The Sequim High School class of 1979 had their 40-year reunion last week, and it wasn’t just a one-night event — it was three nights of food, friends and memories.
Gatherings started on Aug. 1 — and so did what one attendee described as “an endless tide of food.”
“This is how we were back in high school,” former class president Todd Berg said. “Any time we’d get together, it’d be ‘Hey, I just caught this fish, well I have this venison, cool let’s cook it.’ We were always great eaters.”
Coming together for food was a big theme for the weekend, and outside of some desserts not a bit of it was catered and little was store-bought. From Sockeye salmon to Alaskan halibut to pulled pork and beef brisket, members of the class cooked it all, and in the case of the fish they even caught it themselves.
“One of our classmates was just up in Alaska on a fishing trip, and he brought back most of his haul just for this,” Shelli Robb-Kahler said.
She mentioned that several other members of the class brought in fish and crab they had caught as well.
When festivities started on Aug. 1, “a few dozen” people showed up according to event organizers. By the next day, that number was closer to 60, and at the main reunion event Saturday night at Pioneer Memorial Park, about 90 of the 120 members of the graduating class were in attendance.
Theresa Rossi, who helped organize the event, said that around a third of their class still lives in the area around Sequim. People came back to Sequim from all around the country, including Berg, who came back from Wisconsin to be a part of the reunion.
Credit for the farthest distance traveled went to Gail Sohr, who lives in Rhode Island and now serves as a professor of political and social psychology. This was her first time back in Sequim in 32 years, and Shelli, who was her best friend in high school, said she was thrilled to see her again.
“Everything she’s accomplished is an inspiration to me, and to others in our class,” said Robb-Kahler, a Sound Community Bank branch manager in Sequim and Port Ludlow, and spent eight years in charge of the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Sohr laughed when told about that.
“I just went out and got the job that I wanted,” Sohr said. “But I am glad to help teach the next generations of our society.”
Rossi owns multiple businesses in town, and numerous other members of the class of 1979 own and/or mainstay businesses in Sequim and Port Angeles.
Others have made their impact off the peninsula. Sequim High 1979 grad Paul Mainzar recently moved to Maui after selling a horse rescue ranch in Oregon that he ran for years. Don Strait Jr., worked all over the Midwest before spending 20 years in Orting in construction before coming back and buying his wife’s childhood home to run a taxidermy business.
Rossi says that numerous members of their class are nurses all over Clallam County, Washington state and beyond as well, including several on the nursing staff at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
But all those jobs and accomplishments and travels were set aside for a few nights as the class of 1979 came back together. With good food on their plates and friends all around, it became about memories and experiences and enjoying life, and as class of 1979 graduate Mike Babcock put it, “spending time with some of the best people I’ve known.”