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Last archive update 3/8/2015



Small World Story: While reading the cover story of the December 2013 issue of Phoenix Magazine, Lou Lagrave came across this photo of the once expansive Japanese gardens in south Phoenix.  Although the beautiful girl in the photo was not identified, Lou thought she looked like our own Shyrle Owens.  Shyrle has confirmed with Lou that his suspicion was correct.  Shyrle said that the photo would have been taken sometime between 1960 and 1963. As many of you know, Shyrle was Miss Arizona in 1961.
February 3, 2009, is the 50th anniversary of the Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens tragic plane crash, that became known as The Day The Music Died We were Juniors at Highland, and I'll bet lots of us remember where we were when we heard the news.

The Day The Music Died
Don McLean

Buddy Holly and The Crickets Web Site

USA Today Story about 50th Anniversary for Rock 'n' Roll tragedy


Comments From Fellow Classmates:

Norma (Woellhart) Martin, Piney Flats, Tennessee: I really enjoyed "The Day the Music Died"!

Sue (Schott) Bolton, Longmont, Colorado:  A funny coincidence: I attended a Memorabilia Night/ Fundraiser for Rotary's Polio Plus Campaign last Saturday night, and we played a fun trivia game with teams of 6 people each. One of the questions from the 50's was to name 3 musicians who died in the crash. Everyone on our team knew Buddy Holly, and some remembered Richie Valens, but I was the ONLY one to mention The Big Bopper. The younger members of our team thought I was nuts until the answers were announced!  Hope to attend the 50th. I've never made it to any of the class reunions so far....

Marji Moore Shaefer, Johnson City, Tennessee:  In 1959 I was an announcer for KHHS lunchroom C show (for a short time). I hadn't been listening to news, so the first I heard about the crash was in the booth, just before the show. We played the news announcement and Buddy Holly music the whole time. I didn't do any announcing after that.  I am still working toward the masters in storytelling at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, TN. We like it so much, we bought a house and rented out our condo in Michigan. My next big project is a program of stories about growing up on Route 66.  If anyone has stories, history or pictures about Route 66, please e-mail me

Sue Chase,  Lancaster, California:  That was a fun remembrance, I do remember where I was when I heard the news. American Pie is a favorite of mine and my children, we used to sing it at the top of our lungs driving the byways and highways. Thanks.

Lon (Steve) Aucker, Edgewood, Colorado:  On Feb 3, 1959 John Goff [also a Highland grad] and I were sitting in John’s 1950 Ford at the original LottaBurger on South San Mateo [Now the Acapulco burrito stand] and heard the sad news on the car radio. It was surreal as we just knew these early Rock Stars were immortal. And you know ... they truly are and will be until we, who were a live part of it all, are all dead.
I’m now a member of the country gentry, Ha!. I bought some land and built a new house east of the Sandias. It gets me out of the mob scene in town.

Dennis Roberts, Albuquerque:  Buddy Holly had a great impact on music of the late 1950’s. It’s amazing how many hit songs he had in a relatively short period of time (1956-59), and many of them were recorded in Clovis, NM.

Anne Wengerd Riffey ,Temple City, California:   I check the website regularly and enjoy seeing the photos.   Jeanne Ball Sampson and I get together for lunch several times a year and always have a lot to talk about.   My husband, Mike and I are enjoying our motor home and traveled this year to Alaska on an organized caravan with 22 other rigs of folks we didn't know.  It was great.  We'll incorporate the 50th reunion into our travel plans for 2010.  We'll actually be in Albuquerque this April for the Good Sam Rally - April 17 - 21. 


Hugh Hackett, 88, No Newcomer to Winning
From The Arizona Republic - June 22, 2008

Attired in red, white and blue, 88-year-old Hugh Hackett sits on a camouflaged camp stool while stretching his legs and shoulders.  He's warming up before throwing the hammer.  Saturday in the Fulton Homes Grand Canyon State Games.


Hackett quickly figures out why there's a small crowd gathered around his camp stool. "I'm the oldest this year, aren't I?" he asks. But that isn't the only title the Albuquerque resident wants to claim.  I'm also the most handsome, right?" he asks with a smirk. 


Hackett is certainly not a newcomer to the track and field circuit. He served as the University of New Mexico's track and field coach for 20 years and established the program as a national contender during the 1960s. One of his greatest successes was the 1965 upset of the University of Southern California, a powerhouse program that had lost just one meet in the previous 20 years. The NCAA even named Hackett Coach of the Year in 1967.


Retirement left Hackett searching for activities to maintain his health and keep his spirits high.

He played in a senior citizens softball league but became frustrated with the squad's constant bickering. "There was just too much fighting going on," he said.


At age 68, Hackett decided to try a new individual sport: the hammer.  Twenty years later, he's still throwing. "I'm just thankful I have the health to do it," said Hackett, who was a pilot during World War II.


Mary Clare Hackett has been married to Hugh for 24 years. The two met in the early 1950s at an Albuquerque high school. He was the track coach, and she was the head cheerleader. They reunited 30 years later at church and discovered both of their spouses had recently died.

"She's the only one I saw," Hugh said. "There was just a glow around her that day."


Mary Clare, 73, travels with her husband to every competition. Before he heads to throw the hammer, he leans in and requests a kiss.  It's a routine occurrence, as Hugh never leaves her side without a peck.  "I think he still feels like he's a kid," she said. "I'm 15 years younger than him, and I'm having trouble keeping up."


Mary Clare said a 1995 competition caused her husband's only major health scare. His heart stopped, and Hackett underwent open-heart surgery.  Before the surgery, he routinely competed in a dozen events at each meet. He now limits his participation to the hammer, weight throws and 100-meter dash. He won gold in all three events Saturday as the sole competitor in his age group, the 85-89 category.


"A lot of people come up to me and tell me what a role model he is," Mary Clare said. "We've had a lot of retiree friends who didn't have anything to live for, and they're gone now. I think this has been wonderful for him."


Fellow hammer thrower Ed Hohn, 74, said Hackett's participation inspires him to compete as long as possible.  "I'd tell him just to keep on trucking," he said.


Inspiration Continues After Fifty Years
By Ronald Pies, HHS Class of 1958

My family has always inspired me. They have some company as two people have made an impact on me that will always be remembered and valued.

One is the late Ken McDonald, who was the City Manager in Tempe when he hired me as the Parks and Recreation Director in 1969. Ken was an inspiration to many people.

Hugh Hackett was the football and track coach at Albuquerque's Highland High School from 1949 to 1958. He saw something in me that allowed me to be part of a high school track and field dynasty that won seven consecutive state championships and forty five consecutive track meets including two on the same day.

Those were the days that we travelled by car and ventured into Texas and Oklahoma in search of competition. Bologna sandwiches eaten in the local college dormitory were the norm.

Coach Hackett’s influence transcended activities on the track. He was a deeply religious and honorable man and I learned more from him on how to live my life than how to win a race.

He was hired as the Track and Field Coach at the University of New Mexico and brought five of us with him as his first recruiting class. The rest is history as he turned the Lobos into a national power. As for my accomplishments
I went from being a “promising freshman” to a “returning letterman” and finally as “additional depth”.

It was many years later in 2004 when I was hospitalized with a serious medical condition. Coach Hackett and his wonderful wife Mary Claire visited almost every day over several weeks. He also called several of my former teammates, who called me with get well wishes.

The article in the Sunday Republic only touches upon a small part of this man’s life. He is, was and will always be an inspiration and role model to me.

God Bless You, Hugh Hackett


It is with sadness that we post the passing of "Tiny" at the age of 87.
Tiny had been a regular attendee of the 1st Saturday Ladies Lunch Bunch.  She will be missed.

Elvira M.  "Tiny" Vidano
July 28, 1920 - March 20, 2008

Obituary, March 27 2008



Los Tres Amigos (Redak, Epstein and Sena) con Ruben el Burro - Tijuana Style



A Post 45th Reunion Message from the Prez


News Flash!                  November 21, 2005

The Highland HS Class of 60 Reunion Committee met tonight at Bob Singer's home to stuff mailing envelopes with the 2005 Alumni Address Book. The address book will be in the mail to all alumni who did not attend the 45th reunion. Our thanks to Bob and his gracious wife, Margaret Ann.

Committee members volunteering their services were Carolyn Calvert Clark, Carole Thelin-Bonda, Kaye Smith Hunt, Mary Margaret Mead Petty, Donna Dalby Ness, special guest volunteer Ann Bronitsky Admoni, all the way from Israel, Larry Williams, Pat Hauser, Bob Singer, and William Winkler.

In addition, Ron Taylor, HHS 60 class president, ACTUALLY SHOWED UP THIS TIME AND BROUGHT THE PIZZA!

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