140 year of Shriners

140 year of Shriners

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Taft High School Inducts Six Into Hall of Fame

George Gianopulos, Mountford "Monty" Reedy, John Silcox, the late Dr. Francis A. Sooy, Gilbert G. Weigand and Mary Simon Wilson

The most astonishing life story of the lot. Mary Simon (her maiden name) was born without arms. A birthing nurse believed she was better off dead and threw the baby against a wall, according to biographer and nominator Lee Sweeney Taylor of Acampo, CA. Mary survived and, with the assistance of Shriners, had several surgeries at a San Francisco hospital to correct the damage done by the nurse and to give her full use of the two limbs she had, her legs. Her parents moved to Taft and she graduated from TUHS in 1952. Taylor remembers the day she met her classmate in geometry. "I looked over to see Mary slough off her book bag, reach in with her feet, get paper and pencils and prepare for class. She looked over at me, introduced herself, then pulled out her knitting and started some work before the bell rang. Normal, vivacious, outgoing, always positive, there was nothing not to like about Mary Simon."
With her feet, she played xylophone, advanced to a marimba and excelled to the point where she needed advanced lessons twice a week in Los Angeles. She won a live television talent show and appeared for several years on another live TV show in Bakersfield, "Teen Age Kapers," featuring teen musicians. She survived three bad marriages, successfully raised two boys and proved to state inspectors that she could run a child care home. Today she is happily married to Bakersfield attorney Dennis Wilson. "Mary is not famous, but just surviving and living a full life qualifies her to be recognized for what she has done," Taylor wrote.
A public reception honoring the inductees will be held in the school's main entryway at 5 p.m. April 24, followed by a dinner and induction ceremony hosted by the Board of Trustees at 6 p.m. at O.T. Cookhouse and Saloon. The dinner is expected to fill up fast. Tickets cost $25 and may be reserved by contacting the superintendent's secretary Sheri Gregory at 763-2330 or sgregory@taft.k12.ca.us.
The Board of Trustees, at the urging of trustee Stan Barrett, established the program in 2007 to honor outstanding alumni and to inspire current students to work toward similar accomplishments. A selection committee consisting of staff and alumni reviewed a large number of nominees and selected this year's six inductees. They will join the original 10 from 2007, the four inductees from 2008, and the seven inductees from 2009. Their photographs and short bios adorn the entryway into the high school.
www.taftindependent.com/News/ViewArticle/1714
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