Retired teacher, counselor, former mayor and Oildorado fixture is turning 90 years old. Friends will help him celebrate with a barbecue at the Fort Saturday evening.
“You don't turn 90 very often,” Pete Gianopulos told the Taft City Council Tuesday night.
No you don't.
That's why Saturday has been declared “Pete Gianopulos Day” by a proclamation presented to one of Taft's most well-known and well-liked citizens.
He is remembered by hundreds of former students whose lives he touched in his 36 years at a teacher, counselor and director of guidance at TUHS, but there's a lot more to his story.
He was born in Taft in 1924, went through local schools, graduating from Taft Union High School and then joined the Army,serving in combat with an intelligence and reconnaissance platoon and participated in five amphibious landings in the New Guinea and Philippine Islands.
When Japan surrendered, he went to the Japanese mainland to serve in the occupation force.
Returning to civilian life, he went to college, then returned to his hometown to start on his career in education.
After one year at Lincoln, he moved to Taft Union High School, where he spent the next 35 years as a teacher and counselor.
Gianopulos, who is Taft's oldest living former mayor, served on the Taft City Council an was mayor for four years from 1962-1966.
He was president of Taft's 50th anniversary Oildorado in 1960 and has served on the Oildorado executive board for 50 years.
Pete is also a member of the Taft District Chamber of Commerce, Director Division IV of the Kern County Water District, Kern View Community Mental Health Center Committee, and State of California Resource Agency, Dept. of Water Resources.
He retired from Taft High in 1986.
But he didn't slow down.
Gianopulos has co-authored books on Taft and its history and still writes a weekly column, Remember When, for the taft Midway Driller was well as circulating a weekly newsletter for former students and Taft residents all over the world.
Pete will be honored further on Saturday by a big barbecue birthday party at the Historic Fort.
The events runs from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Trice Harvey formed the committee to plan the big event, and, another former Gianopulos student, Bob Barrett, has chipped in $5,000 to cover the cost of the party, including a mariachi band.
Trice Harvey, a former student of Pete's accompanied him to the council meeting tuesday night.
The former Kern County Supervisor and state assemblyman, said 100 people are already committed to coming and invited the council to attend.
Pete was told to get ready after his big celebration because there is another Oildorado coming up in just over a year.
“Get your rest because Oildorado is just around the corner and we've got as lot of work for you to do,” Mayor Paul Linder, who is president of Oildorado 2015, said after presenting Pete with the proclamation.