By Ray Tincher | For The Times-Post
On Jan. 20, 1961, John F. Kennedy was sworn in as the 35th president of the United States. A couple of months later, he established the Peace Corps.
Barbie got a boyfriend that year, when the “Ken” doll was introduced.
In April, The Bay of Pigs invasion began and failed within hours. In May, Alan Shepard became the first American in space. Later that month, President Kennedy announced before Congress his goal of putting a man on the moon.
We lost some great people in 1961: Movie stars Gary Cooper and Jeff Chandler, author Ernest Hemingway and baseball great Ty Cobb. However, baseball’s Roger Maris of the New York Yankees hit his 61st home run, setting a record.
Mad Magazine pointed out, on its cover for the March 1961 issue, this was the first “upside-up year — i.e., one in which the numerals that form the year look the same as when the numerals are rotated upside down, a strobogrammatic number — since 1881. The next such year will be 6009.”
The manager of Cascadden Grocery Store came to work the morning of April 6 and found $500 and some merchandise missing. Det. Sgt. Charles Epperson of the Indiana State Police and Lapel Town Marshal Earl Caplinger investigated the robbery. A couple weeks later, a Ralph Du Bois admitted to the break-in, and several other break-ins in Madison County. Plus, he was being held for the murder of Deputy Edward Byrne.
Mrs. Hilbert Reddick was named Lapel “Welcome Wagon Hostess.” The Town Marshal warned everyone to get their cars safety checked. If you were in violation, the fine was $17.75. A huge number of Lapel residents contributed to the Firemen’s Radio Fund. Firemen’s Auxiliary President Dorothy Moore planned for a street dance in Lapel. Pvt. Robert Miller entered Basic Training in the U.S. Army.
According to the Lapel Review, the Senior Class Baccalaureate was scheduled for Sunday, May 21, in the high school gymnasium. The invocation and benediction were pronounced by the Rev. Harry Smith. The address was given by the Rev. J. Thomas Hudson.
At Lapel High School, the entire faculty was preparing for the “Largest Senior Class Ever” to graduate from LHS. 84 seniors were scheduled to graduate. The senior class sponsors were Mr. Ben Decker and Miss Lucille Rockey.
The high school was filled with excitement. Most of the seniors were thinking about what they were going to do with their life. Were they going to college? Each student was facing a big decision, a decision that might guide them toward their goal in life. In a few short years, they would reflect on whether they made the right decision.
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The LHS graduating seniors were as follows: Robert Stephen Ashton, Donna June Bagley, Eleanor Kay Baker, Judith Sue Barbee, Gordon L. Barker, Marianne Belmore, Rowena Kay Benefiel, Calvin E. Bennett, Diana Jo Boram, Linda Ann Busman, Robert Marshall Bourke, Kenneth L. Bowman, Norman Harold Bracken, J. Michael Brown, Sharon Nyoka Brown, Robert Wayne Bunnell, Georgianne Burk, Terrill L. Burris, Don M. Campbell, Lynne Ann Chaney, Albert W. Couch Jr., Susan Eleanor Dickson, Paula Diane Downey, Keith William Ducker, Joyce Ann Eiler, Sharon Diane Elsten, Wanda Sue Farrell, Vicki Kay Fischer, Joan Frances Forrer, Jerry W. Galliher, Beverly George, Donna Jean Gimple, Richard A. Goul, Phillip D. Guill, Janet Dee Hennis, Stephen E. Jackson, Barry R. Jarrett, Bonnie Mae Johnson, Ester Mae Johnson, Linda K. Johnson, Connie Lee Kaiser, Barbara E. Koch, Robert William Lewis Jr., George Robert Likens, Thomas V. Likens, David Kent Lloyd, Sandra Kay McNally, Eric Lynn Michael, Truman W. Miller, Karen Sue Mills, Myra Lou Needler, Jane Ann Mills, John Richard Noggle, Loretta Ann Oyler, Margaret Louise Presser, Jay Lee Renbarger, Myrna Jo Rittenberry, Wilma J. Rittenberry, Fredric K. Robertson, Larry Allen Robinette, Huston Thomas Roop, Lawrence Earl Roudebush, Stephen Reese Sandefur, Jonny L. Schlabach, Louis D. Schmitt, Sandra K. Scheller, Robert L. Sisson, Karen Marguerite Smith, Fredrick Lee Stanford, Jerry Dale Stout, Sandra Joyce Sullivan, Samuel R. Swadley, Charles Eugene Taylor, Nedra Joy Turner, Linda Kay Walker, Larry C. Warfel, Daryl Steven Watson, Karen Kay Witt, Laura L. Wittrock, Barbara Lynn Wolff, Barbara Lee Workman, Barbara Joyce Wright and Ronald Vinson Wyant.
The trustee for LHS was James Troutman. The Advisory Board for the Class of ’61 was James Hall, Carl Kilburn and Lawrence Heiny. The principal was Gerald Roudebush, and his assistant was John Walton. We cannot forget the person who keeps things together: school secretary Peggy Paulsel.
The 1961 Faculty of LHS consisted of Miles Cramer, industrial art and social science; Pat Graham, French; Sandra Herod, home economics; Bennie Decker, government and history; Paul Ducker, chemistry and English; Elizabeth Huntzinger, home economics; John Hurley, commerce and physical education; Gurney Mattingly, math and art; Evelyn Mousa, English and music; Gladys Nickels, art, math and science; Gerald Quinn, band and music; Ralph Renbarger, biology, health and coaching; Marian Noggle, Latin, English and library; Donald Somers, math and physics; Fred St. John, driver’s ed and vocational agriculture; Judy Renbarger, English, health and girls’ physical education; Donald Trisler, English; Lucille Rockey, social studies; John Walton, math; and Elizabeth Shaul, business education.
The 1960-61 season could not have been the year Coach Renbarger expected. The LHS baseball season broke even at three wins, three losses. The LHS basketball team didn’t have a great season, either. One more run in baseball, or one more basket in basketball, could have changed things. However, the track and cross country teams showed good progress.
Connie Kaiser was voted basketball queen. Merrillyn Vance was the Lapel homecoming queen. At the prom, prince was Terry Buriss, king was Steve Sandefur, queen was Bonnie Johnson, and princess was Joyce Eiler.
Please allow me to tell you about my experience with Jay Lee Renbarger, a senior in this class. Jay Lee and I played a lot of golf at the (Idlewold) Pendleton course after we both had retired; golf was almost a daily thing. Jay Lee loved to joke and kid. He would “sneak up” behind me, as I was almost ready to swing my club … and yell. I was playing in front of Jay Lee, when he hit a ball that never got 3 inches off the ground, which hit my ankle! I limped for a month because of that golf ball. But today I really miss that guy!
There were other things that stand out about the 1961 year. One hundred and thirty girls joined the LHS Pep Club. Varsity cheerleaders Jane Mills, Darlene Nunley, Peggy Brown and Lynn Ann Chaney gave their all, cheering at every game/event for their school’s victory. There were twenty-two seniors who made the National Honor Society. Those are things the Class of 1961 can be proud of, as they look back through those 12 years and what they accomplished.