Bridgeville High School Class of 1948 reunion stirs up great memories |

Bridgeville High School Class of 1948 reunion stirs up great memories

Sixteen members of the Bridgeville High School Class of 1948 and an equal number of friends and family gathered at the Walnut Grill in Heidelberg last month to celebrate the 70th anniversary of their graduation. I was unable to visit with them but have been able to piece together a secondhand account of this very special event.

My Class of 1949 followed these folks through school all the way from first grade until they graduated. They were our honorary big brothers and sisters, our role models. We looked up to them then and still do.

The organizer of this annual reunion was Esther Pruner Dunich. She obviously is as competent at this task as she was serving as head majorette for Skip Batch’s Indians in the 1940s.

The 1948 class included a lot of kids who were special to me. I have frequently described Ed Weise as “the best ‘best friend’ a teenage boy ever had.” I will always be grateful for his friendship.

John Graham came from Alabama to be with his classmates. He was president of the class, a natural leader.

I’m sure everyone was happy to see Hartman Reed, fresh from his 15 minutes of fame when the “Today” show’s Al Roker honored him as part of the show’s “Deserving Dads” series in the spring. “Harty” has been a fixture at these reunions.

Alfred Barzan is a cherished member of our Octogenarian Brunch group and a rich source of memories of the old days each time we see him. Ben Rupnik, who was easily the best basketball player of our generation, went on to a successful career as a commercial artist. His sketches of Bridgeville street scenes are priceless; his ability to capture the essence of a time and place is uncanny.

Elaine Keil and John “Jocko” Schneider were one set of high school sweethearts who found happiness in marriage later on. Jocko couldn’t come because of health issues; Elaine represented the Schneider family handsomely. She served as social chairman of the class when they were seniors.

Joyce Wilson Hines, the widow of fellow classmate Bob Hines, came to the reunion. The Oelschlager family was effectively represented by Bob Oelschlager, accompanied by his wife.

Two other widows of class members came to the reunion. Betty Copeland’s husband, Curtis, and Marianne Karpinski Carchidi’s husband, Fred, were regular attendees of previous reunions; their widows have been seamlessly integrated into the class.

Another honorary classmate is John Rosa. He actually is a member of our 1949 class but has so many friends in this group that they have adopted him. John has lived in Tucson, Ariz., for the past 48 years. Recently he began returning to Bridgeville in the summer when the weather in Arizona became too hot.

Completing the roster of attendees are Jane van Gorder Finnerty, Virginia Collavo Noce, Dorothy Wilson Price, Grace Aiello Wallo, Bill Godwin, Nick Mamula and Richard Panizza.

These men and women were born too late to be part of the Greatest Generation; nonetheless, as a group they possess all of the same characteristics. It has been a privilege to know them and attempt to follow in their footsteps.

John F. Oyler is a contributing writer. You can reach him at 412-343-1652 or [email protected] Read more from him at

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