A reunion almost 60 years in the making finally took place in Camden County on Tuesday afternoon. 65-year-old Jim Hymes of Linn Creek caught up with his former first and second grade teacher, 82-year-old Bobby Fleming.
Hymes had not seen Fleming since spring 1954 when she moved away from Osage Beach Elementary and the lake area. Hymes and Fleming are both Camden County natives that had not expected to see each other until a mutual friend reunited the pair.
Hymes met Bobby's sister, Virgie Marler, in the 1980s. He recently saw Marler and found out that Fleming (formerly Bobby Blankenship) was living in Lee's Summit, Mo. Uniquely enough, Hymes' daughter lives in Lee's Summit. Hymes had planned on visiting Fleming later in the summer when he was visiting his daughter, but saw Marler again and found out that Fleming was going to be in the lake area for a family get-together soon.
"God had a plan in all that," Marler said of the timing.
Hymes jumped at the opportunity to reconnect with his favorite teacher.
"This is the joy of teaching — when you reconnect with former students," Fleming said. "It's a humbling feeling when you stay in the mind of young people."
Hymes described Fleming as his 'first crush' and a very caring teacher.
"She was a really good teacher. I really felt she cared about me," he said.
Fleming was Ms. Blankenship when she taught Hymes at Osage Beach Elementary in the early 1950s. She taught first, second and third grades in the same classroom.
"I loved each child," she said. " You take them, you love them and go from there."
Fleming noticed a special talent in young Hymes. In a letter to his parents at the end of his second grade year, she wrote, "Jimmie is a very good artist for a child his age and has a great imagination to work from."
Little did Fleming know, the talent she noticed so long ago shaped Hymes into the man he is today. He went on to earn an art degree from the University of Missouri. He still paints in his spare time.
Fleming taught for 43 years and said even though she taught many students through out the years, "There are some students that stick out in your mind."
When Hymes saw Fleming for the first time in almost 60 years, he immediately said, "Last time I saw you, you were taller than me!"
The pair caught up on each other's lives, shared stories and recalled fond memories.
"It's a blessing," Fleming said of the reunion.
"I'm really glad we got to reconnect. She is a part of my past," Hymes said.
Page 2 of 2 - Fleming summed up the reunion in one of her favorite quotes.
"People come into your life for a reason, season or a lifetime. To me, that's what life is," she said.
Hymes and Fleming plan on seeing each other again in the near future. Hopefully, the next reunion will not require another 60 years to plan.