Who We Are
Please feel free to submit your Bio for the class to peruse on this page to me at Here's My Bio!. I'll post them as I get them!
I bet many of you remember how back when we were in school, it was kind of a popular thing to ask who we were to ourselves and people talked about ‘finding’ themselves. Well here I am, still Barbara Weller, some 50 years later, and you know? I’m not sure I can answer that question even now!!! My life has definitely been a winding, circuitous route on the journey to Happily Ever After.
I sometimes tell people the Road to Success for me included off roading much of the time, but either way, I didn’t seem to take either the direct route or the freeway, although at times my way was definitely scenic!
Back in my school days, well my first passion and goal was to make a living riding horses. I knew what I wanted to do, even though most adults told me it was a silly goal and not really a ‘real’ career to attempt to reach. In some ways, I may have been luckier than some because I knew what I wanted to do, even if it wasn’t a simple task to reach that dream. I also was and still am passionate about horses and riding so from early on, I was pretty motivated and didn’t accept the words ‘can’t’ and ‘won’t’ easily. I sometimes tell people that I made a living teaching 1200 lb. animals without wings to fly so doing the impossible came easily to me.
A few years after PHS, I moved west, stopping in a few towns along the way, because in junior high I lived outside of Seattle and had a great bunch of memories as well as friends in the area. I really missed this area, and I’ve been out here pretty much ever since.
For a time I sort of wandered around a bit, working mostly in the hospitality industry which would pay the rent, but continuing to ride, learn, train and work on my horsey skills because I still wanted a career riding, but my skill had to improve. One day, out of the blue, a race horse breeder I knew, decided to give me two really nice horses that were coming off the track and suddenly I was faced with having two pretty expensive mouths to feed and putting my ‘money where my mouth was’ when it came to riding. And bam, overnight it seemed, I was ‘working’ part time as a rider, coach and trainer which grew and evolved into a full-time business that lasted a couple of decades. And actually, one of those gift horses, turned out to be quite the star in the show ring and stayed with me until she passed away at age 28.
Riding professionally was in many ways a great life. I used to tell people that I got to do what other people paid to do only I got paid to do it, AND if I wasn’t paid to do it, I’d also pay to do it too. Which not too many people can say about their job or career! There were some down sides, like it was very much a seasonal income and the mortgage on the facilities I needed to have was exorbitant and then there were just the general farm duties which were both constant and hardly glamorous. People do say that ‘horse trainers’ are just kids who refuse to grow up and there may be some truth in that statement too. Well one day, I decided I was tired of working 80 hours a week to earn half of what people my age earned in a forty-hour week, and I decided to pursue getting that four-letter word, ‘a job’. Which again, I kind of got lucky and as I sent out my resume to anything that remotely struck my fancy, thinking I was equally unqualified at all things, so what the heck, I got hired into the advertising world which I also loved as it turned out. It was FUN putting together programs to help small businesses succeed and I turned out to be quite good at it. This in turn led me into web design and I opted to take a ‘few’ college classes to help me build websites which turned into quite a few years and a couple of degrees.
Which is how I started out building the first website for our ‘class’ back in 2007, I needed some practice while I was in school, so I offered to do a website for the Class of ‘70. That site, as is typical of the world of IT, quickly became out of date, the code became deprecated and it never was all that good to begin with, it was an early effort is my excuse. My thought had been, that I personally had never heard about any reunion plans, and the few people I did keep in touch with hadn’t either, so I thought a website might help everyone find out about the reunions and class doings.
Well with the 50th coming up I again built the ‘new and improved’ class website as well as put some real effort into finding all our classmates that had blown to the four winds so that everyone at least heard about or got an invitation to the 50th. As it turns out, I just happened to have the skills to be able to do it, so I just did it.
Actually, I retired once, but got SO incredibly bored, I started a new company of an online wedding planning directory and I also do a lot of work with a few charities and animal rescues now which keeps me VERY busy and quite content. I very much like ‘giving back’ and ‘helping others’. I probably work as much as I ever did but it gives me stuff to do and a warm feeling of satisfaction to do some good in the world too. I think that some of the key to longevity just may be being too busy and energized to die.
Oh, and I’ve been married twice and now call myself ‘contentedly single’. I have a slightly over-indulged dog, a Jack Russell Terrorist who pretty much rules the roost here. She’s also a ‘rescue’. I still have a somewhat caustic sense of humor at times, I can be a bit volatile too still, although I have managed to moderate some of my instincts for quick retorts with a modicum of tact occasionally. I still live in Washington state in a suburb of Seattle although I periodically consider moving to Southern California to be closer to my son and grandkids. And you know, ‘doing the impossible’ still seems to come to me pretty naturally.
So, who am I now? Well, I guess I’m still a work in progress, and I often still surprise myself by what I come up with but all in all, I’ve had a pretty good life and a happy one and it ‘ain’t over yet’!
Bill Hicks’s bio of the last 50 years!!!!! Where does one begin? Let’s start at the very beginning…. Well at least for the years after graduation here is a bit of a timeline.
- 1970 – Graduated 99th out of almost 500. Attended West Chester University. Worked part-time for Wawa Food Markets.
- 1971 – Dropped out of West Chester University and went Full Time with Wawa.
- 1972 – Foolishly got married.
- 1974 – Daughter Jennifer was born.
- 1977 – Wisely got divorced.
- 1978 – Married the love of my life! Second time is a charm!
- 1979- Left Wawa Food Markets.
- 1980 – Returned to college at Penn State University.
- 1981 – Moved to New Haven, CT. Returned to college at Southern Connecticut State University.
- 1983 – Graduated Magna cum Laude from SCSU.
- 1984 – Began teaching career at Holmes School in Darien, CT.
- 1985 – Daughter Jamie was born.
- 1986 – Moved to Mt. Laurel, NJ resumed teaching career at South Valley School in Moorestown, NJ.
- 1987 – Daughter Jessie was born.
- 1989 – Moved to Kennett Square, PA.
- 1990 – Resumed teaching career at Greenwood School in Kennett Square, PA.
- 1991 to 2013 Life happened.
- 2013 – Retired from Greenwood Elementary School and a 30 year teaching career. My first grandson, Benji was born.
- 2015 – Moved to Lewes, DE.
- 2016 – My first short story, “The Wreck” was published. My second grandson, Evan was born. Began volunteering with the Lewes Historical Society as a Living History Interpreter and Guide.
- 2018 – My second short story, “The Best Spot,” was published. Celebrated 40 years of marriage with the Wise and Wonderful Jillo.
Bill's short stories can be found in these anthologies at these links on Amazon:
Jill Horton Swoyer Murray (further explanation of the string of names later) extends greetings to friends and fellow classmates of the class of 1970.
Although Jill was not a native of Media, she attended Indian Lane and Penncrest, going on to West Chester University to pursue her passion in music education. Upon graduation she was hired as an elementary school vocal music teacher in Bethlehem, PA. Her rewarding career of 37 years, and a masters degree in elementary education from Lehigh University completed her professional livelihood.
Along the way, she married, had three children (now in their 30’s), divorced, and retired in June, 2011. Life was busier than ever with trips to Hawaii, the Tournament of Roses Parade in CA, a cruise to Alaska, attending concerts, and Broadway shows.
Out of the blue, in October, 2016, she received a private message from Ken Murray, an old flame from HS and college. What an unexpected surprise! As her fairytale goes, she and Ken dated a short while, decided to marry in August, 2018, and fulfill their dreams of husband and wife and grandparents to seven grandchildren -- three of Ken’s, and four of Jill’s. One year after their wedding, they’re still combining households, and own two houses. Ask them why at the reunion.
Oh, as for Jill’s multiple last names.... you all know her as Jill Horton, Jill Swoyer as her professional name, and Jill Murray as her new last name when licenses and passports come up for renewal. Jill is excited to find out more about her classmates’ lives and catch up next year. Remember October 17, 2020.
No, the P. doesn’t stand for Pat (remember Pat Paulsen for President?). My parents cleverly named me Paul….Paulson. So it’s been John ever since. While at PHS, I was on the soccer, wrestling and gymnastics teams and played the tuba and string bass in the concert, marching and jazz bands. I took a few dozen of the candid yearbook photos assisting Ken Murray and also played the bass guitar in two garage bands: “The Keg” and “Southern Comfort” (and those names bear NO resemblance to my favored beverages at the time).
Married Debra Salisbury from Carlisle, PA in 1976 and we raised two daughters – the younger one is a Registered Nurse like her mother and the older daughter followed her father into the IT field. We still live within the school district and my older daughter even had one of my teachers at PHS - Mr. Province for shop class. When she asked if he remembered me, he said, “Yes and he was much better behaved than you are!”
Professionally, I earned a BS in Accounting from Albright College, MBA in Financial Management from Drexel and a Masters in Taxation from Villanova, plus hold CPA, PMP and CISA professional designations. By day, worked mostly IT positions and retired from that gig in 2013. On evenings, weekends and now during my 80% retirement, I prepared tax returns.
These days, I serve a number of volunteer positions including church treasurer and helping to build and expand the Chester Creek Rail Trail that will, when fully completed, run about 7 miles from Chester to Wawa. We are enjoying a variety of outdoor sports every chance possible. Rowing (just returned from the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston), bicycling (recently completed a 100 mile single day ride on the City to Shore MS ride), paddling (lately graduated to whitewater excitement) and cross country/alpine skiing in the winter plus some hiking and as much beach time in Ocean City as possible.
Please say “Hi” at the reunion and let’s catch up on what’s happening with you these days. I’ll be easy to recognize – haven’t changed a bit. Yeah, except that, what little hair that’s left is mostly gray and I’ve gained just a couple … dozen extra pounds.
Hello Classmates! This is Ken Murray, 3rd of six Murrays who grew up a block from the Media Courthouse. Accepting the RoseTree-Media merger was both exciting and disappointing. To not be a Media Mustang, and no longer be able to walk home for lunch from school was quite a change. The adjustment had to be equally frustrating for many others who became Penncrest Lions in the fall of ‘66. Among my best memories of high school days were being in the Marching Band, competing in track & field, taking over 100 of the photos you all enjoy seeing in the yearbook, and setting my sights to work in the graphic arts industry. I was inspired by Mr. Ken Powell, R.I.P. I am curious to know if my name is still enshrined on the gymnasium wall as a 100 yard dash record owner.
Undergrad work at California University of PA, and Cheyney University (both State Colleges back then) prepared me for my first assignment, a middle school graphic arts teacher in the Easton, PA area for 14 years. Halfway through the career, the advent of personal computers caused me to switch my subject area. I had the enviable position of both writing and teaching my own curriculum for my last 26 years as the middle school computer teacher.
As the story goes, I met a girl, we married, raised two sons, and planned for retirement. That was not to be. One day short of our 38th Anniversary, she succumbed to cancer. With the help of family and many friends, life continued. I am currently a laser operator in a circuit board manufacturing plant, applying the skills I formerly professed to my students.
Now for the part everyone asks about. I am fortunate to have reconnected with Jill Horton. The circumstance of our reconnection is best explained as an acceptance of fate, faith and love. We dated in late high school and throughout college, having lost touch as we pursued our careers. Jill and I married in August of 2018. Being blessed with a second chance together, we are trying to apply what life has taught us thus far. Our children are grown, living independently, and we have 7 grandchildren between us. We are working on creating our own fairytale ending, making our current home in Bethlehem Pennsylvania.
I nominated myself to be on the reunion committee to find and invite you all to the Best Reunion Ever, our 50th. Classmates are encouraged to send a note to Penncrest70@gmail.com so your email address can be added to our class directory. Volunteering the information would please me more than having to hunt all of you down! I am hoping that many of you who are reading this can attend the reunion and we can have a few laughs reminiscing. Even if you can’t attend, your “Hello” is welcome! Please share your story!
Mark Sfirri received his BFA and MFA in furniture design at Rhode Island School of Design. He works mostly in wood and incorporates lathe-turned forms, often turned on multiple axes, in his work. He has lectured and demonstrated his techniques throughout North America and Europe, as well as in Australia, New Zealand. His work is included in the permanent collections of twenty-eight public institutions.
Sfirri is professor emeritus at Bucks County Community College in Pennsylvania where he ran the Fine Woodworking Program from 1981 to 2017. He has received two national awards: the “Distinguished Educator Award” in 2010 from the Renwick Alliance of the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution and, in 2012, the “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Collectors of Wood Art.
Mark has a website with more information and photos of some of his work at Mark Sfirri.com