Alumni Weekend may be over, but the spirit of Sistersville High School (SHS) remains a permanent fixture in the town, especially now, with a physical reminder of Tiger pride displayed on the sidewalk along Wells Street.
That continuing spirit was evident Saturday afternoon, when the Class of 61 gathered in front of Union Bank to dedicate a bench in memory of their lost peers.
"Grieve not, nor speak of us with tears, but laugh and talk of us remembering the years," reads the inscription on the bench.
“Grieve not, nor speak of us with tears, but laugh and talk of us remembering the years,” reads the inscription on the new bench dedicated to those no longer with us from the Sistersville High School Class of 1961. It sits on the sidewalk in front of Union Bank in Sistersville.
"This is a special meeting of the Sistersville High School Class of 1961," said 1961 graduate Ruth Moore. "We are gathered here to dedicate a simple bench, but also a special bench that has special relevance to those of us who are assembled here today. All of us standing here today and all of our classmates unable to be with us at this special meeting of our class wish to remember and honor our classmates who have departed this life ahead of us."
She later said, in words which perhaps best summed up their motivation, "Death is cruel, but it cannot remove the many memories that each of us have of things we did together during those 12 years that led us to the last meeting of our class those 52 years ago."
Emily Johnston, a 1961 graduate. recited a poem titled The Class of 1961, written by Natalie Johnston Doty of the Class of '57. The poem concludes:
"Remembering the fun, the joy, the laughter---
We resurrect it every year in May.
Members gone and those who are still with us
Give us reason to begin and end each day."
Emily next read a piece titled Sistersville Nostalgia, written by Pat Love, who could not make it to the event. It described the simplicity of a time in the town's history when adventure was plentiful and trouble was scarce.
One such quote reads: "When I tell my friends who grew up in other places about SHS they think I'm talking about the Happy Days series."
Elliot Archer delivered his speech Remembrances, in which he cited the recent passing of fondly remembered class members as a "wake up call" to "find a simple way that would memorialize all of our classmates who have gone on before us now and in the future."
Many present echoed Archer's message of how fortunate they were to have grown up in the town of Sistersville during such great times. And although times may have changed, the connections they made 52 years ago have evidently not faded.
Following a group singing of their Alma Mater, Eric Vincent, member of the First Baptist Church and whose family has long been involved in the Alumni Association, delivered a prayer. He also thanked the group for their dedication, which he described as "a good example of community action."
The cutting of an orange ribbon placed across the black bench was then performed by Betty Reed, wife of the late 1961 graduate Ron Reed.
The class also expressed appreciation for the cooperation of Union Bank, which agreed that the bench would serve as a welcome addition to the community.