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Baby boomers re-union planning committee celebrates with party

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The planning committee for the Baby Boomers Reunion for the 50th anniversary of the first Rider-Wichita Falls High School football game had a celebration Friday, June 6 at the club room of the Whiskeyta Club in Wichita Falls, Texas, according to Terry Pence, chairman of the committee. With a plan by the Wichita Falls School Board to possibly destroy Wichita Falls High School and Rider floating around the city, planners decided this year might be the last opportunity to have such a reunion. This reunion is unique in the fact that it is a generational reunion not just for one graduating year. This reunion is for all alumni that graduated in the 1950s, 60s and 70s from WFHS to commemorate the first football game in which the WFHS Coyotes played the Rider Raiders in 1964. This is the generation known as the Baby Boomers thus the name WFHS Baby Boomers Reunion.

Pence was kind enough to give an interview regarding the historic event in Wichita Falls football.

Members of the committee who attended the celebration included chairman Terry Pence, facility locaters Bonnie Sue Belcher Lane, Marilyn Cummings Wood, treasurer Connie Camp Phillis and secretary Connie Joyce. Others in attendance included Vaughn Coffman and Randy Townsend, who graduated in 1968.

Mark McDowell, who was a 1966 graduate, traveled all the way from New York to attend the bash. McDowell is in the grapic arts designng business and lived in Manhattan during most of his stay in the Big Apple. He has done all the graphic designs and helped Pence in setting up the Baby Boomers website. McDowell was a co-captain of the 1965 WFHS football team along with running back Billy Johnson, who now lives in Arizona with his wife Leslie. McDowell and Johnson are both committee menbers and participate in planning meetings by phone during each committee meeting.

Townsend, who played for the 1967 Coyotes' football team as a wingback and punt returner, had many fond memories of several of his Rider counterparts on the football field.

"I was good friends with Mike Ruth and Roger Deerinwater. In fact, Mike and I were such good friends we exchanged our letter jackets. I sure got in trouble when I wore that black and gold letter jacket of Mike's through the halls of Wichita Falls High School. Coaches and other people got on me pretty good. ' What are you doing wearing a Rider jacket in school?' they asked. "I don't know if Mike caught any heat for wearing my Coyote jacket at Rider or not.," Townsend said, laughing as he recalled the controversial incident.

Ruth was a an outstanding defensive back for Rider in the 1967 game which was one of the most exciting in the history of the traditional series. Deerinwater was also an outstanding defensive back in that same game.

Townsend recalled double-dating on several occasions with Mike Ruth and Roger Deerinwater.

"I think they're both preachers now," he said.

Deerinwater has been pastor of First Baptist Church of Archer City for several years while Ruth does his preaching in Houston.

Townsend said several people at Old High jumped on him pretty good saying, "They're the enemy. You can't be wearing a Rider jacket. I never looked at them as enemies. We were friends."

Terry Pence, who formerly worked at Wells Fargo bank before retiring, said, "Looking back every task that was placed before us was taken care of. It seemed as if we had divine intervention. It all fell into place. Within two weeks of our inception we had the location for our event. The Hotel at Wichita Falls, plus they provided rooms for attendees at a great rate and a beautiful hospitality room. As chairman of the event, I began to put the calendar of events together. I felt it was going to take a miracle to get not only the people here, but find something for everyone to enjoy. Since this Reunion is is celebrating the last 50 years of the Coyote-Raider football game it was not an easy task."

Pence said she began the enormous task by using the social media, saying, "We began on Facebook, requesting people who would be interested in such an event to contact us and contact us they did. And quickly! Within a week we had 20 people who volunteered to help us with the reunion, plus to pass the word along through telephone calls and sharing with their friends on Facebook, requesting people who would be interested in such an event to contact us and contact us they did. We created a group page on Facebook entitled WFHS UPCOMING REUNION, which now has over 800 members."

Pence also mentioned that McDowell, who normally joins the committee's meetings via phone from New York, designed a logo for the reunion and created a website. The website may be found at www.wfhsbabyboomersreunion.com.

Pence also thanked Sandy Keys Kennedy, a 1969 WFHS graudate, who resides in the four corners region of New Mexico for her help on the project. Sandy, who is a genealogist, has "a talent of being able to locate missing people or verify additional current addresses."

Pence also said Gloria Rush Jenkins and Mary Cooper Miller played a big role in organizing the event.

She also said, "Our next hurdle was finding a location to hold an event of this size, plus obtaining a DJ, getting a caterer, decorations, hotel space to accomodate at least 400 people, donations, corporate sponsors.....it seemed it was a never ending list. Bonnie Belcher Lane took on the responsibility of locating a facility for the reunion. Marilyn Cummings Wood assisted Bonnie plus located hotels to accommodate our classmates."

She further said the schedule of events will begin Thursday, Oct. 2 with registration at The Hotel at Wichta Falls and end Saturday, Oct. 4 with a sock hop and karaoke.

Vaughn Coffman made the block which cleared the way for Randy Townsend to return a punt 102 yards in the last minute of the classic 1967 game for a touchdown with a final score of 32 - 27 in favor of the WFHS Coyotes. Coffman had a distinguished career in the Wichita Falls public school system including serving as principal of McNiel Junior High and Hirschi High School. Townsend had 9.6 speed in the 100-yard dash and 4.2 spped in the 40.

He said yesterday a pole vault injury slowed him down later.

The 1967 game has been considered by many to be the most exciting game in the history of the rivalry which may soon come to an end.

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