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Roseville High’s class of 1940 celebrates 72 years

12 grads gather for reunion
By: ToLewis, Press Tribune Correspondent
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When Paul Lunardi and Lois Wells-Dove graduated from high school, Theodore Roosevelt was president of the United States and the country was six months away from entering World War II.

Back in 1940, Roseville was a small, quiet town with a population of 6,653 people and only one major industry — the railroad.

“It was just a nice place to live,” Wells-Dove said. “Everything was quiet.”

Wells-Dove said life back then consisted of Friday night dances at the high school gym, and dancing at the Masonic Hall in downtown Roseville during the summer months.

“Saturday nights, a lot of times we would go down to Sacramento to the movies,” she said. “That was a ‘big outing’ to the ‘big city.’”

Wells-Dove and Lunardi were two of 12 graduates from Roseville Union High School’s class of 1940 who got together Sunday afternoon at Sierra View Country Club for their 72nd class reunion.

Lunardi said it is something the group does every year to reminisce about old times, and remember long-time friends come and gone.

“We keep in pretty good contact,” he said. “Of course, there’s not many of us left.”

Guy Gibson and Kathleen Lucich, also graduates of Roseville High School, brought their mothers, class of 1940 alums Marnelle Eich-Gibson and Katherine Rastler-Lucich, to the reunion to reminisce with their fellow classmates.

“Most of them have been friends for over 80 years,” Guy Gibson said. “Our moms started in kindergarten together, and we started in kindergarten together, too. Roseville is a small town.”

Wells-Dove said she uses the Internet to track down and keep files on fellow classmates — where they are, or when they passed away. When she can, she attempts to contact her classmates to inform them about the reunion.

She has tracked down what she believes to be 37 surviving members of the class of 1940, many of whom still live in Roseville.

She said there may be more surviving members of the class out there, but sometimes her options for tracking them down are limited.

“Once they go to a nursing facility, you don’t find them,” she said. “There’s too many.”

Notable grads

Notable graduates from the class of 1940 include John Carbone, who graduated from University of California at Berkeley and became a prominent doctor at a San Francisco hospital, Lunardi said.

Raymond Frediani, who attended Sunday’s reunion, moved to Paris after high school and went on to work an extensive career with the French government, Lunardi said.

Lunardi himself sat on the Roseville City Council from 1950-59 and served two terms as mayor, in 1954 and 1958. He also served in the California State Assembly until 1963 and moved on to the state Senate before retiring from the Legislature in 1966.

Of the 155 graduates of the class of 1940, several went on to serve in World War II and all but one, Ferris Van Vliet, who served as a fighter pilot in Africa, returned.

High school sweethearts

Six couples from the class of 1940 went on to marry, Wells-Dove said. Three of those marriages ended in divorce, while death did part Tom Allen and Virginia Ross.

Graduate Al Mitchell, who attended Sunday’s reunion, married his high school sweetheart, Ruth Moseburg, who has since passed away.

One couple from the class of 1940 survives to this day — Wayne Mullin and Evelyn Oates, who live in the San Diego area and will be celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary later this year.

Old friends, come and gone

For some attending the 72nd reunion, the celebration was bittersweet, however. Since the group got together last year, the class of 1940 has lost six of its classmates.

“They all came to the reunions, all six of them,” Wells-Dove said. “It was kind of sad, but it’s also special.”

Wells-Dove said the reunion also served as an opportunity to remember their fellow classmates.

Changes

Lunardi, who still lives in the same Roseville home in which he was born, and Wells-Dove agree that the biggest changes they have seen over the years have been the dramatic spike in population and the variety of industry that has come to the community.

“The railroad isn’t quite as important as it was before,” Wells-Dove said. “With all the subdivisions, even the graduates who were born in Roseville don’t know their way around Roseville anymore.”

Still, the changes Lunardi has seen over the years add up to a recipe for success for a city that sells its own utilities and has attracted a variety of industries including electronics and heavy retail, he said.

“(The city of Roseville) has substantial revenue that a lot of cities don’t have,” Lunardi said. “I think that keeps them pretty healthy, even though we have a pretty serious recession happening. Roseville is holding out pretty good.”

Keeping it going

Lunardi said he is quite impressed with the way Wells-Dove is able to keep track of Roseville Union High School’s class of 1940.

For Wells-Dove, keeping track of her classmates, who are all now in their 90s, and organizing the reunion every year is a labor of love.

“I told them that there would be a reunion as long as there were any of us still around,” Wells-Dove said. “And I’m keeping my promise. I enjoy doing it.”