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Artifact from Class of '45 on its way to museum

A copy of the 1945 Oxford High School commencement program (right) sits with the 1945 class composite that resides in the lobby of the Oxford Township Parks and Recreation office on W. Burdick St. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
June 11, 2014 - What started out as a garage sale item is on its way to becoming an artifact at downtown Oxford's Northeast Oakland Historical Museum where it will be preserved for and viewed by future generations.

Addison Township resident Rob Guzanek plans to donate a program from Oxford High School's May 31, 1945 commencement exercises to the museum.

"It's a piece of Oxford history and a good record of 1945's graduating class," he said. "It's only a couple pages, so there's not much there, but it's interesting what you see. I was amazed at how pristine it was for being so old."

The program contains the names of all 52 members of the graduating class including four boys – Alfred Bluemer, Stephen Lockwood, Clifford Marsh and Marshall Groover – who were not present for the ceremony because they were off serving in the U.S. military during World War II.

"I wonder how many of those people are still alive and living in the area," Guzanek said.

A friend of Guzanek's, Orchard Lake resident Bill Borland, found the program about two years ago while sifting through a drawer full of items at a garage sale on Pontiac Trail in Commerce Township.

The owner was kind enough to give the program to Borland, who planned to present it to Guzanek because he lives in the Oxford school district.

"He's pretty entrenched in that community and I knew he'd get a kick out of it," Borland said.

However, the program ended up sitting on Borland's workbench for two years until he finally gave it to Guzanek last week.

The program shows Oxford was a much, much smaller district 69 years ago.

For instance, all 29 members of the district's faculty are listed on the back as well as the names of the four custodians.

The National Honor Society only had eight senior members – Marilyn Jean Case, Kathryn Cotter, John Edman, Jean Marie La Pointe, Frances E. Lynk, Shirley Rossman, Doris Sternberg and Charles H. Williams.

The program contains the names of some folks who were well-known around Oxford for many years.

For instance, Dr. G.E. Meads, a local dentist and founder of the Rotary Club of Oxford, was president of the school board at the time.

J.C. Webster is listed as part of the graduating class. He was an active volunteer with the Oxford Fire Department from 1964 until his passing in 2003 and a proud member of the Oxford Lions Club for more than 40 years.

Roger Oberg, who worked for the district for 37 years, is listed as the agriculture teacher. He would go on to serve as superintendent from 1961-78.

The Northeast Oakland Historical Museum is located at 1 N. Washington St. inside the old Oxford Savings Bank building on the northwest corner of Burdick St. and M-24.

Museum hours are 1-4 p.m. Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, plus 5:30 to 8 p.m. Friday.

Private group tours are available. Admission is free, but donations are welcome.

For more information about the museum, please call (248) 628-8413.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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