News Posted 7/28/18 - 12/26/18



Georgia Ruthey Leaves us on Christmas Day

(posted 12/26/18) ROCKFORD, ILLINOIS - It must have been her deep devotion to the church that explains the timing of the passing of our classmate Georgia Ann (Ruthey) Marinaro who leaves us on Christmas day and just six days before her 77th birthday!

She attended Barbour Elementary, Washington Junior High, and then all three years at West graduating in 1959. Then on to Illinois State University to follow a teaching career.

Georgia married Jim Marinaro 56 years ago in Rockford where they have raised three children.

Memorial Mass is 10:30 a.m. Saturday, December 29, 2018 at Holy Family Catholic Church, 4401 Highcrest Rd, Rockford. Visitation 8:30 a.m. until time of service at the church.

Online condolences may be submitted at

See her obituary for more information and photos.


Husband of Claudia Cain Passed Away at Age 83

(posted 12/14/18) DONNA, TEXAS — Wayne Russell Malone, husband of classmate Claudia (Cain) Malone died Saturday November 17th, 2018. They had been married 53 years. Wayne suffered a heart attack brought on from arthritis and sciatic nerve pain. There was no obituary.


We have lost Terry Beal at 77

(posted 11/21/18) HUNTSVILLE, ALABAMA — Terry Scott Beal died November 13, 2018 at the age of 77.

He attended Roosevelt Junior High and then all three years at West graduating in 1959.

He is survived by his wife Rita Beal, a son and two daughters.

No services are planned at this time however online condolences can be made to the funeral home ( In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Comfort Care Hospice, 3190 Leeman Ferry Rd., Huntsville, AL 35801.

See his obituary for more information.



So sad.  Terry and I had a good time at our table with Gary and Sharon Sbragia @ the 50th reunion.  He was a fire protection specialist so we talked a bit about wet and dry fire protection systems.  Great guy and as I remember a fine tennis player.   Will be missed."
Howard Partch

Thanks for the news about Terry Beal.  Especially sad for me as we were best friends for many years.  He lived a block away from me and I have many memories of our joint mischief starting from the earliest days.  We also competed in the West High Band.  One time Terry challenged me for first chair on baritone horn even though his primary instrument was first chair trombone, and director George Trumbull said he couldn't pick the winner during the regular tryouts so he had Terry and me play a tryout piece consecutively out of sight in an adjoining room to the bandroom with the door open, and had the whole band vote.  Terry won.  Oh well, I probably got even with him at some point.
Tom Horrall



Coach Robert Koehler Died at 88

(posted 11/11/18) NORMAL, ILLINOIS — We just discovered that Football and Wrestling coach Robert W. Koehler had died September 28, 2015.

He was a Marine serving our country during WWII.

He leaves his wife of 65 years and two children.

See his obituary for more information.



Wife of Chuck Pernacciaro Passed Away at Age 78

(posted 10/28/18) BELVIDERE, ILLINOIS — Rosile C. Pernacciaro, wife of classmate Charles A. Pernacciaro, died Friday October 26th, 2018. She was the former Rosile Catherine Mangiaracina of the West High Class of 1958. They were married September 17, 1960.

See her obituary for more information.


Kaaren Wellman Updates us on Recent Happenings

(posted 10/24/18) QUEEN CREEK, ARIZONA - Kaaren (Wellman) Scanio (note: Kaaren is spelled with two a's) has been having a busy life and after losing her close friend class-of-59 Chris Saudargas (see story below posted on 8/26/18), Kaaren wanted to let the class know what has been happening in her life - the following is in her words:

"Things lately have prompted me to write in case anyone is interested in the goings on in my life.

Since our 50th reunion, we’ve been going full steam ahead.  Husband Charlie and I  tired of flying cross country 4 and 5 times a year to visit our children in Phoenix AZ.  Solution-sell and move, bring lots of changes.  I had retired from operatic performance on my 55th birthday but kept busy working with young opera companies and also professional singers who were having vocal problems.  It was a very satisfying second career.  In some ways even more so than singing.  The singing was done, but I was helping the future, which is a more lasting expression of my love of vocal music.  Occasionally we are in New Orleans where I sit in on some sessions with friends who are truly fine jazz and blues musicians. A different world! 

MA was a great location from which to fly. Phoenix is not!  The move was hectic and very difficult.  From 6000 sq. Ft. of house plus tons of storage to 3000 sq. Ft. and no storage is NOT easy, especially with only 6 weeks from, on the market to closing.  Charlie has cut his business back to “just enough” to keep him busy.  Living close to our two boys and their families brings joy everyday.  I admit we cheat, surviving the 2-3 months of Arizona summers by living in our home in Gy, Switzerland.  We have a 3 yr. old granddaughter, the light of our lives.  She has a great set of lungs,  a wonderful sense of rhythm and excellent pitch.  Ah, the future holds promise.  We are very proud of our whole loving family.

I finally have time for my painting, taking up my lapidary work again, lots of reading and, Charlie and I are traveling at a slow, relaxing pace, a truly luxurious  thing for us.  I am also grateful for the time I had to spend with my pal, Chris Saudargus Mason, visiting her at her beautiful B&B in Ypsilanti and she visiting us in MA and here in AZ.  I miss her.

To my friends, those dedicated classmates who have put on great re- unions in the past, thank you and Bravo. Whether in AZ or Gy, the door is always open to the members of the class of ‘59.

Kaaren Wellman Scanio"

[Editors note: MA above refers to her previous home in Winchendon, Massachusetts]


Bonnie Hale Finally Found but Gone!

(posted 10/23/18) BROADVIEW HEIGHTS, OHIO - Bonnie Lee Hale has been on the missing list since graduation and little was known of her wherabouts - until now.

She attended Roosevelt Junior High and then all three years at West graduating in 1959.

She next graduated from Rockford School of Practical Nursing and became employed by Alma Nelson Manor and River Bluff Nursing Home. It was at River Bluff where she worked with the late class-of-59 Janet (Giese) Roland (See her story posted 4/27/18). Bonnie assisted with Janet's wedding reception in April 1962.

From there it is not clear how or when she connected with William H. Walter, married, had two children, and relocated to the Broadview Heights area of Ohio near Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Bonnie Lee (Hale) Walter passed on November 5, 2015 at the age of 74 and is interred in Ohio Western reserve National Cemetery. See her obituary for more information.


Tony Finley Died at Age 75

(posted 10/11/18) HENDERSON, COLORADO — We just learned that classmate Anthony Wayne Finley died back in December 30, 2016 at the age of 75. Tony attended Roosevelt Junior High and all three years at West.

See his obituary for more information.




Nancy Ostendorf Passes at Age 76

(posted 10/3/18) OSHKOSH, WISCONSIN — We recently learned that classmate Nancy Jane (Ostendorf) Mueller died May 17, 2018 at the age of 76.

Nancy has been hard to track as she had been mostly on the "lost" list over the years moving quite often starting with the Womens Army Corp and then later working in Austin, Texas, San Diego, California, and more recently in Rockford and Oshkosh,WI. She attended Roosevelt Junior High, all three years at West, and graduated.

Cremation rites have taken place and she is buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Rockford, IL.

See her obituary for more information.



"A sad passing noted on the web page was my cousin Nancy Ostendorf.  We were the same age and saw each other in the '59 class at West and at many family get-togethers as well as at other times."
Tom Horrall


Rick Mayes Loses Wife after 53 Years

(posted 9/30/18) PROSPECT, KENTUCKY — We recently heard from classmate Richard Mayes who has been living in Prospect, KY. His wife Susan Elizabeth Mayes died May 4, 2017 at the age of 75 after 53 years of marriage. She fought a long courageous battle with Parkinson's Disease.

See her obituary for much more information.




Update to Phyllis Taylor Auto Accident

(posted 9/29/18) MACHESNEY PARK, ILLINOIS - To follow up with the story posted below on 7/28/18 we have heard from Phyllis (Taylor) Peterson about her recovery from the auto accident of April 12, 2018. Phyllis says:

"I am back on top of things after my accident in April, cooking, washing dishes, dressing myself, driving, even finished writing my 15th book.  Best of all I am happy with my healing.  I'm getting therapy twice a week at Ortho Illinois.  I was at Cor Mariae Rehab Center for 3 months and the nurses, CNA's, and therapy dept. were all amazed at my progress. 

I am also grateful for all the prayers that went up for me.  God is good and life is wonderful!

Gentle thoughts, Phyllis"


Nate Hubbard Died at Age 77

(posted 9/26/18) ROCKFORD, ILLINOIS — Classmate Nathaniel Raye Hubbard Jr. died September 6, 2018 at the age of 77. Nate, a well known and very likeable person, attended Washington Junior High, all three years at West, and graduated.

Memorial service will be held at noon September 27, 2018, in Collins & Stone Funeral Home, 128 S Fifth Street.

See his obituary for more information.


Chris Saudargas Succumbs to Cancer at 77

(posted 8/26/18) YPSILANTI, MICHIGAN — Classmate Alice Christine Saudargas (Mason) passed away June 28, 2018 after a battle with Cancer.

She attended Roosevelt Junior High and then all three years at West graduating in 1959.

She is survived by her two daughters, Martha Cleary and Rebecca Yates, both of Ypsilanti, MI.

Funeral Services were held July 7, 2018 at Stark Funeral Service Ypsilanti, MI. You can share your condolences at A private burial of her ashes will take place in Woodlawn Cemetery in Creston, IL. See her obituary for more information.

You may enjoy reading the story published on this website March 5, 2015 about Christine with photos and links to her Bed and Breakfast. Follow the link near the bottom of this page to a table of archive news stories. There is also a news story about her well known Mom who died at 99 posted June 9, 2015.

The photo below is probably a recent one of Chris and Classmate Kaaren Wellman (Scanio) enjoying a sunny January day sitting in Kaaren's hot tub in Queen Creek, Arizona.


Bill Gray Died in 2011 at Age 70

(posted 8/20/18) WASHBURN, ILLINOIS — Classmate William John Gray died November 9, 2011 at the age of 70. Bill has been on the LOST list since 2009 but recently it was found that he had died in 2011 from what appears to be cancer.

Bill leaves four sons, two daughters, sixteen grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.

He attended Roosevelt Jr High and his Sophomore year at West but it is not known exactly when he left after that.

See his obituary for more information.


Lucy Bowen has Finally been Found

(posted 8/13/18) GOOSE CREEK, SOUTH CAROLINA — It appears that Lucy Louise (Bowen) Knight has been on the "missing list" all these years since the list began. Thanks to some recently improved internet search tools, she was traced to Goose Creek, SC.

Unfortunately she died June 10, 2001 at the age of 60 survived by her husband Donald C. Knight and their children.

Lucy attended Roosevelt Jr High and three years at West as did her sister Sharron (Bowen) Boos from the West Class of 1957. Sharron died before Lucy July 22, 2000.

See Lucy's brief obituary for more information.


Howard Partch Remembers Walker Elementary School

(posted 8/2/18) ROCKFORD, IL — July 2018 saw the demolition of Walker School in the west side neighborhood of Churchill's Grove. Walker was closed in 2016, as part of the school district’s 10-year, $280 million facilities master plan, which includes the closing of eight schools, construction of two and upgrades to existing buildings.

The plan for the site at 1520 Post Avenue is to turn it over to the Rockford Park District to maintain as a neighborhood park.

Demolition has been completed and a limited number of bricks have been made available to the public for keepsakes.

Our classmate Howie Partch while looking at images of the demolition and watching a few alumni picking up souvenir bricks had the following observations and memories:

What a great old fortress!
Walker was built in 1911 so it had an illustrious career.
I showed up in the back row of Shirley Messman’s first grade class after school had started in the Fall of 1947. Transferred over from Church School.
What memories we had there:

• Boy Cops.
• Boy Scouts after school in the gym.
• Mr Nail the janitor.
• The escape tubes we never got to use.
• Drawing those great 19th century sailing schooners!
• Our most beautiful 5th grade teacher who left us to get married-imagine!
• Stu Stern and I in the 6th grade cloakroom building a paper mache model of the U.S. and the gal classmate who used to hang out w/ us there.
• Our only elementary male teacher “ever” in 6th grade who left us to teach science in high school!
• Our replacement 6th grade teacher who cut off her finger on the cutting board-what a year!
• The older kids who set up a “toll” station a few blocks from school. Pay or “pay”
• The yoyo’s across Sherman St @ Jerry Berwald’s father’s store. Loved those things and the tricks we did with them. There were even yoyo guys who demonstrated for us.
• Playing baseball on asphalt during recess. Trying to learn soccer..
• Short skirts on the playground-what a discovery!
• Walking to and from school four times a day.

Did I learn anything there? You bet I did. I discovered Math, Science, Geography, Social Studies, and English there.
I learned how to concentrate and communicate, get along, take charge.
PR Walker may be coming down this summer in order build a park, but it will always stand proud in my memory! It is a part of who I am!

Howard A. Partch



Vincent and Contarino Birthday Visit

(posted 7/31/18) ROCKFORD, ILLINOIS - Classmate John Contarino, who resides in Jacksonville Florida, can be often found on the phone talking with Classmate Mary Ann (Cacciatore) Vincent. Of course they have been friends for many years, but more recently, they have found many more interests in common including being born on the same date of the year (July 19th). So they decided that this year John would fly to Rockford and they would celebrate the big day together.

They managed to fit many activities into the week long visit including visits to the many friends, relatives and classmates in the area plus John's son in Bloomington, IL where John lived and worked for many years.

Mary Ann has a history of connections with the West High Class of 59 as her late husband Richard Vincent, who died in April of 2014, was from our class as was her previous husband, Mike Segneri who died in October of 2001.


Phyllis Taylor Barely Survives Auto Accident

(posted 7/28/18) MACHESNEY PARK, ILLINOIS - Phyllis (Taylor) Peterson recently was finally able to stand and take her first steps since a horrible auto accident on April 12, 2018. Phyllis is shown in the photo at the right with her husband John at the 50th reunion in August 2009.

In the words of her daughter on a current Facebook post, "To say I am proud of her would be a gross understatement. She has persevered through concussion, broken pelvis, internal bleeding, cracked C2 vertebra, surgery, respiratory and bladder infections directly related to her injuries, bruising over nearly every inch of her person, and the excruciating pain that accompanied the lot. She has done so with grace, humor, patience, compassion, light and great soul beauty. I couldn't be more proud to call her my mom. She still has a long way to go, but I have no doubts as to her abilities to heal, become stronger, and turn this experience into something that will help others. That's just her way."

For more about Phyllis, her work, teaching, and publishing see the story published on this website in the newsletter archives July 12, 2015.