A reunion 50 years in the making
Columbus Catholic celebrates the return of its first foreign exchange student
By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD—On Friday, Oct. 10, the Columbus Catholic High School class of 1964 held its 50th reunion, and one very special guest was in attendance, Olver Gomez, the first foreign exchange student in the history of Columbus.
Organizers for the reunion hoped to simply make contact with Gomez, never envisioning he would travel all the way from Bolivia to be at the event.
With help from his 1964 host parents, organizers tracked down Gomez, and he was more than happy to attend. This was the first time since he attended Columbus Catholic High School that Gomez had been back to Marshfield. He has spent his life in Cochabamba, Bolivia, a city in the central part of the country, where he is a mechanical and electrical engineer.
Gomez said he does not think Marshfield has changed that much since 1964, but he has fond memories of his time here.
“I can say that year was the best year I spent in my life,” Gomez said. “They were very good with me. I spent very good moments here, senior prom and all that stuff.”
After the reunion Gomez travelled to Wausau, where his former host parents now live, before returning to Bolivia.
When Gomez returns to Bolivia he will be welcomed by his wife and three children. Two of his children are doctors, and the other is a chemical engineer. His family encouraged him to attend the reunion.
“My family told me, ‘Why don’t you go because 50 years you don’t see them.’” Gomez said.
He added that it was emotional to see his old classmates and that it was strange to see people who he had known so well 50 years later.
“We have a book that they made where you have the pictures from when we graduated and the picture now. So that’s why we can realize who is who,” Gomez said. “Most of the classmates have changed very much. 50 years is not a short time.”
Pat Hoffman, a fellow classmate of Gomez, said that the reunion was a wonderful time.
“It was just a fantastic reunion. … Everybody just really had a great time, and Ollie (Olver) was chatting with all of them,” she said. “He seemed to enjoy it.”