A Tribute to Barbara Mertes
Transcript reproduced with the permission of Art Tenbrink
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. ..."
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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