Hardwick, News

Friendships Renewed at Alumni Reunion Saturday

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Alumni attending the reunion from the Class of 1973 were (left to right) Charlie Brochu, Raymond Demers, Bob Batten, Raymond Fontaine, Renaud Demers, Jackie Messier Pilbin, Kelly Jerome, Gail Tousant Renaud, Clair Gallant Hale, Mary Jane Gendron Fradette, Louise Fontaine, Jon Lussier and Jocelyne Michaud Lussier.

by Patrick Hussey, Community Journalist

MORRISVILLE – The joy of rekindling friendships formed with classmates and friends during the formative years of our adult lives was alive and prospering at the Hardwick Academy (HA)/Hazen Union (HU) Alumni Reunion at Ryder Brook Golf Course in Morrisville on Saturday.

Very cool temperatures, cloudy skies and an unrelenting wind couldn’t diminish the spirit that arrived with the former students and teachers from both schools. Alumni were wrapped in sweatshirts, heavy coats and blankets, but most brushed off the cold and remained steadfast throughout the day.

The eventful day began with the 10 a.m. start of the Masters Memorial Golf Tournament that featured 11 foursomes. HA/HU Alumni Secretary Mike Clark started things off by reminding golfers the tournament is held in memory of the many local golfers who have passed on. Two new names were added to the Master’s banner this year, Richard Brochu and Justin Howard, and Clark reminded everyone to keep those two and every other name in their thoughts.

When the morning group of golfers completed play, two foursomes were tied for the lead with six-under par 30s. The first team to hit that mark was the 2019 Masters championship team of Bob Fair, Darwin Thompson and Dan and Sue Hudson. Tied with them for the lead was the foursome of Michael LeCours, his son Tyler LeCours, Kevin Hussey and Rick Renaud.

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Attending the reunion from the Class of 1958 were (left to right) Steven Hill, Janet Houston Slayton, Barbara Gates Keough, Andy and Dolly Fournier and Connie Shattuck Robb.

Once the first group of golfers completed play, the afternoon group of 10 foursomes headed out onto the course at 1 p.m. By this time, Ryder Brook was filling up with arriving alumni.

The alumni association tried to keep the afternoon busy and its alumni engaged by announcing door prize winners. But the strong wind and less than ideal public address system made the job difficult. Struggling, the association gained some traction by deciding to move on and honor a longtime teacher, coach, athletic director and assistant principal.

Dan Hudson devoted his entire life and nearly 40-year professional career to Hardwick. Hudson began teaching and coaching at Hardwick Academy in 1966 and moved to the newly built Hazen Union in 1970, where he remained until retiring in 2005. Hudson’s 80th birthday was on June 1, and the alumni sang happy birthday to him.

For most of his 40 years, Hudson dedicated his falls and winters to coaching the schools’ varsity soccer and basketball teams. He also coached the golf team at times. When he stepped down from the varsity ranks, Hudson’s dedication to our area athletes continued as he coached at the lower levels. The Hazen Union soccer field is dedicated to Hudson.

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Members of the Class of 1978 who attended the reunion were (left to right) Susan Gallant, Dan Gauthier, Rick Phelps, Cathy Mayo (Applebee), Brad Ferland, Donna Burke (Bovat) and Brian O’Connor. Not pictured but also attending from the class of ’78 was Cathy Silk (Keough).

A man with a high moral compass who commanded respect from his many athletes and students, Hudson touched the lives of generations of Hardwickians. On hand to comment on Hudson’s greatness was John Robb, a 1955 graduate of Hardwick Academy.

Robb got his first teaching job at Plainfield High School where he coached Hudson, and the two brought Plainfield to the state basketball finals. Hudson was a standout basketball player and athlete at Plainfield. He and his wife Sue met in high school and are still together today.

The crowd was reminded of how Hudson engineered one of the greatest playoff runs in school history when he took the first Hazen Union soccer team to the state finals in 1970 and tied CVU, 0-0. The Wildcats would lose in penalty kicks, but in those days, the state combined the Class L and I division schools, so the Wildcats were playing the best and biggest teams in the state tournament. Hazen defeated, along the way, South Burlington, North Country and Mount Mansfield.

The other highlight from that run was the three busloads of students who followed the Wildcats to every game of the tournament. It brought the new school together and produced an unprecedented level of school spirit and pride. Hudson said he was always appreciative of the support the town had shown him and his colleagues.

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Paula and Dave Camp (88) get a consolation prize for second place in furthest traveled, 1,500 miles from Melbourne, Fla.

The alumni spirit continued to grow throughout the afternoon. The next highlight of the day was the response shown by the Hazen Union Class of 1973. They were celebrating their 50th reunion and 14 former students were on hand to mark the occasion, the largest turnout of any class and an impressive showing. Jon Lussier spoke for the class and humorously remarked how things have changed for each of them over the last 50 years.

Class pictures were also taken of the HA Classes of 1968 (55th reunion), 1963 (60th), 1958 (65th) and 1948 (75th), as Bev Shepard and Teresa Nolan Earle attended. Other five-year classes who were pictured were 1978 (45th) and 1988 (35th). Surprisingly, the Hardwick Academy Class of 1970, the school’s last graduating class, had the second largest turnout on Saturday with 10 members present.

The afternoon golfers completed play around 3:30 p.m., as the sun finally made an appearance. That group produced the 2023 Masters Memorial champions as the foursome of Mike Clark, John Sperry, Rick Wheeler and Dale Rowell posted the winning score of seven-under par 29. Dan Hudson presented them with their green jackets.

Then around 4 p.m., the Hazen band and chorus arrived and entertained the crowd with several musical selections under the direction of Mavis McNeil and Leah Gagnon.

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The Masters Memorial banner added the names of Richard Brochu and Justin Howard this year.

Other awards handed out Saturday went to Lorraine Hill, who was the oldest alumni present, representing the HA Class of 1947. Traveling from Port St. Lucie, Fla., was Barbara Keough, who won the furthest traveled title (1,670 miles), just ahead of David Camp from Melbourne, Fla. (1,500 miles).

Estimates had the crowd at around 175 people on Saturday and the event raised just over $4,000. Alumni secretary Mary Jane Fradette said area businesses got behind the event in a big way. With Fradette and sister Debbie Brown leading the fundraising effort, attracting event sponsors and hole sponsors, they spearheaded the association generating over $2,100 in donations from local businesses.

Fradette and Brown also efficiently organized the check-in process on Saturday for alumni and golfers. Association members Gail Luther O’Brien, Dr. Brenda Eastman, Karen Hall and Lorrie Curtis all helped out as did volunteers Kelly Robb and Alicia Benoit-Clark. Alumni co-secretaries Mike Clark and Dave Burnham helped organize the Masters Memorial golf along with Pat Hussey.

It was a busy week for the nine dedicated alumni volunteers. They raised over $3,000 last Saturday with their first fundraiser, a chicken barbecue, feeding over 225 people during Spring Festival weekend. Then this past Thursday, the alumni group served up a candlelit dinner at Hazen Union for participating Hazen seniors, welcoming them as new alumni.

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The Hardwick Academy Class of 1968 had David Gendron, Edith Goodell Menard and Bob Fair attending the reunion.

The association is sponsoring two $500 service awards in the names of Richard LeCours and Richard Brochu at this weekend’s Hazen Union graduation. Alumni members Karen Hall and Debbie Brown will be handing out gifts for graduating seniors Saturday.

“There was a high level of enthusiasm among the folks who came and braved the chilly day,” said HA/HU Alumni President Dr. Brenda Eastman. “But that is the hallmark of all our true Terriers and Wildcats. They were all very enthusiastic. We had a schedule planned for the day that didn’t work out perfectly.

“But lesson learned, I think overall everything went perfectly fine,” she continued. “This day was about our different alumni, and as I looked around, I was so happy to see how all the different classes and alumni were having such a great time catching up with one another. And this day was about them, and what made it such a success was them having fun and having pride within their respective classes.

The Hazen Union Class of 1988 was represented by Earl Bruder, Karen LeCours and Davis Camp.

“That is what made the day such a great success,” she continued. “We were especially pleased with the turnout of our older alumni. And the Hazen music was just so sweet and beautiful. Those kids and their teachers deserve a lot of credit for showing up for us on a late Saturday afternoon. It was all just so special.”

The newly formed Hardwick Academy/Hazen Union Alumni Association is determined to reinvigorate yearly reunion celebrations and Saturday was a big step forward in that continuing effort.

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The Hardwick Academy Class of 1948 had two representatives, Teresa Nolan Earle and Beverly Barcomb Shepard.

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Mary Piper, lone representative of the Hardwick Academy Class of 1963, is all smiles after winning the 50-50 raffle.

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Winners of the 2023 Masters Memorial golf tournament were, left to right, Dale Rowell, Rick Wheeler, John Sperry and Mike Clark.

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Lorraine Hill, from the Hardwick Academy Class of 1947, won the oldest alumni award.

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Barbara Keough (58) won the furthest traveled award, coming 1,670 miles from Port St. Lucie, Fla.

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