Distinguished Kearny Komets Hall of Fame Inductees
John graduated from Kearny in 1967. John was drafted into the Army in 1969. He was a Specialist Four with Company D of the 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division. On February 10th, 1970 in Phuoc Long Province, John’s life would change. His lead platoon had been ambushed. John led his team through intense fire in an effort to reach his ambushed colleagues. Upon reaching them, a grenade was thrown into their surroundings. John covered it with his helmet and then his body in an effort to save his fellow soldiers. For his bravery, he was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Richard M. Nixon. He also received the Silver Star, Bronze Star, and Purple Heart. John currently resides in Julian and is active in issues concerning Viet Nam Vets and the homeless.
Coach Bates not only graduated from Kearny in 1947, but was a member of the Komet Faculty during his teaching career that spanned the years 1959 to 1965. In 2006, the San Diego Hall of Champions recognized Coach Bates with his induction into their hall of fame as a coaching legend. He is credited with being one of the co-founders of the Alumni Association.
Coach Barnett taught at Kearny from 1968 until his retirement in 2000. He taught wood shop and coached football with Birt Slater. Upon Coach Slater’s retirement, Coach Barnett took over as head football coach and continued Kearny’s winning years. He was also a wrestling coach. He retired as Kearny’s Athletic Director. The Alumni Association’s scholarship is named after Coach Barnett.
Ed graduated in 1958. He is considered by many the finest athlete to come from Kearny. When Ed graduated there was no American Football League and only eight NFL teams. Facing racial issues, Ed went to Canada to continue his football career with the Canadian Football League. He played nine seasons in the Canadian Football League for three different teams and holds records for the longest average carry over a season. He was a CFL All Star in 1964 and was part of the Saskatchewan Roughriders 1966 Grey Cup winning team. In the future, Ed will be inducted into the Canadian Football League’s Hall of Fame. On August 31, 1991, at the age of 51, Ed succumbed to Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Cleavon graduated in 1957. While at Kearny, he played on the same football team with Ed Buchanan. Cleavon was an American film and theatre actor. Initially he attended college at San Diego City College and then San Diego State University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in dramatic arts. After receiving a full scholarship to The Juilliard School, he moved to New York. After completing his studies at Juilliard, Cleavon trained at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He beat out Richard Pryor for the lead role as Bart in the 1974 Mel Brooks comedy Blazing Saddles. Cleavon passed away in 1992.
Award winning journalist Harold Greene covered the news in Southern California for over forty years. He reported on the stories that shaped our lives: riots, earthquakes, floods, wildfires, guns in schools, gang violence, the homeless, illegal immigration, and all things political. He did just about every job in the television news business very successfully. He went from cameraman/street reporter at KFMB in San Diego, to news writer, newscast producer, managing editor, station news director, and then co-anchor of top rated newscasts in Los Angeles at KABC and KCBS. Among his honors are eight Emmy Awards, twelve Golden Mike Awards, and his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Harold graduated from Kearny in 1961. He was active in football, baseball, drama, and ROTC (cadet captain). He attended San Diego State University and served in the US Army. He is married to his high school sweetheart, Chuckie Cook.
Ron graduated in 1960. He attended San Diego State University and UC Berkeley where he earned his Master’s Degree in Architecture. After twenty years in architecture, Ron left the private sector for the opportunity to serve the people of San Diego. In 1987, he was elected to the San Diego City Council and served two terms. In 1994, Ron was elected to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. This past November after a tireless campaign, Ron was re-elected by the voters to continue with the board of supervisors and started his fifth term in January 2011.
Alan graduated from Kearny in 1976 excelling in both basketball and baseball. Alan started his major league baseball career as shortstop with the Detroit Tigers in 1977. His entire playing career was with the Tigers. He made the all star selection six times; was a member of the 1984 World Series Championship team; won the Gold Glove Award four times; Silver Slugger Award winner three times; was voted the MVP in the 1984 World Series and in 1983 was the American League Comeback Player of the Year. From 2000 to 2002, Alan was the first base coach with the San Diego Padres. “Tram” managed the Tigers from 2002 to 2005. In 2007, Alan was bench coach for the Chicago Cubs. He is currently the bench coach with the Arizona Diamondbacks. In 2003, Kearny’s Baseball Field was renamed. It is now known as Jack Taylor Diamond at Alan Trammell Field.
Coach Slater started his career at Kearny in 1959, retiring in 1977. He taught history and coached track and football. As the head football coach, his teams won more games in the 60’s and 70’s than any other San Diego city school. He designed the striped jerseys which are still worn today. After he retired from teaching, he became a member of the San Diego Chargers coaching staff. In 1999, Coach Slater was inducted into the San Diego Hall of Champions as a Legendary Coach. Kearny’s football field bears his name. He, along with Coach Bates, founded the alumni association.
Erlene Evelyn Speck
Miss Speck dedicated her life to teaching English Literature. She was one of the original teachers at Kearny. She was an accomplished author publishing “Vagabond Vignettes” in 1958. The 1960 annual is dedicated to her. “Erlene Speck is recognized by the student body as an excellent English Literature teacher and as a fine, sensitive woman with much understanding for the young adult. Because for so many years Miss Speck has endeavored to make time for anyone desiring personal consultation, her desk is to many Kearny High students a virtual oasis. It has been said…”a thing of beauty is a joy forever.” Miss Speck passed away in December of 1987.
Coach Taylor taught math and health education during his tenure at Kearny. He is perhaps best known for his prowess as a baseball coach as is evidenced by his many winning seasons. In 1999, he was inducted into the San Diego Hall of Champions as a Legendary Coach. Coach Taylor retired from teaching in 1982 due to illness which claimed his life in November of 1983. At the suggestion of several coaches and past players, Kearny’s Baseball Field was dedicated to Coach Taylor.
Mr. Ortiz was Kearny’s first director of the Komet marching band, orchestra, and “Instrumental Ensemble”, plus one of the eleven original teachers. In our eyes, his greatest achievement is the composition of our school’s Alma Mater.
Mr. “Z” started teaching at Kearny in 1945. At that time there was no music department. Mr. “Z” devoted his time developing Kearny’s first A’Cappella Choir, Mixed Chorus, and Girls and Boys Ensembles. He was described by faculty and students as “kind, loving, understanding, special, and great”. In 1976, Kearny’s 31st A’Cappella Choir honored Mr. “Z” by dedicating his choir room to him. After 31 years of conducting award winning choirs at Kearny, Mr. “Z” retired. He died in September of 1982