Dowagiac class of 1974 honors classmates with gift to the city

Published 5:00 am Saturday, October 28, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

DOWAGIAC — Enhancements to public spaces continue with the recent addition of a Crimson King Maple to the tree lawn bordering The Event Pavilion at the Dowagiac District Library. 

The tree was planted by the Dowagiac Union High School Class of 1974 to commemorate deceased class members, said Dave “Mooch” Moran, chair of the class reunion committee. 

“We’ve lost a lot of classmates in recent years and wanted to pay tribute to them in a way that could be shared by all the community,” he said.

Working with city officials, the committee chose the hardy, fast-growing maple in part because of the beauty of its crimson-purple leaves. When fully mature, it is expected to reach a height of 30-40 feet and provide plenty of welcome shade in the summer months.  The entire cost of the project, including materials and labor, was funded by the Class of 1974.

While the memorial plaque accompanying the tree acknowledges all fallen classmates, special mention is given to Laraine (Ausra) Clupper who passed away in December of 2021. 

“Laraine was relentlessly committed to our class and to ensuring that we held a reunion every five years,” Moran said. 

He noted that her absence is keenly felt by the committee as it plans its “golden anniversary” reunion, slated for Aug. 17, 2024. Like the 40th and 45th year reunions, the 50-year get-together will be held at the Sister Lakes Lions Club. 

“The laid-back atmosphere of the Lions Club works great for us,” said Judy (Case) Pullins, another member of the committee. “It’s a casual, ‘come as you are’ kind of place—no fuss.”

As the planning continues Moran asks that class members provide him with any updates to their contact details as well as spread the word about the reunion to classmates they know who may have dropped off the radar. He can be reached at or (269) 921-3951. Information about the event is posted on various social media sites including Facebook, and

The upcoming reunion and memorial tree hold special meaning for committee member Sue (DeShazo) Kazlauskas whose late husband Ed, also a ’74 alum, passed away in 2016. 

“We lost Ed and other beloved classmates far too early. For me, it drives home just how precious our time with each other is and why getting together while we still can is so important.”

“High school in the free-wheeling seventies was a one-of-a kind experience,” echoed Moran. “Everybody’s got a story to tell, and sharing them helps us all remember.”

Other members of the reunion committee include Renee (Steele) Grady, Gail (Gaideski) West, Chris Frazier and Lynn Havel.