Archive for EMHS-Class of 1970

The Class of 1970 is Turning 70!

Back row: Gary Turner, Diana (Suter) Berkshire, Dwight Burkholder, George Lehman, John Augsburger. Middle row: Pat (Heatwole) Hertzler, Karen (Smucker) Shelly, Sherill (King) and Darrel Hostetter, Randy Kiser. Front row: Carla (Janzen) Jacobs, Elaine Strite, Bonnie (Barnhart) Shoemaker, Edith (Layman) Rhodes and Linda (Hunsburger) Booker.

Last year was the scheduled 50 year reunion for the class of 1970 at Eastern Mennonite High School. Ever heard of that pandemic called Covid-19? It had everyone in a panic so officially we did not meet although a few fearless ones met in the garage of our class mom, Diana Berkshire.

Yesterday, Saturday, October 16, we celebrated our official fifty year reunion one year late. Fifteen classmates with some of their spouses met at the beautiful home of Gary Turner. We enjoyed our time reminiscing and one well-kept secret was revealed that only those attending will ever know! It was a good one!!!

We discovered that the class of ’70 is now turning 70. We remember when seventy looked old and 50-year reunions were unimageable! They were for the old folks! We think our oldest classmate is Randy Kiser who celebrated the big 70 on October 11 (no, this is not the secret!) and was quickly followed by Karen Smucker and Phil Kanagy on October 14. Sherril Hostetter had a birthday on October 13 but she just turned a young 69 making her probably the youngest in the class. We have seven classmates that are deceased: David Neer, Bernie Christner, Grace Driver, Dennis Kauffman, Margaret (Oswald) Jackson, Ted Brilhart, and Darwin Wissler. There were 79 outstanding students in our class.

It is interesting how our conversation topics have changed through the years. Now we find ourselves talking about our health, dementia, limitations, retirement and VMRC (Virginia Mennonite Retirement Center). One couple is looking to move there in the near future. Another couple moved to the Harrisonburg area to retire. A least three of us have a parent or parents at VMRC and are now or have been caregivers for them. Most of us have buried at least one parent. Fifty years ago it never entered our minds to talk about these subjects.

Pictures of the day…….. taken by Pat Hertzler and Karen Smucker.

Carla Jacobs and Sherill Hostetter
Diana Berkshire and Pat Hertzler
Sherill and Darrel Hostetter
Jim Shelly (Karen) and Allen Berkshire (Diana)
Edie Rhodes and Linda Booker
Bonnie Shoemaker
Gary Turner
Gene and Pat Hertzler
Elaine Strite
Dwight Burkholder
Edie Rhodes, Gene Hertzler, Linda Booker and Randy Kiser
John Augsburger, Randy Kiser and Darrel Hostetter
George Lehman and John Augsburger
Elaine Strite and Gary Turner
Gene Hertzler, Edie Rhodes, Darrel and Sherill Hostetter and Paul Doctorian

Paul Doctorian was a junior when we were seniors and was invited to stop by as he was friends with a number in the class and a part of the touring choir. He even took one of the senior girls to the junior-senior banquet!!! (This is not the secret either!!!) There were many shared memories together.

I will close with one final class picture. There is usually one clown in the group. Do you see who it is this time?

Until the next time….God bless each of you as we grow old together….gracefully!

I loved the view from Gary’s house, looking out over the rolling hay field. Might I be a farmer’s wife!!!

Past Blogs:

EMHS Class of 1970: 50 Years (2020)

The Class of 1970-45 Years Later (2015)

EMHS Class of 1970: 50 Years

I remember when my parents attended their 50-year reunion and then several years later celebrated their fifty years of marriage. That seemed like a huge milestone for those “oldsters”! Well, guess what….we are now at the fifty year mark! Where has time gone?

Fifty years ago we were the class with a rosy view of the world and ready to conquer it with vigor. We were the class ready to flap our wings to the college of choice or to enter the workforce with high expectations. We were high school graduates on a mission. We were ready and we were unstoppable.

Covid changed the plans for our fifty-year celebration. Instead of being a big to-do worthy of our class, we were a small group meeting in a classmate’s “party” garage with social distancing and masks! Even though most of the class reunions for the school were canceled, thirteen brave class of ’70 classmates met for fellowship and lunch. We had a wonderful time and it was hard to part ways.

Classmates in attendance (left to right): John Augsberger, Darrel & Sherill Hostetter, Pat Hertzler, Jim Eby, Don Gerig, Karen Smucker, and Diana Berkshire.

Diana and Allen Berkshire were our gracious host and hostess. Diana has been the class “mom” for fifty years and kept the records and contact info on classmates and organized our reunions. She is still working part-time in her daughter’s medical office and baby-sits her granddaughter several days a week.

Darrel and Sherill Hostetter, high school sweethearts, worked for Eastern Mennonite Missions for years in Lancaster, traveling the world and providing emotional and spiritual support to missionaries. They are now retired and living in Harrisonburg. They anticipate a move to Virginia Mennonite Retirement Center in the next few years.

Jim and Rita Eby still lives on their farm just south of Park View and raise a few beef cows. They are enjoying being “mostly” retired.

John and Beverly Augsberger live at his homeplace. They are presently caring for Beverly’s father who is in hospice. Since retiring, John has been crafting beautiful pieces of furniture for their home.

Don and Linda Gerig, Karen Smucker and husband Jim Shelly win the award for coming the furthest to our grand event, hailing from Oregon and Idaho respectfully. Don did not actually graduate with our class but he and his older brother, Rod, were a part of our class during our junior year. The foursome hopped aboard the Amtrak train in Portland and rode the rail across the northern US to Staunton. Going home they will take the southern route making almost a complete circle of the country. The foursome have developed a deep friendship over the years and often travel together.

Don is a retired nurse and he and his wife enjoy traveling in their RV. Don is president of the mission at Camp Marantha in La Paz, Baja. It is a fascinating story of reaching the “unreached” with the gospel of Jesus.

Years ago Karen fell in love with Idaho and eventually was offered a teaching job at a university there. She and Jim are both retired and anticipate moving back to Harrisonburg next year to Virginia Menonnite Retirement Center.

Pat Hertzler and her husband Gene live in Powhatan. They are still actively involved with their farm supply store and beef farming.

I thought of the song made famous by the Statler Brothers, “And the class of ’57 had it’s dreams. Oh, We all thought we’d change the world with our great works and deeds. Or maybe we just thought the world would change to fit our needs. The class of ’57 had dreams.”

We became just ordinary people, doing ordinary things, living out our dreams. We were parents, school teachers, farmers, preachers, homemakers, workers in retail, business owners, missionaries, contractors, nurses, truck drivers and leaders in our churches and community, each with a story to tell. We are a class of faith and mission. We had our challenges, disappointments and hard times in life. The last stantz of the song tells the rest of the story…. “And the class of ’57 had it’s dreams. But living life day to day is never like it seems. Things get complicated when you get past eighteen. But the class of ’57 had its dreams. Oh the class of ’57 had dreams.”

Diana went down the list of classmates noting updates or lack of updates on each one. Since our last reunion five years ago, we have lost Dennis Kauffman, Peggy Oswald Jackson and Bernie Christner. We missed each one that was not present. The plan is to have our “official” reunion next fall when covid is just a bad memory. Be on the lookout for an email or call from Diana. We hope to see you there. By the way, those of you who did not come…. you missed a very special time.

Other blog posts:

The Class of 1970 – 45 years later.


But this is my favorite picture of the whole day….

Note: This picture is not posed but a candid shot captured by my camera taker!  Only one, Bonnie (Barnhart) Shoemaker, is listening to instructions from our official camera taker. ALL the rest of us is….well…..


Who we were….

We were a class of 77: 42 girls and 35 guys at Eastern Mennonite High School in Harrisonburg.  We were thin and trim and most of us had lots of hair! We came from far and near: New York, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Florida, Delaware, Iowa, Manitoba Canada, Maryland, Honduras, Ohio, Michigan, West Virginia and of course, all points in Virginia.  Our yearbook, called “Ember” says that 27 of us claimed the problems and complexes resulting from a ministerial heritage, nine had the privilege of traveling abroad and two had traveled across country on bicycles.  We came from diverse backgrounds. One was a missionary kid in Honduras and there was a strong agriculture blend in the mix.

Class Theme Song…

Like a Bridge Over Troubled Waters.

Who we are today….

Forty-five years later we have aged and matured.  We have experienced many bumps, bruises, joys and successes. Some have failed marriages, a few have passed on, and several have had close calls with illnesses. Quite a few have or will soon retire.  Most are grandparents and two are great-grandparents. Wow! If that wasn’t a shocker to our process of aging! We are/were teachers, missionaries, counselors, farmers, pastors, business owners, chaplains, salesperson, truck drivers, postmaster, contractors, and the list goes on.  But the one thing that stood out to me was the testimony and deep spiritual faith of most of the group.  Church and service have been important and classmates have been involved in all aspects of church life; leadership, service, ministry, music, and teaching. Some have been involved with missions traveling the world with a humanitarian care organization, or counseling, encouraging and ministering to missionaries around the world, chaplains in prison ministry and musicians with music groups.

The funniest story of the day…. (that I heard but I did have to leave before it was over).

Terry Hawk.  His parents were missionaries in Honduras and his wife’s family were missionaries in Africa. When he asked his wife’s parents for her hand, her dad said…. “In African tradition you purchase the bride and numerous tribal leaders have asked to buy her. The highest offer is 75 cows.” So he paid 75 cows for his wife. (At this point this wife chimes in saying that the story is true).  With a chuckle Terry says, “I am still paying for those 75 plastic cows”!!!

Most grandkids….

Cheryl (Maust) Yoder. Cheryl and her husband Larry have four children, As a result they have 25 grandchildren and 1 great-grand!  None of us could top that one! (There was one other in the group with a great-grand).

Traveled the furthest to get to the reunion….

Karen Smucker and her husband Jim arrived by train from Idaho.


Ed Ranck is in charge of the dairy for State Farm prison system in Powhatan. He figures he will be 91 before he can retire. He counts the years but not the days!

Most amazing work statistic….

Randy Kiser has worked for Wilson Trucking his entire career. He has logged 3 million miles and is accident free.


Jim Eby, Pat (Heatwole) Hertzler, Dennis Kauffman, Cheryl (Maust) Yoder, and Ed Ranck.

They were high school sweethearts…

  • Joe Baer and Pat (Beachy)
  • Darrel Hostetter and Sherill (King)

Classmates whose kids married…

The son (Obe) of Darrel and Sherill (King) Hostetter married the daughter (Jill) of Gene and Pat (Heatwole) Hertzler.

Parents who married…

After the death of spouses, Cheryl (Maust) Yoder’s father, Clayton, married Leon Hershberger’s mom, Thelma. So does that now make Cheryl and Leon “almost” sibs!

Lives the furthest away…

Martha (Hartzler) Picone and her native Italian husband live in Italy.

Pictures of the day….


Jim Collins and Eldon Heatwole


Larry Yoder and Ed Ranck


Wayne Showalter


Marge Maust


Sherill (King) Hostetter


Dennis Kauffman and Darrel Hostetter


Cheryl (Maust) and Larry Yoder


Edith (Layman) Rhodes

Pat & Eldon

Pat (Heatwole) Hertzler and Eldon Heatwole


Terry and Colleen Hawk talking to Eldon Heatwole


Carl Berkey and Sherill (King) Hostetter


Micki (Maxine Horst) and Roger Till


Jim Collins, Dennis and Carol Kauffman


Sherill (King) and Darrel Hostetter


Bonnie (Barnhart) Shoemaker and Randy Kiser


Terry and Colleen Hawk


Ed and Doris Ranck


Cheryl (Maust) Yoder and her husband Larry


Ron Brown


Carl and Rosie Berkey


Karen Smucker and Carl Berkey


Marge Maust and Karen Smucker


 Cheryl (Maust) Yoder and Doris Ranck looking at the class picture taken on the steps of the Capital in Washington, D.C.


Left to right: Dwight Layman, Colleen Hawk, Linda (Hunsberger) Booker, Terry Hawk, Gerry (Godshall) Fix

Thank you….

Since I am writing this blog, I will speak for the entire class…. A special, huge thanks to our class mom, Diana (Suter) Berkshire, for keeping track of all of us, fixing a delicious soup lunch and organizing all the details of our gathering.  (I can not believe I did not get a picture of Diana so maybe one of you other photographers can help me out).

A message to the classmates who did not attend….

You were missed!  We are so desiring that you come to our next reunion, the BIG 50!  Diana and Al have let it slipped that they plan to have us at their house.  We really had a good time and it really was good to see each and every one-it was like one big family.

Those of us on fb…

John Augsburger, Rose (Carl) Berkey), Diana Berkshire, Linda Booker, Becky (Ron) Brown,  Benny Buckwalter, Linda (Dwight) Burkholder, Bernie Christner, Jim Collins, Gerry Fix, Don Gerig, Terry Hawk, Eldon Heatwole, Glenna Hertzler, Pat Hertzler, Darrel Hostetter, Sherill Hostetter, Micki Till, Phil Kanagy, Carol E. (Dennis) Kauffman,  Dwight Layman, Kirk Martin, Marge Maust, Francesco (Martha) Picone, Sherrill Jantzi Rudy, Karen Smucker, and  Elaine Strite.  Also James Rush our class sponsor.

If you are not on this list, send me a message at the very bottom of the blog. Thanks.

There is a fb page for our class called “Eastern Mennonite School 1970”. This is a “closed group” so no one except classmates can see the posts.


I know some of you were also taking pictures. If you have a picture to add or corrections to the info in the blog,  please email it to me at  If anyone would like a copy of the crazy class picture just send me your email.

  • Thanks Carol Kauffman for the pictures you sent me.

Other Blog Posts:

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