The alumni of the old Sisters High School gathered at Aspen Lakes on Saturday for a class by Jerry Baldock
The alumni of the old Sisters High School gathered at Aspen Lakes on Saturday for a class by Jerry Baldock

Sisters was a very different place in the 1940s and '50s. It was a resource town; most families made their living in the woods or serving, supplying or educating those who did.

That was the Sisters recalled last Saturday night at Brand 33 Restaurant at Aspen Lakes, as graduates of the original Sisters High School and their spouses gathered some 70 strong for a class reunion.

Sisters High School then was housed in what is now the Sisters School District administration building, and there were additional classrooms where the Sisters Library now stands. The school ran from the 1930s until 1968, when budget troubles forced high-schoolers to be bussed to Redmond. A new Sisters High School opened in 1992.

Reunion co-organizer (with Jerry Hoke) Lance Trowbridge said that the decline of the timber industry, including the closure of a mill, led to the demise of the old Sisters High School.

"There was just not a lot happening economically in Sisters Country, other than ranching and managing the forest.

"That was the only thing going on - ranching down in Cloverdale and the Forest Service," Trowbridge said.

But for a couple of decades, the "old Sisters" flourished.

"I always say we lived in the golden age of Sisters," said Ann Jenkins (known to her Class of 1957 classmates as Remoa). "It truly was loggers and ranchers. It was authentic. No TV of course. I don't think I saw a TV till I was 16."

Jenkins' parents were teachers, and her dad was also a principal. She said that the teachers were so dedicated that many students were inspired to become educators themselves. That was especially true under the leadership of Bill Edwards, the dynamic teacher, principal and superintendent who took a rough logging town school district and instilled a sense of quality and pride. He started a drama program and a conservation program based around Indian Ford Creek.

Sam Hewitt noted that his mother, Ruth Huntington, "probably taught half the people here." He credited Edwards with setting the small-town students' sights on going to college.

Kitty (Bruhns) Warner and Betty (Poschwatta) Hoke were the only two graduates of the Class of 1945. Hoke's father was one of the six men who co-founded the Sisters Rodeo.

The deep ties that remain unusually strong after many decades and many changes reflect the nature of the old Sisters celebrated Saturday night.

Margaret Day, whose husband, Dennis, was a Class of 1958 graduate noted that "this is more like a family reunion than a class reunion. Everybody knows everybody from way back."