This is a year of reunions for my family. My oldest brother graduated in 1962 from Ottawa High School at Fifth and Main streets in downtown Ottawa. I graduated in 1967 from the newly built OHS at 11th and Ash streets in Ottawa. And my youngest brother graduated in 1972 in the established OHS.
Many people currently living in Ottawa and other Franklin County communities were born at Ransom Memorial Hospital, grew up locally, moved away and have come back because of those communities.
All Franklin County communities have an essence, which can only be found in smaller Midwestern towns. There is a unity — a hard-earned acceptance of ethnicity and others who may not fit into a mold designed by others, a continual desire of learning and compassion for others, an awareness that life is sometimes not fair and requires hard work to prevail to build a better world for those who follow, and a die-hard sense that each of us make a difference in our small part of the world, with greater hope for the outside our part of the world. This happens in all of Franklin County, at OU, and Neosho County Community College, where many have learned to appreciate this heart-felt passion of community.
Many years ago, my mother taught me that if one will recall a name of those gone before us, they will never be forgotten by those who are still here and those who may carry on the future.
A teacher is a powerful person who will touch many people. I would just like to state some names from my era of OHS. I do not kow the names of the educators and staff from other Franklin County schools, but I’m sure they are remembered by many.
Those staff members include Orlis Cox, Harvey Drake, Dean Royse, Mr. and Mrs. Burl Beam, W.P. Shepard, Marvin Forker, Ms. Doman Beth Beller, Alice Joy Lewis, Sy Bergsma, Marvin Gentner, Don Kornhaus, Lee Casida, JW Emerson, Lee Olmsted, Ms. Faulkner, Ms. Parent, Ms. Robinson, Ms. Feuerborn, Ms. Gillette, Ms. Girard, Mr. Howell, Ms. Hayward, Pose Jamison, John Jones, Loren Matthews, Ms. Williamson, Mike Newmaster, H.K. Stevens, Ms. Tetwiler, Mr. Triplett, Mr. Unruh, Mr. Wallace, Ms. Sible, Ms. Price, Mr. Brox, Jack Bushman, Leroy Bailey, Dee Ann and Ron Kimes, Ms. Evans and all the others who were part of our lives.
But there are others also from OU. They were passionate members of the community who taught many to strive for the future. Many of their students stayed here to continue their efforts. These educators and staff members are forever etched in OU history.
Each of us will have reunions, but it’s not only our classmates who are with us on these weekends. It also will be the teachers and staff who gave themselves to make Franklin County, OU, and NCCC better places with their self-sacrifice for their students.
May Franklin County, OU and NCCC always remember not only the teachers and staff of the past but also the educators working and preparing now to make a better world for their students and Franklin County. With great hope, another highly anticipated school year and future reunions will begin this year in Franklin County, OU and NCCC. May we all respect a teacher’s efforts and support them this year and always.
— Mary Story Hepner is a graduate of the class of 1967 of Ottawa High School and the class of 1998 of Ottawa University.