Westchester Kiwanis through the decades
On June 12, 1961, Westchester Kiwanis was chartered. It was sponsored by the Kern Club. The actual ceremony on July 28, 1961 was held at the Party Center. The Club started with 64 Charter Members. Of those 64 Charter Members, there is one remaining in the Club still today – Marvin Belcher.In those first years, Club Members would begin traditions that have carried forward to this day; for example, in 1964 Jack Frost Football was founded by members: Jim Turner, Harold Matlock, & Mel McClanahan.Gold Seal Awards were handed out, like our Junior High Achievement awards.The Club supported community organizations such as Big Brothers of America and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes which was run by member Jim ‘Pop’ TurnerClub presidents during the decade were: Jack Hall, Dwight Taggart, ‘Bus’ Mills, Dave Maxwell, Walter Tarr, Ken Robesky, Gerry Elmore, Marvin Belcher, Earle Gibbons, and Tharrell Ming.In 1968, Ken Robesky was elected Lieutenant Governor.Despite the protest and unrest surrounding the war, Vietnam Veterans Joe Johnson, Don Fowler, Paul Weller, Joe Bradford, Steve Bronstein, Phil Niederauer, Steve Corbin and John Sullivan chose to continue to serve by joining Kiwanis and are currently active in the activities of Westchester Kiwanis.
In January 1972 Kern County Traffic Survival School (Later S.T.E.P.S.) started at the request of Municipal Court Judge Earle Gibbons (A Charter Member of our Club). In January 1976 the property at 3533 Mt. Vernon Ave was purchased to house that organization, where it is still located.The Club sponsored the Key Club at Highland High School, and Circle K at Bakersfield College. Today Westchester sponsors Garces Memorial High School’s Key Club.Club presidents during this decade were Sherlo Shively, Oliver Burr, Jerry Schuyler, Harold Matlock, Jim Turner, Dale Brewer, Ken Brown, Johnnie Clanton, and Herb Neufeld, with LeRoy Neilsen leading the Club into its 3rd Decade. In 1976, Sherlo Shively served as LtGov.
July 1987, the Kiwanis International Convention was held in Washington, DC. The big news out of that convention was the vote to include women in the regular Kiwanis Clubs. During the 87-88 Kiwanian Year (October 1st-September 30th), our Club had 87 Members.Every Easter season, on Good Friday, Pop Turner would host a Prayer Breakfast; open to everyone.The “Great American” Garage Sale at the Fair Grounds in the early 80’s.Jim Perry was appointed to the STEPS board.
Our first President in the 90’s was Vincent Raj; he was the Executive Director of STEPS. He was a former Roman Catholic Priest from India.In 1991, our old friend Bruce Stickler was president. The Kiwanis International Convention was held in Anaheim.The Club Blood Drive continued, headed by The Count, George Giboney.1992-93 Our Club built the Rosedale Club, helping to populate it with some of our Members.Continuing Jack Frost and Southwest Youth Baseball sponsored by Westchester.
2000 – 2010
K-Year 1999-2000 was momentous; we weren’t wiped out by the Y2K panic. And we ushered in the new Millennium by having Sherlo Shively have his second term at the helm; after being LtGov (76-77)2004-05 John Rodgers was President for the second time; after being LtGov (96-97).In 2001 the Jim “Pop” Turner Park, at the Jameson Center, was dedicated. Probably the heaviest monument in history was erected. It started as a Division 33 project when Jim was LtGov (85-86). It is pretty much a Westchester project now. Mowed, trimmed, and watered by a dedicated group: Kreiser, Hoffman, Johnson, Stewart, and Woody Allen. Thanks guys. Today there are still members who devote their Saturday mornings on making sure the park stays mowed, cleaned, and watered. We want to make sure that the children in our community have a nice clean environment to play in.2006 Westchester started an association with the Kern County Veteran’s Memorial, thanks to Joe Bradford.2006 the Club also helped out with the “Highway 99 Cruise event, by pouring beer.2007-08 Mike Nommensen was president, Mike was a Stock Broker.2008-09 Big Joe Johnson was president, Joe retired from the US Army, as a Sergeant Major. He worked at Bakersfield College in security. 2009-10 our president was Stan Schwartz, Stan was a retired insurance broker. 2010-11 Pam Sanders, our first female president, she worked at the Superintendent of Schools Office. Pam was president when the Westchester Kiwanis Club celebrated its 50th year.
2011 – 2020
2011-12 Don Blakeney was president, Don is a retired school district employee, and he still does part-time school bus driving.2012-13 Kent Jones was our president, Kent works in the Kern High School District.2013-14 Big Dan Mello is president, Dan works in Solar Energy, a very sunny guy.2014-15 Rick Ybarra was our president, Rick is retired from the US Navy, as a Master Chief.2015-16 our president was John Eviston, John is a retired accountant, and he is married to Linda, who is the Executive Director of STEPS.2016-17 Chris Hall is president, he is a member of the Superintendent of Schools. Chris was in the Shafter Kiwanis Club and was a president there.