50th reunion for Naval 'family' of '49


WHEN THE NAVAL Academy Class of '49 gathers for a reunion this week, its schedule will reflect preparation that is, well, military in its precision.

"We've had careers planning things," said retired Capt. Mickey McDonald, chairman of the reunion committee that has been busy for two years making sure everything is shipshape.

"The 50th is the acme of reunions," he said. "It is the last big get-together. And we couldn't do it without a lot of love and care from the academy."

Andrea Campbell of the Naval Academy Alumni Association, which keeps track of some 80,000 grads, helps provide that love and care. "The older classes really don't need that much assistance," she said. "Personally, I'm impressed by the strong bonds and camaraderie that have lasted all these years."

Class historian Gene Shine said '49 produced 780 commissioned officers, 231 of whom are deceased. About 350 "Forty-niners" are expected this weekend, including 15 widows of former classmates. Old grads tend to watch over members of their "family," but they don't brag about this sort of thing.

Shine was a high school dropout who served on submarines in World War II, did tours on destroyers, earned a fleet appointment to the academy, flew Panther jets in Korea, and, after 32 years in the Navy, earned a law degree in his early 50s.

It is the perfect background, he has discovered, for volunteering.

McDonald -- who served on destroyers in Korea, then in submarines, and switched uniforms for a year in the Army on Gen. Creighton Abrams' staff in Vietnam -- said preliminary work on the 50th reunion started at the 45th.

"You really have to do this far in advance to make sure you block out hotel space," he said.

His committee has been busy for two years with scores of details: "Name tags, mementos, class history, programs and funny-looking hats," said Shine.

Annapolis-area folks who have been working on the reunion are Bob and Helen Brady, Eileen Butler, Calvin Roberts, Chet and Ella Davis, Keatinge and Rita Keays, Stephen and Rita Krause, Madelon McDonald (Mickey's wife), Joan Shine (Gene's wife), and Jack and Patricia Venable.

Reunion functions start Wednesday and will include a round of parties, tours, golf, a banquet and other activities. There will be a memorial service Friday and a football game between Navy and Akron on Saturday.

Five clergymen who are members of the class will conduct an ecumenical memorial service in the academy chapel. The organist will be a classmate, too. The playing of taps will salute their deceased comrades, including 23 who died in combat in Korea and Vietnam.

A tailgate party, full of barbecue smoke and good food, will precede the game. Doubtless there will be some hand-wringing over Navy's 2-4 football team, which has tortured its fans by playing well generally and then collapsing for brief but catastrophic moments.

Annapolis equinox

For Annapolitans, today marks the unofficial start of autumn in the state capital.

The conclusion of the boat show yesterday means Annapolitans can reclaim their city. Residents will peek out their doors and dare venture into parts of town they've avoided for months because of tourists, or the fear of tourists.

And some will gird their loins -- oh, there must be a fight out there somewhere -- for the inevitable planning-zoning-parking- hospital-Market House-Parole battle. That's the Annapolis way.

Pub Date: 10/18/99

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