More than 65 years passed before June Heck sat down next to Peggy Terrell Tooker at a service in the Baptist Retirement Community chapel to introduce herself as a former classmate.

courtesy Baptist Retirement Center

The two women share a past, with both having graduated from Lubbock High School in 1948. While they were acquaintances in high school, June and Peggy’s friendship has blossomed during retirement. They now share a strong bond based on their past and their new experiences shared while living at Baptist Retirement Community. They are happy to highlight their connection in light of International Day of Friendship on August 7th.

“Peggy was outgoing and involved in high school, and not much has changed since she moved to Baptist Retirement Community,” said June. “She is still very much involved in a variety of groups. It’s funny how people stay wired the same way after all these years. Except now instead of chemistry groups, she’s leading bridge clubs. My neighbor introduced me to Baptist Retirement Community while I was still living in Iraan, Texas. My sister and I decided to move here and share a duplex. She ended up moving to Albuquerque to be closer to her son, but since then Peggy has come into my life it’s like having a sister here with me again. It’s a nice feeling to spend time with someone you knew 67 years ago. I’m grateful that we have the opportunity to get to know each other better than we did in high school. She and I can sit and talk for hours just reminiscing about memories from our past.”

Peggy had grown up in and lived in Lubbock her entire life. She met her husband in her hometown and they stayed there together to raise their family. While she had planned on retiring in Lubbock, a friend had told her about Baptist Retirement Community so she came to tour the community, liked what she saw and decided to move to San Angelo.

“I am thankful for June’s friendship because she is a good friend, and it’s nice to have somebody from back home to visit with,” said Peggy. “We both have cats, and when I go out of town to visit Lubbock or my family, she is always very sweet to check on my cat when I am away. You might call us cat ladies at this point in our lives. It is a funny coincidence that we both ended up in San Angelo at the same senior living community.”

Since that initial meeting in the chapel, their friendship has deepened over the last couple of years. June doesn’t have any family nearby, so she and Peggy do things together during the holidays or attend activities and special events around the Baptist Retirement Community campus. Peggy has a large collection of books, and lends June a handful of books each time she stops by for a visit. They enjoy visiting about life, the community, upcoming events, books, family and more. They’ll sit together and visit before church – sometimes after – as they eat lunch at Main Street Café. Other times they’ll chat when June drops by to borrow more books, as well as when the two attend events together within the community. Oftentimes, they recall that first meeting and how different things were in high school.

“There was nothing I wasn’t involved in,” laughed Peggy. “If there was an academic club for a particular subject or topic, I was a part of the group. I was a nerd, but that’s not the way June remembers me. She recalls me being popular, but I think a lot of people simply knew who I was because I was involved in a myriad of recreational groups and activities. It is such a small-world coincidence that we would both choose Baptist Retirement Community as the place to retire. When she introduced herself to me that morning before the service started, I could hardly believe it. We connected right away talking about former teachers and classmates. Afterward, she came over to my home and we browsed the old annuals and she showed me where she had signed my yearbook. It’s funny that we are now true friends after all these years.”

“I knew more about Peggy than she knew about me,” said June. “We talked some, but Peggy talked to everyone, so it’s no surprise she didn’t recognize me after all these years. I did not attend the high school for very long either, so that made a world of difference. Most of those kids grew up together since they were small children, and I was an outsider. My father acquired a job at a lumberyard in Lubbock, so that’s where we relocated in the middle of my junior year of high school. As many kids know, it isn’t easy making new friends and finding your place in new social groups. I’m naturally a relatively quiet person, so I ended up joining just one club, the TNT Chemistry Club. That’s how I came to know Peggy. Once I became acquainted with her, I saw her name everywhere.”

Sometimes it doesn’t take a high school reunion to reconnect two former students. It simply takes a small-world coincidence to bring together people that share a connection from their past. June and Peggy still think it is funny that they decided to retire in the same senior living community, and they are equally thankful for each other’s friendship.

“Sometimes a big world can feel really small,” said Quinda Feil-Duncan, executive director of Baptist Retirement Community. “The coincidences we experience never cease to amaze us. It is heartwarming and astounding that June and Peggy went to high school together back in 1948 and have been reunited after all these years. We love seeing new and renewed friendships grow within the Baptist Retirement Community campus.”