Bill & Sue Roussel Keep the 50s Alive

Every class needs a Keeper of The Flame. Bill and Sue Roussel produce The Tiger Update, an email newsletter that keeps more than 1,000 classmates and friends of the Cape Central High School 1950s decade in touch with each other. It’s a combination of good news, bad news and shared memories.

Sue sort of fell into the job by accident when she tried to track down classmates for a reunion. Before long, she was getting letters (some hand-scrawled in writing styles that indicated that penmanship might not have been the person’s best class), emails and phone calls. “I created a monster,” she said.

Sue raises people from the dead

Bill says his wife is a “bird dog for details. She hasn’t mastered walking on water, but she’s started raising people from the dead. She’s gotten reports of classmates who have died and called the family for more information. Several times they’ve responded by saying, ‘Well, let me hand the phone to him and he can tell you himself.'”

Now that the classmates are getting older, it’s not unusual for some of the newsletters to be grim reading with accounts of deaths and illness. “Since everyone has scattered out, used to we didn’t find out someone had died until five years or the next reunion. That’s why I put the obituaries in there,” Sue explained.

Bill recently had a scare

Overnight, he had an onset of confusion where he couldn’t even identify family members. He was taken to a hospital emergency room where a CAT scan showed that he had bleeding on his brain. He was rushed to surgery, where several holes were bored into his skull to relieve the pressure.

His recovery was miraculous. I had never met Bill and Sue, and I was a little reluctant to impose on them so soon after this medical emergency, but they said to come on over. It never dawned on me that the vital, vibrant guy who opened the door could be Bill, considering the seriousness of his condition only days earlier.

Sue knew her friends on the newsletter would be concerned, so she fired off email and Facebook updates as soon as she got the good news about Bill. There was a huge outpouring of concern, with as many as 40 friends showing up at the hospital.

“Between the newsletter and Facebook, it was like practice for the funeral,” Bill quipped.

“If we took money, it’d be work”

Sue said the updates take about three or fours each. “People ask us why we don’t charge anything. We tell them, that if we took money, then that’d be work. Right now it’s fun.”

The Tiger updates started out as a once a month thing. As more and more people started contributing, their frequency increased. Usually there is at least one update a week, but during Christmas season, there may be enough content to have two or three a week, Sue said.

Keeping memories alive

Bill said that Tommy Meisner – Class of  ’58 – told him, “I can look at that update and there’ll be just one little incident or one picture  of a place that I’d figure would be all gone – that I’d have no memory of that left – but my mind will get to working on it. I’ll work on it for days. Then I’ve generated a whole bunch of other memories. It’s magical.”

If anyone wants to sign up for the Tiger Updates focusing on the 1950s, leave a comment and I’ll pass it on to Bill and Sue. Jerry and Margi Stout Whitright do a similar newsletter for the 1960s classmates. I had hoped to stop in and see them in Ellijay, GA, on my way south, but our schedules didn’t match up.

16 Replies to “Bill & Sue Roussel Keep the 50s Alive”

    1. Mary Lou,

      I’ll forward your message on to Bill and Sue. You’ll have to produce a fake ID to show that you are old enough to join their group, but you probably have one of those left over from high school days.

      Things get a bit racy in the updates. That’s why it has an R-67 rating (no one under 67 allowed).

      (That second part was a joke, by the way.)

    1. Terry,

      There’s more good stuff in the pipeline. Well, it’s not REALLY in the pipeline. It’s more like under the ground waiting for me to drill down into the pool and pump it out.

      Of course, we know that process is perfectly safe. There’s absolutely NO danger of anything going wrong. No chance of a messy spill.

      You may see a slacking off before long. I have a couple of videos to edit and some long interviews that I recorded. Those take a bit more time to pull together than the normal posting.

      I’ve been neglecting my bike blog while working on this one, so I need to shift my focus back there for awhile.

      My original goal was to produce a couple of posts a month here, but the response has been so great that I’ve produced something new almost every day for the past two and a half months. That’s more than I did when I was working in the newspaper world. I have to keep in mind this is a marathon project, not a sprint.

      When I was talking with the Roussels, I described our projects as “being a spark that ignites the gunpowder of memories.”

  1. Even though I’m a ’63 Tiger, they have been gracious enough to include me in the newletter. The memories from the times of my sister’s classmates (Martha (Lewis)Brooks) have been as nostalgic as those from my own…sometimes moreso.
    Ken,these are great shots of Bill and Sue. I want you to know how much I enjoy this website. I went to Trinity Luth., too – wish I had known you.

  2. Great job, Ken! I’d like to be included in the sixties updates if you’d pass along my contact information to the Whitrights. Thanks!

  3. Great picture of Bill and Sue. So glad that Bill is doing so well. They both look awesome. Thanks Ken for your work.

  4. I would be interested in reciving theTiger Update newsletter for the 1950’s. My dad attended Cape Central on Pacific street. He does not use a computer but is interested in hearing about people he went to school with.

  5. Ken, please pass my name and email to Bill and Sue. I’d sure appreciate hearing all the news.

    Thanks, Jean

  6. Ken, what a great piece on Bill and Sue. They are the inspiration for the 1960s Tigers Newsletter and we are eternally grateful for their guidance. Thanks for the plug, too.

  7. I live alone with my service dog, Gracie, and loneliness has been an issue since losing my husband. I look forward to Bill and Sue updating me…. There is no way to properly thank them….but to say thanks.
    Shirley Stoll

  8. Will be glad to receive 50’s news. I finally have a computer again.
    After months of being in different adult living facilities in NC, I am now a resident at Ashton Place, 4151 Ashton Rd, Sarasota FL 34233. My youngest son lives down here so I am glad to see him often and my two grand daughters. My email address is: ronaldgrebing@gmail. com. Phone number is 919-607-5227.

    Ron Grebing


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