Class reunions are a hoot – take it from me who hasn’t missed an opportunity to attend one since 1972 when our class had its first get together after 19 years. Our class started off wrong – or different - and never got on the right track with gatherings at five year intervals exactly on the right anniversary of graduation.

The class of 1956 wasn’t so far behind our group. Their last big reunion was in 2001 when they marked their 45th year since graduation at Denison High School.

One important classmate was absent from last year's mini-reunion, one who had worked through the years to see that the reunions actually took place. Olan Taul passed away just a few weeks before the reunion after a long illness.

Betty Smith Darrow said "It was a great relief in 2000 when Olan Taul said he would help with getting plans started for our 45th Class Reunion in 2001."

During this time Olan was Constable for District 2 in Grayson County and was in treatment for cancer. Yet he found the time and energy to organize the reunion, she said. With his leadership and the support from others in the class, Betty said the reunion was a tremendous success.

Judith Thomas of Granville, OH wrote that since she no longer lives in Denison, it is hard for her to comprehend how much work it takes to organize a reunion. Judith is so right. It takes months to get ready for one of the "really big" ones.

"Many of my former classmates who still live in Denison have been involved in this work over the years, but Olan’s part stood out especially during the planning of that 2001 reunion," Judith wrote.

"He sent out innumerable e-mails getting messages back and forth, worked on the hotel and banquet arrangements, and played a major role in organizing a computer slide show featuring snapshots that various class members had taken of one another during our high school years," she said.

The slide show was featured at a Saturday night dinner that we had at Texoma Lodge, and I still remember Olan sitting at a table with me and several friends, saying that he didn’t believe he’d be around for our 2006 reunion because the prostate cancer he’d been treated for a few years earlier had metastasized throughout his body.

Judith said she knew Olan throughout high school because their last names placed them in homeroom together and in adjoining lockers. "He was good looking but somewhat shy," she remembers, and said he tended to stay in the background rather than take the lead in class activities.

"Olan was the kind of man who was willing to do anything to help a friend, even one whom he’s only had minimal contact with since graduation.

Betty Darrow said in June 2002 Olan was instrumental in bringing classmates together for their first mini-reunion at The Point on Lake Texoma. It was here that the decision was made to get together every six months. These semi-annual gatherings have continued to grow since that initial meeting.

Olan is missed by all who knew him, especially by his classmates. Judith said his death was a sad occasion for so many and he will be missed at their 50th reunion next year.

"One can only imagine that Olan is now looking up classmates who have passed on before him to renew friendships and tell ‘ole school’ stories that he enjoyed so much. There is no need for goodbyes because their spirit lives on and on…each is merely a memory away, Darrow said. – Donna Hunt


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