“Families are Forever” – that’s the logo on the banner of the 25th Arch & Juanita Bohon Family Reunion and this weekend the Bohon family gathered for their annual event. But the 25th Anniversary banner was only memorabilia from 1984 – this year, the family celebrated their 50th consecutive reunion weekend at the Hotel Roanoke and Longwood Park. While most of the family resides in Salem and Warrenton, members traveled from as far away as California, Arkansas and Florida.
The Bohon Family grew up in the 1920s, 30s and 40s in Marshall, Virginia (formerly known as Salem in the late 1700s. The northern “Salem” had to change its name due to another Salem in Southwest Virginia that already had it claimed).
There are some interesting things about the Bohon reunion that make it unique – one being that it grew out of a large family of 14 children – 11 of which lived to adulthood. The reunion became the brothers’ and sisters’ way to get together to share their beautiful families. Four of the Bohon sisters made their home in Salem including Evelyn Saul, Virginia Farrow, Ruby Pugh and Betty Hill. Other Salem families that are part of the family include Wassum, Gresham, Turner, Manning, McArthur, Emery, Sledd and Berenbaum.
The Bohon reunion is also unique in that it has always been an overnight stay usually taking up the majority of a hotel. There are many years when nearly 100 people would attend. For the 50th reunion, the family was expected to number close to 90 people. As retirements of the brothers and sisters came in the 1980′s, many started arriving a day early, making an overnight stay a 3 day event. Officers have always been elected in charge of organizing the event and the reunion has always had a secretary responsible for keeping minutes each year. The family can go back to any year to re-live the details of any reunion.
The family has held strong to its Christian faith as Sunday always included a family member leading the group in Sunday school with scripture, a message and music. A talent show usually follows that showcases young and old. Sister Joyce has even penned a poem for each reunion to heighten anticipation of the upcoming weekend.
“Families are pulled in a lot of different directions today, so it’s nice to see a family event that has weathered the test of time for so many years. Growing up spending one weekend with your extended family really strengthens its bonds,” said Archie Pugh. Jim Gresham added, “We’ve all grown up together. We all have great memories of funny and even sad moments that we all shared.”
Many of the seniors who started the reunion are now in their 70s and 80s. This 50th reunion was dedicated to their belief that it was important to keep their families connected. Archie concluded, “Today, we celebrate them – for their vision and their effort.”
Submitted by Archie Pugh.