By Marie Meis
Elgin Review Staff Writer
1964: The Beatles held the top singles, the Vietnam War continued, Lyndon B. Johnson was president and another class from St. Boniface just graduated. 55 years later, we’ve had nine different presidents, have a cell phone in everyone’s pocket and the demolition of the St. Boniface school. Yet, through all of this, 20 classmates still remain. The entire graduating class of 1964 from St. Boniface, now 55 years post-graduation, are all still alive.
Charlie Meis, a ’64 graduate, has been an organizer and coordinator, making sure this class remains connected. In 2004, for the forty year anniversary, he constructed a book of the class. Each graduate holds two pages, one for their senior picture and any updated pictures they provided and the other for updates on life happenings and any memories of school days.
Along with this, Meis keeps an updated list of everyone’s email and works to know where each lives now.
The class has had members keep their roots right here in Elgin and has had others spread as far as Jacksonville, Florida, Chicago, Illinois, and Phoenix, Arizona. Meis went through each person’s picture and told where they live now and whether or not he had visited them. Remarkably, his visit count is well over half – even to those hundreds of miles away.
He is currently working to gather the class for their 55th year anniversary. For their 50th reunion, all but two of the twenty were able to attend.
Not only does the whole class remain after 55 years, the class remained together from Freshman year to Senior year with no transfers. The only member that did not graduate with the class left her Junior year to join the convent. She is still included in the class list and has been invited to each reunion.
“Even though we weren’t all that close in high school, we were still a class,” Meis said.
They just missed the football program being added and instead participated in basketball, speech, choir and debate during their years. They even had the luxury of a physical education program that he said was added a couple years before they left.
Meis was able to walk the through the St. Boniface building before it was torn down in 2013 and noted all the changes it saw compared to his school days.
“There was a well updated building there compared to what I remembered,” he shared. He told of outdoor restrooms and dormitories on the third floor, all long gone by 2013.
The graduates of St. Boniface High School decided to stop having organized reunions after 2017, after each class celebrated its 50th anniversary. Now, any reunions are independent and only happen if someone decides to organize it.
So why does Meis continue to plan reunions and the class continue to come? Why does he put in the time and effort to stay connected?
“We’re all alive,” Meis laughed, “so why not?”
Making up the Class of 1964, aside from Meis, are Diane Ahlers, Janice Merrifield, Julie Thome, Georgia Koenig, Linda Eischeid, Judy Ortmeyer, Betty Spellman, Pat Seier, Audrey Fangman, Marvin Meis, Terry Scannell, Joe Vanderheiden, Jerry Schmitt, Gary Kerkman, LeRoy Kerkman, Les Ridder, Phil Beckman, David Schindler and Merle Dinslage.
By Marie Meis