MULBERRY — The passing of years haven’t dulled the fun for Mulberry’s Class of 1966.

The group was the final graduating class from Mulberry’s schools, prior to the consolidation of USD 246 Northeast, and members will proudly state the community “saved the best for last.”

The group said the days of eight-man football, wonderful teachers and small-town living don’t seem like they were actually 50 years ago, and they enjoyed the weekend of catching up.

“It’s been fun,” said Pat Walden, who also is the Mulberry Alumni Association’s president. “It’s a lot of work, but this year’s special with this being our 50th, and it’s always special seeing family and friends.”

Class member Sherry Barone-Woodward said she appreciates Mulberry’s commitment to its alumni — both the local school’s graduates and those who call Mulberry home during their growing-up years.

“I think it’s unique because we celebrate alumni every year,” she said. “A lot of schools don’t do that when they close.”

Class members said they hadn’t realized what a historic year 1966 would be in Mulberry, and found out they would be the last graduating class while they were together on their senior trip.

“Arcadia had closed the year before, so we had a pretty good idea, but we weren’t 100 percent sure,” said Class Member Joe Broyles.

Now, the community embraces anyone who is a resident of Mulberry upon graduating from any local high school as a Mulberry alum.

The eight members of the Class of 1966 who returned said they had enjoyed reconnecting, laughing at memories and catching back up on life’s changes since they last formally gathered 25 years ago.

“We’re enjoying ourselves and hope to get back together in 50 years,” Walden said.

Attending this year were Pat Walden, Joe Broyles, Sherry Barone-Woodward, Eli Wiley, John Yencic, Clayton Spencer, Lindy Rhodes and Susan McGuire.

Among those who have died since graduating are Larry Pollack, Dean Claudia and Harry Benoit.

—Sarah Gooding is a staff writer for The Morning Sun and can be contacted at