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The Perfect Ending
Our 50th Reunion

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  You know, many of our classmates were not able to come to "Our 50th Reunion"---and for reasons beyond their control.  But at the end of the day, here's one classmate who not only made it to "Our 50th Reunion", he also danced the evening away---simply because he wouldn't have it any other way.   And you can read about his personal and very difficult "road" to the dance floor of "Our 50th Reunion" written in his own words at the very bottom of this screen.
So here, representing all of us at the last dance of the last evening, are two young ladies giving special hugs to a very special guy--Jerry Wheeler--symbolizing the perfect ending to a perfect day for us all.  Thanks Jerry --- just for the coming.

Barbara Allen Drews giving Jerry a hug for us !
Barbara Allen Drews dancing with Jerry

Doris Strickland Collins giving Jerry a hug for us
Doris Strickland Collins dancing with Jerry

Jerry Wheeler's difficult road to the 50th Reunion...in his own words: 

All through high school, college, and the Air Force, I was very healthy. I didnt have most of the childhood diseases, never had appendicitis, never had my tonsils out, and never broke a bone or sprained an ankle. The few colds I had were very mild. I married at 24, moved to California, and settled down with my wife to raise three children. My job was very fulfilling and I was a happy guy. I played on the company volleyball and baseball teams. In 1969, at 35, I ran nine 10-K races.

It was in 1980 that the great physical reversal began. I was diagnosed with type II diabetes. How could this be? I was still running every day and swimming laps at the pool twice a week. Three years later my wife died and I suddenly learned how hectic life could be when you have to cook the meals, wash the clothes, pick up the dry cleaning, vacuum the floors, clean the house, etc., while competing at work for that corner office. The strain became especially noticeable when my doctor noticed a bad spot on my back. It was an advanced melanoma that had to be removed immediately like that night. He removed the cancer by cutting out a section of my skin about three inches in diameter and covering the area (after four weeks) with some skin from my stomach. So now I have scars on my back and my front.

Some people lose weight when they are in the hospital and then recovering from an operation. I gained weight. I tried running after my recovery but my right knee hurt too much when I jogged. I went back to the doctor and found out that I had arthritis in my knees and my spine.

I slowed down considerably during the next few years. I retired in 1991 and launched a get back in shape campaign. I joined a 24-hour fitness club, and resumed swimming laps at the local pool twice a week. I thought I was doing fine but my right knee got so bad that I finally had it replaced in 1994. My recovery was slow I was now 60 years old.

So what does a crippled-up man do at this stage in his life? I met and married Mary, a beautiful lady from Irvine, California. We flew to Maui, Hawaii, for a great honeymoon. We were very happy. Twenty-eight days later I had a massive stroke. I spent a year in a wheelchair, then a walker, then a quad cane and then finally, just a normal cane (if there is such a thing). We traveled a little and things were looking up when I was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

My choices were to have surgery, have radiation treatments or leave it alone and hope to die from other causes. I chose radiation treatments. I went through external radiation three times a week and then had about 100 radioactive seeds implanted in my prostate. That was two years ago and Im still not fully recovered.

In January of this year I awoke with a pain in my back. I almost fell down when I tried to stand up. I called out to my wife to help me to the kitchen. I screamed when we got to the bedroom doorway so she followed behind me with a chair so that I could sit down and relieve the pain every few steps. When we got to the doctors we found that I had spinal stenosis with a protruding disc between two lumbar vertebrae. I am now scheduled for surgery on July 25, 2002.

So thats my story. Skin cancer, knee replacement, arthritis, stroke, prostate cancer, and spinal stenosis. Aint it fun getting old?

...Jerry Wheeler, York '52



If your speakers are "on" and your volume is "up" then you're listening to...
Dan Fogelberg "Same Auld Lang Syne"