The sun was shining brightly through a sky of blue in Rutledge, Missouri, on Sunday, September 16, 2018. Old glory furled above the school playground. The bell sounded loudly, just like it had for so many years long ago – it was Rutledge School Reunion Day!
Around noon on the clock, a flock of former students and guests were registered and welcomed to the gymnasium, entering through the doorway decked out in streamers of blue and white, reminding folks of their prom nights so long ago. Tables were adorned with glittering centerpieces, candles and more. A full-course meal was prepared by the Rutledge School Restoration Society volunteers and was enjoyed after a few words of welcome and a thoughtful prayer of thanksgiving were offered by Mr. Cletus Bergthold, who elegantly served as master of ceremonies for the day’s events.
Following the noon meal, Mr. Bergthold took to the podium, leading the group in pledging allegiance to our American Flag. Elaine Forrester led in the singing of the “Star Spangled Banner.” Honorees of the day were those present who had earned a high school diploma from the Rutledge School. Recognized grads were Byron Fowler, 1945; Robert Mason, 1947; Darlene Baker Gunnell, 1948; Dorothy Price Clark, 1949; Cletus Berghold, 1949; and Victor Childers, 1950. Each shared some interesting facts about their years at the school and highlights of the careers they had pursued.
Table to table, each former student in attendance was asked to introduce themselves and to share facts or stories they remember about their education within the walls and throughout the halls of Rutledge School. President of the restoration society, Lynn McClamroch, outlined improvements that have been made through the hard work and fund raising of a small group of volunteers. He talked about the improvements yet to be made and expressed his delight in the school having been listed on the Register of Historical Places. The cost of improvements already made, and those yet to be completed, was shared.
From a candlelit memorial table, Master of Ceremonies Bergthold solemnly read the names of those students who had passed away since the 2016 reunion: Mona Tague, Bill Delaney, Leta Ewing, Robert Brown, Lola Slater, David Johnston, Gwen Laudwig, John Lowe, Charles Wilson, Marjorie Dent, and Darrell York.
Gwen Adams Laudwig was the driving force behind restoration of the Rutledge School. She spent many long days and sleepless nights thinking of ways to renovate one of the classrooms into a museum. Upon the untimely death of Gwen and her husband Wayne in an automobile crash, the society decided to dedicate the museum to the memory of this dedicated couple. A plaque was made in their honor and was presented to Gwen’s family during the memorial service. The plaque will hang above the entry-way door to the museum, which will from this day forward be known as the Gwen and Wayne Laudwig Memorial Museum.
“A Tribute to Gwendolyn Faye Adams Laudwig” (in poetry form) had been written by one of the society’s volunteers, soon after learning of Gwen’s demise. This tribute was shared during the memorial service and copies were presented to the family.
Those attending this day of memories included Doris Blake, St. Richard IA: Faye Walker, Fort Madison IA; Joyce McGoldrick, Lancaster MO; Donis and Ronald Cummings, Lockport IL; Darlene Gunnell, Edina MO; Jerry Gunnell, Bussey IA; Cletus and Pat Bergthold, Wheatland MO; Kathie McPherson, Burlington IA; Reva Hustead and Martin Quinn, Colony MO; Barb Childress, Greentop MO; Mary Shank and Robert Mason, Lake Ozark MO; Steve McPherson, LaBelle MO; Marjorie and Harold Hamner, Kahoka MO; Margaret and Max Mathena, Moline IL; Sheri Baker, Marge Bray, Lorie Murray, Chris, Alaina and Daxton Niedbalski, LaPlata MO; Darin Ludwick, Pashia Ludwick, Debra Dennis, Leon and Marlene Trueblood, Betty Lodewegen, Kelley Ketchum, Elaine Forrester, Mitchell McClamroch, Lonnie and Reva Triplett, Memphis MO; Lynn McClamroch, Kirksville MO; Robert and Dorothy Hunolt, Byron Fowler, Dorothy Clark, Celina Erickson, Robert Neese, John and Beverly Cole, Rutledge.
Victor Childress offered the benediction in close of a memorable day of reminiscing.