Galva grads and other old friends celebrate 50 years of life, longtime friendships

Doug Boock
Seen celebrating lifelong friendships as well as 50 years of life during a recent getaway to Michigan are (front, from left) Kathy Johnson, Vicki Bates, Angie Anderson, Barb Franklin; (rear, from left) Joyce Tarleton, Pam Bates, Paula Patty, Debbie Bruner, Cari Jo Nelson, Kim Reiman and Janell Holt.

What do you do if you reach a milestone – turning 50 years old – and you’ve got several lifelong friends doing the same?

You might go away for a long weekend – where you smile, you weep and you reminisce.

That’s just what 11 current and former Galva women did June 8-13. They travelled to Saugatuck, Mich. for a few days of enjoying friendships that for some of them date back to early childhood.

“We laughed and cried and shared how important our friendship is to each of us,” said Paula (Holevoet) Patty of Galva. “We decided that all the time we spent together growing up in Galva was the foundation of our long-lasting ‘Galvanized friendship.’ Some of us have actually been friends since birth.”

The women – all 1979 high school graduates – included eight who graduated from Galva High School: Paula (Holevoet) Patty, Pam (Holevoet) Bates, Janell (Spivey) Holt, Kathy (Doss) Johnson, Angie Anderson, Barb (Smith) Franklin, Cari Jo Nelson, and Debbie (Buck) Bruner. Two graduated from Toulon High School – Vicki (Morrell) Bates and Joyce (Renard) Tarleton – and one – Kim (Shields) Reiman – graduated from Morton High School.

All of them live in Galva except Kathy Johnson (who resides north of Galva), Angie Anderson (Sandgate, England), Barb Franklin (LaSalle), Kim Reiman (Morton), Cari Jo Nelson (St. Louis, Mo.) and Debbie Bruner (Bentonville, Ark.).

Another ’79 GHS graduate, Linda (Armstrong) Norman, planned to attend but job responsibilities prevented it. She resides in Chicago.

While away, the group – which has a combined 28 children (ages 8 to 31) and nine grandchildren – spent much of their time simply having fun.

“The best parts were the great conversations, the goofiness, the laughing until we had tears in our eyes,” Patty said. “We shared many age-related experiences that we all have in common. And we laughed about it being a group effort to recall our memories.”

This isn’t the first time this group has enjoyed a few days away together. Their first “Girls Weekend” was in 1987, when they met in Indianapolis. Since then, they’ve met in St. Louis twice; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Jacksonville, Ill.; Burlington, Iowa; Springfield; a cabin at Lake Calhoun; and Morton twice. The group hopes to take a trip in 2012, perhaps to St. Louis.

“We seemed to find many people on this trip who were astounded that we had remained friends for so long, so our advice to students on keeping good friendships is to nurture them,” Patty said.

“A lot of things in life can fall away but a great friend is a constant. Forgive and accept your friend for who they are, be patient and trustworthy.

“It takes effort but it is worth it.”