77°F
weather icon Clear

97-year-olds are stars of Las Vegas High School reunion

Updated August 23, 2017 - 6:25 pm

Two 97-year-old great-grandmothers own bragging rights as the oldest people planning to attend the 2017 Las Vegas High School “Wildcat” Reunion. Nevada widows with spunk who are still active today and in relatively good health. Goers and doers. Delightful and charming.

Lina Pinjuv Sharp graduated in 1937, seven years after the high school was built. She became a schoolteacher after completing a two-year program at the University of Nevada, Reno. She found a teaching job in rural Nevada in 1940 in a place called Blue Eagle Ranch in Railroad Valley, about 130 miles east of Tonopah.

Nancy Marriott Austin, class of 1939, stayed in Las Vegas. The stay-at-home mom, along with her truck driver husband of 58 years, watched Las Vegas grow.

“It’s fine with me that it grew,” she said from her home about a mile from the high school, now the Las Vegas Academy of the Arts.

These two matriarchs have been the stars of the “Wildcat” Reunion for years, because they make the effort to attend. They sit together, representing Nevada’s historical royalty.

Interested in attending the Sept. 23 reunion at The Orleans? Organizer Patty Haack can be reached at 702-876-6660 or lvowl@aol.com. Old-time LVHS graduates are a who’s who of Las Vegas, movers and shakers, and women of substance like Lina and Nancy.

Lina’s life played out like a television Western. After a year teaching in a one-room schoolhouse, she married rancher Jim Sharp, whose family settled the area in the 1860s.

After her husband died, she remained on the ranch, raising five daughters. She retired after a 45-year teaching career and traveled the world, including Australia, China, India, Tibet, Norway and Turkey. While in Turkey, she slid on some gravel on a hill, forcing her to use a walker. It only slowed her down a bit.

“I didn’t let grass grow under my feet,” Lina said.

This year, she will hitch a ride from her ranch to Tonopah, spend the night there and catch a bus to Las Vegas in order to make the reunion. “I wouldn’t miss it,” she declared, even though she doesn’t like modern Las Vegas.

Her high school days were happy. “There was nothing to be unhappy about,” she said. “I knew we were poor, but everybody was.”

She went to the Fifth Street School, and when building a high school on Seventh Street was discussed “everybody was talking about how it was so far out on Seventh.”

Nancy met her one-and-only in high school. They looked at each other across the room and that was it.

Joe Austinwas a little older, and he would pick her up in his car after school or after her shift at an ice cream shop. They married in 1942 when she was 21 and raised three children.

“I’m in good general health, I do my own lawn and cooking and still drive,” she said, although she uses a cane. She bowled until she hit 95.

Nancy summed up the lives she and Lina have lived: “People who don’t do have a worse time than people who do do.”

These two women are definite doers.

Reunions serve an important purpose. They remind us of our youth, a time of hope when most of us had no idea what the future held.

Jane Ann Morrison’s column runs Thursdays in the Nevada section. Contact her at jane@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0275. Follow @janeannmorrison on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Cab riders experiencing no-shows urged to file complaints

If a cabbie doesn’t show, you must file a complaint. Otherwise, the authority will keep on insisting it’s just not a problem, according to columnist Jane Ann Morrison. And that’s not what she’s hearing.

Are no-shows by Las Vegas taxis usual or abnormal?

In May former Las Vegas planning commissioner Byron Goynes waited an hour for a Western Cab taxi that never came. Is this routine or an anomaly?

Columnist shares dad’s story of long-term cancer survival

Columnist Jane Ann Morrison shares her 88-year-old father’s story as a longtime cancer survivor to remind people that a cancer diagnosis doesn’t necessarily mean a hopeless end.

Las Vegas author pens a thriller, ‘Red Agenda’

If you’re looking for a good summer read, Jane Ann Morrison has a real page turner to recommend — “Red Agenda,” written by Cameron Poe, the pseudonym for Las Vegan Barry Cameron Lindemann.

Las Vegas woman fights to stop female genital mutilation

Selifa Boukari McGreevy wants to bring attention to the horrors of female genital mutilation by sharing her own experience. But it’s not easy to hear. And it won’t be easy to read.

Biases of federal court’s Judge Jones waste public funds

Nevada’s most overturned federal judge — Robert Clive Jones — was overturned yet again in one case and removed from another because of his bias against the U.S. government.

Don’t forget Jay Sarno’s contributions to Las Vegas

Steve Wynn isn’t the only casino developer who deserves credit for changing the face of Las Vegas. Jay Sarno, who opened Caesars Palace in 1966 and Circus Circus in 1968, more than earned his share of credit too.

John Momot’s death prompts memories of 1979 car fire

Las Vegas attorney John Momot Jr. was as fine a man as people said after he died April 12 at age 74. I liked and admired his legal abilities as a criminal defense attorney. But there was a mysterious moment in Momot’s past.