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Part I: Remembering November 22, 1963, and the assassination of John F. Kennedy

West Bend, WI – November 22, 2023 is the 60th anniversary of the death of President John F. Kennedy.


The 35th President of the United States was assassinated in 1963 while riding in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas.

On a historical note, Kennedy campaigned in West Bend while he was seeking the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.

The Research Center at the Washington County Historical Society provided a photo of Kennedy’s visit to West Bend on February 17, 1960, when he was a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts. The picture shows Kennedy walking north on Main Street with Thomas F. O’Meara Jr. on his right. Former West Bend alderman Tom O’Meara III said his father was head of the Washington County Democratic Party in the 1960s and was the one responsible for bringing Kennedy to town.

Remembering November 22, 1963, and the assassination of John F. Kennedy

Rex Melius was a student at Slinger High School. I was a freshman sitting in English class in the “old” Slinger High School when the announcement came over the loudspeaker announcing that President Kennedy had been shot.

I remember our English Teacher (Mrs. Louden) gasping and leaving the room. She returned crying and it was shortly thereafter the announcement was made that President Kennedy had died. The remaining classes for the rest of day were literally canceled, even though we had to attend. The halls were quiet and there was a lot of conversation within the classrooms as to what this meant for all of us and what the future would bring.

I don’t believe we returned to school on Friday, I believe it was a national day of mourning. Everyone was glued to their TVs to listen to and watch any sort of word that help alleviate the pain the entire nation was feeling.

Ray Hamlyn – WBHS Class of 1960 – It’s one of those things you never forget. I was in my senior year at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and was walking by Memorial Library when another student coming out of the library said to me Kennedy had just been shot. I was just a few minutes away from my apartment on State Street which I shared with three other students including Doug Jaeger, who was also from West Bend. We all gathered around a small B&W TV set in somewhat of a state of shock; the assassination of a president was part of American History belonging to the 19th Century, not something that could happen today. But it was real, and we all had an immense sense of loss… Some additional info on this. My former roommate Dick (from Green Bay, now in Atlanta) had responded that he didn’t remember the details but did remember watching the events unfold on the TV in our apartment. That jogged my mind as to why it was so significant to me, and this is what I replied to Dick:

I think one reason Kennedy’s assassination was so unbelievable to me, was that I had seen Kennedy in person in West Bend when I was a senior in high school. I think it was in February 1960 when he was out or starting out on the campaign trail. Our senior social studies teacher, Ms Fransen, got her class out of school that day to see a man who she said was going to be the next president of the United States. At that time, we previously discussed in her class that we didn’t think Kennedy, a junior senator at the time, had a chance…  until we heard him speak and saw his beautiful wife! They were very real and impressive! And it would be our first time to vote!

What do you remember about that day?

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