Dunkirk High School ’49ers share golden memories

Members of the Dunkirk High School Class of 1949 have forged strong bonds despite time and distance.

Classmate Ann Cook, a Rochester resident and widow of classmate David Czekanski, called the OBSERVER to suggest that the story of the class could be of interest to readers. Cook referred this writer to one of the reunion organizers, Mary Ann Gawlowicz Begier. The class celebrated its 70th reunion on July 24 with a luncheon at the Clarion Hotel. Thirteen attended, including eleven classmates and two guests. Attendees traveled from South Carolina, Ohio, Grand Island and Buffalo.

Begier fondly recalled her class, noting that reunions were held every five years, in different locations, since graduation. “We had about 150 classmates,” she said. “We were the first class who invited other schools.” (In 1949, St. Mary’s and Industrial were also operating in Dunkirk).

Begier stated that several folks who hail from Dunkirk spend time in Florida. A Dunkirk-Fredonia picnic in Lakeland, Florida included 19 members of the DHS Class of ’49. “The contacts are still there,” she noted.

Begier wanted to credit deceased classmate Bill Wells with the idea of starting and maintaining a Class of ’49 scholarship for Dunkirk High School students. She is also quick to share credit with others who are instrumental in continuing the reunion tradition. She works with classmates Art Purol and Judy Schwartz Reuter to organize the get-togethers.

She describes her classmates as “very, very nice,” adding, “the class worked together and stayed together.”