PIONEERS AND HEROES

first_imgNathaniel Narbonne High School, Harbor City: Shortly after settling in the area in 1852, Nathaniel Narbonne bought 3,000 acres along Western Avenue in present-day Lomita and Harbor City, reaching south to Peck Park in San Pedro for 171/2 cents an acre. He worked for Phineas Banning as a clerk and raised sheep on the land. He formed the Narbonne Ranch Water Co., the first supplier of water to the Lomita area. He died in 1881, three days before his 54th birthday, while fighting a fire in his wheat field. Billy Mitchell Elementary School, Lawndale: Born in Milwaukee to French parents in 1879, Billy Mitchell later enlisted in the Wisconsin infantry for the Spanish-American War. As an air commander in World War I, Mitchell led a bombing attack in the Ardennes Forest in September 1918. After the war, Mitchell criticized the Navy Department, calling for the creation of a separate Air Force branch. He was demoted in 1925, then accused the Navy of “incompetency, criminal negligence” and treason. He was court marshaled. A decade after his 1936 death, the chief of staff of the newly created Air Force awarded him a congressional medal. Dolores Huerta Elementary School, Lennox: Dolores Huerta was born in New Mexico in 1930, but raised in Stockton by her single mother. As a union organizer for migrant workers in the 1960s, she met Cesar Chavez and helped form the union eventually known as United Farm Workers. From 1968 to 1969, she coordinated an East Coast boycott of table grapes. She had 11 children, including four with Cesar Chavez’s brother Richard. She is currently secretary-treasurer emeritus of the UFW. Bert Lynn Middle School, Torrance: After graduating from Alfred University in New York with a ceramic engineering degree, Bert Lynn served in the Navy during World War II. He ran Lynn Brick Works. As an activist in 1960, he helped defeat Torrance Unified’s first school modernization bond measure. A year later he was elected to the Board of Education and served there until 1972, clashing often during his tenure with Superintendent J.H. Hull. He died of cancer in 1972. Opal Robinson Elementary School, Manhattan Beach: In 1926, Opal Robinson started teaching third grade before she was named principal at Grand View Elementary. She organized the local PTA in 1933. In the 1940s and 1950s, Robinson served in several administrative positions, before retiring in 1959 as the educational services administrator. In 1955, Morningside School was renamed in her honor. She was active in various community groups until her death in 1988. Phineas Banning High School, Wilmington: Known as the father of the Port of Los Angeles, Phineas Banning drove a stagecoach in San Pedro before starting his own staging business. In the 1850s, Banning and investors purchased the area of Wilmington for port expansion, naming it after the Delaware town of Banning’s birth. He served in the state Senate in the 1870s. On a business trip to San Francisco, Banning was struck by a street car and, in 1885, died from his injuries. Zela Davis Elementary School, Hawthorne: Davis started teaching in the Hawthorne School District in 1923. Four years later, she became the first female principal when she took over Williams School (later consolidated with Davis Elementary). She retired in 1964. Less than a year later, the district named the school after her. She died in 1984 in Torrance. Bud Carson Middle School, Hawthorne: Carson taught physical education in the Hawthorne School District for 44 years, beginning at Hawthorne Middle School and then transferring to Yukon Intermediate in 1967. The school was renamed in his honor in 2005. Alice McLellan Birney Elementary School, Redondo Beach: Birney was a founder of the first nationwide Parent Teacher Association. Birney joined with Phoebe Apperson Hearst to form the National Congress of Mothers in Washington, D.C., in 1897. She contributed articles about child-rearing to The Delineator magazine. She died in 1907. Andrew Carnegie Middle School, Carson: The Scottish industrialist and steel baron from Pittsburgh built one of the most powerful and influential corporations in U.S. history, U.S. Steel. He later gave away most of his riches (a philanthropic attitude explored in his essay Gospel of Wealth) to fund libraries, schools and universities. He died in 1919. paul.clinton@dailybreeze.com 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! By Paul Clinton STAFF WRITER Their names appear on school marquees, student report cards and principals’ letterheads. They range from a World War I aviator to the father of the Port of Los Angeles, and from a Harbor City rancher to a labor activist. They have nothing in common except for the fact that South Bay and Harbor Area public schools were named in their honor. Here are some the stories behind the familiar names: last_img

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