If anyone is worthy of being in the Woodlake Hall of Fame it is Frank Ainley. He is the only one of this first group of Hall of Fame inductees who hits all of the criteria landmarks. He is a graduate of Woodlake High in the 1950’s. He worked as a teacher and coach at Woodlake High in the 1970’s until his retirement in 2006. He has been an outstanding representative of all things Tiger for nearly his entire life in every element of his activities. Frank would be the first to tell you that it is the spirit of Woodlake that makes him do what he does. He claims “Once a Tiger, Always a Tiger” is not only a catchy phrase but it is a way of life. You are never a stranger once you became a Tiger. Frank’s work on the field of athletics or in the classroom classroom makes him one of those teachers you never forget. Along with his beloved wife Barbara, they had 4 children who attended Woodlake High School and who all still live in the local area. It you don’t know Frank just find him and get acquainted with him but be advised, chisel out a little time because he is going to get to know you and you are going to get a good dose of Tiger common sense. Which is going to take a while.
What do you do when you live in South Dakota and graduate from college with a teaching credential? In the case of Louise Achenbach, you come to small California town and you start teaching. Along the way the administration asked her to coach. She coached tennis, a sport she knew nothing about and that led to volleyball and other sports. Her teams domination in the sport of volleyball is legendary in Tulare County. Line up any Yosemite division school and her teams would beat them. It came from hard work and attention to detail. The classroom is also something she loved. When students recall what they learned from her in class they speak of life lessons and important personal insights through great discussions of events of the day. Mix common sense, hard work, personal integrity and good old South Dakota hospitality and you get Louise Achenbach. Thinking about Woodlake in the 1970’s through the first decade of the 21st century without thinking of her imprint into the sands of student life is near impossible. Her influence will go on through her former students, now adults, and how they raise their children. It is impossible to calculate her influence on her students and athletes, just know that she is worthy of her selection into the Hall of Fame.
Ned was born October 5, 1919 in Pomona, California and was the only son of Glenn and Nita Ferris Baker. He was raised on the family citrus ranch west of Woodlake, attended Woodlake Union High School, College of the Sequoias, and graduated with a BS in marketing from the University of California, Berkeley. He was the founder of Glenita Ranches in Woodlake and a partner in Visalia Citrus Packing Group.
Ned’s commitment to local education began when he was elected the Woodlake Union High School Board of Trustees in 1950. He subsequently served as member and president of the Tulare-County School Boards Association, on California School Boards Association as a representative of Tulare and Kern Counties, and as president of the Tulare County Academic Decathlon committee. Baker served another 30 years on the College of Sequoias Board of Trustees from 1967-1996.
Ned participated in numerous civic activities throughout his life and was honored as “Woodlake Man of the Year” in 1963. He served on the Board of Directors of Agricultural Producers for 25 years and as Chairman of the Board for over a decade. He served on the Board of Directors of the Tulare County Lemon Association for 15 years. In 1997 he was inducted into the COS Hall of Fame in recognition of outstanding achievement.
During one period he served on nine different boards of directors at the same time. He was also a Past President of the Woodlake Rotary Club.
Ned also provided leadership in the citrus business, serving on the board of directors of the Tulare County Lemon Association, as chairman of Agriculture Producers, and as a member of the Navel Orange, Valencia Orange, and Lemon Administrative Committees. In 1976, he was appointed by the governor to represent citrus growers on the State Board of Food and Agriculture. He later became the face and voice of Sunkist Growers through a series of TV and radio commercials broadcast in the U.S. and England.
Ned and his wife, Karyll, had three children and three grandchildren that are WHS graduates: sons Jeff, 1961, Terry 1965 and his wife Sally Dudley Baker 1976, Craig and wife Becky Walters Baker 1975 and their children Kyle 2002, Jennifer 2003, and Ryan 2007. Ned and Karyll were two of the founding members of the St. Clement Anglican Church in Woodlake. Both were active leaders in the ministry of the church, working to build the St. Clement Day Care Center to serve the community. Ned passed away January 24, 2010.
It is indeed an honor to induct Ned Baker into the Woodlake Union High School Hall of Fame.
Jim Barton was born April 30, 1924 and raised in Three Rivers from birth. His father was a cattle rancher and citrus farmer. Hot summers of his childhood were spent in the high country of Mineral King along with their cattle, supplying the rest of the campers with milk and beef. Jim attended Three Rivers Union School through the eighth grade, then attended WHS, serving as student body president his senior year. After graduation in 1942, he attended Visalia Junior College. He enlisted in the Army and was called to active duty in WWII from 1943 – 1946, serving in the Signal Corps in the U S Army’s 89th Infantry Division. He returned to Three Rivers, graduated from Visalia JC, Fresno State and UC Berkeley. He married Jeanette Tario in Three Rivers and they celebrated 66 years of marriage this last year before her death.
A move to Seattle with two young children, Sarah and Mark, allowed Jim to work on his Master’s degree at University of Washington in 1962. Jim continued to work as a ranger in the summer months, for a time in Yellowstone. Upon returning, Jim was hired as a math professor by the newly renamed College of the Sequoias. In 1977 Jim was elected to the WUHS Board of Trustees, where he served for nearly 15 years.
Six generations of Bartons have lived in Three Rivers. Four generations have graduated from Woodlake High School, including Jim’s father, daughter and two grandchildren. He is grateful and humbled to be added to the WHS Hall of Fame.
George Gerald Clausen was born in the Woodlake Hospital on June 25, 1929, to George and Etta Lulu (Ragle) Clausen. He grew up in the Naranjo area and attended Woodlake Elementary School from 1935-1943 and Woodlake High School from 1943-1947. After high school he attended Visalia College (C.O.S.) from 1947-1949 and then the University of California, Berkeley from 1949-1951. On June 15, 1951, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force as an airman before entering the Aviation Cadet Training Program. He graduated from pilot training on October 25, 1952, and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. However, he was only one of three in his class that were offered a regular commission into the Air Force. He served as a pilot in the F-80, F-84, F-86, F-100, F-105, and F-111 aircraft. Over his career he completed Squadron Officer’s School, Armed Forces Staff College, and the Air War College. He flew combat over North Vietnam (100 missions in Operation Rolling Thunder) and during that tour was Commander of the 34th Tactical Fighter Squadron. He was based at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base. All operations were over North Vietnam or were in support of CIA operations in Laos. Later he served in NATO and was Director of Fighter Operations for USAF Europe. His last assignment was Director of Plans for 9th Air Force (Tactical Air Command).
Over the span of his career, he was stationed in France, Germany, Thailand, Arizona, Nevada, Virginia, Alabama, and South Carolina. He has been decorated with the Silver Star twice, the Legion of Merit twice, the Distinguished Flying Cross three times, and the Air Medal sixteen times, among many other commendations and service medals.
While he was stationed at Williams AFB, he met his wife Ruth Hess in Phoenix, Arizona. They were married on January 4, 1957 in Mesa, Arizona. They raised four children: Margaret, George Henry, Nancy, and Kathy, while living the nomadic life of a military family, traveling all over the United States and Europe. Nancy graduated from Woodlake Union High School in 1979 and is teaching 3rd grade at Castle Rock Elementary in Woodlake. Kathy graduated from Woodlake Union High School in 1980 and is a supervisor for the State of California’s Department of Weights and Measures. Margaret is retired from UPS. Ruth and George Henry are deceased. George is blessed with five grandchildren.
After retirement from the USAF after 26 years in 1977, he moved back to where he was born and raised in Woodlake. He became an orange grower again, farming the grove that his grandfather planted in 1905. He was asked to teach at The College of the Sequoias in 1980. Since his major at UC Berkeley was Soil Science, he taught the Soils, Fertilizers, Economic Entomology, Citrus, Irrigation, and Forage Crop Science classes. In 1990, he quit teaching at COS to devote himself to fulltime farming.
He learned community service from his grandfather and father, who both served as school board members in Woodlake. He was a founding member of the WHS Foundation. At nearly 90, he still serves as president of the Woodlake Cemetery Board and as an Elder at the Lemon Cove Community Church. He is a member of the Tulare County Farm Bureau Land Use Committee and participates in a local committee devoted to measuring wells and collecting data on local water levels.
In his free time, he still oversees the management of the grove, meets for coffee with his friends every morning, enjoys solitaire, and mentors a young man that attends a private school in the area.
It is indeed an honor to induct George Clausen into the Woodlake Union High School Hall of Fame.
Ernie Garcia was born on June 12, 1927 in Arizona. His family migrated to Los Angeles then moved up to the Central Valley, settling in Farmersville before moving to Woodlake. They lived north of town until his father died; his mother moved them to Seville where Ernie graduated from the eighth grade. During high school they lived and worked in Redbanks, picking fruit, working in the packing house, driving truck.
His older brother, Augie entered the war, leaving Ernie as the head of the household. He attended WHS for three years and would have graduated with the class of 1946. He married Ernestina in 1945 and was drafted into the Army, where he served from 1945-47. He remains active with AMVETS Post 22 in Visalia. In 2014, he took the Honor Flight to Washington DC and Channel 30 featured him on commercials for several years.
Ernie and Ernestina had four children: Robert, Joe, Ernie and Erlinda. He purchased the property on Magnolia Street and built the house where he lives now. It started out with only one bedroom and enlarged it as his family grew. He worked a variety of jobs, joining the staff of Woodlake Veteran’s Memorial Building 1963-79. Then he worked at FJWhite Learning Center from 1979 until retiring in 1991. Wondering what to do after retiring, he went back to work for the Memorial Building until 2004. He has given countless hours of volunteering to the community. He always loved sports, and served as a member of the chain gang every Friday night during football season.
Ernie has been honored as Grand Marshall of the Woodlake Lions Rodeo Parade. He was honored as Man of the Year in 2003. His name is synonymous with service and love for Woodlake schools.
Born and raised in Three Rivers, Earl McKee has led a diverse and fascinating life. Earl’s father started the family mule packing business in 1910, later buying the park concessions for packing and riding stables in Giant Forest, Sequoia National Park. Earl spent all his summers of his early life in the back country. He raised cattle, and quarter horses. He has sung at uncountable weddings and funerals sang western music with his family; playing his Tuba and singing all over the world with the well-known “High Sierra Jazz Band” for over 42 years.
Earl graduated from Woodlake High School in 1949. He was a member of a scrappy group of football players that claimed the San Joaquin Valley Championship for two years running…1947 and ’48, quite a feat for such a small town team. In his senior year, Earl was president of FFA and received the prestigious award of State Farmer. (In 1976, this proud honor was also earned by his son known as “Little Earl.”) Earl also received the Chamber of Commerce Banker’s Agricultural award; he was president of the athletic letterman’s “Block W” association and was voted Vice President alongside dear friend and Student Body President, Jess Cox. While attending Fresno State University, Earl played for the Frosh football team. There, he was taught several lessons from two powerful varsity players just out of the Marines; Herman Ziegler and Bud Loverin. (Herman was the boxing heavyweight champion of the Southwest Marine Corps!) Earl faced those two on many scrimmages and they showed him no mercy. With much due respect, here began their lifelong friendship.
Twenty years later, Earl served on the Woodlake H.S. Board of Trustees under the leadership of Principal/Superintendent, Bud Loverin and Vice Principal, Herman Ziegler. He spent 12 years on the board and during that time, handing out diplomas to his own children. He is especially proud of the boards work with Courtney McCracken as they developed the plan for the new Public Library and the schools new swim complex.
Soon after high school, Earl married his high school sweetheart, Gaynor Hardison. They celebrated their 68th Anniversary in December of 2018. The McKee’s three children also graduated from Woodlake High; Linda in 1971, Chearl in 1974, and little Earl 1975.
Earl joined the Three Rivers Lions Club in 1950 and has been a member ever since. Earl received the Tulare County Cattleman of The Year award in 2003 after breeding beef cattle for 55 years. Earl has led an amazing life and met many memorable characters along the way. He developed quite a knack for remembering names, dates, stories and antidotes. In 2013 Earl published his first book of old time memories “Echoes of Blossom Peak” and in 2016 published, “Echoes Of Three Rivers.” Earl cherished the many friends which he had come to know and shared precious time. Over the last 20 years, members of his 49er class have been meeting for dinner once a month. Jess Cox and Frank Ainley are still the dearest of classmates and this summer Don Nice came to visit and talk about old times all the way from New York City.
It is indeed an honor to induct Earl McKee into the Woodlake Union High School Hall of Fame.
When Sally Pace came to Woodlake for a prospective Home Economics teaching position in 1971, the current teacher told her she was crazy to want the job. Two weeks later, she signed the contract and WHS has never been the same. She taught all freshman girls, had four lab classes, taught cultural foods, sewing, “On Your Own” and interior design. She created costumes for Dennis Connor’s Mexican Folk Dance class, having students help sew the yards and yards of ribbon on skirts that seemed to go on forever. She also started a child care class for Tulare County Organization for Vocational Education (TCOVE).
Sally is married to Michael Pace, who was also a teacher. She took a break after their two children Ryan (WHS 1992) and Natalie (WHS 1994) were born and resumed teaching in 1976. The next year, she and Margaret Wolfe started working with students in the Woodlake FHA –HERO organization. It was one of the largest and most successful chapters in California. In 1985 – 86, Sally and Dennis took over the Counseling program with Pearl Clarke, Jacinto Gardea and Mercy Herrera. Sally is responsible for many of the programs in force today: Career Day, Senior Exit Interviews/Portfolio Review, the Community Service Graduation Requirement, On-Site College Study Trips, the School to Career Program, Peer Counseling, High Risk Student Study Teams, 8th Grade Registration and Parent Night, and Financial Aid and College Application Workshops for parents and students.
All this hard work earned Sally many school, state, county and community honors. She continues to strive to draw in others to help make Woodlake a wonderful place of opportunity for students and parents alike. The community recognizes her amazing energy and contributions to the lives of many who have had the pleasure to live and work with her.
Coach Robinson began coaching and teaching at Woodlake High School in 1959 straight out of Fresno State College. He held many positions in his 43 years teaching at Woodlake High but his main position was physical education. He was also baseball coach for 27 years, football coach for 41 years, and athletic director. His obvious achievements are inscribed in record books, 290 football victories, 3rd all time among coaches in California and number 1 in the Valley, his induction into the California Football Hall of Fame in 2002, but he contributed so much more- the lasting effect he had on so many young people’s lives, the lessons on teamwork, sportsmanship, and character building. He showed them they could make a difference and that they could achieve so much more than they ever thought possible. You don’t spend 43 years in coaching without loving the game. You don’t spend 43 years teaching without loving teenagers. You don’t spend 43 years in a town of 7,000 without loving the community. Coach Robinson was a true tiger.