5/15/2015 2:46 PM

It all began with one innocent question posted on Facebook, “Who’s doing the planning for our 40th?” One simple post from a ’75 grad, Bruce Akerly, an attorney in Dallas, Texas, led to a reply from Georgia. And then another from Iowa, Colorado, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, and, of course, Nebraska. From there, the reunion gained momentum. It seemed the close friendships that the Class of ’75 was famous for have stood the test of time as well as distance. Although some of the grads are still in or around Papillion or nearby in Omaha, many have moved far away. And while forty years seems like a long time, most of the grads agree: “It seems like we just graduated yesterday!” said class secretary Dr. Kim Smith Shakelford, Deputy Administrator of Family and Children’s Services for the State of Mississippi.

Soon a Facebook page, “Papillion Seventy-Five Monarch,” was launched to reconnect classmates who last met for their 25th reunion in 2000. Even some members of the Class of ’74 and the Class of ’73 have joined the page, “Just to keep up with our friends. Not all of us stuck to our own class,” said Mark Nicholson. “I just want to cheer this class on and encourage them to have as great a reunion as we had with ours.”

The 40th Reunion events for the Class of ’75 will begin at 5:30 Friday evening, June 12th at a Welcome Reception at the Nebraska Brewing Company in Shadow Lake, then continue on at an informal gathering nearby at Jerzes on Olson Drive at 7:30. A Saturday morning Golf Outing has been planned for 9 a.m. at the Tiburon Golf Club. Or graduates may choose to tour the high school. “Many of us are excited to walk the halls of our old stomping grounds,” said Lori Beezley Meyer of Ft. Dodge, Iowa. The main event, a banquet set for Saturday evening, June 13th, will be preceded by a short outdoor memorial service at 5:30 p.m. Nine live monarch butterflies will be released in honor of the classmates who have passed away since 1975. The Monarch Release will be followed by a 6:00 reception and the banquet is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. All the Saturday evening events will be held at the Tiburon Golf Club.

“We chose the weekend of June 12-13 to be in the summer, but not too soon after Memorial Day, since many of us still have college-aged kids coming home. And we didn’t want it as late as the 4th of July,” said Akerly. But with the College World Series in town that weekend, and Papillion Days beginning that next Tuesday, Akerly admits, “We had a challenge finding just the right locations.”

Now that the plans are set, the class reunion website is up and running. In this era of technology, with Facebook and the internet, planning an event to reunite classmates from far away requires only the click of a mouse. “Many of us retain close ties with Papillion and the community even though we no longer live here,” said Beth Stevenson Rodgers, whose parents owned Evergreen Hills, the Christmas tree farm on which the new Sarpy County Sheriff’s Department sits. “My mom still lives in the house where I lived as a teenager, so coming home to Papillion for the reunion seems natural. It’s still home to me, as it is for many of us. It’s like the old saying: It’s a great place to be, and a great place to be from.” The theme selected for the weekend events is “A Gathering of Monarchs,” with a nod to both the high school mascot as well as the famous butterflies after whom the town is named.

All graduates of the Class of 1975 are invited to register online, regardless of whether they are able to attend any of the reunion events. Each graduate will find space to update their address or career information, and even upload photos. “We have a presentation planned for the evening of the banquet,” said J.B. Hunt (Julie Nicholson), Executive Director of AAAneurysm Outreach, in New Orleans, Louisiana, “We are hoping everyone will send us some of their favorite photos from our high school years. Those who cannot attend are especially encouraged to visit the website and send their greetings to their classmates.”

In addition to ticketing the Saturday evening banquet, graduates are welcome to sponsor the weekend. Sponsorships are set at Maroon ($100) and Gold ($250) levels with banquet tickets and appetizers for premiums. “Rather than fundraising, we are asking a few grads to pay a little more in advance to help defray the cost of printing, postage, and so forth,” said Kim Smith Shakelford. Grads should RSVP for each of the weekend events (ticketed and non-ticketed). Banquet tickets ($39) and sponsorships can be secured at the 1975 reunion website. Sponsors will be recognized in the reunion booklet.

Friday, June 12, 2015

  • 9:00 a.m. Golf Outing, Tiburon Golf Club, 10302 S 168th, Omaha, NE. Class Host: Kevin Ross & Bruce Akerly. This is a non-ticketed event, but RSVP for headcount must be in no later than June 6, 2015. All green fees paid directly to Tiburon. RSVP
  • 5:30 Welcome Reception, Nebraska Brewing Company, 7474 Towne Center Pkwy #101, Papillion, NE
  • 7:30 Meet & Greet (informal gathering) Jerzes, 501 Olson Dr #100, Papillion, NE

These are non-ticketed, self-pay events. Class Hostess: Jayne Timmerman

Saturday, June 13, 2015

  • High School Tour: to be determined     Hostess: Lori Meyer RSVP
  • 5:30 p.m. Monarch Release, Tiburon Golf Club (outdoor patio)
  • 6:00 Reception/registration (cash bar) Tiburon Golf Club
  • 6:30 p.m. Banquet Class Host: Don Kelley. This is a ticketed event ($39 per person). RSVP

SUNDAY, June 14, 2015

  • 9:30-11:00 a.m. June 14, 2015: Prayer and Praise Brunch Egg & I, 304 Olson Dr #118, Papillion, NE. This is a self-pay event. RSVP for headcount only.

For more information, email Papillion.seventyfive.monarch@gmail.com

Facebook: Papillion Seventy-five Monarch

Don Kelly, 402-206-1807                                     

Lori Beezley Meyer, 319-360-2691

Beth Stevenson Rodgers, 757-621-7366                                  

Bruce Akerly, 972-841-6769                                                                                     

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