The first class graduated from Dudley High School in 1929, however the Dudley High School Alumni Association was not created until 1975. The idea of an alumni association and consolidated reunion began with Richard Bowling ’57 who proposed the thought to a gathering of alumni representing several classes at a meeting at his place of business, the Cosmos Club and Restaurant in Greensboro. Bowling witnessed many classes trying to sponsor their individual reunions investing a great deal of time and effort with very little success. He suggested they consolidate their efforts, share in the expenses, have a larger event, encourage and help other classes do the same, and create something all Dudleyites could be proud of. Almost everyone he spoke with agreed with him and offered to serve in any way possible.
The group talked of contacting members of their classes and other Dudleyites in order to develop interest in the formation of an alumni association. The response to their initial inquiries was so enthusiastic that the original committee proceeded with plans for a reunion that would include all former Dudleyites. They concurred that a reunion would be the best method for establishing the alumni association.
Credit and thanks are owed to those pioneering alumni who worked on the original Steering Committee: That group formed the initial Reunion Steering Committee which planned and implemented the first Dudley Consolidated Class Reunion. The reunion took place the weekend of July 23-25, 1976 at the Cosmos Club in Greensboro, North Carolina, and was considered a great success by all in attendance. Two principals, Mr. John Tarpley and Mr. Franklin Brown were honored on that occasion.
At the first reunion meeting on July 24, 1976, those present reconfirmed the desire to create an alumni association. Officers were elected, and they served as the steering committee until the writing of a proposed constitution and by-laws. Claudette Burroughs White ’57 was elected president.
The following year was spent recruiting new members. It is significant to mention the names of those joining the steering committee at its inception. They were:
Queen Bailey ’53
Ida Bracken ’68
Comey Enzlow ’35
Smith Greene ’62
Edna Palmer ’40
Estelle Tatum ’35
Norma Westmoreland ’56
These people, along with many others, busied themselves working on the Second Consolidated Class Reunion, which took place July 22-23, 1977. The theme used was, “Calling All Panthers”, and all Dudley teachers were honored that year.
Unfortunately, in the third year, some members had conflicting opinions regarding the philosophy and direction of the organization, which resulted in a separation of the association along ideological lines. A rival group was formed taking with it all records including the membership lists. A separate reunion was held the weekend of July 21-23, 1978 which caused a great deal of confusion among many interested participants. The president resigned and the vice-president was asked to carry on until the end of the year. The original Dudley Alumni Association held its reunion the same weekend honoring all Dudley athletes. The theme was “A Time To Cheer.” The friction did not please anyone in either group and many concerned individuals tried to help the two groups resolve their differences. A mediation breakfast was held with the executive committees of both organizations on July 23, 1978. At that time the dissenting group was dissolved and most of its members rejoined the Original Dudley Alumni Association, Inc. with Richard Bowling ’57 as president.
The reunion of 1979 was a celebration of Dudley’s 50th year and had as its theme, “Those Golden Years.” The constitution was adopted, and a charter was applied for and granted. A float was entered in the A & T Homecoming Parade and wide media coverage highlighted the fifty years of Dudley High School. At the banquet, a pageant written by Beatrice Herbin ’43 entitled, “Historical Moments” was presented. The pageant depicted the five decades of time since the beginning of Dudley High School. Richard Bowling ’57 was again elected president.
After the reunion celebrating Dudley’s fiftieth year, the Association became more active in its munificence to the community and to Dudley High School. Various fund-raising enterprises enabled the Association to:
increase the scholarship fund
make a donation to Union Memorial Methodist Church
make contributions for equipment for the band and media center
purchase draperies for the auditorium
feed the football team before games, at home and away
paid for postage and mailings to increase membership
The Dudley Alumni Association, Inc. celebrated its 20th anniversary in 1995 and has established an excellent reputation for the support of the James Benson Dudley High School and its Alumni. An appreciation of this achievement can only be garnered through the knowledge and understanding of the organization’s history.
The fifth reunion was held July 18-20, 1980, and had as its theme, “A Family Affair”, honoring all members attending the reunion. Estelle Tatum was elected president to serve through 1981. The Association awarded its first scholarship in honor of Mr. Franklin Brown to Tia Hodge ’80, daughter of Brenda and Johnny Hodge.