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May 3, 2013

Teacher, first class reunite after 48 years

‘Urbie’ Keithley started his career in education in 1965


In 1965, a loaf of bread cost 21 cents, gas was 31 cents per gallon and the average yearly household income was $6,500.

It was also the year Urban “Urbie” Keithley began his career in education. And like most firsts, he will never forget those fifth-graders who walked into his classroom at Slate Run Elementary in 1965.

They have never forgotten him either.

On Wednesday night at Sam’s Food & Spirits in New Albany, many members of that class, along with Keithley, got together for a reunion and celebration. Not only did they share stories about their former teacher, but also to celebrate Keithley’s upcoming 70th birthday.

Keithley only spent one year at Slate Run, but he said he will never forget it for a number of reasons — it was his first class, he had 34 students, two sets of twins, and two students with the last name of Keithley who were not related to him. 

“That class was so unique,” Keithley said. “They just stood out. Part of the reason they were my best class ever was they were so sharp. They just blew the IQ test out of the water.”

Keithley was so impressed with his first class that in February, he submitted a letter to the editor to the News and Tribune asking for members of the class to get in touch with him. 

They did more than that.

Class member Kathy Copas read the letter and started organizing a reunion by reaching out to classmates through Facebook. Along with Marcie Keithley, the two received a great response and organized Wednesday’s reunion. There were 12 classmates along with Keithley who attended the event and enjoyed sharing stories.

“I didn’t expect this,” Keithley said of the party. “This is really great.”

“I think half of us had a crush on him,” said Marcie Keithley, a member of the class. “It’s pretty cool when your last name is the same as the teacher.”

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