Talk Of The Town

MD 1337A beautiful Veterans Memorial was recently completed at Mater Dei High School thanks to the efforts and financial contributions of the Class of 1963 who will celebrate their 55th reunion this weekend.     1963... It was the start of Beatlemania. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I have a dream” speech and much of the news was dominated by the actions of civil rights activists. Push button phones and postal zip codes were introduced. And the final months of the year were engraved in American history with the tragic assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
    On the local front that year, a group of 152 young men and women graduated from Mater Dei Catholic High School ready to make their mark on the world. This Saturday, July 21, they will return to Breese for their 55th class reunion where they will reflect on their high school years and the many events that have shaped their lives since then. 
    As the classmates can confirm, 1963 was also a year that our country’s role in Vietnam was steadily growing.  Thirty-two members of the class left the comfortable halls of Mater Dei and eventually went on to serve their country in varying branches of the military. 
    In an effort to honor their classmates and all of the Mater Dei alumni who served in the armed forces, the class of 1963 has spearheaded and funded the construction of a Mater Dei Veterans Memorial. 
    The monument and a new flagpole will be dedicated on Monday, July 30 at 6 p.m. The solemn ceremony will include full military honors to recognize all veterans who have ever attended Mater Dei — especially those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. An invitation is extended to the general public, all Mater Dei alumni and, especially, all veterans.    
    Mater Dei Principal Dennis Litteken said a veterans memorial is “long overdue” at the school.
    “We need to acknowledge and recognize the graduates who went on to serve our country,” he said. “Thank you to the class of 1963 for initiating the idea. It’s humbling when graduates come back and want to add to the beautification of the school. It’s a good example of giving back and trying to make a place better than when you left it.”
    The idea for the monument was initiated by Class of 1963 graduate Clara Schneider Locher who is no stranger to military service. 
    Locher grew up in Beckemeyer. After graduating from Mater Dei, she was a first-generation college attendee at Mount Mary College, a Catholic all-women’s college in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 
    “During my junior year, all military services were seeking to get more women officer candidates and sent recruiters to Mount Mary, and I decided it was a great idea,” Locher said. “I could serve my country, have a good paying job while I continued to grow up, and the pay was ‘equal pay for equal rank, regardless of sex’ —  a very rare concept in the 1960s.” 
    She intended to put in her  four-year military commitment following Officer Training School, but she was selected for Intelligence School.
    “I and all my classmates volunteered for Vietnam, because we believed in what we were trying to do there,” she said. “I voluntarily extended my first one-year tour, and after a 15-month assignment in the States, I volunteered for another tour.”
    Locher explained that her two tours in the Vietnam Conflict were in northern Thailand, not in Vietnam. 
    “While I lost many friends in military aircraft shoot downs and accidents, I never saw any of the ugliness or the danger of the ground war as did those who were in the Army and Marines who were not in flight positions,” she said. 

8825.WadeMarianne and Dale Wade    Longtime Breese businessman Dale Wade, owner of Clinton County Oil Company and founder of CC Food Marts, passed away Saturday, July 14 at the age of 87.
    Believing that “you have to give back,” Wade was instrumental in the development of Breese and was always very involved in community organizations and activities. 
    During an interview with the Breese Journal in October 2014, Wade reminisced about the growth of Breese. In 1958, at the age of 27, he was president of the Business and Professional Association, now known as the Chamber of Commerce. 
    “We’ve had some good people in Breese — people who worked together and would break their neck to get things done,” he said. “I was just a young guy at the time leading their group, but that’s all it took.”

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