Oroville Union High School District
2013 Hall of Fame Inductees
2013 Hall of Fame Inductees
Mr. Samuel L. Broadax (deceased) attended Oroville High School (OHS) from 1941-1944, and left school two months into his senior year, to enlist in the United States Army Air Corps during WW II and became one of a unique group of fighter pilots known as the Tuskegee Airmen. His official enlistment date was November 17, 1944 at the Presidio of Monterey. Official enlistment was “for the duration of the War, or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President (of the United States) or otherwise according to law.”
Sammy, as he was known, grew up in Oroville and while at OHS was active in football and track. His football coach described him as a “fleet footed end’ and commended him for “excellent line play.” In 1943, he was the light-heavy weight school boxing champion. He was also a member of Block O, the campus Air Corps Club and community Boy Scout Troop 29.
From the time he was a young boy, Samuel was fascinated by airplanes and made model planes, watched daredevils stain the sky, and enjoyed grounded planes at carnivals. His dream was, “To become a pursuit pilot and help shoot down German ME-109’s and FW-190’s. He was fortunate enough to fulfill most of his dream, flying P-51’s in Italy and Germany, and earning many medals, but never actually flew a combat mission. He was all prepared for his first combat mission when the atomic bomb was dropped.
Samuel completed training at the Tuskegee Army Air Base in Alabama and was commissioned Flight Officer Samuel L. Broadnax, Tuskegee Airman. The Tuskegee Airmen were officially founded in 1941 and based in Alabama. They were the first all African-American Fighter Group ever created in the U. S. Army Air Force. The Tuskegee Airmen Unit earned 3 Distinguished Citations during WW II and 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses. Military segregation was officially ended by President Truman in 1948. Three Tuskegee airmen went on to attain the rank of general in the U. S. Army.
Following his honorable discharge from the war, Flight Officer Broadnax returned to a very discriminating America. There were no aviation jobs in the USA for African Americans. Samuel then attended Yuba College, The University of California at Berkeley and Howard University. He was a graduate of the Columbia School of Broadcasting. During his life he worked as a newscaster for the radio station KSFO in San Francisco and was also a journalist. Later in life, he served as ‘technical director’ on the movie “Hart’s War”, starring Bruce Willis.
In 2007, in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol, President George W. Bush awarded the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor to this distinguished group of pilots who were still living and their widows. Samuel was present to accept this prestigious award.
Flight Officer Broadnax authored a book, “Blue Skies, Black Wings: African American Pioneers of Aviation”. The book is about World War II and the first generation of African Americans who served formally in the U.S Army Air Corps and Forces. It is also about the domestic race war that took place on the ground and in the air.
Book Review Excerpt: “Broadnax is a rememberer and a reminder. In Blue Skies, Black Wings, he elides the distinction between history and memory. He remembers his aerial aspirations ripening. He recalls the black men and women who flew before him.”
Flight Officer Broadnax returned to Oroville in 2006 to act as Grand Marshall of the Veteran’s Day Parade and was guest speaker at the Oroville Exchange Club. When asked about being honored with a ‘Special Day’ in Oakland in 2004, by then Mayor Jerry Brown, Samuel said that other Tuskegee Airmen present were the real heroes. He was said to be far more willing to discuss his fellow Tuskegee Airmen than himself.
One of his passions was working with youth and he became the Director of “The Summer Flight Academy” in Oakland, CA. This project taught at-risk youth in the inner city about discipline and promoted their interest in aviation. The academy affiliates with the College of Alameda.
Flight Officer Broadax died on October 7, 2009 at his home in Sacramento and was honored at a memorial service in Marysville. He was 84.
First Lieutenant, Thomas E. Doyle, United States Air Force (deceased) graduated from Las Plumas High School (LPHS) in 1981. His overall grade point average was 3.5 and he was honored by being named Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Good Citizen of the Year for Dependability, Leadership, Service, and Patriotism by the National Society of the DAR. He was also an honor student and member of the varsity tennis team.
Known as Tom by his friends, his interest in aviation was evident at an early age when he became a member of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) at age 12 and made his solo flight in a glider at age 14. He became a Cadet Commander in the CAP at age 15 and at age 16 was the youngest member ever to be named California Wing Cadet of the Year. As a result, he was chosen to participate in the Civil Air Patrol Ambassador Contingent to England, but was unable to go there due to his orders to report to the USAFA. He then earned his private pilot certificate at age 17.
In 1980, Thomas received an appointment to the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) in Colorado Springs, CO. Upon graduation from LPHS, Thomas attended the academy for four years and in 1985 earned his degree in Aeronautical Engineering. He was also named to the Superintendent’s List for outstanding academic achievement and military performance as well as serving as cadet instructor for gliders and being picked to attend F-16 pilot training the following year.
Thomas served three years in the United States Air Force (USAF) and attained the rank of First Lieutenant. Among his many honors was being selected for the prestigious and highly selective Euro-NATO pilot training program, receiving the Academic Excellence Award for 96.9 GPA and the Aircrew Distinction Award. He was also honored in 1987 with a Certificate of Recognition at Mardill Air Force Base for outstanding contributions to safety and accident prevention through professional performance, knowledge and devotion to duty.
When time allowed, Lieutenant Doyle returned to his native Oroville where he served as a model professional in the community. During his leaves, he would visit local schools and teach classes at his church. He was a frequent speaker at Civil Air Patrol squadron meetings and was recognized by the Palermo Union School District as its first graduate to be inducted into its Hall of Fame.
On a cloudy day in March of 1988, Lieutenant Doyle took off on a training flight in West Germany that would cost him his life and earn him the permanent title of hero. He made the ultimate sacrifice when he could have ejected safely, but as his plane was over a school in the crowded heart of the village of Forst, chose to stay with his F-16 fighter aircraft which was quickly losing altitude after catastrophic engine failure. Ejection would guarantee massive casualties on the ground. Instead of ejecting, Lieutenant Doyle attempted to fly his jet away from a school and the center of the town of Forst, West Germany. The jet crashed just at the edge of town killing Lieutenant Doyle and one villager on the ground.
The Doyle family, using a donation from the townspeople of Forst, established a memorial fund with scholarships being awarded annually to cadets who were planning a career in aviation or aerospace. The funding has since ended.
Lieutenant Doyle received the Robert P. Connelly Award of Heroism posthumously by Kiwanis International in 1994 The award was made for ‘service beyond the call of duty’ in giving his life in an attempt to save the lives of many others.
Joe High, LPHS teacher and tennis coach writes: “Tom was one of the finest young men I’ve ever had the pleasure to coach.” Tom lived his dream by flying an F-16 jet fighter plane until a catastrophic engine failure took his life in 1988 while training in Germany.”
Former United States Congressman Wally Herger wrote in a statement to Tom’s parents that he also submitted in the Congressional Record the week of April 20, 1988, “Your son was a sterling example of the best that our young people have to offer. While his death was certainly tragic, we can all look towards his commitment to his goals and ideals with respect and admiration.”
Lieutenant Thomas Edward Doyle died in the service of his country, and therefore in the service of his community. He was a true American hero!
Scott Fairley came to Oroville when he was one year old and went to local schools from kindergarten through high school. He graduated from Las Plumas High School (LPHS) in 1974 and in addition to being an outstanding three sport athlete, who earned twelve letters, was also named the Most Outstanding Male Senior Student. He was the second LPHS athlete in school history to qualify for the State Track meet and the first LPHS athlete to qualify for the finals at the State Meet. As a senior, he also was Key Club Lieutenant Governor for Northern California.
Scott earned his bachelors degree from California State University Chico in 1978 where he competed on the track team all four years. As a junior and again as a senior, he qualified for the national championships in the pole vault. He still holds the third spot on the all-time pole vault list at CSUC and has served as an exemplary educator in the Anderson Union High School District for the past 30 years.
In 1983, Scott was hired as a teacher and coach in the Anderson Union High School District and is currently employed there. He has served with distinction in various capacities during his career, including English teacher, coach, athletic director, activities director and Northern Athletic League commissioner. He served on the State CIF Track and Cross Country Advisory Committee for six years and currently holds the positions of the Northern Section Championship Meet Director for cross country and track and field. He has hosted the Northern Section CIF championship meets in cross country since 1986 and in track and field since 1995.
He has received numerous honors in his district, league, section, and state, and was named the outstanding employee in the Anderson Union High School District in 2011. He is highly respected by his peers at West Valley High School (WVHS) and throughout the Northern Section and state of California.
In 2011, Scott was honored by the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) for its Distinguished Service Award, given annually to one educator in each of the ten CIF sections in the state. The award is given to men and women for significant and long-term contributions to the CIF. Each recipient must have served the state or local programs over a long and distinguished career and their accomplishments are worthy of statewide recognition. Scott was honored to receive the award.
Scott’s track and field teams have won 144 league and section championships. He has developed many fine athletes and has taken 93 different competitors to the California State Championships. One of his female athletes went on to earn a berth on the United States Olympic team and competed the 800 meters in the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games.
In 1986, Scott revived the Chico Invitational Track and Field Meet that ran for 17 years and just completed its 45th running. Scott moved the meet to the newly renovated Harrison Stadium in Oroville in 2012 and has been the meet director for the past 28 years. The meet is the largest invitational in the Northern Section and annually draws over 50 schools from California and Nevada. It is the top meet in the area.
Recently, a Redding newspaper referred to Scott the most successful coach of any sport in the Northern Section over the past 20 years.
With the advent of fully automatic timing in track, Scott became the pioneer in the Northern Section CIF. He is the guru of the NSCIF in this area and conducts training clinics throughout the north state. He is always on the cutting edge when it comes to innovations in track and field.
In addition to his accomplishments in athletics, Scott has led community fund raisers for the installation of an all-weather track at WVHS, coordinated canned food drives, blood drives, and Christmas visits by high school students to kindergarten classes in the Anderson area. He is also the coordinator for the Every 15 Minutes Drinking and Driving Education program in his district.
To this day, Scott is a highly respected teacher and coach at West Valley High School, the Northern Section and the State CIF.
He lives in Redding, CA with his wife Barbara and their two sons, Jordan and Ryan, who have each earned their degrees from California State University, Chico.
The Gee Family is the first ever “family” to be inducted into the OUHSD Hall of Fame. The family meets the criteria for the category of Alumni as all nine siblings graduated from Oroville High School and for Distinguished Service due to the nine children establishing the Fred and May Gee Achievement and Scholarship Awards for both Las Plumas and Oroville High Schools, in honor of their parents.
Fred Gee emigrated from his native China in 1936 and joined his father Lee “Charlie” You in Oroville. Charlie owned Tong Fong Low Restaurant. Because of anti-Chinese immigration policies in the early 20th century, both father and son entered the country under assumed identities using different surnames. As a 17 year old teenager, Fred could only speak Chinese, so was enrolled in the 3rd grade at Bird Street School in order to learn English while working at Tong Fong Low.
After serving in the United States Army during WWII, Fred returned to China to retrieve his wife May and their first born child, Wing Gee. They settled in Oroville where Fred joined his father as partner in the restaurant business.
Fred Gee was an active member of the community and sponsored many youth activities and local organizations. Well known and widely respected in Oroville, Fred was honored as the Grand Marshall of the 1973 Feather Fiesta Days parade.
The next eight children of Fred and May Gee were born in Oroville and attended Bird Street and Central Schools. All nine children graduated from Oroville High School between 1960 and 1977. Each child worked in the restaurant while in school and following graduation left town to attend college. All nine earned degrees from four year universites and were or are successful in their chosen endeavors.
Wing Gee graduated in 1960 and played football, baseball, ran track and was on the tennis team. He went on to earn his BA degree at University of California, Berkeley (Cal) and his degree in pharmacy from University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). He owned and operated the community and retail pharmacy Arlington Pharmacy in Berkeley, CA for many years. To this day Wing is an avid Bear Backer. He and his family have lived in Walnut Creek since 1969. A quote from Wing: ‘Life is good, when you can say, Oroville and grandchildren in one breath.”
Jean Gee Rosenblatt graduated from OHS in 1965. She was the co-recipient of the highest GPA for a female student. She was a member of the band, the political club and CSF. She received the Bank of America Achievement Award and earned degrees from Cal and UCSF. She had a very successful career in nursing, specializing in critical care, working throughout the United States from San Diego and Los Angeles to Boston. She has been a resident of Beverly Hills for over thirty years where she has been actively involved in many volunteer and philanthropic activities.
Buck is a 1967 OHS alum and a lifetime CSF member, receiving the Bank of America award for mathematics. He was ASB president his senior year and Boys State rep following his junior year. He was very active in band and other clubs and was a speaker at his graduation. Buck earned his BS degree from Stanford University and his MBA from Harvard University. His career was spent working in high tech companies in the Silicon Valley. He taught electrical engineering and computer design at Stanford University and at Howard University in Washington D.C. He was the key note speaker at the Top Ten event in Oroville in 2012.
Lind Gee is a1969 OHS alum and was Top Ten all four years and in the National Honor Society three years. She won the Bank of America Science Award, was Girl’s State Delegate, and participated in the CSF brain brawl. She was ASB secretary as a senior as well as CSF president as a junior. She earned her BS degree in applied mathematics from Cal and then became a Senior Software Engineer, KLA-Tenor Corp, in Milpitas, CA. Lind worked for 40 years as a software developer in the Semiconductor/Electronics industry at several high tech companies. She was a Girl Scout leader for several years and has three daughters.
Faye Smith-Gee was valedictorian of her 1970 class at OHS. She was a lifetime member of CSF, earned Top Ten honors all four years and was ASB president. In addition, Faye was a class officer for two years and belonged to the United Nations Club. She was Girls State delegate as a junior. She received her BA degree from UC Santa Cruz with a major in English literature and a minor in Chinese literature. She earned her teaching credential from SF State University. She currently works for Cost Plus World Market, Inc. as an Inventory Management Planner.
Young Gee is a 1971 OHS alum and was a member of CSF and the National Honor Society. He was a Block O member and wrestled and ran track. Young earned his BA degree from S.F. State University and his Masters degree from UCLA. He taught at UCLA, University of Guadalajara (Mexico), CSU Northridge, CSU Los Angeles, SF City College and Hollywood Adult School. In San Francisco, he donated time to the San Francisco Suicide Prevention Center. He is currently Associate Professor at Glendale Community College.
Lily Gee Hickman graduated in the top ten of her class at OHS in 1972. She was also a member of CSF and the National Honor Society and won the Bank of America Award for Fine Arts. She was a member of the chess club, GAA, the “S” Club, and participated in the brain brawl. Lily earned her BA degree from U.C. Santa Barbara, her Masters degree from S. F. State University, and her teaching credential in art from U.C. Los Angeles. She taught art in the Los Angeles School District. She left education in 2005 to work for the labor movement.
Zand Gee is a 1973 OHS alum and was a member of the National Honor Society. She was senior princess for the James C. Nisbett Basketball Tournament and a member of student council. She earned her BS degree in Environmental Design from UC Davis and her MFA in Photography from the SF Art institute. Zand is a widely published book designer for Rizzoli New York and other major publishers, whose projects include many Frank Lloyd Wright publications. In 2008, her book, Oscar Niemeyer Houses, was a RIBA Award finalist (Royal Institute of British Architects). She currently resides in Orinda with her husband and daughter and is an active member in her community.
Sem Gee is a 1977 OHS alum and graduated in the Top Ten of her class all four years. She was a life member of CSF, a member of the National Honor Society for her last three years, and was in Who’s Who as a senior. Sem played field hockey, powder puff football, softball and ran track. She was class president as a freshman and sophomore, a member of the band and student council all four years. She received her BA degree in applied mathematics from Cal in 1982. She is currently Vice President, Senior Technical Consultant with ABD Insurance and Financial Service. Sem currently resides in Moraga with her daughter.
In 1996, Wing, Jean, Buck, Lind, Faye, Young, Lily, Zand, and Sem established the Fred and May Gee Achievement Award and the Fred and May Gee Scholars Award for both Las Plumas and Oroville High Schools. This was established to honor their parents. A total of $6,000 was awarded to the top five students at each high school. They awarded one $5,000 scholarship and four - $250 scholarships for a combined total at both high schools of $12,000.
The total amount was increased in 2001 and $7,000 total was awarded at each high school to the top students. The family awarded one $2,500 scholarship, one $1,500 scholarship, and three $1,000 scholarships, for a combined total at both schools of $14,000.
To this day, these scholarships continue to be awarded and give the top students in their graduating classes the opportunity to further their education and give back to their community as the Gee family has done.
Annually, the Gee siblings return to Oroville for a weekend to interview the top five students at each high school. Following the interviews, the family makes the decision as to which scholarship will be awarded to which students.
In his letter of support, local attorney and Oroville native Paul Minasian wrote, “Yes, it is possible to be raised in a small town and yet gain the skill and the ethical experience to be a star in an evermore sophisticated and complicated world!”
The Gee Family scholarship program continues to thrive and the siblings have remained highly involved for the past seventeen years. They have not forgotten their roots and from where they came.
Dwight O. “Spike” Helmick was born in Beeville, TX and moved with his family to Oroville when he was a young boy. He grew up on Southside, attended Burbank and Central Schools and graduated from Oroville High School (OHS) in 1962. At OHS, he played basketball, boxed, was a member of Block O for three years, and acted in the junior and senior class plays. He earned membership in the academic hall of fame and was the OHS representative to Boys State.
While at OHS, Spike also found time to work at Gilbert’s Men’s Store in downtown Oroville and credits owner Bill Gilbert Sr. with much of the success he experienced in his law enforcement career. Spike spent his other free hours volunteering at the Oroville Fire Department.
Following his graduation from OHS, Spike earned his AA degree from Yuba College and his BA degree from Golden Gate University, where he graduated summa cum laude. Later in his career, he graduated from the FBI’s National Executive Institute, a prestigious program for law enforcement officials.
In 1965, he enlisted in the Army National Guard and was selected for Officer Candidate School. He graduated from the Army Advanced Officer School at Fort Binning, GA and rose to the rank of Captain. During his 13 years of duty, he was the recipient of eight medals for exemplary service. Spike received his honorable discharge in 1977.
Spike officially began his 35 year career with the California State Highway Patrol (CHP) in 1969. He was valedictorian of his CHP class and promoted to sergeant in 1974 and then assigned to Sacramento, CA in 1975. The ensuing years also saw him doing duty in several other locations throughout the state. For ten years, he served as the CHP representative to the California State Legislature. 1977 saw Spike rising to the rank of Lieutenant and four years later he was named Captain. From Captain, he rose to Deputy Chief and was responsible for supervising eleven state CHP offices. In 1989, he was appointed by then Governor George Deukmejian as CHP’s Deputy Commissioner and served six years in that position. In 1995 he made it to the top when then Governor Pete Wilson appointed Spike as State Commissioner of the CHP. He was only the fifth officer in the history of the CHP to rise all the way through the ranks to the top position in the state.
As CHP Commissioner, Spike supervised a department of 12,000 employees and a 1.2 billion dollar budget. He honorably served as state commissioner during the terms of three different governors
During his distinguished CHP career, Spike was honored many times. He was named CHP officer of the year in 1970 and 1974. In 1973, he received the Boy Scouts of America Life Savings Award and in 1989, 1995, and 2004, the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Award. The year 2004 also saw Commissioner Helmick receive the Congressional Award and in 2001, was named the winner of the J. Stannard Baker Award, the International Chiefs of Police highest award for innovative highway safety programs.
Spike was actively involved in legislation to increase Driving Under the Influence (DUI) penalties, as well as implementation of the seatbelt, motorcycle helmet, and child safety restraint requirements. He drafted the legislation which raised the California speed limit law from 55 miles per hour to its current limit of 65 miles per hour. Following 9/11, he established California’s first Homeland Security Office.
Upon his retirement, Spike taught at California State University, Long Beach and consulted for a variety of traffic safety organizations. Community Service is still a large part of his life as he is a board member of a variety of charity organizations and does volunteer work at the CHP Academy Museum. He is also very active on the Survivor Outreach Program Board that assists families of CHP officers killed in the line of duty. Spike’s younger brother CHP Officer John Helmick was killed when on duty.
Spike has always loved old cars and hotrods. He started the successful “Cops and Rodders” Car Show at the CHP Academy in 1997. Over the years, the profits from the show were donated to different charities. He currently volunteers at three Concours events in El Dorado Hills, The San Francisco Presidio, and the Capitol in downtown Sacramento.
He currently resides in Gold River, CA with his wife Deb.
Lt. Colonel Richard Hoffman, USMC Retired, graduated from Oroville, High School (OHS) in1961 where he was a four year letterman in three sports, football, basketball, and track. He set the school record in the mile and was the second fastest half-miler in school history. He was all conference quarterback and a Block O member all four years in addition to being the Block O representative on the student council.
After earning his diploma at OHS, Richard earned his AA degree from Yuba College, where he was an outstanding quarterback and defensive back. He then received his BA degree from Chico State and following his graduation, completed his student teaching at Las Plumas High School (LPHS) and returned to OHS to coach tennis and basketball. He then went on to earn his MBA from Golden Gate University in San Francisco.
Richard enlisted in the United States Marine Corps (USMC) in 1966 and served his country with honor and distinction for the next twenty seven years, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1993. Throughout his military experience, Colonel Hoffman exemplified distinguished leadership at each stage of his career and especially while in combat during the Viet Nam War. While in the Marines, he graduated from Armed Forces Staff College, Army Ranger School, and Army Airborne (Parachute) School.
Over his twenty-seven years, Colonel Hoffman earned numerous leadership roles including: Commanding a Rifle Platoon, two USMC companies in the Republic of Viet Nam, G3 Operations Officer, US Marine Expeditionary Brigade, and Battalion Commander.
He was Department of Defense Coordinator for Security of International Athletes. At the Goodwill Games, 1990, Colonel Hoffman was responsible for directing various security agencies of the federal government and managed an eight million dollar budget. He also authored and published numerous articles regarding Marine Military Strategy and was a frequent guest speaker on this subject.
Throughout his career in the USMC, Colonel Hoffman was highly honored and decorated, receiving numerous commendations, awards, and medals. He earned two Silver Star medals for Gallantry in Viet Nam. The Silver Star is the 3rd highest military award designed solely for heroism in combat. The award was established in 1918. He also won the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V” for Valor, and the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat “V”. Other prestigious commendations bestowed on Colonel Hoffman included three defense Meritorious Service Medals; Naval Meritorious Service Medal, and Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, Silver Star. For this Silver Star Colonel Hoffman was decorated for his “achievements in support of the Armed Forces of Viet Nam in their struggle against the Communist aggression.”
Colonel Hoffman’s military career is summed up well in a letter from the President via his commanding officer stating, “By his courage, bold initiative and unwavering, devotion to duty in the face of grave personal danger, First Lieutenant Hoffman saved the lives of several Marines and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.”
Richard supported his wife Janet with her career in the United States Army. Janet served in command positions almost exclusively during the last ten years of her military service. As the spouse of a battalion and later a Brigade Commander, he consistently contributed services to the spouses and families of each of those units. This is a common trend in the military, but not common for a retired Marine officer to be the spouse responsible for the commanders’ subordinate spouses.
For thirty-two years, Richard officiated high school and college sports and was president of the Officials Association in Italy for two years. He did extensive volunteer work in youth sports in Naples, Italy. His volunteer coaching career was highlighted by the privilege of coaching “All Marine Basketball Team”, in 1971 and 1972.
Since 2001, he has volunteered as youth baseball coach and Little League coach in Chico, helped in the Pleasant Valley High School (PVHS) girls basketball program, and been a PVHS sports booster, member and leader.
Richard is a life member of Disabled Veterans of America and the Military Officers Association of America. He is also a current member of the Retired Officers’ Association Club in Chico, CA where he resides with his wife Janet.
Ben Meyer graduated with honors from Oroville High School (OHS) in 1957. He received a Kiwanis Club scholarship, played football all four years and was named team captain in his senior year. He also was on the track team, baseball team and boxed in the annual smoker. When the Feather Plunge was built, he was a diver on the first swim team.
Following his graduation from OHS, Benny enrolled at Chico State College and played football there during his first two years. He earned an overall GPA of 3.03 and was awarded his BA degree in mathematics with a minor in physical science.
1961 marked the beginning of a long and highly successful career in technology. Ben was first hired by NASA, Ames Research Company and began as a Systems Programmer for two scientific computers and ended up as supervisor of a Systems Program Section supporting four computer systems. He also wrote application programs for the Explorer XII Satellite. Benny’s System Programming section installed a new hybrid computer system (the 3rd in the nation), two years before the official software was available.
In 1965, Ben worked at Mellonic’s Chilton Industries, a Sunnyvale, CA company that generated all the software in support of the United States Air Force (USAF) Satellite Control Facility. He began as a Programmer and ended up as Project Manager and then Program Manager of a huge project to add four new and more complex Air Force Satellites. This time he was in charge of 135 employees and he swore he’d never manage again.
1972 saw Ben moving to work for The Aerospace Corporation in Colorado where he worked in support of an Air Force ground station satellite called the Defense Support Program (DSP). The satellites used infrared detectors to detect missile launches and report them to NORAD as the major part of the Early Warning Missile Defense Support Program. He was also Test Coordinator for nine launches of new DSP satellites. After two years, Benny became manager of the Colorado Field Office.
Ben’s office was awarded outstanding employee of the year awards twice for having had the potential of saving the USAF millions of dollars.
While in Colorado, Ben was the key player in developing new solutions for the USAF and was the resident expert in reviewing satellite data and discovery events. Most of the DSP program was classified secret; however he was involved with interfacing to other programs and special testing and held three levels of clearance above Top Secret.
In 1989, Ben began working for IBM in Boulder, CO. His division was later sold to Loral and finally to Lockheed Martin. IBM was the software contractor for DSP. Benny was again named Test Coordinator and received the Golden Circle Award, which was the highest award available to technical personnel. He was the only IBM employee to win this award in their first year of employment.
One of Ben’s responsibilities at IBM was to review all documents delivered to the USAF, especially for potential security violations. He credits his English teacher at OHS, Mrs. McBride for giving him the broad knowledge to edit documents.
Following his storied career in the technology world, Ben has given countless hours to his favorite civic organizations. Having been an avid stamp collector as a youth, he joined the Aurora Stamp Club and served as president for two years. He also played softball for many years. After buying a new home in Colorado, he served as president of the Homeowners Association and president of the Arapahoe Youth Baseball League and coached baseball and football for five years.
As an avid hunter and fisherman, Ben, began volunteering at the Colorado Division of Wildlife (CDOW) and has volunteered there for over fifteen years. While there, he was assigned to also work for the National Information Agency and was able to assist in a Bighorn Sheep Transplant Operation.
Other commendations bestowed on Ben came from the Colorado State Division of Wildlife and the Office of the Lieutenant Governor for his outstanding volunteer work at the Denver Summit of the Eight, where his contribution helped bring the city of Denver to the forefront in the eyes of the Nation and World.
Ben and his wife reside in Aurora, Colorado.
|Stuart Nelson, M.D.
Stuart Nelson, MD, FACMI, was born in Santa Monica, CA and moved to Oroville with his family when he was six years old. He attended Bird Street and Central Schools, and graduated from Oroville High School (OHS) in 1964. While at OHS he was a member of CSF, was awarded a Milligan Scholarship, and was a semi-finalist in the National Merit Scholar competition. He was also senior class president and on the brain brawl team. As a member of Block O, he played football, basketball, baseball, and ran track. Stuart was a member of the OHS football team that played in the first Victory Bell Game in 1963. He returned to Oroville to participate in the 50th anniversary celebration of the cross town rivalry.
After graduating from OHS, Stuart attended the University of California at Berkeley (Cal), earning his BA degree in mathematics. He then went on to State University of New York, where he completed his medical studies and received his doctor of medicine. He interned at Philadelphia General Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania. He completed his residency in Internal Medicine at Metropolitan Hospital Center in New York City. He was certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in 1978.
For the next three years, Dr. Nelson served on the faculty of the State University of New York at Stony Brook in the departments of Internal Medicine and Community Preventative Medicine. In 1991, he moved to the Medical College of Georgia where he practiced Internal Medicine and trained students and residents. His research interests at this time were in the area of computer applications to medicine and he collaborated for several years with one of the founders of the field of Medical Informatics.
In 1996, Dr. Nelson moved to the National Library of Medicine (NLM), in Bethesda, MD and served there for sixteen years and led numerous initiatives of national importance. The NLM collects, organizes, and makes available biomedical science information to investigators, educators, and practitioners and carries out programs designed to strengthen medical library services in the United States.
Dr. Nelson went to NLM as part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), as Head of the Medical Subject Headings Section (MeSH). MeSH is the library’s controlled vocabulary thesaurus used for indexing articles for MEDLINE (from which the publication Index Medicus is derived) and other NLM databases. The NLM has been in business in the electronic vocabulary creation and distribution business for fifty years, from the start of MeSH, and has been involved in the dissemination of clinical vocabularies and administrative code sets for more than twenty years via the Unified Medical Language System (UMLS).
IN 2012, Dr. Nelson joined the company Apelon, Inc. as Chief Innovation Officer, a position he currently holds. Apelon is a long standing provider of terminology and data interoperability solutions and based in Ridgefield, Conn. It is an international clinical informatics company focusing on data standardization and interoperability. Apelon software and professional services help leading healthcare enterprises, life sciences organizations and government agencies improve the quality, comparability and accessibility of their information.
Dr. Nelson created Rx Norm that provides normalized names for clinical drugs and links its names to many of the drug vocabularies commonly used in pharmacy management and drug interaction software. RxNorm can mediate messages between systems not using the same software and vocabulary. NLM issues weekly updates and full monthly releases of RxNorm.
Dr. Nelson received the National Library of Medicine Board of Regents award in 2004, and the National Institutes of Health Award of Merit in 2011. He has published extensively in the field of medical informatics, especially in the area of computerized vocabularies.
He provided training to the Stony Brook Fire Department Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT’s) - 1980-1991, and served as a Science fair Judge for local elementary and middle schools in the Washington DC area -1998 to 2012.
Dr. Nelson also spent several years participating in an organization that provided dinners to students attending after school and evening tutorial sessions at local elementary and middle schools in the US capital city area.
Dr. Nelson and his wife reside in Vienna, Virginia and he continues to return to Oroville to participate in class reunions.
Myron Openshaw was born and raised in Oroville as a third generation rancher in the area. He graduated from Oroville High School (OHS) in 1956 with a GPA of 3.3. He played on the C & D basketball teams and ran track all four years. He was also active in Future Farmers of America (FFA), the 4H Club, the YMCA, and the Auto Club.
During his high school years, he worked in the family owned meat market in Oroville. Following his graduation from OHS, he entered the actual “cattle raising” phase of the business during the summer months while attending the University of California at Davis (UCD) where he earned his two year certificate in agriculture.
Myron then returned to Oroville to resume what became a lifelong and storied career in cattle ranching that began in the family owned slaughterhouse when he was age ten. Throughout his career, he always worked and supported the University of California Extension efforts in Butte County to advance and improve the production of agricultural commodities, especially livestock, his primary interest.
In 1992, California State University, Chico (CSUC) considered eliminating its School of Agriculture. Myron was one of the area’s key agriculture leaders to generate local and regional support through the Superior Agriculture Organization. Through his leadership, the program was saved and in 2003 he was honored by this organization and elected to the CSUC Hall of Honor. This award recognizes those people who have significantly impacted the direction of the agriculture programs at CSUC.
Mike Thompson, California State Senator, 2nd District wrote in a letter to Myron, “Your efforts to save the school of Agriculture at Chico State in 1992 and your ongoing involvement with the program there is but one example of your commitment to the future of California’s agriculture industry.”
The family owned cow-calf operation consists mainly of cross bred Hereford cows bred to bulls for a rotational cross. They run on approximately 4,000 acres north of Oroville in the winter and in Plumas County in the summer.
Myron’s involvement in local, county, state, and national groups has given him
the opportunity to give the public “eye-opening” information about the livestock industry. His many years of service to agriculture and the livestock industry are extraordinary.
Myron’s personal involvement in the agriculture industry is extensive and ongoing. In the livestock industry, he has served as Past President of the Butte Cattlemen’s Association, the California Cattlemen’s Association (CCA), State Director of the CCA, and member of the State Board of Food and Agriculture.
At the national level he is past Chairman of the Cow-Calf Council and the National Ag Policy Committee. He has served as a board member of the Meat Export Federation and testified on behalf of the livestock industry in Washington D.C. He also served as vice-chairman of the National Cattlemen’s Public Relations Committee and the Beef Board Planning Committee.
Myron currently is a member of the CCA Board of Directors and a committee member for building, farm policy, finance, general resolutions, CCA convention and the nominating committee.
His numerous citations for exemplary service to agriculture include Butte County Cattleman of the Year and California State Cattleman of the Year.
Myron’s community service in the Oroville is extensive and includes serving multiple terms on the Boards of the Oroville Hospital, the Golden Feather School District, and the Thermalito Little League. He also coached Little League baseball, and held membership in Rotary International, the Masonic Lodge, and the Shrine Club. Among other credits, he is a twenty-four gallon blood donor.
Current activities include a partnership in Look Ahead Veterinary Hospital, Butte County Farm Bureau Director, and President of Superior Ag at CSUC.
Myron resides with his wife Sharon on the family G&M Ranch, which covers 3,500 acres just north of Oroville. They have two children and five grandchildren.
Mamoru Sakuma was born in Oroville in 1918 and graduated with honors from Oroville High School (OHS) in 1936. He was a member of the Honor Society, the Block O Society and played basketball for his last three years. He was also very active on campus, serving as Student Body president and playing in the band and orchestra all four years. He is remembered as giving numerous speeches at OHS as well as organizing a group of student musicians to form a dance band and played for Saturday night dances at Feather River Canyon Lodge.
“Mamoo”, as he was known to family and friends in Oroville, received his bachelor’s degree in political science from University of California, Berkeley (Cal) in 1940. As a student there, he was a member of the marching band and the jazz band all four years. A highlight for him at Cal was marching with the band in the 1938 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, CA. While a student at Cal, the Japanese Internment occurred and Mamoru’s family was sent to an internment camp at Tule Lake Detention Center near the California-Oregon border.
He then served overseas in WWII with the all-Asian 442nd Nisei “Go for Broke” Regimental Combat Team in France and Italy. This 442nd Combat Team was the most decorated military unit in United States history. He attained the rank of Staff Sergeant and received his honorable discharge in 1945.
Mamoru then returned to Cal to complete his law degree from the Hastings College of the Law in 1949. He started his long and distinguished career in the legal profession in 1950 in Sacramento, CA.
From 1950 to 1963, Mamoru, a legal pioneer in Sacramento, was in private practice and described by his peers as a skilled trial lawyer. He was believed to be only the second Asian-American lawyer to open a private practice in Sacramento. In 1963, then Governor Pat Brown appointed him as judge in the Sacramento Municipal Court and a year later as Superior Court Judge. He served as judge in the higher court for twenty-one years before retiring to private practice in 1985. He then practiced law another twenty years, before formally retiring in 2005, ending his storied fifty-five year career as a trial lawyer and judge.
During his career, Judge Sakuma blazed the path for Asian-American lawyers and judges. As a lawyer, he tried over 400 bench cases, argued before the California and United States Supreme Courts, and mentored numerous young attorneys. He also helped usher in reforms in the grand jury selection process.
Many ‘firsts” graced the long career of Judge Sakuma. In Sacramento County, he was the first Japanese-American to be named to the bench and the first Asian-American judge of the Municipal Court, and later the Superior Court. His long time close friend, partner and colleague, Clement J. Kong states that “Judge Sakuma’s storied career as a lawyer has very few equals.” Mr. Kong also writes, “As a veteran litigator, he was warm and outgoing and a courtly, old-school lawyer who shunned pages of deposition transcripts in favor of ‘nine words he wrote on a yellow pad to cross-examine a witness for hours.”
The judge was also highly respected for his community work in Sacramento. He spoke many times to various groups, was a member of Veteran’s of Foreign Wars, and was elected to the Board of Directors, Aoki Diabetes Research Institute (ADRI). He was an avid Sacramento Kings fan and was one year away from receiving the highest fan recognition, a leather jacket, when he died.
Judge Sakuma died on January 29, 2011 at age 92. For 14 days flags at all court facilities in Sacramento flew at Half-Mast.
In his letter of support Clement Kong wrote, “Despite all his legal and professional accomplishments, I don’t remember Mamoru for his unequalled career in the law. In the end, I like most people don’t care about fame, fortune, or celebrity. In the end, we admire a person’s goodness. We pay tribute to one’s honesty, integrity, kindness, courage – things that make a person better. Mamoru had these virtues and more. Knowing Mamoru was his gift to all of us, and it is only fitting that you honor him by selecting him to the OUHSD Hall of Fame. There is no more deserving honoree.”
Mamoru is survived by his son Drew Sakuma of Danville, CA and his sister Tonayo, OHS class of 1938, of San Francisco.
Sue Webber-Brown graduated from Las Plumas High School (LPHS) in 1974 and while there played softball, field hockey, tennis, powder-puff football, and was on the track team. She also kept score for the JV baseball team and was a member of the pep band, concert band and marching band. Her ASB activities included being a class officer for two years, as well as being on the yearbook staff. She also was founder/president of the Las Plumas Kiwanis Key Cub.
During her spare time as a student at LPHS, Sue found time to represent the school for the March of Dimes charity, volunteer at the Oroville Chamber of Commerce, and work on fundraising to pave the school parking lot.
Following her graduation from LPHS, Sue enrolled at Butte College earning sixty units towards a Criminal Justice Degree. She then attended Sacramento City College and in 1984, earned her certificate of Completion at the Police Academy.
Sue’s distinguished career in law enforcement began in 1975 as a clerk at the Oroville Justice Court. Next was a promotion to Welfare Fraud Investigator in 1984, and then to District Attorney Investigator in 1988. In 1991 she as assigned to the Butte Interagency Narcotics Task Force (BINTF) where she served tirelessly and passionately until her retirement in 2009. As a member of BINTF, Sue participated in more than 2,000 investigations and interviewed well over 1,000 suspects.
While assigned to BINTF, Sue studied and collected data that concluded that 70% of arrested drug offenders were also committing welfare fraud in Butte County. As a result of the report she filed, Sue played a prominent role in stopping 1.1 million dollars of welfare fraud.
Quoting Butte County District Attorney and OUHSD Hall of Fame member Mike Ramsey, “Sue’s concern for the children she encountered in the course of her narcotics investigations became the spark which ignited the Drug Endangered Children program (DEC) in Butte County in the early 90’s. While the first such program in the entire nation, DEC programs have been established throughout California and throughout the nation, largely due to Sue’s dedication and caring.” The DEC concept has also reached the international level.
Sue has rescued over 2,500 children from hazardous living environments where drugs were used, sold, or manufactured. She is a recognized nationwide expert and has testified before the United States Congress in Washington DC, in the field of child endangerment due to drugs.
The DEC program has been featured in multiple publications throughout the USA and Sue has provided training to more than 50,000 first responders from 37 states and 5 foreign countries. Tens of thousands of children have been rescued because DEC is now a national program.
As a result of the meaningful work Sue has done during her career, recognition and awards have been in abundance. In 2008, she received a special presentation by then United States President George W. Bush at the White House for her founding the DEC movement. That year also saw her named the Outstanding Alumni of the Year at Butte College. Other awards bestowed on Sue include California District Attorney’s Investigator of the Year. Attorney General Victim Services Award, Illinois Governor’s Office, and the Open Arms Award, University of Kentucky. In 2001 she and the DEC program were the featured story in People Magazine. Sue is also widely published.
While working in a demanding career, Sue managed to find time to serve her community in a wide variety of ways. She has given numerous presentations to groups, coached Bobby Sox softball, been a team mom for youth soccer and worked on various fundraising projects for several organizations. She volunteers time at the Oroville Rescue Mission, the Fathers House Church Christmas program and Ident-A-Child Program. She is a member of the Greater Oroville Family Resource Center, and spent ten years volunteering at Safe Grad Nights at both LPHS and OHS.
Currently, Sue is a private consultant working as the Executive Director of the Drug Endangered Children Training and Advocacy Center in Oroville. This center was established under a state grant to train all multi-jurisdictional drug task forces within the state.
Sue lives in Oroville with her husband and OUHSD Hall of Fame member Mitch Brown.