Newport Harbor High's reunion will fundraise

Two cancer-stricken alumni from the Class of 1985, Suzy Leider and Terry Denigan, will be remembered at the event in Costa Mesa.

June 28, 2010|By Tom Ragan,
  • Group photo of the Newport Harbor Class of 1985.
Group photo of the Newport Harbor Class of 1985. (Daily Pilot )

There's something about high school reunions. Some people avoid them like the plague; others embrace them for the loads of fun they can often become. Movies have been made about them.

Then there's the Newport Harbor High School Class of 1985, whose 25th anniversary reunion is scheduled for Aug. 14-15 at the Ayres Hotel & Suites in Costa Mesa.

The class is taking another tact: It's going to use its reunion as a fundraiser to help those who've been stricken with sarcoma, a cancer that took the life of one of its students, Suzy Leider, a high school cheerleader, friend to everyone and founder of the Sarcoma Alliance.

Also taken from this world was Terry Denigan, who died of skin cancer, and had been a star water polo player.

He died in August 2003; Leider in August 2002.

Denigan and Leider left indelible impressions on many in the Class of 1985, which rounds off at 500 students.


Kim Fine, a Newport Harbor alumna, is organizing the reunion, which will cost $120 per person for both days, Saturday and Sunday.

Jon Elliott, the former student body president, is uniting the class under the slogan: "The Year the Spirit Came Back."

"For the most part," Fine said, "we were a close class, and in the memory of Suzy and Terry we will reconnect with old friends, make some new ones, and celebrate."

And if you don't think donating to the cause of cancer is ample enough reason to drop in on your old classmates, keep this in mind for all you single people out there: During the 20th anniversary, two classmates, Laura Haskell and Andy Stoneman, not only reconnected — they got married.

"And one of them, I can't remember which, didn't even want to go to the reunion," Fine said.

As for Denigan and Leider, their memories and spirit will live on regardless, said Fine, who managed to track down old quotations and writings on behalf of the pair by friends and fraternity brothers.

Denigan, an athlete until the end, and Leider, a frequent jogger and registered nurse later in life, influenced the lives of many whom had the pleasure of knowing them, Fine said.

Known as "Dengo" around his fraternity house, Denigan was always a good sport. Even when he was dying, he went out of his way to smile and be cheerful as friends gathered around for one of the last visits.

Daily Pilot Articles Daily Pilot Articles