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CARE Member Contributions to The Next Thirty Years

A Tribute to Barbara Mertes
Transcript reproduced with the permission of Art Tenbrink
Chabot College

Following is a transcript of the tribute prepared by Art Tenbrink for presentation at the September 27, 2015 Celebration of Life honoring Barbara F. Mertes, who died on September 4, 2015. These remarks are presented here by the History Project Editor with permission from Mr. Tenbrink:

Good afternoon… I am Art Tenbrink, LPC counselor emeritus, and Vice- President of CARE, the Chabot-Las Positas Association of Retired Employees.

I first saw Dr. Mertes in the early ‘70’s where she stood with Reed Buffington and other pioneer educators on a decked-out-flatbed-trailer parked in a windy field right about here. What she spoke that day rang thru these hills and settled in a vision of a new Valley Campus of Chabot College. She implored us gathered there, to carry this vision forward thru the passage of Bond initiatives. Though the Bonds did not pass, the vision held and gained momentum. In the face of uncertain times, Valley Campus opened under her Deanship in 1975. As with most pioneers, no mere hard times could constrain her desire to grow a college to serve the Valley. It took Dean Mertes but half a decade to secure needed resources, to hire enough eager faculty, to innovate new campus programs including auto, electronics, horticulture, and her great love, performing arts.

Hired that fall in 1980, I, too, hit the ground running as a new Counseling faculty charged to develop another branch of her vision, an Early Admissions Program for all valley high school seniors. Under her bold leadership and our collaborative outreach, over the next decade nearly one-in-three local high school graduates chose to start college here! Growth in enrollment, reputation and stature caused the campus to be designated an independent college in 1988. The rest as you are hearing today is not just history, but her story, an unflappable engagement with faculty, staff and students, her friends, her community, her home.

Ah, yes, her roots reached deep into this soil. And her creative influence spread wide beyond this valley. As she fondly quoted Will Rogers in her PBS tele-play COWBOY: “Believe in something for another world, but don’t be too set on what it is, and you won’t start that life with a disappointment.”

With today’s glance back over the great accomplishments of this great western lady, and as I look out over all gathered here now, I see no disappointment. Rather let our visions match those Owen Wister immortalized, in one of Barbara’s favorite novels, The Virginian. "This is how I have dreamed it would happen. Only it is better than my dreams. ..."
And we in CARE could not have dreamed of a better friend to have stood so long and faithfully with us in her support of all needs emeritus. We miss you Barbara, and we wish (sing) Happy Trails to you, until we meet again.

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