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CKHS grads reunite 65 years later

Graduates of Central Kitsap High School’s class of 1944 reunited Wednesday at the Silverdale Beach Hotel. - Steven DeDual/staff photo
Graduates of Central Kitsap High School’s class of 1944 reunited Wednesday at the Silverdale Beach Hotel.
— image credit: Steven DeDual/staff photo

To walk into a room full of people in which the average age is 83, most wouldn’t assume it’s a high school reunion.

But for a group of grads from Central Kitsap High School’s class of 1944, it’s an event nearly seven decades in the making.

“We get together every year and as far as I know, we are the only group to do a 65th reunion in the state,” said Lyle Lindblad, 1944 graduate and event organizer.

They sat at tables in a banquet room at the Silverdale Beach Hotel Wednesday reminiscing about their high school days, a time of war and change in America.

Helen Wittman said she remembers fondly the principal of Central Kitsap High School, Huey James, and how great he was for the school and students.

“I remember a time when we skipped school to go to the movies,” she said. “The first time we ever did and he caught us. He cut our grades by a quarter point. That really hurt our final grades.”

Phil Myhre, whose family is the road’s namesake and said it’s actually pronounced like ‘Meyer,’ also was a 1944 graduate of CKHS and attended the reunion with Lindblad, his friend from school and longtime business partner.

The year 1944 saw America in the last stages of World War II and the climate around the school at the time reflected it perfectly.

Many members of the reunited class remember taking turns watching for Japanese planes in a lookout tower on school grounds.

The class even has its own hero from the war in Jack Schindele who left school early to join the service.

Schindele served aboard two destroyers while in the service, both of which were sunk. His first ship, the USS Johnston, was sent to the bottom of the sea by a submarine torpedo and even though servicemen were allowed to go home after the sinking of their ship, Schindele asked to be reassigned to another. His second ship was downed by a Kamikaze pilot, but again he survived to tell the tale.

The war also made for some big changes in American society at the time as more and more women had to step up and fill gaps in factories left by men heading off to fight for the country. It was the first time in history women were getting jobs at companies like Boeing.

A few of the guests expected to show up, like Jack Ottestad, a self-made millionaire and CK grad, and Joe Roise, a retired airline pilot who joined the Army Air Corps out of high school, were unable to make it due to health or business reasons, but overall Lindblad said it was a great success.

“It is so nice to get together with these folks we’ve known all our lives,” he said.

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