Residents reunite 50 years after Kent State tragedy

Village of St. Charles resident Sandy Plano, left, and Lynn Savron, of the Village Rio Ponderosa, meet for the first time after 50 years.

Fifty years ago, Lynn Savron and Sandy Plano shared a friendship, a school and a traumatic experience: the 1970 Kent State shooting. 

Both juniors at the time of the tragic event, Savron and Plano were close friends. After 50 years apart, the pair recently reunited when they discovered that they now share something else: residency in The Villages. 

Savron and Plano met during their freshman year at Kent State through mutual friends. Savron’s roommate and Plano’s roommate happened to be best friends, so the four frequently got together. 

“They would come over to our dorm and we would go over to theirs,” Savron said. “Sophomore year they all moved to McDowell Hall and I moved into Koonce Hall with a couple of friends, but we still hung out all the time together.”

Savron and Plano stayed close through junior year, spending time together on and off campus. After the shooting, both went on to complete their degrees at Kent State. After college, the pair lost touch as they went off to pursue families and careers before both eventually ended up in The Villages, Savron eight years ago and Plano 10 years ago.

Earlier this month, Plano saw Savron’s name in a Daily Sun article recounting her experience at Kent State near the 50th anniversary of the shooting. At first, Plano didn’t recognize the name. But on a phone call, they made an interesting discovery. 

“All of a sudden she asked ‘Do you know Rosemary?’ and I about passed out,” Plano said.  

“I about died and I said ‘your name is Sandy, I know you; I hung with you,’” Savron said. 

The pair exchanged text messages for hours into that evening, reminiscing about their college days. Now knowing that they lived so close, they made plans to meet up. 

On May 9, they met at the Churchill Street Recreation Center pavilion. After 50 years, they found a few things had changed, like hair color, but not too much else. 

“She has the same beautiful smile and laugh,” Savron said. “When she smiles and laughs, it’s like yep, that’s Sandy.”

For three and a half hours, they caught up on the many details they had missed over the years, including careers, family and life in The Villages. 

They also recalled their differing experiences on the day of the shooting. Savron was near the National Guard when it turned to shoot at the crowd of student protesters. Plano, who had watched the protest unfold from a rooftop, escaped the scene before the shooting happened. Both feel lucky to have left with their lives. 

“It was hugely traumatizing,” Savron said. “To hear the gunshots and to see the students lying there, it was like a total shock for me.”

“Every year on (the anniversary), I think about it,” Plano said. “I can’t forget it, the sound of the helicopters flying overhead, the fear of going on campus.”

The pair mainly talked about their lives in The Villages, and discovered a mutual affinity for golf. Since that initial reunion, they have met twice more to golf with their husbands and friends, and have plans to continue to meet in the future.

“Hopefully, this will be an ongoing friendship — a rekindled friendship,” Savron said.

Staff writer Liz Coughlin can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5304, or