Tag Archives: centennial

Happy 100th Birthday

This is my 100th post.


Sonya Christian with Marian Sutliff at her 100th year celebration

This year, Bakersfield College is celebrating our 100th anniversary…but so is a special person here in Bakersfield. Marian Triplett, born in 1914 with twin sister Jeanne, turns 100 this year, and her granddaughter Cassie, emailed me to let me know the family was having a special celebration for Marian. It became a city-wide celebration as Bakersfield Mayor Harvey Hall stopped in to present a proclamation to Marian, and I stopped by for a chat and to give Marian Bakersfield College’s Centennial Book. With two quick phone calls, The Bakersfield Californian and KGET-TV 17 NBC knew of the celebration, and came to tell Marian’s story to the community.

On February 6, 1914, Marian Naomi was born prematurely at home, the second-born twin of her sister Jeanne. Marian was small and weak, and her color was not good. The doctor thought she would not live, but her father, James Triplett, gave her a reviving teaspoon of whiskey, and a box in the home oven served as her incubator. According to family lore, the story spread that “twin triplets” had been born. People came from miles around to their home in Fullerton, California, expecting to find six babies.

Marian and JeanneWhen Marian started school, she had trouble learning to read, and she repeated the first grade. Her father said, “No child of mine will wear glasses,” because he felt that wearing classes showed disability. However, her mother, Flossie Stalnaker, prevailed, and Marian finally got her glasses. She learned to read, and she loved it. As part of the “Library Class” at Whittier High School, Marian worked in the school library every day.

Marian attended “beauty college” after high school graduation. Her husband, Meryl Sutliff, had to drop out of college to help his mother after his father died. Even though neither Marian nor Meryl had been able to earn a college degree before they married and started their family, Marian always told her three children, “When you graduate from college…,” not “if.” She is proud that all three of her children have earned Master’s degrees.

After her children were raised and her husband had passed away, Marian earned a librarian assistant certificate from Bakersfield College. She had always wanted to work in a library, and “Marian the librarian” went to work at the Beale Memorial Library and volunteered at the Emerson Junior High School library. An annual award was established in Marian’s name to honor an enthusiastic student reader at Emerson.

Finances and family postponed Marian’s higher education, but her love of reading has never diminished. Marian returned to Bakersfield College in her 70s and earned her own college degree.  Now, at 100, she still reads the paper every day. Not bad for a baby who wasn’t expected to live and a girl who couldn’t learn to read!

Triplett Marian Naomi & Jeanne Mission S J Capistrano

Marian Triplett & Jeanne Triplett

Triplett Marian Naomi 1933 Front

Marian Naomi Triplett in 1933

Sutliff Meryl Worrell & Triplett Marian Naomi 1966 Front

Meryl Worrell Sutliff & Marian Naomi Triplett in1966

Marian Cassie and Sonya Feb 8 2014

Sonya Christian with Marian and her granddaughter Cassie Rogers

BC’s Centennial Gala. A Night to Remember!


Amber Chiang and Neeley Hatridge

“Mommy, you need to wash your eyes; they’re all red.” This was the observation noted by Neeley Hatridge’s 4-year-old son after one of many marathon planning sessions as part of the team who organized the 100th Anniversary Centennial Ball. Many long hours were spent dealing with every detail big and small – from how to turn a sports venue into a formal setting to ironing 400 napkins in the wee hours of the morning.

Neeley actually joined the team a little late, on the heels of a vacancy in the Foundation office. The 100th Anniversary committee headed by Dr. Bonnie Suderman and Amber Chiang, had been meeting for months; planning specific to the gala began in earnest in March of 2013. Amber Chiang, Marketing and Public Relations Director, and foundation employees Mike Stepanovich, Lisa Kent, and Debbie Zuech were part of the team that supported the magnificent event. Theme ideas sprang from starting with the school colors, then googling such topics as themed weddings, proms, and galas, looking for inspiration.

Although Neeley has experience in event planning, this was the first one she had attempted with a fund-raising element attached. For this part of the evening we had incredible support from Lauraine Cook and Ann Smart. The auction netted a profit of more than $22K. 437 tickets were sold and there were several table sponsorships.

Being able to borrow some decorations from her mother-in-law’s store, The French Quarter, also helped the event’s bottom line. Neeley’s mother-in-law, Julie Hatridge, attended interior decorating and design classes at Bakersfield College over twenty years ago, and has since opened her own shop in the northwest.

Both Amber and Neeley were effusive in their comments about the support received from the staff and volunteers. Particularly essential to the event were facilities scheduler Tarina Perry, and custodial manager Ramon Puga, and their entire army of maintenance and operations crew who made the enormous task of transforming the gym a simple one. The coaching staff were gracious about relocating team practices so that the decorators could move in and transform the gym. Keeping the event secure was Bakersfield College’s team of Public Safety officers, who not only provided event security, but parking lot security as well as guests left for the evening.

For those who were there, and those who could not join us, the college has created a photo album online of images from this magical night.

Blog published on Jan 1, 2014 from Barnes and Nobles.

Jan 1 2014 at B&N

Sonya Christian at Barnes and Nobles on Jan 1, 2014

Celebrating 100 years: How BC Got Its Start


Students walk around the new Bakersfield College campus in spring 1956. When it rained, students had to walk on planks placed over the dirt because sidewalks had not been installed, said college archivist Jerry Ludeke.

In the current issue of Bakersfield Life magazine, there’s an article by local historian Ken Hooper on the development of Bakersfield College (Bakersfield Junior College) in the community to help students who wanted to transfer to University of California, Berkeley. In this, Bakersfield College’s centennial year, History: Growing up and and headed for college features the background on how the college got its start.

Check it out!