Washington Township welcomes back decades of Minburn students for sesquicentennial

Sean Cordy - Sports
Richard Reist discusses memories from his senior year at Washington Township. PHOTO BY SEAN CORDY/THE PERRY CHIEF

Celebrating 150 years of community history takes more than just one day. After kicking off the holiday weekend starting Thursday night, the action continued in Minburn on Saturday, July 6 by going back to school as the doors to Washington Township School opened for the afternoon.

For some alumni, it was just a short drive and a recent memory. For others, it was a time machine going back decades worth a trek across the country.

One group that was particularly well-represented was the Central Dallas class of 1972. On the second floor, a group of old friends that hadn’t seen each other in years debated who had traveled the furthest, finally settling on Mary Allen who made her way from western Montana to see the sesquicentennial.

She was joined by Peggy Nissly who she said she hadn’t “seen in forever” as well as John Berket and Craig Fleishman who said they get to bump into each other almost every Fourth of July and throughout the year but it’s nice to see old faces again.

Downstairs surrounded by dozens of alumni looking at their class photos through the last class in 1992, former Minburn councilman Richard Reist walked down memory lane of his adventurous senior year. Instead of studying in the school, for most of the year, he was globetrotting. He said after World War II, he had gotten involved with a farming program connected to the United Nations and traveled to Italy, China, New Zealand, and celebrated his birthday on the equator for most of the year. He did most of his studying on the sea before coming back for two months to finish his schooling in 1947 when it was Washington Township Consolidated School.

Of his class of 10 students, he said the majority have passed on but he still vividly remembers the time with them including when Kenneth Bailey threw their history book overboard so they wouldn’t have to study anymore.

All the friendly reunions and shared memories were made possible by the advisory committee that has helped maintain and restore the school building. Committee president Tom Bice, who went to Washington until the sixth grade, said that it’s important to keep the school from falling down as others have around the area.

“We’re an entity that’s been working 20-plus years to restore this building to keep it from falling down,” Bice said. “It’s just a disgrace to see [what’s happened around it.]”

To keep the facility open for events like the sesquicentennial reunion, weddings, and more, they’ve held a number for fundraisers like their pork roast in September and a community breakfast in April.

The sesquicentennial events will continue in Minburn on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. for Praise in the Park.