Naomi and her friend are the oldest living classmates at their All School Reunion in 2013
When Hardin, MT, High School celebrated its 70th All School Reunion this summer, Sweetwater resident Naomi Sweeney was honored as one of the two oldest high school graduates there.
Actually, she had not wanted to be in the Hardin High Class of 1935 at all.
She was very unhappy when her father moved the family from Sheridan, WY, to Hardin at the beginning of her senior year. It was only when she met classmate Charles Sweeney that her attitude changed.
Their high school romance continued after graduation, although Charles attended university in Missoula and Naomi in Bozeman.
After graduating with a degree in business and a minor in home economics, Naomi taught for a year in Windham, a small town near Stanford.
Charles had earned a degree in business administration and also a commission in the Army Reserve through the university ROTC program. He became an accountant for Texas Oil Company in Butte until suddenly life changed.
After December 7th, 1941, Charles was called to duty at Fort Lewis, WA. Naomi soon joined him and they were married February 26, 1942 in Tacoma. After her husband was trained as a bomber pilot and headed for England, Naomi returned to Hardin to be with her parents. She was there awaiting the birth of her first child when Charles was shot down over the North Sea in June, 1943. He was a prisoner of war for two years.
“Those were not the best of times,” Naomi admits. They were able to communicate sporadically with letters that arrived in batches from time to time. Finally, Naomi was able to go to Billings to meet the train when Charles came home.
Although they lived for a few years on a farm near Hardin, they moved into town when Charles began employment with the Big Horn County State Bank. He retired as president and chairman of the board in 1980.
Although Naomi had not wanted to move to Hardin in the first place, she and Charles had a long and full life in the community where they raised their three children. They did at last move to Billings, where they had a home for 14 years before moving into Sweetwater (as some of the first residents seven years ago). Although Charles passed away in June of 2012, Naomi continues to be an active and valued member of the Sweetwater community at the age of 96.
Special thanks to Sweetwater resident Lorraine Collins who wrote this story.
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