September 1982: Coats seniors were prepping for life after high school


Ronald Reagan, our 40th president of the United States, was born in 1911 in Illinois. At 14, Ronald Reagan got his first job, digging foundations for new houses. At age 15, he found a job as a lifesaver and kept that summer job for seven years. He saved the money to go to Eureka College in Illinois in 1928. He worked his way through college as a dishwasher, lifeguard and swimming coach. When not working or studying, Reagan played football and acted in plays (Bumann, Joan and John Patterson. “40 Presidents-Facts and Fun.” Willowpress Press, 1981, 154-155).

It was September in 1982 when the seniors of 1983 at Coats High School were preparing for their last year before college or the workforce. Read to see how many of these young students you know as adults in the Coats community in 2020. Do you recognize those they memorialized?

The 1983 yearbook preserved echoing memories. The students would remember deceased individuals who had touched their lives by preserving their names in the front of their yearbook. Those names printed were Swaine Lucas, Martha Daniel, Ralph Stephenson, Graham Bass, Jimmy Ferguson, James E. Weaver, Mattie Young, Mike Stanley, Mr. and Mrs. W.E. Beasley, LaWanda Stokes, Louise Surles, W.H. Johnson, Preston Ennis, Tempie Denning, Noah Faircloth, Carl William Stephenson III, Marie Dorman, Arthur Geddie and Valerie McKoy.

Constance Pledger would advise the staff of the yearbook which would state that Kenneth Denton, Danny Denning and Dena Young were senior class officers for 1982-83. Buster Stone and Dena Denning were Mr. and Mrs. Echoing Memories. The “Most Likely to Succeed” superlative went to Lewis Wood and Sherri Whittington. (It is interesting to note that Lewis became a colonel with the U.S. Army and that Sherri’s dad had won that same superlative when he graduated in 1960.)

Hubert Stewart and Lisa Williams were named “Best All-Around” pair while Kenneth Denton and Katie Dunston were voted the “Wittiest.” The “Most School Spirited” couple was Jerry Coats and Pam Ennis. The “Most Athletic” distinction went to Thomas Johnson and Delphine McDuffie. Mark McGill and Tracie Jernigan were selected “Most Original,” while the “Most Courteous” ones were Tracy Byrd and Valerie McKoy. Jimmy Lee and Samantha Stewart were the “Cutest.” Tim King and Liza Eason were remembered as “Best Sports.” Todd Ennis and Brenda Amerson were recognized as the “Neatest” and Ruby Dennis and Lou Ann McKoy were the “Friendliest.” The “Most Dependable” title went to Scott Lee and Kathy Young. Michael Stephenson and Pattie Dennis were labeled the “Most Talented” and David Holmes and Gwen Bass were voted the “Most Intelligent.” “Beau and Belle” went to Paula Stevens and Danny Denning. ReBecca Williams and Patrick Jenkins were mascots.

There are echoes of Jennifer Johnson and Lisa Williams working on the yearbook while Madie McDougald was guiding Domini Ennis on the “Jacket Journal.” Memories linger about the FHA and its officers: Gwen Bass, Alice Beasley, Patricia Royals, Brookie Betts, Jackie McLamb, Gina Keene, Dana Barnes, Dena Young and Sonya Barbour. Remembering brings back thoughts of Mrs. Frances Thomas and the FHA Beau Danny Denny.

The brother organization had Buster Stone, David Holmes, Paul McLeod, Mark Langdon, Anthony Mangum and Stacy Johnson as officers under Dan Honeycutt’s leadership. Dena Young was “FFA Sweetheart.”

Mark McGill, Jerry Coats, Danny Denning, Ezell Young, Rudy Dennis and Billy West worked to make useful echoes in VICA. The Library Club impacted the entire student body and was led by Paula Stevens, Lisa Eason, Andy Williams, Buster Stone, Marie Salmon and Constance Pledger. Beverly McLean headed up the Pep Club with student leaders: Kenneth Denton, Lisa Eason, Joyce Johnson and Paul Stevens.

Michael Mann led the Future Professionals in Criminal Justice. The students desiring to be bilingual had as its officers Mark Patterson, Helen Dennis, Derek Tripp, Anthony Mangum and Tim King. The Shutterbug Club, that had its origin in 1975, had encouraged creativity and an awareness of the world around them through photography. The “Shutterbug” leaders were Buster Stone, Joe Lee, Dena Young, Lisa Eason and Marie Salmon as sponsor.

Future Business Leaders of the World Club had as its sponsor Stanley Price. The students chose Dena Young, Mark Patterson, Domini Ennis and Lisa Williams as officers. The Science Club had Lewis Wood, Danny Denning, Samantha Stewart and Michael Stephenson as leaders of a very large membership of science students.

Dan Grieder was band director and Edwinda Smith was flag sponsor. Beth Pope, Vince Beasley, Debbie Royster and Lewis Wood were the SAC officers. The Student Council leaders had an awesome responsibility to the overall school experience and in 1982-83, the council was led by Vince Beasley, Paul Capps, Toby Stevens and Brookie Betts (1983 Coats High School Echoing Memories).

Death touched two families as summer was coming to a close. Funeral services for Robert C. (R.C.) Miller, 58, of Route 1, Benson, had died after an extended illness. He was a WWII veteran in the US Navy. He worked at the New Dunn Tobacco Warehouse. Robert Wayne and Tony Miller survived him (The Daily Record, Aug. 26, 1982).

The second announcement was that of Beulah Jane Cooke, 84, of Coats, who had died on Wednesday. Funeral services were at the Coats Baptist Church and the Coats City Cemetery. Family members surviving her were her husband, M. Melvin Cooke; two stepdaughters, Lola Mae Zimmerman and Doris Thompson; and one son, Allen Barefoot. Two stepsons were Walter Carl Cooke and Rayvon Cooke. Reppie Norris and Alice Collins were her sisters. Vernon Norris was her brother (The Daily Record, Sept. 2, 1982).

Did any of you have Sherry Royal as a teacher at Harnett Central? I taught Sherry in my English class at Coats and can only imagine if she was half the teacher as she was a student, you were so fortunate to have sat in her classes. However, this news is not about school but about a new daughter at her house who joined Elizabeth and Ashley. Wayne and Sherry now had a trio of daughters. The new sibling was Megan Louanne Royal (The Daily Record, Sept. 2, 1982).

Recall last week we talked about prominent family names in the Grove area. Today you read about a Turlington whose ancestor Willis Turlington came to Cumberland County in 1839 to buy the Dushee Shaw land between the current towns of Coats and Erwin. Mr. and Mrs. T.J. Turlington Jr. of Route 3, Dunn, announced the engagement of their daughter Janice Day to Ray Randall Byrd of Four Oaks. Janice was a graduate of the school of medical technology at Johnston Memorial Hospital. Her fiancé was an employee of Chicopee in Benson (The Daily Record, Sept. 3, 1982).

If you want to spend an interesting Sunday afternoon, go to the research library in the Coats Museum and look through the Turlington genealogy. You will leave the room amazed at the number of people you know that trace their heritage to that family name.

Coats Police Officer Jesse C. Neighbors, a Dunn native, had received letters of appreciation for his good works (The Daily Record, Sept. 3, 1982).

Johnnie Jackson, 29, of Coats was the new manager of the Gym’s Steak House on Pope Road in Dunn (The Daily Record, Sept. 6, 1982).

Harnett County farmer Cecil W. Stephenson had been selected to receive a major award as a tobacco farmer and community leader. Stephenson, who farmed with his brother-in-law Dudley Langdon, won the “Outstanding Young Grower Award” that included a $500 cash prize (The Daily Record, Sept. 10, 1982).

Evett Barefoot, 70, of Dunn, had died in the VA Hospital in Fayetteville. His wife was Maxine H. Barefoot and his four sons were James C. Lee, Howard R. Lee, Ronald Barefoot and Bruce Barefoot. Barbara K. Vann was his surviving daughter. Barefoot was the son of the late James B. Barefoot and Florence Miller Barefoot. He was a WWII veteran (The Daily Record, Sept 15, 1982).

Who remembers Barnes Clayton? His daughter, Jacqueline C. Clayton, had completed training in fundamental military skills at the Army ROTC basic training in Fort Knox, Kentucky. Her mother was Joyce H. Clayton (The Daily Record, Sept. 15, 1982)

Remember reading about Sue Stewart in earlier columns? The Sept. 17, 1982 edition of The Daily Record printed that Mr. and Mrs. Walter Stewart of Coats had announced the engagement of Sue to Kent Johnson, son of Mr. and Mrs. Hoover Johnson. Maybe we will read about the wedding later.

I do know that Lynda Butler and I attended the Harnett County History and Barn Quilt Trail meeting in the Harnett County Public Library. The goal is to have beautiful painted barn quilts displayed throughout the county with the idea to encourage tourists to travel and locate those works of art displayed on barns, houses and mailboxes or wherever. The desired result is that the folks will visit our museums, landmarks and restaurants and bring tourist money into the towns. It was awesome to see all the other museum folks from the various towns and many others who are interested in the Barn Quilt Trail. Wonder if Dr. Burgess Marshbanks could have phantomed this phenomenal excitement when he painted his first barn quilt on a small game table.

A special thank you goes to Hilda Pope who has remembered her cousin and friend Wilma Byrd Johnson with a memorial to the Coats Museum. We are so happy that Wilma and her daughter Sharon had a chance to visit the museum a while back to see all the hard work that Hilda and the volunteers do to show case so many amazing items. Also thanks to H.L. Sorrell for remembering his niece, Rose Stephenson Jackson, with a memorial to the Coats Museum.

Two of Rose’s nephews were Eagle Scouts in Troop 779 — Michael Jones and Rev. Adam Jones. Other Eagle Scouts in Troop 779 please bring your Court of Honor program and the name of the Eagle project you completed to earn the distinctive scout honor. Share it with Kevin Pope or Marc Powell who will take the information. The volunteers will take it on Thursday and Sunday afternoons. The recognition event will be in May, so please don’t be left out as the event will honor the scoutmasters and recognize the Eagles.

Hope you are planning to join us on April 17 at the Community Center. The museum folks are excited that Leonard Parker, who is a retired SBI agent and served with the federal DMORT team to identify deceased bodies of those killed in manmade and natural tragedies such as 9/11 and the many hurricanes in the western hemisphere, will share his story. Lenoard’s DMORT uniform and countless items will be on display in the museum after Parker presents his program in the community building.


No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment