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Four Elegant Ladies
From top down: Mrs, Becker, Mrs. Reiner, Mrs, Smith and Mrs, Vinson,


In our day,  Sunny Hills High School was outstanding in so many ways, and one of first attributes was out faculty. Among those teachers and coaches, one group stands out in my memory.


Each of us remembers a favorite teacher, and for many of us, four ladies were unforgettable. Certainly Mrs. Julie Ritner Simpson has her champions, myself included.  No less a memorable teacher as Mrs. Maxine Randol;h Another was Mrs, Frances Obler, now about 96 years old. Surely Mr. Traylor and General Bayler will always live in our memories, and the same si true for Miss Ruth Ellwell and Mrs. Evelyn Root, one of my personal  favorites.


The lovely Mrs. Matgo Stuart is an Orange County resident. No Sunny Hills teachers are more beloved than Mr. Russell Hawk and Mr. Wayne Payne. Almis every Sunny Hills teacher touched some of our hearts: Mr. Jikm Bailey, Mr. Ray Vaughan, Mrs. Twila Tate, Mr. Robert Linn, Mr. Gerald Sayers, Mr. J.B. Ferzacca, and all of them.


Yet one group of four teachers had a unique quality of grace and refinement that made them singular, at least in my opinion. Many others have agreed. 


Mrs. Helen Becker, ?1920?-1980 taught French and bright a genteel, elegant, cosmopolitan nature to our hillside high school. There are dozens of Lancer women who remember her lovingly to this day.


Mrs. Joan Reiner Wilson, 1930-2013 taught American history, and she was was the first intellectual I ever met. A native of New York City and a Barnard College alumna, she was a brilliant, kind woman with a profoundly compassionate nature. I think of her often. 


Mrs. June Smith taught English, and I never had the pleasure of meeting her. Of course her husband was the legendary Jimmy Smith. My mom was one of his classmates at FJC and at USC: she assured me he was “a handsome dog”! Ha ha. Although Mrs. Smith is somewhat younger than these other ladies, she belongs in this rarefied group.


Finally, Mrs. Louise Vinson taught economics. Do you remember her auburn hair? She was a considerable beauty in the manner of Deborah Kerr, let’s say. I still recall her quiet, genteel manner and the gentility of her personality.


In this age of unlimited license where almost everyone wears blue jeans 24/7 - or so it seems — I hesitate to say these four ladies were wonderful role models for the teenaged girls of 1960s Sunny Hills High School. Who really knows?


But that's what I think!


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Monday, May 30, 2022