Fort Smith High School
Precilio "Pete" Costes

After graduating from FSHS, I went on to college to pursue my passion in Art and Education. It was the thing to do at the time, or so I thought. After four years of college I received my degree in Art with an emphasis in Secondary Art Education. I struggled for a year as a teacher, only to find I did not have the necessary patience to teach. So, I went into the "Commercial Art" of my then dying passion of my life. Have you ever heard of the expression "starving artist?" I was one!

It was the year President John F. Kennedy was assassinated -- 1963 -- that my life took a drastic turn of events. I went to work for an uncle -- Uncle Sam, that is! Where else can a young man go, besides going home, and still have a roof over his head, get three-square meals a day, have clean clothes to wear, get paid to boot, and still have fun too!! "Hey, that's for me," I thought. So I joined the Navy and became a Corpsman. Little did I know I was signing up for an all-expense-paid trip to the exotic jungles of Vietnam.

In all seriousness, most of us who went to that "unpopular war" as young men -- innocent, patriotic, full-of-life-and-promise -- came back a changed man. Some of us lost our innocence. Others lost our love and patriotism for our country. Still others lost our zeal for life. But there are more than a few of us who gave the ultimate...our all. It wasn't easy coming home unwelcome and despised. It was even harder trying to fit back in, blending in to that society of yesteryear.

In my travels, I found myself in New Orleans, Louisiana, where I met a young nursing student who took the time to be a really good friend. My good friend, Miriam Simon, and I got married the following year (July 6, 1968) after she graduated and became a full pledge Registered Nurse. The rest, as they say, is history! "And they lived happily forever after..."

We moved to Mobile, Alabama in July of 1971 after I went back to college to get a degree in Healthcare. I have been in the healthcare profession ever since as a Cardiopulmonary Technologist. Trust me, it's a mouthful. I do diagnostics work-up for the Heart and Lungs MD's in the Mobile Area. I enjoy what I do, or I wouldn't have stayed with it all these years. I honestly don't know how I am going to retire and leave all this! (Ha! Ha!)

Miriam and I have four grown, independent and self-supporting children -- one daughter and three sons. Our first two were twins, a boy and a girl (Monte & Sonya), and they will turn thirty-five this coming June. They are both happily married and have children of their own. Sonya and her husband, Frank, has two four-year-olds (You guessed it -- twins again!), Caitlin and Ryan. They live close by in the Mobile area. Monte & Leah, his wife, has four children, two boys (Taylor, 9 and Carter, 6) and two girls (Madison, 3 and Olivia, 2 months). They live on the East Coast in Wilmington, N.C.

There are twenty-one months between our next son and the twins (We had three in diapers there for a while -- that was fun!!). Chad, a Veteran himself from Desert Storm -- he served with the 1st Marines -- has four children. He has a ten-year-old daughter from his first marriage, Shantelle, who lives with her Mom in Boston, Massachusetts. Chad also has two boys (Andrew, 10 and C.J., 7) and a girl (Casey, 3) with his current marriage. They live in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Finally, Neil is our twenty-two-year-old baby. Neil just graduated from Auburn University (Summa Cum Laude!) and is newly wed with no children -- yet. He and Megan, his bride, currently live in Mobile while she finishes her last two years at the University of South Alabama. After that it's Graduate School for Neil (somewhere!).

Now, if you were counting along, you'll know that we have ten grandchildren -- five girls and five boys!!! It's a real effort to have a family get-together; however, when we do, it's a party! And with that many typical, active healthy kids -- it's loud!! Most of the time, we stay on the road visiting all our children and our grandchildren. After all, that's what grandparents do, don't they?

For many years, as our children were growing up, we all looked forward to our frequent visits to "my hometown," Ft. Smith, Arkansas. However, after both of my parents died, and the ole' homestead was sold and demolished, these annual trips also ceased to be. Now they are just fond memories. We still visit, only not too often, usually just to visit the gravesites of our beloved parents.

It was hard for my brothers and sisters and me to say goodbye to the house we called "home" for so many years. As trying as such times were, though, they also brought on a flood of pleasant memories. I quickly realized that those memories did not come from a house, but from the warm, loving, caring, and supportive family that lived there. The unquestionable love I experienced there has made an incalculable difference in my life.

It is by divine providence, I honestly believe, that my life has come full circle. Miriam and I thank God everyday for our many blessings, for He has richly blessed us.

It is an honor and a privilege to share this part of my life with you all -- my dear friends and classmates from FSHS, CLASS OF '58!!! God bless!

Precilio "Pete" Costes - 2004