Clyde Glenn Fields took a weeklong deer hunting trip and was kicked off Snohomish High School’s football team. His favorite high school memory is graduating.
“I called it escaping,” he said.
None of that matters now. What matters to Fields, 91, and his buddies from the class of 1942 are their lifelong friendships.
Ten classmates, some accompanied by adult children, came to Hill Park in Snohomish Wednesday to continue a tradition rekindled a dozen years ago. Since 2005, members of the Snohomish class of ’42 have held annual get-togethers. Wednesday’s misty weather didn’t keep them away.
The lunchtime picnic was their 74th class reunion. Gathered at a picnic shelter overlooking Blackmans Lake, they ate sack lunches and laughed about days long past. There were sad moments, too. So many are now gone.
Kelly Coon, 88, wasn’t a Snohomish Panther. A graduate of Seattle’s Garfield High School, he attended the Snohomish gatherings for years with his wife, Alice Nelson. She died in 2014, just two months after the group’s 72-year reunion.
“I’m a member of the class by marriage,” Coon said Wednesday.
More than 100 students graduated from Snohomish High in 1942, the year after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor pulled the United States into World War II.
“When we started this in 2005, there were 31 people, 24 of them our grads,” said June Gregory, 92, who moved back to Snohomish after 40 years in Bellevue. A retired teacher whose maiden name was June Seymour, she organizes the reunions.
Gregory told The Herald several years ago that at least eight members of her class of ’42 were killed in the war. She said Wednesday that the class has lost a few more since last year’s reunion. “We’re fortunate to have some loyal friends,” she said.
One of her close friends is George Gilbertson, who attends the reunions although he graduated from Snohomish High in 1943. His late brother, Keith Gilbertson Sr., was a longtime Snohomish High School coach. He died in 2011 at 83.
George Gilbertson, 91, said his class hasn’t had a reunion since its 50th in 1993. “I have friends here,” he said. “And June and I have been keeping company.”
Dr. Hugh Minor, a retired ophthalmologist, practiced in Everett more than 30 years. While Fields joked about his high school football days, the 91-year-old Minor countered that his Snohomish High pal went on to have “one of the more distinguished military careers.”
Fields joined the Army in 1943, and served more than two years in Europe. After World War II, Fields was commissioned as an officer and commanded National Guard battalions in Everett and Snohomish. A drilling contractor in civilian life, Fields was a lieutenant colonel when he retired from the military at age 53.
Twice, he was a Veterans Day speaker at Naval Station Everett. “That was a great privilege,” said Fields, who lives near Marysville.
Although it’s been 71 years since World War II ended, their memories of wartime are strong.
“They started taking our classmates right after graduation. We didn’t know that a lot of them wouldn’t come back,” said Elizabeth Reed, 92. “We had never seen war before.”
Reed, whose maiden name was Leonard, left Snohomish after graduation. She worked during the war waiting tables in Lemoore, California, near Lemoore Army Air Field. After getting married, she came home to Snohomish for good, and spent 31 years working at a local cannery.
Milly and Keith Krause, both 92, weren’t just Snohomish High sweethearts. They have been sweet on each other since third grade at Swan’s Trail Elementary School. They married in 1946 and celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary June 22.
During the war, Keith Krause spent six months on Okinawa and served on a Navy minesweeper. His future bride wrote to him every day. They live in Gold Bar, where Keith is retired from construction work.
Milly Krause nibbled her pepper-jack cheese sandwich, but didn’t touch a little bag of goodies. “The cookies are for him,” she said, handing the bag to Keith. Noting that the long picnic table was crowded on both sides, she said “this is not too bad a turnout.”
Gregory hopes everyone returns next year. Their 75th reunion will warrant more than sack lunches. “Maybe a cake and ice cream,” she said.
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; firstname.lastname@example.org.