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Alumni Spotlight: Class of 1970 Sweethearts

First Photo is junior prom; Second Photo is current

Many Ridgewood students meet their best friends and spouses while attending RHS. For Joe and Chris (Hein) Zydlo, class of 1970, they met both their best friend and spouse. The Zydlo’s met during their freshman year at RHS and started dating when they were fifteen years old. They attended homecoming dances, sock hops, battle of the bands, sporting events and both junior and senior proms together. Their formative years were spent together and they continued to spend the following fifty together as well. 

When Joe and Chris started at Ridgewood their freshman year they didn’t know one another. 

Joe went to Giles School and Chris had gone to Leigh School. They don’t remember exactly how they met, but Joe jokes when he saw her he just knew he liked her. Because they didn’t attend the same primary school, they didn’t have mutual friends. But once they started dating, their friend groups joined together making their high school experience that much more enjoyable.

They’ve continued to live in the village for the past fifty years and both of their children continued the Zydlo legacy by attending Ridgewood. Their daughter, Jennifer Woods (‘91), and son, Joe (‘94) also married graduates from RHS.

When reminiscing on their time at RHS, the couple said that one of their favorite memories was spending time in the senior lounge (currently the commons outside the principal’s office). They said it was a great meeting place to socialize and talk about classes. Another one of their favorite places to go in RHS was the Learning Lab. Chris’ mom, Edith Hein, worked at the information desk in the middle of the lab. Ridgewood ran on a “mod schedule” during their high school years, which consisted of 20-minute periods, so the lab was critical to have extra time to work class assignments.

Over the past fifty years, the Zydlo’s have given back to the community through volunteering their time. Joe coached Norridge Youth Activities (N.Y.A) Baseball for thirteen years. Many of those players were on the Williamsport Little League World Series team that won 5th in the world in 1985 and the RHS team that placed 2nd in the state finals in 1993. In the past, Joe also sat on the Ridgewood Strategic Planning Committee. When their children were growing up, Chris was extremely involved in the community as well. She was a Girl Scout Leader, board member and the President of the Leigh School P.T.O., Team Mom and Treasurer of the old NYA Cheerleading Program and a member of the Ridgewood Parents’ Club. 

Joe and Chris now continue to watch their grandchildren participate in football, basketball, baseball, track, color guard and band concerts. They love cheering on their grandchildren in everything they do! 

Now, these Ridgewood alumni are helping plan their monumental 50th Class Reunion. The Reunion Committee has eighteen other members from the class of 1970. They began planning their reunion in October 2019. The reunion is set for the 2020 Ridgewood Homecoming Weekend, October 2-4, 2020.

Wayne Bush (‘70) started the planning for the reunion and began to contact fellow members from the class of 1970. At first, the Zydlo’s were not completely on board to be on the reunion committee until Joe got an offer he could not refuse.. a “tool tray.” This specific tray was made in Metal Shop in 1970. 

Joe shared a story about the tool tray and what the significance it held. Joe and fellow classmate, Lee Fanslow (‘70), took Metal Shop together and they had a project where they had to make a little tool tray. The problem was they both couldn’t figure out how to make this tote tray. This made them decide to work together and make one, really nice tray instead. They stamped “L.F.” on the handle, Lee turned it in, got a grade. Then they sanded off the “L.F.” and restamped “J.Z.” on it, so that Joe could turn it in. In the end, they both got “A’s” on the project and the ironic thing is Joe had gone on to make a career working in  the HVAC and sheet metal industry. 

At their first 50 Year Class Reunion planning meeting, Lee showed up with the tray to give to Joe. Lee handed Joe the tray and said, “Now you get to keep it for the next 50 years.”

Joe had completely forgotten about the tray. But it’s been the little moments like this that have brought back so many great memories and experiences during their time at RHS. 

“This has sparked a lot of memories from high school that are deep down in your memory bank. I’ve dug through my pictures and we went to the library to look through old newspapers. There’s so much chatter going on through the Facebook reunion page,” said Chris Zydlo.

The reunion website is and the private Facebook page is titled, “Ridgewood HS 1970 Class Reunion.” They are currently still searching for classmates, so if you know anyone from the Class of 70, please refer them to one of these two pages.

“Leave No Classmate Behind” is their reunion motto and they are taking every measure to find each and every classmate.

The Zydlo’s encourage anybody reading this article, who might be debating if they want to go to their future class reunions, to attend their reunions. “If you get the opportunity to reconnect with your friends - do it. You won’t regret it,” said Joe. 

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