Austin, TX - Pat Corbitt opened up his zippered bag, pulled out a stack of high school yearbooks from back in the good ole days, and the reminiscing began on the lawn of the Governor’s Mansion Saturday evening.
“We all had hair!” Larry Long said pointing at a photo of himself as a Duncanville High School senior in 1976 with bangs nearly covering his eyes.
Not far from that photo was one of the evening’s host, Gov. Greg Abbott, his dark, chin-length locks blowing in the wind as he crossed the finish line, winning an 880-meter track race.
On Saturday night, Abbott made good on a promise to his classmates at their last big reunion. The next gathering, he vowed, would be at his house.
A yearbook photo of Gov. Greg Abbott winning an 880-meter track race as a senior at Duncanville High School in 1976.
So on a practically perfect spring evening, about 170 graduates of the Duncanville High School Class of 1976 gathered for a shindig and walk down memory lane at the home of their most high-profile classmate.
The governor’s North Texas alma mater has made a couple of high-profile cameos since he took office last January. At his inauguration, Abbott gave a shout-out to his high school English teacher. And the school’s dance team and drum line had prominent spots in the inauguration day parade.
Reunion attendees had to pay admission to the reunion Saturday to cover the cost of the event, which included a live band, food and bar.
Corbitt, a bus driver, came all the way from Omaha for the party. At first, he wasn’t sure whether he’d make the long trip from Nebraska. Then, he found out about the venue.
“I told my work, and they said, ‘Yes, you have to go!’” said Corbitt, who said he played in the band with Abbott in high school. “If I remember correctly, he played the clarinet.”
Evy Davis, a lawyer from Plano who took a turn flipping through the yearbooks and examining her classmates’ feathered hairstyles, said she ran on the track team with Abbott.
“Greg’s funny; he’s down to earth,” she said.
Governor Greg Abbott hugs fellow high school classmate Michelle Gerke Parker during the 40th reunion. (Steve Hamm/Special Contributor)
Tom Sanchez, a project manager who lives in Midlothian, said not much has changed about Abbott since their days on the track team. He recalled that Abbott would run no matter the weather, sometimes twice a day, in the rain, wind or oppressive heat. Though he can’t run anymore because of a tragic accident that left him paralyzed, Abbott has the same work ethic now that he had in high school.
“One thing I hated about him, he’s so so disciplined,” Sanchez said. “He’s pretty much the same.”
While his classmates reunited, Abbott in typical gubernatorial fashion, shook hands, greeted folks with hugs and posed for endless photos, always with a “Thanks for being here.”
Jeff Nelson bent down and gave Abbott a big hug.
“We’re super proud of you, brother,” he said.
Nelson, who lives in Gun Barrel City, and James Risinger, of Midlothian, said there is one big difference between Abbott back in high school and Abbott now.
“We used to just show up at his house,” Risinger said. “Now we have to go through a metal detector.”
The two said they’re hoping that Abbott will host their next big class reunion, too — at the White House.
Source: Dallas Morning News