Warwick Veterans Memorial High School will live forever.
Well, at least as long as ladies like Deborah Anderson Petisce and Sue Theriault Hartington keep planning Hurricane happenings like the Class of 1974 held Saturday night at the Tri-City Elks Lodge on West Shore Road
Petisce, Hartington and classmates Marie Martini Genest, Chris Furlong Murphy and Ron Wheaton have class reunions down to a science. Saturday’s super social was the ninth since the Class of ’74 held its first bash back in 1979.
“We’ve had a reunion every five years since we graduated,” offered Petisce, whose creative decorating skills surfaced like never before Saturday. “Doesn’t every like a party now and then?”
Although the weather forced the celebration inside Tri-City’s downstairs dining room because of wind, a chill in the air and threat of rain that wiped out scheduled games as well as opening the Elks’ tiki bar, the 45th union took all attendees back down memory lane.
That came courtesy of Warwick resident Chuck Holmes, who is known for his disc jockey skills and as many classmates offered “was at his all-time best” playing a variety of songs from the Class of 1974’s era and even meeting requests.
There was a raffle, with fist prize being a liquor wagon valued at $500. Second prize, which was worth $50 included a gift card to the Coast Guard House Restaurant in Narragansett while third place was a $50 lottery basket and a gift certificate to Dockside Seafood on Warwick Avenue.
In keeping with tradition, there was a special cake that almost everyone enjoyed after Craig LaChapelle cooked and served a pork dinner with all the trimmings like a special apple sauce topping for the meat, baked beans, potato salad and of course, cole slaw.
As noted, Petisce had the Elks’ dining room decked out in Warwick Vets colors of blue, white and gold.
Each tabletop was covered in one of the three school colors and Petisce’s centerpieces were mason jars filled with either blue, white or gold napkins and gold stars on a small stick topped with what else but an old-time 45 record.
“My wife bout those when we were on a trip in California,” mused Noel Petisce, Deb’s husband and like his wife a ranking Elks officer. “She’s creative, that’s for sure.”
As further proof, Petisce – her hubby added – “bout these little records for drink coasters. I don’t know where she gets these ideas. Even the (white) napkins that were placed beside the cake featured the worlds 45 years.”
Yes, it’s been that long since the Class of 1974 left what now is a middle school but still bearing the name Warwick Veterans Memorial. Unfortunately, during that span, “We’ve lost 41 classmates.” Sue Hartington said prior to the night’s memorial ceremony that was held amid a saddening silence as she stood alongside Petisce and read each deceased classmates name.
“They’ll never be forgotten,” Hartington noted. “We still are and will always be Hurricanes forever!”
The list of deceased classmates includes: Jerry Arruda, Joseph P. “Pete” Beaulieu, Mary Bowen, Donna Breard, Colleen Callaghan, Alice Carney, Mary Casey, John Chappell Jr., Peter Scott Conley, Betsy Croteau, James Cullen, Percy Davis, Judith Detata, Owen Evans, Patricia A. Ginaitt, Michael Grenci, James C. Holmander, William Kingma and Christine Law.
Also, Alice M. Maher, Kevin Forlieri, Nancy Degnan, Brenda Leonard, John Maroney, Dennis Martin, Robin McGuire, Kim Moreau, Lawrence McGuirl, Donna M. Morro, Thomas Murphy, Carol Nicolace, Lisa Nield, Paul Peckham, Merrill Pratt, James Rison, Margaret Roberts, Joseph Romano, Gary Schwab, Kenneth Simone, Gail Sollitto, Robert Starkey and John J. “Jack” Toole.