Boyd Bennett attends his 80th class reunion
Boyd Bennett of Norfolk, Neb., who observed his 100th birthday in February this year, was among the 340 guests attending the 2010 Neligh High School reunion alumni banquet held at the Legion Hall on May 29th. He represented the graduation class of 80 years ago.
Bennett graduated with the class of 1930 and has since attended many of the alumni reunions. The last one he attended in 1995, he received recognition for being the oldest graduate present. This year he was presented a plaque designating the honor.
There were 52 graduates in the 1930 class – 41 girls and 11 boys. Bennett knows of only one other living class graduate, Mrs. Dorothy Wilson Dufek of Norfolk, Neb., but was unable to attend the reunion.
The first year Bennett attended high school, he drove a 1925 touring car to school and later a Ford coupe. He lived 9 miles northeast of Neligh, Neb., and the distance was all clay roads with no gravel. He recalls a few mishaps when his dad, Harry Bennett, had to pull him through the mud. Occasionally he would stay in town for a few days during the worst weather.
When asked about some changes during the last 80 years, he recalls the high school faculty then consisted of only four instructors and the superintendent and principal each conducted a full day of classes. This year there were 36 high school instructors. There were 24 graduates in this year’s class, even with the combination of the Neligh and Oakdale school districts which merged in 1975. He remembers he had two class annuals, “The Antelope”, published in 1928 and ’29 but unfortunately, the next year one wasn’t printed, due to the economy situation.
In those days, it was customary for the senior class to have a Sneak Day. He chuckles as he recalls their Senior Sneak Day which was to the Granada Theater in Norfolk to attend an afternoon movie. The trip was made with class members riding in a stock truck with no benches. They had to sit on the bed of the truck.
However, his graduation didn’t end his association with a school schedule. In June 1941, he married Mary Emma Inness, a school teacher. Later she resumed teaching, and retired from 33 years of teaching in 1985, which included about 10 years at the Neligh school. Their three children also taught school. Wayne of Omaha, retired from 34 years of teaching in 1999. His wife, Jan, retired in 2001 after 20 years. Joan Nelson of Newman Grove, retired in 2010 from 21 years. Ruth Kayleen Jaeger of Pierce, also taught school four years.
Bennett was a farmer in the Oakdale and Tilden area until he retired in 1968, when he and his family moved to Norfolk. In 2008, he and his wife moved to The Meadows in Norfolk.
His main form of entertainment is playing cards. He drives to the Senior Center twice a week for an afternoon of playing bridge and he also belongs to a weekly bridge foursome with three other men.
In February, The Meadows hosted an Open House for him to celebrate his 100th birthday which was February 16. Among the 100 guests attending were his three children and spouses, seven of his eight grandchildren and 11 of his 12 great grandchildren.
Mr. and Mrs. Bennett also observed their 69th wedding anniversary on June 11, 2010.