Bauxite reunion allows for time of reconnection

By Lisa Burnett Originally Published May 23, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated May 22, 2013 at 11:19 a.m.
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Men gather on the front porch of the Community Hall at last year’s Bauxite reunion. Seated, from the left, are James Smith, Leon Moore, J. Loyd English, Bill Gentry, J.C. Broadway, Larry Cousin and Jack English. Standing, from the left, are Ross Reeves, Dale Mize and Jewell Crowson.

Bauxite natives from far and near are preparing to rekindle old friendships and make new ones at this year’s Bauxite reunion.

On Saturday, people from “old Bauxite” will gather at the Bauxite Community Hall to reminisce and tell stories from their past.

The free event will begin at 10 a.m. and continue until 1 p.m.

Melba Shepard, curator of the Bauxite Historical Association, said attendance is expected to be around 200.

“The purpose of this meeting is to salute the men and women in uniform, and it also allows everybody to spend time with people from their past,” Shepard said.

This is the 32nd year for the reunion. Ragon Don Kinney Sr., who is a 1960 graduate of Bauxite High School, will be the featured speaker at Saturday’s event. He was inducted into Bauxite’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2012.

“The focus [of the reunion] will be on veterans and just enjoying the fellowship of the people of our past,” Shepard said.

She said veterans are crucial to the Bauxite community because aluminum was mined during World War I and World War II.

“During both world wars, military use of aluminum was staggering, and 95 percent of the ore that went into processing the aluminum was mined in Bauxite,” Shepard said.

She said her favorite part of the annual event is seeing everyone reconnect.

“Bauxite is a very tight-knit community,” Shepard said. “It doesn’t matter how many years people haven’t seen each other; there’s an immediate reconnect.”

The Bauxite Historical Association has more than 600 members, she said, with members all over the United States.

Shepard said the reconnection with others is what drives her to come back to the reunion every year.

“There’s a bond that [Bauxite] has that I don’t believe every town in the U.S. has,” she said.

Over the years, Shepard said, she’s been able to talk to people she went to school and church with in Bauxite.

Shepard is a 1959 graduate of Bauxite High School.

Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

Online Reporter Lisa Burnett can be reached at 501-378-3887 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

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