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July 22, 2014

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Reunion honors 31ers, tries to bring Boulder City history to life

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Stephen R. Sylvanie / Special to the Home News

Fran Durfey, left, talks with Jim Godbey during the annual reunion of the descendants of the Boulder City 31ers at the College of Southern Nevada on Saturday. Godbey moved to Boulder City as a child with his family in 1931 just as jobs became available due to the construction of the Hoover Dam.

The 53rd annual 31ers Reunion, a yearly get-together for people with roots to Boulder City's beginnings in 1931, focused as much on the future as on the past when it met Saturday at the College of Southern Nevada.

Many of the old-timers were there — the Godbeys, whose parents built one of the first privately owned homes in Boulder City, and Gene Segerblom, who taught at Boulder City High School in 1940, before it was a four-year school.

But also in the room were people dedicated to keeping the stories of those early families alive.

Sherri Gersten performed a monologue based on the oral history of Erma Godbey about what it was like to make Boulder City a home for her family when the federal government, which founded the town, was predicting it would fold up in 1935 after the Hoover Dam was completed.

The monologue was written by Laura Lynch, who said she expected it to be the first of many pieces to bring the history of Boulder City to life for coming generations.

"We have a museum here. We have the families here," she said. "We need a way to bring it to the community."

Also at the luncheon was Judith Irons, who has compiled a database of Hoover Dam workers, based on work she has done trying to find her own grandfather's ties to the construction, and Boulder City High School Vice Principal Steve Wood, who hopes to bring some of the stories into the school's curriculum.

The 31ers Reunion Committee is shifting its focus to finding more ways to take the history that has been collected and make it accessible to residents, said Patty Sullivan, a coordinator of Boulder City's Parks and Recreation Department and granddaughter of Erma Godbey.

Jean Reid Norman can be reached at 990-2658 or [email protected].

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