Venture Class of ‘64 a long-standing reunion

The Venture Class of 1964 raises a glass to new and old friends, and those who have died, during the 50th anniversary of their graduation.

The Venture Class of 1964 raises a glass to new and old friends, and those who have died, during the 50th anniversary of their graduation.

Laughs were shared, glasses were raised, and more than a few tears were shed when 25 men gathered at Naval Office Training Centre (NOTC) Venture to mark 50 years since they had passed through its doors.

Members of the Venture Class of ‘64 gathered in the Wellend Room at the Venture Accommodation Block to bid farewell after a three-day celebration of their momentous milestone.

“It’s nice to see all these old faces, even after all this time,” said Cdr (Ret’d) Graeme Evans, a resident of Victoria and graduate of the 1964 Short Service Officer Plan, who came for the festivities. “We all stayed in relatively close contact during our careers, and even in our retired lives it’s still refreshing to see people again.”

Get-togethers like this have happened every five years since 1974. Organized largely by Cdr (Ret’d) Matt Durnford, they began as a way to keep tabs on old friends, and maintain bonds made many years ago.

“We all went through a lot together back in the day, and you don’t forget friends like these,” says Cdr Durnford, who now lives in Riverport, Nova Scotia. “We’ve all spread out over the last 50 years, so it’s nice to be able to get together, catch up, and remember the old times.”

The celebrations included a meet and greet at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club, dinner at the Union Club, and a lot of laughs.

The class also raised a glass of 35-year-old port to those of their group that have passed on.

“It’s been a long time, and we’ve lost more than a few,” says Cdr Durnford. “They are in our hearts and our minds, and we will never forget them.”

During the final send off the “students” were joined by LCdr (Ret’d) Norm Anderson, who was an instructor at Venture during their time in the program.

“We were all terrified of him,” says Cdr Evans. “He was this great big officer and we were all just cadets. Even now he’s pretty intimidating, but it was great to see him.”

LCdr Anderson had a few words to say to his students, 50 years after the fact.

“You’ve all come a long way since then,” he said, raising a glass of port to his old class. “It’s hard to imagine that this group of men is the same one I was ordering around half a century ago, but it does my heart glad to see you have all lived such full lives, and had such fulfilling careers. I’m proud of each and every one of you.”

As the graduates began filing out, starting their journeys back home, it was a bitter sweet goodbye.

“It will be at least another five years, maybe a lot longer, before we see any of these people again,” says Cdr Evans. “You have to show your love and appreciation for your friends while they’re here, because you never know where life is going to take you. That’s what these gatherings are all about.”

Shawn O’Hara, Staff Writer

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