July 27, 2015

Some of my classmates from DHS had lunch together and enjoyed visiting and laughing at old stories. The gathering was due to Linda Sue (Baker) Smeltzer being in Diboll visiting family. Others present included her sister, Billie Jean Capps and her daughter, Susie Jones; Nita (Ramsey) Hurley, sisters, Betty Jean Hendrick and JoAnn Rainwater; and myself. All of us attended and graduated from DHS between 1960-1963 except for Susie, of course, and all but Nita grew up attending First Baptist. The Ramseys were an integral part of the Methodist Church where Nita has directed the music for more years than we want to mention. Four of us in this crowd took music lessons from Mrs. W. F. Purdy; we can never forget the piano recitals at the Methodist church where she lined the altar with fresh magnolias every year. We were all close and some of our funnier stories were from summer church camps at Pineywoods Baptist Encampment. I refuse to believe these girls when they said JoAnn and I stole the clapper from the dinner bell and threw it in the swimming pool. My deacon dad must not have learned about it because I would not have forgotten the consequences.

In talking with Linda Sue later, I had her fill in the gaps after she and I graduated in 1962 and attended a summer session at East Texas Baptist College in Marshall. We decided in that short time that SFA would be a lot closer to home. It was during that summer of 1962, a young Richard Smeltzer had graduated with a Forestry degree from Oklahoma State University and had moved to Diboll to train as a lumber inspector. Linda’s family introduced him to her and one year later they were married. While working as a SPIB inspector they lived in New Orleans then moved to Richmond, VA for 1-1/2 years where Linda continued college. The two then moved back to Diboll where Richard worked in different areas of the sawmill at Temple Industries. During the five years they were here Linda graduated from SFA and taught English at DHS for 2 years. After their first son Christopher was born in 1967, they moved to Nacogdoches where Richard earned his Master’s degree in Forestry. They moved to Appleton, Wisconsin where their second son Eric was born while Richard was attending the Institute of Paper Chemistry where he earned a second Masters and a Doctorate in Chemistry. Dr. Smeltzer was hired by International Paper and moved his family to North Carolina for a year of post doctorate work. Then the family moved to Monroe, New York for Richard to work at IP’s Corporate Research Center. I remember Linda saying his job was creating pine trees in a test tube. They also lived in Natchez, MS for 7 years and Tallahassee, FL for 13 years.

While living in Florida Linda was hired as the Youth Minister at a Southern Baptist Church that had 350 youth. In the meantime, Christopher had graduated from Baylor and Vanderbilt and had started his pediatrics practice in Nashville. In 1996 Eric had graduated from seminary in Ft. Worth and his little brother Jonathan had graduated from Baylor. These two brothers approached their parents with the idea of starting a Christian youth camp. At the age of 57, Richard retired and he and Linda bought 70 acres high in the mountains near Etowah, TN. Eric and Jonathan followed them and that’s where Camp Living Stones began and still is. All the family members worked hard clearing and building cabins, houses, dining halls and even cooking for as many as 145 students, 3 meals a day. The camp is going strong but now Eric and Jonathan are both pastors at the River Bible Church in Mountain Homes, AR. They and their families live there and Richard and Linda plan to spend time there to be closer to the grandchildren. They have a total of eight!

Craig Ruby has decided to retire after spending 28 years in the field of education. He’s not sure what his future plans are but for now is glad to have time to relax and enjoy whatever. His wife Elizabeth continues to work for Diboll ISD where she has spent the last ten years in accounts payable. Their son Cutler lives in Dallas and is working as a parole officer. Their daughter Meredith is a senior at SFA and plans to do social work. Craig and Elizabeth plan to travel to Waco this weekend to visit his sister, Brenda and Chip Seigman and their 5-year-old twin girls, Maddie and Mack.

DHS coaches Caroline and Kyle Austin have bought a new home in Tyler and will be moving there where both of them will be working for the John Tyler school district. Coach Danny Montgomery came in the store and had to remind me he once worked at Temple Inland. He is married to Christina (Rodriquez) who teaches 4th grade here and they have two sons; Akira, age 12 and Bruce, age 6. He was looking for large washers to pitch as the family was on their way to the lake for some fun and relaxation.

Garret Peck came in with his dad, Jamey. I learned Garret had just completed football camp and is looking forward to playing this year as a 7th grader. He loves football and has been playing for years. His 12th birthday was July 18th. He celebrated the event swimming and picnicking at Camp Tonkawa with good friends, Noah Farr and Dalton Moreno and his cousin Merick Fuller. That evening they went to his favorite place, Tsubaki where he likes to eat Hibachi steak and shrimp and loves their Miso soup. Garret had lots of grandparents and family that went along for the evening including: his parents, Jamey and Star; Nan and Wayne Fuller; Brenda and Benny Dickens; Naomi Holman; Letha Grandgeorge and Susan and Richard Payne.

Martin Jones came in and told me he wouldn’t have any need to buy anymore horse feed as his beloved thoroughbred named “Booger” died at almost 37 years of age. His 37th birthday would have been August 9th. Martin had owned Booger since a colt. He was an “all around” horse that Martin had trained to ride, rope and hunt. His dad, Jack Jones had even trained Booger to plow. It’s hard to lose a good friend.

Come see us…’round the table.