The 80th Hayden High School Alumni Association’s homecoming was held June 27 at the Hayden Historical Museum’s pavilion with 51 people in attendance.
President Patrick Sullivan requested all veterans in the audience stand and be recognized. He then asked the rest of the audience to stand and join him as he led everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance. Aubrey Bessenger, a former teacher at the school, then offered the invocation to begin the program.
Pat Sullivan welcomed everyone to the reunion and then introduced the alumni Secretary-Treasurer Rodger Ruddick. He reported the oldest Hayden High School graduate was Helen Taylor Schleibaum, who graduated in 1941. A “Thinking of You” greeting card was sent around the room for everyone to sign. The card and a copy of the homecoming program will be sent to Helen at Covered Bridge Health Campus in Seymour, where she lives.
Ruddick then mentioned the alumni scholarship fund is supported by the donations collected during the program every year. With the reunion being canceled last year, he encouraged those in attendance to consider being a little more generous when the collection basket came around.
The scholarship was named in honor of Spencer Township’s last resident to lose his life while serving his country. Michael Euler was killed in Vietnam, and the alumni scholarship was established in his memory.
Ever since 1986, the award has been presented to an outstanding Jennings County High School senior who had attended Hayden Elementary School. The scholarship winner for 2021, Kaley Ernstes, was introduced by Sullivan and she spoke briefly, thanking the alumni for making the award possible. She will be attending Butler University in the fall. She is the daughter of C.J. Ernstes and Shana Brooks.
To recognize individuals for their personal achievement and community service, the Hayden Historical Museum board of directors established the Hayden Hall of Fame section in the museum in 1990. Because there was no homecoming in 2020, there was no induction ceremony for the 2020 Hall of Fame inductees, which included William Tempest and Otis and Bertha Ruddick.
Rodger Ruddick read the biography for Tempest and asked him to come forward to receive his plaque. Tempest accepted the award and spoke briefly.
Sullivan read the biography for the Ruddicks, and their grandson, Rodger Ruddick, accepted the honor on behalf of the family. Other Ruddick family members in attendance were William and Verda Ruddick, their daughter, Julie Klaes, Rodger Ruddick’s daughter, Erin Collett, and her daughters, Peyton and Haley.
The 2021 Hayden Hall of Fame inductees were then recognized. Sullivan read the biography for Mary Whitcomb Hess. Her niece, Mary Whitcomb Richman, accepted the honor and read a note from Mary Whitcomb Hess’ daughter thanking everyone for remembering her mother.
The other 2021 Hall of Fame recipient was Lester Tracy, and Ruddick read his biography. Tracy was on hand and stood to be recognized, and his oldest daughter, Trina, spoke on his behalf. Lester’s other daughter, Tammy VonDielingen, and Lester’s son, Richard, also were on hand.
Other Tracy family members attending were Tammy’s husband, Dale, and their daughter, Morgan Pyle, with her husband, Adam, and children, Maddie and Jackson. Also, Tammy’s son-in-law, Mark Spieker, and his children, Haley and Landon.
A moment of silence was observed to remember the deceased members of the anniversary classes as well as the other Hayden community members and alumni who had passed away since the 2019 homecoming.
They included Margaret Beesley, Margaret Euler, Lowell Cobbs, Ralph Gerth, Betty Rich Chance, Eve Tindell Hunter, Jack Wagster, Dorene Vogel Maschino, Louis Wilson, Lee Burton, Carolyn Johnson Ruddick, Everett “Junior” Taylor, Dianne Luedeman West, Tim Oakley, Steve Luedeman, Maxine Sullivan DiDomenico, Dollie McCammon, Mike Sullivan, Carolyn Sandhage Prewitt, Dick Linscott, Eddie Ward, Rick Luedeman, Judy Ramey Scott, Ernie Ball, Betty Richart Lane, Dorothy Luedeman Liffick, Martha Lahne Storey, Al Love, Elizabeth Vogel Bridges, Betty Steward Coyle, Ralph Biehle, Marilyn Stearns Taylor, Nancy Hauersperger Burchfield, Wayne Chilman, Coralie Sandhage, Sabrina Richman, John Taylor, Don Spicer, Bryon “Junior” Estes, Don Spaulding, Tom Judd, Jessie Juett Kleber, Charles Allen Whitcomb, Jerry Luedeman, Mabel Robins Christian, Barbara Tracy and Tim Miles.
When asked if anyone else should be included on the list, the names of Martha Sandhage Porter, Phyllis Nichter Hoffman, Patricia Whitcomb and Leonard Ernstes were mentioned.
The members of each anniversary class who were present introduced themselves and spoke briefly. Representing the Class of 1950 was Robert Taylor. Charles Sandhage represented the Class of 1951, and from the class of 1955 were Therese Sorg Blevins and Robert Taylor. From the Class of 1956 were Don Morrison, Calvin Goodpaster, Joyce Roberts Bessenger and Reva Robison Porter. Deanna Swindall Sullivan and Raymond Rascoe represented the Class of 1960.
The members of the Class of 1961 that would have graduated from Hayden High School had it not closed were invited to the reunion. Those who attended were Beverly Spicer Rascoe, John Nichter and Wilma Capes Miller.
Bessinger spoke about coming to the Hayden community as the student minister for Hayden Baptist Church and then being hired as a teacher for the school.
When it was time for the election of officers for the 2022 homecoming, a motion was made and that the current officers would be carried over.
Paperweight plaques with the engraved image of the old Hayden school were presented as the door prizes. The winners were Robert Taylor for being the oldest person in attendance (89), LeRoy Martin for traveling the farthest (Texas) and Bob Edmundson (random drawing).