High school classmates reunite in Marshalltown
Staying in touch with high school classmates — especially if they number in the hundreds or thousands — can grow harder as the years go by. For Edie Ohrazda Rierson and Sue Koenig Cahill, it took around 40 years to reconnect, when their paths finally crossed in Marshalltown.
The women, who are both natives of Kansas City, attended Archbishop O’Hara High School, a Catholic school that served students all across the Kansas City metro area. The school, now defunct, was founded in 1965. Rierson and Cahill both graduated in 1977.
“It was kind of at the end of the Vietnam War, and still the era of sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, and it seemed like in our school, there were the jocks, the stoners and just regular people,” Rierson said.
“And the geeks,” Cahill added.
Cahill, who has lived in Marshalltown since 1990, works for the Marshalltown School District as a curriculum and professional development leader for the mentoring program, working with new teachers as well as with instructors who specialize in the non-core subjects. She also serves as Marshalltown’s First Ward City Council member. Rierson moved to Marshalltown in October 2014 with her husband, Marshalltown Fire Chief David Rierson. Since March 2018, she has worked as an administrative assistant for Emerson Process Management.
One of their classmates, Mary Jo Post, helped get the two women reconnected. They noted how coincidental it was for their paths to cross.
“There were only 200 people in our class, which doesn’t sound like a lot today, but it seemed like that to us,” Cahill said.
While Rierson and Cahill weren’t close friends growing up, they remembered one another fondly — with the usual alteration of facts that happens as time passes.
“She was a cheerleader. I went to the games,” Rierson said.
Cahill said it was actually her older more “popular” sisters that were better known around the school.
“My older sisters were cheerleaders, not me. I was the socially awkward one. I was short and round and played volleyball,” Cahill said with a laugh.
“That’s funny how I remember her,” Rierson added.
During high school, Cahill was also involved in the school newspaper and yearbook. She served as a statistician for the football team.
“I think Sue was very smart, and I was just the kind of person who did the minimum to get by,” Rierson said. “I go B’s. I wish I would have worked harder, and been more involved, looking back, like Sue was. I would do things differently.”
Being a Catholic school, Rierson said, most of their teachers were members of the clergy.
“It was more rare to have a lay person as a teacher, than not,” she said. “And I think a lot of us went into a service field. Sue’s a teacher. I worked in a hospital setting as a patient advocate for almost 20 years. Lots of social workers came out of our class. I just think a lot of those values rubbed off on us.”
The pair were also surprised to discover a local connection to yet another former classmate; they also went to school with Kevin Isom, father of Gabe Isom, Marshalltown First Ward City Councilor, also employed at Emerson.
“I think it is amazing that all three of them ended up in Marshalltown and have a connection to local government and are community-minded,” Marshalltown Public Library Director Sarah Rosenblum said.
Now that Rierson and Cahill have reunited in Marshalltown, they enjoy going through their old yearbooks and reminiscing about shared friends and past experiences. They plan to continue to nurture their friendship that first budded four decades ago.
Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz at
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