Dick “Hubba” Heber, a social studies teacher of history, geography and government and major contributor and supporter of athletics at North High for 34 years (1953-1987) as well as a dedicated volunteer in the field of history and sports in the community, is honored to become a member of the North High Athletics Hall of Fame 2013.
Heber’s parents, Roy Lafayette Heber and Edna Everingham Heber, came to Maricopa from the midwest as homesteaders with the oil boom in Kern County in the early 1900s. Two children were born during that time, George in 1909, and Alice in 1911. The family moved back to Hutsonville, IL, after a few years and two more sons joined the family. Miles was born in 1916 and Richard (Dick) in 1919. The family eventually moved back to California settling in Bakersfield on Sunset Avenue near KCUHS in 1923.
Dick went to William Penn, Emerson, and Kern County Union High School. At “KC” as it was called then, he was a student leader and athlete. During high school he was on the freshman class council, President of the Junior Class, and Vice President of the Senior Class. He was a pitcher and first baseman on the baseball team and he followed in his older brothers’ footsteps as a center on the KC basketball team. He graduated from KCUHS in 1937.
Heber attended Bakersfield College from 1937 to 1938 and played both baseball and basketball. Then he transferred to the University of California at Berkeley graduating from CAL in 1941. At CAL he was a member of the traveling baseball team that took one especially memorable road trip by train that included 18 stops to play baseball teams at Michigan State, Ohio State, University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan, Carleton College, Notre Dame and other colleges and universities.
While at CAL Heber belonged to Psi Upsilon fraternity and held jobs in college that included waiting tables at the fraternity, parking cars at the famous Claremont Hotel, and “guarding” the secret football practices.
Following graduation from CAL he joined the Navy as a Chief Petty Officer and remained in the Navy from 1941 to 1945. Stationed in New York State for much of the time, he had the opportunity to visit his father’s relatives in the Pittsburg area.
He then returned to California earning his teaching credential at the University of California Santa Barbara. He began his career with a practice teaching assignment in the P.E. department at East High where he worked with Gil Bishop, Les Carpenter, and Bob Jellison. He then accepted a teaching position at Shafter High School where he taught world geography and coached baseball. The Shafter High athletic director, Lowell Todd, introduced Heber to golf and that led to a lifetime golf hobby (including two- hole- in- ones).
He taught at Shafter High for six years from 1948 through 1953. The principal of Shafter High was Jack Hill. When Hill was hired to become the first principal of North High in 1953, he brought four Shafter High teachers with him. The four teachers/coaches were: Dick Heber (history and baseball), Turk Eliades (math and football), Ernie Graf (music/band), and Dusty Rhodes (industrial arts and track).
During Heber’s first years at North he also had a summer job working as a lifeguard and swimming and diving instructor at Bakersfield Country Club.
Although he was the first varsity baseball coach at North, he recognized that his calling and passion was in classroom teaching. He taught social studies (world history, world geography, U.S. History, and government) for 34 years at North from 1953-1987.
In 1958 Mr. Heber’s second period world affairs class placed second in a national contest sponsored by the editors of Every Week, a news magazine. The contest invited social studies classes in high schools to submit lists of the 10 top news stories of 1958 which had international significance. The commendation from Every Week read: “Since hundreds of students from every state in the union entered the contest, you have just cause for pride in your victory.” The seniors in Heber’s class were all seniors who were preparing to major in social science.
During his 34 years at North, Mr. Heber he was also a supporter of the sports programs at North attending as many athletic contests as he could (rarely missing a football or basketball game). He was given a “game ball” by the football team for his support. In addition he assisted as a track official at meets held at North and around the county. He encouraged students to participate in athletics and to learn new sports—especially golf. Each day he would give students a “tip from the top” about how to improve their golf game.
The 1966 yearbook, The Galaxy, was dedicated to him. The dedication read:
“Since North High was founded in 1953, this well-liked and much appreciated man has been faithfully serving the students in the capacities of classroom teacher and class advisor, athletic coach and department chairman. In the classroom, he gives each student a guiding hand in the field of social studies based on his extensive travels, continuous education, and social maturity that have produced a vast experience of both personal and professional knowledge. Outside the classroom he has generously contributed his glowing personality and valuable time to the successful undertakings of the social studies department, athletic program, and class activities. This year the 1966 Galaxy Staff proudly dedicates the yearbook to Mr. Richard Heber, a hard-working, professional educator.”
Mr. Heber was also President of the North High Faculty Club, Coach of the Mock Trial Team and founder of the Red and Gray Golf Tournament. The Red and Gray tournament raised money for scholarships and was given to a student who made the greatest contribution to the athletic program (whether as an athlete or other supporter) at North High during the year. In the community he was a member of the Kern County Coaches and Officials Organization and President one year. He officiated at many high school and junior college track meets throughout the years.
Heber was part of a group that founded the Kern County Junior Golf Association. He helped every summer for many years with the Junior Golf Program that was designed as an age group program. The program gave young golfers the opportunity to play a different county or private golf course each week throughout the summer.
Following his retirement in 1987 he became a docent at the Kern County Museum and Pioneer Village. He was the instructor at the Yokuts Indian exhibit. Third graders from all over the county always enjoyed his explanation of the Indian artifacts at the Museum. At Pioneer Village he led a tour of the old Norris Schoolhouse telling students what it was like in the early days of a rural Kern County school.
During his teaching at Shafter High, Dick was introduced to Evelyn Westlund by tennis friends, John and Jean Eckhardt, who became lifelong friends. Evie was the first secretary of the newly founded Bakersfield Racquet Club and at the time was employed as the chief payroll clerk at the Kern High District Office. Dick and Evelyn were married June 5, 1949.
Dick and Evelyn had one son, Steven, born in August 1950. Dick and Evie were devoted to their son and were involved in all Steve’s activities. Steve married the former Lisa Lehman, in October 1979 and they have three children, Kyle, Molly, and Emily.
Evie and Dick often played tennis at Beale Park or Jastro Park and they always enjoyed going to the “Big Game” between Cal and Stanford. (Yes, they saw the game where the CAL player ran over the Stanford trombone player to score the winning touchdown.) They also enjoyed attending the golf tournament at Pebble Beach for many years. They belonged to the World Affairs Council that met monthly in Los Angeles. The World Affairs Council brought noted speakers (Ronald Reagan, Gore Vidal, Shimon Peres, etc.) to its audience. Mr. Heber also belonged to the Kern County Historical Society.
Evelyn became a founding member of the parent cooperative preschool, Bakersfield Play Center, on Kentucky. She was employed at Bakersfield College in the business office, and following her retirement, Evie volunteered at Guild House as a baker for many years.
Because of Heber’s interest in social studies, he and Evie enjoyed traveling around the U.S. and abroad. He wanted to see the places he taught.
Because his mother’s family lived in Illinois, his dad’s in the Pittsburgh area and Evie’s in Atlanta, GA, those were places they visited frequently. Among other U.S. destinations were Boston, Houston, Chicago, Washington, D.C., New York City, World’s Fair in Seattle, National Parks, historical sites, etc. Their first European trip was to Evie’s family’s homeland, Finland. They made several trips abroad visiting Russia, Germany, France, Italy, Denmark, The Netherlands, England, Scotland, and other countries in Europe.
As the Heber’s grandchildren, Kyle, Molly, and Emily, grew, Dick and Evie enjoyed attending activities at their schools and participating in their family activities. Today the grandchildren are all grown. Kyle graduated from UC San Diego and married Shellena Davis and now is in medical school in New York City. Molly is a senior at UC Davis and Emily is a freshman at her father, Steve’s alma mater, UC Santa Barbara. Sadly, Evelyn Heber passed away in 2006.
The “Hubba” Scholarship:
To honor Mr. Heber’s birthday several years ago, two of his nieces established an annual “Hubba” Scholarship at North High. It is given each year to the member of any athletic team, (but not necessarily an athlete,) who has good grades and honorable character and has made a significant contribution to athletics at North High School. The scholarship is administered by the scholarship committee at North in cooperation with the coaches and athletic director and is awarded to a graduating senior each spring to encourage the student to continue his/her higher education.