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Gary McQuaid's Class of 1964 Pages

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Text and Materials Contributed by Gary McQuaid '64
Arlington, VA, July 1996

 Wow!  What a weekend.  The gathering in Arlington, VA, July 26-27, was a significant weekend in my life.  As I stated during the dinner Saturday night, it closed a circle that had been open all my adult life.  The question that lurked in the background of my mind was, "Would I ever see any of those who graduated with me?"  The question was answered, "Yes! Yes! Yes!" Not only have I seen some of my classmates, but I know more will be found and I will see them too. 
 Part of my despair was not knowing how to begin looking for my classmates, and if there were people looking for Wagnerites would they even want to find me.  To my relief and joy, when I arrived for the gathering you remembered me and were delighted to see me.  The circle was complete at last. 
 As I returned to San Antonio, I reflected on the gathering. 
 One of the first people to see me was Jettye Orth.  She said, "I remember you.  You were really little.  Whenever I saw your picture in my yearbook, I wondered if you were still small; but you grew up!"  That statement made the trip.  I told her as the weekend closed that it was worth the trip just to hear her say that I had grown up.  It was one of the therapeutic events of the whole weekend. 
 On Saturday night, I was talking with one Wagnerite and heard my name called out.  I turned to see Billy Wehunt, one of the classmates that I greatly admired in those days.  His voice registered in the recesses of my memory--it was one I recognized.  We visited  that evening, and I learned why I admired him. 
 I had failed to make hotel arrangements because of the price.  On Friday night, Bill Woods '64' offered to let me stay with him and his wife.  What a special family they are.  We have more in common now than we had when we were in school.  Going to worship services on Sunday with him and his wife was one of the high points of the weekend.
 Ted Sharpe--went to Nam and came back--a hero (In my eyes).  Although I served during those years, I was spared the trauma of the war, and I look on those like Ted with great admiration and respect.
 David Bird was someone who, for very personal reasons, I especially wanted to meet.  He was there, and a long-standing prayer of 20+ years was answered.  Thanks Dave.
 Art Weiss.  What I remember of him from WHS days was "I wish I could be like him," and his encouragement in spite of my size.  At the gathering, he seemed to pick up right where he left off. 
 Ruth Kent did a super job of coordinating the event--Woman of the Year as far as I'm concerned.  An interesting note we discovered at the gathering:  We swapped schools.  She did her Jr-Sr years where I spent my Fr-Soph years.
 Looking back to my high school years, I remember when I ordered my senior class ring, my dad did not want me to buy it.  He said that my college ring would mean considerably more to me than my high school ring.  Well, I never bought a college ring, and my high school ring has become more treasured over the years.  It is something that indicates the uniqueness of my personal history.  My years at Wagner were more distinctive and more definitive than my years in college.  Out of our common history, I have the opportunity to rekindle friendships.  There had been an open, an unfinished, area of my life as it pertained to who I was and where I came from.  At this reunion, I was able to close the circle.  I have history, roots.  My history is different from most peoples’, but it is mine.  The years at WHS have defined who I am as significantly as if I had grown up in one location. 
 Although that is true, my memories of events from the Wagner days are foggy at best with very few details.  The memories are not all nostalgic for me; during the gathering I was not wishing for those good old days when I was young and acted so innocent.  But as I mingled with you all, there came the realization that the bond which had been formed those many years ago was being reformed. 
  The most significant part of the gathering was seeing you and hearing about your lives. After leaving Clark, you went on with your lives--married, raised children, laughed, cried, felt joy and sorrow, knew a measure of success and a portion of failure, were occasionally knocked downbut not out.  And we all kept going, successes one and all because we did.

Colorado Springs, 1997

 When the news came that some were going to gather this summer, I wanted to be there.  Because of my work situation and lack of finances it looked bleak.  However, when the notice with details arrived the desire to attend greatly increased.  One of the motivations was the hope of being able to see some more of my classmates.  Besides, I wanted to be part of the closing of the circle for them.  I was a little disappointed that more from '64' did not show, but those I saw more than made up for the absence of others.  I met some who were in my yearbook that I did not know were there.  The youngsters from the 70's were especially generous in letting us crash their party.  Thanks for the bash. 
 Jerry Long and I had a marvelous breakfast together.  We not only reminisced about WHS
days but about the '96 gathering.  He let me express things that had been bottled up since high school and which I discovered during the 96 gathering.  We discovered that our common history was not a liability. 
 Except for a few signs of passing years, Dick Grice looked like he had not changed at all.  It was good to hear his pilgrimage. 
 The junior/senior proms at WHS were difficult for me, but at the dinner-dance Sat. night, I finally got up enough courage to ask a couple of the beautiful women to the dance floor.  It only took 30 years!  Thanks, Terri.
 Looking back on the 97 gathering, I compared my reunion with my brother's the weekend before.  Unlike me, he spent all his school years in the same place, and made life-long friends.  However, his 20 year reunion was not nearly as eventful as was ours.  He was a bit disappointed that the people he grew up with were not very interested in getting together.  What a contrast. 
 Afterwards, I had the opportunity to browse the WHS web site on my brother’s computer.  John Prunier has done a GREAT job as our spiderman (Web Master).  Outstanding work John.

 This fall I finally have a computer with a modem.  Although I am not yet connected to the telephone, I hope it will be completed by Jan. or Feb. 98.  Then I can do some e-mail and browsing the WHS site.  I am looking forward to the next gathering.  Gary McQuaid, ‘64.

Charleston, 1998

 The Charleston Reunion was wonderful.  Dianne Senn did a wonderful job of putting the event together.  The presence of many from the 58-61 Wurtsmith years added to the atmosphere.  it was great seeing those folks “find” one another for the first time.  Although I did not hear the initial conversations, I suspect they were like mine,  “I though I would never see any of you again.”  Indeed, I did hear that thought expressed Friday evening. 
 I had already reserved a room, but Jerry Long ‘63’ needed one so we ended up roommates for the weekend.  I don’t know if he will ever recover from it.  We got along nicely, and neither of us kept the other up with noisy sleeping. 
 I happened to be at the hotel guest counter when Dave Kight checked in.  He had not changed at all from his senior photo at WHS; he looked and sounded  the same as then.
 At the Friday evening gathering, I was able to visit with Bill Woods, Dave Kight, and their wives.  Dick Grice and Sherry Jackson, both ‘64’ displayed their dancing ability for us non-dancers.  They hadn’t lost a step, just got winded sooner.
 It was great to see again, for the first time since HS, Sherry who said she had fond memories of me.  That was a delightful surprise.  She, Dick, and I reminisced about our senior play, “Out of the Frying Pan.”  Since Colorado Springs, I rediscovered the prop I had kept after the play closed and took it along. 
 One of the more delightful meetings of the reunion was seeing Ed and Terri Izor.  I was delighted when they sent me the notice of their marriage, and I was looking forward to seeing them.  They make a great couple.  It was a real treat to honor them at the dinner Sat. night. 
 The dinner/dance on the Yorktown was the most special time of the weekend for me.  Hearing the Ostlin sisters sing was a highlight of the evening.  Earlier that afternoon I volunteered to play my harmonica during the “talent?” time.  I settled on two songs.  The first was the serenade of the newly-wed Izors, and the second was “Amazing Grace.”  I was overwhelmed by the response to “Amazing Grace.”.  For a moment as everyone joined in and sang, it seemed that time stood still; and, for me, God seemed to visit our gathering in a special way.  I certainly did not expect that kind of response or the outpouring of thanks that came afterwards for playing that song.  It was not until later that I realized that both Art Weiss ‘63’ and John Prunier ‘65’ joined in with their instruments.  Thanks, your spontaneity made it all the more memorable. 
 At this reunion for the first time, I was able to lay aside my own lack of ability and join everyone on the dance floor.  I danced more than I ever did at WHS, still as awkward as then too, but absolutely enjoyable.  Becky Char came up to me and asked me to dance with her.  I cannot remember anything like that ever happening.  I remember being so sure that I would be rebuffed if I asked anyone to dance that I did neither. 
 After the dance, several of the class of ‘64’ and the Char sisters met at the Jacuzzi by the pool.  It was hilarious.  We swapped stories about our days at Clark and other humorous happenings during the years following. 
 Sunday came and friends began to return to their homes.  My flight left late in the afternoon.  And as before, the departure was with mixed feelings. 
 Reflecting back on the gathering, each successive reunion has brought some measure of resolution and restoration of my days at WHS, each one building on the previous.  I have been able to let go of some baggage that I have carried all these years.  And, I have learned some things too.  The reunions to this point have been a marvelous pilgrimage for me.
 Finally, I want to give some special thanks to some special people from the reunion.  To the Char sisters, thanks for opening my eyes to some things of which I was unaware, and for caring enough to give me a warning.  To Ed and Terri Izor, just the joy of seeing you together made the trip worth it--maybe there is hope for me.  To Jerry Long, thanks for the friendship and constant encouragement.  To Rick and Sherry, I still remember my opening line from the senior play, . And to Debbie Boyd, thanks for letting me talk your ear off for what seemed like two hours and you still said I was a real nice guy.

Gary McQuaid

 Here is a very brief summary of 32 years.  After graduation from WHS, I returned to San Antonio and entered college and succeeded in flunking out.  Since the army was ready to catch me, I enlisted in the AF.  In the middle of my enlistment the most significant event of my life occurred--an encounter with Christ.  This encounter has shaped every part of my life since then.  I separated from the AF, entered college, graduated too!.  Then went on to attend a Baptist seminary in Fort Worth.  Enjoyed it so much I decided to get another degree while I was there.  The result--a Master in Religious Ed. and Master of Divinity.  I even attempted to earn a PhD. but did not pass the entrance exam.  I tried to kill myself by degrees but failed. 
 I did not enter into vocational ministry but began work as a freight delivery driver (a truck driver).  For 12 years, I earned a living by making freight deliveries in Fort Worth.  In 84 dad was diagnosed with cancer and had surgery.  In 87, the cancer reappeared and I moved to San Antonio to be with him.  After I moved back to San Antonio, I worked for a year at a local ministry which fed the poor and then took employment at a local refrigerated warehouse.  In 94, I was asked to replace the retiring safety coordinator.  In Jan. of 97, I left that job for another, was let go in April and now am doing safety training through two organizations.  I think that in God's time he will thrust me into a more active participation in ministry.  Till then--"Hi ho, hi ho, its off to work I go."
 I never married.  It was not my intention to remain single all these years, but priorities I have and decisions I made have been part of the reason.  I came close a couple of times and still hold out hope for someone special to enter my life.  The years have been filled with inner peace and steady joy.  In the midst of everything has been the wonder of God's participation in the events of my rather ordinary life.  Part of the expression of God's involvement is through writing; the attached piece that appeared in a small magazine is a sample.

Gary McQuaid, ‘64.

Exchange Strength - Gary McQuaid '64

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