The introduction of three additional former and current community members being added to the
Delano Union School District’s Hall of Fame during the annual 2018 Hall of Fame Inductee Ceremony later in September are featured in this week’s article. Three more honorees will be introduced next week.
ARTHUR B. “ART” ARMENDARIZ
A lifelong resident of Delano, Arthur B. “Art” Armendariz graduated from St. Mary’s School
and Delano High School. A son of Octavio and Alice Armendariz, Art and his wife, Bonnie, have three children and five grandchildren. He earned his bachelor’s degree in criminology from Fresno State. Prior to his retirement, he was employed at Wasco State Prison where he served as a community resource office (liaison between the community and the prison), a correctional officer and a supervisor.
Armendariz’s community service includes member of the Delano City Council for 12 years
(which included mayor during four of those years), active in the Delano Babe Ruth Association
(including serving as president for several years), member of the Delano Community Alliance since 1992, member and chair of the Delano Planning Commission, past member of the statewide Latino Caucus (including a term as vice president), member of the North Kern Vocational Training Center board, the St. Mary’s School board of trustees, Bakersfield College Delano Campus Advisory Board and the Knights of Columbus.
He also served as a board member at Kern Economic Opportunities Commission, Kern Council
of Governments and member of Kern County Superintendent Advisory Council. Currently, Armendariz is serving his third four-year term as a trustee on the Delano Joint Union High School District board, is a member of the board of the Delano Mosquito Abatement District and is a board member of the statewide Latino School Board Association.
Awards include DHS Football Hall of Fame “Tiger of the Year” in 2017, Delano Cinco de Mayo
Fiesta Grand Marshal in 2010, Adelante Eagle Award for Community Leadership in 2002, Delano Chamber of Commerce Man of the Year in 2001 and Greater Delano Area Youth Foundation Man of the Year in 1999.
Armendariz is a true pioneer of Delano through his dedication to the community and provides a
local voice in county and statewide government and education organizations. His dedication to insuring participation in local youth baseball (including providing cleats to children who could not afford them and insuring that the baseball fields are in top shape for local teams) also deserves much commendation.
Ralph Carpenter began his connection with Delano when he stepped off a Santa Fe bus on
Oct.12, 1945. He has just completed a tour of duty as a U.S. Navy lieutenant and gunnery office on the USS Kitty Hawk in World War II, stepping off that bus in Delano still in his Navy officer’s uniform (his civilian clothes were in New Jersey).
What brought him to Delano was a position at the weekly Delano Record, by invitation and
phone interview with publisher Larry Freeman (who started the phone call offering a salary of $40 a week, but raised it to $50 a week after a few minutes into the interview). Carpenter job included following the fire trucks (in Freeman’s car) to get a story, took photographs, made up advertising layouts, sold advertising, read proofs, took classified ads and sold papers over the counter. He became well-known immediately as that “tall 6-foot-4-inch newspaper man.” He also joined the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Exchange Club (later Kiwanis) and the Delano Chamber of Commerce.
Carpenter prepared himself for a career in journalism with schooling at University of Arizona,
from where he graduated in 1937. After graduation, he served in the Merchant Marine. His time on the Kitty Hawk took him from New Guinea in the South Pacific up to the island of Tinian south of Japan.
Carpenter moved his wife, Jan, and their children, Susan and Monty, up from San Diego in late
1945. Their youngest daughter, Stacy, was born in 1955. Carpenter helped to found the original Delano Wine and Harvest Festival as an executive committee member representing veterans organizations, which started Oct. 11-13, 1946. He served in various capacities for four years.
Carpenter joined AETNA Life Insurance Co. in 1950. He became a member of the President’s
Club and Million Dollar Round Table and was the only agent in Delano to earn the Chartered Life Underwriter designation given by the American College.
Other community service included being a member of two Kern County grand juries and was a leader in establishing the Delano Center of Bakersfield College. He served as a member of the board of directors of the Kern County Board of Trade for 20 years, where he served two terms as president. He was involved in widening the Cecil Avenue bridge over Highway 99, establishing Red Rock State Park in eastern Kern County and helping to bring the Frito-Lay factory to western Kern County.
Carpenter’s wife, Jan, helped to charter the still-active Delano Music Memorial. The generosity of the Carpenters was felt by many organizations for many years.
M. DWAIN SMITH
A career in education first brought M. Dwain Smith and his family to the Delano-McFarland
area, but fondness of the law led his future career. A native of Oklahoma, he served for two years near the end of World War II as an aerial turret gunner in the U.S. Navy. After attending a teachers college in Oklahoma after the war, Smith worked for two years as a teacher in Oklahoma and eight years in McFarland.
Smith attended law school at University of Oklahoma, finishing his courses at Santa Clara
University in the Bay Area in 1962. He and his family returned to the area when they moved to Delano in July 1963, where Smith became an associate, and then a partner, with local attorney John T. Hourigan.
He formed his own practice in 1976 on Kensington Street, which was in operation until his retirement in December 1994. Associates who worked in his practice included Judge Phillip McNutt, Judge L. Bryce Chase, Richard Monahan and his son M. Michael Smith.
Smith, Lemmie McClain and Dr. John R. Montgomery were the main people responsible for the
formation of the North Kern-South Tulare Hospital District. Smith served as the district attorney for many years. He also served as McFarland’s city attorney for 30 years and Tehachapi’s city attorney for 26 years.
Other community organizations include American Legion Post 124, past Exalted Ruler of
Delano Elks Lodge 1761, a longtime member of the Delano Methodist Church and a member of the State Bar of California. He was also a member of the Delano Historical Society and worked for 15 years full time helping to restore and maintain the buildings at Delano Heritage Park on Lexington Street.
For more information about the Hall of Fame event Thursday, Sept. 20, at 5:30 at Pioneer School, contact the Delano Union School District office at 661-721-5000.
Mike Bledsoe is the director of child development services for Delano Union School District.