Oroville Union High School District
2009 Hall of Fame Inductees
2009 Hall of Fame Inductees
1940 is a historical date for Oroville High School. James Chester Nisbet hired Hugh Harrison that year. It signaled better things would soon happen on the Bridge Street campus. A profoundly influential counselor, his coaching excellence was also a renowned feature of the Orland native.
According to a newspaper report, Hugh brought OHS its first basketball championship since 1892. In his second year, Hugh started a string of league winners. The victorious varsity teams continued with Hugh guiding the Tigers to championships throughout his entire 18 years as coach and athletic director.
Hugh brought ability as a leader when he came to Oroville High. As a young competitor, he played and coached Hamilton City High basketball for four years.
While a student at Chico State, he coached the freshman basketball team through a season marked by only one loss. As a Wildcat baseball player, Hugh pitched and played first base, where it is likely he earned his nickname, “Scoop.” In four years on the diamond, he was a league champion each season.
During college, Hugh and Dorothy Crum were married, and following graduation in 1928, the couple embarked on their long journey as coach, wife and parents of two boys.
The couple stayed in Marysville for three years, where Hugh taught elementary school P.E. and shop. Summerville High in Tuolumne, signed him as athletic director and coach from 1931-1940. During that span he produced 14 league championships while coaching every boys sport.
Hugh is well-remembered for his stay there. Marlen Routen, former athletic director, wrote, “Summerville was a big part of his life, but of more importance was the influence he had on those students he coached.” That comment mirrors what local people have said about the man. Writer Bill Talbitzer wrote, “With him he brought a blazing competitive spirit, a sharply defined sense of fair play and a real working desire to turn out highly skilled and well-disciplined athletic teams.”
In 1964, the OUHSD issued a resolution of appreciation. On it was a comment from legendary OHS coach/admini-strator John R. Johnson reading, “He has a deep
interest in youth, exemplifying for so long the most positive aspects of competitive athletics—sportsmanship, citizenship and competitive desire. Oroville High School has reached a pinnacle enjoyed by very few high schools. Only boys who could meet these high standards were accepted on Hugh’s teams. We will never forget him for the contribution he has made to students of Oroville High School and the people of Oroville.”
Previously paid tribute by Chico State, Summerville High, the Northern California Sports Association, as well as having Harrison Stadium named in his honor, Hugh
Harrison will not be forgotten.
Hugh said with gratitude in 1980, “I do not know how deserved I am of the honors given me. I can only say that I tried very hard to do a good job at everything I attempted to do. The close friendships that were the result are ample payment. I feel very humble and extremely grateful.”
|John R. Johnson
John R. Johnson possessed many above average attributes. It is difficult to say which one was his best. He was a consummate authority in many areas. He was a professional ball player, teacher, administrator, coach and father. He and his wife, Mary, had six children, all of whom graduated from Oroville High School.
John completed high school at Shasta in Redding. He enrolled at Chico State College, and graduated in ‘48 with a teaching degree in Physical Education. He also garnered counseling and administrative credentials at Chico.
His athletic endeavors at CSU included football, baseball, basketball and track. He spent a summer in AAA baseball with the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League.
He came to Oroville High School in ‘49. He spent two years in the Army Air Force. John quickly became an inspirational leader at the campus he loved. His dedication to OHS lasted for 34 working years. He became the Principal, and he strove constantly to better the school environment.
During his first years at OHS, John coached Junior Varsity Football. After Joe Felipe stopped coaching Tiger football, John took over the Varsity duties. Accompanying him to the Varsity were players he had coached as JV’s. All told, John coached that group of players four consecutive years. According to Don Selby of the San Francisco Examiner, by the end of the ’55 schedule of games, the record was spotless. They never lost. Coach Johnson’s Tiger teams for those four seasons won 36 and lost none. The ‘55 Tiger Varsity was ranked atop the Class AA standings that featured teams from Berkeley, Santa Rosa, Sacramento, Palo Alto, Modesto and more. The Tigers were the top team among Northern California large schools.
In ‘59, John was given the highest honor for a high school football coach when he was chosen to lead two Northern California all-star high school teams. He coached the Shrine game in Los Angeles and the Optimist game in Sacramento.
As the Tiger varsity baseball coach, John had great success. He mentored future professional ball players Tommy Brown, Dean Andoe and four time World Series participant Gary Nolan.
Nolan said, “You know I loved John. I looked up to him even back when he was playing first base for the Oroville Olives. What he did for players like Larry Heath, Dean Andoe, Danny Wilson and me, you just can’t measure that.”
OHS Counselor Barbara Little said, “John R. Johnson knew about all of the programs at his school, Special Education, Title 1, and Indian Education. John took an interest in all
students, and knew most of them by name. As a Principal he did whatever was needed to take care of students, parents, and staff.”
Among those John hired was Charlotte Ross. She worked for OHS for over 33 years and said, “Johnny was always available to help anyone that needed help. I was blessed to have known him and called him my friend and boss.”
For his final year at OHS, Principal Johnson wrote a touching piece for the Class of ‘83 graduation ceremony that included the words, “While I am not a graduate of Oroville High School, I am honored and proud to have had the opportunity to work here for the past 34 years.”
Doug Kaelin entered Las Plumas High School in 1977. During four years there he displayed strong and consistent drive. At graduation time, Doug had clearly worked himself into a position that favored advancement toward roles of leadership.
He carried a solid 3.0 grade point average. As a Thunderbird athlete, Doug was 4.0+ all the way. He participated in track and field, wrestling and football during all four years. As a LP athlete, Doug was Most Valuable Player in those three sports. As a senior, he was selected to the All Eastern Athletic League, again in all three sports. He was the first LP athlete to achieve this impressive status.
Owning a growing number of high school credits, he advanced as a wrestler to the State Finals. He was also a Block LP officer and topped things off by earning honors as an All-State football player.
Doug graduated with a scholarship in 1980 and enrolled at CSUC where he gained a B.A. Degree in Social Science. He continued his athletic activities while again winning honors. Doug was chosen captain in both wrestling and football. He was named All-Conference in each sport and he advanced to the wrestling National Finals.
Although there is no doubt that his presence on campus was missed when he graduated, he would revisit his alma mater after graduating from CSUC. Doug taught for two years at LP and coached football, track, softball and wrestling. He won the NSCIF football coach of the year twice. He also served as the Athletic Director for one year.
Doug continued his higher education while working for 15 years as a Butte County juvenile probation officer. In 1987, he won another award by being chosen as Probation Officer of the Year.
In 2000, at Chapman University, Doug earned teaching and administrative credentials. He also obtained a Masters in Education there in 2005.
Combing this vast and successful past, Doug joined the staff at Pierce High School in Arbuckle and has been the Principal there for the past eight years. Positive change at Pierce quickly followed with Doug at the helm. During his final two years as football coach, the Bears finished with records of 12-1, and 12-0 and won a Section Championship.
Pierce Athletic Director and teacher Gary Teague wrote, “He (Kaelin) brought in discipline and a sense of purpose which had not been seen in this program for many years. Mr. Kaelin gives clear direction and then provides leadership so that the job gets done. Of all his accomplishments, Mr. Kaelin is most proud of the fact that, under his leadership, the Pierce High School API scores have had significant gains.”
Pierce High School was named as a Distinguished High School in 2009. Doug keeps rolling too. He served in 2008 as a Star Sectional Administrator and as a Secondary Education
Representative for Region Two. Currently, he is the Northern Section President Elect and a member of the Gridley Rotary Club.
Wes Martin served. His steady career exemplifies what it means to step up, lend a helping hand, and be able to look back at a job well done. He was prepared and took on roles both as a teacher and as a school administrator. Wes’ accomplishments displayed his trademark quiet manner. His work was performed with a unique sense of student awareness. His gift allowed him to weave a seamless relationship between student and faculty.
Most teachers have a common goal. They want to help their pupils. Wes, too, was there for his students. He cared for them and students knew that he loved them. In that, he possessed an ability that was admired by the campus populations wherever he worked.
Wes was a graduate of Oroville High School in ‘48. He participated in football, basketball and track during his four years at OHS. As a junior, he was on the undefeated varsity football team. His activities in the student body included the block society and class officer.
Following high school graduation, Wes attended Yuba Junior College for two years where he continued to play football. He enrolled at Chico State for one semester before the Army called. Private First Class Martin was shipped to serve in the Korean War. Two years later he returned home and once more became a college student.
While attending CSUC, Wes studied history. He also returned to the gridiron but added one more sporting adventure: he was a fighter on the Wildcat boxing team.
In ‘55, Wes graduated from Chico. His studies earned him a History Degree as well as a Teaching Credential. He embarked on a career in education that would last for 35 years. His first stop was at Gridley High School where he was a teacher of social studies as well as a football coach. He moved back to Oroville High as a teacher/coach. He also served there as Activities Director, a responsibility that required no small amount of effort. According to Norm MacKenzie, long-time a colleague of Martin’s, Wes organized the concessions for the ’72 State Track Meet that was attended by an estimated 10,000 people in just two days.
Wes became the Vice-Principal at OHS but took time off in ‘70 to continue his formal education at Notre Dame University. He received a masters degree in history that year.
Upon returning to Oroville, Wes was assigned the job of Principal at Las Plumas High School. This was to become a Wes Martin pattern. He became Principal at OHS and
Prospect in following years.
Wes was active in the local community all the while. He coached in the midget football program. He served on the Oroville Planning Commission and was a member of the Host Lions Club, where he was voted the ‘74-‘75 President Elect. He donated blood 24 times to the Sacramento Medical Blood Center.
Just before Wes retired in ‘93, he had one more go on campus as a teacher in the Oroville Adult School Program.
If local people know a way to serve the community they love, it is a good bet that the late Jack McKillop did some form of that service during his life. Jack’s “day job” for 40 years is listed as an insurance agent with Bankers Life Nebraska (Ameritas).
After that job was done for the day, he went to work at his “second jobs” like 11 years as a member of the Oroville City Council (’51-’62), 14 years on the Butte County Board of
Supervisors (’62-’77), the Butte County Association of Governments, ball player with the Oroville Olives, site committees that found the present locations of Butte College and Table Mountain Golf Course, President of the Junior Chamber of Commerce, Chairman of the Fiesta Days Parade, the Oroville Economic Development Committee, and high school football referee.
Jack was not tired by all this public service so, he joined organizations such as the Rotary Club, the Elks, the Eagles, the Veterans of Foreign Wars; and on a slow night he would have an hour or two for a city league game of softball or basketball.
Many of the important things accomplished in this community had Jack’s hand on them. Because of his work as a County Supervisor, we can be thankful that he supported the naming of Oroville Dam and Lake Oroville. Otherwise, local historians can assure you that the town of Oroville might be sitting at the base of ‘Brown Lake’, had the Sacramento political reign during the era had its way. His servitude also included reestablishing roads around Lake Oroville and securing funds to build a sewer system in Thermalito.
A 1940 graduate of Oroville High School, where Jack was an excellent athlete in football, basketball and baseball, he was honored with a full-ride football scholarship to Santa Clara University.
But Jack had to do more so he enrolled in ROTC at the college. Then in ’43 that group was called to active duty in World War II. On a ship sailing to Japan, Jack and his mates were redirected at the last minute as the War came to its abrupt end. Instead, he was shipped to the Philippines. There his duties as chief of the motor pool were interrupted when his commanding officer learned that, before the call up, the Oroville man had been studying Political Science at Santa Clara. Jack was shifted to a detachment organized to
investigate war crimes.
Jack married Norma Jean Wilson in ’43. They were together 60 years and have a daughter named Jill and a son named Jack.
He graduated with a BA from Santa Clara in ’48 and returned to live in Oroville. He earned a secondary teaching degree from Chico State in ’51.
His outstanding career and fairness while performing public tasks are testimony to the fact: Jack got it done.
Duard Millet came to OUHS in 1954. That era’s student athletes were arguably the best in school history. Duard brought his style of coaching and champions began to flow from OUHS like paper bills pressed at a mint.
Coach Millet retired from courtside in 1968 after coaching four different levels of boy’s teams to 25 Sierra Foothill League titles (451 wins and 114 losses). Duard coached six additional years by helping restart the OHS girl’s basketball program, which had been sidelined since WWII. The Duard Millet tournament is named in his honor.
Duard was qualified having earlier introduced controversial full court, running basketball to the BYU women’s program. He coached a Western States championship women’s team in 1946. By any standards, his record is quite an accomplishment.
Duard was raised by his grandparents and an aunt in Rockville, UT after his parents divorced in 1921. He attended Hurricane High School, 24 miles from Rockville. Therefore, Duard stayed with friends much of the time. At Hurricane, he played all sports. He also coached baseball before graduating in 1939.
After a tryout with the Cincinnati Redlegs, Duard enrolled for two years at Branch Agricultural College in Cedar City, UT. Later he chose a scholarship to Brigham Young University. The 1941-42 Cougar basketball team finished first and placed second in the NIT at New York. While at BYU, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps V-12 program.
Shortly before being shipped overseas, Duard and Shirley McAllister began their marriage, now in its 64th year. They had six children, but tragically lost two daughters.
In August, 1945, Duard was deployed to Okinawa. It had been surrendered but regular skirmishes continued. Over 250,000 people died during the 83-day battle. He remembers the horrible carnage on the beaches. He came home in February, 1946. One thing about the voyage home amazed Duard. The troops were racially segregated to keep them from fighting. Racial discrimination was never part of Duard Millet’s playbook. His attitude towards life has reflected this experience. While coaching a game at Red Bluff, Duard protested racial slurs directed toward Oroville players. Abuse continued and he pulled the team off the floor. In support, Oroville administration scheduled no basketball games at Red Bluff for several years.
He does not forget former players and they don’t forget him either. George Steele (1958) said, “I love the guy. He taught us not only about basketball, but things that helped later in life.” Barry Rockwell (1959) said, “He never got down on you as a person.” Doug Sears (1962) said, “There is no finer representative of all that has been great about Oroville athletics than Duard Millet.” Duard says, “I knew how to show love to my players, and why it was essential to do so.”
It was fortunate that the formative years at Oroville High School were guided largely by one man, James Chester Nisbet.
His personal strength combined with loving concern for OHS students helped to lay the groundwork, upon which was built a positive atmosphere for growth and learning. An attitude of family, promoted by Nisbet, permeated the campus and aided students in their later lives. He earned respect from students and co-workers alike.
Chet was an athlete. He taught that everyone should try to win, but whether in winning or losing, the game was to be played with good sportsmanship on both sides so everyone could be a winner. He taught those around him to conduct themselves during play and after the games ended with respect for opponents. He instructed that the true goal of competitions was sportsmanship.
The Nisbet family was one of the first to settle in this area after the Gold Rush. Chet’s primary education years were spent inside the single room Oregon City Schoolhouse. He attended OHS where he participated in sports as well as drama productions. In 1909, he was a champion with the school’s Northern California High School Athletic League
Following his graduation in 1911, Chet studied for the next four years at the University of California at Berkeley. He graduated in 1915 with an A.B. and recognition in the Delta Phi Kappa Education Honors Society.
Immediately after college, Chet returned to Oroville and began professional teaching. Through the next 42 years, his career also included coaching in basketball and baseball, Principal (1930), and Superintendent (1955). There was a timeout for the United States Army where Chet was a First Lieutenant.
Chet’s legacy continued at OHS into the 1960’s when the abandoned Acker Basketball Tournament was reborn as the Nisbet Tourney, hosted each year in Oroville.
Some of his service off campus included: twice president of the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club man of the year in 1959, Boy Scouts committee member for 15 years, head of the Salvation Army in Oroville, and in 1941 Chet was appointed by the Governor of California as Captain of the California State Guard.
Chet was steadily on site each day while foregoing fanfare and self-promotion. Former student, Audrey Aiston, wrote: “At times he would get home late for dinner having driven someone home after missing the school bus. When students were in need of funds to continue their education, he often assisted by finding sponsors.”
Nisbet’s daughter, Gertrude Bartley, wrote of her father, “James C. Nisbet dedicated his life to the betterment of Oroville High School and the Oroville community. Although he had several opportunities to move to other positions with higher salaries, he was never tempted. The students of Oroville High were his “children’ and the whole community his extended family. He never wavered in doing his best for them.”
Ella Sligar performed huge amounts of good work for schools and communities with an incisive level of professionalism. Ella’s accomplishments were performed utilizing a high level of energy, a trait that stands as a personal trademark.
Born in 1911, Ella was one of three daughters. Her father passed away during her young life leaving Martha Sligar alone to raise the family. Progressing from that rough start, it
became clear from Ella’s choices what goals she had set for herself.
While attending Oroville High School from ’24-’28, she formed a foundation for enduring active community involvement. She was a successful athlete in baseball and volleyball and was an officer in the Girls Athletic Association. As an outstanding student, she was accepted to the University of California at Berkeley.
At Cal, from ’28-’32, she earned an A.B. in Mathematics. While stacking up honors in the Mathematics Honor Society, Pi Mu Epsilon, and the Physics Honor Society, Etta Nu Epsilon, Ella was busy outside the University. She worked full-time at a soda shop to fund herself through college. She still found time to play basketball and water polo for the Golden Bears of the Western Athletic Association.
Ella’s hard-earned successes at Berkeley were keys to the decades of service she carried out after returning to Biggs and Oroville.
Her career as a professional educator began in Biggs in the ‘30’s-early ‘40’s. She moved to OUHS in the ‘50’s-early ‘60’s and taught at Las Plumas High School from ’62-’76. While raising a family, she returned to college at the age of 49 and earned a Masters Degree in Counseling from Cal State Chico.
She became head of the LP Math Department, the counseling department and served for more than 25 years on the U.C. Berkeley scholarship committee. Ella was a past president and secretary of the U.C. Berkeley Alumni Butte County
Some of her community service included: secretary of the Methodist Church, president of the YMCA “White Raggers”, matron and grand matron of the Eastern Star, president and lifetime member of the Biggs Parent Teachers Association, “Y” camp counselor, and president of the Biggs Community Club. She was also a member of the Butte County Mental Health Advisory Board. She was an officer and member of Delta Kappa Gamma society of women educators and Kappa Phi society for Christian university women.
With her financial, motivational and organizational support, five high school scholarships were generated by Ella Sligar for the purpose of helping to continue the educations of graduating students from OHS, LP and Biggs High Schools.
In 1969 she wrote, “My goal has always been to give some inspiration to young people to continue their education. If even one person has been inspired, there has been some
degree of success, but only in future years will the total success be determined.”
Marcella Smith was a great working man. He toiled daily to make the place at which he labored a more beautiful place. But while he was working, “Marcy” was busy doing something even more special. He was making friends.
His ability to look a person clearly in the eyes and communicate genuine compassion and understanding made Mr. Marcella Smith a much-loved person.
For a job, he cleaned the Oroville High School campus of dirt and unorganized clutter. But a chat with Marcy was also upkeep for students, coworkers and friends. It helped clear the soul and give direction on how to keep it that way. He did it by keeping it simple and close to home.
He would ask, “How’s the family? How’s that daughter of yours? How we gonna get these lots cleaned up?” He approached with a smile and a handshake and a heart of gold. Marcy was all about maintenance—of the person and the building. He accomplished both with precision.
He attended Oroville High School from ’45-’49. He was popular there, and was elected sophomore class president. He ran track, played football and was a member of the Block O.
After a time at Yuba College, he went into the U.S. Army. Times became real tough back home and he was released on a family hardship. He returned to work in Oroville where he made many friends.
In ’65, it was Marcy’s turn to shine up OHS. He spiffed up the campus classrooms and gymnasium until August of ’92. It was Marcy’s way to clean and neaten to a point where it was nearly reconstruction. Charlotte Ross in the attendance office noticed this cleaning style and nicknamed her friend Marcy, “Squeak”.
From his annual flower planting along the side of Oro Dam Boulevard to the manicured lovely home he and his wife, Alfredia, shared on El Noble, Marcy’s touch was apparent and appreciated around the town.
He handled the negatives life handed him with great strength and assertiveness. Once former coach Ken Arnold overheard a man razzing Marcy by asking how a slender little man could have four big strong sons. Marcy responded quickly, “Man, if you don’t know that by now, you had better take a biology class!”
Former Mayor, Gordon Andoe, said, “Marcy’s example of community pride and spirit is the epitome of what makes Oroville a great place to live…”
OHS Principal Dennis Doris said with sincerity at a retirement gathering for Marcy, “I wish I could be a little more like Marcy every day.” An article written about that day at OHS said, ‘Marcella is an extremely well liked man on campus. He is equally respected and loved around the community. If he were a local politician, he would be elected on the first ballot to any office he desired.’
Welcome Marcella Smith to the OUHSD Hall of Fame—on the first ballot!
Herm Stauss was a skilled man who brought many positive things to Oroville High School, but more importantly he was blessed with the ability to insure that they remained as part of the campus itinerary.
As a youth in Southern California, Herm graduated from North Hollywood High School. He compiled a perfect attendance record during those four years. He advanced to Santa Barbara College (now the University of California at Santa Barbara) where he played football and was a sprinter and middle distance runner on the track team. In ’40, he won the Most Valuable Player award during the Gauchos championship football season.
He graduated from Santa Barbara College in ’45 with a teaching degree in Industrial Arts. He served in the Navy before taking a teaching position at OHS.
He arrived in Oroville in ’47 and retired in ’79. During his tenure at the Bridge Street campus, Herm taught woodshop, print shop, leather crafts, math and physical education.
But his more widely known work as a high school educator came on the athletic fields where Herm coached cross-country, JV football, track and golf.
Early in his teaching career, as an assistant track coach to Hugh Harrison, Herm helped with the popular Oroville Relays. Later he was instrumental in maintaining the springtime event from the early ‘50’s through the late 70’s. During his retirement year in ’79, the relays were renamed for Herm, and they remained the Herm Stauss Relays until they ceased to exist in ’96.
Herm’s efforts as a coach and organizer in track and field earned the Oroville community the prestigious honor of hosting the CIF State Track Meet at the old Harrison Stadium in ’72.
Herm was promoted to Athletic Director at OHS and was named Eastern Athletic League AD of the year in ’78-’79. In ’96 Herm was chosen the North Section CIF Honored Coach in track and field.
During his term as Athletic Director, Herm was instrumental in seeing that the OHS girl’s interscholastic sports program was restarted after decades of absence.
One of those who brought the proposal to Herm was teacher/coach, Liz Coleman. She said, “Herm had a great deal of knowledge, and was ever willing to guide us as we built the girl’s program. He was well respected among the other coaches and athletic directors which greatly facilitated our dealings with other schools within our league. Herm allowed me to coach without any of the hassles of administering the programs, and was always a joy to work with.”
A former student, Bob Sharp, said, “He was an informative, knowledgeable and motivational coach. Under Herm Stauss’ guidance and influence, I became a better athlete and person. Now that I am older, I truly can understand just how good a coach and leader he really was.”
Herm and his wife, Rosie, were both teachers/coaches at OHS and their two children also graduated from the school. Hopefully they will soon see the return of the Herm Stauss Relays at the new Harrison Stadium.
A year after she earned the Eastern Athletic League Most Valuable Player award with the 1987 North Section Champion Las Plumas High School varsity softball team, Tracy Zollner worked her way to another championship. That was on the 1988 Butte College Golden Valley Conference softball team, and she was selected to all-league status as a catcher.
Tracy prominently involved herself in Oroville school and sports activities. In her younger days, she was a Bobby Sox Softball All-Star seven times. She was a board member for the PAL Humane Society.
A student-athlete at Las Plumas High School, she was on the student honor roll all four years. She participated on the Thunderbird field hockey, cross country, basketball and
softball teams. Some of these accomplishments earned Tracy a Presidential Academic Fitness Award and a National Scholar Athlete Award.
She excelled in softball and basketball. She stayed in the middle of things by playing her position roles at catcher and center, and placed in the top sector of the area’s statistical charts kept for both sports.
Tracy was winning again as a catcher for the University of Oregon. The team finished fourth in the 1989 College World Series.
After earning a BA in Physical Education from Chico State, Tracy continued her work toward a teaching and administrative career. Her masters work was in the administrative area of emphasis. She earned a CLAD Certificate and a Tier I Administrative Credential.