JFK portrait missing from school remains mystery

Members of class of 1964 had raised money to purchase a portrait of president.
MCT Regional News
Dec 2, 2013

Ron Syroid, then a senior, cozied up to a junior in the music room at East High School in Akron on Nov. 22, 1963.

The younger student was teaching Syroid, a tuba player in the school band, how to play the piano.

“It was a stunt to try to get close to her,” said Syroid, who eventually took that girl to the prom. The piano lesson, his first and last, would be unforgettable for another reason.

“Some gal broke in with tears running down her face and said, ‘They’ve shot and killed the president,’” Syroid remembered. “We were stunned.”

The school waited until the end of the day that Friday to announce John F. Kennedy’s death. When Syroid got home, his grandmother was watching TV news.

Syroid recalled the broadcast condolences from a grieving international community and the televised shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald that followed that weekend.

“The tragedy of it became deeper and deeper,” said Syroid, now 67 and living in West Akron. “You knew you were watching history.”

Stations that typically went off the air at 1 a.m. instead played patriotic dirges, Syroid said. “I do remember there was a symphony playing somewhere. They were playing solemn music.”

To commemorate their time at East, members of the class of 1964 raised money to purchase a portrait of President Kennedy. The portrait, which some vaguely recall as being signed by Jacqueline Kennedy, adorned a wall in the library for many years.

After the new high school opened in 2010, and Syroid and other graduates began planning a 50-year reunion, the group discovered that the portrait was missing.

Akron school officials have combed the district for the portrait, to no avail.

“Maybe over the next few months we’ll find it,” Syroid said.

The reunion committee has planned its Golden Anniversary event in August.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of the missing portrait is asked to contact Akron schools spokesman Mark Williamson at 330-761-2930.

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By Doug Livingston - Akron Beacon Journal (MCT)

©2013 the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)

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