Abilene High Class of 1959

Biographies J - N


Kent Zuber and I married January 1, 1959, our senior year. We had our first son in October of 1960 and another son in December, 1962. We were married for 5 years and lived in Abilene, Dallas and finally Ft. Worth. We divorced and I married Ray Kachell from Fort worth. We had two daughters. January 1, 1980 we lost our 18 year old son, Brent Zuber. His death was a teenage suicide.

It would have been easier for me to have died on that date too, I assure you, but I had other children to raise and life kept going. I sold real estate in the mid cities area of DFW and also in Evergreen, Colorado and we have bought, sold and remodeled homes everywhere we have lived. Ray manages country clubs, golf clubs and city clubs. This has taken us to Evergreen and Crested Butte, Colorado, and California twice. Once to San Diego area (Carlsbad, CA.) and Westlake Village, next to Thousand Oaks, CA. We have lived in Canton, GA, just north of Atlanta and finally to Kauai, Hawaii for two and 1/2 years. Presently Ray is working with companies to financially turn around private clubs.

We play social golf...you who are real golfers will know what that means! We love to travel. I love making greeting cards and writing poems mostly for our grandchildren (11 of them!). I enjoy the computer and I make pine needle baskets. Ray and I have been married for 44 years and enjoy each others company, still...isn't that remarkable?

I took care of my parents the last year of their life in Abilene. They both died in 2000...just seven weeks apart. My sister, Leah Johnson, who some of you might remember lives in Houston.

Poem Sherry Johnson Kachel shared following Judy Harlow Young's death:

My journey is just beginning, for this is not the end.

No, it is the bright Beginning of a life lived Again.

Time as we know it, is just a whisper away

But I have gone to live an Eternal life today.

When tears blur the journey that leaves you behind

Remember me with simple things, look for a sign.

A familiar face, a smile, the hand of an old friend,

For these are reminders that SOON WE MEET AGAIN.

Sherry Kachel

February 18, 2007


Hello everyone, Joie Jones here. I have been fascinated by everyone's stories of what they have done over the past 50 years. Now it is time for me to tell my story.

During the summer of 1959 Morris Weller and I went on a wonderful road trip to Maine for a science camp at the University of Maine. Morris has related some of this story already and I hope to add to it in a few days. This really is a story all of its own.

In the Fall of 1959 I set out for the University of Texas in Austin. Robert Hunter was my roommate. Bill Coltharp and Charles Scarborough were our suite mates. I'm not sure how the dorm ever survived our presence. I graduated from UT in 1963 with a BS in Physics and stayed on to do an MS in Applied Math, which I received in 1965.

While at UT, I worked each summer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California helping to develop the instrument package that years later would land on Mars. Driving between Texas and California each summer I always took a few extra weeks to explore the intervening countryside. This let to a fascination with the American Southwest, which still continues to this day.

During my senior year at UT I met Becky Becknell from Idalou, Texas (just outside of Lubbock). She became and has been the love of my life as well as my very best friend. We were married in June 1965 following both of our graduations from UT and have just celebrated our 44th wedding anniversary. That first summer we spent in California where I continued my work at JPL. In the Fall we drove cross country to Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island where we were both graduate students, Becky in English and me in physics. Becky received her MA in English from Brown and began teaching at Rhode Island Junior College. I received my Ph.D. in physics from Brown in 1970.

In the summer of 1970 we moved to Boston where my first job was with the consulting firm Bolt Beranek and Newman (BBN). Becky continued her teaching position in Rhode Island commuting via train. I worked on a number of interesting projects at BBN including an analysis of the Watergate tapes (yes, there was a gap on one of the tapes indicating that it had been erased 13 times). While at BBN I began my work in medical ultrasonics, a field in which I would continue to make contributions for all of my career. During this period I had an adjunct position at Harvard where I taught mathematics to undergraduates and medical physics to medical students.

In 1975 Becky and I moved to Cleveland, Ohio where I accepted a position as Director of the Medical Ultrasound Research Lab at Case Western University. Becky continued teaching but now at Kent State University. We actually lived in Chagrin Falls, a lovely town outside of Cleveland.

In 1977 I was offered a position as Professor of Radiological Sciences at the University of California Irvine so we returned to the West coast where we have remained. We built a California redwood house with a view of the ocean in Laguna Beach and moved in on the fourth of July week-end of 1977. We are still here and are unlikely to move anywhere else.

In California Becky initially found a number of interesting teaching positions at local junior colleges then decided to move on to writing full time, both fiction and non- fiction. She also found an interest in local politics, serving for a decade as a Planning Commissioner for the city of Laguna Beach. In recent years she has worked behind the scenes running the campaigns for a number of candidates.

Cooking has always been a pleasure that Becky and I have enjoyed together. For years we wrote a column 'Of Food and Wine' that appeared in a number of newspapers. Becky did the food part, developing new recipes or modifying old ones while I tried to find wine matches for her food and menus. Today we still write the occasional food and wine article but mostly we just enjoy the outputs of our labor.

As a scientist I have always been interested in science and public policy. With this interest and a set of fortuitous circumstances, I was appointed by President Carter to the Presidential Science and Technology Advisory Committee. We met monthly at the White House during President Carter's term of office. This was an exciting and heady time for me as a young scientist.

Three years ago UN Secretary General Ban Ky-moon appointed me to a Special Committee for New Technologies and the Environment, a committee of 20 members world-wide with 10 scientists and 10 public figures. Only three members are from the United States: Jerry Brown, Al Gore, and myself. We have been directed to seek out new technologies that could potentially reverse the effects of global warming. This too has been an exciting and rewarding undertaking.

Recently I served as a consultant to the Obama election committee and transition team, preparing position papers on various science and technology issues. I am currently serving as an advisor to the Obama administration in the areas of energy and health care. Once again we are becoming bi-coastal.

My interest in science probably began with the rocket experiments in high school. Over time this interest broaden into many other areas. Following graduate school I became interested in medical applications of ultrasound, which led, in turn, to an interest in medical imaging, a field I have worked in for most of my career. About 15 years ago I become interested in the relationships between Eastern and Western medicine and in the critical evaluation of both diagnostic and therapeutic medicine modalities, particularly in the areas of complementary and alternative medicine and subtle energy medicine. My studies of acupuncture using contemporary medical imaging and of Pranic Healing using conventional laboratory methods are providing a scientific understanding and basis for these ancient healing methods.

Over the years I have written four books, over 400 technical papers, and some 50 patents. None of the books were very popular I'm afraid although a graduate level text on medical imaging, which I wrote a decade ago, has sold over 40,000 copies. It has been satisfying to see text books I have written widely used at universities around the world.

Becky and I love to travel and through my work we have had many wonderful travel opportunities. For many years I have had colleagues in London, Paris, Copenhagen, Moscow, Tokyo, Beijing, and Sydney that I work with regularly. We have enjoyed a number of extended visits to London where I worked with a colleague at King's College and spent 1996-1997 in Paris where I was at the University of Paris. On these excursions Becky was able to attend Le Cordon Bleu Cooking School (just like Julia Child). I enjoyed all of her homework assignments and take home exams!

Becky and I both decided long ago that we would make better aunts and uncles than parents. Fortunately, we still have lots of nieces and nephews in Texas. Over the years I have had many graduate students that have now become part of our extended family. Watching them grow and develop and become successful has been most rewarding.

Becky and I are looking forward to being with all of you in Abilene in October. Reading these e-mail exchanges and flipping through my copy of the 1959 Flashlight has brought back many wonderful memories. It is hard to believe that it has been 50 years since we were all together at AHS. In many ways it seems as if it was only yesterday.

All the best, Joie Jones

On musings about the rocket shoots by AHS students:

Hello everyone, Joie Jones here. Robert Hunter recalled his experiences with rockets at AHS. This brought up a lot of fond memories for me, which I would like to share.

There were several of us that somehow simultaneously got involved in designing, building, and even firing rockets (much to the dismay of the local air force base). The participants included, if I remember correctly, Robert Hunter, Gerald Satterwhite, James South, Terry Chapman, Bill Coltharp, Arthur Hanna, Jimmy Nail, and myself. I believe Morris Weller also joined in occasionally, although he was more interested in biology than physics. I think that it was Robert's father who suggested that we put together a formal organization and had his attorney draw up the documents. I believe that our organization was termed 'The Abilene Rocket Society.' In any case, we had a set of by- laws, which were all typed-out beautifully on legal paper in a sky-blue folder, which we all signed. This was the first legal document I had ever seen, much less signed, so I was greatly impressed. I don't know if we ever followed the by-laws or if we even ever read them, but each of us had a copy, which we carried around so we could refer to them if it was ever necessary.

Our group built and fired rockets individually and collectively. We all had much fun, even when our experiments failed and everything blew-up. Actually, we probably had more fun when we created rather large explosions! Our first year at AHS, we built and fired a number of relatively small rockets. They all used a mixture of zinc dust and sulfur as the propellant, which was packed into the rocket body, a steel tube. The mixture was highly explosive and a single spark would have created a huge explosion. We indeed must have had angels watching over us; otherwise we would have never made it out of AHS alive.

That first year Robert Hunter put together a rather large rocket which all of us helped assemble and fire. We had a spectacular launch and a great celebration. Robert must still have some photographs of this event, which would have made NASA proud. Robert has described this rocket in his recollections. It turned out that this rocket proved to be a very sophisticated method of doing in a frog, as Robert tells the sad tale of unintended consequences. In any case, Robert was the winner of the local Science Fair that year and went on to represent us at the 1957 National Science Fair.

In my junior year at AHS, I continued to build and fire rockets with my friends but I also decided to build a rocket static-tester. This was a large block of cement in which was imbedded a series of steel rods that could hold the rocket that was undergoing test. Attaching a series of calibrated springs to the rocket should unable us, in theory, to measure the force the rocket produced when fired. I built the static-tester in my back yard at home. It was no mean task to move this 500 pound block of cement from home to our rocket test site outside the city limits of Abilene. In our very first experiment, a relatively small rocket was secured to the static-tester and then fired. The results were rather spectacular. The rocket blew-up when ignited, lifting the 500 pound static-tester about two feet off the ground and causing the cement block to rotate and tumble across the terrain like a tumble weed from hell. We all ran for our dear lives. When the dust settled, my beautiful rocket static-tester was a jumbled wreck of broken cement and twisted steel beams. Nothing to do but start over from scratch.

My next static-tester, which I hoped was of improved design, did work with a very small rocket and over a period of several months I was able to correlate the change in force produced by a rocket with the change in the propellant mixture. That year I won the local science fair and went on to represent us at the 1958 National Science Fair in Flint, Michigan. Since rockets were becoming very popular at this point in time, I was, lucky enough to win Fourth Place, Physical Sciences at the National Fair. I believe that Morris Weller also went with me that year to the National Fair, having been the local winner in Biological Sciences. Our faculty chaperones that year were Miss. Johnson and Miss. Griffin. It was a great experience getting to know these wonderful teachers outside the classroom.

In my senior year at AHS I decided to build a rather large rocket that would carry an electronics payload in its nosecone. The payload was a Heath Kit Ham Radio transmitter attached to a Geiger tube which was supposed to measure changes in radiation levels as the rocket ascended. The rocket propellant was a step-up from our original zinc dust and sulfur blend to a plastic like material whose various components had to be mixed under heat. I made the propellant in several small batches, which I cooked on my mother's stove. Once again angels must have been watching over us because these conditions of construction really should have yielded a large explosion. The rocket was finally assembled and we were all gathered at our rocket test site for what we thought would be a spectacular show. The ignition button was pushed and the rocket slowly reached an altitude of about 12 feet from which it tumbled backed to earth where it sputtered and gasped for several minutes before it died. Fortunately, the payload remained intact and could be used again. However, for the rocket itself, I had to start all over again.

A new rocket was prepared and we all gathered for test firing number two. The ignition switch was pushed and nothing happened for what seemed like an eternity but in fact was a period of only a few seconds. Then a great explosion occurred generating a large fire- ball which scattered the remains of the rocket over a radius of a few hundred feet. We all once again dove for cover and some how, miraculously, no one was hurt. Now I really did have to start all over, but after some time a third rocket (hopefully much improved) was ready for testing. This time everything worked, including the radio transmitter. This project, together with a biological sciences project designed by Morris Weller, won at the local science fair level and we were able to represent West Texas at the 1959 National Science Fair in Hartford, Connecticut. Once again, rockets were a very popular item at the Science Fair and I was lucky to win First Place, Physical Sciences.

As an encouragement to science education, all of the armed services gave a number of awards. I was fortunate to receive several of these, which proved to be a great deal of fun. The US Navy took about 20 participants in the Science Fair by bus from Hartford to the submarine base in southern Connecticut where we boarded the USS Nautilus, the first nuclear submarine. We submerged and got a chance to see New York City through a periscope. I thought this was all great fun but suspect the sailors onboard did not know what to do with this invasion of 20 high school nerds asking all sorts of questions.

The US Army gave two of us a trip to California where we visited the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which was then operated by the Army. The other student that went with me was from New York. We instantly became friends and have remained close for the past 50 years. I also made wonderful contacts at JPL and worked summers there while I was an undergraduate at University of Texas. Since the Army was a consultant to Hollywood for war movies, they took us out to the set where 'Pork Chop Hill' with Gregory Peck was being filmed. Mr. Peck was uncommonly gracious to us and spent more time then I am sure he had explaining how movies are made. On this same trip the Army arranged a visit to Disneyland for us and even a meeting with Walt Disney. Mr. Disney was scheduled to spend about 20 minutes with us, which turned into a four-hour tour of the park with him explaining how all the wonderful mechanical devices worked. I don't know that I have ever had a more wonderful and magical time then these few hours I was privileged to share with Walt Disney.

Finally, the US Air Force arranged for several of us to set up our science fair exhibits at an airpower show in Florida. For me, the highlight of the trip was an awards luncheon in which Werner von Braun presented me with an Omega watch, the watch I still wear everyday.

During my senior year I also received correspondence from a number of students at other schools that were building rockets. One of these was from Homer Hickam who was doing rocket experiments in West Virginia. He won First Place at the 1960 National Science Fair, became an engineer, and worked for NASA for many years. We, too, have remained friends over the years although we have never met in person. His wonderful book about his experiences with amateur rockets, 'Rocket Boys' was published in 1998 and made into the movie 'October Sky.'

Participating in the National Science Fair led to an invitation to appear on the TV Quiz Show 'To Tell The Truth' just prior to graduation (will the real Joie Jones stand up). This enabled me to play hooky from AHS for a few days in New York City.

Playing with rockets at AHS was good to me and a lot of fun. It also has provided wonderful memories of working with friends to last for several lifetimes. All the best, Joie.


The Life of Barbara Kerr Caton after 1959:

Just for background - I was born in Nacogdoches, TX. We lived in that area until after World War II. My first year of school I attended about five different schools in different towns in Texas, the last one was Baird. I attended the second grade in Abilene at Alta Vista. The third grade we were in Brownwood. From the fourth grade on I attended Abilene schools, Alta Vista, Bowie, South Junior and AHS.

After graduation I attended McMurry for one year. On June 11, 1960, I married David Caton. Two weeks after the wedding he reported to Ft. Ord, CA for basic training. In April of 1961 I flew to Fairbanks, Alaska, to be with David at Ft. Wainwright. We were there until June of 1962 when we drove back to Texas and moved to the Dallas area.

Our first son, Miles, was born in February of 1963 and our second son, John, was born in November of 1966.

In the spring of 1967 we purchased the florist shop where David had been working. We operated the business until the late 70s when a large part of the florist business was going to the grocery stores. A couple of years before we sold the business, I started working for a specialty advertising company in Dallas. After selling the business David went to work for a friend that owned a lumber and building materials company.

In the late 1980s I changed careers again. I took some classes and started working as a medical office manager. I really enjoyed this crazy job. Of course it helps to work for people like the three doctors that I worked for at Baylor Medical Center in Dallas.

One of greatest joys of our lives was the years (1977-1990) that we served as counselors for the youth choir at our church.. We helped with casting, staging, fund raising, planning annual summer tours and all of the hundreds of other things that go with taking 20 - 50 teenagers on a 10-12 day trip. The group presented "Godspell" and "Jesus Christ, Superstar" to churches in 30 plus states. After spending that much time with the youth you feel like they are part of your family and we love them all. We were so fortunate to see so many of them at the church's 50th anniversary celebration last week.

Miles and his wife, Norma, live in Plano. They have not been able to have children and for that we are sad for them and us. However, they are happy with each other and their two dogs. John lives in Mesquite just about a mile from us. He has never married and that may be a good thing. He is a wonderful guy and he and two other young men are working with a new youth choir at our church and they just completed their 10th summer tour.

We are both retired and enjoying life. We do several outreach projects through our Church - Habitat for Humanity, Newborns in Need, Dallas homeless shelter, home for people living with AIDS and many more. We like to travel so we try to take two trips a year along with several trips to Abilene and Nacogdoches. We share the care of my mother with my sister and her husband. She is at our house about one third of the year.


I'll take the challenge and be the first of 15 !!!! I have been reading all afternoon and find all the input very interesting. I didn't know how much detail to try and give but after reading Fran Clark Bush's and your comment to me here goes.

 I too was shocked and saddened to see so many names that I vividly recalled on the Fallen Eagles list, including my best friend from the 2 nd or 3 rd grade---Pete Munnerlyn. Pete and I went to UT for senior day and Pete eventually got his degree there. He flunked out his freshman year playing too much in the Fraternity house and had to go to McMurry for a semester or two. I went to Texas A&M to keep my parents happy, as my 3 older brothers had started the tradition. Also my Dad had cancer surgery the summer before and I felt I had to be serious about school. I'm sure if I had gone to Texas with Pete I would have flunked out too.

I got engaged to Cassie Carter '61 in June of 1962 before going to Ft Sill, OK for ROTC summer camp. The Army broke my contract for a Commission (Medical) so Cassie and I moved up our wedding date to early Sept in time to go to A&M for my senior year. I graduated in 1963 with my BBA in Accounting and went to work for Ford Motor Co. at the LA assembly plant. Our first daughter, Roxanne, was born there. I went to the Assembly Division HQ in Dearborn, Mi. in 1965 and our second daughter Tonya was born there. We were there three years and our son, Eric was born in 1967. By this time we figured out that it wasn't the water and I already had the name of "Rabbit".

We came back to Dallas on vacation in early 1968 and I interviewed and accepted a job with Texas Instruments at Corp. Controller Staff on the hill in N. Dallas. The guy who hired me, Dave Martin, made it a requirement of my hiring that I continue on my study toward an MBA, saying "We are big on education here at T I and we'll pay for it" He is one of those people I can say had a major influence on my life. Besides my parents, I can also say Dolly Smith's ( '59 ) dad also is included. He was a family friend and a CPA and guided me to Accounting after I decided to change from being a Chemical Eng. major after my dad died at the end of my freshman year.

After 6 months at T I, I was in the right place at the right time, and got a promotion to head the Corp. Acctg. Services--payroll, timekeeping, A/P for three divisions on the HILL. This lasted 18 months and the recession of 1970 found me being informed by my boss that one of us would be let go and it wasn't going to be him. Luckily, I was only one semester of night school away from my MBA and a headhunter found me a position with Atlantic Richfield Co-- most know by ARCO gas. I worked in downtown Dallas for two years. In 1972 I accepted the job of Mgr. of Budgets and Performance Analysis in the International Division and we moved to LA. This lasted 2 years but was the end of my marriage to Cassie. She moved back to Dallas area, where she still lives. We are friends. And we now have a 6 year old Granddaughter to talk about.

In 1975 I went to Cairo, Egypt with Arco as Mgr. of Finance for that subsidiary. Three years later in 1978 I went to Sydney, Australia in the same capacity. And on to Jakarta, Indonesia in mid 1980 for another three years. Then I went to Dubai, U.A.E. for my last two years and then the bottom fell out of the crude oil mkt. The Co was downsizing and I was one of many that accepted an early out package and credited with 20 years service. Since I was 44,and my dad died at 48, I decided I could always go back to work if I had to. I've now been retired for 24 years, although its more accurate to say I'm self employed. I have been very involved with rental properties and stock market investing. Needless to say the last few years have not been easy.

I came to Lake Tahoe in 1986 to Ski for a couple of months and got hooked. My dream from age eleven, when I first saw mountains and pine trees, was to someday live in that beauty. I am living that dream, plus its a lot cooler than Texas. I bought my first house here in 1989 and have lived here since. I had a season pass at Heavenly Valley Ski Resort until 2005 when I broke my right knee after hitting a hidden object under powder. So now my main hobby for fun is sailing in the summer on beautiful Lake Tahoe. I belong to the "Sons in Retirement"--S I R --a  northern California retired men's group of about 20,000. I am a founding member of the local branch and a past president and director. I go to a "Big Band" night once a month at the senior center, which always brings back good memories of the 3 years of the "Cotillion". I want to say about 6 dances a year!!!  It was GRAND. I can still remember how fantastic all you Gals looked in your formals !!! I was always sad when the night was over and they played the "Last Dance".

I look forward to see ya'll in Abilene in Oct.

In a discussion about Lake Tahoe:

Thanks for sharing your photos of Tahoe. I am familiar with the Eagles Nest and the area at top of Kingsbury Grade and the Stagecoach Lodge and ski lift. I have probably skied by the condos you stayed at if they face the ski run to the lift.

I came to ski the first time at Lake Tahoe in 1983. I was on my annual trip while living in Jakarta, Indonesia. I LOVED it.!!! So when I returned from overseas I came to Tahoe for about a 6 week trip in 1986. I also spent the winters of '87, '88, and '89 and then bought my first house in 1989. Other than one year in Sydney, Australia I have lived here since then. To refresh memories, I was living in Sydney in 1979 and got recognized for coming the greatest distance to our 20 year reunion and the A R News had my picture.

I saw my first Mountains and pine forests at 11 when I went to Red River, N.M.on a vacation campout with my family. I promised myself that some day I would live in that beauty. So I have been living my dream and I count my blessings every day. I don't ski much now but I do go out on my sailboat a lot.

I also look forward to see you in Abilene. Take care,


After graduation, I attended Hardin Simmons for two years and married Dean Taggart, who was graduating from HSU and accepting a commission into the Army. He was a career officer for 22 years, and we moved many times, the last time back to Abilene. After 2 children and a few intervening years, I finally graduated in 1968 with a BA in Biology and Chemistry. Later I went back to school for a teaching certificate and MEd.

I have absolutely loved teaching (mostly chemistry and AP biology), and completed 30 years in 2004, the last 20 or so at AHS. It was interesting and challenging to teach in different schools, in other states, work as a College Board consultant for AP biology and PreAP chemistry, and various other areas of the educational world. I now work half time at Region 14 Educational Service Center as science consultant for their alternative certification program. It is fun working with new teachers.

Dean and I have been married 48 years, have a son and daughter, both married, and three grandchildren. Our son and wife live in Phoenix, and our daughter and her family (including our grandchildren!) live here in Abilene to my delight. My elderly mom and step dad live here as well, and they depend on our support in many ways.

The hardest thing for me to adjust to when Dean retired from the Army and we moved to Abilene was NOT moving! However, I enjoy my job, my family and friends, my church life is good! I like to read, cook, garden, travel, am in leadership in BSF, and teach a Bible study at the Noah Project shelter. I enjoy church drama and have directed a drama team for our church and music department's Easter Pageant at the civic center here since 1983, and also directed church drama when we were stationed in Virginia. My passion is my faith.


On Jul 21, 2009, at 6:59 PM, JANE CARVER wrote:

Since I can't seem to get on the site guess I'll tell my story here. As I have mentioned previously I did get married in Nov.58. Bill and I stayed in the Abilene area until his discharge in 60-I knew from the start he never wanted to stay in Texas. Our oldest daughter was born in march of that year.

We moved to Andrews, NC- -his home town but if you remember there were no jobs to be had then. By the next Nov we had another little girl and Bill was working running a bull dozer clearing right aways for highway construction. We spent the hottest summer of my life in Macon Ga. He finally got the opportunity to get involved in the mobile home business which was just getting started good in the south east then.

I had always planned to be a nurse and a nursing program was started at a community college only fifty miles from Andrews so i began the daily trip driving to and from school until I graduated in 69. We decided that if we were ever going to try to have a son we had better get started and our oldest son was born in Jun 70 and when he was 6 weeks old we moved to the Fort Worth area for Bill's business-he opened and ran mobile home lots in Fort Worth, Mineral Wells and Wichita Falls. That lasted a year and he was ready to go back to the mountains--so he turned the lots over to his partner and we moved back and we've been here since. Our second son was born in 73--Today is his birthday.

Many things happened along the years after that --I went back to school for my degree and finished in 84. After the girls went off to college-- in 1988 we lost our second daughter, Teresa to liver failure and a failed liver transplant. Bill had a heart attack in 92 requiring quadrouple by pass but he did well. Our children are all married and living in the Asheville NC area --about 2 hours from us. We have 6 grandsons and 2 granddaughters one of which is only 8 weeks old. I continued to work as a certified emergency nurse until 05 and still work occasionally. My parents are both gone--my dad in 97 and my mom in 05 and my only brother, John(class of 61) lives in Ohio so i don't have many ties to Abilene any more.

In 72 I joined a new club being organized here--it was part of the general federation of women's clubs. Through this group, involvement in volunteer work has become my hobby and my passion. I have worked my way up to serve as president of the 6000 member state organization and continue to be involved on the national level. I have had the opportunity to travel all over the us with this group and through my connection with them. I was a delegate to the United Nations Women's Conference in 1998 in China. I have also been appointed by NC former governor to serve as chairman of the NC Women's Commission--a position I held for 8 years. Currently I hold a governors appointment as vice-chair on the NC Commission for Volunteerism. The primary responsibility of this commission is to administer federal dollars in grants to volunteer programs in the state--We just allocated over $4 million this summer.

Andrews is a small rural town in a beautiful mountain area close to 5 lakes and not far from the Great Smoky National park--If you're ever close by come to see me. I look forward to seeing everyone in Abilene.


Life after AHS Class of '59

Fifty years in a nutshell brings up so many memories...and how it was in '59 that none of us knew what was ahead..I left Abilene and headed to Virginia to attend Hollins College in Roanoke and stayed two years leaving many friends behind but still keep up with. ...the call of West Texas was too much. I transferred to Texas Christian University and graduated in 1963 with history, anthropology, education and English. I decided to go on to Southern Methodist University and graduated with MA in education and history.

I was married that first semester, and he was in SMU law school. We made our home in Dallas. The first three years after my graduation, I taught English at Richardson High School. We loved Dallas and had a wonderful time full of friends, work, travel, volunteering, and much to do including support of the Dallas hockey team then a farm club of the Chicago Black Hawks even going on a trip to Moscow in 1972 to see Team Canada play the Russians in hockey. Our children Kristi and Eric were born in 1970 and 1978 and that added another round of things to do following music and football!.

I even travelled to Russia again as I went with the SMU Student Conservatory Chamber Orchestra as a chaperone. Of course I also followed Highland Park football over what seemed like most of East Texas though I would not have ever traded either for anything else. Kristi is married, and she and her husband are classical musicians in the Dallas Opera and others, and he is with the Ft Worth Symphony. Eric is married also, and he and his wife have grandson Charlie age three. Both are in the D-FW area. After divorce after twenty years, we all stayed in the close area of Highland Park.

I decided after a few years to return to teaching and thus began a whole new life. I went to work at Lancaster High School teaching English in a special program, Project Pass with a team teacher working with at risk 10th and 11th graders which I loved. It was always exciting, challenging, rewarding and sometimes a little scarey. I was there fifteen years and was fortunate to be department chair, UIL co chair etc., and recipient of several awards that make you feel good too...such as Lancaster Teacher of the Year.

It was a very busy time, and I decided at 63 to retire and after a family consult, I moved to our ranch...Caddo Peak Ranch near Cross Plains and was so glad all of those years we had gotten involved in the town. My dad really loved it out there...so I enjoyed it all for five years including treasure hunting, fossil hunting, serving on the library board and enjoying the country life....what they called traffic was to me just an easy drive to town...even in Abilene...where I was often as my mom and my sister lived in our family home as by then Marsha had lost her husband and mom was beginning to decline at 88.

After mom's death in March of 2009 at 92, Marsha and I moved in together at the family home here and have been busy and enjoying life . I had a couple of serious medical problems including atrial fibrillation and most recently breast cancer but am doing fine. Being JJ to Charlie is a priority. I still love to stay busy with treasure hunting, traveling, genealogy, reading, needlework, and making handcrafted gift bags here for my little spot, Swanky Sacks, at Crafters Gallery in Abilene. And I have loved reconnecting here in Abilene with friends and especially the Class of '59 and look forward to seeing so many I have not seen is so many years...


After our graduation ceremony on June 1, 1959, Stephanie Pearce and I sat down in the breezeway by the cafeteria and had a little private ceremony where we turned each other's senior rings around, indicating that we were now graduates. We had arranged this in advance, and we are now bonded forever!

After celebrating in the cafeteria, James Queen, John Jay Hughes, Phil Strickland (class of 1960) and I headed for my family's cabin in south central Colorado. We left about 2:00 a.m. and drove straight through. I remember that we got into a big rain storm somewhere between Sweetwater and Snyder. Come to think of it, our graduation ceremony had to be moved inside because it had rained and the football field and parking lots were muddy. (Am I remembering that correctly?)

The four of us had a great time on our own in the mountains. Phil took the trout fishing very seriously while James spent considerable time jumping up and down on a beaver dam trying to break it up. Had he done so, I guess it would have drained Phil's fishing pond.

Anyway, as soon as we got back to Abilene, John Jay and I headed back to Glorieta Baptist Assembly near Santa Fe to spend the summer on the staff. It was a great time! Lots of pretty girls coming and going for conferences.

Then it was off to Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois for me. Living for two years in a suburb of Chicago was a pretty different experience for this West Texas kid as was living in a fairly cloistered environment like Wheaton College. The only thing I knew about Wheaton College at the time was that Billy Graham was a graduate and that it was a nondenominational Christian school. While it was somewhat cloistered, it was still a strong liberal arts college, so I appreciated being admitted. The most influential part of my Wheaton experience was going into Chicago's skid row on Sunday mornings and talking to the homeless men there, most of whom were addicted to alcohol and/or drugs. They were penniless derelicts who were mostly living for their next drink or fix. Seeing these men and hearing their stories had a major impact on my conservative thinking and theology. You could get burned out pretty easily doing 'skid row work,' so I'd go for a few months, then stop and spend Sunday mornings in a church in Wheaton. Then I'd go again for several months. After two years, though, I was ready to come back to Texas, so I transferred to Baylor, got engaged, married, and completed my undergrad degree there in 1963.

After graduation, I took a job as a social worker at Buckner Children's Home in Dallas where I remained for three years before going off to graduate school at LSU. That first job had a career-changing impact on me as I found a way to work with people that didn't involve going into the ministry. I had already been admitted to Dallas Theological Seminary, but had major misgivings about going to such a theologically conservative school as well as about going into the ministry - a career I'd planned on since junior high days. I've always felt that the profession of Christian ministry dodged a bullet when I discovered social work! That job at Buckner Children's Home gave me the chance to work with the children of people not unlike those I'd encountered in Chicago's skid row.

That said, I was bitten fairly early by the same self-employment bug that got my dad, so I decided I wanted to be in private practice as an individual, marriage, and family counselor. That meant I needed graduate training and at least five years of work in a mental health facility. So it was off to LSU's Graduate School of Social Work in Baton Rouge for a master's degree. Martha Fox Sauter and her husband have the same professional training. At previous reunions we have enjoyed some 'shop-talk' with each other.

After completing my MSW degree, I returned to Dallas with a new wife and briefly worked for what is now called Child Protective Services, then on to Dallas Co. Mental Health/Mental Retardation Center which was just starting up. Eventually, I landed at the Dallas State Adult Mental Health Clinic and was able to do exactly the kind of work I had envisioned doing before graduate school. After three years there and a considerable amount of additional training in psychotherapy, I gradually eased into a full-time private practice, and by this time I had a young daughter, born in 1970. My then-wife and I divorced in 1973, and I continued in private practice and was on the faculty of UT Arlington's Graduate School of Social Work. The teaching position only lasted a couple of years because UTA GSSW wanted someone with a doctorate, and I wasn't ready to go back to school yet.

Gay Lynn Rutledge (class of 1961) and I married in 1977. She had a daughter about the age of my daughter, so I became the father of two young-uns, though my own daughter lived with her mother.

By 1983, I was ready to pursue doctoral training, so I embarked on a six year adventure that proved to be the intellectual highlight of my life. I entered The Fielding Graduate University which is based in Santa Barbara, Ca. A graduate school for mid-career professionals in the field of mental health, Fielding's average age student was 42, and that's exactly how old I was upon entry. At the same time I continued a full-time private practice.

After receiving my doctorate, I entered a two year 'post-doc' internship in a Richardson practice that included 3 psychiatrists, 3 psychologists, and two social workers. Only one year was required for licensure as a psychologist in Texas, but Colorado required two, and I wanted to be sure I met that criterion 'just in case...'

After getting licensed I kind of bumped around looking for my niche. I was a little weary of counseling, so I got into the field of neurofeedback training (brainwave biofeedback) where I remained for 10 years. It was fascinating, cutting-edge, very helpful to my patients, and very expensive to support. (Just like anything that's computer based, the equipment became obsolete every couple of years.) So I closed my private practice in 2004 and went to work as a contract employee for a California company that provides mental health services to nursing homes. I've been at it almost 6 years, but have cut my workload to just two days a week.

I've learned that I'm good for 5-10 years in a given specialty in my field. I think it's because, at heart, I'm really a perpetual student. I love learning new things. While I was practicing as a neurotherapist, I was also studying the commodities market, though I never invested. While I have been working in the nursing homes, I've also been studying the foreign currency markets. My interest in theology continues, and I've recently finished a new work called Jesus Interrupted by Erdman. I'm currently reading a book called If Grace Is True by a couple of Quaker ministers/theologians, and while in Colorado this summer read three books on coal mining in the 19th and early 20th centuries in southern Colorado.

Career-wise, I am in the process of starting a private practice in personal life coaching which has to do with mentally healthy, creative, resourceful people. Personal life coaching is my retirement career. My website is under construction, but it will be called 'Coaching for the Second Act' or 'coaching4the2ndact.com' or maybe just '2ndactcoaching.com.' The 'Second Act' is what I am calling that period of time following any event that potentially has a life-changing effect on a person. It could be retirement, a medical crisis, a change in health, loss of a job, anything that has the potential to send a person off in a new direction for his or her life.

The neat thing about life coaching is that it is all done on the telephone, so I can do it from wherever I want to be. I have a great picture of one of my mentor's sitting in a lawn chair in the surf at the beach talking on his cell phone with a coaching client.

Anyway, that's where I've been and where I am. Hope this hasn't been so long that you've gotten bored and dropped out somewhere along the way. If not, thanks for reading it to the end.

All the best, John


I think we talked about those years on the phone, but I don't think I've written anything. The short version is that after graduation, I went to college at Howard Payne and UT Austin and taught history at South Houston High and Pasadena High. After my first year teaching I joined the army, went to infantry officer school at Fort Benning, spent time in Fort Hood and 199th Light Infantry Brigade in South Vietnam, then taught another semester of history at Pasadena High.

I loved history and loved teaching it, but moved on to Sul Ross State University to study counseling and worked as a Rehab counselor in San Angelo. In January 73 I went to East Texas State for a doctorate in counseling. After graduation in 74, I stayed for a post-doctoral year in psychology and have worked ever since as a psychologist. From 1981 to 1994 I was Chief Psychologist at Rusk State Hospital, then returned to Sul Ross as an associate professor. I retired in 1998 and worked as a psychologist at an adolescent treatment center near Fort Davis.

In May of 71 I married a graduate of Jim Ned High named Margaret Walker. She retired two years ago after 25 years of teaching first and second grade in Rusk and Marfa elementary schools. We continue to live in Alpine and visit Abilene now and then. We love the class reunions and really appreciate all the work you guys do to make them happen. Thanks.


The autumn after I graduated from AHS, I went to North Texas State (now referred to as UNT) in Denton to major in Music Education with concentrations in both voice and piano. Both my parents were musicians so this was an easy choice for me. However, my parents would not have chosen North Texas. That choice was influenced by Michael Johnstone, the AHS choir director. Beverly Ross and I roomed with each other. Having a double concentration required a lot of practice time.

After I married Frank Lawlis (a math major and football player) my sophomore year and then had a son (Thurman Frank) my junior year, I dropped piano (too many other things had my attention). My last year was finished over 3 summers and a 6-week stint in Denton for student teaching. Frank graduated before I did and began teaching and coaching in Andrews, Texas so we had moved there. While in Andrews, I taught piano and voice privately and sang with the church choir and the Midland/Odessa Chorale. When I graduated in 1964, we moved to Lubbock where my husband began work on his doctorate in psychology at Texas Tech. During this time, I sang in the First United Methodist Church choir and taught music part-time in their day care program.

I also had my second child, Luci, during our time in Lubbock. We moved to New York City for his year long internship and lived in Queens (Kew Gardens) for my first and last experience in high rise apartment living with two children. CULTURE SHOCK! This was the year of the first big teacher's strike in New York, and it was time for my son to start kindergarten. I believe they finally began in November. Even playtime for the children was different. No more opening the back door and sending them into the yard to play. We walked 4-5 blocks to the park most days or played in the concrete-covered school yard across the street. I felt a great sense of accomplishment when I learned to maneuver the subways with two children.

Positive experiences here were the availability of anything you could imagine in the arts. It was my second job (besides homemaking) to find music programs, plays/musicals etc. that we could attend as cheaply as possible. We also had wonderful times visiting my grandmother in New Hampshire especially during the fall foliage season. This is where I learned to love reading The New York Times on Sunday and eating great Chinese food.

The next year, we moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas where my husband worked for a research center connected with the University of Arkansas. During our time here, our third child, Erica, was born. I began the process of applying for graduate work in music at the university when we moved again back to Lubbock where Frank began teaching at Tech. I taught music as a volunteer at the Lubbock State School and looked at the possibility of getting a degree in music therapy at this point. Tech was considering a degree in this field at the time, and an advisor referred me to the psychology department to take some courses there, which I did. They never started a music therapy program, but I got my Master's in psychology there and began work at the MHMR center in Lubbock as a volunteer coordinator and psychotherapist working into a full-time therapist position. I loved this work, and it was an exciting time in the area of community mental health with resources to set up programs no longer supported today.

Our next move was to San Antonio where I had some difficulty finding full-time work as a therapist because I didn't speak Spanish or have a Ph.D. So I decided it was time to go back to school. I was accepted at North Texas State again, but this time in psychology. Frank also got a job there teaching. We had come full circle starting in Denton and ending our relationship through divorce in Denton. I continued working on my Ph.D. in counseling psych and graduated in 1980 after an internship with Dallas County MHMR.

In 1977 I met Mel Achterberg, and we married a year later. He moved to Denton and continued work in Fort Worth with IBM as a Systems Engineer (He's also an Aggie. Yikes!) while I was hired by the Denton County Mental Health Unit in 1980 to run their satellite center in Lewisville. I did this for two years and then set up a private practice in Denton primarily working with couples and individual adults (though there was a 7-year time period of assessing and working with abused children which was the most difficult work I have ever done).

Around 1984 when my children had left the nest, Mel and I began our serious hobby of traveling. We went to Europe, South America, Indonesia and many places in North America. When Mel retired in 1996, we went around the world for 4.5 months to Tahiti, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia (Bali and Java), Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, India, Kenya, Egypt, England and France. Since then we haven taken about 2-3 4-week trips a year. The most interesting place we visited was Bhutan during their harvest festival when the Buddhist monks have elaborate ceremonies and dances for the celebration. Some of the best pictures I've taken come from here. The most beautiful place we've traveled is Bali, Indonesia. The terraced rice fields and forests (including monkeys) are so beautiful they take away your breath. The people there are also very gentle and friendly.

I returned to work half-time after our trip and now see only a few people a month. Mel volunteered with Habitat for Humanity as head of the building committee which turned out to be a full-time job for about 6 years. Now he works with senior citizens (read that anyone over 60 but usually those 75 to 85) trying to stay in their homes. He installs grab bars, railings, etc. and does small jobs for them. It is very rewarding work for him.

We think it has been helpful for us to meet and learn about people from around the world, so we have a deal with our 6 grandchildren to take them any where they would like in the world hoping it will encourage their interest, too. It's been very interesting and touching to read the other AHS '59 life histories. Thank you all so much for sharing with us.



After graduation, I went off to Texas Tech to major in Engineering because my father had determined that engineers made a good living. That was OK with me as I had not decided what I wanted to be when I grew up. In fact, I still don't know.

I roomed with Dow Patterson and Larry Williams at some point. We had great times adjusting to the academic and fun life of living in Gordon Hall I married Dana Green in 1962 after she graduated from AHS and we set up housekeeping in Lubbock. I got my degree from Tech in Industrial Management/Industrial Engineering in 1964 and worked for a short time before avoiding the Viet Nam draft by joining the Army. We wound up in Washington DC working at the Army Security Agency and doing special projects for the Pentagon. After discharge, I moved to Dallas and worked for TI and later moved to Abilene to work for Timex. I completed my MBA at Hardin-Simmons while there. We wound up in Salt Lake City where I was chief industrial engineer for National Semiconductor.

My wife and I divorced in 1982 and I moved back to Abilene in engineering management with TI. I married Mary Joe Gerard in Abilene in 1986. We moved to Longview, TX in 1991 and where I went to work for what is now US Steel. I later left the steel business and began working for an engineering software company in Longview. That company decided to move to Denver in 2000 and I chose to stay in Longview which had become home. I have done some consulting and taught at a local college specializing in project management. I got tired of the politics and hassle of spending long hours in preparation for not much reward.

My last, and present, career move was to start mowing lawns and caring for swimming pools in the summer which I found rewarding and much less stressful We live on a small lake in a rural setting. I try to play golf as often as possible and am one of those golfers who believes that my golf clubs and not my technique give me a high handicap. I have a garage full of clubs that have let me down, but I continue the search. We are happy and content with our life.

Mary Joe and I do volunteer work and some traveling. We are on the board of the local Humane Society and I am heading up the building of a new multi-million dollar adoption center. We have been on medical missions to Guatemala and traveled to see our children who live in interesting places. I have a daughter who is a school teacher in Conroe and a son who is an educator in Asia. My three step children live in diverse places such as Arlington, Austin, and St. John, USVI. We have four grand children between us. I am looking forward to renewing old friendships at the reunion.


College - B Eng Science, U of Texas MS Nuclear Engineering, Oregon State University

Occupational - Worked as a Nuclear Engineer for General Electric at Hanford Washington and San Jose CA; product and business development at a small company (Nuclear Assurance Corp) in Atlanta, GA; Nuclear applications and other computer systems product management and business development at Control Data Corp; project manager, systems engineering consultant, and business development for several Washington DC area companies on a number of Department of Energy projects in DC, Los Alamos and Idaho.

Fun Memories - Designing, building and firing rockets that would probably cause today's risk-averse society to have heart failure over a teen doing such a thing and probably would cause a homeland security alert just for possessing the fuel. Lots of music memories - being in the cotton bowl parade, all state orchestra, playing at our own AHS musicals and more.


I went to McMurry after graduation and joined the Navy in 1961 and was fortunate enough to fly in P3A anti-submarine patrol planes as a Navagation Specialists for 5 years, got to see a lot of the world. After the service I moved back to Abilene and worked in the family business and started drag racing and ended up running in Pro Stock for NHRA, IHRA and AHRA for the next 11 years and was as high as 3rd in the nation. I contract drove for Andy White and a few others.

In 1978 I divorced and moved to Nashville, sold the racing operation, went back to school and graduated from Middle Tenn. State U. with a degree in Mass.Com. I moved to L.A., drove again for a group out of Newport Beach and in 1984 hung up the helmet and became VP of Parker Publishing, a law book publisher in L.A.

I had a heart attack in 1989 and moved back to Abilene, bought the family business, remarried in 2001 to a truly wonderful woman, Tina, after 20+ years of being single. David and Linda say I had to wait for her to grow up. Glad I did. Our business is good, Nichols Battery Co. LP. We were honored last year with the Torch Award For Business Ethics from the Better Business Bureau and were named Abilene's Business of the Quarter also. Tina and I enjoy our granddaughter, Marlie( 3 years old), my two step-daughters, Kendra and Gena, and my daughter Christine. Christine graduated from NYU and lives in Venice, Ca. Gena got her Masters in Engineering at T.Tech and lives in Longview and Kendra is the Ace of Cake Decorating at McKays in Abilene. We are so proud of them. Life has been so good to me and Tina and I have grown so close to our classmates and the depth of our friendships.

Phil Nichols