- Associated Press - Thursday, April 27, 2017

KOKOMO, Ind. (AP) - More than 50 years ago, Jim Pendergrass sat in Gail Trammell’s first-grade classroom. On Tuesday, the two reunited for the first time since that class.

Pendergrass and Trammell met at Bowmar Elementary School in Mississippi in the 1965-1966 school year, when Pendergrass was a first grader. Trammell, who’s from Kokomo and eventually moved back to her hometown, had just graduated from the University of Mississippi.

Four years ago, Pendergrass got to thinking about his former teachers. He knew that most of them were much older than Trammell, and many were no longer alive. But with Trammell being one of the youngest teachers he had, he was hopeful he could find her.

The only problem was that he didn’t know her first name, and didn’t even know how to spell her last name. All he remembered was that her husband’s name was Homer and that he used to work at Sears.

Pendergrass started searching the internet for Homer, spelling Trammell any way he could think of until he finally found an obituary from 2003 for Homer Trammell in the Kokomo Tribune. From the obituary, he learned Gail Trammell’s full name and was able to send her a letter.

After Trammell received that letter, they connected on Facebook and have been in contact ever since. Pendergrass, who now lives in Colorado, happened to have a meeting in Indianapolis this week, and asked Trammell if she would be able to meet him for lunch at the Kokomo Cracker Barrel. Trammell said she had an eye appointment, but was happy to reschedule.

“I was just so ecstatic about it,” Trammell said. “I was so excited to think that after all these years, he would want to reconnect like this.”

After teaching in Vicksburg and then in Florida for a few years, Trammell moved back to her hometown of Kokomo with her husband, where she taught at several schools, including Sycamore Elementary. She retired in 2002.

“I was never blessed with children, but the students that I’ve taught, I have connections with a lot of them, and when somebody makes this kind of effort for me, it’s just wonderful,” Trammell said. “I’m very touched.”

She’s still in contact with several of her previous students, including one she watched graduate from Harvard and later Notre Dame. Now, because of Pendergrass, she has reconnected with another student from her 1965 first-grade class.

Pendergrass said he’s continuing to try to connect with his former teachers, but they’re difficult to find.

“If I didn’t somehow remember that Mr. Trammell’s name was Homer, I would have never found her because, again, I didn’t know how to spell her last name, and I didn’t remember her first name,” Pendergrass said. “But I remembered that Homer Trammell worked at Sears.”

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Source: Kokomo Tribune, https://bit.ly/2p4TrQC

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Information from: Kokomo Tribune, https://www.ktonline.com

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