Tracing Tracy Territory: An appropriate time to stick with West name
by Sam Matthews / TP publisher emeritus
Feb 18, 2011 | 2296 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I’ve received a number of comments from readers about last week’s column. Many had never heard of the late Dr. Joseph S. West, the driving force for establishing what is now Tracy Unified School District in 1912.

One responder was Bill Swenson, the TUSD trustee and former basketball coach and vice principal at Tracy High School. He agrees that the building that has replaced the original Tracy High building should continue to be called the West Building.

The original building, completed in 1917, became known as the West Building because of its location on the west side of the Tracy High campus. The naming came after other classroom buildings were constructed on the campus in the 1950s and 1970s.

Since the 100th birthday of the founding of what originally was called the West Side Union High School District will be next year, that certainly would be an appropriate time to officially name the new building (with the same mission-revival façade as the original) for Dr. Joseph S. West.

Of course, this discussion begs the question about the names for other buildings on the Tracy High campus. The A, C, D (and future B) designations may be appropriate in identifying rooms in the buildings, but the alphabet names have little meaning themselves.

After all, the tradition of naming of the buildings for individuals who have contributed to Tracy High School over the years has already been well established. The Joe E. Foster Music Center is named for the former Tracy High band director. And yes, Joe is alive and well and living in Carson City, Nev., The football stadium is now Wayne Schneider Stadium for the Tracy High coach of yesteryear.

And we shouldn’t forget the main gym at Tracy High is Swenson Gym, named for Bill.

Two top Tracyites

Tonight, at the annual Tracy Chamber of Commerce Gala at the Grand Theatre Center for the Arts, Darlene Quinn and Jim Meservy will receive recognition as Tracy’s Citizens of the Year.

I can’t think of two Tracyites who deserve more to be honored in this way.

Darlene has been glue that has kept Tracy Interfaith Ministries together and thriving for a number of years. Interfaith Ministries is a model of what a community safety-net operation should be.

And Jim — I call him “Misery” — just keeps on contributing to Tracy. His involvement with activities of the Tracy Breakfast Lions Club and the Tracy Elks Lodge, especially when it comes to preparing and serving food at venues ranging from dinners to high school football games, has been a long-term and continuing commitment. And I also know of the assistance he has provided, in his quiet way, to the special needs of a number of friends over the years.

Larry’s mentor

In talking recently to Larry Benson about his upcoming year as president of the Tracy Chamber of Commerce, I asked him how a guy who spent so many years in the auto-manufacturing business got into the insurance field.

“My wife, Debra, has had 30 years experience in insurance, and she has guided me in the ins and out of insurance,” Larry said. “After those years in corporate management, it’s rewarding to be in a business serving individuals and their families.”

• Sam Matthews, Tracy Press publisher emeritus, can be reached at 830-4234 or by e-mail at

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