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'Gang' from VCHS class of 1953 remembers Isbell

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What started out as a donation of a tree to the Kaskaskia College Vandalia Campus led to a donation for music students at the campus.

In the summer of 2013, Jeanne Smith Hughey contacted Mary Schulze, director of the Vandalia Campus, on behalf of a group of friends from the Vandalia Community High School class of 1953.
Hughey said that the “gang of girls” was approaching their 60-year high school reunion; that one of their close friends, Betty Isbell, had died; and that the group wanted to donate a tree to the KC Vandalia Campus Arboretum in Isbell’s memory.
Hughey also asked Schulze if there were any other needs at the Vandalia campus. To that end, the women donated a Yamaha 76-key portable grand keyboard in addition to a tree.
The keyboard will be used by music classes at the Vandalia campus.
Growing up in Vandalia as grade school and high school friends, these women formed a close bond that lasted more than 60 years.
The “gang” missed Isbell’s presence, help, humor and hospitality at their high school reunion last fall, and, thus, were pleased to participate in the memorial for their “dear friend.”
The “gang” includes Hughey and Barbara Bischoff Crawford of Indianapolis, Ind.; Iris Boaz Bast of Findlay; Doreen Jackson Nelms of Charleston, Mary Jane Houck Bernhardt, Diane Engelhardt Adams and Sue Pryor Wicke of Vandalia; Barbara Bunnell Bowen of Casper, Wyo.; Winnie Petersen File of Edwardsville; Jean Gallatin Lingle of Atlanta, Ga.; Cecelia Volberg Daniels of Chattanooga, Tenn.; Joan Hunter Butkas of Woodstock; and Lois Reeter Bone.
The tree donated by the group of women, and other trees, will be dedicated at this year’s Arbor Day celebration on April 7. The public is invited to attend the celebration and dedication ceremony.
Anyone wishing to donate a tree or shrub in memory or honor of someone can do so by contacting Schulze at 283-1780 or Suzanne Christ at 545-3069.