Lon Morris College alumni came together for one last homecoming, a ceremony celebrating the school's life, ministry and legacy.
On Saturday, classmates who had not seen each other in years were reunited for the special ceremony. Couples said they met at the Lon Morris Howdy Dance and have been together ever since. Needless to say, it was an emotional day for alumni of this historic college.
"In 1962 we met at the Howdy Dance and he was a big, tall, skinny guy and I walked up and said, 'Are you a basketball player?' And he said, 'No, I play tiddlywinks.' And, he embarrassed me to death. I wouldn't speak to him for months, then I married him," laughed Barbara Colley Locke as she looked to her husband.
Her husband's Lon Morris college roommate also married his wife after meeting her at the Howdy Dance. They have been together nearly 50 years.
"You meet them at the Howdy and then you marry them," he laughed.
Locke was surrounded my friends from her Lon Morris class of 1962.
She said it is the first time in three years this group of friends has come together, but their memories have not faded.
"She was my maid of honor," said one friend pointing to another in the group.
"She was my roommate," said another classmate.
The friends agreed that their time at Lon Morris was one of the most fun chapters in their lives.
Saturday's ceremony was a bittersweet reunion and the last one this college will have.
"One of our speakers in the service today said it's a privilege to be here, but it's certainly not a pleasure and I think that's how a lot of us feel. None of us want to be here today. Nobody is happy that we are here or that we are having to hold this, but at the same time we still know that the ministry of this school is something to celebrate," said Steven Newcomb, who served as the college's chaplain.
"It's a sad day for us, for those of us who know and love this institution and none of us wanted to see this happen. But I do think it's appropriate that we say thanks and celebrate the life of Lon Morris College," said Ted A. Campbell.
"It's really sad, but it's really great to be with people we got to know then and we've stayed in touch with, and that we love, and that are special to us and Lon Morris got us started on that road," explained Locke.
The school may be closing, but these classmates said the friendships they have formed will last a lifetime.
"We've been friends for fifty years, why stop now? Why would we want to end it now?" they said.
The Lon Morris bankruptcy auction concluded last weekend and earlier this week, the City of Jacksonville said they plan on objecting to the sale of the school's rodeo and arena and recreation center.
City officials said the properties were deeded to Lon Morris College and had restrictions saying the city had to be notified of the intention to sell.
None of the sales in the auction are final; everything is subject to the court's approval. A hearing is scheduled for February 4.
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