Written By: Sophie Stameson
On October 3, 2019, six Newport Harbor graduates and two former faculty were inducted into the Alumni Association’s Hall of Fame at a Homecoming week celebration attended by over 300 guests. This tradition began in 2014 to honor and recognize individuals who reflect Newport Harbor’s cherished values of citizenship and service to others. The list included chart-topping songwriters, record-setting athletes, award-winning architects, local leaders, inventors, as well as educators and philanthropists.
Alumni honorees included:
- The Honorable Selim Franklin (Class of 1947), lawyer and judge. Franklin earned degrees from Pomona College and Stanford Law School, practiced law in Costa Mesa and was a judge at Orange County Superior Court’s Harbor Justice Center for 20 years. He also served in the Army during the Korean War and retired as a captain. He taught real estate law and military history at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa and served on the Newport-Mesa Unified School District board.
- Bruce Penhall (Class of 1975), motorsports champion and actor. Penhall was a leading U.S. Speedway rider by age 16. He won Europe’s Master of Speedway (1979), back-to-back Speedway World Championships (1981-82) and 1981 World Pairs and 1982 World Team Cup titles. After retiring from Speedway in 1982, he became an actor, notably starring as Cadet/Officer Bruce Nelson on “CHiPs.” He also was a color commentator for ABC’s “Wide World of Sports.”
- Rolly Pulaski (Class of 1953), architect. Pulaski attended USC on a football scholarship to study architecture. He founded a firm in Newport Beach in 1964 and designed diverse public and private projects for more than four decades. Pulaski also served on Newport’s parks and recreation commission, Costa Mesa’s Special Land Use Task Force and the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce, taught at Santa Ana College and co-founded Newport Mesa Pop Warner football.
- Sharon Sheeley (Class of 1957), songwriter. Sheeley wrote songs for Ricky Nelson, Eddie Cochran, Ritchie Valens and Brenda Lee, among others. She wrote “Poor Little Fool” while still in high school, and the song became Nelson’s first No. 1 hit. In the early 1960s, Sheeley partnered with Jackie DeShannon to form the first female songwriting duo, and with then-husband Jimmy O’Neill, a Los Angeles DJ, she contributed to the musical variety show “Shindig!” for ABC from 1964 to 1966. Sheeley died in 2002.
- Suzanne Shriner (Class of 1985), environmental engineer,activist and athlete. Shriner played basketball, soccer and club water polo at Claremont McKenna College and water polo on the women’s senior national team. She also worked for her family’s coffee farm in Hawaii. She co-authored scientific papers and raised funds to combat the destructive coffee berry borer beetle, which she was the first to raise awareness about. This year, she traveled to Puerto Rico to help its coffee industry recovery from Hurricane Maria.
- Hal Smith (Class of 1944), inventor. Smith won an honorable mention in the nationwide Westinghouse Science Talent Search while in high school and served as an electronics technician for the Navy during World War II before attending Pomona College. Along with his brother Mike, Smith co-founded Orthodyne Electronics in 1962. Its specialty was ultrasonic wedge bonders for semiconductors, which set the international standard for consumer goods, industrial electronics and hybrid electric vehicles.
Faculty honorees included:
- Jules Gage, athletic director, 1949-58 and 1967-83. Gage, a World War II Navy veteran and an alumnus of UC Santa Barbara and Chapman University, got his first job at Newport Harbor as an assistant football coach in 1949. He became basketball coach in 1952, leading the Sailors to five consecutive winning seasons and three Sunset League championships. He stepped away to set up the athletic and physical education classes at the then-new Costa Mesa High School before returning to Newport Harbor as athletic director in 1967. Gage died in 2012.
- Mary Lyons, English teacher, 1965-82. Lyons, a USC graduate, designed popular literature courses outside the regular curriculum, including a science fiction class. She was friends with author Ray Bradbury and persuaded him to speak at Newport Harbor. Lyons also sang with the Pacific Chorale for 40 years and helped found its nationally recognized academy, among other artistic endeavors. She led Arts Orange County’s Imagination Celebration and the Lyons Share Foundation. She and her husband were declared the 2010 Orange County Philanthropists of the Year by the Assn. of Fundraising Professionals.