Manchester fast friends for 50 years, and counting
The Manchester Friends first gathered on Sunday, Aug. 30, 1964, to welcome Herbert ’62 and Diane Hand ’62 Eveland home from Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) in Germany. Hosts for the day in Berne, Ind., were Kenneth ’62 and Linda Barkman’62 Fuller.
They had such a great time, they decided right then to reunite annually in summertime (many were teachers), rotating hosting when convenient.
In the beginning, members were connected in some way to the core group of friends from the Manchester College classes of 1961 and 1962, but through the years, they adopted friends from other colleges. Two have died.
Families grew, and the annual event became a family affair. Some recall those gatherings as “chaotic,” but admit that perhaps it would be fun to include grandchildren at future gatherings. In 1968, nine children “joined,” ranging in age from 6 weeks to 5 years. As children eventually left home for college and marriage, the gathering shrunk back to the core group of friends.
By necessity through the years, the gathering expanded from the hosts furnishing the food to the guests bringing salads, desserts and snacks. Nowadays, they “eat out” or use a caterer, leaving more time for everybody to enjoy their time together.
They gather for one, two or three days in the hosts’ cities in Indiana, Ohio and Michigan, where the old friends fill their time together with museums, gardens, plays, a chocolate factory, a farmers’ market, a military academy, a boat excursion and ice cream shops. In 1967, they reunited twice, in June and in August.
They’ve steadfastly met, through the troughs and the triumphs. They exchange Christmas cards and letters, and they “progressed” to emails, depending on whom you ask.
The Fullers have missed only one reunion – in 1991, when their son had surgery.
In 1980, they began a telephone chain for prayer requests and family happenings.
Every family made it to celebrate their 25th reunion in 1987 with a weekend in Michigan.
In 1992, at Wagon Wheel Playhouse in Warsaw, Ind., they sat in seats the theatre acquired from the Old Auditorium at Manchester College. (Those also were the Chapel seats in the 1950s and 1960s.)
In 1988 and in 2002, they toured the Manchester College campus, and 15 returned in July 2012 to celebrate the 50th gathering of The Manchester Friends.
They checked out the coed dorms, recalled dress codes, 10 p.m. curfews and sign-out sheets of their school days. No dancing on campus then. They had plenty of observations, all proud of their Manchester roots.
“It’s a privilege” to be a Manchester grad, said Daniel McRoberts ’62x of Caledonia, Mich.
“Every tall oak tree comes from a small nut,” cracked Dale Wenger ’61 of Upland, Ind. He probably wasn’t talking about trees.
Friends for 50
David ’62 and JoLynn Reinoehl ’64 Brumbaugh of Sharpsville, Ind. (David died in 2007.)
Donald ’63 and Esther Lantis ’64 Crabill of Fort Wayne, Ind. (Donald died in 1999.)
Herbert ’62 and Diane Hand ’62 Eveland of Plymouth, Ind.
Richard Featherstone of Plymouth, Ind.
Kenneth ’62 and Linda Barkman ’62 Fuller of Springfield, Ohio
Bryan Goodman ofCanton, Ohio
Kathryn Hiatt ’62 of Plymouth, Ind.
Richard Kidwell ’62 of Canton, Ohio
Ramon and Merna Smith ’62x Llorens of South Haven, Mich.
Daniel McRoberts ’62x of Caledonia, Mich.
Dale ’61 and Martha Royer ’62 Wenger of Upland, Ind.
By Chaz Bellman ’13