At CCHS in front of the school seal designed and donated by the Class of 1969;… chapel break.. band and beer break … lunch break with class of 2020

An editor of the 1969 CCHS Adelante yearbook reflects at
this time of a 50 year reunion.

In 1965 parents of 126 young men trusted their most precious gems to a young and unproven Columbus High School’s team of gem-cutters and polishers. It was a time of relative innocence: the world was still safe, black n white, buttoned up, with clouds on the horizon: the “Sound of Music” and the Monkees were popular, Watts and Malcom X shocked us, Vietnam awareness began, war protests began.

By 1969’s graduation, R&B gave way to Psychedelic Rock, Jimi Hendrix reigned supreme, Vietnam protests grew as massive as bodies in-country, colleges shut down, Man on the moon, Hells Angels killed at Altamont and Woodstock framed our reality. Along the way, the gem-cutters’ polishing wheel repeatedly asked of time, talent, treasure toward a greater good.

Fast forward 50 years: one third of the graduating class, from all over the globe, gathered for four days of fun reunion events, celebrating the special individuals and the special bonds shared. The Reunion Committee spent ten months planning, locating, inducing, arranging: Thursday a class BBQ, Friday a tour of a larger and more polished Columbus, a mass and a stop at the memorial remembering 17 who had passed, then cocktails and tall stories. Saturday offered a breathing/yoga event and a buffet dinner dance with Sunday ‘s cap a catered class brunch on the water. Monday and Tuesday found smaller group dinners as classmates trickled back to distant homes.

It was also a time for reflection: With a high percentage of industry captains and entrepreneurs with significant accomplishments, also asked was how well that mantra of contribution to greater good had been executed.

Reunion photo with wives and friends after a magnificently hosted brunch.

The stories uncovered a treasure trove, and nod to those gem-cutters and polishers of so long ago: One classmate runs a program each Sunday to distribute 800 meals to Homestead area homes, one classmate was a co-founder of an organization that built tens of thousands of homes for 50% of median income households (ownership for low income single minority female head of households), One classmate builds “small houses” for the homeless, one classmate heads a foundation that has distributed $47 million to Miami-Dade area individuals and organizations with a focus on health and education, one classmate has developed music, art and education programs that has supported thousands of lower income minority children over the past 15 years, one classmate worked to secure the release of 6000 Cuban prisoners, taking the case all the way to the Supreme Court. One class member has led civil and religious groups with a focus on education and support over the past 40 years, one member of our class helped to raise and distribute $250000 in education scholarships for Miami area low income children, one of our class members helped to establish and grow a mentor program for at risk youth, assisting thousands of children per year. Many members of the class volunteered for the various military services, Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard. The aggregate of significant direct positive impact is well over 100,000 individuals, with family compounding the numbers approach 400,000, and these account for only a few of the stories. Not bad for 126 local kids. Frequently heard throughout the four days was profound gratitude for the dedicated, caring, ethical people who worked hard to make sure we have positively contributing members of society.  

Publisher’s Note:  As a former instructor with the Marist community at CCHS back then, I very much appreciated the invitation to join alumni over these few days. – very special recollections.  A very poignant moment which  I observed was the thoughtful respect as alumni reflected at the Wall of Remembrance outside the chapel and noted the passing of 17 classmates.  May they rest in peace.

And while on the school tour, alumni had lunch with the Class of 2020.  The Senior class (350 to 125 back then) thunderously acknowledged the Class of 1969.  One of the 69 class leaders spoke to the Senior Class, and noted: “Values that you will hear and learn and put into practice will serve you well for the rest of your life and create a foundation for happiness.” 

And it goes around….  ADELANTE!               -jes

Extended references to the individual work of members of
the class of 1969.

CCHS Sixtyniner contributions to a greater good details to link to the article.  No other pictures suggested.

Most of the classmates chose not to respond to the request for stories of contributions to the greater good but below are details from those who did respond:

Tom Mark: Chairman of  the Board of the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation 2015 – 2019 and he has served as a Board  member for 27 years.  The Foundation has granted over $47 million in Miami -Dade County for health care to the under privileged especially children and in healthcare related research. Their DJTMF School Health Initiative program provides healthcare free of charge in 9 Miami-Dade County schools to underserved students, positively affecting thousands of underprivileged children.  They have served 6,703m students.  They also grant $400,000 per year to community NFPs and $40,000 per year in scholarships.  They donate $12 million per year to The DJTMF Dept. of Medical Genetics and donate $7.5 million to The Bionium at UM.  

Roberto Suarez: in the past three years Roberto has been working toward One Breath, One Spirit, One Love, One Yoga  connecting Cuba and the US to deliver Happiness through Spiritual Practices. He has introduced more than 2000 Americans and Cubans to this practice of merging our breath with the divine energy within and within that he has trained dozens of trainers who are also now spreading the good.

Charles White: For the past 30 years, Chuck has worked as a volunteer in the field of homelessness, first preparing meals then working more directly with those folks experiencing homelessness as a board member of Good News Outreach organization in Tallahassee from 1997 to 2011, (Chair of the Board for 8 years). He established the Mercy House program oriented to male ex-offenders, Mission Oak SRO Apartments for formally homeless men, and built Maryland Oaks Crossing, a fifty unit manufactured housing residential campus oriented to formally homeless families with children.

In 2011 he and another individual established the Renaissance Community Center, Tallahassee’s largest homeless facility, providing daytime services to homeless individuals and families, bringing together all of the organizations in Tallahassee providing services to those affected by homelessness. 

In 2012, he spearheaded the development of Westgate Community Residential Campus, a private gated subdivision that is designed to provide low cost housing for vulnerable, formally homeless individuals in a rooming house format. In 2013, he was part of a group that designed and built a state-of-the-art homeless facility that allowed for the co-location of approximately 45 agencies and organizations, including residential services for approximately 450 adult men and women. In 2016, he began working on “The Dwellings”, a ‘tiny home’ community of 125 individual site-built homes from 220 to 290 sq. ft. for temporary or permanent shelter. 

He has worked with homeless individuals and various businesses to gain permanent employment to gain stability and eventually housing. 

He has served as a board member of Good News Outreach and Bond Community Health Center (FQHC), the Big Bend Continuum of Care, the Board of Leon County Affordable Housing Advisory Commission, the Housing Finance Authority, the Housing Leadership Council of Tallahassee/Leon County. 

Ed Kennedy: Ed spent his career in the Fire Department working his way up to Chief Officer. He became a trainer and mentor those below him.  He lead groups of responders in several catastrophes one of which was the ravaged Waveland, MS after Katrina.  The people he has mentored have gone on to serve thousands more. He looks back on his years at CCHS as being both formative and foundational for the service and contributions to the greater good that has followed. 

John Wolfe:  has been awarded 5 Civil Public Service awards while in support of the US Army in Panama.  He also contributed to the betterment of children’s lives by sponsoring a music and art program and Christmas gift program.

Ralph Penalver, contributing pro bono working with Bishop Romano, taking the case of Cuban detainees all the way to the Supreme Court and securing the release of 6000 prisoners.

Leading the restoration of the Cuban Heritage Center and historic customs house building in Key West.

Bob Moorman:  has been a cub scout and boy scout leader for over 20 years, he has served on the Board of Directors of the Salvation Army for 18 years, His wife Barbara and Bob have worked with the “Respect Life Office of Miami” for over 40 years.  He has been a Knight of Columbus for 40 years, and a lay religious of the “Knights Of Malta” for 3 years now. The Knights Of Malta is the oldest lay religious order of the Catholic Church. One of its missions is to defend the Catholic Church.  Bob has shipped hundreds of thousands of rosaries all over the world, to different charities.  He has been contributing to an education charity in Haiti and an orphanage in Ghana.   Bob also served as a Naval Officer for 5.5 years after college.

Mike Thompson (swimmer) served in the Navy for 20 years.

Don Davis volunteered to be a Navy Pilot looking to continue in the tradition his father set as an Avenger Pilot and recipient of the Navy Cross for sinking a Japanese battleship.

One member of the class, who wishes to remain anonymous, was a key part of a team raising $250k that went toward an inner city program for indigent and single parent children with a focus on Education as a  primary avenue in breaking the poverty cycle.  The program contributed $1000 tuition vouchers to Overtown children for private and parochial schools.

One member of the class, who wishes to remain anonymous, Served in the Army in Vietnam and after that, served in a large metropolitan fire department for 30 years, traveling the US teaching thousands and thousands Haz Mat response, Terrorism response, Confined Space Rescue, and other related emergency disciplines to fire fighters, police officers, doctors, nurses, and private industries.

He traveled the US teaching Haz Mat response, Terrorism response, Confined Space Rescue, and other related emergency disciplines to fire fighters, police officers, doctors, nurses, and private industries. Thousands of professionals attended classes.

One member of the class, who wishes to remain anonymous, for the past 15 years has led the efforts of one of the Catholic parishes to feed 800 very needy families in Homestead each Sunday.  And in addition to his own biological children, he and his wife have also adopted and raised 7 children, many from very difficult circumstances.  He has also established a program to supply back to school supplies for those families as well as Easter and Thanksgiving food drives and a Christmas toy drive.

One member of the class, who wishes to remain anonymous, has been generously contributing to various local, national, or international charitable organizations .  He and his wife devote time to help the less fortunate (i.e. poor educations, from broken homes, in bondage to drugs or alcohol, with bleak circumstances).  They have been long time members of their local St. Vincent de Paul organization, doing amazing work for those living on the margins.  They both also volunteer every year at various RAM (Remote Area Medical) free medical/dental clinics serving the less fortunate.

One member of the class, who wishes to remain anonymous, was one of three who created an entity that helped build and enable home ownership for 50% of median income families, the vast majority of which were single minority female head of households.  That organization started out with a focus on building homes first in Miami, then across Florida and ended up becoming a national model.  That organization has helped to build and enable equity ownership for over twenty thousand families and became the largest nonprofit developer and owner of low-income housing in Florida.

One member of the class, who wishes to remain anonymous, served on the board and  in the trenches of a not for profit with a focus on mentorship for children at risk, (mostly lower income, single head of household, urban, minority families) serving thousands of Miami-Dade based underprivileged/ at risk youth over the course of 15 years.

One member of the class, who wishes to remain anonymous, created a tax abatement and training subsidiary program that quickly and seamlessly captured local and federal funds or abatements enabling an advantage for either underprivileged or geographically disadvantaged individuals, positively affecting thousands of individuals in Miami-Dade County and benefitting their employers at the same time.

One member of the class, who wishes to remain anonymous, has worked pro bono for the past 30 years on developing new ways to store and transport clean low cost renewable energy.

One member of the class, who wishes to remain anonymous, helped to create an employee assistance program that provided fully funded, anonymous, confidential, professional psychological help for employees in need in one of our largest local corporations (with national reach) and that program became modeled in other local companies with national footprints.  This program significantly benefitted many thousands of individuals and their families.

One member of the class, who wishes to remain anonymous, was part of the pro bono team that helped to create the Documentary Stamp Surtax Program in Florida, which you see on every real estate transaction.  This money enables the leveraging of low income individuals’ ability to secure a mortgage for a home purchase and has proven incredibly beneficial to the residents of Florida, especially our lower income residents interested in owning their own home.

One member of the class, who wishes to remain anonymous, pro bono has raised tens of thousands of dollars for global disaster relief efforts via putting on music events.

One member of the class, who wishes to remain anonymous, pro bono has served as a business mentor to many early stage entrepreneurs and their companies and has given career counseling to well over 1000 UM and FIU MBA students.

Many members of our class, most of whom wish to remain anonymous, served in the Air Force, Navy, Army, Coast Guard, Reserves, National Guard. Some serving from the last years of the Viet Nam war to the first Gulf War.  Almost all of those class members volunteered to serve in our armed forces.

One member of the class, who wishes to remain anonymous, created a program to purchase available HUD foreclosed homes at 20% below their post auction appraisal price in order to make them able to get full bank financing on the purchase price enabling equity to go into the costs of refurbishment for low income families.


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