Modesto High will induct seven grads into Hall of Fame. One directed ‘Green Acres’

Modesto High School will add seven alumni to its Hall of Fame, including a Hollywood director, a Broadway performer and a creator of hot-rod cars.

Reservations are due Friday, Feb. 15, for the Feb. 23 induction dinner at the Modesto Elks Lodge. The school started the Hall of Fame in 1983, the centennial of its 1883 founding.

The only deceased inductee this year is Richard Bare, a longtime film and television director perhaps best known for “Green Acres.” The other inductees are Jeremy Stolle from Broadway, hot-rod legend Gene Winfield, veterinarian Charles (Tony) Buffington, educator Joseph DeWees, athlete and accountant Dick Jarvis, and sports notable Don Adams.

All five plan to attend, Diana Scott of the event committee said. It provided these details on all of the inductees:

Richard Bare

This Class of 1931 graduate helped start the Cinema Arts Club at Modesto High, where he created a short western called “West of the Rio Grande.” He went on to the film school at the University of Southern California.

Bare’s first professional work was a 1942 comedy short about a man named Joe McDoakes who was trying to quit smoking. More than 60 shorts with the same character followed over the next decade. Bare also served in the Army Air Force’s motion picture unit.

He mainly worked in TV from the mid-1950s on. He is credited with discovering actor James Garner and directed him in several episodes of “Maverick.” Bare won a Directors Guild of America award for a 1959 episode of “77 Sunset Strip.” He directed dozens of other movies and TV shows, including almost all episodes of “Green Acres,” a sitcom from 1966 to 1971 about a Manhattan couple on a farm.

Bare died in Newport Beach in 2015. He was 101.

Joseph DeWees

This member of the Class of 1943 served in the Navy in World War II and went on to a 32-year career with Modesto City Schools.

DeWees was a radioman from 1944 to 1946. Late in the war, he took part in the successful invasion of the island of Cebu in the Philippines. He later trained Filipino sailors on radar, sonar and radio equipment.

DeWees talked about the conflict in a Modesto Bee story last Dec. 7.

After the war, he attended Modesto Junior College, where he was a middleweight on a boxing team that won the Northern California title. He continued with studies that led eventually to a doctorate in education, with a specialty in reading, from the University of Northern Colorado.

DeWees taught elementary school in Modesto for 10 years, then was a principal at that level for seven years and a central office administrator for 15.

Gene Winfield

This member of the Class of 1945 was a pioneer in creating the custom cars later celebrated in “America Graffiti,” the 1973 film by Downey High graduate George Lucas.

Winfield started this work in a chicken coop that he converted into a garage at his home on Figaro Avenue in west Modesto. He later set up shop on Tully Road across from MJC.

In the late, 1940s, Winfield founded the Century Toppers Race Club with friends who enjoyed driving faster than 100 miles per hour. He also served in both the Army and Navy.

Winfield crafted cars for TV shows such as “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” and “Get Smart” and spaceships for “Star Trek.” He worked with Detroit automakers to add custom touches to vehicles such as the Econoline van and Mercury Comet.

Don Adams

The 1954 graduate lettered in football and boxing at Modesto High and was an area champion boxer in 1952 and 1953. He went on to play football at Cal Poly for two years before entering the Army.

Adams was East Coast boxing champion for the Army and qualified as a middleweight for the 1960 Olympics. But his athletic career ended when, having returned to Cal Poly football, he was injured in the crash of the team plane in Toledo, Ohio. The crash killed 22 people. Adams pulled several survivors to safety.

He earned a master’s degree in education at Cal Poly and in 1967 returned to teach and coach at Modesto High. He won two titles in football and one in wrestling.

A 1984 stroke forced Adams to retire, but he remains a “gentleman farmer” and active supporter of local sports and his college.

Dick Jarvis

This member of the Class of 1947 played halfback and linebacker on Modesto High football teams that won Northern California championships in 1944 and 1945. The Panthers lost in the 1946 title game. Jarvis also played baseball, basketball and track and field in high school.

He went on to play quarterback and linebacker at St. Mary’s College in Moraga from 1948 to 1950. He earned an accounting degree and went to work for Ernst & Ernst in San Francisco.

Jarvis joined Pacific Telephone in 1955 and worked in San Jose, Sacramento, Chico and San Francisco over a 28-year tenure. He retired as an area manager for Pacific Bell.

Charles (Tony) Buffington

This 1968 alumnus spent four years in the Coast Guard, then began studies at the University of California at Davis that led to a veterinary degree and a doctorate in nutrition.

Buffington joined the faculty at Ohio State University in 1987 and focused his research on bladder diseases in domestic cats. His work included study of similar issues with human bladders.

He retired from Ohio State in 2015 but continues this research at UC Davis.

Jeremy Stolle

This member of the Class of 1994 attended MJC and got a degree in vocal performance at UC Irvine. He helped out at theater productions at Modesto and Johansen high schools before moving in 2002 to New York.

In 2007, Stolle became a permanent member of the Broadway cast of “Phantom of the Opera.” He has been understudy for the title role and performed it many times on stage.

Stolle’s other Broadway credits include “Hunchback of Notre Dame,” “A Tale of Two Cities,” “Carousel,” “Brigadoon,” “The Scarlet Pimpernel,” “Jekyll and Hyde,” “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and “Beauty and the Beast.”

Stolle tours the world with a band, The Unreachable Stars, and has returned to Modesto at times to perform with locals at the Gallo Center for the Arts. His TV acting credits include “As the World Turns,” “All My Children” and “Rescue Me.”

The Hall of Fame induction will start at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 23 at the Modesto Elks Lodge, 645 Charity Way. The $45 tickets can be purchased with checks payable to MHS Hall of Fame Committee, 18 H St., Modesto 95351. For more information, call the school at 209-574-1776.

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