Biographical Sketches and Photos Supplied by '60 Classmates
Vol. 50, No. 1         FERN CREEK, KENTUCKY - Location of Friendliest School in the County        October 3, 2010
I have memories of a full life and many joys surrounded by the gifts for which we are thankful.  That’s how I would capsulate 68 years, not just the last 50. I was raised by parents who ruled gently but firmly, believed in a good education, and taught by example.
I met many of you in the fifth grade at Melbourne Heights School and the sixth grade at Hawthorne Elementary. We were a small group then, but my, how we grew.
From Hawthorne, it was off to Fern Creek Junior High, a huge building with many students and many grades.  I was a small fish in a big pond, shy, of course, but my twin brother David helped me feel more comfortable.  He was always outgoing and made friends easily.
It was a long bus ride to school.  We knew every stop and every student.  Once there, the halls crowded with upper classmen and women.  The lunch room spinach was not the way my mother fixed it, but I had good lunchroom friends.  There were band concerts in the evening and teen age crushes on upper classmen, sock hops with girls on one side and boys on the other, sweet Mr. Anderson’s math class, another teacher who would rather tell war stories than teach math and meeting many new friends I would know for 60 years. 
Like Vivian Feese Smith, I remember the sleepovers in junior high, with my new friends.  I was a city girl who hated girl scout camp, but at Viv’s I thought I was really in the country. What she didn’t write is that this city girl bought the whole ‘snipe hunting’ thing.
I spent the ninth and tenth grades at Assumption High School. It was new, close to home and my father thought it would be a good idea. By the 11th grade, I convinced him to let me return to dear old Fern Creek High. You guys were still there and I knew you; however, I missed many of the shenanigans you have recently, elegantly waxed about.
Fern Creek High School meant more long bus rides through the countryside that is now city-side, arriving early and heading to the apple machine (“Brother, can you spare a dime’).  There was the same spinach and even more friends in the lunchroom.  Now, we were the upper class kids that ruled.  I remember skipping the National Honor Society meeting to attend the International Relations Club and the Good News Club.  Sweet Margaret Ripley introduced me to a book I have loved to this day, “Small Woman.”  There amazing pep rallies (“We get out of class for this? Wow!”) and games on Fridays.  We always had good teams to represent us, thanks to you.  I remember the helpful office staff and Barbara Maurer of course, with her assignments that helped develop an appreciation for music, art, philosophy, religions...we were in the know! Senior year also provided dear Dottie Gordon with a new Nash Rambler, so the early bus rides ended.
My fondest memories of our class were with the group of friends that developed senior year. We visited the library, plays, and art exhibits, to meet Mrs. Maurer’s requirements. On the weekends we played hearts, charades and enjoyed shrimp cocktail. It was a sweet time, a sweet group and sweet memories to cherish.
Four years later I was graduating from the University of Kentucky. I was still shy; however, I held the gavel for my sorority and other organizations. As Barbara noted in the prophecy, I intended to become an archaeologist, a field combining science, art and the world.  Who could ask for anything more?  For me, it didn’t hold its allure; so, I graduated with a degree in business and interior design. I worked in the field for two years (at Burdorf’s), until I realized there was something missing in my life, so it was back to the drawing board.
A friend encouraged me to consider teaching. Not me, I thought, but I tried it and fell in love with the profession on my first day as a substitute.  More schooling, school boards and committees, community organizations, 4-H events, more gavels, summer teaching, through 30 years I never regretted a moment of it, not even the difficult ones. I’ve been able to share my love of science, patriotism and the arts with many young people.  I’ve been pleased to receive honors and be considered for Teacher in Space, but it has been an even greater reward to help our youth grow in wisdom and stature.
Family life has brought many joys. I married in 1965, had two daughters and divorced in 1970, when the girls were 18 months and 6 months.  Parenthood has been a blessing. My daughters live in Madison, Wisconsin.
Victoria graduated from two school, art and computer graphics were her focus.
Kathleen also graduated from two school, viola and performance were her focus. She is also a trained herbalist. Her husband works for the University of Wisconsin, procuring medical workers for rural areas. Kathleen has two daughters, 8 and 5.
So, life has been abundantly good in Louisville, Kentucky, the city I love.   Though I’ve retired from teaching, there are few empty moments. Church school and council, more gavels, and volunteering have kept me very busy, but I’m still shy.
Reading about our class online has been truly rewarding.  I’ve smiled, asked ‘Where was I?’ several times, and was brought to tears when the 8th grade class pictures appeared. “I know those guys," and that's probably how I’ll always remember you, smiling, young, without many cares for the future.  It was a sweet time to be young.
Submitted by Janice Deeb Gritton
Janice Deeb Gritton based her life on school.  She enjoyed it as a student and found great satisfaction as a teacher.  Today, she's a busy volunteer.
This 50-year reunion has made me reflect upon a duel career, coupled with many adventures along a wonderful journey. At times, the seas of life were challenging to sail; however, through it all, the source and reason for my “cadence” has been stable and sure.
A move to Fern Creek High School at the beginning of the eighth grade brought myriad changes to my life. It began with Thomas Walker, the band director, and later, Mary Collings, our senior English teacher. Both contributed to a firm foundation for my career in music and in religious education.
Mrs. Collings’s words, both written in my yearbook and spoken, strong and deep, remained constant along my journey.  Mr. Walker built upon the music foundation my parents set forth by providing piano lessons, beginning in the first grade and continuing through college.  I began clarinet lessons in the seventh grade.  I’m thankful I had an opportunity later in life to express my gratitude to each of them for their investment in my life.
A music scholarship to Eastern Kentucky University set my path toward a 27-year career as a band and choral director.  It pleases me that to this day, students relish in telling the stories of our band and choral antics. 
During my first year as a high school band director, the school didn’t have a football team; yet, we had a marching band and entered several contests. To practice, we built a football field for the band. Things were going fine during that project, until the bags of white lime split in the back seat of my dad’s Ford convertible. The kids cleaned the car, finished lining the field, and marched off with first place in their division.
Three years later a car wreck altered my cadence. Following weeks of physical therapy, teaching and conducting took on a new perspective. It became more about the value of life than about how many trophies were on display. As a result, I focused upon all aspects of music education and performance, while listening to the cadence within.
My cadence shifted when I discovered the need to adjust my life’s course. This modulation was a career change, but I was still struggling with Mrs. Collings words penned in my yearbook. Words of her prophecy began to unfold as I completed a second graduate degree in mid-life. This degree led me to become a consultant for adult ministries, writing and speaking across the USA, United Kingdom, and Brazil.
Returning to Louisville to care for my aging parents put me back into the same school system I left for my modulation. My students were the children of my earlier students.  What a joy!  There was no need to tell these younger children to “go home and practice,” because their parents took care of the that. Of course, I had to live with students coming to school and saying, “Miss Murrell, tell us about the time…”
On 9/11, my students were working on patriotic music. Several of them had an idea to make a video and send it to our nation’s leaders, as well as to our military. Some
students’ parents and relatives were serving in the military. The result is a powerful video, completed in the spring, 2002.  Requests for copies continue to this day.
The students received letters from all over the world, including Lee Greenwood in California and composer Barbara Johnson in New York.  Ms. Johnson composed new words to an old melody and wanted the students to premier her composition on the video. A visit to Frankfort and the governor brought other letters and commendations.
With retirement came new challenges and projects. Induction into the Fern Creek High School Alumni Hall of Fame is one of my most treasured honors. In 2007, Mayor Jerry Abramson presented me with the Metro “Good Neighbor of the Year” award.
In all this cadence of life, the foundations firmly laid brought growth in many ways.  It’s my hope that the cadence of my life has made a difference in the lives of those who made music and journeyed with me, like Mr. Walker and Mrs. Collings made in mine.
Submitted by Rev. Debby Murrell
Debby Murrell and others, posing with Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson in 2007, at the ceremony awarding Debby the Good Neighbor of the Year award.
Debby met Mpho Tutu, daughter of the famed Anglican bishop Desmond Tutu, at the Good Neighbor of the Year conference.
Bullitt County Executive Melanie Roberts, left, recognizes Debby for her work with the Retired Teachers Association and over 25 years of service to Bullitt County.
Music has been Debby Murrell's life, based on a solid foundation of school and church.  She was so dedicated, she once built a football field just for her band.
After graduation in 1965 from James B. Speed Scientific School, the Engineering College of University of Louisville, I got an invitation from the U.S. Army to come for a job interview. I knew that the Army would make me an offer I couldn’t refuse; so it didn’t take long to decide I wouldn’t look good in khaki.  A blue business-like ensemble would better compliment my hazel eyes and dark complexion.
My idea was to be a 90-day wonder in the Air Force.  Second lieutenant to general in ten easy steps, I mused; but hastily laid plans often go astray.  My dream of a climb to the top of the heap vanished when an Air Force recruiter reported Officer Training School was over its quota and closed to new applicants.  The Vietnam conflict was winding down, they thought.
With the Army hot on my trail, I enlisted in the Air Force.  After shaving my head in basic training and teaching me how to drive a 60-man squadron all over Texas, the Air Force sent me to the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base, in California.  My rank was so low I could trip prairie dogs.  My job as a “Scientific Aid and Assistant” was to fly on C-130 aircraft, taking gauge and sensor readings, while the air crew flew the C-130 in a modified trajectory resembling that flown by the Vomit Comet, a modified aircraft developed and flown in a manner to create weightlessness, for astronaut training.
The Vietnam War and President Lyndon Johnson came to my rescue when things heated up in late 1965.  I was assigned to Officer Training School just three short months after getting used to the airborne torture of my job.
Commissioned a second lieutenant in May 1966, I had tours as an Aircraft Maintenance Staff Officer at Beale AFB, California, Eielson AFB Alaska, Da Nang AB, Republic of Vietnam, and Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota.  Then, I was an Exchange Officer assigned to Her Majesty’s Royal Air Force in the United Kingdom, after which I returned to Edwards AFB, which was the pinnacle of my career. 
I was assigned as commander of a Field Maintenance Squadron. This unit almost had the technological and manufacturing capability to build a space shuttle.  We rebuilt captured Soviet aircraft and kept them flying against our aircraft in staged aerial combat training and performed other technological marvels.
I commanded and managed some of the top Air Force civilian service technical minds, a staff of officers and 200 or so enlisted airmen.  On occasion, I discussed repair techniques with Boeing, Lockheed, McDonald Douglass and other engineers.
Edwards Flight Test Center is 90 miles east of Los Angeles.  In the 1970s it was often a location for movie making and other activities difficult to directly associate with the Air Force.  The base was the main location of Tom Wolfe’s book and movie “The Right Stuff.”   There were visits by “Superman” Christopher Reeve (our wives couldn’t hide their excitement) and by Steve Fossett, the first man to travel around the world on a hot air balloon solo flight.  We met General Chuck Yeager, the first to fly through the sound barrier.  I worked with Colonel Pete Knight, who in his early career was the world’s fastest man in a winged aircraft.  Visits to Edwards by the accomplished and notable were routine. 
Perhaps most unique during “my watch” was the attempt by “Smokey and the Bandit” director Hal Needham to break the sound barrier at ground level, and set a new land speed record in a car with a Sidewinder missile as its supercharger.  His driver was stunt man Stan Barrett and it was the Budweiser Rocket Car. 
Leading up to December 17, 1978, Barrett’s early morning practice runs kept the base population atwitter.  Our Director of Safety supervised the early morning preparatory runs and was mother hen to all other rocket car operation details, throughout the day.  Safety is the utmost priority at the Flight Test Center, because activities there frequently hover on the thin line between beneficial discovery and boneheaded disaster.  In time, the land speed record attempt came to a bittersweet end, with Air Force measurements showing the car broke the sound barrier, but no sonic boom was heard.
Most independent observers doubt the barrier was broken, but even if this was the greatest record never set, Barrett still deserves credit.
"I was fortunate to live through that one," he said. "When you go from zero to 740 mph in 16.8 seconds, you're hauling the mail."
Hal Needham, Stan Barrett and crew went home and lived happily ever after.  The Flight Test Safety Director retired with his rank intact and the Flight Test Center Commander, Maj. General Philip Conley went on to enjoy another round of starlet roulette.
It wasn’t enough that my supervisors and technicians wrestled daily with the intricacies of flight test and that I had to run at top speed to keep up with them, because my boss asked me to come up with a gift of “really big impact” for him to present at the farewell dinner for his retiring friend, the Flight Test Safety Director. 
“Why me,” rattled wall to wall in my brain, “you have other unit commanders here who need a challenge?” 
He must have remembered that we were close and I had demonstrated a wise ass cleverness that warranted “added duty.”  It didn’t take long to decide that a scale model working version of the Budweiser Rocket Car, redesigned to hold a six-pack of Bud, which was the Safety Director’s favorite.
I briefed my boss and inquired if this idea would be satisfactory:  “Colonel, picture this.  The model rocket car comes across the stage under its own power.  You catch it, take a full can of Budweiser from the rocket beer caddy, pop the top and toast to a long life for our retiring friend.”
I couldn’t make it any simpler, but I was still working on the “under its own power” part of the plan.  I went looking for my Speed School text books.
When the plans were drafted and the machinists and model makers were working, there was one last detail: power.  We needed only enough power to propel the car 15 feet, causing it to coast to the lectern. 
Let’s see: a six-pack of Budweiser weighs 4.75 pounds.  The car weighs about four pounds and must travel 15 feet.  If that momentum (pl. momenta; SI unit kg•m/s, or, equivalently, N•s) is the product of the mass and velocity of an object (p = mv), F=d/dt(mv). 
Oh, where was Mr. Spock when I needed him?  I envisioned needed seclusion with Lt. Ohura to get my brain straight after this effort!  Oh, to hell with it, pick out a model rocket motor, fire it up and see what happens.  We had success on the first trial run, so we were ready for the big time.
It was dinner at eight and don’t be late, a lively farewell to a much respected officer.  The Officer’s Club was packed.  After dinner, it was time for the toasts, which was really a gentle “roast,” followed by our presentation. 
The boss is at the lectern, with the retiring Safety Director at his side.  My merry men, two lieutenants, and I were backstage, waiting for the firing cue and fretting that this could be the end of our careers. 
When the vocal cue came, the firing button was pressed.  Nothing.  It was pressed again.  Nothing. 
“Just roll the thing out here” Boss growled, but before the last word rolled off his lips, a third press of the electrical firing button gave birth to an ominous hisssssss. 
Shuwuuuump, the rocket motor ignited and the three foot long dagger streaked to center stage.  MAGNIFICIENT!  After a small initial setback the drama went according to plan, sort of.
The Flight Test Center Officer’s Club was long overdue for renovation and update.  The air handling equipment couldn’t get rid of the rocket motor exhaust. Instead, it dispersed the exhaust throughout the dining area, causing zero visibility, raucous cheering, wives screaming, and General Conley declaring, “They’re going to burn down the club!”
I’m thankful it all ended well.  I thought I’d seen the last of the Budweiser Rocket Beer Caddy, when my creation left Edwards in the arms of the retiring Safety Director; but, my squadron technicians had saved the plans and presented to me a second copy of the Budweiser Rocket Beer Caddy when I left the Flight Test Center, two years later, newly promoted.
I delayed my departure long enough to witness the landing of STS 4, the Space Shuttle Columbia.

Submitted by Lt. Colonel Arley Houston McGill, USAF (Retired)
Air Force instruments showed the Budweiser Rocket Car broke the sound barrier, but no sonic boom was heard.  The car's record speed was never officially recognized.
In this photo, Arley McGill is looking down as he plays guitar.
Arley Houston McGill parlayed his engineering degree from U of L's Speed School into a technical career as an Air Force officer.  One time, he served beer in the Budweiser Rocket Car.
Arley, posing with his model Budweiser Rocket Car.  The car will serve up a six-pack of Bud, along with a huge cloud of smoke.
I'm sorry I can’t attend the reunion, because my wife and I will be in Europe.
As with most of our classmates, my life has taken a long and circuitous path. After medical school at the University of Louisville and a flight surgeon in the Air Force, I gravitated to Los Angeles.
I eventually became the first Director of the Medical Intensive Care Unit at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. After four years, I cross trained in anesthesia at UCLA and cardiac anesthesia at Massachusetts General Hospital, eventually becoming Director of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Anesthesia, Director of Anesthesia for Heart and Lung Transplantation, and Director of Anesthesia for Electrophysiology and Interventional Cardiology, at Cedars Sinai Medical.
I married my soul mate, Jan, who became the Director of Surgery at Cedars Sinai Medical Center.  Our daughter is completing her Masters in occupational therapy.
I hope there will be other reunions, because the days at Fern Creek prepared me for the success and happiness that has happened in my life. I remember the mentoring and kindness of teachers and classmates, who were instrumental in the development of my passion and maturation as a physician and health care provider.
Warmest regards to all.
Submitted by Arnie Friedman


Arnold Friedman has enjoyed a full career of providing quality medical care at Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles.