Dollarway soldiers return for reunion dinner 45 years later

In May 1967, a group of six young men graduated from Dollarway High School, and within months, began service to their country in the military.

Five of those young men, Willie Kolb Jr., James Richardson Jr., Ray Barraclough, Charles Boyd and Bill E. White, all came home for Christmas break, however, Tony Ply was unable to make the trip home. On December 29, 1967, Claud and Sadie Varnell, who had no sons of their own, decided they would honor the young men with a dinner at the Cardinal Snack Bar, which is now utilized by the Pine Bluff Police Department.

Forty-five years later, Dana Barraclough, thought it would be a good idea to honor Mrs. Varnell by recreating this event. So she contacted the men and got the ball rolling. “I talked to Mrs. Sadie and she was thrilled with the plan,” Dana said.

The reunion was planned for Sept. 22, 2012, and again, only five of the men would be able to attend the reunion dinner. This time, Ply would be home, and Boyd would be unable to attend.

On the day of the reunion, the group met at the former Cardinal Snack Bar to visit and show their gratitude to Mrs. Varnell for hosting the dinner in 1967. They also recreated the photo that was published in the Commercial shortly after the dinner. After the “remember and reminisce” meeting, the group gathered at Pizza Hut, 203 N. Blake St., which is where the Chicken Basket was located. They also celebrated the birthdays of Kolb and Ray Barraclough.

After serving in the armed forces, the six Dollarway soldiers went on to join the work force, marry and have children and became the proud veterans they are today.

All of the men, with the exception of Boyd and Ply, still live in the Pine Bluff and White Hall area. Boyd works as a lab technician in Nevada. Kolb, Richardson and White all retired from Union Pacific Railroad. Ray Barraclough retired from public education and the Army, and Ply who lives in Austin, Ark., retired from the city of Jacksonville and the Air National Guard.