Ode to part of York County’s Greatest Generation
Monica Sattazahn, a Red Lion letter writer, reinforced the achievements scored by William Penn High School’s Class of 1941 :
“I truly, truly have to say how much I enjoyed the re-print of “The Remarkable Class of 1941, William Penn”. What a beautiful tribute to the “Greatest Generation”. I don’t believe I saw it the first time it appeared ten years ago. We must all stop and recall how many classes of 41 – 45 will be celebrating their anniversaries over the next four years. We must not forget these wonderful people who shaped our nation in the last half of the 20th century. Thank you again for calling to mind their gifts and sacrifices that have given new generations a better, stronger nation.”
That guest column from June 4, 2006 follows:
Editor’s note: William Penn High School’s Class of 1941 sat in kindergarten in 1929, the year the stock market fell. The class graduated in the spring before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. This guest column, originally published in the York Sunday News in 1996 and excerpted here, tells about the extensive accomplishments of a talented class whose tenure spanned one of the most difficult times in American history — the Great Depression — and then faced one of its greatest challenges — World War II — upon graduation. Graduates will celebrate their 65th reunion on June 10 at the Country Club of York.
The class of|’41 was destined to live in a period that spanned slate blackboards and flash cards to PCs.
It was an unusual class. It was a class of achievers and solid citizens. For years, more than 50 percent of the class continued to live in York County.
Eight high school classmate romances blossomed into enduring marriages.
When we graduated, there were 103 retail stores within two blocks of center square; Hain’s Tobacco Shop remains. Trolley cars still served York.
For the 50th reunion, held 15 years ago, Jeff Bortner compiled a yearbook. It profiles York during our high school years. It contains biographies of many living members.
WWII vets: Virtually all of the men, and four or five women, served in WWII. Ten were killed. They fought at the Battle of the Bulge (Bob Bowman) and landed with the first wave at Iwo Jima (Joe Stees). There were battlefield commissions (Hal Stambaugh) and aides to generals (Capt. Jeff Bortner).
At least seven were Army or Air Force officers. One flew with the Flying Tigers. One was a Naval Academy graduate, and five others were Navy officers. Eight or 10 were recalled to serve in Korea.
Honor roll of accomplishments: In September 1941, a handful of men and women entered college; the war aborted most college careers.
After the war, thanks to the GI Bill, a much larger number entered and completed college. They entered, or re-entered, schools like Princeton, Harvard, Yale, Duke, Wellesley, MIT, Lehigh, Penn State, the Naval Academy and schools in Europe.
• Five attained doctorates — John W. Hennesey Jr., Wendell M. McMillan, Robert A. Miller, Henry S. Myers Jr. and Dorothy McCleaf. Two, Hennesey and George W. Smith Jr., received Harvard MBAs. One, Donald E. Stump, received a Wharton School MBA.
• At least four became college professors. A dozen became teachers. There was a Phi Beta Kappa, and one the engineering equivalent, Tau Beta Pi. Hennesey and myself have received honorary degrees.
Hennesey was the Dean of the Dartmouth Business School.
• David Levin had a distinguished career as a history professor. A few years ago, he wrote a book, “Exemplary Elders.” In it he recounts the people who influenced his life. The first chapter covers his childhood as a Jewish boy growing up in York.
• Dick Shue’s professional life dealt with accounting and finance, but his avocational interest is in the Civil War. Several years ago, after eight years of research, his scholarly book, “Morning at Willoughby Run,” was published. It is the story of the first morning at Gettysburg.
• There were nine black members of the class. They had attended segregated grade schools, integrated middle schools and William Penn Senior High School. Four attended college. John Jones, deceased, received a Fulbright scholarship and attended the Sorbonne. For many years he was the head of the William Penn language department. Queenie Kirkland was involved worldwide with the Methodist church.
• Lee Wolovsky became a prominent European opera singer.
• At least eight graduates were active in international business. Bill Parker spent his entire working life in the Far East and Japan, involved in joint venture pharmaceutical companies.
• The class produced two medical doctors, three clergymen, three attorneys, six nurses, nine teachers, eight machinists, 15 secretaries, seven engineers and three motel owners — something that was spawned in the post-WWII era.
• Eight became officers of industrial companies, and at least 10 started successful small businesses.
• Wilbur Glackin was a national archery champion.
• Gene Lauer was an early Wal-Mart employee in Bentonville, Ark.
• John Baer can still be seen on television as the second lead in Ronald Reagan and Tyrone Power movies. He was Terry in the early television series, “Terry and the Pirates.”
• Two owned prominent York auto dealerships.
• Fred Strathmeyer built a large Christmas tree business with national distribution.
• Harry McDowell, Floyd Smith, Wendell McMillan and Henry Myers had outstanding business careers.
• Gene Trone, the school student body president, had an outstanding foreign service career, including assignments with Henry Kissinger. He continued as a self-employed international marketing consultant on the Middle East and Far East.
• Grant Whistler played in the big bands of the era.
• Frank Auspitz became a nationally acclaimed cabinetmaker, specializing in 18th century furniture.
Women excelled in diverse fields: The women of the class became:
• Teachers (Lois Ann Ely, Dorothy Julius, Lois McWilliams, Mary Reisinger, Helen Snellbaker, Mary M. Stauffer and Phyllis J. Thompson).
• Nurses, hospital employees, and dental assistants (Doris E. Cook, Faith Deininger, Rosalie Dinterman, Lois Doyle, Grace I. Gallagher, Grace Hildebrandt, Jeanne B. Horn, Lillie Kemper, Grace E. Stegner, Betty Jane Swartz, Maftena L. Wallick and Betty Waughtel).
• Secretaries and administrative assistants (Lucille Brown, Elaine Betty Byers, Virginia Nadine Clement, Jean E. Demmitt, Doris Eades, Mary Elizabeth Fellabaum, Glenda E. Gilbert, Doris M. Gotwalt, Betty Jane Hess, Edna L. Jones, Betty Jane Koch, Elizabeth Lambert, Verna Landis, Ruth Lehn, Jeanne Lockwood, Pauline Regenthal, Rita R. Seidenstricker, Elaine Sevel, Lillie Smith and Margaret C. Van Brakle).
• Bookkeepers (June E. Brodbeck and Betty Hoover).
• Credit managers (Charlotte E. Brenneman).
• Computer analysts (Mary Kathryn Bridgette).
• Art gallery owners (Betty Brooks).
• Dance studio owners (Yvonne Strathmeyer).
• Magazine illustrators, (Martha Cary).
• Missionaries (Margaret P. Fry).
• Seamstresses (Alma J. Deveney).
• College professors (Harriet Lavetan and Dorothy McCleaf).
• Doll artists (Lois L. Morrison).
• Copywriters (Elizabeth B. Cooper).
• Personnel managers (Helen Frantz).
• Piano teachers (Katherine Pfaltzgraff).
• Designers (Norma J. MacDowell and June Sipe).
• Librarians and assistants (Betty J. Black, Jean Bowser and Margaret E. MacGregor).
• Dorothy Ann Jenkins became owner of San Carlos R.V. Park and Islands. Lillie Kemper became owner and operator of The Lily Pad, an antique and collectible jewelry business.
• Nadine E. Null became president of Electro-Platers of York Inc.
• Miriam Ramsey Wintersteen was the first woman president of Penn State University student body in 1945.
• Mary Roseman was a florist.
• Fannie L. Scoville became the national director of the Salvation Army’s emergency housing.
• Ann Small was manager of Watermen’s Museum, Yorktown, Va.
• Kathryn Smith retired as assistant vice president of U.S. League of Savings Institutions in Washington, D.C.
• Hester Snyder Null became the Choral Director of the York City School District.
• Laverna Wire was co-owner of Christensen Steel Co.
• Kathryn Wolf Zimmerman was president of the Junior League and the YWCA.
Other achievements: For the three years we were in high school, the swimming team won the state championship each year.
The eighth year after graduation, we held our first reunion. The next reunion was the tenth year, and there have been reunions every five years since.
Most of the core committee members have functioned since the first reunion. Ann Mellon is the key. She has had a lifetime hobby of keeping the addresses of the members.
Perhaps the real legacy of the class resides with the quiet ones who returned to, or stayed, in York to become ordinary citizens solidly contributing to the community for a lifetime.
Daniel Meckley was president of the Class of 1941, William Penn High School.