Hungate receives yearbook six decades later

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 29, 2007

It was an act of kindness for a student — a teacher bought a yearbook for her student but he never saw it.

He was gone before she could get it to him. Now, six decades later, the student got his yearbook through a series of unlikely events involving the Internet and an odd find in a flea market.

In 1949, Roger Hungate graduated from Chesapeake High School. He couldn’t afford a yearbook so as a surprise, his homeroom teacher, Iva Dell Combs bought one for him.

Email newsletter signup

She and some students signed the book and she put in an 8 by 10 copy of his senior headshot. She was going to give it to him, but Hungate was gone.

The day after graduation, Hungate stuck out his thumb and hitched a ride. He ended up in Kansas in time for the harvest season. In 1950, he joined the Air Force and saw the world.

He married his wife, Mary, when she was a student and he was a professor.

The couple moved back to the area a year and a half ago to retire. They had lived in Tucson Ariz., and coincidently, Florida, before moving to South Point.

Mary had spent the past decade trying to get a copy of Roger’s senior yearbook.

She was chatting online with a classmate, Dottie Gibson, who lives in California. She e-mailed a copy of Roger’s senior picture.

Mary asked where she had gotten it and that’s when things got interesting.

Another friend, Doris Locey Graham, who now lives in Florida, had a copy of the 1949 Chesapeake High School yearbook. Her daughter had picked it up at a flea market and bought it because it had a picture of her dad it in.

The weird part was that it was Roger’s yearbook, the one that Mrs. Combs had bought for Roger 58 years before. And his senior picture was still in it.

“The yearbook has just been wandering around,” Mary said. “We have no idea how it got to Florida.”

Three weeks ago, Roger got his yearbook from Doris.

“He’s been thrilled about it,” Mary said. “He spent two hours looking through it the first day and that evening he spent about two more hours looking at it.”

For his part, Roger said he never thought about the yearbook.

“Mary was more into that than I am, she has hers and she really wanted me to have one too,” he said. “I didn’t even know Iva Dell Combs had bought me one. What a strange thing.”

Combs passed away 41 years ago.

Roger said the book brought back a lot of memories and he thought about people that he had forgotten.

“It’s made me pretty contemplative,” he said.

Roger was particularly surprised that his senior picture remained in the yearbook all this time, even though he doesn’t quite recognize his younger self.

“I don’t know who that guy is,” he said. “This guy has hair and a 32-inch waist.”

Both the Hungraves would love to find out how the book got from southern Ohio to a flea market in Florida, but figure they never will know for sure. As it is, they are just happy to finally have Roger’s senior yearbook.

“We are both thankful to Dottie and Doris for their part in this,” Mary said.