From left, William Ellis, Theresa Moore Isaacs, her sister Kathy Moore Keyser, and Kathy’s husband, Dennis Keyser, all of Toledo, share a laugh at Saturday’s reunion for Libbey High School alumni. Mr. Ellis and the Keysers are members of the class of 1968; Ms. Isaacs is a member of the class of 1970.
For the Cowboys, it had been a historic fortress of royal blue and gold.
Built in 1923, Libbey High School had a rich history, but in 2010, its walls were crushed.
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The Western Avenue grass is now greener. But Libbey High graduates are still disheartened by their loss.
From noon to 8 p.m. Saturday, all Libbey graduates were invited to what organizers hope will be an annual picnic, called Libbey Legacy Lives, to help preserve the school’s spirit.
“This is an opportunity to see old friends, make some new friends, and see some people I haven’t seen in five, 10, 15, 20, and sometimes 40 years. It’s good to see everyone, it really is,” said Christopher Price, 59, who traveled from Atlanta to attend the reunion.
Mr. Price put together a slideshow with pictures of a 2010 reunion and included pictures of Libbey’s interior and exterior. Mr. Price said he had been a varsity basketball player and looked back fondly on his memories at the gym, in the locker room, and on the track.
For reunion committee member William Ellis, who graduated in 1968, the picnic was a way to see old friends and remember the “total experience.”
“Here at Libbey, we not only had a good education in the books, but we had a good education in life,” he said. “... This was a diverse school, and that is what made it so good. Black, white, and Mexican — our class was a very close class.”
Theresa Moore Isaacs, class of 1970, shows pictures from the Libbey High School yearbook to Hazel Neal Bester, class of 1973, center, and Sara Sydnor, class of 1963.
Mr. Ellis, 61, said his class had been particularly close in part because it went through so much. From the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy, and Robert Kennedy to the riots, Mr. Ellis said, Libbey provided him and his classmates with a good education in life.
“I can remember when Dr. King got killed. It was almost like just an instinct. The white students met in study hall 116 on the first floor, and a lot of the black students, we all met in study hall on the second floor in 216. Because of what happened, we just separated. But when the initial shock was over, we went back to being a big school. We learned to overcome it, and even though a white person killed a black civil rights hero, not all white students were like that.”
Mr. Ellis, who still lives in Toledo, said he lived with his aunt his freshman year so he could attend Libbey. He grew up in East Toledo but fell in love with Libbey when he was in elementary school. When the school was demolished in 2010, he cried.
For Dennis Keyser and the former Kathy Moore of West Toledo, Libbey brought them together.
The 1968 graduates met in September of their freshman year. In an English classroom on the corner of the third floor in room 342, their teacher had seated the class in alphabetical order.
The year was 1964. Dennis was 16 and Kathy was 15. One day, she said, she asked if she could borrow his green cartridge ink pen.
He said yes, but she never returned his pen.
“After a couple of days, she told me, ‘If you want your pen back, you can walk me home,’ ” Mr. Keyser said.
Mr. Keyser, who had lived on Green Street, added that he walked an extra mile to his future wife’s home on Champion to get his pen back.
Ms. Keyser said he never did get it back.
On Jan. 15, 1965, the high school sweethearts began going steady, and a year after they graduated, they were married. The Keysers, who celebrated their 44th anniversary earlier this month, fondly recalled what they said was one of the funniest things that ever happened to them at Libbey.
“We were just going together — we hadn’t been going together very long — and we were standing by my locker and he kissed me,” Ms. Keyser said. “The teacher looked at me and said, ‘There’s a time and place for those kind of things, and this isn’t it.’ ”
Nearly 200 alumni braced the 91-degree weather to attend the picnic at noon. The committee positioned its welcoming tent to the location where Libbey’s front doors had stood for decades, and classes spread out under trees and royal-blue and yellow tents to reminisce.
Reunion coordinator Francine Coogler Boyd said the reunion committee expected about 1,500 to 2,000 graduates to attend.
Ms. Boyd, who graduated in 1979, said the event was planned so all classes, from 1923 to 2010, could attend.
She said the committee is planning a dinner and dance to be held Nov. 30 at The Hotel @ UTMC to raise funds for the less fortunate. Plans call for another picnic next June.
“This school is a family, and we just wanted everyone to be able to come here and keep Libbey’s spirit alive,” Ms. Boyd said.
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