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Class of '45 reunites including Oxford's first homecoming king

Meet the Class of 1945 – (from left) Marilyn (Spencer) Piatt, Bernice (Scheurlein) Hinz, Harold Pagel, Marion (Heath) Horton, Jack Edman, Frances (Lynk) Fetters, Vera (Feldman) Gonyou, Marlin Marshall, Shirley (Rossman) Connor, JoAnn (Hempstead) Horton, Truman Horton, John Willard Jones and Dr. Charles Williams. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
October 06, 2010 - For today's high school students, World War II is something they learn about in history class.

But for Oxford High School's Class of 1945, the war against the Axis powers fell under the category of current events.

On Saturday night, 13 members of that class gathered for an intimate reunion at the Knights of Columbus hall in Orion.

It's a little known fact, but among these graduates was Oxford's very first homecoming king, Dr. Charles Williams.

How appropriate considering OHS just crowned its 2010 Homecoming King and Queen (see Page 1) the night before during the Rochester Adams game.

These days we think of the crowning as an experience filled with much pomp and circumstance, but Williams said the very first Wildcat coronation was a "pretty informal" and "pretty subdued" affair.

"I had a paper crown," he said.

These days, the homecoming king and queen must be members of the senior class.

Not so in Williams' day.

"Back then, it could be any girl and any boy in the school," he said.

In fact, Williams' queen was Helen Beardsley, a member of the Class of 1946.

Being crowned king was quite a thrill for Williams, who was originally from Imlay City and only attended OHS for his senior year.

"I was relatively new there, so it was rather pleasant to think I was that popular or that many people liked me," he said. "I think that was the best thing."

After graduating, Williams, who still lives in Oxford, became a doctor.

He spent 25 years as a general practitioner in Lake Orion, then switched career paths to work as a psychiatrist for the past 25 years.

Williams said what's nice about the Class of 1945 is how the graduates never really lost touch with each other.

"A lot of them still live here and you could keep track of them over the years," he said. "We always know where everyone is."

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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