Taft College receives a $1.6 million dollar bequest from 1942 Taft College Alum -Harry Wilson

Taft College has lost a true friend and community role model. Harry Wilson believed in furthering education for everyone interested in making an honest living. He believed in strengthening our education programs and most of all he believed that Taft College was more than a school but rather an institution for making a positive change within our community. “Both Harry Wilson and his Aunt Opal Smith were like family to Taft College. They were the kind of people that knew what you needed even before you did. Their selflessness and generosity gave more than financial aid to the college, it gave us motivation to be the best people and give the best education possible. This gift will further cement their name and spirit within our community.”  President of the WKCCD, Mr. Billy White.

Harry was born in Taft, CA on December 13, 1921 and passed away in Bakersfield, CA on September 10, 2016. He was a member of the U.S. Army and served during WW II from February 17, 1945 to November 4, 1946. His second tour of duty was served during the Korean Conflict from September 18, 1950 to April 11, 1952 when he was honorably discharged from military service. He retired from ARCO after 30 years of employment. Harry enjoyed traveling, reading and truly cared for others. He was preceded in death by his parents, Bob and Beulah Wilson and his loving Uncle Bill and Aunt Opal Smith. “Character mattered to Harry. It didn’t matter where you came from, who you know or what you had. What mattered to him is what you said and what you did. I had the pleasure of introducing him to our new president, Dr. Deb Daniels a few days before he passed. He looked at me and said, she seems like a good president.” I wish we would have had more time. It will be an honor to always say his name now in reference to the development of Taft College.” Sheri Horn-Bunk, Executive Director, Taft College Foundation.

Harry lived much of his life in Taft and moved back in the 90’s to assist with his beloved Aunt Opal. In 2013, upon Aunt Opal’s passing, Harry Willson donated $104,000 in honor of his Aunt Opal Smith’s 104th birthday, with grants going to the Library, Phi Theta Kappa club, and the School of Dental Hygiene. It is with great honor that upon Harry’s passing Taft College receives his $1.6 million dollar bequest, which will serve as aid for program and student support services, along with starting the Opal Smith and Harry Wilson Endowment for Taft College.