2004-10-22 / Education

Dreher High School Class of 1949

The Class of 1949 was the first graduating 12th grade class in SC
Contributed by Elsie Rast Stuart Rogers)

The Dreher High School Class of 1949
The Dreher High School Class of 1949

This is a brief description of some of the members of the Class of 1949. Each has a unique story. This is only a taste of the interesting lives our Forty-Niners have enjoyed. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that we had very fine teachers to inspire us at Dreher.

The Class of 1949 was the first 12th grade graduating class in SC. Prior to that time the students only attended 11 grades. Many people in the class of 1949 elected to leave after the 11th grade and go directly to college. They did well. I was one of those elected to be a member of the first 12–year class.

We were depression babies, born in 1931. We were in the fifth grade when WWII started in 1941. WWII ended when most of us were in the ninth grade. During the war teachers were called to perform many duties. They gave out ration books. Gas, sugar, and meat were rationed. I remember you couldn’t get chocolate candy anywhere. Tires and other rubber items were in short supply. Most of us had fathers, uncles, brothers serving in WWII.

Many things were for the war effort. We collected metal. Pennies were made of aluminum instead of copper. We had saving stamps we pasted in books to save toward a war bond. All the movie stars either entered the service or sold war bonds. The most inexpensive war bond was $18.75 which matured to $25 after ten years.

It was a very patriotic time. We learned many patriotic songs in our music classes.

The world was ours. There was an exuberant spirit. You could be anything you wanted to be if you just worked for it. Our class produced doctors, lawyers, executives, engineers, accountants – many different success stories.

During our high school years the veterans were returning. We depression babies were few as there was a low birthrate during the 30s. The colleges were doing all they could to encourage students to skip the 12th grade and go directly to college.

We were an enthusiastic bunch in high school. It was the first year Dreher had its own football team. J. K Henry was the coach. We didn’t win many games, but that didn’t dampen our enthusiasm. We played the games at Melton Field on the USC campus on Green Street.

The class members

Stewart Blume is an architect. O’Neal Humphries became a doctor and was dean of the USC Medical School. Princa McManus Wright was and still is the legal secretary for the City of Columbia. Bunny Butler Hope was a secretary in library research and still works part–time at the SC House of Representatives. Joe Berry is an attorney and a successful lobbyist at the State House. His wife Charlotte was president of the American Red Cross. Bill Deloache headed an electric company and is now the director of Laurel Crest.

I, Elsie Sutherland Rast Stuart Rogers, was on Lexington County Council, Mayor of Pelion, served in the SC House, and was president of the National Order of Women Legislators.

Most of the women in our class were smarter than the men but chose to rear outstanding families and support their spouses in their ambitions.

Theodosia Gailey Orr became an OB/Gyn physician. Hunter Rentz, Gene Baker, and Frank Harrison were also physicians. Bobby Wannamaker was a veterinarian.

Harry Lightsey was president of the student body at Clemson, dean of the USC Law School, and president of the University of Charleston. Harry started out as a veterinarian. Walter Ragin was chief highway commissioner at the SC Department of Highways and Transportation.

Duncan Breckinridge was a CPA. As a widower Duncan married Miriam Stevenson, former Miss Universe.

Most members went to college in the South. Many went to the University of South Carolina or Clemson. Tuition was less than a few hundred dollars. I could ride a bus to classes for a dime from King Street to Green Street. Most students did not have cars and lived at home or on campus.

When I finished high school I received a lot of information from northeastern schools like Radcliff, Wellesley, and Swarthmore. But as a whole we weren’t interested in going to that cold country to school. A few went to Virginia. Tommie June Fairey went to school in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Susan Dodson Rogers and Ruth Gudmundson Pierce went to Agnes Scott in Atlanta. Harriet Martin went to Stephens.

We didn’t think of the Ivy League Schools. We were centered on the South. Our world was smaller.

Ames Wells was president of Richtex Brick. Harry Varn worked for Dupont. He married Joyce Enright, daughter of Rex Enright.

Helen Wingate Bass ran the family business with her husband. Helen is a walking miracle. She was given three months to live and has survived cancer after 12 years. Tough lady.

Barbara Fowler Lemmon modeled in New York, returned to SC and married Dr. Charlie Lemmon. I can remember that everyone was just gah–gah because Barbara had a champagne fountain at her wedding reception. In those days, the 50s, what we normally had was ginger ale with lime sherbet. Wine wasn’t much in vogue. We had to brown bag to events if we wanted alcohol. We were still under the influence of the prohibition era. People bought liquor by the bottle. Grocery stores didn’t sell “spirits.”

Martha Helen Sawyer was a Title One coordinator for Richland School District One. June Bouknight Taylor was a teacher as was her husband, Arthur. Frances Hagood Gibbes and Barbara Lemmon got their masters degree in library science. Fran was the librarian at the Dentsville schools and pioneered the multi–media approach to learning there.

Leanne Skinner was widowed early and left with six children to rear. She did everything to give a good home to her children. She even delivered newspapers and worked as a security guard at the airport to support her family.

After WWII, there were so many men looking for work that all the periodicals like Good Housekeeping , Colliers , Ladies Home Journal , and Redbook discouraged us from any type of activity outside the home. If our husband was depressed, overweight, mean, anything, it was our fault. I can remember my minister’s wife saying “We can’t be wrong all the time.”

These magazines put a terrible guilt trip on women. If a husband had any type of problem at all, it was the woman’s fault.

Jeanette Beasley Craig married Buddy Craig, a Presbyterian minister. Bobbie Ann McCarthy married a veterinarian and lives in Orangeburg. Caroline Williams married a career Navy man and lives in Charleston. Larry Brown retired as a colonel in the Marine Corps and lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.. Maurice Werness finished Annapolis and retired as a US Navy fighter pilot. He now has an orange grove in Arizona. Harry Huggins was a commander in the US Navy. Fred Wackym is also retired from the Navy and lives in Summerville. Carl Durham was a star of our first Dreher football team and is still in business.

Mary Frances Barnett married Willie Wiles. Mitzi DuPre married Bud Matthews. Eliza Herndon married George Stone and taught at Dreher. Ellen Jacobus married Steve Deller who was an executive at Westinghouse. Wibby Noles married George Crepeau, who was a Naval aviator and lives in Alabama. Mary Lib Roseberry Saleh was Mayor of Euless, Texas.

Mickey Rush Klein lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia and reared five children. Patsy Savage married Carl Schwartz and lives in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. Leila Ann Sullivan Palmer taught voice at Columbia College and is active in many musical events in the Midlands. George Griffin is an artist whose wife, Jane, was Lexington County librarian for many years.

Miller Lide was active in the theater in New York. Olin McElveen was an executive at R. L. Bryan. Tommy Slagsvol was the father–in–law of Jimmy Buffet and the father of five children with a little help from Sally. Beb Davis was a school principal. Eldridge Rhodes is retired from the state of SC and a newly– wed in his 70s.

Henry Cauthen was president and CEO of SC Television and president of the National Organization of Public Broadcasting. Charlton Bowers also worked at establishing educational television on the facilities end and helped supervise the building of some of the stations.

Caroline Wainner James continues to be called to duty as a nurse and is liaison to the American Red Cross. Vera Ann Carter Peters lives in Charleston. Patricia Elliott Orr reared five children and lives in Irmo. The Howard twins, Jean and Jane live in Illinois and North Carolina respectively. Patsy Kleckley Owens was a military wife and lives in Columbia.

Mary Ann Sanders was married to attorney Ray Seigler, widowed and is now married to Lacoste Munn. Tea Searson married attorney Jack Simrill and lives in Hilton Head.

Wanda Edwards is married to Al Cook, an attorney, who managed Floyd Spence’s Washington Office. She sells real estate at Fripp Island. Curtis Crowder is a Presbyterian minister and hospital counselor.

Most of the class of 1949 married and had a family and are now enjoying their grandchildren.

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