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The Ellen Payne Odom Genealogy Library Family Tree
Family Reunions • Gatherings • Meetings

by Edith Wagner

A new survey sponsored by Reunions Magazine and Elon University, Elon, North Carolina, and done by sociologist Larry Basirico, PhD, found family members more satisfied when their reunions are structured, organized, well planned, larger, longer-lasting and less frequent. Of all these characteristics, though, the real keys to success are structure, organization and planning.

Basirico’s family reunion interest is personal and professional. He has attended and observed his family’s reunions – parents, siblings, spouses and children – for nearly twenty years.

How did people feel about their most recent reunion?
The survey found people generally happy with their reunions. Seventy-three percent said most family members were very satisfied at the end of the reunion, 69% said they were personally very satisfied and 72% felt family members got along extremely well. That’s encouraging news, but it still leaves about 30% of families who could learn a thing or two to have a better time with each other at their reunions.

What, then, can be done to make your good time even better?
What’s going on at the most successful reunions that make them work so well and what can we learn from them so every reunion works as well? While research is in its early stages, most results and interviews suggest that structure, organization and planning are keys to family reunion success. Eighty-four percent of respondents who reported the highest levels of satisfaction for family members have reunions with a great deal of structure and organization. Only 53% who said there was practically no structure or organization. Further, 86% of those families who did a great deal of planning reported high levels of satisfaction, whereas only 56% of those families who did very little planning experience high levels of satisfaction.

Upcoming family reunions

56th reunion. Oct 5, 2002, Quitman TX. Tammy Hill, 337-527-1978;

Descendants of Frank and Louisa Bugg. August 3-4, 2002. Sharon PA. Rodney Carson, 1565 Drivere La, Sharpsville PA 16150; 724-962-0130;  or

Descendants of Thomas & Mary (Kirby) Collinson. Aug 11, 2002, Galva IL. Donna or Jeff Schlatter, 5106 N. Roberts Rd., Peoria Heights IL 61616-5149; 309-681-1085; .

Aug 9-11, 2002, Orlando FL. Karen Felix Martinez, 10204 Waterside Oaks Dr, Tampa FL 33647.

Hunter, Coates, Towne
Families of Walter Caird Hunter, William Herbert Coates and William Towne through Hettie Eudoshia Willamena Towne. Aug 10, 2002, Outlook WA. Charla, 509-837-8902; .   

Descendants of Spencer Morgan & Elizabeth Talbert. Sep 1, 2002 at Blackford Community Building, Blackford, Kentucky. Emma Morgan Martin 270-664-9459 or Dianne Byers, 128 W. Central Ave, Marion KY 42064;

Oct 18, 2002, Newburyport MA. Historical presentations, speakers, workshops, Morse Society annual meeting; registration fee, advanced reservations needed. L Murdough, 33 Bella Vista Ave, Glen Cove NY 11542;; .

Descendants of John Shank Seylar. Oct 11-13, 2002, Mercersburg PA. Contact Carole Seylar Russo, 516-747-6751;

Descendents of John Tefft [Tift] of Rhode Island and his brother William Teffe of Boston. Oct 12-14, 2002, South Kingstown RI. Darlene Tefft Cobb, 3535 West Avenue J-13, Lancaster CA 93536; 661-722-2585;


Descendants of Bertha Walker and Henry Toomer. Aug 23-25, 2002, West Berlin and Vincentown NJ. Three Toomer days celebrating 18 years of consecutive reunions. Activities include a family history skit, a late night skating party, an all night pig roast in preparation fur Sunday’s block party on Toomer Avenue in West Berlin NJ. And spend Sunday morning planting perennials and tending to family graves in East Berlin Cemetery. Floyd M. Riley, 222 Chestnut Ave, West Berlin NJ 08021; ; .

Williams Centennial
Descendants of Andrew Elton Williams (who had 23 children with two wives), his father, John Williams and his grandparents, Arribecah Goff and Frederick Williams will celebrate the 100th Williams Family Reunion. This Williams family came to Isle of Wight County, Virginia, in the 1600's, went to Duplin County, North Carolina, in the 1700s, to Bulloch County, Georgia, by the late 1700s, to south Alabama about 1816 and into northwest Florida while it was still a Spanish possession.

Festivities include tour of several old family cemeteries and a bonfire with family stories and a program about family history. Kim Williams prepared a cookbook 100 Years of Williams Family Cooking, Boe Williams wrote Andrew Elton Williams: His Ancestors, Contemporaries and Descendants and the annual Williams Family Calendar featuring old photographs was done by Gil Williams. Contact Sissy Williams Howell, .

Want more?
For more reunion information, visit Reunions magazine at where you can request a sample of Reunions magazine free. Also see Reunions Workbook and Catalog and The Family Reunion Sourcebook by Edith Wagner (1999, Lowell House, Los Angeles) in bookstores. List your reunion (also free) by emailing info to .


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