Curtis Barnes
Class of 1960

Curt Barnes was born in Taft and completed his
B.A. in painting from the University of California at
Berkeley in 1964. He then finished an M.F.A. at Pratt
Institute in 1966 and settled in Manhattan.
He has exhibited at OK Harris in New York and in
other galleries and museums in the United States,
Europe, South America and Asia. He has been
awarded major grants from the National
Endowment for the Arts, 1993-94, the Sam and
Adele Golden Foundation in 2003 and has taught at
several American campuses, including Fordham
University at Lincoln Center. His work focuses on
curved, constructed abstract art which intensify
the physicality of painting and its inherent
illusionism. He has pieces permanently presented
in the Museum of Modern Art (New York).
Charles Beard
Class of 1957
Not long after attending Taft High School, Charles Beard
purchased a make-over rig from Chevron Oil Company by way
of Lloyds Drilling Company and started his first business.
Forty-three years later, he became President and owner of
General Production Service, Inc. His company employs nearly
250 people, and its work generates a significant payroll for
the Taft community. Even more remarkable than the jobs he
provides, Charles Beard has the ability to quietly “make things
happen.” One doesn’t need to ask; he sees a public task and
responds to it. He has been a core figure in sustaining the Taft
Oildarodo Celebration, the Oil Worker’s Monument, Little
League Baseball, and the Bike Giveaway. He was the one who
provided the manpower and equipment for the development
of the lake at Camp Condor named after the Westside
Children's Camp Association Inc. business manager, Paul
Lukens. He was one of the co-founders of the Taft National
Bank and is one of the co-founder of The West Side Economic
Development Co. LLC. Charles has been a quiet partner in
supporting dozens of other community projects that he
recognized as needing a helping hand and the more one
looks, the more clear it becomes how much the soul and
character of Taft have benefited from Charles Beard's
commitments. He is an accomplished businessman, a
community leader and an investor in the future of Taft youth.
DeAnn Gaither Sampley
Class of 1972
After graduation from Taft High DeAnn attended Bakersfield
College. While taking a general education class, a deaf
student and the student's interpreter began to stimulate an
interest that led her to the field of American Sign Language
and helping deaf students. Following her graduation from Cal
State Northridge, DeAnn earned her M.A. degree in Curriculum
Development and began her professional work. During the
next 35 years, she established the first American Sign
Language (ASL) course at Taft College. In her tenure at
Bakersfield College she secured recognition for ASL as a
foreign language and developed an ASL Lab which has served
thousands of students. DeAnn is the author of "A Guide to
Deaf Ministry" which reveals that serving deaf people involves
cross-cultural communication. Those who would minister to
the deaf must understand their needs, their language, their
world.  In 1993, she co-founded a non-profit organization:
Children to Love, International (CTL). It serves the needs of
abandoned and abused children (often ones with severe
special needs) in both Romania and India. DeAnn has
spearheaded development of both college and professional
teams ministries serving in the seven Romanian orphanages.
She is currently fighting to implement social apartment living
for orphans under the guidance of CTL and the Romanian
William H. Silcox
Class of 1940

William Silcox was raised on the 11-C Camp just north of
the Historic Fort on Lincoln Street. He worked on Weed
Cutter "B" crew for Standard Oil in Taft in the summer and
between semesters at UC-Berkeley. He blended military
service during WW II with pursuit of his engineering
degree which he received from UC-Berkeley in 1947. He
spent his career with Standard Oil developing high volume
lifting technology which would permit oil production by
drilling from offshore platforms. In 1967, he was
placed in charge of all Standard Oil offshore drilling
technology development including platform and subsea
drilling, undersea pipelines and arctic offshore facilities.
When he began his career, deep water drilling could reach
as deep as a human diver could be safely kept below the
surface: 250 feet. Bill’s twelve patents, along with his
professional leadership in developing tools and technol-
ogy led directly to undersea drilling being able to reach
depths of 2,400 feet. He and his team designed and
installed subsea completions, diverless drilling
systems and ROV supported completion systems for deep
water. His developmental studies on compliant platforms
resulted in the tension-leg platform concept.
After retirement Bill continued to consult with companies,
eventually being hired as Vice-President for Technology at
the Wellstream Corporation where he developed a
successful high pressure, deep water, flexible pipe,
essential to underwater oil flows. His design is now used
around the world. In 1986, Bill was elected to the United
States National Academy of Engineering.
Les Haney
Class of 1942
While at Taft High Les was A.S.B. President his senior year
and was named All Valley in baseball in 1940, 1941, and 1942.
At age 12 Les drew a circle on his garage door and began
practicing pitches. Three years later he pitched with the
Belridge Oilers in the National Championships in Detroit.  For
more than 65 years, when one speaks of fast-pitch softball in
Taft, the first name that surfaces is “Les Haney.” He had 17
no-hit games in a season and once struck out 43 batters in a
20-inning game. He earned a citation in Ripley’s “Believe it or
Not” by striking out all 27 batters he faced (two foul tips) in
1945. In the summer of 1948, he led the Taft Merchants to the
World Softball Championship. Les’s rising fastball was
clocked at 115 mph and he used it along with a drop which
curved in two directions to overwhelm batters. Les has
played for such teams as the Peacock Dairies Inc, Hanford
Kings, and The Long Beach Night Hawks. In one year, pitching
for Hanford, he averaged 21 strikeouts per game for 43
consecutive games. He was named to the All-American Team
by Softball Congress of America in 1948, 1950, 1951, and
1953. He is a member of the Bob Elias Kern County Sports
Hall of Fame and was inducted into the International Softball
Congress Hall of Fame in 1972.

During his near half century of professional work in
Taft, Dr. Ben Dykes was deeply involved in
professional and community education serving as
President of both the Taft High and Taft College Board
of Trustees. He provided special need families and
individuals with complimentary dental care throughout
his years of practice, and invested his expertise and
considerable persuasive skills to write curriculum for
and to create two-year schools of dental hygiene in
seven different community colleges (Taft College,
1993).  These schools now aid dentistry practice
throughout California.  He encouraged many young
men and women in Taft to pursue careers in dentistry
and dental hygiene; he and his wife, Evelyn, spent a
year in Cambodia pursuing a missionary calling; he
concluded his professional years serving the Miwuk
Indians in Jackson, California.
Dr. Ben Dykes was a man of great integrity and
character who embraced science and faith, public
leadership and service.  He was held in highest esteem
by family, friends, and community.

Tracy Rogers thrived at every level of high school and
college football, and in 1988, while playing for Fresno
State, he set a new team record for defensive scoring,
led the team in solo and total tackles, was named by
Sporting News Magazine as National Defensive Player
of the Week and selected to play in the East-West
Shrine Game.
From his coaches, beginning with his father, Ronnie
Rogers and continuing through his career with Al
Baldock, Jim Sweeney, Marty Schottenheimer, and Bill
Cowher, Tracy’s intensive and aggressive commitment
to his sport brought him success at every level and
culminated in his career with the Kansas City Chiefs
where he played for seven years before injuries and
surgeries led to his football retirement in 1996.
He returned to Taft and with his father, founded TRC,
an independent oil-producing company.  Tracy has
become deeply involved in Taft’s community activities
and is a member of the Bob Elias Kern County Sports
Hall of Fame.

After graduation, Bill Black joined the Navy and
served on the aircraft carrier USS Lexington, joining
the huge contingent of Taft youth who made the world
a better place. At war’s end, Bill married Dorothy
McPherson, began his family and with his brother
purchased Taft Plumbing Company. Over many
decades it came to hold an essential role in giving
Taft many of its landmark locations, transferring
empty space into sites for business and havens of
personal living.   The Caprice Motel, West Kern
Shopping Center, a mobile home park and hundreds
of homes throughout Taft are part of the legacy of Bill
Bill continues to “patrol” Taft on his daily morning
walks.  It’s not uncommon for him to carry a trash bag
and a "trash grabber" and pick up refuse while getting
his morning exercise.  Bill has maintained his
commitment to the community, in his professional life
and in his personal activities.  He has been doing it
for many years, and Taft is a better place for it.   

Dick Walsh, born and raised in Taft, flourished in
the school’s athletic programs, becoming a member
of the Wildcats 1956 Valley Basketball
Championship team and earning All-Conference
honors while playing for Taft College. After
graduating from University of Pacific in 1961, he
coached high school basketball for several years,
and then took the position of head coach for
Ohlone Community College where, working without
a gymnasium, he established and nurtured a
completely new program.
With commitment, persistence and skill, Walsh
enjoyed success at Ohlone, so much so that in
1981 he was hired by New Zealand to prepare its
men and women’s basketball teams for the World
Games. He then returned to coaching at Ohlone
where he was recognized by his peers as Coast
Conference Coach of the Year in 1993.  
Dick and his wife of 34 years, Josie, now live in
Palm Springs where they enjoy visits from their four
children and five grand-children. In 2012, Dick was
inducted into the California Community Basketball
Coaches Hall of Fame.

Lee Roy Kelley turned his love affair with fast cars into an
extraordinary career in the publishing world.  In 1967, with
a nudge from his wife, Judy, he sought and gained a
position as associate editor with Popular Hot Rodding
Magazine.  His writing talent led to advanced editorial
positions and later, the responsibility for developing new
acquisitions for Peterson Publishing, a billion-dollar
publishing conglomerate.
During his career, Lee Roy was editor of Hot Rod
Magazine, and later vice-president of Motor Trend and
Sport Magazines.  Throughout his career, names familiar to
racing fans…Don Garlits, Andy Granatelli, Richard Petty,
Jackie Stewart…were part of Lee Roy’s personal and
working circle of relationships. He traveled around the
world covering and sometimes participating in automotive
races and new car introduction.  “It was quite a heady
experience…driving the tires off almost every high
performance car in the world-from Cobras to Corvettes,
Porsches to Vipers, Mini Coopers to Ferraris” he wrote in
the mini-yearbook for his 50th high school reunion.

John Howe has spent much of his life investing his time
and considerable energy into two community services
which have benefitted literally thousands of adults
(Kiwanian) and children (Skylake Yosemite Camp).   A
graduate of Menlo College, John became involved in
Kiwanian community service in Palo Alto in 1967 and for
43 years he has attended and invested his time and
efforts into its various community activities.  He has never
missed a meeting.
Professionally, John created, owned and directed
Skylake Yosemite Camp, a summer hiatus location for
children (ages 7-16) set on Bass Lake.  For 38 years,
this was the summer beacon that set young people into
motion, motivating them to return again and again as
they grew up.  The return rate for Skylake was 70%, a
figure that is nearly one third higher than the national
average for summer camps and one that endorses the
skills and acumen, both personal and business, that
John brought to this venture. He served as President of
the American Camping Association, 1977-1980.

Milt Stark served a stint in the Air Force after graduation,
and upon his return, he graduated from Taft College and
then Whittier College.  Through these years, in various
venues of scholastic competition, summer sport and military
competition, Milt began compiling one of the most powerful
resumes in the history of American fast-pitch softball.  He
caught Les Haney; he played for ten years with the Long
Beach, California Nighthawks as the team won Three World
Championships and Milt was named twice to ISC All-World
Teams.  In 1981, he was inducted into the International
Softball Congress (ISC) Hall of Fame.
As Executive Director of the ISC, he revived fast pitch
softball throughout the United States, reached out to
organized leagues in Canada, Guatemala, and New
Zealand and brought them into the annual World
Tournament Championships.  
Milt was an excellent defensive catcher, quick, with a rifle
arm.  He knew his pitcher’s strengths and capitalized on the
hitter’s weaknesses.   Milt is a member of the Long Beach
Softball Hall of Fame.

After graduation, Larry Peahl enrolled at Taft Junior
College where he served as Student Body President.  
He then graced the Berkeley campus with his
thoughtful maturation as a mathematics major.
If one needed an administrative business manager
(Taft College), one found Larry; if the need was to
coach track, Larry filled the position; would the
community like a museum to testify to its history, then
Larry surveyed the land, served as president and
transcribed more than 500 of Edith Dane’s, Kernland
Tales, creating digital memories that will serve many
Larry was a founding member and the first president of
the TUHS Hall of Fame Committee; he has produced
two books, A History of Early Taft California (with Pete
Gianopulos, 2000) and recently, Taft and the West
Side: A Collection of Historical Photographs. He fills his
work with the quiet grace and expertise that has come
to characterize his life and to flavor ours with the
exceptional experience of coming to know him.
Ben McEnroe (Dr. Ben Dykes' grandson); Evelyne Dykes (Dr. Ben Dykes' wife); John Howe; Larry Peahl; Bill Black; LeeRoy Kelly; Milt Stark; Dick Walsh;
Tracy Rogers not pictured.