1968-2018 Fifty Years since Burbank High School!

Plans are underway to have a grand 50th Reunion of Burbank High School’s Class of 1968!

Whew! Where has the time gone?!

BHS Save the Date-lowres

The Reunion Committee would like to have an idea of how many people will be attending. The date of the Reunion is scheduled for Saturday, October 6, 2018 at the Angeles National Golf Club, 9401 Foothill Blvd., Sunland, CA 91040. Cost will be $75/person for a delicious buffet dinner.

Please, for planning purposes, we would like to know if you might be attending. Please let us know how many may be coming by clicking here. You are not committed to this, but knowing how many may attend will help us for budgeting purposes.

In the meantime, our class blog has expanded to include a Guest List and an FAQ page. (See above)

We would like to hear from ALL of you as to whether you might be attending. But we also would love to hear what you’ve been doing the last 50 years. Married? Divorced? Children? Grandchildren? Great-grandchildren? Retired and Loving It or Still Working? Since 1968, we’ve spread to the four winds and all parts of America. Send photos! We love Then and Now pictures.

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Remembering Laura Ziskin

Laura Ziskin with daughter (Photo courtesy of Laura Ziskin Productions)

Today Cathy Emmett Palmer ’67, posted a previously unpublished interview with The Hollywood Reporter about our classmate, the late Laura Ziskin, perhaps the most famous Burbank High 1968 graduate. 

The late producer talked to THR last fall in a never-before-published interview about her dreams, victories and challenges. “When I started, I was the only woman in the room.”

After battling cancer for seven years, Laura Ziskin, 61, died June 12 at her home in Santa Monica, surrounded by her family: husband and screenwriter Alvin Sargent, daughter and producer Julia Barry and son-in-law and writer Eli Dansky. She leaves behind an impressive roster of films, from the hit Pretty Woman and the Oscar-winning As Good as It Gets to the hugely successful Spider-Man franchise. She earned a spot in Hollywood history by becoming the first woman to serve as sole producer of the Academy Awards, a task she took on twice. And rather than suffer her disease silently, she became a fiercely committed cancer activist, co-founding Stand Up to Cancer, which calls upon the resources of the entertainment industry to urge the public to support new approaches to research focused on getting therapies to patients quickly.

On Sept. 23, she spoke with THR’s Stacey Wilson in this never-published interview.

Laura Ziskin, 1968 Ceralbus photo

Laura Ziskin, 1968 Ceralbus photo

The Hollywood Reporter: What was your childhood like, growing up in Burbank?

Laura Ziskin: I describe myself as someone who was always putting on a show, even when I was a little girl. I wanted to be an actress but I liked organizing everybody and putting on plays. I was a producer. I wanted to put on a show. In some ways, the most rewarding thing I’ve done were the two times that I did the Oscars, particularly the first time because it was really like the ultimate, you know, “Let’s put on a show,” with every great movie star in the world available.

THR: Did you get it from your parents? The showbiz bug?

Ziskin: My father and step-mother were psychologists. But I don’t know where it came from. I just always liked performing, and I wanted to put on a show and I wanted to tell a story or have someone tell me a story. What’s great about making movies is the sort of additive process of bringing people together and having an idea and watching the idea be added to and at the end you have this thing. It’s really a collaborative experience. It’s very dynamic –- in a good and a bad way. You can see how things go right and you can see how things go wrong. You can see that one misstep that derailed the whole thing, or you put Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman … you know if you put someone else in the movie — if Richard [Gere] wasn’t in the movie. It’s the choices you make. I love making movies, but I think it’s a kooky time to be making movies.

THR: How so?

Ziskin: There’s a kind of weird schism between this very mass entertainment and maybe the promise of the Internet, which hasn’t yet come to pass, where you can make very specialized entertainment. The movie business has taken over the mass audience, and we’ve started making every weekend a contest.

THR: When do you think that started?

Ziskin: It started with entertainment news. A trade publication telling the trade what’s going on in the trade is one thing. But an announcement – used to be Monday morning, then it became Saturday morning, then Friday night — about the grosses creates this contest mentality, and then you have to be the winner, and then you have to create the most mass entertainment. There are exceptions to the rule, but most movies don’t have the ability to find an audience. So the movie plays out very quickly in a lot of theaters to get the biggest gross. So that demands that we make things that are hits before they open. So they have to have the elements, they have to be franchises.

THR: As Good as it Gets, which won Oscars — would that movie be difficult to get made today?

Ziskin: That was a very hard movie to get made. It’s funny in a way because the over-40s or baby boomers, we have a movie-going habit. My generation –- I would go to the movies every weekend if it was something I really wanted to see. Now, young people have so many other potential entertainment activities. For me as a filmmaker, I do the projects I’m really excited about. I feel like the movies I made earlier in my career could never be made now –- it’s just a different world. Listen, I’m really blessed. It was serendipitous, but an unusual turn to me to be involved in the Spider-Man franchise because certainly that wasn’t where my career was headed.

THR: How did you get that job?

Ziskin: I had been at Fox 2000, but it wasn’t really where my heart was, and when I wanted to go to back to producing, Amy [Pascal] was at Sony, and she made a deal with me. And I was happy to be there because it was 12 minutes from my house. But I knew it would be a long time before I would get anything in production because I had to leave everything behind at Fox. I literally said, “Just give me the biggest motherf—r you have.” I just wanted to be in production in something big. I had never read a comic book. Then I got engaged (to Spider-Man screenwriter Alvin Sargent) and started hearing about Spider-Man, and I really liked it. I thought it was a really great story, and I got very excited about it.

THR: How did Sam Raimi become attached to the project?

Ziskin: He was already involved when I got involved. So I came on in the early days of prep, and there really wasn’t a script yet. We had an amazing 10 years together –- it was really an incredible time. I’ve worked with a
really interesting, eclectic bunch of directors from Gus Van Sant to Steven Soderbergh to David Fincher –- people from whom I’ve learned so much. But the 10 years I spent with Sam, I really learned more about making movies than in my whole life.

THR: What was your approach to working with Sam?

Ziskin: He’s very collaborative. He knows exactly what he wants. He’s a real showman. He really thinks about the audience. It was very exciting. I don’t think I’ll ever have an experience like that where we got to be a family in a way, working on three movies, for an entire decade with somebody. It’s pretty extraordinary.

THR: You naturally gravitated toward being a producer. How do you grade your tenure as an executive at Fox 2000?

Ziskin: If we had only made The Thin Red Line and Fight Club, I would be so proud of that division. But we also made a lot of money with Soul Food, they made money with Fight Club in spite of the fact that they said they didn’t – they made a fortune on the DVD. Thin Red Line got seven Academy Award nominations. Never Been Kissed was a very successful movie. We only made 20 movies when I was there, so I don’t think I was there long enough – it was a start-up from zero, you know. I felt I did what I set out to do. Making movies is not a real high -return business. Nobody lost their shirt, and we didn’t have any huge, hundred million dollar-grossing movies either. But I think we made interesting films and the division continued, and many things that we started got made subsequently.

THR: What are you most proud when you look back on what you’ve achieved in your career?

Ziskin: I’m proud I survived. You know I’m proud that I was able to develop and produce movies that I wanted to make. I’m very proud of the talent that I nurtured: Kevin Costner, Tobey Maguire, Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts. I feel that I helped people early on, but mostly I love the work. I love making movies, I love filmmakers, I love actors, I love writers. There’ll be a moment I’ll look around the set and I’ll think, “Oh, I remember where I was when I read the scene or the meeting where we said, ‘Why don’t we do this?,” and now all these people are here because I said I’m going to get that movie made –- that’s very rewarding. And then the first time you sit in the theater and the lights come down and the movie comes on, and something happens on screen and you think about how that moment came to pass — and it works. Those are the two times it’s fun to be a producer. The rest of the time it’s really hard. And kind of thankless.

THR: Do you have any big regrets?

Ziskin: I passed on Jurassic Park – what was I thinking?!

THR: You passed on producing it?

Ziskin: Yeah. It came to me and a lot of other people. I don’t know if I would have gotten it. I also read Dances With Wolves because my friend wrote it and I loved it, but I didn’t know how to make it. And the right person made [it]. I don’t regret I didn’t do it because I loved the book, and I was a big champion of it, but I didn’t know how to do it.

THR: Who were your role models when you were starting out?

Ziskin: Hannah Weinstein, Paula and Lisa Weinstein’s mother. She produced Stir Crazy –- she’s the only woman producer I’d ever heard of. I was a big fan of Jerome Hellman who did Midnight CowboyComing Home. I didn’t know him but I really admired his work. That was it pretty much it. I wasn’t even aware that much of producers. It was really after film school, when I started working for producers and they really trained me about what makes good movies — it turns out to be great scripts.

THR: How has being a woman affected the way you work, if at all?

Ziskin: It has totally affected who I am. When I started, I was the only woman in the room and the only woman in the van, which is bad because you always have to pee more than the men because [men are] like camels: Excuse me can we stop and go to the bathroom.” Now there are so many women, but are there women with ultimate power? Not so many. It still is a man’s world. I think it’s hard for women to be directors, particularly in the feature world because, biologically, your peak career-making years are also your peak baby-making years, and that’s just the truth. And those are choices women have to make. My career is certainly different and blessedly so because of my daughter and I made a lot of choices because of her that probably helped my career.

THR: How old is she now?

Ziskin: She’s 27. She works with me now. It’s fantastic. It makes me so happy. She went to Sarah Lawrence for college And she was reluctant to work with me. I don’t think she loves the movie business the way I do. But she’s a great producer. She just really gets it. She produced the pre-show for Stand Up To Cancer. She runs my development – we have really great scripts. She can do it all. She just gets it –- she grew up with it. I’m in an awe of her. I watch her how she deals with people and I just think damn, she’s good.

THR: Do you see yourself in her when you were her age?

Ziskin: No, I don’t know what drove me to this career. I just always figured it’s what I would do. I didn’t imagine not somehow putting on a show. I certainly thought it was hard. I had very few skills. If I hadn’t been a producer I’d been a failed actor. That would have been really disastrous.

THR: You produced the first post-9/11 Oscars. What was that like?

Ziskin: I always say to my fellow producers if you have an opportunity to do it, do it, because it’s such a fun thing. It’s instant, it’s live, it’s got every element. And that’s also been true of the Stand Up to Cancer events. I would rather not be doing things about cancer, but I think it’s an important thing to do. And if by putting on a show, we can raise awareness, make cancer a first-tier issue in this country, raise some money, spend it wisely in the direction of really making a difference … I don’t see the cure coming. We failed terribly, but I think being a producer makes you a problem solver, so you kind of go, “Well there’s a problem. What do we do? How do we solve it?”

THR: How are you coping with living with cancer on a daily basis?

Ziskin: I’m pretty mad. I think it sucks. I’ve been in treatment for seven years, but I had a period of time where I was in remission and I hope I will be again. I feel fine — if they didn’t tell me there was something wrong with me, I wouldn’t know it. They tell me I have an incurable disease and that the goal is to try to live with it for as long as I can. It’s a really nasty, bad disease and we have to do better.

THR: What do you think your legacy will be?

Ziskin: I’m one of a group of us who came up in the ’70s — we were a little bit post-feminist or products of the feminist movement — and paved the way for other women. Stand Up to Cancer has also been really powerful for me. One thing I wanted to do was to say we’re all the same, and this can happen to anybody. I won’t be around, so you guys are going to have to solve it for your generation and your children.

 

She fell in love with Maui . . .

Judie Anderson, 1968

Judy Anderson, 1968

and never looked back. Our BHS’68 classmate, Judie Anderson, departed this world on March 22, after a short bout with an aggressive cancer. According to her nephew, Jeffrey Szilagyi (who coincidentally is the son of Tonia Szilagyi Mapston‘s cousin), Judy fell in love with Maui nearly 40 years ago. She never had kids of her own, but was kind and caring, especially to “furry little critters and her big array of nieces, nephews and their children.”

Judy moved back to the mainland some 12+ years ago for a couple years, then moved back after her mom passed in 2006.

We last heard from Judy at the time of our 40th reunion when she wrote Jim Ranshaw:

I regret to say that I will not be able to attend this reunion, and will miss seeing everyone and the good times and memories.  I live on Maui and it is a long way to go, especially as I will be in So. Calif around the end of October, so just cannot afford two trips so close together.

Thanks for the invitation and all the good work that you and the reunion committee do!

I found Judy in the Dance Performance ’68 photo:

Judie is at the top of the picture.

Judy is at the top of the picture.

Other girls in the photo are Melanie Bridge, Betsy Brown, Donna Canzoneri, Barbara Clark, Debi Dana, and Chris Gates.

Judy’s senior prom picture was posted on Facebook.

Judie's prom picture. Can anybody name her date?

Judy’s prom picture. Can anybody name her date?

This picture captures her spirit completely……she will be so missed. (Amber Kinzler Sciligo)

If you have remembrances of Judy that you would like to share with the class, please write them in the Comments section below. We send our deepest condolences to Judy’s family and wish for them comfort in their grief.

 

 

 

 

Two more classmates lost

Two of our classmates have died in February 2017: Jeff Helquist on February 7, and Christina Ortega O’Neill on February 15.

Jeff Helquist, 1968

Jeff Helquist, 1968

Jeff Helquist (1949-2017) passed away of a heart attack. The following picture was posted on Facebook by Sharon Anderson McEntire with the following caption: “Just got very sad news, our long time best friend Jeff Helquist passed away last Monday of a heart attack.. This picture was taken March of 1973 in front of my house on Birmingham in Burbank.. Jeff is the very last one, with the long hair and beard. Jeff graduated BHS class of ’68.. He will be missed!!

“From left, Vern and Joyce McEntire, Bill Whitaker with John McEntire behind him, Thom and Sharon McEntire, Duke Gardemann, Bill Verdun, Joe Moss and Jeff Helquist.”

If anyone can share memories of Jeff, or information about his career, hobbies or family, please send them to Kathy Au Crosier.

Chris Ortega O'Neill

Chris Ortega O’Neill

Chris Ortega, 1968

Chris Ortega, 1968

Here is what the Burbank Leader published about Chris:

Christina “Christy” O’Neill left this world and began her journey to Heaven on February 15, 2017. She passed away at the age of 67 in her home after a long battle with cancer. Christy loved spending time with her family and friends. She cherished the time that she spent with her four grandchildren. As she would always say, she loved them “to the moon and back.” She and her husband, Kevin, enjoyed many camping adventures in their motorhome. Her favorite camping spot was Carpinteria where she visited often with Kevin and her extended family and friends. Chris will be remembered for her devotion to her family, her generous smile, warm heart, and kind disposition. She will be missed by all of those whose lives she has touched. Chris grew up in Burbank, California and graduated from Burbank High School. She was a longtime employee with the Burbank Unified School District at Washington Elementary School. She is survived by her loving husband of 46 years, Kevin; daughter Colleen Simon-O’Neill (Jenny) and son Patrick O’Neill (Alison); grandchildren Quinn, Theodore, Peyton, and Andrew; siblings Emilio Ortega, Ana Neria, Fred Ortega, and Tony Ortega. Services will be held at St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic Church, Burbank on Saturday, March 4, 2017, Rosary at 11:30 am, Funeral Mass at 12:00 pm. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to City of Hope in memory of Christina O’Neill.

Annette Dinolfo Bennett wrote that Chris fought cancer for a longtime—14 years. “She was my close friend and will miss her so much.”

We send our deepest condolences to Jeff and Chris’ families and friends. Please post your comments in the box below.

UPDATE 3/2/17. Just a few years ago, Jeff Helquist was listed as one of our Class of 1968 “missing classmates,” yet his address was in Burbank. Thomas McEntire, shown in the photo above, wrote that Jeff got a job right out of high school at Lions, an export and packing firm, and he built crates and boxes for Lockheed. He married Donna McClatchy and had two children, Andy and Linda, but later divorced. Jeff just started driving for the RTD bus systems and got prostate cancer five years ago. After an operation, he was declared free of cancer, but it came back two years ago. Jeff’s brother, Dave Helquist, married one of our BHS’68 classmates, Janis Shovald, making her Jeff’s sister-in-law. Janis died on March 29, 2007 after her year and half battle with cancer.

Mr. Fecht … among the stars

A more recent picture of Mr. Fecht

Gerald Richard “Jerry” Fecht, April 8, 1938-January 26, 2017

Those of you who still live in the Burbank area may be interested in attending the service for our beloved Burbank High School teacher, Mr. Gerald R. “Jerry” Fecht, which will take place at Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills at the Old North Church, 6300 Forest Lawn Drive, Los Angeles, CA, on Saturday, February 11, 2017 at 12:00 PM.

Here is the official obituary: Gerald “Jerry” Fecht was born in Mexico, Missouri, the fifth child of Mildred Crites Fecht and William Thomas Fecht. He was the beloved baby boy in a large Catholic family who came to California in his teens to pursue opportunities for a better life. His Catholic education lead him to Notre Dame High School, through Los Angeles Valley College, and into USC where he earned Bachelors, Masters and PhD degrees. Jerry met the love of his life, Janne Shreves Fecht, while they were studying for their teaching credentials; they were married for 49 years and raised two sons, Brendan and Damon. “Dr. Jerry” enjoyed a long and much heralded career as a professor at Moorpark College, where he guided countless students and helped them achieve their dreams. In retirement, Jerry founded The Museum of the San Fernando Valley, volunteered for AIDS/LifeCycle, enjoyed time with his grandchildren, and explored every inch of Los Angeles, the city he loved so dearly. On January 26, 2017, he lost his long battle with Amyloidois at the age of 78. Jerry is survived by his wife, Janne, his sons, Brendan and Damon, his daughter-in-law, Rebecca, his grandchildren, Jake and Emily, and his brother, Robert. A memorial service will be held on Saturday February 11, 2017, 12PM, Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills, Old North Church. In lieu of flowers, please donate to The Museum of the San Fernando Valley or the Amyloidosis Foundation.

If you would like to share a memory with the family, you may do so by clicking here. which takes you to the Forest Lawn Memory page.

Hey, you know who else is buried at Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills? It was Burbank’s own, actress Debbie Reynolds and her actress/writer daughter, Carrie Fisher. In case you didn’t know, Debbie Reynolds won the Miss Burbank beauty contest when she was a 16-year-old student at Burbank High School. I believe, though, that she graduated from John Burroughs.

Other celebrities who are buried at Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills, include Bette Davis, Lucille Ball, Telly Savalas, William Conrad, Buster Keaton, Liberace, Freddie Prinze, Andy Gibb, Jack Webb, Stan Laurel, Ricky Nelson, John Ritter, Gene Autry, Sandra Dee, Lou Rawls, Rod Steiger, David Carradine and Steve Allen.

Mr. Fecht is in good company!

 

Remember National Frog Day, May 24th

Mr. Fecht wrote in my yearbook.

Mr. Fecht wrote in my yearbook. “Remember National Frog Day—May 24th”

Mr. and Mrs. Fecht

Mr. and Mrs. Fecht

Today BHS’68 graduate, Roger Guggenheimer, informed us of the death of Mr. Gerald (Jerry) Fecht, one of our favorite teachers. I wrote a post about him five years ago, (“I found Mr. Fecht!“) where he had retired from Moorpark College and became president of The Museum of the San Fernando Valley. Many of us had Mr. Fecht for Senior Studies, but one thing that I never forgot was the collection of frogs in his classroom.

I found a biography of Mr. Fecht which he wrote himself on the occasion of his 50th reunion from Notre Dame High School, class of 1957, and I’ll quote some of the more interesting points here:

Jerry Fecht was born in Mexico, Missouri, where it is said that the original Santa Fe Trail began. Fecht is Alsatian name pronounced with a Helvetian accent – hence “fate.” His working class family moved often, living in Washington State, Iowa, Missouri, California and Nebraska. By the time he enrolled at Notre Dame High School, he had attended 11 schools. A Christian Brother came to Jerry’s 9th grade class in Omaha, Nebraska and convinced the boy that he could serve the Lord and live in the warm Napa Valley at the same time. The 13 year old got a job in Greek restaurant, earned money for a Greyhound ticket and traveled alone to California. St. John’s minor seminary on 3rd and Detroit in Hollywood was Jerry’s new home. The school moved the following year inside the Mission San Fernando. As much as he loved living in the Fairfax district, Jerry hated the confinement of the mission. He wrote his parents in the Midwest that he would come home in the fall, but left the seminary in June.

A summer of sleeping on the beach, staying with friends, and exploring Los Angeles, came to an abrupt end when his parents discovered his whereabouts. The Fechts quit their jobs and came immediately to Van Nuys, where it took much cleverness to gain control over a boy who had been away for two years and free all summer in the city. Fall arrived, and with it enrollment at Notre Dame High School. Jerry absolutely loved Notre Dame! He had the good fortune of joining the Speech Club and falling under the influence of Brother John Doran, who molded a marvelous bunch of kids into one of the most successful speech and debate teams in Southern California.

A more recent picture of Mr. Fecht

A more recent picture of Mr. Fecht

Jerry gave little thought about college. In his family, it was considered an achievement to finish high school. His summer was spent working at Hughes Market and attending training schools in the Navy Reserve. September arrived and Notre Dame pals went off to colleges, joined the Brothers of Holy Cross or got married. On a lark, Jerry enrolled at Los Angeles Valley College.

… Graduation brought the reality of student loans and Jerry returned to the grocery store. 1962, a time of self-pity and confusion, ended when he discovered that USC had just created an Education program for classroom interns and student teaching. Jerry embraced the $125 a month stipend, and returned to school.

In his first year of teaching at Patrick Henry Jr. High School in Granda Hills, Jerry taught the 7th, 8th, and 9th grades. The following year, he was hired by the Burbank Unified School District, where he taught the 10th, 11th and 12th grades. He coached Burbank High’s speech club and student council, and of course, checked hall passes. To his everlasting fortune, Janne Shreves, a young Pomona College teacher was hired at the same time. In 1967, the couple was married at St. Francis de Sales church in Studio City. That summer, the Burbank Human Relations Council and American Jewish Committee gave Jerry a fellowship at Loyola University.

Three years passed and Jerry was asked to start Burbank’s “continuation school.” It was to be a “catch all” for kids who could not fit into normal classroom situations. In the 1960s towns like Burbank had no “public” problems such as juvenile crime, addictions or kids who had been abused or neglected. Jerry had 40 students, many of who were wards of the court in a high school deemed unsafe during an earthquake. Jerry loved his “misfits”, but six of his kids were dead by the end of the first year. He was honored as teacher of the year by the Chamber of Commerce.

You can read the complete biography here, but I wanted to share with you some of the tributes which have been posted to Facebook and elsewhere.

Mr. Fecht with his son Brendan Patrick Fecht.

Mr. Fecht with his son Brendan Patrick Fecht.

“I am so saddened to hear of the passing of Gerald R. Fecht. He was and is an amazing mentor in my life. I owe an amazing amount of respect and honor to this man. He guided me through a lot of good and bad times in my life and inspired me to never put limitations on my goals and success. I went to USC and got two Bachelors degrees in 3 years, and to Cal State Northridge for my Masters degree on his guidance and advice and help. No limits Jerry. He told me I could play polo professionally, or Ride Traveler, or start my company or become a stuntman or any other thing and always made sure that I broke any limitations that anyone placed on me or I placed on myself. Thank you my dear Mentor and Brother. In your own words, may you travel safe to the Gates of Valhalla and may you find your Peace and Comfort. But not too long, because you have work to do up there as well. Love you dearly and will miss you dearly in body. But you are always in my heart and soul – Fight On forever my Trojan Brother. My deepest and sincerest condolences to your entire family and everyone that loves you. Janne Fecht if you need anything, please let me know. I am here for all of you.” (Ardeshir Radpour)

Mr. Fecht works on a Christmas card.

Mr. Fecht works on a Christmas card (Sept. 2016)

“One of the most intelligent, caring men to grace our lives and a talented artist that I was blessed to have worked for, passed away this morning. RIP Jerry.” (Steve Broggie)

“Miss you my friend. A rare soul who made everyone around you better.” (Billy Kay)

“It’s with a heavy heart that I report the passing of one of my favorite teachers of all time. Jerry (Gerald) Fecht passed this morning in his sleep…..he was a true hero in my life that I always remembered and thought of—amazing guy (and his classroom full of stuffed frogs) US History 11TH GRADE BHS.” (Roger Guggenheimer)

“Beloved friend, mentor and teacher – one of the most influential people in my life. Great heart, great passion, great honesty. I would not be the person I am today if not for him.”

“It wasn’t what he taught in class but what he taught me about life. I would never have tried starting a career in the music industry if it wasn’t for Jerry. his lectures were insane but funny.”

“Jerry is by far the most influential professor I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. No other teacher has shown as much compassion for his students and fellow man like Jerry has. If you have a chance to take any of the classes he offers, you would be a fool to not take it.”

“the best teacher I ever had in my whole school career. The best storyteller you can find and very emotional.”

“The best teacher. EVER.”

Class of 1968: If you have memories of Mr. Jerry Fecht that you would like to share, please write them in the comments section below.

Age makes no difference in love!

Part of Burbank High's Drill Team, 1967-68. Can you find Becky May?

Burbank High’s Drill Team, 1967-68. Can you find Becky May?

Lately our BHS’68 classmate Mike Katzman has shared his experiences on Facebook about senior dating sites (that’s reason for another post!) but we recently heard from Rebecca (Becky) May Firkins (BHS’68) who married a younger man! She and her husband Ray Firkins (BHS’75) are about to celebrate their 27th wedding anniversary, and live in Bakersfield, CA.

Becky May, 1968

Becky May, 1968

Becky was in the Burbank High Drill Team and dated a football player, Sean Largey, through most of high school. She went to college directly out of high school and met her first husband. She writes: We were married 10 years and had our son, Guy. After my divorce I finished college and started working in the Radiology department at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Burbank. I worked there for 8 years until I met and married my husband Ray. He was an Air Traffic Controller and was assigned to Prescott, Arizona. He also graduated from Burbank High School, but in 1975. That is right! I married a younger man….and it’s wonderful!

They lived in Arizona for about two years, then Ray transferred back to California, but to Bakersfield. After working for 38 years as a X-ray technologist, Becky just retired a year ago in January 2016.  She and her husband have bought an RV and are getting ready to move to Austin, TX to be near friends and family. She likes to read, sew and crochet, and travel —she and her husband have driven all over the continental United States four or five times. They also drove up to the Canadian Rockies and across Canada to Vancouver and back down the coast. They even drove all over Great Britain and Scotland—where you drive on the wrong side of the road! Other trips have taken them to Virginia, the Great Smoky Mountains and down Florida to Key West.

I was excited to see that she and Ray were married in Hawaii, where they also drove all over the islands.

Becky says, “I have been following your Blog for several years and have enjoyed hearing about everyone’s lives, post-Burbank High School.”

Becky and Ray at a firehouse in Boston, MA.

Becky and Ray at a firehouse in Boston, MA.

“But it’s a dry heat!”

Did you ever wonder how people cope with living in the desert? Sometime they get a little tired of hearing, “But it’s a dry heat!” No one really likes the heat of summer, but people enjoy the mild temperatures of the other eight months.

John Chris Sengers, 1968

John Chris Sengers, 1968

Chris and his wife, at a recent wedding

Chris and his wife, at a recent wedding

Our classmate, John Sengers, who goes by his middle name, Chris (because his father is also John Sengers, and it’s too confusing to have two John Sengers), has been married to his wife of 32 years, Donnita. They have lived in Phoenix, AZ since 1994.

Chris went to Valley College for general education requirements for an AA degree, then went to Glendale College for two years of aircraft maintenance classes. He took the FAA tests and received his aircraft mechanic certification. He still repairs corporate jet aircraft such as Falcons, Gulfstreams, Hawkers and Lear Jet, and works out of the Scottsdale airport.

Chris and Donnita have two daughters and four grandchildren (two boys and two girls). His 94-year-old mother lives in an assisted living facility not far away. Since Chris’ sister lives in Orlando, FL, that leaves Chris to be his mom’s main attention-giver.

“I am always on a ‘honey-do’ list because I am handy with tools,” John writes. He also “messes” with cars, and “classic cars ALWAYS need something done to them.” He still has the ’57 Chevy truck he bought in 1973. Chris sent along these photos of his world of planes and cars:

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Chris misses the Burbank-Glendale area, but certainly doesn’t miss all the traffic and the people. He sends his best to all his ’68 classmates.

Thanks for writing, Chris!

Survivors

All of us probably know someone in our close circles who has survived cancer or other health scare. Our classmate Laura Ziskin lost her battle to breast cancer in 2011, but not before starting the charity, Standup2Cancer. It was only in September of this year that I read this on BHS’68 Crilly Butler‘s Facebook wall:

Crilly Butler

Crilly Butler, 1968

Crilly and his wife Takami

Crilly and his wife Takami

Because many people have asked, here it is in a nutshell. I’m going in for cancer surgery and chemo today. I have bladder cancer and have been fighting it for 15 years. It’s come back 5 times–as quickly as 3 months; as long as 6 years (it’s the most recurrent type of cancer there is). I’ve had six surgeries, 6 rounds of chemo, and 40 rounds of immunotherapy. It hasn’t been fun, but it’s been a valuable journey. I’m actually very grateful for my cancer, as it’s confronted me with lessons about receiving from others (I’m much better at giving), and about the preciousness of each and every moment (I think we all have a tendency to live on autopilot much of the time). So while I wouldn’t have necessarily chosen this way to learn these lessons, I’m glad I have. My bladder is still intact and after all my therapy, both the stage and grade remain low. At this point it’s more of an annoyance than a threat. I expect it to remain that way, though it is true that 17,000 people die of bladder cancer every year in the US.

With great love and appreciation, I want to thank everyone for your kind words and healing thoughts. After nine hours in the hospital, I made it home safe and sound, and not too much the worse for wear. Rough night, but feeling good this morning. Pathology results in a week, but no surprises expected. Just another experience that life has thrown my way and for which I am truly grateful. Love to all! 

In a recent text message, Crilly wrote: Right now, I’m fighting with my insurance company, since they denied my chemo. I’m pretty confident I’ll prevail, but I’ve had to postpone my chemo twice already. What a hassle! Other than that, I’m doing what needs to be done. Feeling pretty good, actually 😉 Update: Crilly won his battle with Blue Shield and his chemo can finally begin. He writes: “Despite their denial, my appeal, and all the time this took, I’m still very grateful to have excellent health insurance coverage. Many are not so fortunate. . . . I’m feeling great! Not sure what insidious things may be going on inside, but overall I feel terrific!”

Dave Campbell, 1968

Dave Campbell, 1968

Dave Campbell with his newest grandchild.

Dave Campbell with his newest grandchild.

Another cancer survivor is Dave Campbell, who wrote me recently: “How time has flown by!” Dave says that he still has cancer, but that it is being treated with medication, and so far, so good. He recently had two MRIs to check on what’s going on inside, and so far, Dave’s doctors have worked magic over the past three years.

Dave’s son and his wife Lauren now have a three month old little girl named Lola, and grandson Maxwell is now two. Dave’s daughter, Heather, gave birth to a son named Lucas who is now nine months old, and is already walking! He adds that it was his daughter’s son, Diego, now three years old, whom he credits for helping greatly in his recovery, and with whom he spent a lot of time when he was diagnosed with cancer.

Jenna is Dave's college student and wants to be a nurse.

Jenna is Dave’s college student and wants to be a nurse.

Dave himself has been raising Jenna for the past three years, and she is 18 years old and in her first year of college. He met Jenna’s mother when Jenna was five. According to Dave, Jenna’s mom has had a rough time and had to take care of her late father for years, so Dave is back to parenting at age 67.

Larry Marak, 1968

Larry Marak, 1968

And talk about a survivor! Larry Marak recently posted on Facebook:

Survived sudden cardiac arrest on Dec 4th last month. I was just finishing my daily bike ride when I suddenly felt deathly cold, then faint, then fell off the bike dead, no heartbeat, no pulse, into the middle of the road.

Larry Marak

A recent photo of Larry Marak

Per my heart surgeon “a higher power” and my internal cardiac defibrillator brought me back. Survival for cardiac arrest outside of a hospital is 7%. Everything lined up in my favor that day. I collapsed on a quiet residential street, no traffic and on an asphalt surface so I wasn’t grounded when the defibrillator went off. There were two residents on the sidewalk who ran to my aid. I got to Providencia Urgent Care within 10 minutes and St Joseph’s emergency within half an hour.  And my defibrillator, which is under factory recall for a defective battery worked the one time it needed to, and I restarted immediately, so there was no brain damage.

At my church they’re calling me Lazarus. The experience of dying and coming back sure makes you think intently about WHY you’re still on this Earth.

No, thank goodness it’s NOT your time yet!

 

 

An artist, animal lover and iceskater!

It’s always thrilling to me when one of our classmates discovers this blog—AND writes us to let us know what they are up to! (I’m afraid our Senior English teachers, Miss Thompson and Miss Imbach, would absolutely cringe at those dangling prepositions!)

In this case, I got a Friend Request from Cynthia Lindholm Cavanaugh on Facebook, who posted this article which she has saved for 56 years! She said it was their first and only stage production, and “Who knew that our ‘Director,’ the late Laura Ziskin, would go on to become a major film producer.”

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Look at all the names in the photo captions for some familiar Burbank High ’68 grads! Jan DeJaegher, Cindy Lindholm, Karen Parrish, Laura Ziskin, Janet Robbins, Jean Gilbert, Michele Bro, and Peggy Hahn are the names I recognize.

Cindy Lindholm, 1968

Cindy Lindholm, 1968

Cindy had a career in the art world and worked at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, then threw herself into another passion: animal rescue. She and husband Sid moved to Santa Fe, NM in 2010, where they share their home with “a menagerie of rescued critters,” dog Reggie and cats Desi and Lucy.

In Santa Fe, she has returned to her textile design roots, and has created a line of purses and pillow covers that use her own artwork, block-printed or silk-screened. Check out her blog at Studio Lizzy: Textile Art which she has illustrated with some watercolors.

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Cindy even got a short story published in a regional magazine after she wrote all the website copy for an on-line upscale fabric store.

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Isn’t she gorgeous!

She has picked up iceskating again after 40+years, where they have an amazing ice rink in Santa Fe. She said she was sad to read about the demise of the Pickwick Iceskating Rink, one of her old hangouts. She writes, “But I can tell you, falling just isn’t the same in my 60s as it was as a kid or even in my 20s!” (Don’t we all know this, firsthand!)

Cindy also sent along another clipping her mother had saved, which has a picture of BHS’68 Michael Kushner in nursery school! (bottom right photo)

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It has always been my goal to write about as many of our classmates as possible—but only with your help! After all, next year is our 50th anniversary! Won’t you let us know what you’ve been doing these 49 years? We’ve all had our successes and failures, but the greatest thing is that we are survivors! Send me your stories and photos by emailing me, Kathy Au Crosier, your class blogger.