Weatherford Democrat

November 8, 2012

Everlasting friendship found among former schoolmates

Sally Sexton

PARKER COUNTY — Friendships are formed throughout years in school, but for most, those relationships don’t last a lifetime.

For five Weatherford High School graduates, however, a teammate/classmate bond developed into something of a brotherhood.

Wayne Carter, James Kirkpatrick, Bill Hudspeth, Allen Martin and Bill Beard were introduced to each other in junior high.

“Two of them even went back to the first grade,” Beard said.

Through their years at Weatherford ISD, the friendship grew, as all four were members of the 1947 Weatherford Roo football team.

“We all played in the ‘famous game,’ where we beat Breckenridge in 1947, 25-20,” Beard said.

Four of the friends graduated with the class of 1948, with Martin, a year younger, graduating in 1949.

After high school, we all went off to college and then started our careers and families,” Beard said. “We lost touch for awhile.”

But that all changed, with bonds renewed when the five got together again on Oct. 31, 1997, to commemorate the 50th year reunion of “the game.”

“We all got together and bonded like we had never been apart,” Beard said.

During the festivities the group discovered yet another thing they all had in common — birthdays in January.

“Once we found that out, we immediately started making plans to celebrate our birthdays together,” Beard said.

The first celebration between the men and their spouses, dubbed the “Big Boys Birthday Bash” by Martin, took place in San Antonio in 2000, a three-day event that spawned a yearly tradition.

“Every year after that, we’ve convened in some place, and our wives make the arrangements,” Beard said. “It’s our way to catch up on what everyone’s doing and maintain our friendships.”

Beard now resides in Kingsville, Kirkpatrick in Tyler, Martin in San Angelo and Hudspeth in Tomball. Carter passed away in 2006, but his widow, Maxine, resides in Weatherford and has continued to be part of the celebrations.

In between birthdays, the group remains as tight as ever, with constant email and phone communication.

“It’s funny, because we all said to each other, ‘you guys haven’t changed a bit, just a little grayer,’” Beard said. “A lot of people have friends that they went to school with and never see them again after, but that’s certainly not the case with us.

“We’re as close as we ever were.”