Published January 9, 2018

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Some people are still avid readers of each day’s newspaper obituaries.

I’ve never been a word-for-word, everyday reader … but I do scan over them.

Some days it’s seems that everyone dying is over 90 – and that brings a bit of smile to me at the thought of so many having decades in their golden years.

But then there are days when ages read 57, 52, 43 – and for a guy who passed age 57 last June, those days are pretty depressing, frankly.

And while it can be even more depressing to learn of a high school classmate’s death, I’m glad and grateful to be a part of a Facebook group devoted to anyone with a connection to Schuylkill Valley School District, the Berks County district from which I graduated in 1978.

The Facebook group is run by Jim Ricker, who created the page a couple of years ago in a nod to his time spent as an elementary student in the Schuylkill Valley district in the ‘60s while his parents owned a gas station and ice cream stand on nearby Route 61.

His family moved back to Shillington in the Governor Mifflin School District when he started high school, and Ricker also has a site for Governor Mifflin alumni and helps out with one for Exeter School District, too.

It is a “closed” group in that to see posts on its Facebook page, you have to ask to become a member of it.

Most of the postings, which come from other group members as well as Ricker, are links to newspaper obituaries and excerpts from the free death records website Find A Grave (found at the URL, www.findagrave.com). Sometimes members of the group post clippings or scans directly from the newspaper.

Ricker also has posted articles with the names of all graduates, as well as the “distinguished alumni” awards that Schuylkill Valley initiated a few years ago.

In addition, he has posted documents that list subcategories (such as Schuylkill Valley’s predecessor Ontelaunee High School and separate lists of teachers and administrators) organized chronologically.

I went through the list of teachers recently and found some surprises … not surprised that a good number of my teachers were dead as I approach the 40th anniversary of the graduation of my class, but how many of them had lived to ripe old ages.

Most amazing of all was my fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Erma Loose, who died in 2012 a few weeks past her 100th birthday!

1 Comment

  1. 3 months ago  

    Hi James,
    Funny you should mention 4th grade teachers…when I lived in Cross Lanes, WV, my next door neighbor, Carol Nutter, was a 4th grade teacher of mine. I believe she is about 85 years old now. Her and her husband Carl still live in the same house they lived in when my family lived next door. Anyway, one day in class, she read a poem I have never forgotten to this day, and I’d like to recite it here:

    One bright day, in the middle of the night,
    Two dead boys got up to fight;
    Back to back they faced each other,
    Drew their swords and shot each other;
    A deaf policeman heard the noise,
    He came and shot the two dead boys;
    If you don’t believe this lie is true,
    Go ask the blind man, he saw it too.

    Brian S. Miller, Class of ’78, Blackhawk HS, Beaver Falls, PA