Zephyrhills 100th Anniversary: Valedictorians Now & Then

By , 13 January, 2010, No Comment

Last Thursday night at ZHS, a tradition continued although with some tweaks!  That, of course, was the annual Awards and Honors Presentation.  For nearly 100 years, some type of awards event has been held to honor the top scholars of the graduating class. So often in today’s society qualities other than scholarship are recognized so it is a wonderful tradition that scholars are acknowledged.  We value the practice instituted by former ZHS Principal, James T. Davis (serving 1993 to 2004 and now Assistant Superintendent) who initiated an honors banquet and began presenting honor students with an academic ‘Z’ letter, comparable to an athletic letter. These students from the early 1990’s forward were honored at a banquet funded by Daybreak Rotary of Zephyrhills for their parents and an accomplished ZHS alumni who spoke of the impact that ZHS had on him/her.  We are hopeful that the new principal who was just announced, Steven Van Gorden, will reinstitute this honors banquet for these deserving students and their proud parents.

Anthony Pritchard- 2009 Valedictorian

Anthony Pritchard- 2009 Valedictorian

The awards convocation is of course a tribute and culmination of four years of hard work.  At this event the Valedictorian, the highest ranking student of the graduating class, is announced as well as the Salutatorian (next week we will tell you about the Salutatorians). The new 2009 Valedictorian is Anthony Pritchard.

ZHS has recognized the top two scholars of each graduating class throughout their history.  In researching archives, primarily microfilm to correctly identify the top-of-the class students, we painstakingly reviewed the archives of the Zephyrhills News and the Zephyrhills Library.  Various community members provided missing names, but there remain 16 who have not been identified from the 1930’s and before.

The Valedictorians and Salutatorians were recognized in slight variations over time but always represented those individuals with the highest scholastic achievement and grade point average.  Many have excelled in their professional careers and brought pride to Zephyrhills; and several have continued to be leaders in the community, government and their professions.

ZHS Valedictorians over time…Please help us locate the missing ‘Number Ones!’

2008-Luke Aaron Thomas

2007-Kristen Lynn Beville

2006-Rebekah Louise Hayden

2005-Suneal Singh Bedi

2004-Phillip Justin Young

2003-Ashik “JJ” Jivan

2002-Kristen Mari  Benedini

2001-Mamie Venita Jervis Wise

2000-Deanna Hasenauer, Anurekha “Rekha”

Krishnaraj & Pamela Jane Moses

1999-Thomas George Renc

1998-Laura Ann Noble & Jennifer Lyn


1997-Charles Shelby Garrod

1996-Chut Sombutmai

1995-Mandeep Singh Dhalla

1994-Kaname Kenneth Kuniyuki

1993-Monu Singh Bedi & Sonu Singh Bedi

1992-Christine Noel Rinck

1991-Beth Ann Ables

1990-Thomas Eugene Gregory

1989-David Jochen Lorenz

1988-Jeanine Louise Boyd

1987-Mark Wayne Brissette

1986-Bruce Len Lovins

1985-Katherine Elizabeth Evans

1984-Christopher Charles Williams

1983-Mary Beth Kuusisto

1982-Steven Thomas Kretschmar

1981-Amy Ruth Kuusisto

1980-Michael Kevin “Mickey” Farrell

1979-David Norman Deaton

1978-Karen Lenné Hunt

1977-Scott Edwin Boyd

1976-Elizabeth Stanley

1975-Karen Marie Scharlau

1974-Gerald Kenneth Eysaman, Jr.

1973-Michael Thomas Cox

1972-Walter Bruce Vogel

1971-Andrij Roman Neczwid

1970-Patricia Ann Hayden

1969-Patricia Gail Connelly

1968-Harmon Daniel “Danny” Pollock, II

1967-Marcia Demming

1966-Joseph  Higginson

1965-Linda Hayden

1964-James Emmett Daniels

1963-Jerry H. Griffin

1962-Barbara Russ

1961-Elizabeth Witt

1960-Bonnie Lee Reed

1959-Laura Ann Higginson

1958-Edwina Jones

1957-Janet Marilyn Johnson

1956-Dena Yvonne Cooper

1955-Bunnie Sue Sibley

1954-Richard “Dick” Braden

1953-Joan Pauline Braden

1952-Caroline Jones

1951-Martha Mae Keller

1950-Nancy Skinner

1949-Alton Tyre

1948-Betty Jo Turner

1947-Patricia Pauline Parttridg

1946-Rubye Lott

1945-Edna Elizabeth Thornberry

1944-Mary Hart

1943-Vernon Poehner

1942-Alden Poehner

1941-Jack W. Booth, Jr.

1940-Bernice Eleanor Curtis

1939-Pearl Snider

1938-Rilda Darlene Mounts

1937-Estelle Delk


1935-Sarah E. Parsons

1934-Grace Lester

1933-Winnie Plank





1928-Theodore Campbell

1927-Eula Hensley Shaw


1925-Julius Pillar




1921-Nellie Ford





1916-Nannie Knight



1914-First Official Graduation

1913-Eleventh Grade Graduation Only

1910-School Opened

Missing 1914-1915, 1917-1920, 1922-1924, 1926, 1929-1932, 1936

Countdown to Centennial

Countdown to Centennial
By Madonna Jervis Wise and Clereen Morrill Brunty of the 100th Anniversary Committee, ZHS. Article originally appeared in the Zephyrhills News on May 14, 2009.

All rights reserved. Photos © Madonna Jervis Wise

Zephyrhills 100th Anniversary: Librarian or Media Specialist?

By , 12 January, 2010, No Comment

On Saturday, May 2, a retirement dinner for ZHS Media Specialist Ernie Wise was hosted at Zephyr Palms Events Centre by his wife, Madonna (one of the writers) and their three children. Randall Belcher, retired principal, emceed the event and all in attendance found themselves reminiscing about Ernie’s 35 years of service to Zephyrhills.  Ernie served twenty years as a biology teacher and fifteen as a Media Specialist at Zephyrhills High School.  He started teaching on the year-round school system known as 45-15 with an annual salary of $6,000.  The school campus was brand spanking new and the community was growing phenomenally in population.

The ‘Ernie Wise’ celebration caused us to reflect upon the Media Specialists (formerly known as Librarians) who have served ZHS throughout the school’s history.  For many alumni, we imagine that you may recall research papers you painstakingly slaved over or books you checked out from the school’s library. You may also recall that cumbersome card catalogue or those precious encyclopedias with their leather bindings and the quiet, somber atmosphere.  Many of the traditional resources we recall from the 50’s to 70’s or before, have been augmented or replaced by various technologies in the age of computers, but the necessity for carrying out research remains a vitally important skill (one tested on the FCAT) and needed by today’s workforce.

So who were the librarians of the past at ZHS?  Do you have memories of these scholarly folks that you might like to share with us for our 100th anniversary? Here are some facts that we uncovered!

A local school history report compiled for an annual open house celebration at the school in the 70’s, stated that the first ZHS library was established by Sara Krentzman who was also the school’s drama coach, in 1936.  Zephyrhills News articles however, mention that school librarian, Irene Flack obtained 148 donated books of reference and fiction for the school’s library in 1930, so we are inclined to believe that a ZHS librarian was in place in 1930.  The 1938 Pasco School Board minutes indicate that Grace Fogg was appointed librarian of ZHS, and the local history report also documents Blanche Hawkes as ZHS librarian in 1942.  Blanche was followed by Celia Linkey Anderson in 1944 who was a 1929 graduate of ZHS.

Perhaps one of the most well known of the group is Betty Hall who served for 25 years as ZHS librarian. In a May 1984 article for the Zephyrhills News, Betty recalled some of her memorable moments in the job.  Betty’s first ZHS library was in an unused classroom. In the early 1970’s a new library was built for the high school campus on what is today the Stewart Middle School campus and Betty took charge of moving the hundreds of books from the classroom location to the new building. Betty said, “Students carried the books by the armful and it went smoothly. We used Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts plus other children and moved all the books in two afternoons.”

In 1975, Betty was responsible for moving the library’s books again into the new high school building where it is located today. She engineered the move by using students who carried armloads of books on a school bus and made multiple trips.

Following Betty, Caroline Marlette and Ellen Palmer served as media specialists at ZHS.  Ernie Wise has served as Media Specialist at ZHS since 1993 along side Judy Norris.  The greatest change has undoubtedly been the influx of technology and research tools and equipment that revolutionize the classification of information.  At the retirement of Ernie, we cannot help but reflect on a career of service and dedication.  We thank you Ernie for all that you have given to the school and community.  We cannot help but also reflect on the many that have also held this position.

Countdown to Centennial

Countdown to Centennial
By Madonna Jervis Wise and Clereen Morrill Brunty of the 100th Anniversary Committee, ZHS. Article originally appeared in the Zephyrhills News on May 7, 2009.

All rights reserved. Photos © Madonna Jervis Wise

Zephyrhills 100th Anniversary: The State-of-the-art Gymnasium of 1967

By , 11 January, 2010, 2 Comments

In recent years, when many new school buildings are being opened in our county and marvelous remodeling and rebuilding efforts are taking place, community members don’t seem to be as fascinated with the unveiling of new educational facilities as they once were.  In the chronicles of school history in our community, the opening of schools was however, a cause for great jubilation.  Perhaps one of the most momentous occasions occurred in 1967 when a gymnasium was constructed and the community gathered around to enjoy this new-found status.  You see, the Zephyrhills Basketball team and other teams had played previously in outdoor courts and to have a state-of the art gymnasium was really the ‘cat’s meow.’

On January 12, 1967, Zephyrhills News reported:

A rare opportunity to visit those areas of a gymnasium usually restricted to physical education students and coaches will be afforded the public today when open house is held in the new gymnasium-classroom on the Zephyrhills High School campus. The Parent-Teacher Association will sponsor refreshments hosted by a committee headed by Mrs. Robert Chadwell, arranging for the social hour.  The opening game in the gym is Saturday evening against Tampa Catholic.

Imagine that for the first time, the high school graduation of 1967 was also held in this new gymnasium with ample room for seating. The auditorium had served quite well up until this time but by 1967, the graduating class had grown to 63 students and a new facility was needed. Here is a glimpse at that first graduation in the new gymnasium in 1967 from a Zephyrhills News article of June 1, 1967:

“The new ZHS gymnasium will be the scene beginning at 8 p.m. tomorrow of commencement exercises for the 63-member senior class. It will be the first community activity, excepting basketball, to be held in the structure which was dedicated earlier this year. Principal Raymond B. Stewart will preside at the annual event which is expected to attract a large attendance by relatives and friends of the graduates. It will afford many a first opportunity to see the long-awaited new physical education facility.

Mrs. Monroe Treiman, Supervisor of Pasco County Schools, is to make awards presentations and Mrs. V. E. Witt, Zephyrhills member of the Pasco County Board of Public Instruction, will deliver diplomas to the graduates.

“Speakers will include Salutatorian Joan Thompson, Valedictorian Marcia Deming, Class President Alice Back and Student Council President Richard Kinney. Reverend Richard Pollard, Vicar of the St. Elizabeth Church, is to give the invocation and the benediction will be given by the Reverend Millard Mount, pastor of the First Christian Church with Julia Miller as organist.  After commencement exercises, parents will host a buffet supper and swimming party at the VFW Hall and Municipal Pool.”

To get a feel for the topics of the day, here are some excerpts from those above-referenced 1967 graduation speeches:

Joan Thompson, salutatorian, and daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Thompson, paid tribute to the teachers who have “guided us when we were uncertain or in difficulty and shown us how to bridge the gaps of thought along the way. Most of their help has been taken for granted but we are grateful for your passing on to us the culture which is America…for building patterns of morality as well as bridges of thought and for teaching character in our daily lives.”

Alice Back, class president, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Emmanuel Back, recalled developments in the field of motion pictures, radio, television, automobiles, airplanes, freeways and missiles, and said, “behind all the development has been the natural urge which people have to make things, for people want to use their knowledge and abilities in the most satisfying way they can find—the creation of new things and ideas.”
Recalling the time when people lived and died within a few hundred miles of the place of their birth, Miss Back said, “The automobile changed the private, social, industrial, and political life of the nation…leveled hills, extended horizons, created new opportunities. And just as the automobile was and is a factor in our world of mechanics and automation yesterday and today so will be nuclear energy in the tomorrows. Increased leisure time coupled with the creative drive within people will make for greater advancements in many fields…it is our responsibility to preserve what we have inherited, to become good Americans, to oppose any doctrine which attempts to destroy our heritage…By continuing a love for our country and her ideals, we will prosper and experience an even greater evidence of the creative drive.”

Marcia Deming, Valedictorian, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Deming said:
 “We must learn to rise above the conflicts and tensions so prevalent today and keep in mind that all these conveniences and improvements of the modern age do not provide solutions to our personal problems,” she said and continued with, “We are not satisfied to think of our lives as just short periods in an eon of time…we want to live deeply, learn, grow and be proud of our accomplishments. Each of us must find our own way to live, become involved and contribute to our civilization.”

Richard Kinney, Student Council President and son of Lt. Col. And Mrs. James F. Kinney, said “every person should ask himself what is most important?  We are God’s children and here on this earth to do His will. In making important decisions our first consideration should be ‘What would God have us to do?’ Our lives must be based on principles, our American ancestors sacrificed their most precious possessions, even their lives for what they thought was right.” Kinney quoted General Douglas MacArthur on important principles when MacArthur said, “Duty, honor, country: These three hallowed words reverently dictate what you want to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying point to build courage when courage seems to fail, to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith, and to create hope when hope becomes forlorn,” Kinney said, “this is our legacy.” He listed knowledge as the key development of strong characters to progress, self-discipline, deep thinking and right living as being among things of importance in every life.  With graduation season upon us, I’m sure the graduates of 2009 will be sharing inspirational messages as well.

Although the 2009 graduation is to be held at the Sun Dome because of the sheer size of its class, the pride of those 1967 graduates is still quite evident in the recollections of their delight in the new facility and hope for their future.

Countdown to Centennial

Countdown to Centennial
By Madonna Jervis Wise and Clereen Morrill Brunty of the 100th Anniversary Committee, ZHS. Article originally appeared in the Zephyrhills News on April 23, 2009.

All rights reserved. Photos © Madonna Jervis Wise

Come and get your Historical Calendar!

By , 8 January, 2010, No Comment
The Zephyrhills Historical Calendar cover

The Zephyrhills Historical Calendar cover

The Zephyrhills Historical Society has a new calendar in celebration of Zephyrhills’ upcoming centennial!

This calendar, created by Margaret Seppanen, features black and white photos ranging from 50 to 100 years ago in Zephyrhills. They are available for purchase at the Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Zephyrhills, Inc, Zephyrhills Library, and the Depot Museum for just $5.

Also, join the Historical Society! They meet the first Tuesday of every month at the Depot at 6 P.M. T-minus 64 days until the Centennial!

Zephyrhills Historical Photos: Week 7

By , 8 January, 2010, No Comment

Each week you can get a glimpse into Zephyrhills history through photographs provided by Madonna Jervis Wise. Click any image for a larger view!

Eastman's Trailer ParkGrand Marshal ErnieClements in front of Grand Marshal PosterClereen's Aerial View of Zephyrhills, FloridaGolfing Zephyrhills in 1950Hillsborough Park in the 1940s

Images of America: Zephyrhills Book Cover

Photos courtesy Madonna Jervis Wise
Author of Images of America: Zephyrhills
Scheduled to publish Spring 2010!

All rights reserved. Photo © Madonna Jervis Wise

Zephyrhills 100th Anniversary: A Glimpse of 1952 at ZHS

By , 7 January, 2010, 3 Comments

Seniors Plan Class Night Program, School Newspaper-Bulldog Bulletin, May 23, 1952- by Shirley Lanham

Well, in exactly one week, on the Friday night of May 30, the seniors will have “Class Night,” in the auditorium. On that night, Lois Greene will read the history of the class. This will include all the happenings from the time they were first graders up until now. Barbara Smith will read the prophecy. All of these things will be acted out by the members of the class. Editors of the annual are Bill McIntosh, and the associate editor, Barbara Smith.

The Last Will and Testament will be read by Kathryn Kersey and Joan Johnson, president.

Graduation Scheduled for June 3- by Joan Braden

After twelve years of hard work, the Senior Class of 1952 has finally arrived at the top of their climb through school. The final ceremony, Commencement, will be held in the Home Theater, June 3, at 8:00 p.m.  The ZHS band will play “Pomp and Circumstance” for the processional and finally “War March of the Priests” for the recessional.

Reverend Hutchinson of the First Methodist Church will give the invocation.  The theme of the program will be “Building a Free World.” The opening speech, “The Free World We Seek,” will be given by the Salutatorian, Barbara Smith. Other speeches, “Resources for Freedom,” “The Cornerstone for Peace,” and “Youth and a Free World,” will be given by Senior Class Representatives, John Wasner and Lamar Herndon and the Junior Class President, Joan Johnson.  Valedictorian, Caroline Jones will give her speech, “Faith in Our Goal.”  Ushers were elected from the Junior Class

High School Band Is Rated Superior-8 Zephyrhills Soloists Win Top Recognition, Zephyrhills News, March 21, 1952– price 5 cents

The Zephyrhills School band won a superior rating and eight soloists won recognition in the District contest of the Bandmaster’s Association held Friday at St. Petersburg.

The band, one of 24 entered in the district festival, qualified for state competition by scoring in the district festival. It was one of the 10 bands in the contest to qualify.

Bands were rated in three categories: superior, excellent and good. Those scoring the superior ratings will be entered in the state contest to be held in Tampa, May 1, 2, 3.

Note that the ZHS Band Building was constructed on ZHS campus in 1953, as reported in the yearbook. This building was torn down in December 2007 to make way for new construction. A synopsis of the band building history can be found at http://www.fivay.org/zhs/zhs21.html.

Countdown to Centennial

Countdown to Centennial
By Madonna Jervis Wise and Clereen Morrill Brunty of the 100th Anniversary Committee, ZHS. Article originally appeared in the Zephyrhills News on April 17, 2009.

All rights reserved. Photos © Madonna Jervis Wise

Zephyrhills 100th Anniversary Grand Marshall Nomination Form

By , 6 January, 2010, No Comment

Submitting a Nomination
We’re looking for the best Grand Marshall we can find for the Zephyrhills’ 100th Anniversary Founder’s Day celebration!

Do you know someone who’s been an important part of our community? Nominate the person you think deserves this honor by filling out the form at this link:

Grand Marshall Nomination Form – http://kl.am/zhills100gm

Fill it out soon as the nominating committee is making their recommendation in the next couple weeks!

You can also download a PDF version of the Grand Marshall Nomination Form and send it in to Main Street Zephyrhills by email, fax or mail. Check their website for contact information!

Zephyrhills 100th Anniversary: The Reutimann’s

By , 6 January, 2010, 2 Comments

Names are frequently somewhat synonymous with locations. When we think of Hyannis Port in historic Nantucket, Massachusetts, we are keenly aware that it has been the home place of Joseph P. Kennedy and his famous family since the early part of the twentieth century.  Similarly Hyde Park, New York, conveys recollections of Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt. For those of our age frame, Plains, Georgia, is also clearly distinguished as Jimmy Carter’s home territory.  You may be wondering where we are going with this article?

The name ‘Reutimann’ imprints our fine city with unique charm and personality. If there were to be anointed a royal family of our pleasant town it would undoubtedly be this colorful racing lineage distinguished by both integrity and grit. Clereen and I have so enjoyed writing our weekly article and as we have mentioned one of our goals is to solicit feedback and ideas from the community on historical milestones. Not surprisingly, a recurring request from alumni has been to recount the historical contributions of the Reutimann family.

Clereen and I have given a great deal of thought to this article because it is perhaps our most challenging to compose. We both greatly respect this clan and we are keenly aware that there is both triumph and tragedy in their story.  We write the article with a prayer that we will convey a bit of the Reutimann family’s chronicle with grace and accuracy. Note that the school history over time has been infused with a great deal of religious doctrine as was the case for all American schooling until the 1960’s or thereabout; with that in mind, we think it is fitting to capture the family’s narrative during this time of year which encompasses not only a religious holiday but also marks the anniversary of the death of a patriarch of the Reutimann family, Emil, Sr. in March of 1960. We invite the community to add to our story, correct our information and contribute to the documentation of our town’s true regal dynasty.

The Beginning: In Reporter Mary Harman’s interview of  Tillie Reutimann Smith (daughter of Emil and Amalie Waeffler Reutimann) from April 2000, Tillie related the origin of the Reutimann’s in Zephyrhills.  Tillie said that Emil Reutimann, Sr., came to Tampa in 1910 from Switzerland, bringing his wife and their 5-year old daughter, Helena, and Reutimann’s father, Johann Ulrich Reutimann (1812-1914).  Emil, Sr., a machinist, had visited America previously to scope out the possibilities of work and then returned to Switzerland to marry his childhood sweetheart, Amalie Waeffler. They immigrated a few years later through Ellis Island and quickly became naturalized citizens. The young Emil then lined up a job with James Brothers Garage in Tampa, Florida. From there the Reutimann’s moved to Zephyrhills in 1915.  Tillie reflected about the move, “Zephyrhills was just a place in the country with streets of sand. I can remember Hennington’s Department and Grocery Store and Penry’s Department Store. They were both located in the area of East 7th Street and 5th Avenue.”

Now in Zephyrhills, Emil Reutimann, Sr., went to work for Mr. James Greer doing mechanical work on his sawmill on Wire Road. (Note that Greer operated sawmill and turpentine stills at the foot of Greer Hill several miles north of town on U. S. 301.) Reutimann also opened a small garage with the ‘town’s first gas pump’ on Highway 301. Amalie worked as the bookkeeper and the family lived in a home now known as the Palmer House on 5th Street.  When the Reutimann kids, Tillie, Helena, Gertrude, Marguerite, and Emil Jr., started school it was at the old wooden schoolhouse at the corner of Seventh Avenue and Sixth Street; they later graduated from the school at the site of the school now known as R.B. Stewart Middle School. The garage business was passed on to son (Emil, Jr.) in 1939, and the Reutimann Chevrolet Dealership evolved from this garage in 1954.

The school history is jam-packed with accounts of ‘Reutimann’s. Here are some examples: Emil Reutimann, Jr., was editor of the first Zephyrhills Annual, Spotlight, and his staff included his sister, Marguerite. In 1935 one of the Spotlight articles included an admonishment to students to respect the school colors (not orange and black) but gold and purple. Here’s an excerpt: “Did you ever take time to look in the dictionary and really find out what our ZHS colors mean? They are “Royal Colors.” Purple is the blend of blue and red—the color of Robes of State! As a noun it means a robe of color; hence: rank of royalty. There is also Gold—a precious metallic element of bright yellow color and when pure, very heavy, precious and of pure quality. With colors like that it is no wonder that we are proud of ZHS?”

"Spotlight.”   includes: Vera Cook, Mary Emery, Lina Felts,   Rebecca Magness, Grace Mott, Sarah Parsons, Donald Plank, Emil Reutimann, Marguerite Reutimann, Eva West, S.A. Clardy, Ernest Linkey, Laura Rogers, M. Slater, & Norma Stone.

"Spotlight.” includes: Vera Cook, Mary Emery, Lina Felts, Rebecca Magness, Grace Mott, Sarah Parsons, Donald Plank, Emil Reutimann, Marguerite Reutimann, Eva West, S.A. Clardy, Ernest Linkey, Laura Rogers, M. Slater, & Norma Stone.

Emil, Jr., was very prominent in many school articles as were his sisters. Tillie was the editor of the school newspaper and the newsletter featured society information that gives one a real glimpse of social life in the 20’s and 30’s around town. All of the Emil, Sr., children are captured in ZHS history. If you’d like to check out the Reutimann’s throughout ZHS history, look at the fivay site at: http://www.fivay.org/zhs/index.html.

It is reasonable to make the connection that from that early Emil, Sr., garage in Zephyrhills, a racing heritage was cultivated.  Actual stock car racing in the Reutimann family began in 1938 when Emil, Jr., raced a “hot rod” at the Ben White Speedway in Orlando. (According to Emil’s brother-in-law, Lowell Steve, race cars were called hot rods in that period of time and were actually stripped down family cars.)

We learned from grandson, Wayne, Sr., that the “00” preferred racing number that appears on most Reutimann racing vehicles came from a family tease that originated with  Grandpa Emil who said of one of his grandson’s early racing rig heaps, “It looks like a whole lot of nothing.” From that phrase came the practice of using the number, “00” on the Reutimann racing rigs. We learn from the Reutimann’s that hard work, genetic propensity for knowing the inner workings of engines, and even luck enter into the racing discipline.

Early Reutimann car

Early Reutimann car

Fast forward to the twenty-first century and news coverage of the school and town continue to include the Reutimann’s: A St. Pete Times article of May 10, 2006 reports on the success of David Reutimann, Jr., (great-grandson of Emil, Sr.) who conducted his first local celebrity appearance with NASCAR in Zephyrhills along with his dad, Buzzie Reutimann, his uncle, Wayne Reutimann and his cousin, Wayne Reutimann, Jr. all of whom had become accomplished race car drivers. At that 2006 appearance, David, 1984 ZHS grad, summed up the Reutimann’s usual humility and unassuming demeanor as he said, “I was thinking when they said you’re going to have to sign autographs from 1 to 4, that I’d sign for about an hour and there wouldn’t be anybody left in line.” ( Workers said that despite incredibly hot temperatures, the line to meet all of the Reutimann’s stretched more than 100 fans long throughout the afternoon.)

Since 2006, the story continues to unfold in NASCAR history and racing legend as well! (Note: To illustrate the Reutimann’s and their down-to-earth charisma, consider the many monikers they have given to each other which range from Booby (a Swiss name for “baby boy” used by the parents for Emil, Jr.,) to Buzzie (Emil, III) to Pookie (Wayne, Jr.); and these are only the ones we know about!  You can ascertain from these names, that although talented, they do not take themselves too seriously—the mark of a healthy psyche!

The Reutimann’s have, of course, had their share of luck as well as misfortune.

Veteran Zephyrhillians will undoubtedly recall with sadness yet today, the tragic accident that occurred in 1973 on 301 near the old Ruck’s Dairy as the family returned from a race.  Emil “Booby” Reutimann, 1931 ZHS grad, his son, Dale Reutimann, 1973 grad, and their dear friend, Gordon Stone, ZHS sophomore, lost their lives.  Emil then 56, was a former Zephyrhills City Councilman, a longtime member of the Zephyrhills Volunteer Fire Department and owner of the Reutimann Chevrolet Agency.  To capture the gravity of the loss, read the official wordage of the proclamation issued from the City of Zephyrhills in their recorded minutes:

“Whereas, Almighty God in His infinite wisdom has seen fit to call from our midst to the Great Beyond a former city councilman who was a pioneer member of a prominent pioneer Zephyrhills family and

Whereas, the tragic home going of Emil “Booby” Reutimann has left his native community bereft of a dedicated citizen who served its interests to the best of his ability, contributing generously and unselfishly to its development and beautification, and

Whereas Emil “Booby” Reutimann will long be revered in memory by those who treasured his friendship, benefitted from close association with him, acknowledged his contributions to the cause of good government and community betterment, and loved him for the conscientious citizen he was, now therefore be it RESOLVED…

The City of Zephyrhills has suffered the loss of a valued former official, booster and friend and further be it

RESOLVED, this resolution is to be sent to the family and a copy is to be incorporated into the minutes of this special meeting of Zephyrhills City Council on September 18, 1973 ~Paul Dickinson, Chairman of Zephyrhills City Council.

A correlation to the historical American families carries on as we think of the Reutimann’s in comparison to some of the leaders of our country such as the Kennedys.  We revere them for their service and we love them for their common demeanor and warmth.  We know too that we can always count on them.  Thank you to our Zephyrhills royal family for capturing our town and school culture throughout nearly 100 years!

Note:  We asked Wayne Reutimann, ZHS Auto Mechanics Teacher for nearly 30 years, to review the article before submitting it to the News, and he gave us his stamp of approval. Thanks Wayne for your service as a teacher to ZHS and the community!

Countdown to Centennial

Countdown to Centennial
By Madonna Jervis Wise and Clereen Morrill Brunty of the 100th Anniversary Committee, ZHS. Article originally appeared in the Zephyrhills News on April 9, 2009.

All rights reserved. Photos © Madonna Jervis Wise

Zephyrhills 100th Anniversary: Betty Jo Turner Hyder & the Zephilsco

By , 5 January, 2010, No Comment

Clereen and I really enjoyed the information about the naming of the popular Zephilsco Annual.  Betty Jo Turner Hyder, the originator of the name shared some further details about the collaborative naming of the school Annual with us in follow up to the article.

“During the school  year, 1946, students were allowed to go home for lunch, so Jayne Kerr and I went to her house.  After lunch, Mrs. Geraldine Kerr, Jayne’s mother took us back to school in her family car so we would not be late. During the drive while talking about the Annual-naming contest, Mrs. Kerr suggested the combination of city and county name.  At the time, Zephyrhills School encompassed grades 1 through 12, so Zephyrhills High School had not come into existence.  Jayne did not want to submit the name so I volunteered. I remember we were sitting in the old auditorium when someone tapped me on the shoulder and asked how to pronounce the word, Zephilsco.  I had no idea, never having said the name.  That person pronounced it Zephilsco and I nodded.”

Betty Jo also shared some other information that might be of interest to school and community historians.  Bob Booth was the Editor of the 1946 School Annual. Students in the ZHS class of 1946 were: Rubye Lott, Lois Ann Martinson, Joseph Elmer Nickerson, Blanche Madeline Lowe, Hazel Boatwright, Robert Andrew Booth, Christine Maxine Bryant, Amos A. Chancey, Doris Gertrude Cherry, Charles Sidney Coon, Helen Claire England, Ruth Kersey, Nita Lindsey, Mary Lois McDowell, Carolyn Laray Maple, Ralph B. Mott, Albert Wilson Royal, Sherman Albert Royal, and Franklin Thomas.  Betty also related that the 1946 yearbook was the first one published since the 1935 Annual called the Spotlight, which Emil Reutimann served as the editor.

The Class of 1947 did not publish an Annual. Students in the class of 1947 at ZHS were: Bonnie Lou Arnold, Emerson David Arnot, Jr., John McElwain Arnot, June Clarice Arnot, Elizabeth Patricia Bolden, James Holmes Boatwright, Joan Carter, Lois Martina Clardy, Ralph Lamar Chancey, John Thurman Clardy, Laura L. Gallagher, Estella A. Grams, Frank Roy Heath, Cora Etta Jones, Theodore Franklin Mayor, Paul Eugene Miller, Catherine Marie Nevins, Patricia Pauline Parttridg, Mary Eloise Pollock, Cornelia Jane Thomson, William James Peterson, George Clarence Kemp.

The practice was reinstated with the class of 1948 and continues through today.  The current Zephilsco editor is Josh Barter with the teacher sponsor in 2009 being: Tracey Snyder.  Coincidentally, Fred Gore was the editor of the 1948 Annual and it was free to all students. Betty Jo adds that this may have been the last free annual for students.  Seniors raised money for the publishing of the yearbook.

Countdown to Centennial

Countdown to Centennial
By Madonna Jervis Wise and Clereen Morrill Brunty of the 100th Anniversary Committee, ZHS. Article originally appeared in the Zephyrhills News on April 2, 2009.

All rights reserved. Photos © Madonna Jervis Wise

Zephyrhills 100th Anniversary: The Zephilsco

By , 4 January, 2010, No Comment

One or our goals in writing the weekly ‘Countdown to Centennial,’ is to collect more historical information about our school and the impact that it has had on our community over time.  We are so delighted that we have received information, corrections and additions from alumni and friends. We hope to gather more anecdotes and reaction as we approach the 2010 centennial!

Recently, 1968 ZHS graduate, Wayne Bodiford emailed us with some fascinating tidbits!  Wayne is a great example of a ZHS grad that has gone on to make us proud by the way! Wayne is currently the Director of Financial Aid and Veteran’s Affairs at St. John’s River Community College. We shared Wayne’s historical anecdote at a recent gathering of our ZHS 100th year committee, and his former teacher, Caroline Marlette, beamed with pride to discover that he had become an educator. We think you will enjoy the information which relates to the school annual, The Zephilsco.

Some background on the school annual—in research, we discovered that ZHS School Annuals (now more commonly known as yearbooks) date back to 1946. The Zephyrhills Depot has quite a collection if you would care to gaze through them and walk down memory lane.  ZHS alumni, Margaret Seppanen has painstakingly collected and displayed them at the Depot. Interestingly enough our research also located a 1935 ZHS Annual (similar to a newsletter but called an annual) which was known as the ‘Spotlight,’ which featured an interesting assortment of stories and a profile of each school senior.  The first modern Annual, however, was in 1946.

The Zephilsco was officially named by ZHS student Betty Jo Turner Hyder in the year 1948.  Betty Jo is the former owner of Marion Smith Florist and was a teacher and guidance counselor at ZHS as well. Betty Jo said there was a contest at ZHS and she won a prize of five dollars (a handsome sum in those days) for coming up with the name. Betty Jo related that in the 1940’s students were allowed to go home for lunch at noon and often went to local homes as guests.  The brainstorming for the annual’s name occurred during one of these lunch times and was actually dreamed up by her friend, Jane Kerr.  When they returned to school her friend was a bit too shy to submit the name so Betty Jo submitted it and won the prize.

Wayne Bodiford gave us “the rest of the story,” as Paul Harvey might have said! Wayne said, “From 1966 to 1969 I had an after school job at Kerr’s Cold Storage in Zephyrhills and my boss was Mr. James W. “Jimmy” Kerr.  I began working in the afternoons and on Saturdays during high school, but worked there until the business, which had opened on October 1, 1944, closed on October 1, 1969.  One day at work, probably during my senior year in 1968, I was showing my annual to Mrs. (Geraldine) Kerr, and she told me about the annual-naming contest. She said that her daughter, Jane Kerr, gave the name Zephilsco for the contest (apparently to her friend, Betty Jo), but it was actually Mrs. Kerr who originated the name.  She merged the names of the city, Zephyrhills and the County, Pasco—hence the name Zephilsco. I’ve just always thought it to be an interesting piece of ZHS trivia I learned from working in the “butcher shop” for Mr. and Mrs. Kerr.  Incidentally, the location of the business was beside (practically UNDER) the original water tower, downtown, and it had wooden butcher blocks, sawdust floors, and a wood-fired Smokehouse.”

The class of 1948 included: Jayne Kerr, Joan Steve, Jane Smith, Norma Gregory, Connie Palmer, ELlen Massey, June Lashley, Betty Jo Turner, Dick King, Bill Eiland, Richard Rosenvold, James Burgess, Fred Gore, Jack Green, Fred LeHeup, George Smith and Pauline Anderson.

Photo of water tower provided courtesy of  Jeff Miller from the West Pasco Historical Society,

Photo of water tower provided courtesy of Jeff Miller from the West Pasco Historical Society,

Countdown to Centennial

Countdown to Centennial
By Madonna Jervis Wise and Clereen Morrill Brunty of the 100th Anniversary Committee, ZHS. Article originally appeared in the Zephyrhills News on March 26, 2009.

All rights reserved. Photos © Madonna Jervis Wise