Wall of Fame Honorees
Cynthia Garcia Brown
Cynthia Garcia Brown, known to many as Cindy, is the Director of Pathways for Porterville Unified School District. Born and raised in Porterville to Michael and Ruth Garcia, she started her path, alongside her father and siblings working at the family shoe store, Cassidys Shoe Store on Main Street. She credits learning communication skills and the importance of customer service during the years of working at the store for the skills she continues to use in her professional and community service activities. Cindy is a member of Saint Anne’s Parish, a graduate of Saint Anne’s School and a graduate of Monache High School. The Porterville community was the bedrock of her upbringing and why she wanted to give back to her hometown.
Cindy attended the University of California at Los Angeles and holds a Master’s of Science degree in Counseling Psychology and Educational Leadership and worked as a university academic advisor. She married Jeff Brown, also a Porterville native and a college football and baseball coach. They worked and lived in Texas, the California Bay Area and at Cal Poly University before returning home to Porterville in 2001 to begin working in the Porterville Unified School District and raising their family.
Cindy has consistently advocated for student success in college and career preparation. Her work extends into the public and private sectors with special focus on providing students with early exposure to opportunities for future life-long learning success. For the past 14 years, she has led the development of a district-wide Linked Learning Pathways Program which now provides 14 college preparatory and career themed pathways for students at PUSD high schools. She prides herself in the fact that every pathway student has a resume, interview skills and internship opportunities under their belt before graduation. Pathway students are also educated on the importance of giving back to their community through volunteerism, working with non-profits, and tutoring students.
With the vision to take a proactive stance and refocus education for students in the Porterville area, she has secured over $56 million in grant funding for the PUSD Pathways program through private companies and the California Department of Education. Working closely with James Irvine Foundation, ConnectEd: the National Center for College and Career, Linked Learning Alliance and the National Academy Foundation, Cindy and her PUSD colleagues have developed a successful system of pathway academies that have received statewide, national, and international recognition. She has been instrumental in building multiple partnerships with workforce and professional industry experts to connect educational lessons with the real world and put Porterville on the map with corporate sponsors such as Qualcomm, Sunpower, Gates Foundation, Garner Holt Productions, Apple, and Google. When you see businesses such as these investing and supporting PUSD Pathways, it’s easy to recognize the impact that Cindy’s leadership has on bringing business and education together and making our community stronger. Watching your hometown recognized for their educational programs on a conference stage in Washington, D.C. and noting that PUSD has out-achieved larger and more prosperous communities is something our future generations will continue to benefit from.
Cindy is also a member of various educational statewide committees and provides assistance to other districts that are working to develop career based pathways. Cindy serves as a Linked Learning Fellow; NAF Leadership Fellow; Board of Director for CAPS, Climate Action Program for Schools; Porterville Pathways Foundation Board; member of the Chamber of Commerce; Saint Anne’s Board President for 6 years; and Saint Anne’s Eucharistic/Lectern Ministry Member. She was recognized as a California Linked Learning Educator Champion in 2017 and the Porterville Chamber of Commerce Woman of the Year in 2018. With pride in the community of Porterville, she continues to build relationships and connections between the education system, the civic community, city industry, and business partners. Businesses recognize that Porterville provides a well-prepared workforce and that businesses are strongly connected to the educational system.
Cindy and her husband, Jeff, are proud parents of three children, Elizabeth, Michael and Matthew. Their daughter Elizabeth is married to Gustavo Carranza and are raising their first grandchild, Christopher James. All their children have benefitted from the PUSD pathways program and live successful professional lives, carrying forward service to others.
Nicki Edwards was a lifelong resident of Porterville and the surrounding area. She loved her family fiercely, especially her Papa Glenn and was the oldest of seven children. She learned the art of making pomegranate jelly from her mother and her family and friends looked forward to receiving a jar every year, it was a commodity in the Edwards clan. Her chocolate fudge was a huge hit also. Nicki was lifelong friends with so many people and called many her 'best' friends knowing them since Kindergarten at St. Anne's school, also attending Porterville High School and San Jose State.
Nicki was a champion of human rights, animal welfare and the environment, and a force to be reckoned with and willing to go the extra mile for things that were best for the community. She believed in democracy and advocated for voting rights. She lived the life she chose without worrying about the judgment of others. Nicki assisted many people by providing voting information and other literature to those who asked.
Her photography business, Nicki Edwards Portraiture, was very popular and she began learning the ropes as a youngster from her treasured papa Glenn and Uncle Jeff. Glenn pioneered outdoor photography, and she followed in his footsteps specializing in outdoor senior, wedding, and family portraits. She spent many days and evenings capturing memories of high school senior proms, winter formals, and ballet and football pictures. She was a positive influence on thousands of students, couples and celebrants. Nicki loved red poppies and butterflies, and had a green thumb planting flowers and ferns and keeping up the grounds of her ranch that she used as the background for her business.
She was a founding board member for the Porterville Animal Rescue Team, holding many pet adoption events in Porterville and surrounding areas. Speaking to a young man at one of these, he mentioned he liked pit bulls, and it just so happened that Nicki had a pittie at home that had recently been abandoned. She drove 2 1/2 hours one way to ensure Jockomo would have a loving home and Nicki couldn't have been more pleased with the outcome. Nicki did not hesitate to ask friends to help in fostering abandoned dogs.
Nicki and her family were a lifetime members of the Barn Theater where she has acted, directed and worked many aspects of theater including photographer. Nicki became involved with the board of directors which included many years as the President. She spent endless hours at the barn and loved washing and ironing the tablecloths, a small act that gave her great pleasure and a sense of peace. She tackled everything from maintenance to set construction. One of her favorite tasks each year was picking a theme and decorating the annual Barn Christmas Tree And lobby. Nicki also helped cook and serve many dinners at the Barn Theater. Her leadership skills were well known within the Barn community and she enjoyed coaching future actors, directors and leaders. She stepped down from the presidency after working diligently with the City to secure a 20-year lease of the theater location and would continue her board membership until her passing.
She was an avid reader utilizing and promoting the use of the Porterville Library. She always went out of her way to support locally-owned businesses and restaurants, and encouraged others to do the same especially when family arrived from out of town. Nicki attended numerous council meetings, civic events and community activities and recruited many others to get involved. With her encouragement and beliefs, many people became more involved in civic and community matters.
Daniel Earl Hackey served in the United States Navy from 1970-1990 during the Vietnam War. He joined the U.S Navy in 1969 right out of high school, leaving behind his hometown of Biwabik, Minnesota for boot camp in San Diego, California. After two weeks in boot camp training, Dan was selected to train the drill sergeants in various demonstrations tasks with new recruits. Following his full twelve weeks of boot camp, Dan left for Dam Neck, Virginia. He attended the Dam Neck School for Submarine Training, graduating one and half years later as a Submarine Missiles Technician. Dan left Dam Neck Virginia, for Charleston, South Carolina to build missiles and test them for fleets. While serving in the Navy, Dan received an award for inventing a tool used for the missiles on the submarine. Dan’s last duties were in the weapons department ship superintendent for all subs coming in and out of Holy Loch, Scotland. He received the Navy Achievement Medal in Scotland and eventually earned the rank of E-6.
Dan has worked with the Tule River Tribe for 20 years and is a familiar face to so many. He opened the first Bingo Hall at Eagle Mountain Casino and then advanced to several other positions within the organization including Human Resources Director and Marketing Director. He then moved on to work for the Tule River Tribal Council as Public Relations Director. He also served as Special Advisor to Chairman Peyron.
Dan has served on a large variety of committees and organizations lending his expertise and support across the valley. He has been on the Tule River Native Veterans Post 1987 located on the Tule River Indian Reservation, American Legion, and First Annual Tule River INFR. He has also participated in the Chambers of Commerce for several cities including Springville, Tulare, Porterville, and Visalia. He has been on the Tulare County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Tulare County Fair Board, Tule River Pow-Wow committee, Tule River Rodeo Committee, and Yokuts Foundation Committee. While overseeing the Yokuts Foundation, he and the Tule River Tribe were able to sponsor my agencies such as CASA, Porterville Exchange Club, Family Crisis Center, Parent Pregnancy Resource Center, local sports teams, FFA students and also individuals and families.
Dan is known to go above and beyond in his service. He helped to organize a very successful charity golf tournament that raised thousands of dollars for local nonprofits and connected individuals from all over the state. That didn’t stop him from also being the person dressed up in a bunny costume lending some cheer to a spring family event. His quiet competitiveness helped fuel the City of Porterville’s Corporate Games in which the Tule River Tribe has competed in from its inception.
During his time with the Tule River Tribal Council, Dan actively built strong relationships with outside entities within the City of Porterville, Tulare County, and State in legislative and gaming and beyond. Establishing these relationships became instrumental in securing support for local businesses as well as the relocation of the Eagle Mountain Casino. It has been remarked that the casino relocation efforts would not be where they are at today, with plans of opening this year, without his extensive efforts to build and contribute to community.
Barbara Wong Sue
Barbara, the second child of Ted and Jean Wong was born in 1949 in San Francisco. Her father was in the grocery business in Richmond. When the business experienced growing pains he started searching for a new location and ultimately a new home for his family. He was fortunate to find such a location in the friendly town of Porterville. It was 1953 and Barbara was just four years old.
The business was called Town & Country Market and the original store was located where the Dollar General stands today. The business was downstairs and the upstairs is where Barbara and the family lived. Barbara’s first playground was the store’s warehouse. Because her father believed in inspiring early responsibility and work ethic, at a very young age Barbara was assigned to sort out soda bottles as her first job.
Barbara attended local schools and continued to work at the store all through her early life. She was active in choir, student government and was a Porterville High School song leader. She graduated from with the Class of 1967. Immediately upon graduation, Barbara was accepted to the University of Pacific, School of Pharmacy. During her UOP stay she was a member of Lambda Chi and Tri Delta Sorority. Barbara graduated as a registered pharmacist in 1972.
Also in 1972 was Barbara’s marriage to Vernon Sue who was also in pharmacy school. The couple moved back to Porterville the next year where Barbara began a job with Town and Country Pharmacy working for her uncle, Frank Gong, while Vernon started at Thrifty Drug Store on Main Street. In 1975 Barbara and Vernon started their family with the arrival of a daughter Leslie, followed by a second daughter Elisa and finally a son, Aaron.
Barbara continued as a pharmacist until 1985 when her father, Teddy, asked her to make a career change and devote her time to the family business and become the manager of Town & Country Market. Due to the grace of God, the dedication of the entire Wong family, many hardworking employees, and the loyal and supportive customers of Porterville through the years, the business has continued to prosper. Next year, Town & Country will celebrate its 70th anniversary. During her time as store manager, Barbara and the business have been instrumental in supporting all different types of endeavors and civic entities. Barbara followed her father’s philosophy of, “if you live and do business in a community, you should give back and support that community”. They’ve supported such events and entities including; The Porterville Fair, Porterville 4H Breakfast, Porterville Schools, Monache and Porterville High School Athletics and their marching bands, Sierra View District Hospital, and numerous clubs and other charities.
As her children were growing up Barbara was involved in all of their activities. She was a part of many PTA Boards, Porterville School’s Site Council, and could even be found organizing the annual Halloween carnival and concessions for the different swimming tournaments. She was also a proud Monache Band Parent and is credited in assembling multitudes of tamales.
In 1993, her daughter Elisa was relegated to playing on the boy’s water polo team because, according to the athletic director, there wasn’t enough interest to form a girls’ team. Determined, Barbara sought out teams that were active during summer play and coordinated interest from representatives of different local schools. With the research in hand, Barbara presented it to the Monache athletic director and the girls’ water polo league evolved from there. She even went as far as to coax Hal Hevener out of coaching retirement to come back and lead the first team. Barbara is credited in helping form the first girl’s water polo league in the valley and, for her and her husband’s involvement, was awarded a plaque for service to Monache High School in 1997.
Barbara also served on the Porterville Education Foundation for over 10 years. She feels that her most meaningful accomplishment was the book donation project benefitting Porterville Schools. Barbara and Jennifer Lindgren spearheaded the process of collecting money donations at different sites in the city in an effort to purchase books for first grade classes. All told, it was estimated that over 4000 books were donated as a result of the project.
After 37 years, Barbara continues to work at Town & Country Market (semi-retired) and cares for her healthy 95 years old mother, Jean. She is active in P.E.O., a philanthropic women’s organization. She believes her greatest accomplishment, with her husband Vernon by her side, was raising their children. She is proud of their growth and accomplishments and sees them as kind and respectful- traits any parent would hope for. She now enjoys 7 wonderful grandchildren, the best of all.
George Tanimoto was born on October 17, 1934 in Downey, California. He was relocated to the Japanese Relocation Center in Gila River, Arizona during World War II in 1942 at the age of eight years old. At the end of the war in 1945, the family moved to Parlier, California. George considers himself a valley native moving to Porterville in 1968. George graduated from high school in Sanger where he took his first art classes. His grandfather was a tombstone cutter of fancy headstones in Hawaii and George believes his artistic ability runs through his family tree starting with him. George earned a degree in Industrial Arts from California State University, Fresno where he majored in woodworking, however, he was not able to pursue his craft due to allergies. George became a special education teacher at the Porterville Developmental Center in the early 1960’s, still sharing his passion by teaching arts and crafts until he retired in October 1992.
After retiring, he was finally able to truly pursue his love of art. George describes his artistic style as impressionistic contemporary. He attended many art workshops and took classes at Porterville College and California State University, Fresno. In the mid-1980’s, George began describing himself as a “line-artist” and worked primarily in watercolors, acrylics and colored pencils. While he enjoyed whimsical subjects, he took his art seriously. His art has been shown at many exhibitions and he has sold many paintings during his career.
George is revered as one of Porterville’s most prolific artists and has been a longtime part of our local artistic community, serving as President of the Porterville Art Association from 1975- 1976 and continuing to promote artists by providing lessons. He is noted for his skillful and unique approach to creativity. His work has graced many local venues including The Porterville Art Association, The Exeter Courthouse Gallery, local businesses, and community fundraisers, just to name a few.
Described by friends as spontaneous and inventive, when George got an idea for a drawing he would immediately put it on anything he could find- cardboard, paper, wood, or even scraps from the trash – just to be sure he could share his thoughts for all to enjoy. George’s artwork covered a wide range of form and median. He has painted a large abstract with left over house paint; once did a cartoon of a City Council meeting in crayons; he used pastels to draw a friend tasting at the Chile Cook Off.
George is truly a treasured luminary of the art world. His work is well known beyond Porterville and is highly prized and sought after for its beauty and the individualistic nature of his style. He has resided in Fresno for the past few years with family. While he is no longer able to paint, his artwork continues to bring joy and happiness to many through his fun and creative paintings. He has inspired and influenced aspiring and fellow artists alike, and yet he is regarded for his endearing and humble nature. George has shared his immense talent with those who seek mentorship as well as those who simply marvel at his masterful strokes.Janice Castle
As a Porterville native, Janice attended local schools and graduated from Porterville High School. She is familiar with many generations of long-time local families and has deep roots in the area. She strongly believes it is the responsibility of each citizen to give back to their community and make it a better place to live.
Janice has dedicated her career endeavors to assisting people in achieving their dreams. She is the Market President for the Porterville/Lindsay Area at Bank of the Sierra. She joined Bank of the Sierra’s team 30+ years ago and has a passion for assisting her customers. She was recognized nationally by the United States Small Business Administration in 2006 for her commitment and dedication to assisting Women in Business, with a focus on minority entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Janice’s commitment extends well beyond her career with volunteerism in the community truly setting her apart. She was awarded “Woman of the Year” by the Porterville Chamber of Commerce in 2007, but expressed that giving back to the community was the reward in itself. She has served on various local nonprofit boards including the Porterville College Foundation, Tulare County Office of Education Foundation, and the Central California Family Crisis Center.
Janice is also dedicated to improving healthcare in Porterville. She has served on the Sierra View Foundation Board for over ten years with goals of continuing to expand the services offered by our local hospital. She is involved in a number of fundraisers to raise financial support and community awareness for Sierra View Medical Center.
She is a longstanding member of the Porterville Breakfast Rotary Club. It is through this membership that Castle has been credited with founding and sustaining the "Stars in the Hills" prom, an event presented for the intellectually and developmentally disabled students in the area. The event offers a safe and fun environment where, for that one night, that student is the star. The idea for the prom came when she and the president of the club at that time attended a Rotary convention where they heard of similar events in other cities. Castle felt there was a definite need in the community for such an event and made it a mission to bring the opportunity to Porterville. The event has continued, in fact it was hosted just last weekend, and has grown to include numerous organizations that volunteer to support the cause and make it special for all those that attend.
Janice and her husband, Phillip, cherish family time, which includes five children and fourteen grandchildren. They also enjoy traveling in their RV and spending time outdoors.
Teresa A. de la Rosa-Garcia
Teresa de la Rosa-Garcia was born in Chihuahua, Mexico. She is the sixth child of a family of eight children. At 19 years of age, she went away to college in Mexico City where she attended Universidad Nacional Automoma de Mexico (UNAM) and earned a degree in International Relations. Her graduation was delayed by a few months because of the student strike of the ’68 Student Movement- Movimiento Estudiantil.
In the spring of 1969 she was invited to participate in an UNAM Students and Chicano Leaders of the Southwest Conference held in New Mexico. Attending that conference changed her life. By September of that year, she was enrolled in the Political Science Master’s Program at Fresno State, where she also worked as a TA in La Raza Studies Program. She met her husband Roberto de la Rosa there during a hunger strike.
Her husband, Roberto, who started law school in 1974 was actively involved in La Raza Law Students Association. By November of 1974, the first LSAT Preparation course was born. The de la Rosa’s house became the clearinghouse for the registration of students to attend the course and Teresa proudly took ownership of that part of the program.
In 1975, with two children, ages 4 and 20 months, she started her legal education at Hastings College of the Law. By then, Teresa’s political views had already fully developed. She was a product of the ‘68 movement, the Civil Rights movement in the United States, as well as the Chicano Moratorium.
In 1976 Roberto and Teresa were actively involved in the student strike at Hastings College as part of the struggle against the Bakke Decision in which the U.S. Supreme Court decided on the practice of affirmative action policy in University of California admissions. In the summer of 1976 Teresa clerked for the most progressive law firm in the State of California, the San Francisco Law Collective, whose founders Paul Harris and Stan Zacks had a profound impact on her legal career.
Upon Teresa’s graduation in 1978, and after O.L.A. Raza had been formally incorporated as a non-profit corporation, Teresa and Roberto, along with the other three Hastings Law Students- O.L.A. Raza founding members Roberto Tafoya, Raul Ayala and Maria-Esther de Anda- moved to Bakersfield to open their first office. The O.L.A Raza Legal Information center, under the auspices of the Legal Services Corporation, was born.
O.L.A. Raza operated three law offices for several years until 1988 when these offices became nine Immigrant Rights Centers during the Amnesty Program. Presently, O.L.A. Raza operates six Immigrant Rights Centers in Bakersfield, Delano, Porterville, Tulare, Visalia, and Salinas. At O.L.A. Raza, Teresa has been its Deputy Director, and since 2003 she has been its Director of Advocacy.
For her dedication to service and advocay, Teresa has received numerous awards. Among them she received the highly prestigious Ohtli Award presented to her in 2006 by the Mexican Government. For her many contributions to the community, she has been recognized by the California State Legislature and the California Senate, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Kings and Tulare Counties, the League of Mexican American Women of Tulare and Kings Counties, and the Association of Mexican American Educators. She was also awarded the Human Rights Award by the Soroptimist International Club of Tulare County.
Teresa has served and continues to serve on several non-profit boards such as Central California Legal Services, Family Healthcare Network, and Comision Honorifica Mexicana Americana, Inc. She has also been engaged in civil service as a member of the City of Porterville Charter Commission, the Sierra View District Hospital Redistricting Committee, Tulare County Redistricting Advisory Committee, and Tulare County Grand Jury.
He was a legend and he truly had a legendary life. Jeff Edwards was born in Tulare in October 1922. He survived both polio and cancer. Even though he didn't see combat due to the effects of polio on his leg, he served his country in World War II in the U.S. Army as a base photographer. Through his photography, Edwards documented everything from John Steinbeck and U.S. Presidents to the happenings of his community and renowned Porterville events.
When Edwards was discharged in 1946, he returned home and started his own studio with the help of his brother. They did portraiture, photofinishing, weddings and commercial photography. Eventually, Edwards Studio would open on Main Street in Porterville and remain in business for 52 years. Edwards also did freelance work for local newspapers. His roots in the community and affable demeanor always allowed him to capture the moment. When Edwards was called by the Fresno Bee to get pictures of a Hells Angels standoff on Olive Avenue, he recalls showing up and startling them with the first flash of his camera. Edwards feared he was in for trouble, but one of the Angels recognized him and asked if there were any other shots he wanted to get so he had them pose on their bikes with the engines roaring.
Through his relationships with other local photographers and frame shops, he started an expansive collection of old portraits of the community. He became the go-to resource for museum shows, historical insights, and even centennial celebrations. By as early as 1976, he had accumulated so many old time photos and stories from local people that he felt obliged to publish a book called “Main Street- Then & Now”. He proudly claimed that it became the most stolen book in the Porterville Library which prompted the establishment of the History Room. As part of a way to raise funding for the Main Street Program he also published a book called “Porterville Main Street” with all proceeds going to fund improvements to downtown. He was good friends with Pearle Zalud and, with her blessing, did the book “The Zalud’s of Porterville”.
Edwards didn’t consider himself a writer, but instead a story teller and photographer. He would become synonymous with Porterville history- a local icon. He made sure all of the history he recorded was preserved, having the foresight to publish his work in many forms. Edwards would author upwards of 40 books and publications, mostly about the history of the Porterville area and, about midway through his life, also wrote an autobiography. He preserved 70 years of work in the form of thousands of copy slides he made of historical photographs that he then donated to the Porterville Museum, many of them his original photos. He contributed so much to the preservation of local history that a ‘Jeff Edwards Room’ was established at the museum.
In addition to being a photographer and historian, Edwards was also an avid golfer. He arrived at the course nearly every day wearing a smile and could always talk shop with staff and fellow golfers. He was a regular at Porterville’s municipal golf course and continued to play almost every single day until his passing- and he was still tough to beat.
Edwards was married to Rosemary and had three children Guy, Gayle and Gwenn. It’s well known that Edwards would not have wanted a big deal made about his life, but he leaves an incredible legacy that will surely live on in our history books.Virginia R. Gurrola
Virginia Gurrola’s political leadership began by chance – as the adviser to MEChA at Porterville College she inspired to show her students the importance of local government by involving them in the political process. She ran for council and was elected as the first Mexican-American woman to serve on Porterville’s City Council and later as Mayor in the city’s history. Virginia would go on to serve as an elected official for 13 years. Serving from 1995 to 2003, Mayor for three years during the tenure, re-elected in 2012 to 2016 appointed as Mayor from 2012-2013. In July of 2019 Gurrola was appointed to the City Council to fill a vacant position until December 2020.
In addition to Virginia’s general duties, she chaired Porterville’s Transactions and Use Tax Oversight Committee, served on the Tulare County Association of Governments (TCAG) for twelve years, as well as the Mitigation and Rail Committee, and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control Board. Numerous projects were envisioned and completed during her terms, including: the Sports Complex, the widening of Main Street Bridge, and the revitalization of the Orange- Main – Date Street corridor, the Casa De Rio water and development project and East Porterville Water Supply Project. Her willingness to work with others while also standing up for her constituents is what truly sets her apart.
Virginia has received numerous awards, including induction into Porterville College's Distinguished Hall of Fame by the PC Foundation, Innovator of the Year by the Kern Community College Board, the Distinguished Alumni by Lindsay Unified School Board and recognitions from the California State Assembly for her leadership roles.
Virginia’s career at Porterville College expanded thirty-four years where she held several leadership positions. She was the Director of the Extended Opportunity Program and Services (EOPS), Financial Aid Department, Admissions and Records Office, as well as the Executive Director to the PC Foundation. She also served as the Academic Senate President, MECHA Advisor and coordinated various early outreach programs.
Since 2016 she has chaired the South County Tourism Committee known as Mighty190. The goal is to strengthen tourism through commerce and recreational opportunities provided by the area. Her volunteerism is fueled by a drive to create a robust economic base for businesses and communities along the Mighty190 corridor.
Virginia graduated from Lindsay High School, then in her twenties became a student at Porterville College, where she received the Associate of Arts Degree. She completed her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Public Administration from California State University Bakersfield. Virginia often informs students that barriers are made to be broken and an education is for a lifetime!
Virginia served on the Family Crisis Center Board of Directors from 2010–2015, the Comision Honorifica Mexicana Americana of Porterville Board from 1976–2000 and is a member of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) of Porterville, serving as President. She is currently serving as the facilitator for Leadership Porterville (LP), which aims at developing community leaders and inspiring them to be more involved and invested in their community.
Born and raised in Lindsay, where Virginia’s family history expands 112 years, she married the love of her life Sal Gurrola. They have been married 52 years with three sons, twelve grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.
Gurrola believes leadership “Isn’t one, but many leading together!” She dedicates herself and her work to God, her family, and the community.Gang Sue
Gang Sue was a local restaurateur where from 1931 to 1994 his restaurants were an integral part of Porterville history. His first restaurant, the Tea Garden-Chop Suey House, was on Main Street Porterville and was located directly across the street from the old Monache theatre location, which turned into Bullard’s department store and is currently Don Vino’s restaurant. In 1948 Gang opened a new restaurant on North Main and called it Gang Sue’s Tea Garden. In 1957 the restaurant was expanded to include the Jade Room dining - cocktail lounge and was noted for its charbroiled steaks and lobster. In 1967 the Lantern Room Banquet room and Golden Dragon cocktail lounge were constructed. The previous banquet room became the Ming room for fine dining.
In 1957 the “new” Highway 65 was built on the Westside and bypassed the Porterville downtown. Previous to that event, Main Street Porterville was Highway 65 and served as the main artery from Southern California to the Sequoias. Everyone that traveled North through the central valley on Highway 65 would drive right past Gang Sues and it served as a perfect respite for a long journey. Many movie stars as well as sports celebrities were known to have stopped and dined at Gang Sues including Marlon Brando, Steve McQueen, Maury Wills, Don Baylor and even past president Richard Nixon who would stop by when visiting his aunt in Lindsay.
For many years, Gang Sues Tea Garden became a mainstay in Porterville life style and the reason for this was Gang Sue. Always the consummate promoter, businessman, bartender and cook there was not a stranger to be known and all his patrons were friends. Many of the “old guard” remember coming in for dinner on Friday and Saturday nights and for lunch on Sundays after church. Gang was recalled to have said, “being a part time bartender, I felt that customers thought of me as a part time psychologist. They would tell me their problems and I would attempt to offer them some solutions”. Many frequented Gang Sues not only for delicious meals but also to visit and just converse with Gang.
We are certain that there were scores of business transactions that were conducted in his lounges. There were no less than 13 service clubs that would meet at Gang Sues for their regular scheduled meetings both weekly and monthly. Some of the clubs included Rotary, Lions, Kiwanis, Garden Club, Porterville Jaycees, 20 Ands, Exchange Club and others. With the advent of the new large Lantern banquet room many businesses would have their annual Christmas and Holiday parties and in addition Gang would promote parties such as Chinese New Years, Crab Feeds, St Patrick’s day celebrations, Hawaiian Luau’s and just all around special events. Many celebrations occurred at Gang Sues to include birthdays, anniversaries, and weddings. In fact, when his son Vernon was married to Teddy Wong’s daughter Barbara in 1972, there were over 700 guests.
With the advent of the addition of 1967 to include the Golden Dragon Room and cocktail lounge Porterville had a location available for dancing, entertainment, and socializing. Many various bands started out and performed in the Golden Dragon Room. There was even a naval squadron of pilots from Lemoore Naval Air Station that would visit Porterville regularly and they adopted the Golden Dragon Room as their own because they were known as the Golden Dragon Squadron.
Gang Sue’s Tea Garden proved an ideal environment for the whole Sue family as at one time or another many members of the family worked at the restaurant to include of course his wife Violet, brother Gary, cousins Yuet, Tommy, and Jay as well as all his sons, Tim (head chef), Vincent, Roland, Vernon, and Gary. Gang even met his wife Violet at the old restaurant on Main Street in 1940 where she worked as a waitress when visiting her sister, Jane who was living in Porterville.
As an added note, many local residents can recall being part of Gang Sue’s also. There was a countless number of people that recall either waiting or bussing tables, working in the kitchen or washing dishes for Gang. Scores of people remember having their first date, prom date, or even meeting their spouses at Gang’s. Many remember the exquisite menu and the superb dining experience and sitting in the large round tables at the south end of the restaurant with their families.
Unfortunately, in 1980, Gang passed away suddenly and without warning at the age of 65. Violet and the family kept the business running for another 14 years but with Gang gone, the restaurant was never really the same. In retrospect, the life of Gang was Gang Sues Tea Garden and consequently a large part of Porterville’s history.Linda M. Camarena
Linda started her public life when she was the youngest Cinco De Mayo Queen at the age of 15 in 1957. She would go on to become the local Cinco de Mayo Chairperson and Pageant Chair for the Cinco de Mayo Committee as just part of her many years of dedication to civic engagement and community celebration.
Linda was the first female secretary for the Mexican American Civic Organizations (M.A.C.O). The goals of this organization was to promote and recognize Hispanic high school students excelling in sports and academics. In 1990 Linda also became the first female to serve as the President of Comision Honorifica Mexicana-Americana (CHMA) since its formation in 1927.
Linda’s service has extended across many different committees and organizations. She has been a member of Big Brother and Big Sisters Association, Porterville Advisory Committee, Community Development Block Grant Advisory and Housing Committee, American Legion Women’s Terra Bella Auxiliary, Coalition of Minority Organizations, Crime Prevention Council of Tulare County and Southern Tulare County Voter Registration and Education Drive, just to name a few.
In the 1970’s, Linda was a candidate for Porterville City Council. Although she didn’t obtain the position she certainly opened the door for others to seek candidacies into elected positions. Linda was eventually appointed by the City Council in 1977 to the Planning Commission for the City of Porterville serving as the first Hispanic woman to hold this position, then later becoming Chair for the Commission. She was also the co-chair of the Porterville/ La Barca, Jalisco, Mexico Sister City Program serving as a delegate for many years. She continued as co-chair of the sister city to Hamamatsu, Japan.
Linda was instrumental in the establishment of funds to build the Plaza de Santa Fe Senior Citizen Apartment Complex on Putnam. After seven years of intense lobbying for federal funds, working with local governmental agencies, and facilitating the flow of information from the federal to the state to the local levels, the five million dollar, 105-unit apartment complex was established and stands as a testament to the tenacity and capability of Linda and a handful of dedicated citizens. Today, she continues to serve as the treasurer on the Plano Development Corporation’s Board of Directors.
Linda was also one of the founding members of the Mariachi Academy for the Performing Arts Foundation formed in 2000. The Academy provides educational services to children under the age of 18 related to traditional Latino music commonly referred to as Mariachi music. Linda started the Academy with the idea that music builds character, and mariachi music teaches them to read music, sing, how to speak in front of a group and have poise. The Mariachi Academy has put Porterville on the map- students have been to Mexico, Florida, Salt Lake City, Utah and Texas, where they won a national competitions.
Linda has always been a true example of hard work. She is driven and devoted to improving her community and never lets a challenge get in her way. She leads through example and sees every obstacle as an opportunity to overcome, especially where opportunities for women or Hispanics do not exist.
Joe Carrillo Jr.
Joe Carrillo Jr. was a kind hearted, humble, and selfless visionary. He believed in helping people. An enrolled member of the Tule River Tribe, Joe was born and raised in Porterville. He spent many years of his life in his hometown, or traveling back to visit even as he worked around the state. A great deal of his work would come to serve as an advocate for improved health and services for California Indians. Carrillo attended local schools including Doyle, Bartlett Middle School, Porterville High and graduated from Porterville College, where he played quarterback on the football team; and he went on to earn his bachelor’s degree from Fresno State University. Joe was the son of Josephine and Joe Carrillo and grew up in a large family, as one of the 12 Carrillo children. Growing up, he worked with his father and siblings in the field of agriculture and hauling hay, with the family’s trucking company where they worked with local farmers throughout the central valley. A significant part of Joe’s life was sports. He participated in numerous sports throughout his youth, adulthood and enjoyed large neighborhood football games in front of their family home on Cornell Street. This love for sports played a role throughout his entire life, including coaching and mentoring young people on the reservation and in local leagues including Little League, Bobby Sox and Senior Babe Ruth; he never forgot his coaching skills and actually incorporated these philosophies of coaching into techniques for grassroots community organizing.
In the late 1960’s, Carrillo married and relocated to Berkeley, Sacramento, and then Davis, California to work with State programs and this is where his advocacy work for California Indians would begin. He was a member of a team of tribal people working with the California Employment Development Department. He was noted for his ability to outreach and engage tribal leadership and tribal communities. He was able to provide guidance to many tribal people who were seeking employment and thus achieve self-sufficiency for their children and families. He was able to communicate with them in a culturally proficient manner and provided encouragement and support for hundreds of tribal people helping them to become gainfully employed.
During this time, it should be noted that in the state of California, Indian Health Services pulled their funding due to the scattered, remote tribal communities that existed in California. This was the result of federal policy to remove tribal people from mainstream society and to locate them in isolated geographical areas. Indian Health Services could not design a service system to provide health care for California tribal people that was economically feasible, so it was determined that there would be no health care provided to tribal people in California.
Carrillo advanced into other departments with the State, and became a key promoter to get approved two legislations, first of their kind in the nation for state government funding: The American Indian Health Care Act and the American Indian Education Centers Law. The prior led to the return of the federal Indian Health Services to CA with ever increasing funding.
Carrillo provided leadership and expertise in the planning and development of what are now tribal health care systems throughout the state of California for tribal communities. During his time with the State Department of Public Health, Bureau of Maternal and Child Health in Berkeley, California Carrillo worked with other health care professionals and tribal representatives to design, plan and implement the original nine tribal health projects that were pilot projects. With their success came an additional few projects, until today where there are over 30 tribal health care systems throughout the state of California. In addition, tribal leadership built upon these efforts to secure national policy that enabled tribal people in urban areas to establish tribal health care programs. Today there are at least eight urban tribal health care systems in California and many others throughout the United States.
By the late 60’s and early 70’s tribal representatives from throughout California, were advocating for health care for tribal people. It should be noted that county, state and federal health programs did not serve the health care needs of a majority of tribal people.
Carrillo spent countless hours dedicated to ensuring that progress on the planning and development of the tribal health projects concept moved to the point of implementation. Through his tireless efforts, outreach to tribal communities was expedited, and engagement of individuals in leadership, planning and development were honored to begin the provision of health care for tribal people in California. He truly respected tribal elders and leaders and he truly understood their perspectives and honored them with incorporating their contributions into the strategic planning that created the foundation for tribal health care systems in California to serve thousands of tribal people who were in desperate need of health care. Carrillo supported and guided the efforts of tribal representatives from throughout California to form a tribal organization as part of a sustainability plan to ensure that tribal health care development efforts would continue. That became the California Rural Indian Health Board, Inc. which continues to exist to this day.
Carrillo and his small team formed the non-profit NATA Institute in 1972 to further advocate for Indian health, education and land rights, and to train community organizers towards those goals. NATA-Native American Training Associates- quickly became the radical cutting edge Indian organization in California. NATA functioned from 1972 to 1978, most significantly accomplished during this time was the passage of the California Indian Education Act and the California Indian Health Care Act. In 1972 when NATA was formed, Indian federal funds did not make it to California. Foundations were not interested in Indians in California. The State had no funding for who-ever these Indians might be; Indians were viewed as a federal not a state responsibility. The only funding for Indians was some federal/state funds for the Indian studies programs at the university level and small amounts of money that could be carved out of national educational funds via the local county or meager Bureau of Indian Affairs federal funds.
NATA decided to take the incredibly bold action of passing state law to use general funded state funds to support the creation of more Indian education centers and to give start-up funding for the new tribal health centers. Carrillo served as a great ally with the accessible California Health Department, he was a part-time consultant with the department.
By this time, Mr. Carrillo had been selected to join Mr. H.D. Tim Williams in the Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs working under Governor Ronald Regan. This was the first time that the State of California had created an office to work with California tribal communities to address a myriad of challenges. One of the first areas to be addressed was that of supporting the development of law that would provide for the establishment of American Indian Education Centers to provide educational support activities for tribal children, youth and adults. That law became what is known at SB 2264 which resulted in the establishment of nine American Indian Education Centers.
Again, Carrillo worked with tribal leadership/representatives to identify the need, opportunities and support for passage of this law. As he had done in the past, Carrillo provided leadership, support and guidance for tribal representatives in their efforts to establish the first nine American Indian Education Centers. Over the past 30 years or so, these education centers provided the catalyst for needed change in the education of tribal children and youth. Existing today, there are almost 30 American Indian Education Centers in CA serving hundreds of tribal children and youth every day.
Carrillo would return home often, sometimes every weekend and during the holidays, and he finally returned to his hometown to be closer to his family and go to work for his Tribe. Over the years, he would work for the Tribe in various capacities, one significant project included serving as the Director of the Tule River Alcoholism Program, a men’s residential treatment center housed on the reservation. Today, over 30 years later, the treatment center continues to serve men from around the country serving as a successful model. He continued working to develop youth programs that included outdoor activities, sports, youth leadership, educational projects and cultural awareness.
There is more to the work that Mr. Carrillo has done. It would be impossible to identify the number of lives he has impacted in tribal communities and the number of people he has influenced to the benefit of tribal children and families. Although he is no longer with us, the path he left is far and wide. Carrillo was dedicated to his work and took care of his family and loved his children. He was educated, but sought to learn more, seeking out tribal people who would become part of the work that he was doing, enjoining them to do the work in a way that would honor our cultural beliefs and traditional practices.
Through all of this, the thing to remember about him is his smile whenever he was going about his work. It is without doubt that Mr. Carrillo should be honored for his contributions. Not only did he achieve much, but through his work he promoted greater understanding, tolerance and mutual respect for those he represented through his work, and put forth positive ways in fighting prejudice, discrimination and oppression through self-determination, self-sufficiency and sustainability of future generations of our tribal people.Roberto de la Rosa Martell
Roberto de la Rosa has been a Porterville resident since 1964 after settling here from Earlimart, California. He was born in Villa de la Paz, San Luis Potosi, Mexico nearly 80 years ago. He and his widow mother Candelaria Martell, crossed the Rio Grande River and settled in the South Texas area where he attended P.S.J.A. High School. He received his Adult Education High School Diploma from Delano High School at the age of 20.
Roberto went on to receive his Associate of Arts Degree from Porterville College in 1972 and his Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1974 from the University of California at Santa Cruz with majors in Sociology and Anthropology. He continued his education and earned his Jurisprudence Doctorate from the University of California, Hastings College of Law in San Francisco in 1977.
While attending U.C Hastings College of Law, Roberto would organize with a group of Chicano Law students beginning work on what would become his lifelong passion. The students, including Teresa de la Rosa, founded O.L.A. Raza in 1974 with a mission of providing legal information, education and services to immigrants, disadvantaged students and poor communities. Roberto has been the O.L.A. Raza co-founder and Executive Director since 1978.
Roberto’s commitment and passion to serve Porterville brought him back to the community in 1978. As O.L.A Raza's Executive Director, Roberto established its non-profit organization headquarters in Porterville and operates regional Immigration Rights Centers in Porterville, Visalia, Tulare, Delano, Bakersfield and Salinas. The organization offers direct client immigration services, Citizenship and Civic Action Programs, Women and Family Defense Projects, a Youth Art and Culture Academy (AJAC) in Porterville, and an Art Center in Lindsay (VERITAS) and for over 45 years, a weekly radio Program on Radio Campesino.
With his leadership of the organization, O.L.A Raza has assisted tens of thousands of families attain the American dream of becoming eligible for United States citizenship. The organization has established a Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Project and Children’s Defense and Education Project, a Migrant/Rural Leadership Project and a Social Justice Institute that operate from Porterville. His dedication to minority students, low income, and to our immigrant community has spanned nearly 50 years.
Roberto is known as a Chicano Movement Veterano, as an activist in the UFW farm labor movement and as a defender of immigrants' rights. He was a migrant farmworker for over 15 years. In addition to his work with O.L.A. Raza, Roberto has served as Educational Programs Director at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. He was the La Raza Centro Legal Immigration Department Director and also the Chicano Studies Counselor at U.C. Berkeley. He has been the director of UFW San Joaquin Valley Voter Registration Campaign; and also served as the Radio Campesina Education Department Director.
Roberto has been the Commission Honorifica Mexicana Americana Board of Directors, serving as President. He has also served on the California Rural Assistance Board of Directors for 32 years; served on the PROTEUS Board of Directors for a number of years; and, has been serving on the Cesar Chavez Foundation Board of Directors for approximately 30 years.
In December of 2020, O.L.A. Raza opened in their new location on Doris Avenue. The building was purchased by -founders Roberto and Teresa de la Rosa. After having to move their office building several times, the purchase of the building signifies a secure place for the organization to call home in a community that the de la Rosa's love dearly. Becoming a permanent fixture in Porterville has always been goal.
Roberto has enjoyed the support of his wife Teresa de la Rosa and his five children, his six grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and their organization, O.L.A. Raza.
James C. Holly
James C. Holly, known to most as Jim, is best known as the founding President and CEO of Bank of the Sierra, a community bank headquartered in Porterville, CA, and now in its 42nd year of operations. Bank of the Sierra currently operates 40 traditional branches in the South San Joaquin Valley and the California Central Coast as well as an Internet Bank Office, an Ag Credit Center, SBA Loan Center, and a Real Estate Industries Center. Sierra Bancorp, the holding company for Bank of the Sierra, has Total Assets of $3.1 billion, and it is the largest bank headquartered in the South San Joaquin Valley. Sierra Bancorp trades on NASDAQ under the symbol BSRR.
Prior to founding Bank of the Sierra, Jim started his banking career in the mid-1960s with United California Bank, now a part of Wells Fargo Bank. Prior to that, he
Holly earned a BBA and an MBA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and he is a graduate of the SW Graduate School of Banking at SMU, Dallas, TX. He also served as a Commissioned Officer (Armor) in the U.S. Army after completing graduate school, and at one time was the commander of the Porterville unit of the California Army National Guard.
Jim’s first banking job was in the mid-1960s in Whittier, CA with United California Bank. Despite Jim’s rapid career advancement in the “big city”, Jim wanted to move to a community where he could build business-one customer at a time. So in 1967, Jim and his new family migrated to Porterville, CA where he opened a former United California Bank branch that later became First Interstate and now Wells Fargo. Jim managed that branch for 10 years. Always prioritizing the customer and community service, Jim believed the community needed a ‘country bank’ and, in 1977, joined a Porterville investment group that listened to his banking concepts and believed in them. In January of 1978, the Bank of the Sierra was incorporated.
Jim has been active in numerous professional and community activities over the 52 years he has lived in the South Valley. He is a past Library Board Member, City Councilman and Mayor Pro Tem for the City of Porterville, past President of the Tulare County EDC, Past Board Member of the Sequoia Parks Foundation, member of the Back-Country Horsemen of California, past President and member of the Rotary Club of Porterville, past President and 10 year Board member of the Porterville High School Booster Club, and active in numerous other organizations. He was the Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Service Award recipient in 2003 and Man of the Year in 2015.
On the State and National level, Jim was past President of the California Independent Bankers Association, a long time Board member of ICBA Bancard, a national credit card company, and he was on the Executive Board of ICBA, a nationwide trade association. He was also on the Board of Pacific Coast Bankers’ Bank in San Francisco, a specialty bank, and California Bankers Association (CBA) in Sacramento.
Jim has been the President and Director of River Island Country Club, and Vice Chairman of Sequoia Park Conservancy, the nonprofit partner of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. He continues as Vice Chairman of Bank of the Sierra, having retired in 2015.
On a personal note, Jim has been married for almost 60 years to Patricia Ann Holly, and they have three adult married children, Steven, Trevor, and Allison, all born and raised in Porterville. They have 7 grandchildren. Separate from the Bank, Jim has been active in a family farming operation involving citrus and olives. For hobbies, Jim has been riding and packing the High Sierra country for over 50 years. Golf has also been a lifetime pursuit, although an elusive one.
Joe Ruiz, Jr.
Joe Ruiz, Jr. is someone who always puts his community first. He was born and raised in Porterville. He is a graduate of Porterville Union High School and Porterville College. While at Porterville College, Joe’s lottery number was called. He received a phone call from local master sergeant, Robert Caseras, and enlisted in the California National Guard. Joe served six years and was honorably discharged, rising to rank of Staff Sergeant E-6.
Joe spent 50 years in the banking industry with Crocker National Bank, Presidio Savings and Loan association, California Federal Savings and Loan Association, ultimately landing with Bank of the Sierra for which he spent almost 30 years.
While enjoying his career, what he finds most rewarding is being of assistance to the community. Joe has been very committed to a number of civic duties including being Past Director of Main Street Porterville Inc., Porterville Chamber of Commerce, Porterville Family Healthcare Inc., known today as Family Healthcare Network, and Porterville Jaycees. He has also served as Chair of the Porterville Fair for many years and Chair of the City of Porterville, Parks & Leisure Services Commission.
Joe has spent many years as an active member of Porterville Breakfast Lions serving in the capacity of President for two terms, Zone Chair, and Director. The motto of the Lions Club International is “service above self” and Joe couldn’t embody that sentiment more as he continues to be a driving force behind many club activities and sponsorship opportunities.
Joe is also a staunch supporter of education having served on the Porterville Education Foundation for many years as the President and a Director. He is also the current Board Treasurer for the San Luis Bay Inn Timeshare Association, Inc. in Avila Beach.
One of Joe’s most cherished volunteer efforts was being associated with the Monache Band Parent Organization. He was elected President and chaperoned numerous trips with the band including trips to Hawaii, Disneyland, walking the Rose parade and Hollywood parade.
Joe has been humbled by and appreciates recognitions he has received over the years in celebration of his dedication to the community. He was awarded “Man of the Year” by the Porterville Chamber of Commerce, Porterville Unified School District “Friend of Education” award in 2010 and Porterville College Distinguished Alumnus award in 2016 when he was inducted in the PC Hall of Fame.
He has been married to his wife, Arletta, for over 50 years. Their children and five wonderful grandchildren have reminded Joe that service to the community lives on and benefits the generations to come. Joe would like to thank the community of Porterville for allowing him to serve both as a parent and volunteer for so many years.Raymond Camarena
Raymond Camarena was born and raised in Porterville. He is proud to have been on Porterville’s first competitive cross country team in high school and number one on the team. After high school, he took time out to serve our country in the United States Marine Corps. After four years of service, he was honorably discharged in 1958 at the rank of sergeant. He went on to work for Howard Smith and Smith’s Market for fifteen years as a business manager. When the organization was thriving, there were five full-time managers needed to run the operation.
Camarena firmly believes in helping people better themselves and has been involved in many clubs and service organizations that have allowed him to do so. They include Porterville Chamber of Commerce, Porterville Sister-Cities Committees, All America City Committee and the Knights of Columbus Chapter No. 2329. He has been President of Porterville Kiwanis Club, President of the Coalition of Minority Organizations, and Vice-President of Mexican-American Civic Organization. Camarena also served as the Chairman of the Voter Registration Project in Porterville, was an Advisory Board member for Sierra View Medical Center, member of the Tulare County District Memorial Board, Board member of El Futuro Credit Union, and was affiliated with the Association of Mexican American Educators. Camarena has been a key volunteer and supporter of Imagine Community Arts Center and Vice-President of the Mariachi Academy Foundation.
His father, Ramon Camarena, was one of the founders who started Comission Honorfica Mexicana-Americana in Porterville in 1927. Camarena carried on his father’s legacy by serving as President of the organization for over ten years. In his role as President, he was also the Chairperson of the Porterville Cinco de Mayo Celebration Committee. During his tenure, he was committed to progressing the festivities and opening up the celebration of culture to the entire community. He organized Porterville’s first Cinco de Mayo parade, developed the queen pageant to motivate students to get involved, and extended the events to last over several days- transforming it into the tradition it is today.
Camerena has been in real estate for over 25 years and calls Century 21 his home. He has been awarded Tulare County’s Outstanding Service Award. One of his proudest achievements was being instrumental and actively involved in developing Plaza de Santa Fe which is a 105-unit senior citizen housing complex in Porterville. When talking about his civic-mindedness, he expressed the importance of coming together with the community to try and make it a better place and always being an example that anybody can get involved.
Denise Howell Marchant
As a descendent of Porterville pioneers, Denise Howell Marchant was blessed to have a wonderful, caring family who, through their example, encouragement, and Christian inspiration, instilled in her the sense of service to her community. In fact, her father, James Howell, and her aunt, Waltraut Wilson are both also on the Porterville Wall of Fame. Growing up working in the family business, The Juven-Aire on Main Street, Marchant was involved in Chamber and downtown activities at a very early age. After graduating from Porterville High School in 1973 where she was a majorette in the Panther Band and valedictorian of her class, she attended the University of California, Berkeley where she was President of Chi Omega Sorority. She graduated with a degree in Business Administration and was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. In 1985, Marchant received the Rosalie M. Stern Award from the UC Berkeley Alumni Association for exemplary community service within 15 years after graduation.
Marchant was a Management Trainee for Weinstocks in Modesto after graduation, but decided to return to the community that she loved to assist in the family business. Upon her return to Porterville, she immediately became involved in the newly formed Heart of Porterville Associates (HOPA) and eventually became the Executive Director for the organization. HOPA sponsored many promotions and special events downtown which Marchant helped organize, including Crazy Days, the fall Arts and Crafts Fair, Good Old Days Celebrations, the Classic Car Cavalcade, and many others. In 1979, she was the main force behind the founding of the annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony and after nearly 40 years, she still serves on the organizing committee for this holiday tradition in the community. In 1982, Marchant was the youngest woman ever to be named Woman of the Year by the Porterville Chamber of Commerce. She was very instrumental in working with the City in 1986 to get the State to designate Porterville as one of the first Main Street Cities, and in 1989 she became the Executive Director of Main Street Porterville, Inc. While in this capacity, she helped lead the grass roots effort to establish a Redevelopment Area encompassing downtown and areas to the south. It was this association which led to her working for the City of Porterville in the Community Development Department for more than 20 years where she administered Redevelopment and federal Community Block Grant activities including all the housing programs. This also is when she started working on the homeless issues in the community. She played a major role in establishing the Kings/Tulare Homeless Alliance, being past president and serving on the Board for many years. She was instrumental in organizing the first Project Homeless Connect in multiple cities in the two-county area and has served on that committee since its inception. This project was named the Chamber of Commerce Project of the Year. Since finding permanent, decent, affordable housing for the homeless and low income is the main goal of all housing programs, it was only natural for Marchant to become involved with Habitat for Humanity. She helped organize the “Building Hope in Porterville” committee under the umbrella of Habitat for Humanity of Tulare County and has served as Chairman since 2007. Since its inception, the committee has built two new houses which earned Project of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce. The committee also rehabilitated one house, and helped with multiple Brush with Kindness Projects. They are currently in the process of constructing their third house on property donated by the City of Porterville. Marchant also serves as Vice President of Habitat for Humanity of Tulare/Kings Counties Board of Directors.
In terms of community development, Denise has been a member of the Porterville Civic Development Foundation for 40 years and is a member of the Chamber of Commerce’s Business Development Committee, serving in an advisory capacity to the downtown subcommittee. She has also served as Mentor for Leadership Porterville and in 2016, Denise worked with the Leadership Porterville Class to sponsor a Community Clean Up Day. In addition, several times a year, Denise organizes other community clean up campaigns, coordinating with and leading the Z Club students from the local high schools.
Since walking down the street in costume as a little girl, twirling with the Porterville Twirlerettes and then marching with the Panther Band in high school, Marchant always has had an affinity for parades. So when she was asked to chair the annual Children’s Christmas Parade when she first returned to Porterville, she couldn’t refuse, and she has been involved with the organizing committee for 40 years. Although not artistically talented herself, Marchant loves the arts of all kinds. Having a musically gifted daughter has opened up the performing arts world to her, and she has become a supporter in many different ways. She was the chairman of the committee for the Porterville Combined High School Orchestra’s Carnegie Hall trip in 2005 and served on the Board of Directors of the Tulare County Symphony for several terms. She currently is on the Board of Porterville Strings, the organization that sponsors the week- long summer strings camp for students, and she is co-chairman of the Harmony Academy of Performing Arts Advisory Board. Marchant was a founding member of the Porterville Mural Committee and worked to bring the art of murals depicting local history to downtown. She is especially proud of all the effort to create the “Marching Through Time Band Mural” in Centennial Park and chaired the dedication ceremony for the mural. This was also a Chamber of Commerce Project of the Year recipient.
Marchant was recently recognized by the Zonta International President for her 40 years as a member of the Zonta Club of Porterville of which she is a Past President and Area Director. She has been the chairman of the Z Club Committee for many years as Zonta sponsors Z Clubs at Porterville, Monache, and Granite Hills High Schools. Marchant is currently serving as President of the congregation at Trinity Lutheran Church in Exeter and is a past Trustee of the church. Denise has been married to her beloved husband Lou for 37 years and they have one daughter, Elyse Willis, who is a professional singer/manager, and with her composer husband, Chris, lives in Pasadena. Since she was President of the PHS Z Club 46 years ago, she knows the importance of instilling the sense of service into the students so they will learn to contribute to whatever community they find themselves after graduation.
Born in Susanville, California, James Kusserow attended Porterville High School, graduating in 1976, and Porterville College, graduating in 1978. He began playing the trumpet at age nine at Terra Bella Elementary School under director Gerald Aanastead. Performing solos with the PHS Panther Band at the 50 yard line of Ram-49er games or at Gettysburg battlefield were the backbone of his early days. The Fabulous Studio Band took him across the country and Canada performing at venues like the Today Show in Denver, The National Press Club, and Ford’s Theater in Washington D.C. Furthering his music education at San Jose State University, he began teaching at Mulcahy Junior High School in 1981. A Master’s Degree in the Administration of Public Schools soon followed upon arriving in Tulare. He built successful programs at Mulcahy and Live Oak Middle Schools before accepting the band position back at Porterville High School in 1990. Following the 37 year legacy of Buck Shaffer, which included a performance at Carnegie Hall in 1990 and five Tournament of Roses Parades, the Panther Band continued to attain the highest caliber of musical excellence under his tenure. Superior Ratings for 26 years for Porterville High School at California Music Education Association (CMEA) music festivals, recognition as the National Hall of Fame Band of the Year, and performances at The Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, Constitution Hall in Washington D.C., and Carnegie Hall have been highlights of the band under Kusserow’s baton. He also performed trumpet solos at Carnegie Hall in June of 2005 with Dr. Mike Allards’ Porterville Combined Orchestra, and again with his brother Bill Ingram conducting the Panther Band in 2010. In 2006, 2010, and 2014 the Panther Band received the first prize award from the Fairfax, Virginia Independence Day Celebration Parade. The Panther Band marched down Colorado Boulevard January 1, 2007 in their sixth Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade! They were honored by being the first band chosen for this historic parade.
Kusserow has been recognized as the National Hall of Fame Band Director of the Year, and he was enshrined in the National High School Band Director’s Hall of Fame in 1990. He is also listed in Marquis Who’s Who in America, and Who’s Who of American Teachers. In 2010 Kusserow received two awards of distinction. The first is the Claes Nobel Educator of Distinction from the National Society of High School Scholars, and the second was the Bandworld Legion of Honor Laureate of the John Philip Sousa Foundation. The Sousa Foundation chose four outstanding directors from across the nation that year and Kusserow accepted the award at the prestigious Midwest Band Clinic in Chicago. CMEA honored Kusserow in 2014 with the Don Schmeer/Byron Hoyt Band Educator Award honoring excellence in band education and performance in the State of California, and in 2016 as the Central Section music educator of the year.
The Fabulous Studio Band continued to thrive under his direction recording and touring regularly throughout the United States and Canada. The Studio Band was invited to perform at the White House, and on December 21, 2001 they performed two shows in the East Room of the White House. Kusserow is a member and active in the National Association for Music Education, Tulare-Kings Music Educators Association serving as president in 1984, California Band Directors Association, American School Band Directors Association, and the California Music Educators Association. He has served on the board of the Central Section of CMEA multiple times- Secretary, on two occasions, Band Representative, First Vice President, President and Past President. In 2012 he was named the Tulare County Teacher of The Year by the Tulare County Superintendent of Schools, chosen from over 6,000 teachers in Tulare County. He served as principal trumpet of the Tulare County Symphony for 25 years, touring the Azorean Islands in 1989. Since his retirement from Porterville High School in 2017, he accepted a position at Porterville College and is currently teaching band there. Kusserow performs professionally with the Sequoia Brass Quintet, has conducted honor bands in California and Texas, and judges concert bands throughout California. He and his wife Kellie have three children, Kaylan, Michael, and Christopher. He once described his role with the Panther Band as a ‘dream-job’ and was grateful for the opportunity to keep going what Buck Shaffer started long ago. With Shaffer being one of the first honorees on the Wall of Fame, Kusserow continues that tradition as well of having a deep impact on the community and the thousands of students that have gone through his program.
Born and raised in the Fresno area, Grace Muñoz-Rios is the daughter of the late Carmen and Manuel Muñoz, both migrant farm workers. She obtained an AA degree in Liberal Arts from Fresno City College and while there, held various offices in the Mexican-American Club including Homecoming Queen Candidate, Interclub representative, and Poetry Editor. She went on to study in San Francisco and obtained a Certificate of Proficiency in radio and television broadcasting as well as an FCC license. After a brief venture into radio announcing, she returned to Fresno and started work with the California Department of Rehabilitation which sparked her interest in working with the Deaf community. As a result, she learned sign language and entered the Communicative Disorders program at CSU-Fresno. Upon moving to Porterville in 1977, she began a career with the California Department of Developmental Services at Porterville Developmental Center (PDC). After 32 years with the organization, she retired as the Equal Employment Opportunity Coordinator. She was also a Notary Public, Paralegal, and freelance Spanish and Sign Language interpreter. She was also trained as an Alternate Dispute Resolution/ Mediator through the Los Angeles Bar Association.
Muñoz-Rios has been a leader for 4-H and Girls Scouts, a girl’s Commissioner for the American Youth Soccer Organization and is co-founder of Straight Activities Youth Group and the Porterville Women’s Conference. She has been a Trustee for Porterville Schools, and at one time ran a Sunday school program for deaf and developmentally disabled children at St. Anne’s Catholic Church. She is also an alumnus of leadership programs through the City of Porterville, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and Porterville Developmental Center. In addition to being a long-time member of Comision Honorifica Mexicana-Americana, Inc. her memberships have included Olive Street School Parent Club and School Site Council, Quota Club, Porterville Chamber of Commerce, City of Porterville CDBG Oversight Committee, Parks & Leisure Services Commission, Porterville Area Coordinating Council, National Notary Association, National Council for La Raza, Los Maladrines Foundation, Association of Mexican- American Educators, and League of United Latin American Citizens. Her work with the Deaf community led her to serve on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Service Center Advisory Boards, National Catholic Office for the Deaf, National and Central California Registry for Interpreters for the Deaf, and National Signing Agents Association.
Ensuring that every kid in southeastern Tulare County has a chance to unwrap a gift at Christmas is something Muñoz-Rios has worked tirelessly on as the US Marines Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Local Community Organization coordinator and Porterville Salvation Army Service Extension Unit Representative. Her dedication to the community has earned her recognition by California Advocates for Equality as Hispanic Woman of the Year in 1985 and Community Service Award in 1988; from Porterville Developmental Center she achieved a Safety Award in 1992, Women’s Advisory Committee Upward Mobility Award in 1993, and Sustained Superior Accomplishment Award in 1994. For Tulare County, she was the League of Mexican American Women-elected official in 1993 and the National Register’s “Who’s Who” in Executive & Professionals for 2003/2004. She was the Cinco De Mayo Grand Marshal in 2003 and received the International Zonta Club of Porterville Woman of Achievement in 2004. In 2012, she was named the Nuestro Tiempo Magazine Latina Professional, in 2013 she was the Porterville Chamber of Commerce Woman of the Year, and in 2018 she was recognized as the AMAE Volunteer of the Year.
Muñoz- Rios has two daughters, Sofia Elea Rios and Sonia Elise McKnight, and is grandmother to Lily Shea and Michael David McKnight. When asked what drives her toward her wide-ranging community stewardship, she said she wants to make the community better than when she found it and to open doors for the generations that will follow her.
Doug Webb was born in Marble Arkansas in 1936 to Leonard and Opal Webb. The family moved to California in the early 1940’s and settled in Delano where Leonard started Leonard Webb Construction in 1945. Webb graduated from Delano High School where he met his future wife Betty Jo Sparks. He attended COS and the University of California, Berkeley. His parents wanted him to become a Pharmacist, but he soon realized that was not for him and came home to Delano to partner with his dad in the construction company and marry Betty. The family moved to Porterville in 1957 and started building custom and spec homes while Betty took care of the books for the business. This began the formal partnership known as Webb & Son Construction Co. Together, Doug and Betty have two daughters Karen and Melissa, four grandsons Layton and Brett Johns, Rees and Garrett Roggenstein, and one great-grandson Jasper Johns.
The company grew over the years, expanding into commercial construction in the 1960’s and in 1975 the business was incorporated becoming Webb & Son. Also at that time, they became dealers for the Pre-Engineered Steel Building Franchise Star Building Systems. Webb & Son is currently owned and managed by Webb’s daughter Karen with her son Layton Johns recently joining the business. This makes for a fourth generation in the 74 year old company. Starting as a carpenter and doing it all, Webb grew to see the importance of teaching others to help grow the business and continue the legacy.
The homes and commercial projects that Webb spearheaded with Webb & Son have stood the test of time. He is especially proud of the incredible employees he has worked with over the years, many of whom became friends. They included key people like Jack Rankin, Pearl Sheldon, Joe Faure, Gary Day and Deron Johns, the talented architects and engineers he forged relationships with, and the countless clients that he was able to serve. Webb is also proud of the strong relationships he created with organizations like Bank of the Sierra, having a 42 year history of building projects. He also completed numerous projects for the City of Porterville. Other notable projects included Sierra Forest Products, Porterville Fairgrounds, H&H Oil Tool, Porterville Transit Center, Methodist Church, PortNaz Church, Rankin Stadium and the swimming pool at Granite Hills High School, Strathmore packing house, Sierra View’s Cancer Treatment Center remodel, Pearson Medical Center, Porterville Municipal Pool and many more.
Webb was the President of the Porterville Chamber of Commerce from 1972- 1973 and was recognized with the Allan Coates Distinguished Service Award in 1986. In 1988, Webb & Son was awarded the City of Porterville Excellence in Business Award. Webb & Son was also awarded the 2000 Excellence in Business Award in Real Estate and Construction by the Fresno Bee. Webb & Son won the 2001 California Family Business Award for women owned family business from the Institute of Family Business and in 2010 the company was awarded Small Business of the Year from the Porterville Chamber of Commerce.
A firm believer in giving back to the community you live in, Webb was very active in the Porterville Jaycee’s, serving as club President and being recognized as Boss of the Year by the United States Jaycees. While in Jaycees, Web made a number of lifelong friends. Webb also served as a member of the Porterville Fair Board, Board Chair for the Tulare County Economic Development Corporation, Beef Leader for Burton 4-H club and is a long-standing Lions Club member. Webb loves Porterville and the friends he has cultivated here, he loves hunting with grandsons and friends, and misses his best pal Jack Shannon who was his hunting companion.
It is impossible to speak on Webb without mentioning his longtime companion Betty as they have been an incredible example of partners in both marriage and business for 62 years. They have continued as excellent business consultants, always willing to listen, offer support and help guide their daughter to find her own answers. Together they have had the opportunity to travel over the last ten years, many of them driving trips in their bright yellow truck, to Alaska, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Oregon. Webb is so loved by his family, with his home being described as the constant gathering place for the extended family and friends. His motto has always been to stand behind your work and take care of whatever your name is on and he has carried that same sentiment for the community he was a part of.
Richard B. Hatfield
In 1970, Porterville definitely received a treasure, when the Southern California Edison Company transferred Richard “Dick” Hatfield from Palm Springs to Porterville. For nearly 50 years, Dick’s civic mindedness has greatly benefited Porterville and allowed our citizens to prosper culturally, as well as in everyday life.
Early on, Dick was instrumental in helping numerous facets of Porterville’s population by organizing the Community Chest of the United Way, an organization he was involved with through his employer in Southern California.
For many years, he served on the Sierra View Medical Center’s board of directors, including leading this group as its president. Prior to that, he was involved with the SVMC Foundation. His involvement with the local hospital ensured its continued growth, and deliverance of high quality medical care to the people of Porterville and surrounding area. Through Dick’s thoughtful representation of the community, Sierra View Medical Center has kept pace with the needs of Porterville as well as explored and opened visions to future possibilities.
Dick has always been a supporter of cultural art in Porterville. While serving on the board of directors for the Tulare County Symphony, Dick developed a program to bring the symphony to Porterville, playing concerts for young, fledgling school musicians. Concerts were also held for Porterville area residents who could not make the trek to Visalia to hear the symphony perform.
Further contributions to Porterville’s art scene included Dick working tirelessly with the Porterville Art Association and the City’s Mural Committee to design, build and dedicate to the Porterville community the Marching Through Time mural which is proudly displayed at Main Street’s Centennial Park.
Acknowledging Dick’s ongoing efforts toward Porterville’s economic development, a few years ago the Chamber of Commerce honored him with the Allan R. Coates Award.
In 2013, acknowledging all of Dick’s efforts and contributions to the community of Porterville, the Chamber of Commerce selected him as Porterville’s Man of the Year.
Dick has had a nearly life-long involvement with Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, and United Way. Through these service organizations, as well as his other community interests, he has tirelessly worked on projects that have improved the quality of life for Porterville’s residents and exemplify Dick’s leadership and dedication.
Todd 'Hoss' McNutt
McNutt was born in 1946 in Brooklyn, New York and moved to Illinois in 1949 where he attended elementary and high school. He was an Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America, a state wrestling champion and on the All-State football team. He was also awarded the gold medal by the Illinois State Science Fair for his project “Low Temperature Vacuum Extraction of Ribosomal RNA”.
After graduating from the University of Illinois with degrees in Forestry and Civil Engineering, McNutt went on to the University of Washington for graduate studies in Forest Fire Science and Thermo Dynamics. He also graduated from the Oceaneering International Deep Sea Diving Institute as a Diving Engineer and from the Houston Petroleum Deep School as a Class 1 Inspection Diver.
McNutt came to Porterville in 1970 to attend the Porterville Horseshoeing School, after which he worked as a farrier for three years until a thumb injury forced him to retire. He went on to work for the Porterville Sheltered Workshop as an adult education instructor, eventually earning a credential in adult education from Fresno Pacific University.
After five years with PSW he opened his own woodcarving business and carved the original signs for the Olive Street and Lindsay branches of the Bank of the Sierra, and many other businesses in the Central Valley.
McNutt would later return to Fresno Pacific and earn his teaching credentials in biology, chemistry, physics and earth science. He became teacher, principal and superintendent at Citrus South Tule School, he taught biology and chemistry at Lindsay High School, and physics, math and AP biology at Strathmore High School.
McNutt started his own science consulting business and did school-wide science assemblies and family night science programs in over 250 schools in 11 western states. During this time he worked as a guest instructor for three summers at the University of Nevada Reno Summer Physics Institute and UC Berkeley Project Physical Science. In 2001, he returned to the classroom at Burton Middle School and then Summit Charter Collegiate Academy where he taught robotics, physics, and engineering.
McNutt has served as a Scout Master for 40 years, assisting over 150 Scouts attain the rank of Eagle Scout. As a volunteer Odyssey of the Mind coach for 32 years, he has led 63 regional championship teams, 19 state championship teams, two silver medal teams and one gold medal team at the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals.
His teams have also undertaken projects that designed and built a prosthetic hand that allowed a student to write with a pencil and also a waterproof prosthetic leg so the young boy could swim. One of his teams raised funds for an electric wheel chair and modified it to allow a young man to play the cymbals in the Porterville Panther Band. Because of these projects the team was awarded the Odyssey of the Mind International Award for Outstanding Creativity and inspired a worldwide program for community outreach called "Odyssey Angles". The program is now being undertaken by teams in 42 countries. His Summit Charter engineering class also won the "Outstanding Engineering Award" for the 2015 NASA- Jet Propulsion Laboratory Engineering Challenge.
Some of McNutt’s achievements include the Boy Scouts of America "Silver Beaver Award”, Tulare County Educator of the Year, Central Valley Chinese Cultural Center Teacher of the Year, International "Teacher of Excellence" by the Taiwan Educators of China, "Presenter of the Year" by the California Science Teachers Association, “Great American Teacher Award" finalist by the Ron Clark Academy of Atlanta, Odyssey of the Mind International Spirit Award, Porterville Chamber of Commerce "Man of the Year”, and Daughters of the American Revolution Patriotism Award. McNutt also served on the committees for the Veterans Day Parade and Band-A-Rama for 35 years and Relay for Life for 18 years.
McNutt met and married Beverly Smith, daughter of Harrison and Joyce Smith of Porterville, in 1975. Together they have one son, Joshua, and two granddaughters.
McNutt has been hailed as a Porterville treasure because of his unwavering commitment to education and the encouragement of exploration. In his enduring quest to share his passion with young students, he has truly inspired us all.
Teddy Wong was a prominent businessman and longtime owner of Town & Country Market in Porterville. Born in 1926 to immigrant parents, Wong was one of seven children.
At a young age Wong developed an early work ethic as he shined shoes on the streets of San Francisco. Shortly after graduating from Galileo High School his life was interrupted by World War II. He was sent to France and Germany where he saw action in General Patton's 3rd Army. In 1946 he was honorably discharged with the rank of Sergeant.
Upon his return to the United States, Wong entered into the grocery business and started a small store in Richmond. Shortly after, he told his father that they needed to find a larger location for their business so he drove over 3000 miles in a few months searching for a new site. A cousin, Gerald Gong of Tulare's Palace Market told Wong about a possible location in Porterville. He visited the site, was able to purchase the land, and thus in 1953 Town & Country Market began.
For over 60 years Wong remained the consummate grocer and was highly regarded and respected by his peers. He was very customer orientated and believed in giving the highest quality meats, produce, and goods for the lowest possible price. Over the years, Town & Country Market flourished as an independent in this present day of corporate grocery store chains. On a typical day you would see Wong sweeping the floors, washing the windows, or just taking customer's groceries to their cars. He especially took pride in his produce department. You couldn't get past him without hearing what produce he had acquired that day and what was fresh and tasty. Before you knew it, you would find his recommendation in your grocery cart!
Wong was always involved in the local community and was proud to be a part of Porterville. He believed that if you made a living in a community that you should support that community as well. He was very generous in supporting and donating to local events and organizations. In 1990 he was instrumental in making it possible for Porterville to be designated an All American City. He donated to the freeze relief in the 1990's, annually sponsored the 4-H breakfast, donated to the Porterville Fair, supported the livestock sale at the fair, and is a patron of Sierra View Medical Center. In 1992, Wong was named a ‘Friend of Education’ by the Porterville Unified School District; in 2001 was named Porterville's ‘Man of the Year’; in 2011 he was placed on Porterville High School's Wall of Fame and in 2014 was given the Alan R Coates Award for lifetime achievement by the Porterville Chamber of Commerce.
Besides being a pillar of the local business community, Wong was supportive of his Chinese upbringing. He and other Chinese grocers founded the Central Valley Chinese Cultural Center in Visalia to promote Chinese culture, activities and heritage. He and other family members have also sponsored the building of a new school in their ancestor's native village in China.
Teddy is survived by his wife of 68 years Jean; daughters Brenda and Barbara, and son Brian; 9 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren. When commenting on his generosity, former City Manager Guy Huffaker once remarked that what made Wong truly unique was that he wanted no credit- he just did things because it was the right thing to do. People like him do not come around very often; he was more than a store-owner; he was your neighbor.
Elva Serna Beltran
Elva Serna Beltran was born in Phoenix, Arizona in 1955 to parents Amadeo and Jesusa Serna. She arrived during their travels from Texas to the Golden State of California to work in the fields and pursue the ‘American Dream’. Wasco, Planada and Merced are the different towns she would live until her brother Ramiro, at the age of eight, was institutionalized with a disability at Porterville State Hospital. In 1965, her family settled down to be close to their son. They bought a home near the infamous ‘P’ hill and continued work as farm laborers.
Growing up in the community, Beltran would go on to take over where her father had left off. She served as Supervisor of El Futuro Credit Union, where many families had received their first food stamp vouchers, and became involved with issues concerning the low income population and underrepresented groups. She went on to work with schools, health groups and City, County and State government agencies to advocate for those in the community.
Beltran has worked for 21 years as the Director of the Porterville Area Coordinating Council, which is an arm of the local ministerial association. She has developed partnerships with many agencies to help provide emergency housing, utility assistance, furniture, appliances, prescriptions and even gasoline vouchers for those traveling to medical appointments out of the area. She has been involved with the distribution of annual holiday food baskets, freeze relief efforts and, most recently, the drought relief efforts of 2014. Porterville Area Coordinating Council was instrumental in making the drought an international issue through social media awareness campaigns. As a result, Southern California Edison International donated $15,000 to the organization for its efforts.
Member of Comision Honorifica Mexicana Americana Inc. for over 30 years, Beltran is currently serving as its treasurer. Activities include maintaining and improving the organization’s Community Center and warehouse. In efforts to keep culture alive in the community, the organization hosts annual Cinco de Mayo, Dia de los Ninos and Dia del los Muertos festivities. They also have an annual Toys for Tots drive, Rebozo event and voter education and census projects.
Beltran’s community service includes volunteering as a Salvation Army bell ringer, special education and special needs advocate, founding member of the Straight Activities youth group, Olive Street School 4-H and Porterville Women’s Day celebration. She was also instrumental in getting the first school crossing guard at Olive Street School.
Beltran’s recognitions include the Porterville Chamber Woman of the Year in 2005, Zonta Club Woman of the Year in 2003, Soroptimist Woman Helping Women Award in 1996, Porterville Unified School District Life Long Dedication to Parents and Children Community Service award, Cinco de Mayo Grand Marshal in 1995, Tulare County League of Mexican American Woman in 1992, and Bi-Lingual Education Parent Award in 1991.
Joseph Faure, Jr.
Joseph Faure, Jr., was born in Porterville on November 18, 1935, the sixth of seven children of Joseph and Rose Faure. He attended Hope School, Porterville High School, Porterville College and graduated from Fresno State College. Active in 4-H Clubs, he showed the Grand Champion Steer at the first Porterville Fair in 1948. He joined FFA in high school and served as President, held regional offices and was elected State President in 1954. While at Porterville College in 1955 and after his term as State President, he was chosen as one of four FFA Exchange Fellows, all past state presidents, in an exchange program with the Young Farmers of England, visiting and living on numerous farms. He returned and attended Fresno State College, graduating in 1957 with a BA in Political Science. He worked on the family ranch until 1958 when he was selected to attend U.S. Navy Officer Candidate School and was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy. He was assigned to the USS Lincoln County. In 1960 he was assigned to the Naval Training Center, San Diego as a Recruit Battalion Commander and later as Assistant to the Commanding Officer and Flag Lieutenant.
Faure married Lucille Limegrover of Porterville in 1960. They have three children, Joseph III, Jeffery, Julienne and four grandchildren. Returning to Porterville, he remained an active Naval Reservist, serving in several units, including Commanding Officer of the Dinuba and Bakerfield Units and a Blue/ Gold Officer with the U.S. Naval Academy. He retired with the rank of Commander after 23 years of service. After his active duty ended he returned to work in agriculture, developing orchards and vineyards on family properties.
Immediately after returning from the Navy, Faure became involved in the community as an active member of the Porterville Jaycees, serving as President and District Governor. A member of the Porterville Rotary Club, he served as President and was named a Paul Harris Fellow. He served on the Porterville Fair Board for many years and was Vice President. In 1967, he was named Man of the Year by the Porterville Chamber of Commerce and Young Man of the year by the Porterville Jaycees. He served on the Board of Directors of Sierra View Hospital 1971- 73. In 1966 he was named to the Porterville Planning Commission and remained until elected to the City Council in 1971. He served as Vice Mayor and Mayor during his tenure which lasted until 1975.
Leaving farming, he joined Webb and Son in steel building sales. He continued in construction, working for STAR Buildings as a District Manager and finished his construction career as a District Manager for American Buildings, retiring in 2012.
A member of the First Congregational Church since 1954, he has served on several boards and as Moderator and is currently a Trustee. He has also chaired numerous development projects designed to improve and preserve this historic church.
Michael R. Garcia
Michael Garcia might best be known for his incredible customer service and positive attitude as the owner of Cassidy Shoes of Porterville from 1959 –1996. He started working with the family-owned company in Tulare, in 1950, while attending Tulare Union High School. After majoring in business at the College of the Sequoias, Garcia would go on to serve multiple generations with his own business, often putting on a child’s first pair of walking shoes. He made sure every child left his store with a balloon and found a way to provide shoes to his customers that couldn't afford it. Oftentimes, at the end of the day when the store was closed, someone would tap on the window begging to come in because they needed shoes and, with a giving heart of gold, he would never turn them away.
Garcia worked closely with several national shoe associations and locally promoted small business. He was involved in several merchant projects including the Main Street Merchant; HOPA, Farmers’ Market Committee; Porterville Street Improvement Committee and the Business License Committee. He also worked on the Committee for Business Tax Review, Police Interview Committee and Porterville Sister City Committee. He was a Chamber Member for over 40 years and served on the Chamber Board from 1974-76 and from 1990-92 as Vice President.
Garcia has been a proud member of the Porterville Breakfast Lions Club since 1964, serving as President from 1976-77. He was named Zone Chairman five times, served on the Youth Exchange District in 1980, and currently serves as the Visitation Chair. He has received the Harry Astano Fellow Award, Lion Distinguished Award, Melvin Jones Fellow Award, Lions Foundation Award, and will be honored this year for 49 years of perfect attendance!
Garcia also served on the Sierra View District Hospital Board of Directors during their significant expansion efforts from 1988 – 1996. He was the Chairman from 1991-93 and co-founder and a charter trustee of the Sierra View District Hospital Foundation. During his tenure, directors voted and purchased the lot that would become the Cancer Treatment Center.
A devout member of St. Anne’s Parish, Garcia has served on the Church Finance Council for over 40 years and assisted with many funding projects and major improvement campaigns. He is a longstanding 4th Degree member of the Knights of Columbus and has been involved for 56 years. In addition, Garcia has served on the Porterville College Foundation, Porterville Redevelopment Committee and supported the City of Hope, Valley Children’s Hospital, American Red Cross and Boy Scouts of America.
Garcia and his dear wife of 48 years, Ruth, had four children, Michael, Cynthia, Laura and Lisa, and eight grandchildren. After retiring from Cassidy’s, he sold real estate in the greater Porterville area under Letsinger Realty and Home Realty, serving on the Board of Directors for Porterville Orange Belt Realtors from 2011-2016. Garcia remains active in the community and is described as a kind and caring man, who expects no fanfare for his generosity.
Robert “Bob” Perez
Described as an "eternal optimist" who truly loves his community, Bob Perez has had a diverse and distinguished career in education from the elementary to community college levels. He is a 30-year veteran with the Porterville Unified School District and revered for his work in counseling, vocational education, gang awareness and community relations.
Perez, himself a graduate of the Porterville school system, earned a bachelor’s in history and master’s in educational administration from Cal State Bakersfield, as well as an Administrative Services Credential and a Standard Secondary Credential. He has held positions as an instructor, guidance coordinator, assistant principal and Director of the Porterville Adult School. He also served as a liaison between the school district and the Porterville Police Department, working on anti-gang efforts.
His dedication to education and community relations was evident in his open-door policy, working with the conviction that the public school system is inseparable from the community. Perez would welcome all people from all walks of life to come in and talk to him about any educational matters and he would always find the time to address it. He established close relationships with parents and other community organizations, even making daily home visits to connect with students who might have been headed down the wrong path.
Organizations that Perez served on include the Sierra View Hospital Board of Directors, Porterville Senior Day Care Center Board, Porterville Rotary Club, Comision Honorifica Mexicana Americana, Association of Mexican American Educators, Porterville Chamber of Commerce Board, Leadership Porterville Steering Committee, Crime Prevention Committee, Burton School Board and Sister City Committee.
Perez’s extensive efforts in education and the community earned him recognition on the local and state level. His honors include the Burton Elementary School Outstanding Teacher of the Year, Porterville Jaycees Outstanding Young Man of the Year, Leigh Robinson Vocational Education Award and California Career Conference Innovator of the Year for his creation of the Career Center at Porterville High School. He was also named the Porterville High School Man of the Year, Tulare County Office of Education Administrator of the Year and Porterville Chamber of Commerce’s Man of the Year. He is on the Porterville High School and Porterville College Walls of Fame and, for his civic engagement, he received the Daughter of American Revolution Citizen of the Year Award and the Roy Flemate Mexican- American Community Award.
His legacy continues as he was founder of the Cinco de Mayo parade in Porterville and served as the parade’s grand marshal. In 1992, the Porterville High School yearbook was dedicated to him. Perez also had a hand in naming the Heritage Community Center which holds the City of Porterville Wall of Fame. Along with his devotion to education and unlimited compassion came his notorious love of practical jokes and belief that you must always find a way to have fun in life.
Jim Winton was born in Bakersfield to Herb and Dorothy Winton in 1938. His family moved from Bakersfield to Fresno in 1945 where he attended Fresno schools, graduating from Roosevelt High School in 1956. Winton continued his education by attending Fresno State College majoring in Engineering. He received his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering in 1965. During college he worked at the California Division of Highways and was employed with them from 1956 to 1965. Working for the Division of Highways turned out to be one of the best decisions he ever made because during this time he met Nancy Bryan, who soon became Nancy Winton, his wife of 57 years. Together they had three children; Mark, Kimberly, and Michael and six grandchildren.
In 1965 Winton accepted a job with a local engineering firm in Tulare. The family moved to the Porterville area in 1968 and in 1990 the firm of James Winton & Associates was established.
His contributions to Porterville and the surrounding areas during his tenure in Tulare County include assisting with the development of the Tulare County Improvement Standards, serving on the Foothill Growth Management Committee which developed the Foothill Growth Management Plan, and serving on the Tulare County Resource Management Agency Processing and Application Review Committee. From 1981 to 1994, he was an active member of the Springville Unified School District Board. His service to the community was also demonstrated through his active participation as a long time Rotary Member, Triple R Mutual Water Company Board Member, and a member of the Building Industry Association Technical Review Committee.
He was a member of the Porterville Development Ordinance Committee, and the Development Impact Fee Review Committee. For decades he has helped shape the City of Porterville through his engineering contributions to local government, organizations, developers and builders.
Gibbons and her husband Bob moved to Porterville in 1963 and would go on to become very active in the community. Together, they started a small business known as Porterville Typewriter. Over a 28-year period, they built the business into Porterville Office Supply and Typewriter on Main Street. This helped to develop Gibbons’ strong advocacy for local business people and the downtown area.
Gibbons was known for her strong will, solid beliefs and dedication to the community. She was on the Porterville Sheltered Workshop Board of Directors and volunteered her time to several other organizations. She served two consecutive terms on the City Council from 1991- 1999 and was elected Mayor from 1994-1995 and again from 1997-1999.
It was in 1994 that Porterville won distinction as an All America City. The honor was given to the community for its efforts to help citizens following a devastating freeze that wiped out the entire orange crop for twelve months. That year, Gibbons went to Washington D.C. and to the White House and was presented the award from President Bill Clinton. “Porterville has always been a self-reliant community of great pride, and it is wonderful to be named an All-America City,” she said at the time.
Gibbons was married to Bob nearly 50 years and had three daughters, Cheryl, Leola and Javonna, along with numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren. Even in retirement she kept up with the affairs of the City and voiced her opinion to the newspaper on occasion. It was an opinion based on experience, knowledge and her love of the town she called home. Gibbons never stopped striving to make Porterville a better place to live.
James E. Howell
Born in the Mt. Whitney Hospital on Main Street on October 24, 1921, James Howell was destined to continue the community service legacy of the Howell pioneer family that settled near Porterville in 1874. Attending all Porterville schools, Howell was extremely musical and shared those talents through many avenues. After graduating from high school in 1939, James started at Porterville College, but the war interrupted his education, and he served in the Navy on a Destroyer during World War II. After the war, Howell returned to Porterville with his bride Irene Howekamp to start their family. He joined his father Everett in managing the three existing downtown theatres, the Monache, the Molino, the Crystal, and, in 1949, the then state of the art Porter. From the time that the Monache Theatre closed to put in sound equipment in about 1930 until the Porter closed for renovations in 1975, there was never one day that a theatre under Howell management was not open to provide entertainment to the community. Special events at the theatres like the Monache Mickey Mouse Club, Bank Night, the operetta series, and the free kiddie matinees following the Children’s Christmas Parades fill the memories of longtime residents. Many young people were given their first jobs at the theatres and have credited Howell with teaching them strong work and personal ethics.
Howell has been a member of the Rotary Club of Porterville for 59 years, serving as President and for over 30 years as Secretary/Treasurer. He is a multiple Paul Harris and Homer Wood Fellow. Howell is a past president of the Tulare County Sheriff’s Posse, riding in many parades, including the Rose Parade. He served on the organizing committee for the building of Monache High School.
Proud of his over 90 years of citizenship in this community, Howell very willingly provides historical resource information for many students, businesses, and historians. In 2013, he was the first recipient of the President’s Medal of Distinction at Porterville College. Howell has three children, Travis, Dianne, and Denise, and one grandchild Elyse.
Philip D. Hunter
A distinguished leader, Philip D. Hunter was a member of the Tule River Indian Tribe. He consistently filled the roles of chairman and vice chairman for more than 18 years demonstrating his ability to bring economic self-reliance to the Tribe through many innovative job creating programs. Under his leadership as Tribal Chairman, Tule River established the Tule River Economic Development Corporation, fulfilling a mission of generating jobs. He was instrumental in developing a government to government relationship between the Tule River Indian Tribe and City of Porterville, one that continues today.
Hunter was a political and spiritual leader; a man with a big heart and untiring energy serving on tribal, intertribal, state and federal commissions and organizations. He was a firm supporter of community sports, health and educational programs throughout his life. Committed to ensuring that future generations follow the traditions and rich culture that illustrate the Tule River heritage, Hunter spent a great deal of time teaching and instilling in the native youth a sense of values and preserving traditions. Hunter was revered as a strong spiritual leader among tribal members throughout California and the nation.
Hunter was born on the Tule River Indian Reservation and attended Porterville Union High School. He earned an Associate’s Degree from Columbia College with a Certificate of Completion as a Forestry Technician. He worked in the field of alcohol and drug rehabilitation for fifteen years and during that time became a certified substance abuse counselor. Hunter was a veteran of the United States Army, 101st Airborne Division where he distinguished himself as a paratrooper and a #8220 Pathfinder. He remained active as a member of the Tule River AMVETS Post 1988 and participated as a member of the Color Guard.
A great fan of baseball, Hunter loved to spend time on the field, coaching and encouraging young people to learn and play ball. His spirit touched the lives of many.
Judge Glade F. Roper
Judge Glade F. Roper was born in Boulder, Colorado. After graduating magna cum laude from BYU and cum laude from BYU law school he and his wife Glena Christenson, a Porterville native, moved to Porterville where he practiced law until being appointed to the bench in 1989. He served three terms as Presiding Judge, started the Drug, Recovery and Mental Health Courts, and was the first DUI Court and Domestic Violence Court judge in Porterville. These courts have helped thousands of people escape the criminal system and become productive members of society. He is a nationally recognized expert in rehabilitation courts and has taught about Drug Courts in 30 states, written several published articles and a book.
Roper is past president and lifelong member of the Rotary Club, served on the Boards of the Chamber of Commerce, Tulare County Bar Association, California Conservation Corps, California Association of Drug Court Professionals, Alcohol and Drug Problems Association of North America, National Rural Alcohol and Drug Abuse Network, and over 35 years the Board of the Porterville Sheltered Workshop. He was Chamber of Commerce Man of the Year and Tulare County Trial Lawyers Association Judge of the Year 1997, received the Senator Harold E. Hughes National Exceptional Rural Professional Award in 2003, the Tulare County Unsung Hero award in 2004, Porterville Recorder Spirit of Freedom Award in 2005, and the Larry Monson Award in 2015. He is on the faculty of the National Rural Institute for Alcohol and Drug Abuse, was an adjunct professor at Porterville College and teaches at National University. He served a two year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Guatemala and El Salvador and has served many years in the Spanish Branch of the LDS Church here. He was responsible for building the new 90,000 square foot courthouse in Porterville. He coached many youth soccer, basketball and baseball teams and was a Scout leader for many years. He and Glena raised seven children, hosted seven exchange students, play in the Porterville Ringers hand bell choir and have 22 grandchildren.
Steven E. Tree
Tree was born in Park City, Utah where he attended elementary and high school. He is proud to have graduated from Park City High School with the other 28 seniors. He attended Brigham Young University where he received a BA in Secondary Education with an emphasis in Industrial Arts. He also joined the US Army Reserve and served for six years. During military service he gained a great appreciation for the values of being an American and a great love for patriotism. He also met and married his wife Janette Hendrickson. Tree earned a Master’s Degree from Stout State University, Menomonie, Wisconsin, in Vocational Rehabilitation with a special emphasis in Work Evaluation.
Tree, with his family, moved to Porterville in 1971 to become the Executive Director of the Porterville Sheltered Workshop until retirement in 2011. He served as Scout Master, Merit Badge Counselor and Member of the Executive Board on the Sequoia Council and Mt. Whitney Council, along with other capacities within the Boy Scouts of America. He was President of the California Association of Rehabilitation Facilities and President of the Central Valley Association of Rehabilitation Facilities. He was also elected to the Porterville City Council from 1981- 1985 and served as Mayor for two years. He and several other former Mayors were instrumental in developing “The Porterville Leadership Program”. After leaving the City Council, he was appointed to the Porterville Redevelopment Advisory Committee where he served for 23 years. He was named ‘Man of the Year’ by the Porterville Chamber of Commerce in 1993 and was an active member of the Porterville Rotary Club for 15 years. He held leadership positions within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for 24 years and was honored to be the first Stake President of the Porterville California Stake where he presided over 2,500 members of the Church.
Theodore Ted Ensslin
Ted was born in Porterville in 1927, just six blocks from City Hall. He attended local schools where he received honors in both academics and athletics. He held every student body office including class president in elementary school and student body president in high school and at Porterville College. He attended the University of Nevada, Reno, American College and several other schools of learning, eventually earning his Masters and Doctorate degrees.
After finishing college, Ensslin married Dorothy Campbell. He spent time traveling the world but always held Porterville in high regard and eventually returned to establish his business as an agent for New York Life Insurance Company. He served on the Porterville City Council for ten years and as the mayor three times. During his time on the Council, he became very involved with local committees that brought numerous businesses and jobs to the area. He was chairman and co-chairman of two sister cities of Porterville, La Barca, Mexico and Mikkabi, Japan. He was also selected to serve as the California Registration Chairman and on the California Independence Day Committee and Attorney’s Committee in Sacramento.
Ensslin is a proud lifetime member of the Porterville Exchange Club and its founding president. He joined a professional speakers club and donated his time to share inspiration to schools and organizations all of the country. He was also knighted in New York City for distinguished and charitable achievements and noble deeds. Ensslin’s passion for serving the community and his notable athletic talents earned him many significant awards and achievements and he credits his success to always being honest, working hard and being willing to offer time to helping others.
Pete V. McCracken
Pete V. McCracken had a passion for politics. He was elected to the Porterville City Council in June of 2006 and reelected in 2010 and again in 2014. During his tenure he served as Vice Mayor and became involved with several City and County committees. He was fondly known for his high ethical standards and profound respect and knowledge of parliament procedures.
McCracken graduated from California Polytechnic State University with a degree in Agricultural Engineering. Before becoming a politician, McCracken consulted for the World Bank in Portugal, Jordan, Egypt, Thailand, and the Yemen Arab Republic, specializing in agricultural irrigation and drainage. He managed a 24,710 acre multi-crop farming operation in the northeast of Yemen Arab Republic, as well as several Central Valley vineyards and orchards.
He was past president of the American Society of Agricultural Consultants and recognized for his service to the organization in 1985 during a ceremony in Wailea, Maui. He was a member of the National Association of Parliamentarians and a member of the American Personal and Private Chefs Association. He was president of the America Bridge League and achieved an outstanding service award in the Porterville Kiwanis. McCracken, a U.S. Army veteran, along with his wife Wanda, a U.S. Air Force veteran, also became active members of American Legion Post 20.
McCracken had one son, Matthew, and, three step-children, Steven, Louis, and Wanda M. In addition to his international activities, he also had many occupational skills which included working as an information systems consultant for several San Joaquin Valley agricultural entities. He and Wanda owned and operated a country western dance studio and Le Bistro, a fine dining restaurant in downtown Porterville. McCracken believed in the importance of getting involved and truly exemplified it with his dedication and love for the community.
Myron Carol Wilcox was born on August 2, 1926 to Elton and Wilhelmina Wilcox in Porterville. Wilcox attended local schools and graduated from Porterville High school with the class of 1944. Soon after graduation, he joined the U.S. Navy, serving as a Specialist A stateside and in the Asian-Pacific area, until being honorably discharged in 1946.
Following his discharge, he joined his father in the insurance business and quickly became active in the community. He was the Scout Master of the local American Legion Post’s troop which he guided for 15 years. He helped develop the local Red Cross swimming program and assumed the leadership role for 25 years. During that time, he also helped organize and coach the Neptunites, a local competition-oriented swim team which still remains active.
In 1951, Wilcox married Miriam Avery, a teacher in the Porterville School District, and they went on to have two children, Carol and Brad. Wilcox decided to enroll at Fresno State to pursue a degree and become a teacher as well. After 28 years in education, Wilcox began a very active retirement which included supporting the Central California Blood Bank, giving 23 gallons himself, transporting patients to and from the Cancer Treatment Center, juggling and teaching juggling and volunteering many hours at local schools. Myron is also co-owner of Imperial Ambulance.
Gilbert Ynigues was born in Rotan Texas in 1931. After working his way up through the shop's ranks, Ynigues became owner of Smith’s Flowers and managed it along with his wife Juanita for almost 50 years. Ynigues was elected the first Hispanic city councilman in 1968 and served until 1972. During his time on Council, Ynigues was involved in several projects including the construction of the Santa Fe Depot Senior Complex and the establishment of the Plano Developmental Corporation.
Ynigues was elected by Governor Jerry Brown to the Tulare County Fair Board and also spent 15 years with the Tulare County Housing Authority as its commissioner. His involvement with the Hispanic community led him to establish the Kings-Tulare County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, which paves the way for many Hispanics in the business community.
As a Korean War-era veteran, he earned a lifetime membership in the organization for veterans of foreign wars. He is also a charter member of the Porterville Exchange Club and was recipient of the Club’s national Golden Deeds award.
Ynigues’ service to the community has earned him several recognitions over the years including Porterville Chamber of Commerce Man of the Year and Business of the year, Porterville Unified High School Friend of Education Award, Cinco De Mayo Grand Marshall and Guadalupe Mission Man of the Year. He was recognized by the Board of Hispanic Heritage for his leadership to citizens of Tulare County.
Lester James Hamilton
Lester James Hamilton was born in Murray, Nebraska in 1909, but always considered Porterville his hometown. His family migrated here when he was young and he worked on many farms while growing up to help his family.
After graduating from Porterville High, Hamilton relocated to San Pedro, California and began his life-long career with Union Oil. In 1929 he married his high school sweetheart Pauline Arnold. Hamilton moved his family back to Porterville in 1940 where he and Pauline became Union Oil Independent Distributors. After World War II, he opened the Nash Car Agency and later acquired and operated the Union gas station on Main Street and Olive Avenue.
Hamilton attended the First Congregational Church and had a great belief in God. He was also an extraordinarily civic-minded individual belonging to the Elks, Lions Club, Masons, Shriners, American Red Cross, Salvation Army, YMCA, Chamber of Commerce, Boy Scouts, Sportsman Association and Porterville Civic Association. He served several years on the Porterville Elementary School Board and City Council. He was a member of the Republican State Central Committee and invited to President Nixon’s inaugural ball.
William B. "Bill" Horst
William B. “Bill” Horst was born on the family farm 10 miles southwest of Porterville. He married Alma Meek in 1954 and began a drafting and design service. One of Horst’s volunteer projects was the design for the first building for the Porterville Sheltered Workshop on North ‘E’ Street.
Horst became an N.R.A. certified Hunter Safety instructor and founded a Hunter Safety program in Porterville which he ran for 25 years. He was also a member of the Burton School board and was involved in considerable expansion of the district during his 10 year tenure.
Horst always had a great interest in history and became the local expert for archeologists, writers, teachers and movie makers. Horst volunteered his time to provide history programs for local schools for over 40 years. He also did survival skills and M. Man history demonstrations for the local Boy Scouts. Horst’s expertise was called on to help arrange the town’s Centennial celebration in 1961 the Bicentennial celebration in 1976.
Horst was involved with the Porterville Historical Museum, the Tulare County Museum Board and is a life member of the Tulare County Historical Society. He also held the title of the ‘Clamp-historian’ for the Dr. Samuel Gregg George Chapter 1855 of E Clampus Vitus.
Guy Huffaker was born in San Bernardino California and graduated from San Diego State College in 1965. He married Joan McCarl that same year and they had two daughters, Dana and Erin, and five grandchildren.
Huffaker served as City Manager for Porterville from 1977 to 2002. During his 25 years of service the city grew from 15,000 to 42,000 in population, 23 new industries were recruited, 4 new shopping centers were constructed and millions of dollars were invested in infrastructure and city facilities.
Huffaker served on numerous boards and committees including the League of California Cities committees on Economic Development, Employee Relations and Administrative Services, the California Association of Local Economic Development and the California City Management Foundation. He is the former President of the South San Joaquin City Managers Association and the Tulare County City Managers Group.
Huffaker was also involved in the formation of the Tulare County Economic Development Corporation. In 2001, the Porterville Chamber of Commerce honored his economic development contributions to the community by naming him the recipient of the Allan R. Coats award.
Marlene Marquez was born in 1936 in Porterville. She met and married Antonio Marquez in 1927 and, together, they had six children. She learned the customs and traditions of both the Filipino and Hispanic cultures and dedication to community service from her emigrant parents.
Marquez served in various offices for the Parent Teachers Association. She also worked and served as a secretary of Tulare County Compensatory Education, a school site council member at John J. Doyle Elementary School and as a board member for the Porterville School District. She helped in the creation of the Porterville College Child Care Center and the Porterville Head Start Program. She worked with Project Call of Porterville College, Big Brothers/ Big Sisters, Leadership Porterville, Porterville Chamber of Commerce, Comision Honorifica Mexicana Americana, Catholic Daughters of America, the Indian Pow Wow, the Pastoral Council of St. Anne’s Catholic Church and the Tulare County Drug and Alcohol Program. She also helped with the Porterville Women’s Conference and the Rebozo Festival. She served as a board member for the Foster Grandparent Program at the Porterville Developmental Center and worked to establish a local support group for those who have lost a spouse.
Monte Moore was a native of Hollis, Oklahoma and graduate of University of Oklahoma. Following a 30 year career as a Major League baseball broadcaster for the Oakland A’s and NBC-TV, which included three World Series national broadcasts, he moved his wife Deonne and three children, Bruce, Deonna, and Donnie, to Porterville. He purchased radio stations KTIP/KIOO and operated them as the locally concentrated news and sports service.
During his time in Porterville, Moore was recipient of numerous awards, including Chamber of Commerce “Man of the Year” and the Alan Coates award, ‘Friend of Education’, the Lifetime Achievement Award from CIF, Community College Media Pro Award, Golden M award from Monache, Porterville College Kathy Gifford Athletics/ Academics award and several other proclamations recognizing community service. The Porterville Little League also celebrated a special commemorative bobble head day in his honor.
Moore created and conducted an annual Big League Golf-a-Rama for 25 years which brought in major-league stars and raised in excess of $850,000 for local school athletic teams and the Porterville Youth Center. He also served on the Porterville College Foundation Board, Parks and Leisure Commission and as an elder of the Church of Christ.
Mary Hamner Baker
After meeting her husband at UCLA and living in Washington, D.C., Mary Hamner Baker moved to Porterville in 1942. Concerned about the homeless population in the area, Baker and a group of local citizens established the Porterville Mission Project. As the Mission Project increased services to families suffering from domestic violence, it developed into what is known today as the Family Crisis Center.
In addition to spending three years as president of the Mission project, Baker was highly involved in the community. She was a member of PEO Chapter UA and active on PTA boards, receiving an honorary life membership for service. She was leader and director for Camp Fire Girls and supportive of American Field Service. Active in church affairs for over 30 years, she was a member of the First Congregational Church and served as a Sunday school teacher and deaconess. Her efforts in founding the Mission and countless other community endeavors earned Baker the Porterville Chamber of Commerce “Woman of the Year” honor in 1978.
Robert Decker Christenson
Robert Decker Christenson attended local schools and graduated from Porterville High School in 1968. He went on to BYU and BYU Law School, graduating with a Juris Doctorate Degree in 1977. Two days before graduation Christenson married LaDawn Barfuss. Together they settled in Porterville where he joined the law firm known today as the Christenson Law firm. He loved working as an attorney with his father and later his brothers and brother-in-law.
Christenson was a charter member of the Porterville Optimist Club and spent several years as Scout Master for troops 114 and 134. He served as president of the Tulare County Bar Association, officer of the Porterville High School Alumni Association, and member of the Porterville College Foundation and Sequoia Dutch Oven Society. He was very active with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, serving 20 years as a seminary teacher for the youth. Christenson was a lifetime fan of local sporting events and passionate about history which led him to work with the Porterville Sesquicentennial committee.
Cyrille O. Faure
Cyrille O. Faure was a Porterville High School student body president who attended Porterville College until he joined the military during World War II. He became a Purple Heart recipient and one of the first parachuting Marine Medics to ever set foot on foreign soil. Faure returned to the community to become a successful rancher and local leader. He was involved in 4-H leader for over 25 years and served on several livestock and agriculture committees, including the California Farm Bureau Board and President of the Tulare County Cattlemen’s Association.
Faure was on the original Memorial Auditorium Board, helping construct the Buck Schaeffer Memorial Auditorium, and also helped establish the Porterville Fair. A very notable achievement was being named America’s “Four Outstanding Young Farmers of 1957” winning out over more than 10,000 nominations submitted by Junior Chamber locals from throughout the nation. There was no greater source of pride for Faure than as a father and grandfather representing six generations that lived, worked, and played in the Porterville community.
Vivian Josten Lucey
Vivian Josten Lucey and her husband Jack moved to California in 1953 and made a home in Porterville. They became known as community supporters and together owned several local businesses, including two service stations, two tire shops, The Palace Hotel Dining Room, a local Pizza Hut, the Airport Restaurant, and Jack’s Junkyard Dogs.
Lucey was always very active and civic minded, named Porterville’s Woman of the Year during the 70’s. She devoted hard work to the Porterville Centennial celebrations, served as the President of the Garden Club, Women’s Club and Zonta Club, and was the first woman president of the Porterville Chamber of Commerce. Lucey was also active in SETCO Republican woman and held a lifetime status as a Sierra View District Hospital ‘Pink Lady’. Her love of reading and education were passed on to her children and grandchildren. Lucey was also a faithful charter member of the Trinity Lutheran Church and known as a loyal friend, devoted wife and mother, and energetic supporter.
Emogene "Ema" McCullar
Emogene “Emma” McCullar was born in Salisaw Oklahoma and moved to California in 1947. After graduating from McFarland High School she took a job as a telephone switchboard operator before marring Leroy McCullar. In 1972, they purchased a restaurant in Porterville called the Pig Pen. Due to her husband’s unexpected passing McCullar and her two children were left to manage the business. Ever determined, McCullar carried on and sold the Pig Pen in 1974 to buy a larger restaurant on Main Street called The Cellar.
McCullar became known in the community as a hard working businesswoman that was a loyal supporter of city events and champion of downtown Porterville. Being a mother to all, Emma loved to serve her customers and took great joy in making sure nobody left her place hungry. Customers were usually greeted with kind words and a smile and she came to think of her countless friends as her “extended family. Her greatest joy, however, was always her family and especially her grandchildren.
George H. Overcash
George H. Overcash is remembered for his love a challenge and many projects. He grew up in Porterville and, at the age of five, brought back and planted some cottonseeds picked up from a trip to North Carolina that resulted in the first planted and harvested in the Porterville area. His hard work in the community continued throughout his adolescence and into his adult life.
After success in a variety of jobs, he joined the Porterville Police department in 1933. He then started Porterville Farm Implement Company, which he ran for 30 years until his retirement. He was a charter member of the Porterville Kiwanas and also a member of the Porterville Masonic Lodge and high priest of the Royal Arch Masons. Of all his accomplishments in business, Overcash was most proud of his efforts to bring a new hospital to the area. As President of the Porterville Chamber of Commerce in 1947, Overcash helped circulate petitions to gather support for the project. In 1952 the Sierra View District Hospital was built, fulfilling a life long dream.
Clara Wilcox Rutherford
Cattle rancher, Republican strategist, campaigner, community activist, mother, and grandmother. Those are just a few descriptions from Clara Rutheford’s extensive resume. Born in 1912 just east of Porterville, Rutherford attended local schools and held a variety of jobs through the 40’s. She retired to join her husband in running the family ranch and pursue her own interests, which led to a 1995 SETCO honor for her many contributions to the community and Republican Party.
She started work with the Porterville chapter of the California Republican Assembly and became a full member of the Republican State Central Committee and then co-chairwoman of the Tulare County Reagan for President Committee. She served in several state offices including the California Cowbells and California Beef Council. She was appointed by Tulare County Supervisors to help the Foothill Growth Management Plan and, together with her husband, received the first joint recipient of the Cattlemen of the Year award. Despite her political contributions and leadership skills, Rutherford was certain that her successful marriage, children, and grandchildren were her greatest accomplishment.
William 'Bill' Rogers
Bill was in the first class of students that started as freshmen at PHS to graduate in 1928. He gradated from Porterville College in 1931 and went on to graduate from Kansas University in 1936. Bill was the Publisher and Owner of the Farm Tribune Newspaper from 1948-’75.
Bill was the Man of the Year in 1948 by the Porterville Chamber of Commerce. He served on the Porterville Fair Board for 35 years. He was a 30 year member of the Elks and also served as President of the Rotary Club. He was Chairman of the Republican Central Committee and a member of the California Republican State Committee. Bill was a City Council Member from 1959-’63 and the Mayor from 1963-’67. He helped launch the Porterville Centennial Celebration and the Jackass Mail Run. Bill co-produced with Buck Shaffer the City of Hope Spectacular. Bill was married to Katherine Goode Rodgers and had two daughters, Susan and Mary Kay.
Esta Mae Hinton
Estha was one of the best known of all the Porterville College Alumni as she stayed very active in college activities well after her graduation in 1930. She was a member of the first graduating class of PC. She was the honored guest at the college’s 75th Anniversary celebration. She met her husband, Carl, on a bus while on her way to PC. They were married for almost 60 years.
For 13 years she was on the staff of the Porterville Recorder as Society Editor. She also wrote about music events, Barn Theatre productions and obituaries. Long after her retirement she still attended all school concerts and plays. She wrote memorials for Eastern Star and was a 50 year member of the Palm Leaf Chapter Order of the Eastern Star. She received a Community Service Award at the age of 90. Estha Mae also served as Clerk for 20 years at the First Congregational Church. Her love of country, pride and diligence in her community and activities held no bounds, never missing a Flag Day Ceremony or a September 17 Bell Ringing Ceremony.
Helen Louise Shires
Helen Louise Shires grew up in Nebraska and graduated from the University of Nebraska majoring in Home Economics. She volunteer taught English as a second language for many years to Hmong families. She was involved in Alta Mira Chapter of DAR, serving in several positions including Regent, and conducted significant genealogy research. She was a 4-H Leader, Girl Scout Leader, active in PTA, and taught elementary school for 20 years. She and Orlin were very active in the Porterville Centennial events in 1961 and Helen sewed replica 1860s costumes for the entire family. She supported the Porterville Museum and donated her table from Porterville founder Porter Putnam. Orlin and Helen had been married for 64 years.
Orlin Hudsen Shires
Dr. Orlin Shires was the longest reining President of Porterville College, serving in that position for 23 years. His list of services to the local community is long, including American Red Cross, Chamber of Commerce, Lions Club, Centennial Committee, Porterville Museum, Boy Scouts, YMCA, Rotary Club, Big Brother Committee, American Legion, AAU Track and Field, Barn Theater Board of Directors, and the Evangelical Free Church. He was a tremendous athlete lettering in football and track in college. He was a proud Veteran of World War II and very patriotic. He served in the Navy reserves for 15 years.
Teresa Jackson tirelessly worked for the betterment of the Porterville Community. She helped start the Iris Festival and served as the event chair for 10 years. She served on the Porterville Sheltered Workshop Board of Directors for 24 years, serving as President in 1989. Teresa was actively involved in the Leadership Porterville Program, serving as the Steering Committee Chair in 1997, annual program presenter/instructor; and retreat facilitator. Each year she would get the LP Class off to a great start at the Retreat leading the group in various teambuilding sessions.
She was named Woman of the Year in 2002 by the Chamber of Commerce. Teresa was involved in the Porterville Employer Advisory Council. She actively supported numerous other local organizations and community events including: American Cancer Society and Relay for Life; American Heart Association; Porterville Adult School; Porterville College; Butterfield Stage Days and the Sierra Music Fest. She Chaired the Chamber of Commerce Board in 2000.
Waltraut "Wallie" Wilson
Wallie co-owned and managed The Juven-Aire and Teen-Aire specialty shops on Main Street for 40 years. Throughout this long career, Mrs. Wilson served the business community and especially the downtown central business district on a vast variety of boards, committees, and commissions. She also served the City on the business license review, and strategic planning committees. She played a vital role in the formation of the formation of the Parking District downtown in 1968.
Waltraut is the only woman to twice be given the Woman of The Year (1963 & 1968) by the Porterville Chamber of Commerce because of her dedicated service to the local, state, and even international community. Wallie was a member of the Zonta Club of Porterville for over 50 years where she twice served as President. She then went on to serve as Area Director, Lt. Governor and in the prestigious position of Governor of District IX of Zonta International. One of the most enduring legacies of her Zonta membership was the establishment of Z Clubs at Porterville, Monache, and Strathmore High Schools. Wallie loved this community and she gave all that she had to make it a better place, both for businesses and for families.
Jim was born in Porterville in October 1924. Jim attended local schools prior to enrolling in Porterville College and going on to pursue his degree at the University of Texas majoring in Mechanical Engineering. Jim served in the Navy from 1945-’46 on the U.S.S. Comet. Jim married Olga De Paoli in 1951. Jim had 3 passions: his wife of 59 years, his daughters and his grandchildren. His daughters are: Cheryl, Karen and Susan; and the 4 grandchildren are Kristina, Zachery, Lucas and Brooke. Jim was involved in numerous organizations such as the Jr. Chamber, Elks, Masons and worked tirelessly on promoting Downtown Porterville with the Parking Committee. He was passionately involved in the thriving success of Downtown Porterville. He was also active in the church vestry and Men’s Club at St. John’s Anglican Church. He started Jim’s Auto Parts in 1961 after working at Cone’s Automotive for 15 years.
Forrest "Doc" Mock
Forrest “Doc” Mock ran the physical education department at Porterville and Monache High School. He also coached football and basketball. He attended USC where he obtained a master’s degree in Physical Education and another in Mechanical Drawing. Forrest built his house on Johnson Street from the ground up which at the time was unheard of. His innovative physical fitness program was the first of its kind and had teachers from all over the United States visit Porterville to find out more about it. Some of the equipment and programming is still used to this day at PHS. “Doc” went well beyond the regular duties and helped thousands of young men straighten out their lives. Up until his passing, many of his past students would cross paths and speak to Forrest like he was their dad.
Cpl. Brett W. Land
Porterville Cpl. Brett W. Land, joined the Army in November 2008 and died Oct. 30, 2010, in Afghanistan during his first tour of duty as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. He is the son of Kenny Land of Camp Nelson and Gretchen Land of Bakersfield, formerly of Porterville. He was 24 years old and is survived by his wife, Sarah, and daughter Rileigh, his parents, a sister, two brothers and many local relatives.
Land grew up in Porterville and was known for his wrestling winning several national titles and twice placing in the top five in his weight class in the state during high school. He played a big role in helping Bakersfield High School win the state wrestling title in 2004. He was extremely active in the Burton School District where he wrestled, played basketball and baseball, was in the jazz and marching school bands, was involved with the school’s Spelling Bee competition and history reenactments, and was a member of the school’s drama club.
Land’s Army awards and decorations include: National Defense Service Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and Airborne Tab.
Mona Young Gauger
Mona was born September 24, 1921, in Colorado. The Young family moved to Berkeley in 1928. She attended the Berkeley public schools then enrolled in the University of San Francisco.
Mona enlisted in the Armed Forces in 1942. She was assigned to Wright Field in Ohio and spent most of her three years there participating in various research programs.
She came to Porterville in 1973 when she and her husband ran the family ranch where they grew oranges, avocados and kiwis. She then indulged in two of her loves: travel and volunteering. Mona joined Zonta International in 1979 under the classification of Citrus Manager. She served as President from 1983-’85. She wrote small grants to give additional funding for the Central California Crisis Center (CCFCC) and the Porterville Adult Services. Mona also wrote and received a grant that allowed Zonta to partner with the PHS drama department which resulted in a video named “Remember Jan.” She served on the CCFCC Board for many years. For ten years she ran a home care facility for abused and neglected children. That home eventually was incorporated with the Pioneer Home Outreach.
Mona was a faithful member of the Porterville Garden Club spending countless hours at the Zalud House, beautifying downtown, and working on other projects. She also was involved with Habitat for Humanity. She brought beauty into the world through her gardening and through her devotion and undaunting spirit to her community.
Alice Overstreet Seal
Alice Seal lived a life of service and dedication. Her excitement never dimmed. She was a devoted Zonta International member for 25 years including two stints as President. Alice chaired the Porterville Museum dinner and auction when Zonta stopped being a part of it. Her artistic expertise was always available for planning and making decorations for special events. The Museum was one of her pet projects both in raising funds for its progress and the many displays she designed for its continued success.
In August 1995, she started working on her genealogy and in February ’96 her membership number had been assigned in Washington, DC. Also, in May 1996, she was elected Vice Regent of Alta Mira Chapter.
Part of the Zonta code reads, “Honor my work and consider it an opportunity for service. To increase the measure of that service by consistent self-improvement.” Nothing could define Alice’s life more.
Roy Rockholt was a veteran who served in the US Army during the Korean War. He became popularly known in the community for role as president of the Helping Hands Daybell Brooks Men’s Shelter, and later Helping Hands. His dedication to serving the poor inspired him to organize and put into motion the daily free lunch program serving up to 3,500 meals a month. Helping Hands continues to serve upwards of 60,000 meals each year surviving entirely from the generosity of donors and volunteers.
Rockholt was also a life member of the Porterville VFW Post #2001 and Terra Bella American Legion Post #779. He was a part of several organizations including the Porterville Eagles Lodge Fraternal Order #1351, Porterville High School Boosters Association, Porterville Senior Council, St. Anne’s Knights of Columbus, Porterville St. Anne’s Catholic Church and St. Vincent de Paul Board of Directors. Rockholt's impacted the community daily by feeding and making welcome the hungry. His efforts also increased awareness of and compassion for the needs of the poor and homeless in the area.
Jim Maples was born in Oklahoma and settled in Porterville in 1946. He attended Porterville College, Fresno State, and UCLA and, midway through, he met and married Myrna Cameron. Maples held many jobs including Director of Athletics, owner/manager of Maples Sport Shop, commercial property developer, and County Supervisor. He was also on the faculty at Porterville College for 34 years, serving as chairman of the technical vocational department.
The dedication of the Jim Maples Academy in the Burton School District was one of his most heartwarming honors. He was also inducted into the California Community College Basketball Hall of Fame for his many years as a coach, named to the Porterville College Athletic Hall of Fame, placed on the Porterville High Wall of Fame, and received the Book of Golden Deeds Award by the Exchange Club International. The Porterville Chamber of Commerce honored his economic development efforts by naming him the recipient of the Allan R. Coates Distinguished Service Award in 2000. Maples was known as a persistent mentor, never giving up on encouraging his students, his ball players, his family members, and his friends to succeed.
Edward B. "Ted" Cornell
Edward B. Cornell, fondly known as Ted, was a captain in the U.S. Army and awarded a bronze star for service at the Battle of the Bulge. He was born in Porterville and, along with his wife Betty, became a very strong force in the growth of the area. Cornell served as a local elected official and on various water boards and the Porterville Union High School District Board of Trustees. He was also a member of the Board of Directors for Finance & Thrift.
Cornell was a dedicated believer in what the local college means to the community and spent 30 years, from 1968 to 1998, as a member of the Kern Community College District Board of Trustees, representing Porterville College.
Cornell was a graduate of Porterville High School and received an MBA from Stanford and a Paul Harris Fellow in the Rotary Club. He was a past chamber of commerce president. Despite all of his hard work in business and the community, he always found time for his favorite past time- hiking on Rocky Hill with his good friend Jake Rankin.
Frank "Buck" Shaffer
Frank “Buck” Shaffer was revered as one of America's band directing icons. He arrived in Porterville in 1953 taking over the school's music program. For the next half century, Shaffer's Panther Band and other music programs became nationally recognized for greatness. His bands made five trips to the Rose Parade and countless appearances in the All Western and Hollywood Christmas Parade. Shaffer also started the City of Hope Spectacular in 1963. The annual event, a fundraiser for the City of Hope, is a variety show and is one of Porterville's most highly anticipated traditions.
A native of West Virginia Shaffer served his country in the military and taught in West Virginia prior to coming to Porterville. After his retirement in the early 90's Shaffer kept teaching elementary band part time. He earned countless honors including the Porterville Recorder's Spirit of Freedom Award and a Lifetime Achievement Award. The people of Porterville continue to benefit from his teaching and contributions to the community and his legacy is kept alive in the local Frank ‘Buck’ Shaffer Memorial Auditorium and ‘Time Marches On’ mural in Centennial Park.
Carmen Martinez Eoff
Carmen Martinez-Eoff was born in Westwood on Easter Sunday, 1940 to Henry and Maurilia Martinez. After the mill closed in Westwood in 1957, the family moved to Susanville. Martinez-Eoff graduated from Lassen High School and attended Lassen College. She received her degree in education from Chico State University. She and her husband Gerald were married in Susanville in 1964.
Martinez-Eoff was an educator for 32 years, primarily in the Porterville area. She spent a dedicated 18 years at Olive Street Elementary. She was selected California Bilingual Educator of the Year in 1993 and was very politically active in the Porterville area. Martinez-Eoff belonged to numerous political and educational organizations. She was a member of the Commission Honorifica Mexicana Americana and of the Association of Mexican American Educators. She was always warmly regarded as a mentor and friend.