Benefactor and his aunt, Opal Smith, both loved college. Funds will be used for endowment for scholarships and other purposes
Harry Wilson made it clear before he passed that he wanted to leave his estate to Taft College. He discussed it publicly and with his friends at the college, including Foundation Director Sheri-Horn Bunk. The gift had been covered in the media and Taft Midway Driller. Wilson passed in September of last year, and just recently the college found out exactly how large the donation was going to be. The college will receive $1.6 million from Wilson's bequest, which includes the state of his late aunt, Opal Smith. "We talked about it many, many times," said Horn-Bunk. "He intended to leave his entire estate to Taft College." Most of the bequest will fund the Opal Smith and Harry Wilson Endowment for Taft College. The rest of the money will be used for other student-centered projects including scholarships, student aid and support programs Wilson and Smith's generosity and love for Taft College is already well known. In 2013, upon Aunt Opal’s passing, Wilson donated $104,000 in honor of her 104th birthday, with grants going to the Taft College Library, Phi Theta Kappa club, and the School of Dental Hygiene. "Both Harry Wilson and his Aunt Opal Smith were like family to Taft College. They were the kind of people that knew what you needed even before you did. Their selflessness and generosity gave more than financial aid to the college, it gave us motivation to be the best people and give the best education possible. This gift will further cement their name and spirit within our community," said Billy White, President of the West Kern Community College Board of Trustees. Harry was born in Taft, CA on December 13, 1921 and passed away in Bakersfield, CA on September 10, 2016. He was a member of the U.S. Army and served during WWII from February 17, 1945 to November 4, 1946. His second tour of duty was served during the Korean Conflict from September 18, 1950 to April 11, 1952 when he was honorably discharged from military service. He retired from ARCO after 30 years of employment. Harry enjoyed traveling, reading and truly cared for others. He was preceded in death by his parents, Bob and Beulah Wilson and his loving Uncle Bill and Aunt Opal Smith. "Character mattered to Harry. It didn’t matter where you came from, who you know or what you had. What mattered to him is what you said and what you did. I had the pleasure of introducing him to our new president, Dr. Deb Daniels a few days before he passed. He looked at me and said, she seems like a good president.” I wish we would have had more time. It will be an honor to always say his name now in reference to the development of Taft College." Sheri Horn-Bunk, Executive Director, Taft College Foundation. Harry lived much of his life in Taft and moved back in the 90's to assist with his beloved Aunt Opal.