High school class of 1949 prepares to celebrate 70th reunion

The Appleton Senior High School Class of 1949 gathers for a reunion in this undated photo.
The Appleton Senior High School Class of 1949 gathers for a reunion in this undated photo.(WBAY)
Published: Aug. 13, 2019 at 4:29 PM CDT
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Built in 1938, what is now known as Appleton West High School was originally Appleton Senior High. And on Wednesday, a group of Senior High graduates are getting together for their 70th class reunion.

They call themselves the 49'ers. At 88 years young , Neal and Irene Gamsky, along with Nancy Bodway and Peter Thiel, look a lot different than they did in 1949 when they graduated from Appleton Senior High School.

"I'm very lucky that I've reached this point in my life that I can say I've been out of high school for 70 years. Amazing," says Bodway.

Seven decades later, the high school friends find themselves all living at Touchmark in Appleton, a 55 and over community. Not really a surprise, however, considering what their classmates have meant to them over the years.

According to Irene Gemsky, "We were really, for 400 kids, we had a lot of friends. We really were a close group."

Since graduation in 1949, their class has kept in close contact, holding elaborate reunions at least every five years. But, when it came to the 70th one, it just seemed like too much to plan at their age. That's until the staff at Touchmark learned about the closeness of the class -- and the connection of many of their residents.

"She said you can have it here, I'll take care of a lot of the work on it, and she did. Otherwise we would have never have had it. She said you can't ignore a 70th reunion. I said okay. So that's how it happened basically," says Neal Gamsky about the Touchmark staff helping to plan the reunion.

On the eve of the event, these four friends are anxious to see other former classmates and look forward to catching up.

"We talk about our ailments and we do. We sit there and we laugh at all of the problems we've got. Like, some guy can't bend over to tee up a golf ball, he falls on his face and another guy's backswing is poor. We sort of enjoy all of the problems we have," says Thiel.

Reminiscing about their high school days is always a good time, but so is celebrating the good lives they continue to live.

Bodway adds, "It'll be a pleasure to see everyone."

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