBRATIONS! v REUNIONS 23

masterplan Continued from page 23

Fuller cousins! One week later

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Terry Davis Cousins! A little over three weeks remaining until our 2019 Fuller reunion. First, can you help with setup on Thursday, the 20th? “The more, the merrier,” the faster and smoother everything will be! A gentle reminder, if you live in the area around Batesville, please bring a dish (or two) of your favorite food! Fried chicken, deviled eggs, potato salad, green beans, corn, pies, cakes ... you get the picture! AND please make sure your name is on your dishes! Have you contacted all your cousins, reminding them about the reunion? Sometimes, all it takes is a personal invitation to get that cousin to come. Do they have transportation? Many cousins are elderly, and would like to come, but have no way to get there. And finally, please help us financially. Putting on a reunion and sending out newsletters costs money. Many reunions have registration fees, sometimes of $25 or more. We have chosen to not do that. We want everyone to be able to attend our reunion, and we do not want a lack of money to keep anyone from attending. Cousins, it’s almost here! A lot has happened since our last reunion. We’ve all had good days and bad days, happy times and sad times, good health and not-so-good health, but the one constant throughout the past two years has remained, we are family. Your cousin, Terry


Fuller cousins! One more week later… Terry Davis Friday – We will visit local cemeteries to clean as many headstones as possible. From there, we will head out to Pleasant Plains and the McMullin Cemetery. After we all get a little “hands on” experience, those who feel like they are experts might want to go to Floral and clean some other stones at the Cedar Grove cemetery. We will go to Batesville to eat lunch at Colton’s Steakhouse. After lunch, anyone who wants to go clean more headstones can go back to the cemeteries we visited that morning, or to Maple Springs cemetery or Brown’s cemetery in Thida. This is something we’ve added this year, in hopes we can do a better job of maintaining the upkeep of our ancestors’ and loved ones’ graves. Saturday – The main event! Doors of Ramsey Heights Baptist Church will open at 10 AM. This will be the time to register, purchase raffle tickets (everyone gets a free ticket) and purchase Fuller cookbooks. After you register, view our many exhibits of photos and scores of old documents. Feel free to look, but PLEASE DO NOT TAKE pictures or documents! If you are sharing photos, please make sure your name is on everything. This includes tables you loan us, your dishes and ice chests you brought for the potluck. We want to ensure that you make it home with what you brought! At 11:30 AM, we will sample those incredible Fuller family favorites at our potluck lunch. Our reunion program is after lunch. This year, several of our Fuller cousins have agreed to speak, AND we have a sound system! Included in the program will be our financial report, introduction of committees, special awards, recognition of living grandchildren of Thomas Edward Fuller, our big raffle, and lots of other activities. We have added an activity table for Fuller children this year! Our hope is that our kids will have fun, and as they Cleaning headstones are (from left) Sherri Fuller Smith, her sister Kristi Fuller move into adulthood, they will want to return to reunions Gillihan, and Kristi’s son, Brayden Wild. in the future. Three things we definitely want each of you to participate in are (1) signing the Fuller banner. We have not done this in the past, but believe that years from now, as our children and grandchildren attend these reunions, they will enjoy looking at old banners from previous reunions, trying to locate the signatures of their ancestors. (2) Our huge 5-generation family tree. We will have the tree stretched out on tables, and as you look for your family, we want you to add your children, grandchildren, etc., along with birthdates and other information you would like to share. Led by Mike Todd, we are planning on writing a book of Fuller family and history. The information you share with us, will greatly assist in the efforts to make this book as accurate as possible. (3) PLEASE make sure you are part of our group photos! We want all of our attendees to be a part of this special part of the reunion. If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, PLEASE do not hesitate to get in touch with us. We’re almost there! Two years have just about come and gone, and a little over two weeks from today, we’ll once again gather in Batesville, Arkansas, to celebrate our Fuller family legacy! See you then!!! Your Fuller cousin, Terry



Daisy Temple Memorial Reunion


escendants of matriarch, Willie Daisy smiles, love and laughter as they Temple (Mama Daisy) (1892-1967) took silly pictures at a photo booth, met in Buena Park, California, on played traditional board games, Memorial Day weekend to meet, greet, cards, Uno and dominoes. There was reconnect, create new bonds and rememplenty of friendly competition when ber old times with their kin. It was it came to the customized nickname especially meaningful since the tradition match game, and “DAISY” their that had begun in 1977 had not taken own twist on Bingo. Giveaways, place in 13 years. Mama Daisy was the music and dancing kept everyone loving mother of 12 children, of whom entertained. Three rounds of musical only one, Helen Jean Riley Anderson, chairs, separated by age groups, was survives. Helen, 96, who resides in Los a real crowd pleaser! Angeles is not just the sole surviving After the reunion, attendees were Five generations ... Helen Jean Riley Anderson, 96, the eldest child of that generation, she is the eldest living descendant in the Daisy Temple lineage, surrounded by asked to upload pictures and videos in the family. to share and preserve the legacy. her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and great Festivities began in La Mirada, Now the Daisy Temple Facebook great grandchildren. California, with a meet and greet at the page has lots of them for all to home of Cousin Stacie McDowell who provided a delicious enjoy. Descendants of Willie Daisy Temple are ready to wholesome meal to those who traveled from near and far. The celebrate their family for years to come now that the momennext day the weather cooperated in true California fashion tum has picked up again. With old and young interested and with lots of golden sunshine and a perfect breeze. More than revitalized, they are already planning the next reunion in 2021. 100 family members filled Elhers Plaza in Buena Park with Reported by Stacie McDowell, La Mirada, California. NICKNAME GAME




VIVIAN, “Jinx” 11th child, born 1929, polio, music Willie Lendrith (bad mama Johnson, “Willie jamma, sexual (L.) Lillie” “Juice” Harrison Lowe, Jr. healing, brick mother Aunt "Tojo", born 1932, house), loved Bertha, mother Aunt candy, daughter grandmother MD, Johneva, Sheila, CHP, ABC, grandmother MD, grandchildren Nia, mentor, nice cars handsome Monae, Lil. (black ford Edmond, fairlane w/record boyfriend Mr. player) Vencent

S Y Tanya Wheatley, father Jackie Boy, grandmother Gertrude, birthday April 28, Correctional Officer, fun, funny, 4 grandchildren youngest named Gertrude

GERTRUDE, “Fresh” “Mama Dick” 3rd child, born 1913, career as dietitian, owned houses in Venice Beach and Fresno, kept key in mailbox hooked to coat hanger, onions, Paris Cafe Chinese food, watermelon, best advice, would tell it like it is, lived until age of 104

BERTHA, “Booty” “Shoe Booty” 6th child, born 1917, seamstress, used paper to make patterns, pieces of scraps flour sacks to make dresses, religious (deaconette, ministers wife), mild mannered, caring the sweetest of all

George Hill, mother Doris, grandmother Sylvira, gg MD, started driving diesel trucks at 16, Tulare

The nickname game brought back memories of relatives who have passed away but who we have happy memories of. There was a list of names and one of nicknames that were supposed to be matched. Even my 96-year-old grandmother who has dementia amazingly remembered nearly every one of them! DAISY BINGO AND ANSWERS

12 different DAISY “boards” of names were printed and handed out. Two relatives tag-teamed and read about the person on their bingo notes list. It was fast-paced. Players were required not only to mark the box on their DAISY board but also jot down at least one fact. The first to yell DAISY had to stand and read off each box and fact to receive a prize. We had enough information to play several rounds. The intent was to share random fun information, accomplishments, little known facts, history, and memories so we could all get to know more about our family. What’s amazing is that the notes turned out to be a sort of stand-alone history document. NOTE: These full games are online at www.reunionsmag.com/, Daisy Temple Family Reunion Games

Bernice Wallace, mother Aunt BUBBA, “William SISTER, Johneva, George” 10th “Lawrence Faye” grandmother MD, child, born 1927, 7th child, born born 1930, father of 11 1919, mother of Scorpio, loved and children, served in 11 children, went to and from U.S. Army during playful and great Fresno more than Korean war, kind story teller, foster anybody else in spirit, wore mother and day overalls care center owner the family

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Columbus group tours are designed to be as fun as they are intriguing.

Choose from a variety of guided tours and hands-on experiences, including

a visit to the newly opened National Veterans Memorial and Museum. For your group’s next memorable getaway, visit experiencecolumbus.com/tours.


Groshek Family: The importance of reunions


n 2006, my paternal family held a reunion in Galloway, Wisconsin, for my Grandmother Regina’s 90th birthday. She still lived in a house across the road from the farm where she raised 12 children and buried one. Another reunion is planned at the same location this summer, though much has changed. We lost our matriarch, two uncles, uncle-in-law, and one cousin. We have 54 first cousins. I lost track of how many 2nd cousins, which surpassed the number of first cousins years ago. And there is a handful of third cousins. Grandma and Grandpa instilled in us, that at the end of the day, we were all Grosheks and we stick together. We share a common Polish ancestor who stepped off a steamship at age 10 in 1866. We all share his common roots and his DNA. My brother refers to our parents, aunts and uncles, as “The Old Guard.” The uncles are thinner and slower. My dad has returned to the weight he was when he joined the Marine Corps. Many have undergone heart surgery, eye surgery, battled various cancers, or use wheelchairs or walkers. But for the cousins, we busy ourselves in a world that is not the same as our parents’ world. We try to comprehend who our parents really were. We listen to scraps of conversations and early stories about them. We try to form some meaning in the very different time we live. Yes, they walked miles in all weather conditions to attend a one-room schoolhouse and spent summers barefoot. They woke before the crack of dawn to do

Cousins 1972

chores before school and completed more after school. They attended church every Sunday without fail. The girls helped with meal preparation for 10 brothers. This was their reality, like something out of the pages of Little House on the Prairie. At the reunion, we cousins were the in-between generation. We learned that in wanting to become something our parents were not, either by choice or by chance, we lost something they were. Being with relatives reminded us how family and non-family are different. After all, our families knew us when we were young and our foibles were exposed, before we felt polished, poised and professional. Unlike our parents, our memories of the farm were an adventure rather than constant work and toil. The cousins got free run of the place. Some cousins stayed on the farm the whole summer, others had shorter visits. We shared fond memories of chasing cows, climbing the silo, playing house in empty corn cribs and riding bikes to the sand pit far back into the 200 acres. We drove vehicles and tractors before age 12. We injured ourselves climbing barbed wire fences

Many of 54 first cousins at the Groshek Family Reunion. 28 REUNIONS v reunionsmag.com

and stepping in cow pies. Yes, we did chores. We collected eggs and picked cucumbers but not the extent and amount our parents worked. We had more free time on the farm than they did. At the end of the day, we relished throwing our arms wide and spinning down hilly slopes, fresh air blowing our hair. We talked of dreams and summer crushes. At the reunion, we replayed old home movies and looked at photo albums. There we were picking apples and choke cherries, jumping in the hayloft, slogging in our boots to the blackberry patch, climbing the empty hay wagon for a ride or running down the dirt path to Mission Lake. This was the family, the cousins remembered and, occasionally, we would scan those around us thinking perhaps this might be our last visit. Grandpa always reminded us of the circle of life. Death was part of the circle and we should accept that. When his brother Hubert died fishing, grandpa cheerfully told everyone he died with a good catch of fish in his boat. Hubert died doing what he loved. And it made us think, death comes on an ordinary day, so live every day as if it could be your last. At the reunion, the aunts and uncles took photos with their cell phones. Grouped us endlessly by the families we came from and the ones we had made. They could tell who resembled each other; the cousin with red hair looked like Grandpa and several cousins inherited Grandma’s eyes. This proved to us that nothing was lost, traits just got passed along. We cousins watched it all; we were the understudies waiting in the wings. Knowing in a blink of an eye, we would be “The Old Guard,” passing the message of family, stressing its importance despite pressures in our modern world that try to dismantle it. And so with loved ones surrounding us, we share the stories of laughter and hope and anger and loss. And while reminiscing, we hug our loved ones, knowing it’s temporary, for one day we will stand alone. At a family reunion, we remember together what and who we were back then, long ago, and how desperately we need each other in the future. Shared by June Groshek Czarnezki, South Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


Sumrall Family Reunion


y mother was adopted and had been searching for her biological parents her entire life. I (the baby of five children) was able to locate her father, when my mom was 64

Meet and Greet with Junkanoo Band.

years old. She was so happy he was alive, because we had been told he passed away many years earlier. Unfortunately, he did pass away six months after we met him. My mom, who thought she was alone her entire life, learned she had brothers and sisters. I will never allow her to feel alone again. So I pushed, planned and brought her dreams of meeting family to fruition. I have aunts, uncles, cousins and more family than I could’ve ever imagined. We are connected now by blood and in our hearts. We’ve had reunions in Orlando and Miami, Florida, and St. Louis, Missouri. Our family had been separated for so long and now we try to not let a year pass without reconnecting. This year was AMAZING!! The committee hired the Junkanoo Band to perform at our meet and greet. We hired a personal chef for all our meals over the weekend and the family fashion show is one to remember. I have been so honored to have served on the committee every year and hosted both Florida reunions. Our 2020 reunion will be held in the town where it all started for our family: Sumrall, Mississippi. It will be my mom’s first time returning to where she was born. Reported by Sylvia James, Conyers, Georgia.

Sumrall Family Reunion on South Beach, Miami, Florida.

9 Sisters Reunion


ambi Davis planned a reunion for her mother and her eight aunts and their families in Burton, Ohio. Sisters (left to right – youngest to oldest) Andrea Koontz, Donna Loney, Carolyn Bennitt, Delma Yoder, Vivian Hart, Jackie Elco, Peggy Bartko, Patty Lekon and Bobbette Portman. 2019 REUNION CELEBRATIONS! v REUNIONS 29


White Family Reunion


he 10th White Family Reunion was held in Bastrop, tion with light refreshments and good conversation. Friday Texas, the “Home Place” for our family. The theme was morning, everyone gathered at the Bastrop Museum and took Where our Story Begins-Honoring our Courageous Past, Excellent the Historic Downtown walking tour followed by lunch. Later Present, and Outstanding Future. The that evening, they had a “Family Fun reunion is held every two years in different Fiesta,” as a meet and greet with good states or cities where family members live. Tex-Mex food, family feud games, bingo Before it was officially organized as a and roll call of the family branches. On reunion, a family picnic was held each July Saturday, they toured historical landmarks 4th at the family matriarch’s home in – The Shiloh Primitive Baptist Church, Bastrop dating back to the 1940s. Shiloh Cemetery, and the Fitzwilliam Mill/ This reunion was hosted by the Alce Plantation. A balloon release ceremony at White Descendants, Ellee White Peterson, the cemetery was simply beautiful. and the Alcie Peterson, Sr. family, lifetime Resident Reid Sharp gave the family a residents of Bastrop, Texas. There were 157 tour of Fitzwilliams Mill where most of registered members, the largest number of the Whites were born or lived in the attendees to date. Approximately 75 were 1880s. The family enjoyed seeing the new members discovered through DNA relics of the mill. The house was desigtests and Ancestry.com research. They nated as a Texas Historic Landmark in came from eight states and Dubai. 1968 (Aldridge-Fitzwilliam Home Marker The reunion kicked off at early registra- Visitors at the Shiloh Cemetery in Bastrop, Texas. #5021009146). After the historical landmark tour, they enjoyed a Texas Style Bar-B-Que at the Bastrop State Park. The Grand Finale was the “White’s Forever Gala” on Saturday night. Family members dressed in formal African attire. The program started with a traditional African dance, the family lineage was read, guest speaker Hannibal Lokumbe, renowned composer, musician and writer from Bastrop spoke about the slavery of our people and suggested books for family members to read. Sunday morning there was a Praise Service. The family heard a powerful message by Elder Vennie Davis of the Bastrop Chapel Primitive Baptist Church. Reported by Peggy Peterson Miller, Cedar Creek, Texas, Fitzwilliams Plantation who planned the reunion with her brothers, Darrell “Doral” and Mark Peterson.

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White Family Reunion t-shirt and giveaways


Rainey Family Reunion


ainey Family Reunions started in 1974 and met annually in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, until 1990, when they started to travel and in 2004 they started to meet every other year. The family usually enjoys a three-day event, starting the last Thursday in June. There is normally a meet and greet gathering the first night. People come in and out of the reserved room at the hotel and enjoy refreshments and greet each other. On Friday, there is a picnic and people usually get in some sightseeing and shopping in the host city. Saturday evening there is a dinner banquet with formal attire. A program consists of old and new business, recognizing any births, deaths, graduations, weddings, anniversaries that occurred since the last gathering. And we vote on where the next reunion will take place by having family members who are

interested in hosting submit their names for consideration. The one with the most votes gets the hosting duties. This year, they had originally selected Houston, Texas, but the family member in charge wasn’t able to host due to work responsibilities. So, Alisha Chamat of Hoffman Estates, Illinois, volunteered, just three months before the event, to host the

reunion in Schaumburg, Illinois. Others helped and it was a success! They only met for two days and did not have the dinner banquet. There was a meet and greet and a family fun outing at a local bowling alley/arcade the first night. Then, they had a picnic on Saturday. The next Rainey Family Reunion will be in 2021 in Milwaukee. Reported by Michele Howard, Grimes, Iowa.


picture-perfect setting for your


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Reese Family Reunion


he Reese Family Reunion, with roots originating in Alabama, recently celebrated their 44th anniversary in Stone Mountain, Georgia, over the Fourth of July weekend. The three-day event, started with a “Meet and Greet” where members received t-shirts, goodie bags, and played ice-breaker games while eating a light meal. The following night, a family catered dinner included dancing to the sounds of the family’s own DJ, and a pictorial tribute to deceased family ancestors. A picnic on the last day included delicious grilled food prepared by the family’s own caterer. The youngsters enjoyed the playground while older members shared photo albums of past reunions and got acquainted with new family members.

The last activity was the group photo and announcement that the 2020 reunion will be in Detroit, Michigan. This year’s reunion was attended by over 150 people from several generations who traveled from throughout the US. Facebook’s group feature was helpful in getting the word out. The family website, over 10 years old, was developed and is maintained by the family’s resident genealogist, who helps keep communication flowing. The website helps build excitement throughout the year and provides an excellent way for everyone to view the professional photographs taken by a family member during the reunion. Reported by Elizabeth Small, Stone Mountain, Georgia.

DeLeon Family Reunion


he DeLeon Family Reunion is generally held on the east coast, although they went to Las Vegas last year. They meet annually for three to four days and 40 to 50 attend. Rafael DeLeon is the reunion originator and has planned them for 20 years. There is an annual wiffle ball game along with basketball, billiards, ping pong, local sightseeing, taking kids to amusement parks and enjoying cocktails! Reported by Rafael DeLeon, Accokeek, Maryland.

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military reunion news e


e’ve always encouraged our advertisers to send stories about reunions they’ve hosted or to encourage reunion planners to submit stories about reunions in their area. Well, this issue is a great example of that idea succeeding. This is a Branson, Missouri, issue! These reports from planners who wrote about Branson, all lauding its virtues and glory. Having visited Branson myself, I can verify that everything they report is true. Branson is certainly worth your consideration, particularly for reunions where members are coming from both coasts. Branson is in the middle, folks!

Bravo, Branson!


ike Trace wrote to commend the Branson Convention and Visitors Bureau for the fantastic (Military Reunion Planners) conference they put on. From the time of arrival to the getaway lunch, the Branson CVB clearly understood the unique needs of the military community and were able to convey these needs to hotel property coordinators who were prepared for the numerous questions from the group. While the schedule was tight, the conference could not have gone smoother. They provided a flavor of options within the Branson community for us to consider as we plan our reunions. Having community representatives join the group during meals and

14th Annual Military Reunion Planners Conference • Branson, Missouri • May 14-17, 2019

at interview sessions on the last day enabled me to understand that they genuinely appreciated the military and their desire to ensure our reunion will enjoy their experience in Branson. The overall hospitality

Branson provides to the military is a key factor in our decision to keep coming back. Shared by Michael Trace, planner for the Inflight Refueling Association (IFR) Sugarcreek, Township, Ohio.

Thank You from Schwacking Kosovo Guys


he Schwacking Kosovo Guys enjoyed their first reunion in Branson, Missouri, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the NATO air campaign designed to halt Federal Republic of Yugoslavian aggression and persecution of Kosovar Albanians. Our group was part of a larger NATO air campaign that lasted 78 days from March 24 to June 10, 1999. We were responsible for developing targets that would be selected for potential kinetic and non-kinetic military force. We were a joint service organization – Army, Navy, and Air Force – augmented by Reservists. Thank you, Branson, for helping make our first, but not last, reunion so enjoyable. Everyone had a fantastic time and thoroughly enjoyed Branson. Billy Yates and Hit Songwriters in the Round and SIX shows were outstanding! The guys and their wives really enjoyed meeting Billy, Jim McBride, and Frank Myers backstage! What a special treat. SIX put on a fantastic show and had the wives raving about the music. Additionally, some of our group made it to a few other shows while in town and couldn’t get over the amazing talent! The students made our visit to the College of the Ozarks campus a memorable day and the food at the Keeter Center was outstanding. Montana Mike’s was a fun evening. We were able to enjoy a private tour of the Civil War battle field at Wilson’s Creek near Springfield, Missouri, and wine tasting at St James winery. The appetizers and wine at St. James winery

were superb. I am enjoying some of the cases I purchased with family and friends. I heard several of our group commenting about how the winery and wine reminded them of their time in Europe. The rooms, breakfast and friendly, professional, and timely service at the Lodge of the Ozarks were very much appreciated. Everyone was impressed with the accommodations and the meeting room. I look forward to staying again. From the entertainment venues to the “old town,” train ride, food, parks, and most importantly, the friendly people we were all pleasantly surprised at how much there is to do and see in the area. Many of the group have already made plans to return to Branson with their families for extended vacations! Julie Peters, Branson Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Renee Contreras, military reunion planner at the Lodge of the Ozarks where our group set up billeting and our base of operations, were extremely helpful and provided great support as we navigated all the items necessary to ensure a fun event. Outstanding shows, great meals and perhaps, most importantly, a warm and friendly welcome by the people of Branson. Everyone had a great time and we’re planning our 2021 reunion! We hope to have more of the guys join us that were unable this year to make the trip. Reported by Jeff Western, Kenosha, Wisconsin 2019 REUNION CELEBRATIONS! v REUNIONS 33

e military reunion news

National Museum of the US Army


he National Museum of the United States Army is currently under construction on the grounds of Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County, Virginia, projected to open next year. The goal of the museum is to tell the stories of America’s soldiers and celebrate the service and sacrifice of more than 30 million men and women who have worn the Army uniform since 1775. State-ofthe-art interactive displays will convey the Army’s stories and educate about the Army’s proud heritage, its present-day mission, and its role in American society.

The museum is located 15 minutes from George Washington’s Mount Vernon and 30 minutes from downtown Washington, DC. It will offer space for receptions, dinners, ceremonies, and other special events with full catering facilities. The Medal of Honor Garden will accommodate receptions and other celebratory events. A state-of-the-art interactive theater, with

Commemorative bricks at The National Museum of the United States Army on the grounds of Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County, Virginia.


NOTE: The Army Historical Foundation has led the campaign to build the National Museum of the United States Army. One of the ways the Foundation continues to raise construction funds is through its Commemorative Brick Program. Personalized granite bricks are being installed along the pathway leading to the Museum’s main entrance. Order bricks at www.armyhistory.org/bricks.

he USS Inchon Association recently held their 12th reunion. The group met in Nashville, Tennessee, at the Millennium Maxwell House Hotel. Tours included the Country Music Hall of Fame; Studio B; Line Dancing at the Wild Horse Saloon; Nashville

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reality simulators, will allow visitors to experience operations in today’s Army. Admission and parking will be free. Visit Fairfax is already working with Army and other reunion groups looking to hold events at the museum. Contact Dean Miller, National Sales Manager at Visit Fairfax, 703-790-0643, fxva.com. Assistance is available free-of-charge.

City Tour and tour and lunch at the Short Mountain Distillery. This was the group’s largest gathering with 132 Shipmates and guests registered. Reported by David Fix, Nalcrest, Florida

e military reunion news 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 editor@reunionsmag.com; 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.

ALABAMA GREATER BIRMINGHAM CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU 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 www.inbirmingham.com SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 1

ARIZONA TOMBSTONE MOUNTAIN RANCH 895 West Monument Road, Tombstone AZ 85638 520-457-8707 info@TombstoneMonumentRanch.com www.tombstonemonumentranch.com SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 18 ELKHORN RANCH 27000 W. Elkhorn Ranch Road, Tucson AZ 85736 520-822-1040 | office@elkhornranch.com elkhornranch.com SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 18 WHITE STALLION RANCH 9251 W Twin Peaks Road, Tucson AZ 85743 520-297-0252 | info@whitestallion.com www.whitestallion.com SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 18 VISIT TUCSON Tucson is home to a wealth of experiences that go beyond the ballroom – yes, we boast world-class resorts and spas, but we also have working cattle ranches, desert gardens, and historic venues. Surrounded by five mountain ranges and plenty of meeting space that’s close to nature, you’re never far from a beautiful desert backdrop. So, when looking to book your upcoming reunion, venture off the beaten path and Free Yourself in Tucson. RoxAnne Erickson, National Sales Mgr. 520-7702120 | rerickson@visittucson.org Visit: TucsonOnUs.com SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 15 KAY EL BAR GUEST RANCH 2655 S Kay El Bar Road, Wickenburg, AZ 85390 928-684-7593 | info@kayelbar.com www.kayelbar.com SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE18 STAGECOACH TRAILS GUEST RANCH 19985 S Doc Holliday Rd., Yucca AZ 86438 866-444-4471 | vacation@stgr.com | www.stgr.com SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 18

REUNION RESOURCES CALIFORNIA HOLIDAY INN SAN DIEGO BAYSIDE 4875 N Harbor Drive, San Diego CA 92106 619-224-3621 | 800-650-6660 fax 619-224-1787 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. Contact reunions@holinnbayside.com www.holinnbayside.com SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 24

COLORADO ELK MOUNTAIN RANCH PO Box 910, Buena Vista CO 81211 800-432-8812 | info@elkmtn.com www.elkmtn.com SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 19 COLORADO TRAILS RANCH 12161 Country Rd 240, Durango, CO 81301 970-247-5055 | info@coloradotrails.com www.coloradotrails.com SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 18 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 www.ColoradoConferenceCenters.com C LAZY U RANCH PO Box 379, Granby CO 80446 970-887-3344 | info@clazyu.com | www.clazyu.com SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 19 SYLVAN DALE GUEST RANCH 2939 N County Road 31D, Loveland CO 80538 970-667-3915 l ranch@sylvandale.com www.sylvandale.com SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 19 SUNDANCE TRAIL GUEST RANCH 17931 Red Feather Lakes Rd., Red Feather Lakes, CO 80545 970-224-1222 | office@sundancetrail.com www.sundancetrail.com SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 18

FLORIDA HAMPTON by HILTON ELLENTON/BRADENTON 5810 20th Court East, Ellenton, FL 34222 P. 941-721-4000 | Fax 941-721-4100 fsoechtig@buffalolodging.com www.hamptoninnbradenton.com Details: www.reunionsmag.com/florida COURTYARD by MARRIOTT SARASOTA – UNIVERSITY PARK LAKEWOOD RANCH AREA 8305 Tourist Center Dr., Sarasota, FL 34201 P. 941-360-2626 | Fax 941-360-1876 cpurpura@buffalolodging.com www.courtyard-sarasota.com Details: www.reunionsmag.com/florida

HAMPTON by HILTON SARASOTA/LAKEWOOD RANCH 8565 Cooper Creek Blvd., Sarasota, FL 34201 P. 941-355-8619 | fax 941-355-8637 amccarty@buffalolodging.com www.hamptonsarasota.com Details: www.reunionsmag.com/florida HOMEWOOD SUITES by HILTON SARASOTA/ LAKEWOOD RANCH 305 N Cattlemen Rd., Sarasota, FL 34235 P. 941-309-3904 | fax 941-309-3905 cmoore@buffalolodging.com www.homewoodsarasota.com Details: www.reunionsmag.com/florida BRADENTON AREA CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU One Haben Blvd., Palmetto, FL 34221 941-729-9177 | Aimee.Blenker@BACVB.com www.bradentongulfislands.com

GEORGIA COLUMBIA COUNTY CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU 1000 Business Boulevard, Evans, GA 30809 www.visitcolumbiacountyga.com visit@choosecolumbiacounty.com Columbia County, Georgia, is located two hours east of Atlanta and minutes from downtown Augusta. We are the gateway to Fort Gordon, home to the US Army’s Cyber Security Center. We are known for our abundance of natural resources, including the Savannah River, Augusta Canal and Georgia’s largest lake, Clarks Hill Lake. With over 1,200 hotel rooms located on I-20 and ample meeting facilities, Columbia County is the ideal location for your next reunion. SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 7

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 | kimberly@lakecounty.org LakeCountyReunions.com SEE OUR DISPLAY AD THE INSIDE BACK COVER

LOUISIANA ATTRACTIONS 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 BB’s Stage Door Canteen lunch or dinner show, and more! The National WWII Museum 945 Magazine Street, New Orleans LA 70130 group.sales@nationalww2museum.org 877-813-3329 x222 nationalww2museum.org/groups

MARYLAND THE DEEP CREEK EXPERIENCE Find the perfect reunion destination tucked away in the mountains of western Maryland. The Deep Creek area is a four-season destination with a wide variety of activities. Explore our mountain waters, 2019 REUNION CELEBRATIONS! v REUNIONS 35

REUNION RESOURCES 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, McHenry MD 21541, 301-387-5238 | fax 301-334-8073 kim@garrettchamber.com | deepcreekreunions.com SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 24

MINNESOTA WORRY-FREE REUNIONS AT CRAGUN’S RESORT 11000 Craguns Dr, Brainerd MN 56401 (833) 604-0206 Since 1940 Cragun’s has taken pride in creating memorable reunions...here’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: https://www.craguns.com/family-reunions/ ?NCK=8336040206

MISSOURI EXPLORE BRANSON in Southwest Missouri, surrounded by the beauty of the Ozark Mountains. Call the Branson Convention & Visitors Bureau to assist you in locating lodging for your next reunion in this ideal destination at the center of America’s heartland! Family values and budgets are honored! Branson’s breathtaking scenery, genuine patriotism, live music shows, exciting attractions for all ages, and authentic southern hospitality create memories worth re-living! Whether your reunion is family, military, or graduating class, request Welcome Bags and the Branson Reunion Planner Kit: Julie Peters, CTIS, CEP, 417-243-2117 jpeters@bransoncvb.com Visit: www. ExploreBranson.com/groups SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON THE INSIDE FRONT COVER 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 VisitCape at 1.800.777.0068 or visit us online at VisitCape.com. SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 2

MONTANA BAR W GUEST RANCH 2875 Hwy 93 West, Whitefish MT 59937 866-828-2900 | info@thebarw.com www.thebarw.com SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 19 36 REUNIONS v reunionsmag.com

NORTH CAROLINA CABARRUS COUNTY, NC Located just outside of Charlotte, NC, we are “Where Racing Lives!” – Shift your reunion into high gear with over 30 hotels to choose from. Enjoy: Shopping, Arts & Culture, Race Shops, Restaurants, Historic Sites, Museums and of course Charlotte Motor Speedway. Cabarrus County Convention & Visitors Bureau 10099 Weddington Road, Suite 102, Concord NC 28027 800.848.3740 | www.visitcabarrus.com North Carolina’s CRYSTAL COAST has everything you need for a memorable reunion. From helping you plan events, to selecting outstanding accommodations, your reunion is our top priority. We’ll make sure everything is perfect so friends and family can focus on making memories and enjoying our beautiful beaches, unique activities and natural beauty. Crystal Coast Tourism Authority 3409 Arendell Street, Morehead NC 28557 252-726-8148 | www.crystalcoastnc.org SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 31

OHIO EXPERIENCE COLUMBUS Columbus is full of unforgettable experiences, distinct neighborhoods and one-of-a-kind tours. As a leader in experiential tourism, Columbus knows that getting groups in the middle of the action and behind the scenes is important. As the fastest-growing city in the Midwest, new things are always happening here. Whether you’re planning a group activity or giving individuals time to explore on their own, Columbus’ neighborhoods welcome groups in their own special way. Bring your group to Ohio’s capital and find out why the New York Times named Columbus one of “52 Places to Visit in 2019.” Contact the Tourism Sales team at 800-354-2657 | tours@ExperienceColumbus.com www.ExperienceColumbus.com/reunions SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 27

PENNSYLVANIA Mountain Laurel Resort and Spa 81 Tree Tops Circle, White Haven PA 18661 516-395-3017 | www.mountainlaurelresorts.com

TENNESSEE PINK JEEP TOURS 3152 Parkway, Ste. 1B, Pigeon Forge TN 37863 800-873-3662 | pinkadventuretours.com The newest way to see the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is on a guided excursion with Pink Jeep Tours. For the first time in its 60-years history, Pink Jeep Tours has expanded east from the desert southwest. The expansion offers a number of guided tour options in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park—the most visited national park in the United States. Pink Jeep Tours offers group rates on tours. SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON THE BACK COVER

VIRGINIA WESTFIELDS MARRIOTT WASHINGTON DULLES 14750 Conference Drive, Chantilly VA 20151 The setting is unique, the facilities expansive, the culinary inspiring. That’s why, when you bring your next reunion to Westfields Marriott Washington

Dulles, your group’s happiness is assured. Situated on a Certified Wildlife Habitat, our Northern Virginia hotel offers running trails, tennis & basketball courts, and indoor & outdoor pool, free parking, and more, all within minutes from Dulles Airport, major roadways and local attractions. Sharon Meyers, 703-818-0366 Fax 703-818-8840 | sharon.meyers@marriott.com https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/ iadwf-westfields-marriott-washington-dulles/ 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, Fairfax County is the ideal location for your military or family reunion. The spectacular new National Museum of the United Sates Army opens mid-year 2020. Call Visit Fairfax at 703-752-9509, and Dean Miller, our reunion specialist, will go to work for you! dmiller@fxva.com | fxva.com SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 21 NEWPORT NEWS – Get closer to ships, history and 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 amoran@nnva.gov to book your reunion today! www.newport-news.org 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 | tourism@staffordcountyva.gov www.tourstaffordva.com

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 307-587-2339 | info2@duderanch.org www.duderanch.org SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGES 18 & 19 VEE BAR GUEST RANCH 38 Vee Bar Ranch Road, Laramie WY 82070 800-483-3227 | veebar@veebar.com www.veebar.com SEE OUR DISPLAY AD ON PAGE 18

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Lake County, Illinois is reunion-perfect.

We’re just north of Chicago, and you’ll find our forest preserves, including Independence Grove, provide the ideal picnic locations with lots of activities to enjoy. Experience world-class attractions and resorts like Six Flags Great America and Hurricane Harbor plus Great Wolf Lodge. You’ll have beautiful landscapes with 75 lakes and beaches providing relaxing and scenic backdrops. There’s also wonderful dining for all tastes, entertainment, and hotels for your big event. In Lake County, Illinois, your reunion will be unforgettable. Contact reunion expert, Kimberly Ghys, at Kimberly@LakeCounty.org.

VisitLakeCounty.org 800-LAKE-NOW

P.O. Box 11727 v Milwaukee WI 53211-0727 2019 R EU N ION CELEB R ATIONS!


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Reunions Magazine Volume 29, Number 2. September 2019 (SOLD OUT)