published by Matt Winans on Sat, 03/23/2013 - 21:55
Written by Grey Webb:
Our reunion this past October celebrating the founding of our beloved Greenbrier Military School was a huge success. Record numbers were in attendance and the weather cooperated to make it a perfect weekend.
The reunion kicked off for many on Thursday evening at the Greenbrier Visitor’s Center. Herb over the years has always tried to add events to attract and entertain early arrivals and the Visitor’s Center proved to be a great venue for reuniting, socializing and making plans for the weekend.
The weekend officially began on Friday evening at our Retreat Formation. We were again entertained with a wonderful rendition of Greenbrier Forever played for us by the Greenbrier East High School Band. Special thanks to Beaman Cummings and his committee for organizing our Retreat Formations. It’s a perfect way to kick off our reunions. A wonderful dinner of prime rib followed and set the tone for what was to come.
Saturday morning’s special event was of course the appearance of Jim Justice,’70, owner of the Greenbrier Hotel and Resort, with his oversized check matching our own successful efforts in fundraising for our Greenbrier Leadership Institute. A special thanks to each one of you who contributed to this great effort. Because of you and Jim Justice, GLI now has the financial resources to implement new strategies and to reach more students.
The festivities continued Saturday evening at the Greenbrier Hotel with a wonderful dinner dance accompanied by the musical talents of Bobby Nicholas and his band. More than one person mentioned to me that we should try to plan another dinner dance at the Greenbrier in the near future. I’m sure memories of Final Balls long past circulated the banquet room.
Sunday morning’s church service at the Old Stone Presbyterian church topped what was the most anticipated and certainly the most attended reunion weekends in our thirty year history. The brass ensemble playing New Orleans style gospel jazz, singing the Recessional and listening to some great preaching, all made for a memorable service and a conclusion to an unforgettable reunion weekend.
Thanks to Herb and Phil for organizing and pulling off the big event. Let me assure you we’re not done. Several alumni asked me if this reunion was our “Final, Final Ball”. Absolutely not! We are going to continue to hold our reunion weekends the third weekend in October as long as there are able bodied alumni to attend. Certainly we want to provide the opportunity for all classes to celebrate their 50th Class Reunion. I’ve been told the Class of ’63 has already begun their plans for a weekend that will rival last years. It’s not too early to make plans for this year’s reunion. Mark your calendars now for October 17-20.
If you haven’t ordered the DVD History of GMS, please do so by visiting our website and going to the ‘Store’ tab. Bob Boles and his committee have produced an outstanding presentation describing the history of Greenbrier Military School. We now have a definitive documented record, one that will provide a source for additional chapters in the future. Once you view it you will see it was a labor of love
Congratulations to our new board members: Jorge’ Martinez, C.J. Richardson and Terry Byrnes. We’re looking forward to their input and counsel to help direct your Association for the next five years. Also, I would like to thank our outgoing directors, Jim Anderson, Gene Beard, Robert Gamba and Duff Smith. Their service to GMSAA has been exemplary and I know they will continue to provide advice and guidance to the board of directors. If you have an interest in serving on the board of directors, please contact Herb or myself. Your Association is only as good as the direction we receive from our membership.
I would like to extend my special thanks to our Vice President, Bill Isbister, for his tireless work in researching, coordinating and ultimately writing several grant requests for GLI. Grant writing is a new avenue for us in regards to fundraising. Bill is putting his professional background to work for our benefit, and we’re grateful for his expertise.
Board member Jose’ Acosta, working with Phil McLaughlin and our accountant, Courtney Smith, has worked diligently to prepare our annual operating budget and in so doing, has given us a clearer picture of where we are fiscally. Let me assure you, your board of directors takes our financial operations very seriously. We understand and appreciate the fiduciary responsibility you have placed in us and we will continue to maintain the finances of your Association in the most conservative and transparent manner possible.
Let me close by thanking all of you who attended our special reunion: Celebrating 200 years of Education in Lewisburg. We know Greenbrier Military School played the most significant role in that history.
The long hot summer is quickly coming to an end and our annual GMSAA reunion, believe it or not, is just around the corner. As you know this October, we will be celebrating Two Hundred Years of Education in Lewisburg. In my opinion Greenbrier Military School played the most significant chapter in that 200 year history. We gather this year to celebrate that role. As Herb Pearis is apt to say: “Something important happened here.”
The fact that so many of us return every year to reconnect, reminisce and celebrate our shared experiences is proof that Greenbrier Military School played a very significant part in our early lives. Those few minutes every October on the front formation court at Retreat seems to set the stage for another great weekend. Stories retold of mischievous pranks, memories of football games played on a cool crisp Saturday afternoon, or just seeing an old friend for the first time in 40 years, are just a few of the things that make the third weekend of October in Lewisburg special.
Our common experience at GMS bonds us and we recall those memories in a blink of an eye. Mention Kiwi shoe polish and we quickly bring to mind that peculiar combination of aromas with Brasso; think demerits and we all recall the beat; hear gig line and we instantly arrange our belts. So much of our life as cadets at Greenbrier was the same as those who came before and after us, making it easy to relate with others at our reunions.
For those attending our GMSAA reunion this October for the first time, you will notice changes to the old ‘Brier Campus. Of course the main building stands with it’s dignified entrance as it has for over nighty years. However, the upper drill field is now the site of new and modern multi-use buildings that have been built to facilitate the ever growing student body of The West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM). Where once young uniformed GMS Cadets formed for Retreat or stood at attention for Sunday Dress Parades, now young energetic medical students stroll the campus. Education in Lewisburg, WV continues it’s 200 year tradition.
Our old campus may have changed, but not the memories. The term “Greenbrier Spirit” is often heard at our reunions. I’m not sure what that means exactly. If you ask, I’m sure you will not receive the same answer from any two alumni. As with most alumni, it’s a personal thing. After these many years, the connections we make are more important to us; they seem more meaningful. GMSAA reunions provide that connection to our shared past. Please use this special occasion to attend and find out for yourself what the “Greenbrier Spirit” means to you.
One last thing. Herb always says that, “We do church the best.” Let me personally invite you to attend the Sunday morning church service at the Old Stone Presbyterian Church. Without a doubt, it will lift your Spirit and send you off wanting to return the following year. Can I get an Amen?
As this is my first President’s Message I would like to thank, first, the Board of Directors for placing their confidence in me and allowing me to serve this great Association. Second, I would like to acknowledge the outstanding accomplishments of Duke Schneider. His stewardship and leadership has secured the future for our Association. His steady hand and vision for GMSAA has given me a positive example to follow. I’m sure all will agree with me that Duke truly represents the Greenbrier Military School Spirit.
Congratulations to our new Board of Directors: Calvin Garvin ’65, Ken Lewis ’57, Lee Martin ’64, and Perry Woodside ’64. They join our board for a five year term and I look forward to their support, advice and counsel. Leaving the board after serving their five year term are: Barney Burks, Jim Downer ’71, James “Deak” Roberts. We are grateful to these gentlemen for their valuable time and experience. If you are interested in serving on our Board, please contact Herb. We’re continually looking for those alumni who want to help oversee and guide the work of GMSAA.
This coming October will mark a milestone in the history of GMSAA. From the founding of the Brick Academy by Dr. John McElhenney, the forerunner of Greenbrier Military School in 1812, there has been an institution of learning in Lewisburg for 200 years. Although it has been 40 years since that sad day when Greenbrier closed, the fact that there still exists an active and committed alumni association is remarkable. The hard work of those alumni members in reviving our group should not be overlooked. Like Phoenix rising from the ashes, our Association has not only grown but flourished.
Our accomplishments are many. We’ve grown from a small group of alumni meeting in October to rekindle old friendships and recount stories (and possibly a few fibs) to a well structured association with over 2000 alumni and family on our mailing list. Our museum is furnished with memorabilia that defines our experience at the ‘Brier. The memorial park provides a fitting and sanctified place for those alumni who lost their lives defending our nation. We’ve funded thousands of dollars in scholarships to well deserving medical students at WVSOM. Our new web site has been recently updated and made more user-friendly and our biannual Alumni Record provides that personal connection that keeps us informed.
The future of GMSAA is bright. Our Greenbrier Leadership Institute is in its fourth year and is expanding to other venues in West Virginia. (Please read about our matching grant elsewhere in this issue of the Alumni Record) The GLI Program is truly becoming the living legacy we had envisioned, providing the youth of West Virginia with resources which promote character and leadership development, established on the GMS values of truth, duty and honor.
As I mentioned, our web site is new and improved. If you haven’t had the chance to visit GMSAA.org, please do so. The sort capabilities have been greatly enhanced allowing you to find old classmates much easier. Let me also remind you while visiting the web site, to click on ‘The Cadet Store’ tab. If you haven’t seen the great selection of GMS items available, I think you’ll be surprised. Jim Downer has done an outstanding job of maintaining the store and now with the convenience of PayPAL, shopping is much more convenient. All profits help offset our operating costs and shipping is FREE.
We are looking forward to seeing you for this year’s special reunion. Plans are in the works for a great weekend. If you haven’t been to a GMSAA reunion or haven’t been back for several years, make sure you plan to attend this October, 18-21. From what I hear, rooms are going fast in Lewisburg. Phil McLaughlin has set aside a number of rooms at a special rate at the Greenbrier Hotel. Make sure you mention GMSAA when making your reservation.