In the photo at the left of the panther: Dawn (Langenberg) Ditter; Doug Dudley, Wilma Jean (Nelson) Benish. In front of the panther: Earl Reed.
Front row at the right of the panther from left to right: Barb (Harrison) Mather; Janice (Clark) Froehlich; Geraldine (Krehnke) Timperley.
2nd row: Val Thaden; Jackie (Walker) Rea; Arlene (Walker) Kuhl of Plainview; and Lorraine (Barnhart) Mitchell.
Back row: Walt Tinius; Peggy (Hansen) Letheby; Doyle Busskohl; Delbert Niewohner of Albion; and Don Volk.
There were 115 in the graduating class of 1946 at Norfolk High School. They sold war stamps, collected scrap metal for World War II and walked every day to and from school. A group of about 15 of them still live in the Norfolk area and many of them have met once a month for lunch the last 25 years.
Since this is the 70th year since graduation, they have ordered matching maroon NHS shirts to wear in the Fourth of July Oddfellows Parade. With Norfolk celebrating its 150th, the City of Norfolk has organized a walking timeline in the parade and the class of 1946 will be in it riding a trolley waving to the crowd.
Theirs is a special class. This group of graduates who are each about 88-years-old chipped in on their 50th alumni anniversary and paid a fellow classmate to make the large brass panther that sits proudly in the Johnny Carson Theater lobby.
They talk fondly of Fred Egley who recently turned 100 and was one of their teachers. Johnny Carson was in study hall with many of them and they remember the magic act for a program he gave to the whole school. They said he was very good.
"We're really proud of our class. A lot of outstanding students were in the class of 1946," said one of the members of the class Janice (Clark) Froehlich. They point to their classmate Doyle Busskohl who shrugs off their insistence that he was a star basketball player.
A much talked about event was the time their basketball team lost in the state championship to Benson High School with a score of 4-6.
"The team we played against was a much taller team. We'd pass around for a quarter so they couldn't get the ball under the basket," Busskohl said.
They recall sadly their classmate Marv Christiansen who was drafted to the Chicago Cubs but first had to serve with the occupying forces after World War II and was killed.
They hung out at the Ice Cream Place at Madison Avenue to play ping pong and dance and remember seeing the Kings Ballroom float down the street in the 1944 flood. They say the population on the sign at the entrance of Norfolk in 1946 was 10,717.
The Future Farmers of America organization started when they were in high school. One of their classmates, Earl Reed, was a farm boy who ended up doing a lot of the instruction for the class which meant also showing the teacher how to weld. Reed is somewhat of a ringleader of the group doing much of the organizing of events for their 70th celebration.
They'll line up early for the parade that begins at 10:00 am on July 4. The parade timeline is one of the Norfolk 150th celebration events that can be found at www.norfolkne150.com.