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Shawmut School Reunion draws big crowd Saturday

VALLEY — Another huge crowd was on hand for Saturday’s annual Shawmut School Reunion, held inside the W.O. Kent Recreation Center on Shawmut Circle.

More than 200 people with roots in the Shawmut community came from as far away as Florida, Texas and Colorado.

A brother and sister, Charles Hall and Tommie Brown, were crowned king and queen of the event, and Peggy Stilwell Harrison of Fort Collins, Colorado, was recognized for coming the longest distance to be there.

Saturday’s reunion was held in memory of P.I. Johnson, who passed away this past April.

“He was our leader and always rallied us,” Shawmut School Committee member Cindy Daniel said. “We will always miss him. He was so good and knowing all the details we needed to remember to have a first-class reunion. He wouldn’t let us forget what to have done in advance.”

“I don’t know where to start, but I know Phillip would love to have been here,” June Johnson, P.I. Johnson’s wife wrote in a prepared statement. “I would like to share a few thoughts with those who are here today. This is like no other challenge I have faced in my lifetime. Phillip was my rock. We worked together in the things he chose to do for 65 years.”

Mrs. Johnson said that Phillip was and would remain ‘A child of the Circle.”

“He loved each one of you in a special way,” she said. “He could have stood here today and told one story after another involving each one of you and members of your family. He always remembered names. He was so influenced by what you have lived and was quick to tell anyone who’d listen what the Valley meant to him. He was influenced by Preacher Hodgins, Mr. Harden, Carl Jones, Charles Hall, Ray Jones, Mr. Turnipseed; I could go on. He cherished the memories he made here — the Circle, the ball field, the church, the school, the community, the friends and even the mill. Boy, the stories that came from the mill and the Circle. I’ve heard some of them so often I think I lived them.”

The Johnsons came back to the Valley in 1998.

“I want to thank the Shawmut School Reunion Committee, under the leadership of Cindy (Daniel), Janet (Howell) and Andy (Harper) for all the work — and I do mean work — they have done to see that this reunion continues,” Mrs. Johnson concluded. “The success of anything is the result of a group of people willing to put forth a great effort. I would name Sheena and Tommy (Siggers), Frank (Sledge), Roger (McDonald), Charles and Glen (Hall) and Nita (Abney) and others, but I am sure I would forget some, so I will leave it there. Thanks for honoring my old soldier. He loved this place more than anyone will ever know.”

Mrs. Johnson was among a group of original Shawmut School Reunion Committee members who received special plaques on Saturday. Others included Nita Abney, Roger McDonald, Sue Herrington, Charles and Glen Hall, Sheena Siggers, George Reese, Janice Dallas, Greg Duffey, David Herrington, Roy McClendon and Danny Blackburn.