Larry Brown, Jan Ashley and the late John F. Wood D.O. are the latest inductees
A former student athlete, teacher, coach and administrator, longtime community health care worker and board member and a distinguished ande innovative physician will be enshrined in the Taft Union High School Hall of Fame Saturday night.
Larry Brown, Jan Ashley and the late John F. Wood D.O. are the latest inductees.
The Taft Union High School Hall of Fame was created to honor those individuals who bring honor and distinction to the school district and to present those models of life success to its students. The Taft Union High School Hall of Fame Committee is charged with the task of requesting and accepting inductee nominations, voting on nominees and carrying out the annual banquet.
The 2018 Banquet will be held Saturday, April 21 on the Taft Union High School campus. The evening will begin with a welcome in the hallway of the main building and the festivities will then move to the gymnasium. Dinner starts at 6:00 p.m. and is being catered by the Taft Union High School Culinary Arts Classes/Program. Tickets to the Hall of Fame Banquet are $50 each or $400 to purchase a table of eight. Tickets may be purchased at the Taft District Chamber of Commerce (in person or online at www.taftchamber.com) no later than Friday, April 13.
2018 marks the 12th year of the Hall of Fame and three new honorees will be inducted, bringing the total to 77 members. The Hall of Fame Class of 2018 includes John F. Wood, D.O. (Class of 1939), Janice Garratt Ashley (Class of 1961) and Larry Brown (Class of 1962).
Inductees come recommended in three categories: Achievement: Alumni of Taft Union High School whose distinguished actions have led to outstanding recognition in their chosen fields on a local, national, or international level. Athletics: Alumni of Taft Union High School who have established outstanding records of achievement in their chosen sports which would make them deserving of special recognition. Life Time Recognition: Alumni of Taft Union High School who shall be out of school for at least forty years and whose lives shall have reflected character and distinction.
John F. Wood, D.O. – Class of 1931 – Achievement
John F. Wood, DO, was born in Sugar City, Colorado. Suffering losses in the Depression, John’s father moved the family to Derby Acres, where he found work in the Taft oilfields. John discovered that although he had attended a one-room school with 11 other children, he was ahead of his classmates academically. He “graduated” from Taft High at age 16, at some point during his junior year, and hitchhiked to Oregon where he resided until he entered Taft College in 1939. John wanted to be a doctor, but lamented to his counselor that he did not have enough money for tuition. The counselor explained to him in a meeting that there were resources available during what became for John, “the most important 30 minutes of my life”. He enrolled in Fresno State College and was eligible to apply to the California College of Osteopathic Medicine in Los Angeles, but was drafted.
After basic and advanced training, John’s unit was assigned to the Blackhawk Division and shipped to Europe to participate in the Battle of the Bulge. He was discharged from active service in May, 1946, with a Bronze Starr and many ribbons for his service. He married his sweetheart, Helen Garrison, and enrolled in Osteopathic College in Los Angeles the same year, graduating in 1950. Soon after, the Woods moved to Forest Grove, Oregon, joining Fred Richards, DO, in practice.
It was a chance meeting in a YMCA steam room that put John Wood and a plastics engineer together. Vacuum extraction of babies in difficult delivery situations had been invented in Sweden many years before, but the procedure left obvious (transient) marks on the baby’s head. The introduction of plastics into the process created the Mity-Vax extractor cup, a kinder, much more effective instrument. John also is credited with initiating the concept of a “birthing center “, a redesigned maternity department that mimicked the home atmosphere in a hospital setting. The result was a decrease in infections created from home deliveries and a decrease in the time mother and baby had to stay in the hospital.
Dr. John Wood retired from medical practice in 1988, but continued to be involved in his church and his community. He passed away on November 25, 2007.
Janice Garratt Ashley – Class of 1961 – Achievement
Janice Garratt Ashley is part of the pioneering Garratt family, contributing members of the Westside since the early 1900’s. After high school, Jan graduated from Taft College, then from Fresno State-Bakersfield with a BA in Education. She substitute taught in order to be a stay-at-home mom for son Rick and daughter Lisa. When husband Paul’s work took the family to Brea, she applied to nursing school. Accepted only one week before classes began, she entered nursing school, and she graduated from Cypress College with her second AA and a nursing degree. After time in Fullerton’s St. Jude Hospital (Charge Nurse, Labor and Delivery) and in private practice, Jan applied and was accepted into a nurse practitioner program at Harbor-UCLA in Torrance. After completion of the program, she returned to the private practice as a Women’s Health Care Nurse Practitioner, going on to pass the difficult Certification exam.
In 1981, with the passing of her father, Jan came home to Taft to be with her mother. Since nurse practitioners (a sell as labor and delivery nurses) were not seen as necessary to the medical community in the West Side, Jan worked for only a short time at the Westside Hospital before taking a job as an eight grade teacher (and part time school nurse) at Midway School. She remained there for five years until a position at the Buttonwillow Health Center became available. While working in Buttonwillow, Jan met an OB-GYN from San Dimas Medical Group in Bakersfield. They never had employed nurse practitioners but were eager to give the idea a try. Jan stayed there thirteen years, including the time she spent as Chief of Operations. Other nursing jobs included Nursing Supervisor at the Taft Correctional Institution, Nurse Practitioner for National Health Services, per diem nurse for San Dimas Medical Group, and Planned Parenthood.
Jan’s community service is as extensive as her work resume. While teaching at Midway School, Jan served on the School Attendance Review Board (SARB) and the West Kern Counseling Center Advisory Board. She helped start up a clinic for the Community Health Centers of Kern County and worked there when possible. She served the Taft Union High School Board of Trustees for over twenty years, as President for the majority of the time. She served the Regional Occupational Program (ROP) as its President until it became the Career Technical Education Center (CTEC). She has been a member of Soroptimist, Kern NP/PA Association, Nurses Association of the College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a Girl Scout leader, and a childbirth instructor.
She was part of the original Taft High Hall of Fame Committee (Chair), Taft District Chamber of Commerce (three terms and President), Taft College Foundation, and the Taft Oildorado Committee. She was President of her 1961 graduating class and has served as the Reunion Chair for each five-year reunion through the 55th.
Larry L. Brown – Class of 1962 – Achievement
Larry L. Brown arrived in Taft with his family in 1958 and shortly thereafter displayed his leadership talents when in 1961, as captain of the Taft Union High School Wildcats, he led them to the SYL football co-championship. He was elected Senior Class President and Associated Student Body (ASB) President his senior year. After attaining his AA degree from Taft College, where he was Captain of the Cougar Football team, he moved on to San Francisco State, where he, again, as Captain, led his football team to the championship of the Far Western Conference in both ’64 and ’65. He graduated from San Francisco State with a BA, and went on to earn a teaching credential and (later) a Master’s Degree.
Three months into Larry’s teaching career, he was drafted and served two years in the US Army. His military service complete, teaching took Larry to San Mateo Union, Santa Maria, and Cuyama Valley High School Districts, and after a brief stint with Shell Oil, he returned to Taft High as a teacher/coach, eventually to become the Math/Science Department Chair and Athletic Director. He was also part of the Taft College football powerhouse, scouting and coaching during their championship days.
Larry Brown served the students of Taft High for 24 years in his capacities as teacher, coach, department chair, and Athletic Director. He brought athletic PE and athletic study hall to TUHS to assist players to reach their academic as well as their athletic potential. He was the example of giving by officiating at games of feeder schools and judging elementary school science and math competitions, an effective one-man PR machine for Taft High. He also supported the West Side Recreation & Park District through his work on the then-active West Side Recreation Foundation. His dedication to his students has been embodied in what he feels it takes to win: “desire, goals, action, knowledge, courage, and sweat”.