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Westernaires share memories on field, at luncheon

Westernaire luncheon

Former Westernaires Director Beverly Minaldi joins in for a photo with members of the dance/drill team 1973-1974, Pat Feldschau, Tonya Mitchell, Rhonda Stephens, Vicki Calloway, Debra Stukey, Gail Maxwell Foreman, Sheila Taylor, Connie Safer, Katherine Streetman Richardson, Donna Foust Roberts, Donna Ellerbee Jorgensen and Casey Mallett during a luncheon honoring the 60th anniversary of the group at the Pompano Club in Port Neches on Saturday. Mary Meaux/The News

Former Westernaires Director Beverly Minaldi joins in for a photo with members of the dance/drill team 1973-1974, Pat Feldschau, Tonya Mitchell, Rhonda Stephens, Vicki Calloway, Debra Stukey, Gail Maxwell Foreman, Sheila Taylor, Connie Safer, Katherine Streetman Richardson, Donna Foust Roberts, Donna Ellerbee Jorgensen and Casey Mallett during a luncheon honoring the 60th anniversary of the group at the Pompano Club in Port Neches on Saturday.
Mary Meaux/The News

 

A sign welcomes Westernaire alumni to a luncheon in their honor at the Pompano Club in Port Neches on Saturday. Mary Meaux/The News

A sign welcomes Westernaire alumni to a luncheon in their honor at the Pompano Club in Port Neches on Saturday.
Mary Meaux/The News

Charlotte Stark, left, and Gillean Vandiver, seated, listens as Anne Fontenot points out members of the Westernaires in a photo. Mary Meaux/The News

Charlotte Stark, left, and Gillean Vandiver, seated, listens as Anne Fontenot points out members of the Westernaires in a photo.
Mary Meaux/The News

PORT NECHES — More than 250 Westernaires gathered for a luncheon to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Nederland High School dance/drill team on Saturday.

A sign welcomes Westernaire alumni to a luncheon in their honor at the Pompano Club in Port Neches on Saturday. Mary Meaux/The News

A sign welcomes Westernaire alumni to a luncheon in their honor at the Pompano Club in Port Neches on Saturday.
Mary Meaux/The News

Former director Beverly Minaldi, who led the group for many years, was on hand and a focal point for any of the alumni. Minaldi started off leading the group in 1960 and “quit every once in a while” but came back to stay in the 1970s through 2000. Directing the group of young ladies was more than teaching dance and drill team skills.

“In the early 1970s I was actively involved in the women’s movement,” Minaldi said. “When the asked me to come back I decided to teach the girls self-reliance, to depend on themselves, be independent and a success in life. It became my personal cause because it’s a real cause.”

Having manners and poise were interwoven with other life’s lessons for the Westernaires.

“You had to be proud of yourself and your school and home. Your reputation reflects on the reputation of the other 50 girls,” she said. “Clean living, doing the right kind of things and standing up for yourself.”

Anita Murphy Conerly, who was a Westernaire in 1065-1966 and a officer in 1966, said she wouldn’t have missed the event for the world. She drove in from League City to take part in an event honoring 60 years of the Westernaires during the Friday night football game and the luncheon.

Sharon Galvan, who was a Westernaire in 1974-1975, sat with a table of friends from the same squad during the luncheon. She described what it was like to be on the field again.

“As I walked on the field I thought it only took 42 years to get back,” Galvan said with a laugh. “It brought back wonderful memories of halftime performances.”

Gillean Vandiver, a current Westernaire, was there with her aunt, Charlotte Stark, who was a Westernaire in 1972.

“It’s really cool to see everybody together,” Vandiver said. “I wonder how it will be to see us in 15 years at the 75th reunion.”

Denise McKeever Bunger, alumni chairperson, wasn’t a Westernaire but her daughters are. She called the event fabulous and said she received many ‘thank you’s’ from the alumni.

Alumni came from near and far to attend the 60th anniversary celebration. Vicki Wallace Riley, 1968 Westernaire, came down from Briggs, Texas, Rhonda Stephens drove four hours from Rockport, Casey Mallet drove in from San Antonio, Donna Jorgensen came in from Crystal Beach and Donna Roberts drove from the Woodlands.

Mary Meaux: 409-721-2429

Twitter: @MaryMeauxPANews