2022 Hall of Fame Inductees
Allan Simpson - Outstanding Athletic Achievement
Larry Allan Simpson was born in Springfield, Illinois on August 26, 1977. He was raised in Las Vegas, Nevada by his mother, Phyllis, a single parent. Allan excelled in academics, was an outstanding Baseball athlete, and graduated from Cheyenne High School, North Las Vegas in 1995.
In 1995, Taft College began to re-instate a few athletic programs, including Baseball and Softball, after having suspended them in the spring of 1994. Taft College Head Baseball Coach Tony Thompson hired one of his former players, Pat Genovese, as Athletic Trainer and Assistant Baseball Coach, who was also from Las Vegas.
Coach Thompson asked Pat Genovese to attend a certain high school baseball game to scout a few athletes for Taft College. However, Genovese went to the wrong high school and scouted the wrong team. One of the players that he scouted at that “wrong” game was Allan Simpson.
Simpson and three of his high school teammates came to Taft College. Allan developed as a pitcher and professional Baseball scouts showed an interest. The scouts’ attention on Allan grew rapidly during his sophomore year. By mid-season 1997, 10-12 professional scouts were at every game he pitched, standing behind the bullpens and backstops, and pointing radar guns at every pitch.
At least five Directors of Scouting from Major League Baseball teams came to Taft College to sign Allan to their respective organizations. Allan excelled in the classroom and on the Baseball field, graduating from Taft College in 1997 with a cumulative GPA of 3.26.
Ultimately, Allan became the eighth-round draft pick of the Seattle Mariners. He was the 253rd player selected in the 1997 Major League Baseball June draft. Allan played a total of 11 years of professional Baseball, ending his career at age 29 due to a shoulder injury.
Dennis McCall - Distinguished Faculty
In 1979, Dennis McCall was hired as Taft College faculty. After 28 years of service, he retired in 2007.
Dennis taught courses on Journalism, Speech, and Photography (in black/white and color) to thousands of students. As with many faculty members, Dennis’ jobs and focus changed with the needs of the college over time. Always willing to take on new tasks, he progressed from one role to another simply through his habit of saying, “Yes!” whenever asked to help.
His demeanor, personal interaction style, and instructional delivery were much appreciated by his students.
Dennis McCall was always calm and clear with communicating information, thorough in describing course assignment expectations and standards, and consistent when grading based on those expectations and standards. He always gave feedback comments and notes on drafts and speech scoring sheets. These comments and notes reflected his kindness that certainly helped to ease public speaking anxiety for those students asked to speak in his Speech class. However, what contributed most to his students’ success was his genuine interest in each one of them, their stories, and their experiences in his classroom. Dennis McCall’s classes are still spoken of with fondness even when a former student “can’t remember the guy’s name.” Dennis McCall was the kind of professor who personally drew students to enroll in Taft College and a primary reason those students referred others to “go to Taft College.”
Superintendent/President Dr. Wendell L. Reeder asked Dennis to be Taft College’s first Sports Information and Public Affairs Officer. He spent many years as Advisor and Editor of the Taft College student newspaper, Cougar Echo. Dennis also served multiple terms as Academic Senate President. After his retirement, Dennis reported on Taft College sporting events for the Taft Midway Driller and
volunteered at the Oil Museum in Taft.
Dorothy Parrott - Distinguished Confidential
Dorothy Parrott was born in Taft, California on March 25, 1931. In 1949, when she was just 18 years old, Dorothy began working at Taft College. She was a methodical, meticulous, and hardworking woman who knew what to do in nearly every situation. No matter the problem, you’d “Ask Dorothy” for the answer. In 1954, Dorothy witnessed Taft Junior College change its name to Taft College, as well as the college’s transformation from the high school to the current location.
Dorothy was named Administrative Assistant to Director Garlyn A. Basham when he was selected as the first Superintendent/President of Taft Junior College District in 1962. In 1963, the District’s name changed to West Kern Junior College District.
In 1975, Dr. Wendell Lee Reeder was named the second Superintendent/President of newly renamed West Kern Community College District. In 1980, Dr. David Cothrun became the third Superintendent/President of West Kern Community College District. Dorothy Parrott worked tirelessly for these three Taft College Superintendent/Presidents and devoted her entire life to the college.
Dorothy and her husband, Joe were very active in the community and big football boosters. They followed the Cougars across western states when Taft College was in the NJCAA during the Cougars’ glory days. Dorothy loved the dynamic that the football program brought to Taft College. She also cherished the many friendships she made through her more than four decades of service.
She saw the development of the science classes, mathematics, physical education, business, and vocational shops. Dorothy watched the athletic programs move from intramural competition to recognized junior college sports. In 1993, after 44 years of service, Dorothy retired from Taft College.
Dorothy and Joe Parrott moved to Bakersfield where they immediately became football boosters at Centennial High School where their only son, Richard was a coach.
Dr. John Raymond Tufft - Distinguished Faculty
The third of five sons born to Arthur and Elizabeth Tufft of San Francisco, John Raymond Tufft was born on July 11, 1920, in Vallejo, California.
John completed his bachelor’s degree in history at University of California, Berkeley. He attended Princeton Seminary where he would sit and visit with Albert Einstein. Upon graduation from Princeton Seminary, he was commissioned as a Naval Officer and Chaplain. John earned his master’s in theology at the Biblical Seminary in New York and would eventually start several Presbyterian churches in Southern California.
In 1945, John married Ruth Francis Baer and served in the Philippines during World War II.
John and Ruth moved to Edinburgh, Scotland, where John received his Ph.D. and Ruth gave birth to their daughter, Beth. Daughter Anne was born two years later in Southern California.
After teaching part-time at Santa Ana City College, John taught history full-time at Taft College and proudly became a college administrator. Upon his Taft College retirement, John was bestowed the honorary title, “Professor Emeritus.”
Taft College student Jack Becker shared, “Dr. Tufft had a profound effect on me,” after taking John’s history class in 1969. Encouraging class discussions based on facts, research, analysis, and opinion in his U.S. history course, John asked student debate teams to present the pros and cons of slavery and relate the past with the present. Jack says, “In Dr. Tufft’s course, I gained a deeper understanding for the South, despite the historical atrocities and injustices that Blacks have suffered throughout our history.”
Dr. Tufft is remembered for his humor and kindness. A man of many interests and talents, he grew and hybridized prize-winning orchids. He also enjoyed wood working. In his retirement, he became a nationally recognized bird carver. After Ruth died in 2007, John passed away on August 31, 2013.
John Munding - Distinguished Alumnus
John Munding was born in Wasco, California on October 10, 1929. He passed away on April 18, 2008, and is buried in Taft’s West Side Cemetery.
John attended school in Maricopa and Taft Union High School. As a boy, he was named California State Model Airplane Builder’s Champion. As a teenager, he found work as a cowboy in the southern mountains of Maricopa during the summers. He came to Taft College in 1948 and graduated in June 1951.
John became an Aeronautical Engineer at Space Technology Laboratories, after graduation from Cal Poly
in San Luis Obispo.
John Munding joined TRW in 1956. In 1958, he began work on coordinating weapon systems, including the Explorer VI Paddlewheel Satellite in 1959.
In 1964, he started on the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) Engine project. In July 1969, he was Program Manager on the Apollo 11 project, when Neil Armstrong set foot on the lunar surface and said, “One giant leap for mankind.” He helped build Lunar Module Descent Engines (LMDE), including the Lunar Landing Module Eagle. “The Eagle has landed” phrase references his engine still sitting on the Moon.
According to John’s wife, when Neil Armstrong saw the LEM Engine, he asked John “Do you guarantee it will work?” John replied, “You can bet on it,” and Neil said, “No, I’m betting my ass on it.” One of his groups’ designs helped the Apollo 13 crew get back alive. Later in his career, his nephew heard John say, “What I am doing is so top secret that you will never know what I am working on.” Over the years, he was not able to talk about much of his work. After 33+ years with TRW (now Northrop Grumman), he retired and moved to Lone Pine, California, where he enjoyed flying his own plane.
Les Clark, Jr. - Distinguished Alumnus
Les Clark, Jr. has resided in Taft, California for more than 50 years. Les graduated from Taft Union High School in 1961 and Taft College in 1964. In 1970, he graduated from Fresno State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Education and a Minor in Industrial Technology. Les was also a Taft College Baseball Coach from 1973-74. In 1965, he married his high school sweetheart, June. Les and June Clark have
raised three children who also graduated from Taft Union High School and Taft College. He has 10 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Les has proudly accomplished extraordinary things, received numerous endorsements, and, most importantly, made a direct impact on so many lives.
Les Clark, Jr. has been involved in Taft’s rich oil history all his life. Since 1999, he has been Executive Vice President of Independent Oil Producers (IOPA) Agency, working there since the 1980s. Kern Citizens for Energy recently recognized him as their 2022 Person of the Year.
He has served on the Taft Union High School Board of Trustees for over 25 years and the Taft City School District Board for eight years. As a Director, he has volunteered his service to Westside Little League, Golden Empire Affordable Housing, Inc., Taft Petroleum Club, Kern County Fair Board of Directors, American Red Cross, Fort Preservation Society, three Chambers of Commerce (Bakersfield, Hispanic, and
Taft District), Westside Regional Occupational Program, and Fresno State Alumni Association (FSAA). He also served on the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, and Governor’s Taskforce on Higher Education.
Les Clark Jr. is a past President of the Taft District Chamber of Commerce and West Side Health Care
Foundation, a past Director of the West Kern Oil Museum, and a past Chairman of the Kern County Workforce Development Board.
Thomas Teegarden - Distinguished Faculty
When Tom Teegarden came to Taft College in 1989, he had taught mathematics for 27 years in junior high school, high school, adult basic education, and at a California Community College. He spent the next 14 years at Taft College, as a Mathematics Professor, Faculty Association President, and Chairman of the Accreditation Committee. Tom also volunteered to teach at the Taft Correctional Institution for years. He retired from Taft College in 2003.
Tom presented on “Chaos Theory” at educational conferences while at Taft College, including The National Education Association, California Teachers Association, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Regional Conference, and California Mathematics Council of Community Colleges (CMC3).
At Taft College, Tom Teegarden pioneered distance learning mathematics classes. He may have even been the first full-time distance learning instructor in the California Community Colleges, when bandwidth limitations made this teaching a real challenge.
Tom submitted a proposal to do a distance learning pilot program and received the green light. He constructed the appropriate content, but then had to derive a way to deliver the content. A real breakthrough of limited bandwidth, Tom used the product MIMEO’s battery-driven, “pen-like” device to “draw” on a whiteboard much like one would do in a classroom with chalk. He used MIMEO’s microphone to record audio lectures that his students could watch at any time.
Concerned about testing security, Tom found that community libraries were cooperative and willing to help proctor student testing. He sent the exams to the proctors at local libraries who administered them to students and then returned them to him in a sealed envelope.
As Faculty Association President, one of Tom’s long-lasting contributions to Taft College was helping to find a new, mutually beneficial way to negotiate faculty contracts through Interest-Based Bargaining.