Twentynine Palms Historical Society
29 Palms, California

Old Timer of the Year

Old Timer of the Year logo

In 2014 the Twentynine Palms Historical Society announced the creation of the "Old Timer of the Year" award program. The goal of this program is to honor early or long-time residents who contributed significantly to the development or betterment of the Twentynine Palms' community. The program is intended to honor "everyday heroes" whose contributions and efforts over the years have largely gone unsung.

2016 Honorees: Dave Brownell, Walt & Velma Holland and Ted Vick

2015 Honorees: Bob and Edie Carter

2014 Honorees: Bruce Arnett, Marilyn Fernald and Nolan Lockwood

A solicitation for nominees will appear each year in the spring issue of the Historical Society's Old Schoolhouse Journal. Nominations must include the name and a brief written justification. A sub-committee of the Board will review the nominations and will submit the top three to the full board for selection. There may be up to two (2) honorees each year. A married couple may be selected as a single honoree. Any nominee must be a person(s) who contributed significantly to history of Twentynine Palms in one or more of the following ways and must be able to attend and participate in the Old Timer's Gathering:

  1. Wrote a historically accurate book about Twentynine Palms.
  2. Provided an Oral History of Twentynine Palms or environs.
  3. An artist who depicts the cultural or natural history of Twentynine Palms
  4. Provided for the enhancement of the youth of Twentynine Palms through school, sports, and civic, social or church activities.
  5. Contributed to the history or betterment of Twentynine Palms.
  6. Lived in Twentynine Palms prior to 1960 or has been a resident for more than 30 years.

If you wish to nominate an unsung hero as an Old Timer of the Year, please submit your nomination prior to August 31st each year to the Twentynine Palms Historical Society.

  1. The honoree(s) will be announced at the kickoff event for Pioneer Days and will be presented and feted at the Historical Society's Old Timer's Gathering.
  2. They will ride in the Pioneer Days parade in the restored Johnny Hastie Bus, "Old Betsy".
  3. An article recognizing their contributions to the community will be submitted to the Desert Trail and to Historical Society Journal.
  4. The honoree(s) will receive a 1 year paid membership in the Twentynine Palms Historical Society and will have a brick purchased and laid inscribed with their name and "Old Timer of the Year 20XX."
  5. A perpetual plaque and photo of the Old Timer(s) will on display in the Old Schoolhouse Museum.

2016 Old Timer of the Year honorees
Dave Brownell - Walt & Velma Holland - Ted Vick

David A. Brownell
David Brownell

Dave Brownell was only 19 years old when he came to Twentynine Palms in 1953 to begin his career in education as a fifth-grade teacher. 1953 was the last year classes were held in the Old Schoolhouse. In 1954, the new Twentynine Palms Elementary School opened where Dave continued teaching fifth grade. Dave had a deep connection to his students, not only as a teacher but as mentor and friend. A young man of many talents, Dave built his home here by hand, a house that still stands today and is the beloved home of Cheryl Erickson.

He left the desert in 1956 and taught in Cucamonga for several years and then moved on to the Coast Community College System. He ultimately became chancellor in 1984 and successfully guided the 60,000-student multi-campus system through very difficult financial times. He retired in 1988 but has kept active in education as an Educational Consultant and serving as the interim president of Prairie State College. He also enjoys owning and racing quarter horses at Del Mar with the Pacific Coast Racing Association.

Though his time here was short, David Brownell made a profound and lasting impact on his students' lives, inspiring several become successful teachers themselves. Many of his former students wrote to the Twentynine Palms Historical Society about their fond memories of their beloved fifth-grade teacher. He remains in contact with some of his early Twentynine Palms students and fellow teachers.

Walter and Velma Holland
Velma and Walt Holland

The Hollands arrived in Twentynine Palms in 1958 and were employed by the then Victor Valley High School District at Twentynine Palms High School. Walter taught Social Studies and Driver's Education; Velma was the library clerk. Walter also was the Athletic Director and Student Activities Director.

In 1963, Walter became the vice principal of TPHS and in 1971 assumed the duties of vice principal at Twentynine Palms Intermediate School, today's junior high school. Velma became the head librarian at TPHS, where she taught Library Science to hundreds of students. Many years later this writer can still use the Dewey Decimal System.

Walter left the field of education in 1975 to pursue a career as a local Realtor. He was very involved with the Realtors Association and its charitable fundraising and causes. Walter donated his cooking skills for the association's barbecue events at Smith's Ranch. Walter was a member of the Lions Club for many years, and served two terms as president.

Velma retired from TPHS in 1994. She has been a long-time member of the California Retired Teachers Association and has served as its president. The Hollands have been active members of the Twentynine Palms Historical Society since the early days. Velma served as secretary of the Board of Directors. When the society was raising funds to move the Old Schoolhouse to its present location, they were active participants with Walter again donating his culinary skills at barbecues and other events.

After the successful move of the schoolhouse, Velma became the librarian for the historical society, spending hours each week cataloging and organizing donated books and literature. Velma continues in that position today and volunteers as a docent at the museum. She has been an enthusiastic entrant in the annual Weed Show every year since arriving in Twentynine Palms. The Hollands have been members of Little Church of the Desert and are still active in church activities.

As teachers and contributing members of the community, the Hollands activities have greatly impacted the lives of their students and inspired them to pursue their dreams.

Dr. Ted Vick
Ted Vick

Ted Vick arrived in Twentynine Palms during the early 1940s. His father had taken work with the Glider Academy at Condor Field. In true pioneer fashion, his family lived in a small cabin on Mesquite Springs Road that had a well but lacked electricity.

Ted began school here as an eighth-grade student in the original three-room school house. He completed the ninth and 10th grades at the new Twentynine Palms High School. His family had to leave the desert when the Glider Academy closed at the end of World War II. Relocating to San Bernardino, Ted completed high school there, and then graduated from U.C. Santa Barbara. He married his lifelong friend and love, Earlene, and began his career in teaching.

In 1952, Ted was hired to teach in Twentynine Palms in the same three-room building where he had been a student years before. In addition to his teaching duties, Ted served as the vice principal. His dedication to his students and strong but fair discipline garnered the respect and affection of his students. His crewcut and distinctive voice, as two former female students reminisced; had many of the eighth-grade girls "totally in love" with him. The Vicks had two children born at the Thomas H. Ince Memorial Hospital on Adobe Road. They were active in the greater community, and were greatly involved with the youth programs at Little Church of the Desert.

Ted and family left the desert in 1956 and returned to the city where he continued teaching while obtaining his master's degree from the University of Redlands and ultimately his doctorate from U. C. Riverside. He spent his entire career as a teacher and administrator and also served on the San Bernardino County Board of education for 20 years.

Ted's ability to greatly impact the lives and inspire not only his students in Twentynine Palms but those in every community he served is remarkable. Ted and Earlene return "home" to Twentynine Palms often to attend Pioneer Days, meet with former students and attend the Old Timers Gathering at the Old Schoolhouse Museum.

It is with great pleasure that the Twentynine Palms Historical Society honors Dr. Ted Vick as an Old Timer of the Year for 2016.

2015 Old Timer of the Year honorees
Bob and Edie Carter

Bob and Edie Carter

Based on their quiet contributions to the community over many years, the Twentynine Palms Historical Society has selected Bob and Edie Carter as this year's Old Timers of the Year.

Bob was a toddler when he and his family moved to Twentynine Palms in 1949. He attended school here and graduated with the Twentynine Palms High School class of 1964. After the death of his father in 1969 Bob took over the family business, Carter's Cleaners. Bob and Edie operated the cleaners until 1991. From 1987 to 1999 Bob and Edie also operated Cottonwood Camping. Throughout their years in business the Carters continuously sponsored the high school band, A.S.B., and local sports teams.

Bob served as a volunteer fire fighter for nine years and was Captain of the Twentynine Palms Fire Department.

Edie served on the board of the Twentynine Palms Water District for twenty years and was a teacher with Morongo Unified School District. In 2010 she was named teacher of the month by the Twentynine Palms Rotary Club and was Oasis Elementary School teacher of the year in 2011.

Both Bob and Edie were actively involved in the beginnings of the High Desert Medical Center and the Theater in Joshua Tree. They were founding members of the Twentynine Palms Historical Society and Edie wrote and filed the Society's incorporation papers. Bob built many of the early displays and display cases for the museum and recently the Hastie Bus Exhibit building. Both have served on the board for several years and remain active in the Society.

The Carters have, in their quiet unheralded ways, contributed greatly to youth and betterment of the community of Twentynine Palms. We are proud to present them as our 2015 Old Timers of the Year.

2014 Old Timer of the Year honorees
Marilyn Fernald - Bruce Arnett - Nolan Lockwood

Marilyn Fernald and Bruce Arnett
Bruce Arnett and Marilyn Fernald

Marilyn Fernald first came here in 1948 as a 13-year-old with her family. The Fernalds returned to Twentynine Palms for good in 1952. Marilyn attended her first year of high school at the small three-room school that is now the Old Schoolhouse Museum. She graduated from Banning High School and while attending school in Banning she often rode "Old Betsy", the recently restored Johnny Hastie Bus. After returning to Twentynine Palms, she, along with her parents Herm and Marie, built a commercial building on the family property on Didsbury Rd. From this building they ran the "A & F Swap Shop". Marilyn worked at Hoffman's Refrigeration and Brooks Jewelers. She owned a jewelry store in Yucca Valley and also managed and kept books for Arnett Sporting Goods. She was a dedicated "room mother" for all of her children during elementary school and was the costume designer for TPHS "Europe '74", a program where members of the music department and choral groups traveled to Europe and performed during the summer of '74. Marilyn has been involved with the Historical Society for many years and currently serves as our display curator. She is a well-known local artist and has donated many of her works to the Society for fundraisers. Marilyn volunteers for many projects of the Society and for many years helped put on the Weed Show. In the mid 1950s Marilyn married Bruce Arnett and had three children, daughters Terry and Dana and son Keith. Three generations of the Fernald family have attended Twentynine Palms High School and four generations have made their home here.

Bruce Arnett arrived in 1947 as a recent graduate of San Bernardino High to help his father, Bruce Sr., build a commercial building on Adobe Road (most recently it was the Stumps Bar and Grill). In 1948 Bruce, along with his brother Leslie and cousin Jimmy, opened Arnett Feed and Fuel at the Skeleton Ranch on North Adobe Road. He also operated a trucking company with his cousin Jimmy in Yucaipa. Bruce continued to help his father build cabins and commercial buildings in the Morongo Basin. He built the first snack bar in Luckie Park in support of youth sports. Bruce was one of the first resident California Highway Patrolman in the area and later served as the first full-time San Bernardino County Deputy Coroner. He also ran one of the first local mail routes. Bruce later owned and operated Arnett Sporting Goods and was a cofounder of the Twentynine Palms Coaches Association. The Coaches Association conducted all organized youth sports in Twentynine Palms until the creation of the Park and Recreation District. Bruce served as the Association's president and volunteered as a referee/official for many years. He has been involved with the Historical Society for many years and volunteers for almost every event, fundraiser and work party the Society conducts. Bruce was also a member of the Kiwanis for many years.

Nolan Lockwood
Nolan Lockwood

Nolan Lockwood graduated from Yucaipa High School and Redlands University, then accepted a teaching position at Twentynine Palms High School for the 1961-62 school year. He was a gifted math teacher who consistently found innovative ways to connect with his students. During his 37 years at TPHS, Nolan invested thousands of hours as the faculty advisor to the Associated Student Body and Student Council. He spent uncountable hours assisting and supervising ASB and Student Council activities and fundraisers. Inspired by his dedication, many ASB'ers continued in community service throughout their lives. Many former students have said they would never have survived math without Mr. Lockwood's help and dedication. After retiring in 1998, Nolan became involved with the Morongo Retired Teachers Association and currently serves as its president. Nolan is a driving force for the Retired Teachers Association Scholarship Program. He also became a volunteer with the Twentynine Palms Historical Society and serves as our treasurer. His skills, attention to detail and financial acumen have contributed greatly to the continued success of the Society. Nolan continues to show his dedication by participating in nearly every Historical Society event, work party and fundraiser.

All of our 2014 Old Timers of the Year Honorees have, in their quiet unheralded ways, contributed greatly to youth and betterment of the community of Twentynine Palms. We are proud to present them as our inaugural Old Timers of the Year.

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