Dr. Melford Larson
Dr. Larson is a graduate of Oregon State University’s School of Pharmacy. He received a commission in the U.S. Air Force in 1954, subsequently attending flight school in Laredo, Texas and becoming a pilot.
Following his military service, he studied pre-med at San Jose State University, and then attended medical school at UC San Francisco, graduating in 1962. He interned at San Joaquin General Hospital and completed a Residency in Internal Medicine in 1966.
Dr. Larson became affiliated with Doctors Hospital of Manteca in 1966, and over the ensuing 41 years, held a variety of key positions including Chief of Medical Staff three times – 1970, 1980 and 1981.
Besides his Medical Staff Leadership, he provided key clinical oversight as the Medical Director of the Intensive Care Unit and then Director of Continuing Medical Education.
Dr. Larson epitomizes citizenship, service and knowledge and is a superb representative of the City of Manteca.
Dr. Larson maintains a Board Certification in Internal Medicine and currently operates a Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Clinic, where he treats patients with a variety of medical problems.
Evelyn Prouty, fourth-generation descendant of pioneer families, has long-standing roles and contributions in preserving local history. Dennis Wyatt of The Manteca Bulletin says that written history about Manteca is due to Evelyn’s early interest, initiative and dedication. Her Manteca, Selected Chapters from Its History, the only definitive book about the Manteca area, is in the Manteca Library and is a resource for Museum docent classes.
Manteca Historical Society & Museum: Charter member, Board member, President, and currently Docent, Newsletter Editor, and Executive Director. Evelyn’s support includes fundraising, special events, and donation of clothing, artifacts and 800 local historical photos that became the foundation of the Museum. Innovative ideas include a grant to catalog the collection, a Manteca-area history coloring book for student tours, an exhibition to promote local arts and artists, and new classes open to the public.
Union Cemetery: When the State announced in 2008 plans that would suspend the operation, Evelyn spearheaded formation of the Friends of the East Union Cemetery. Ken Summers of P.L. Fry & Son describes her role as major, and says that a moratorium of funerals would have been likely. Evelyn has driven efforts to garner publicity and community support to keep the cemetery operational, and make it financially possible to continue with burials. Innovative ideas include media interviews, presentations and fundraisers. Evelyn, Friends President Bill Good and key others assumed responsibility of cemetery maintenance. Bill and Evelyn also do the required paperwork and majority of the physical work for burials.
Gail is the granddaughter of the late Frank Jessee, who was one of the founding fathers of Manteca. She married George Perry, Jr. in 1974, and instantly became involved in the family business.
Gail has always valued family, and that is why she has continually supported the community of Manteca, the city about which her grandfather was so passionate.
From 1974 to now, she has become very important and instrumental to George Perry and Sons. Gail started as a bookkeeper for Perry and Sons, but in 1985, when the watermelon industry was in crisis, she moved into the buying-and-selling department. She is now known as one of the top saleswomen in the watermelon and pumpkin industries in California and throughout the United States.
Gail has volunteered a lot of her time at St Anthony’s Church, and she takes care of her Mom and her in-laws. She is an encourager, educator and mentor. Gail believes in the young generation and works diligently for the future of George Perry and Sons and the agricultural industry as a whole.
Janet Denise Dyk
Energized by her passionate devotion to agriculture and education, Janet Dyk has become a leader in the Manteca community. A life-long resident of the area and with her roots in a dairy background, she has been involved in agriculture education for more than 30 years.
After graduating from Ripon High School and attending Modesto Junior College and California State University, Stanislaus, this resident of the Nile Garden area has devoted years of service to working with 4-H Clubs, Future Farmers of America and local high schools in promoting agriculture programs. At the County level, she has been a veteran participant with the Fair Board and has served the County Fair on numerous committees. These committees have included Dairy Barn, Livestock and Weigh Master, judging pens and coordinating dairy judging contests.
Community-level activities have seen her coordinating Farm Day at various schools within the local school district. A recipient of many awards for her inspirational leadership, Janet is currently a local director of California Women in Agriculture and the San Joaquin Agricultural Foundation. She is the co-founder of the Manteca Area Agriculture Boosters and served as its president for three years.
Her dedication to agriculture and to encouraging youth participation in this important county industry has earned her this Hall of Fame induction honor.
Thirty-one years ago, Kirt Giovannoni came to Manteca High School as an art teacher. He found a campus with a tired look and with a persistent graffiti problem. Wanting to make a positive change in the school’s appearance, Mr. Giovannoni developed a mural project as a way of dealing with theses issues. His dedication and love of art resulted in the Manteca Mural Museum.
Over the past 15 years, approximately 200 murals depicting famous works of art, from the Masters of years past to more contemporary artists, now grace the outside walls of the campus. With Kirt’s guidance, these murals have been painted by students from his Advanced Art classes. The project has made the Manteca High campus literally a work of art, and has built pride and a sense of ownership on the part of the students. The Museum has opened the door for these young people to explore art and history and to participate in it. The school has hosted tours, with visitors from as far away as Ireland and Belgium.
Kirt and his students have been featured in local newspapers, television stations and highlighted in American Profile magazine. He has been named both a Teacher of the Month and 2008 Teacher of the Year by KXTV television. Mr. Giovannoni is a Mentor Teacher and was recently named Art Coordinator for the Manteca Unified School District. Kirt Giovannoni is more than deserving of being honored in the Manteca Hall of Fame.
Richard L. Durham, Sr.
Dick Durham has influenced so many lives in a positive way during an illustrious career in education that spans over 50 years. This Marine Corps veteran of the Korean War received his college education after returning to civilian life in 1952. Armed with degrees from Oregon State University, Dick began his career in the Grant Union High School District in Sacramento in 1961. Nine years later, he came to Manteca, ending up as East Union High School’s principal. As a teacher, counselor and administrator, his philosophy was always “Let’s do what’s right for the kids.”
Dick Durham was an innovator, working to improve programs in all school disciplines, including academics, athletics, the arts and vocational training. Well aware of the value of students’ extra-curricular activities, he served four terms as president of the Valley Oak League interscholastic sports programs. Dick later spent another three years as Commissioner of the same league.
His leadership style allowed for professional growth in the careers of many colleagues. As a mentor, he saw three of his vice-principals go on to become principals.
A “complete” educator, Dick was also quite involved in the community. Active in his church as a board member and treasurer, member of Rotary International and serving as the local club’s recording secretary, he has always been community-minded.
His active life certainly qualifies Dick Durham for membership in the Hall of Fame.
Sammy L. Davis
Sammy Davis – a man whose bravery beyond the call of duty in the Vietnam War made him a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient—is honored today. He is one of 91 Congressional Medal of Honor recipients alive.
Sammy grew up in French Camp, where he fondly remembers playing in canals during the summer to cool off. At Manteca High, he played left tackle on the Buffaloes football team and was on the dive team. It was also at Manteca High where he was influenced by several teachers, including Bill Forbes. “He (Forbes) taught me to stand up for what I thought was right in my heart,” Davis said during an interview three years ago.
Sammy attended Manteca High through his junior year. After that, his family moved to Indiana. He enlisted in the Army in Indianapolis. Sammy’s decision to enlist in the military at the height of the Vietnam War was a no-brainer for him. “It was my time to serve,” Davis recalled.
The defining moment of Sammy’s life took place nearly 43 years ago on November 18, 1967, west of Cai Lay in the Republic of Vietnam. Davis was a 21-year-old Sergeant with the U.S. Army, Battery C, 2nd Battalion, 4th Artillery, 9th Infantry Division.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action, at the risk of his life and beyond the call of duty, Sgt. Davis (then PFC) distinguished himself during the early morning hours while serving as a cannoneer with Battery C at a remote fire support base.
Susie Beeler is responsible for forming Treats for Our Troops in March 2004, and for facilitating its growth in collaboration with Soroptimists of Manteca. With help of a broad range of volunteers and organizations, 100 theme boxes filled with donated treats and assorted items are sent monthly to local military personnel stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Susie acknowledges every donation. Boxes contain a personal letter with the donor’s name and sustaining donors, plus a blank “thank you” card for the service person to mail to the donor. Susie and her husband, Louie, order and send the boxes, work with store managers to buy at discount, and coordinate volunteers to bake and pack the boxes.
Susie has held offices and given countless hours of service since the 1950s as a member and officer of community organizations including St. Anthony’s Church School Parent-Teacher Group, Atlanta Women’s Club (dedicated to community support and historic preservation of the cemetery at Five Corners), Manteca Historical Society and the San Joaquin Valley Swiss Club. Susie served as Treasurer and President of Soroptimist International of Manteca, and still participates in its community service activities and fundraisers, including the annual Theme Luncheon that she originated.
Treats for Our Troops began with Susie sending four large boxes to Afghanistan for her grandson’s buddies who weren’t receiving anything. She reached out for help, financial and otherwise, from individuals and organizations ranging from California to Washington. Soroptimists embraced Treats for Our Troops and became the non-profit sponsor to receive tax-deductible donations, with Susie as Program Chairperson.