Life lessons

Alcoa Class of 1959 celebrates 50 years

Those were the last lines of the farewell poem by the senior class of 1959, published in The Alcoa Student school newspaper on May 22, 1959.

That pride, honor and loyalty was evident on Aug. 29 when members of that Alcoa High School senior class gathered for their 50th high school class reunion.

Given to each classmate who came to the reunion were copies of the May 22, 1959, school newspaper, the program from the graduation exercises from May 24, 1959, and a directory of their classmates. The Saturday night reunion was held at Green Meadow Country Club.

One of the highlights of the reunion was a celebration of the school’s 1959 boys state basketball championship.

Coaches Vernon Osborne and Richard Abbott were honored, as were senior players from the 1959 team, including Wayne Dixon, Hugh Dotson, Richard Holt, Freddie L. Marsh, Jim Riddick and Pete Summerville. The 1959 senior cheerleaders honored included: Dr. Sherrel Lawson Buero, Edna Myers Riddick and Brenda Thacker Wilson.

This was the second time the team was honored in recent months, said Edna Myers Riddick. The team was honored during this year’s state basketball tournament in Murfreesboro on March 21.

“At halftime of the final game, the 1959 Alcoa High Boys Basketball Team proudly marched onto the Murphy Center gym floor in celebration of their TSSAA State Championship 50th Anniversary,” she said. “For Coach Vernon Osborne, the City of Alcoa and all of us who were there, most would agree that 1959 will be remembered for reaching that pinnacle in basketball history.”

Riddick said Alcoa High School competed against schools three times their size and won the state championship. The former cheerleaders praised the fans for helping bring home the victory.

“The Alcoa High School 1959 fans were truly the best,” remembers Riddick. “They demonstrated how to support our team to the ultimate victory - cheering, making signs, ringing cow bells, beating on garbage can lids, singing chants and riding those White Star Lines buses back and forth to Vanderbilt in Nashville, the site of the 1959 tournament.”

Riddick recalled how, when the 1959 boys team returned to Alcoa after winning the tournament, residents lined the streets welcoming the champs home. “Both the (state championship) Porter Panther Girls team and Alcoa High Tornadoes were cheered in a long parade as Blount County celebrated in style and caught the eye of sports fans across the state,” she said.

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