News Posted 1/1/15 - 5/28/15


Darlene (Myers) Hanna has lost her husband

(posted 5/28/15)
ROCKFORD, IL — We were sorry to learn that classmate Darlene (Myers) Hanna has lost her husband Don Hanna May 20, 2015 at the age of 76.

They were married in Rockford June 9, 1962 and celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2012. Don was very active and committed to serving the Rockford community.

Memorial Services will be held in Rockford Friday May 29th, 2015 with arrangements by Fitzgerald Funeral Home where you can express your condolences online. Also her address can be found in the member section to send a note. See the obituary for more information.


Gretchen Lotzer has Lost her Mother at 96

(posted 5/19/15) ROCKFORD, IL — Katherine M. Lotzer, the Mother of Gretchen (Lotzer) Farbstein, has passed away May 16, 2015. She had lived a long life at 96 years of age. Gretchen, who was featured in a news story December 29, 2014 on this website that you can read below, lives in Logan Square, Chicago. Read her Mother's obituary for more information.




Monica (King) Rivers Dies at 73

(posted 5/12/15)
ROCKFORD, ILLINOIS — Classmate Monica (King) Rivers died May 10, 2015 at the age of 73. Monica, along with Karen (Menne) Ferre transferred from Muldoon to West for their senior year. Monica's husband Clifford Rivers died December 9, 2013 after 46 years of marriage.

Funeral Mass will be this Friday May 15, 2015 at 11:00 am in St. Bridget Catholic Church with visitation at 10:00 am. More information can be found in her obituary.


Arizona Humor by Don Yakel

(posted 4/14/15)
SIERRA VISTA, ARIZONA — Classmate Don Yakel is now living in Sierra Vista, Arizona. The photo at the right shows the view from his home. To give you an idea of what it can be like to live in a small town in Arizona, Don has shared with us this description entitled "Arizona Humor".

In his high school and early working years, Don had little reason to have much of a sense of humor as he suffered from a serious medical condition causing him to have periodic epileptic seizures. He had seizures since he was 16 but it wasn't diagnosed until he was 21.

In January of 1961 Don married Mary Ann Knight from the west high class of 1960 and they both worked at Mattison Machine Works.

The specter of seizures has clouded much of Don's early working life until he was referred by a local Rockford neurologist to Chicago's Rush Presbyterian St. Luke's Medical Center for special brain surgery performed there. He had the surgery May 22, 1981 and has been seizure-free ever since as explained in a RRstar news article July 13, 1981.


Classmate Loses 80 lbs and Stops all Medications

(posted 4/4/15)
JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA — In 2013 or so classmate John Contarino moved from Bloomington, IL to Jacksonville, FL and on the way found the holy grail of weight loss. John, like so many in our age group, was burdened with having to depend on as many as six insulin shots a day to help control his type 2 diabetes plus at least a half dozen other prescription drugs needed to cope with the ravages of the SAD (Standard American Diet).

Realizing the long term health implications of his situation, John somehow knew that the only hope for permanent change would be to radically overhaul his current lifestyle. He knew that he did not need just a different diet, but also a complete change in daily routine.

Before this change, John had not spent much time at the gym but the new lifestyle was to swim an hour every day along with a daily 3-5 mile bike ride.

John describes his diet as "NO pasta  NO bread NO pizza NO white rice, fruits, vegetables, fish, meat, cheese and protein. It was hard at first, but now just a way of life. 100% off of ALL medications."

See for yourself the difference from the photo at the left taken in 2013 and the current photo on the right. Of course, as a reward for setting such a fine example of what can be achieved, his kids and friends should chip in to buy him a new wardrobe a couple of sizes smaller to show off his new body! His birthday is July 19th!


Michigan B & B run by Classmate Chris Saudargas

(posted 3/5/15)
YPSILANTI, MICHIGAN — If you have been wondering what happened to classmate Christine (Saudargas) Mason, wonder no more as since 1993 she has been busy running a very successful Bed and Breakfast serving the cities of Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Detroit Michigan.

You probably remember her well-known parents Alex Saudargas the West High basketball coaching legend with the 1955 State Championship Team and mother Alice who served on the Rockford school board until just a few years ago. Alex died March 1, 1999 at the age of 82 leaving his wife Alice who will be 99 years old this May. Christine is named after her mother as her full name is Alice Christine (Saudargas) Mason.

Christine lost her first husband in a small plane crash about 35 years ago and married Lance Mason in 1994 who died in June of 2011 at the age of 64. Coming from an athletic family, Chris keeps herself in shape by exercising regularly, playing golf, dancing, and traveling while still running her business.

The bed and breakfast is called the Parish House Inn and has been reviewed in regional and national publications. Situated close to the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University she often hosts visiting professors and guests. The B&B is a charming victorian with modern amenities. Check out the beautiful pictures on her website at and be sure to take the virtual tour!


Rockford Banker Mike Sassali Dies at 74

(posted 2/13/15)
ROCKFORD, ILLINOIS — Classmate Michael Jon Sassali died February 10, 2015 at the age of 74. He is shown to the right at the 50th reunion in 2009.

A heart attack during the mid nineties started him on a lifetime of medications and medical interventions. Most recently, liver stones led him to the hospital for treatment where he survived only for about a week.

Mike worked at the Amcore Bank in Rockford for many years. He also was a proud member of the Army Reserves.

See his obituary for more details and photos. Condolences can be mailed to the address listed in the member section or online to Fitzgerald Funeral Home.


Army Veteran and Golden Gloves Champ Passes On

(posted 2/6/15)
ROCKFORD, ILLINOIS — Classmate Robert "Bob" Stanton died February 1, 2015 at the age of 73. In keeping with his wishes, no funeral services will be held but a private memorial will take place at a later date.

More information can be found in his obituary.


Wife of Paul Mollway Dies of Leukemia at 69

Cathy Schwab(posted 1/27/15)
ROCKFORD, Illinois — Linda Mollway, the wife of classmate Paul Mollway, died January 26th, 2015 after a battle with leukemia. They had been married for 51 years.

The photo at the right shows Paul and Linda at the 50th reunion. The obituary tells about many of the wonderful times they spent together during her lifetime.



Gary E. Johnson Marries on Christmas Day

Cathy Schwab(posted 1/10/15)
LARGO, Florida — Classmate Gary Johnson decided to have a super celebration on Christmas Day 2014 by combining his birthday that day with a wedding to Marie Waldow! Congratulations!

We last visited with Gary in Rockford at the 55th reunion in August 2014. The couple will reside in Largo, Florida.




Musician Mike Williamson Writes "Class of 59" Song

(posted 1/1/15)
ROCKFORD, IL — As a thank-you for using the band "Mike Williamson Productions" for the 50th and 55th reunions, Mike has written a special song to honor our class. It is called 55 Years Ago. The song, which is included in the 55th reunion DVD, can be played on your computer or smartphone by selecting this link: 55 YEARS AGO.

In addition, starting January 5th, Mike will be sending a greeting to the West High Class of 59 on his local radio show called Mike Williamson and Friends. For those of you who are in the Rockford area, the show will air at 7:30 PM on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday and at 1:30 PM on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday - tune in to WTPB-LP 99.3 FM in Rockford. Also you can find several music choices on his website at