KMI REUNION 2015
I must be getting old, because I can't remember the last time rain put a damper on a K.M.I. reunion. We all saw and remembered, however, that Jim Burrows and Jim Flora were conspicuously absent from the Crowne Plaza. We expect to see both of them at 100% in Venice.
Good food and fellowship kicked off our weekend over at Kentucky Country Day School. Our museum area is in great shape, and some of the cadets and their families saw our video, "Character Makes The Man", for the first time. KCD Head of School Brad Lyman and Alumni Director Stephanie Robertson have been K.M.I. "boosters" for well over a decade, and we appreciate their efforts toward our legacy projects.
Friday morning found us on a bus headed to K.M.I.'s Lyndon campus. It's always a bittersweet experience. The Brook Hospital has changed names a few times over the years, but its goal has remained the same: breaking an individual's drug/alcohol dependency and getting him/her ready for a productive return to society. Ormsby Hall, the science building/library, Col. Richmond's/Dr. Simpson's home, the gym, and one of the white brick classroom buildings still stand as we left them. Several cadets had their pictures taken on/around the "cannon", and no one snuck back out there to paint it pink. It is comforting to know that the grounds are being put to good use.
We enjoyed going to Churchill Downs for an afternoon of fellowship, a festive buffet, and a little horse racing. Friday afternoon's affair graced us with sunshine, a fast track, and a few winners for the cadets. We spent the evening back at the Crowne Plaza catching up with our classmates and telling a few "war" stories. K.M.I.'s "Don't Get Caught" bunch is alive and well.
We arose pretty early, for a Saturday morning, and headed for the 2nd floor of the hotel to convene our official Alumni Meeting. James Hagler, Director of the City of Venice's Historical Resources and Director of the Venice Museum, and Kent Whitworth, Executive Director of the Kentucky Historical Society, were in attendance. We're starting to get a little concerned about what our kids and grandkids will do with all of our "stuff". when we're gone. Tommy Young has scooped up so much K.M.I "stuff" from various sources over the years that he is just a couple of notches shy of being declared a "hoarder". UK is starting to step up and do a better job of identification and record keeping with all of the "stuff" we have given its archives over the last twenty years. Kent Whitworth is interested in our history as well and wants us to be more pro-active with the K.H.S. James Hagler announced a new building plan for the Venice Museum, an interactive gallery dedicated to the preservation of the K.M.I. legacy. Alex Hodgin has committed funds to kick-off the K.M.I. Legacy Fund and offered a matching funding plan. The new legacy program is highlighted in its own column on our website. We also voted to have each class restore their class pictures (the big ones) that Bill Vermillion and Greg Rohrer rescued from the basement of the Richmond/Simpson home. A second vote was approved to have a replica of the K.M.I. flag created from the original flag housed at The Brook.
Following a busy morning with the alumni meeting, we hopped back on our buses and headed downtown to the riverfront. The Belle of Louisville awaited us and, as we boarded, we could make out a few '60s songs coming alive via the calliope. The trip upriver and back was relaxing and very enjoyable. There was plenty of food, and we had another opportunity to meet and greet old friends, roommates, and significant others. Several cadets were attending their first reunion, and I'll stick my neck out to say it won't be their last one.
While preparing to begin our banquet, Kennedy Simpson informed us that his dad, William T. Simpson, had a stroke a couple of weeks prior to our reunion. Kennedy was, however, upbeat in his commentary and let us know that dad was expected to make a full recovery. Former faculty members Rob Haworth and Cappy Gagnon were with us. Rob retired after spending many years at both the state and federal level dealing with probation and parole systems. Cappy recently retired as one of the heads of security at his alma mater, Notre Dame. He is a published author and an authority on Notre Dame athletics.
We all know how important Bill and Charlotte Vermillion have been to us over the last six years, and the last three reunions have featured their allegiance to K.M.I. The efforts of Ken Harper, Roger Cole, and Bill Vermillion to bring the K.M.I. documentary, "Character Makes The Man" (The Story of the Kentucky Military Institute 1845-1971), to reality was monumental in scope, and the story is now being shown on several PBS stations. Greg Rohrer has been our faithful and trusted treasurer since 1987, and we have no intention of changing his status. Larry Humes, now a resident of Venice, was instrumental in completing the K.M.I. bridge dedication and will be involved with the new museum project. Ken Harper, as always, takes care of our caps and any clothing containing the logo. Roger Cole....we thank you for being the "Adjutant" for this reunion. Frank Lively created our name tags that included the major dates of the K.M.I. story. Thanks, Frank. We also recognized Alex and Diane Hodgin. Alex talked briefly about the new legacy museum project discussed at length during our alumni meeting.
The Class of 1965 had fourteen cadets in attendance for its 50th celebration and easily won the numbers game for this reunion. Paul and Jane Whitney traveled from Bremerton, WA and took distance honors with Steve and Jodi Sather, from Carlsbad, CA, coming in a close second place. Our elder statesman honor for 2015 went to long-time K.M.I. supporter Bernie Dahlem (1946) from Louisville. The youngest cadets also took center stage. All in all, nine veterans of the Kentucky Academy were seen at different stages of the reunion......by far the largest turnout ever for that group. Four of them attended the banquet: Ron Shouse, Chauncey Browning, Trey Hanshaw, and Mark Griffin. Mark actually was an eighth grader in 1971 as KMI/KA reopened the junior school in an effort to increase enrollment.
So, the banquet came to a close with the promise of an April 2017 reunion in Venice. I pointed a finger, from the podium, in the direction of Brigham Clegg and, with the look of the proverbial "deer in the headlights", he resigned himself to the fact that he had just been appointed the 2017 reunion "Chair". We have held four reunions in Venice over the past thirteen years, so the infrastructure is in place. Larry Humes, Bill Vermillion, Greg Rohrer, and I will assist Brigham. Our newest legacy project will be in full swing at this reunion, and I look forward to seeing several hundred of us in attendance.
Leon Hirsh KMI 1968