In late June, 53 of 63 surviving members of the class of 1967 of St. John Vianney/Daniel Murphy High School celebrated their 50th high school reunion.
Los Angeles College, built in 1926 of steel-girded brick and Portland stone on the corner of Third and Detroit streets, served as the junior seminary for the archdiocese until it was relocated to Mission Hills. Faced with a burgeoning Catholic population in 1953, His Eminence Cardinal James Francis McIntyre made the campus into St. John Vianney High School, placing it into the care of the Order of Preachers, the Dominican friars, which provided most of the faculty.
As a favor to Cardinal McIntyre, busy Hollywood songwriter Paul Weston (husband of popular songstress Jo Stafford) composed the alma mater and fight song, “Go, Nobles, Go!” A stylish cartoon of a Renaissance-attired noble became Vianney High’s beloved mascot.
In 1964, Cardinal McIntyre wanted to erect a modern building and looked for funding. Papal Countess Bernardine Murphy Donahue answered the call, donating $2 million, asking only that whatever project the money was used for it be named for her father, the late Daniel Murphy, a long-time Los Angeles Catholic philanthropist. The new building was finished and the new name — Daniel Murphy Memorial High School, which later was renamed Daniel Murphy High School — became official in January of 1966.
The graduating class of 1967 were “baby boomers” affected by the social upheaval of the 1960s and ‘70s. Several Nobles entered the Armed Services, three dying in Vietnam. Others were wounded, physically and psychologically, but they have survived and prospered. Still, 27 members of our graduating class, numbering only 87, have died; the last two in the past eight months.
Regarding our later accomplishments I can do no better than to quote from the excellent preface of Roman Silberfeld’s collection of 1967 Noble biographies:
“We have become significant participants in and contributors to the arts, law, medicine, education, government, accounting, engineering, music, entertainment, art, polo, horse racing, the priesthood, the news media and all manner of business pursuits, ranging from real estate development, mining and the auto industry to restaurants, financial services, banking and energy conservation.
“We have bravely and honorably served our country in the military. We have contributed to the well-being of our communities by coaching kids … by a wide variety of charity work, which speaks volumes about the essential heart and good nature and instincts of our classmates.
“We have had and continue to have fun too. We travel, fish, hike, cook, farm, play tennis and poker, SCUBA dive, race motorcycles, surf, play golf and watch birds. And, we all appear to have had children [and even grandchildren] who are even better and more accomplished individuals than we were.”
Bob Reed initiated the reunion planning more than a year ago, taking on the responsibilities of locating class members, organizing events and spurring members of the planning committee with their efforts to put together topnotch activities. Yours humbly was charged with designing the invitation and event programs.
St. John Vianney/Daniel Murphy High no longer exists; it was sold in 2009. Lacking a campus, the reunion proceedings began in San Pedro with a Solemn Memorial Mass for fallen Nobles at Mary Star of the Sea Church. The Mass was concelebrated by our classmate Auxiliary Bishop Alexander Salazar, vicar for the archdiocesan Office of Ethnic Ministry; one of our surviving teachers, 89-year-old Father Vincent Lopez, OP; Father Donald Bramble, OP (class of ‘68); and Msgr. Austin Doran and Father Brian Doran, brothers of deceased classmate Seán Doran, who died in Vietnam. Sacred music was provided by 1967 Noble Jelil Romano, a renowned organist.
On the second day of the three-day reunion, the morning was devoted to a golf tournament at Los Amigos Golf Course in Downey, with the evening dinner festivities of song, contests and camaraderie held at Taix Restaurant in Hollywood.
The weekend concluded at a superb brunch on the third day hosted by Beverly Hills attorney Roman Silberfeld and his lovely wife, actress Patricia Klous, at their beautiful hillside home.
And now there’s talk of doing this again in five years.
Sean M. Wright is a member of the RCIA team at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Santa Clarita. He presents workshops and enrichment courses in Catholic topics at parishes throughout the archdiocese.