The Californian remembers the people we lost this year who helped shape the city’s identity and inspire us. Reflections on country music great Merle Haggard and activist Helen Chavez begin our special commemoration

  • By JENNIFER SELF jself@bakersfield.com
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Perhaps being the subject of rapturous adoration for so many decades made Merle Haggard wary of easy praise, both receiving and giving it — es…

  • By PAUL F. CHAVEZ For The Californian
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Paul F. Chavez, one of eight children born to Helen and Cesar Chavez and president of the Cesar Chavez Foundation, writes about the death of h…

  • By SCOTT B. BOMAR For The Californian
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Bakersfield Sound legend Red Simpson died Jan. 8 at age 81 after suffering a heart attack weeks before. Scott B. Bomar, a Grammy-nominated wri…

  • By KATIE WERDEL For The Californian
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Rayburn S. “Ray” Dezember, a prominent banker active in Bakersfield business and local philanthropy, died March 14 from cancer. He was 85. Kat…

  • The Bakersfield Californian
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Her mother only got as far as the third grade, but Caren Floyd would make education her life, earning a Ph.D and dedicating herself to educati…

  • By KRISTEN KONG For The Californian
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Dr. Tom Larwood, a leader in the search for a valley fever vaccine, died Sept. 6 at age 90. Kristen Kong recalls her grandfather's optimism an…

  • By ABDALLAH BEN-HAMALLAH For The Californian
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Jack Brigham, a retired Bakersfield College professor and social justice advocate, died July 7 from cancer. He was 69. Abdallah Ben-Hamallah w…

  • By MAUREEN BUSCHER-DANG For The Californian
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Monsignor Raul Sanchez, 53, died June 18 after collapsing six days earlier while delivering Mass at St. Philip the Apostle Church in Bakersfie…

  • The Bakersfield Californian
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The hundreds of South High School Rebelettes she coached referred to Linda Sargent as "the Sarge," both affectionately and perhaps a bit ruefu…

  • The Bakersfield Californian
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Howard Quilling was a prolific classical composer with an international reputation who cared nearly as much about promoting the careers of eme…

  • The Bakersfield Californian
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His nickname was Grouch — as in “Oscar the” — but Mike Henning, general manager and namesake of O’Hennings Bar in Oildale, was the kind of gru…

  • The Bakersfield Californian
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For a generation of gift givers and receivers, those bright yellow boxes meant one thing: Whatever was inside was probably pretty special, cou…

  • The Bakersfield Californian
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Maybe it comes with serving two tours in the Marine Corps in Vietnam, but Kern County Judge Louis Etcheverry could be tough in his pursuit of …

  • The Bakersfield Californian
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Growing up in Buttonwillow surrounded by farmland, open fields ripe for hunting and canals teeming with fish, Steve Merlo began a love affair …

  • The Bakersfield Californian
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There are parent volunteers, yes, but there aren't that many like Rita Gomez, an educator in the Fairfax School District who became president …

  • Staff and wire reports
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Jean Shepard, a pioneer for women in country music who recorded what is considered the first hit of the Bakersfield Sound era, died Sept. 25 at 82.

  • The Bakersfield Californian
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For a racetrack, it was slow going during the construction of Kern County Raceway Park — that is until Charlie Beard got involved. The Taft bu…

  • The Bakersfield Californian
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Colleagues knew Harvey Campbell as a cotton breeder and agricultural consultant who possessed the sort of acumen and personal skills that coul…

  • The Bakersfield Californian
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Gordon Wickersham wore many hats, though shirts were optional, especially when he was mowing the lawn, joked his son while paying tribute to h…

  • The Bakersfield Californian
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E.G. Berchtold built his father’s business from a grain company into one of the Central Valley’s premier farm equipment dealerships over a sev…

  • The Bakersfield Californian
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Clarence Westra Jr., remembered as a no-nonsense, highly capable judge who had little patience for unprepared attorneys, died Dec. 9 at age 71.

  • The Bakersfield Californian
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He hopped trains and did odd jobs during the Great Depression, but by the time of his death, they called N.C. "Mac" McMurtrey the king of auto…

  • The Bakersfield Californian
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Santa Barbara-chic buildings at Bakersfield prices? Klarke Garl knew a good thing when he saw it, which is why he snapped up two historic down…

  • The Bakersfield Californian
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Every high school has one, and just one: A football coach so inspirational, passionate and influential that his legacy and the school's legacy…

  • The Bakersfield Californian
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It took Brian Carter just a decade as a basketball coach to learn that what happened on the court wasn't as important as what happens off of i…

  • The Bakersfield Californian
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Karin Enebo's lessons usually centered on the violin but, occasionally, students in need of a little advice or a second mom learned a thing or…

  • The Bakersfield Californian
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June Gaede tried her hand at many professions — short-order cook, private investigator, radio announcer, factory worker — but her joy and triu…

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