St. Joseph Catholic schoolmates have reunion

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 28, 2009

NATCHEZ — Sixty years later, their school may be gone but the St. Joseph Catholic High School class of 1949 still remembers their high school days.

One of their class members has died, another one’s whereabouts are unknown and a third wasn’t able to make it, but the other seven members of the class gathered Saturday to reminisce, catch up and generally have a good time.

St. Joseph School was one of the forerunners of Cathedral School, and the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul ran it.

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Class member Sister Virginia Delaney, a daughter of charity herself, said the nuns operated the school without the help of any lay teachers.

“They were good teachers, and good disciplinarians,” she said. “They gave us a very good educational foundation.”

Delaney became a nun the same year she graduated but before that she was the captain of the basketball team.

“We had wonderful ball teams,” she said. “We were really good in sports.”

One of the teams, the Green Wave, has a name familiar to anyone who knows anything about Natchez high school sports, but the girls’ team had a different name — the Hilltoppers.

“We were called the Hilltoppers because the school was located at the top of a hill,” Class member Frances Trosclair said.

The school building no longer exists, and the hill it was built on has been leveled, Trosclair said.

The school was located where the First Presbyterian Church’s education building currently stands.

But though their alma mater no longer stands, Trosclair said she has been looking forward to the reunion.

“I am so pleased so many of my class could come,” she said.

The class of ’49 had some company from the class of 1950.

“It’s fun to get together, but Natchez is small enough that we get to see each other from time to time,” class of ’50 member Nancy Byrne said.

And to this day those old school connections are paying off.

When they were younger, Jim and Joan Gilbert dated, but he moved and finished high school elsewhere. She stayed on to become the senior class president.

One day Jim wrote Delaney a letter, and she gave him Joan’s address.

He was living in Jackson at the time, and when Joan called him from Baton Rouge, it was only a matter of time before he drove down to see her again.

He proposed, and two weeks later they were married.

“It was a long courtship — 62 years,” he said.