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John DeSanto of Duluth shares a proclamation from the mayor with members of the Cathedral High School Class of 1964 Saturday in Duluth during a reunion at Marshall School. DeSanto is wearing a red blazer that he wore to his first day of classes at the school. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)

Cathedral Class of ’64 enjoys 50-year reunion in Duluth

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Duluth Minnesota 424 W. First St. 55802

They were the first graduating class at the new Duluth Cathedral High School in 1964, mostly gray now, a bit broader in the beam and just a couple years shy of 70.

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But the memories came flooding back Saturday as if it were yesterday when some of the Class of ’64 returned to their high school 50 years later for a dedication of a new plaque in their honor and an official act by the mayor of Duluth proclaiming it Duluth Cathedral High School Class of 1964 Day in the city.

“The greatest view in the world from right in our cafeteria,” said John Roed of Duluth, turning to look out over Lake Superior and the Twin Ports harbor.

The cafeteria is now a chapel. But the school, now called Marshall School, still sits atop the hill in Duluth just off Rice Lake Road.

Roed said he remembers most of the 135 classmates he graduated with, about 30 of whom attended the dedication at the school Saturday afternoon. And he remembers many of the good times — and at least one not so good — for those very early baby boomers.

“We were all seniors that year when President Kennedy got shot,” Roed recalled. “That was a big deal for all of us… Of course, for me, just graduating was a big deal. You can ask some of the nuns about that.”

John DeSanto remembers how he and his twin brother, Will, got in trouble on the first day in the new school over a wardrobe scandal. It seems school officials decided to spring a new uniform policy on students in the new building, requiring boys to wear a blazer. But they didn’t say what color blazer.

“Most of the guys got blue or gray. My brother and I got red,” said DeSanto, now a state district court judge in Duluth. “But the principal, Father Hogan, didn’t like that. ... I’m not sure why. And he told us we couldn’t wear red blazers.”

The DeSantos tried to put up a fight, but Hogan won. It was gray or blue blazers or don’t come to school. They never really found out what the priest had against red.

But Father Hogan is gone now, and both DeSantos were wearing those same red blazers on Saturday. The coats somehow survived a half century in the closet.

“My brother still fits into his,” the judge said with a laugh, trying in vain to button his.

Bryce Nixon, Marshall’s director of advancement, said more than 60 people were expected later Saturday when the reunion moved to a downtown restaurant. Graduates came from several states, she noted.

“For some of them, it’s the first time they’ve been back in the school in 50 years,” Nixon noted.

Cathedral, which had been around since 1904 and had moved up to Rice Lake Road from East Fourth Street in 1963, eventually was sold by the Catholic Diocese of Duluth. The school became nondenominational in 1972 and changed its name to Marshall School in 1987 honor the Albert Morley Marshall family. It’s now a grades 4-12 college preparatory school.

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