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Chippewa Falls high school friends reunite in retirement 70 years after graduation in Chippewa Falls

Chippewa Falls (WQOW) – They went their separate ways after graduating high school, but 70 years later, five friends are now neighbors in retirement.

Joan (Peloquin) Ford, Alice (Zwiefelhofer) Karr, Patricia (Popple) Bembnister, Ramona (Yakesh) Zumbrock, and Jackie (Lauer) Anderson all graduated from McDonell Central High School in Chippewa Falls in 1948.

They say they lost touch over the years because they were too busy raising families or traveling the world.

“My husband passed away when we retired down in the Ozarks so after being passed away five years, or five-and-a-half years, I decided that this wasn’t for me,” said Joan. About three years ago, Joan called Chippewa Manor to see if they had any space for her.

And after finding out she’d live with some familiar faces… “I was very happy,” Ford said.

Now together, they love reminiscing about “the good old days”.

“After school I’d run down the hill to Skogmo’s for work . To Skogmo’s,” said Alice.

“It brings back memories when you get talking or hear a song that you like, and you all sing together,” said Patricia.

Their positive energy spreads outside of their friend group as well.

“Working with these ladies is always a good time. Everybody here has their own story and getting to know each and every one of them is something that I really cherish,” said Shannon Small, director of the Chippewa Manor Residential Living.

And Patricia believes she’s had a blessed life, good family, and good friends. “How do I feel about my friends? I think I’m the most fortunate person in the world to have the friends that I have.”

Two of the friends were a little camera shy so News 18 didn’t get to meet them.

Jackie has lived at Chippewa Manor for 15 years. The last friend to complete the group was Patricia, she moved to the campus six months ago.

Katrina Lim

Katrina Lim joined the News 18 team in August 2019 as a multimedia journalist. She was born and raised in Jersey City, New Jersey but has lived in all time zones of the contiguous U.S.A.

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