London High School’s graduates aren’t just talking about the good old days. They’re carving those memories in stone.
For their 62nd reunion on Oct. 6, the Class of 1945 invited all classes from the 1940s to celebrate with them and to contribute to a project that honors a revered school leader.
The project is a stone marker to be placed at von Kanel Field, located at West High and Cherry streets. The field once served as the old high school’s primary football field. It is now used for practice and junior high games.
The marker will pay tribute to the field’s namesake, Jacob von Kanel, who served as a teacher, principal, coach and athletic director at London High School from 1929 until his death in 1969.
Part of the message to be engraved in a black granite panel on the stone reads as follows: “His patience and sense of fair play made him a true friend whose memory will live forever in the hearts of his students, faculty and former athletes.”
Pat Van Horn, a member of the Class of 1945, said the reasons to honor von Kanel are many, not the least of which was his sincere interest in students’ well-being.
“He was interested in everyone,” Van Horn said. “He made it a point to know students’ names and something about them.”
In addition to his devotion to athletics, von Kanel’s focus included academics.
“I enjoyed him because he was such a great teacher,” Van Horn said. “He always wanted London High School to have a good academic record.”
Reunion organizers included information about the stone marker in the reunion invitations. The responses before, during and after the reunion have been very good.
“I thought it was a good idea and apparently a lot of people think so, too, because we’ve been getting a lot of positive notes about it,” said Clarabel Phillips Littler, one of the reunion organizers.
The London Board of Education has already given its stamp of approval on the project. The board and project organizers will meet to determine where and when the stone will be placed.
The stone marker isn’t the first project the 1940s London High School classes have tackled. Two years ago, they relandscaped the World War II memorial at Walnut and First streets, near London Middle School.