Monday, October 22, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 33

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on February 23rd, 2012, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 12, Issue 50 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 12, Issue 50

Hobnobbing With Helen


If you bought a $60 ticket to the 10th annual Mardi Gras dinner, dance, and auction held by St. Mary of the Assumption School, you automatically had a chance to win a 19-inch flatscreen TV.

“We always have a door prize,” volunteered über-volunteer Denise Gannt, one of three moms who started St. Mary’s Mardi Gras 10 years ago.

Principal of St. Mary’s School, Michelle Cox, attended the school’s annual fundraiser on Feb. 18 at the Radisson Hotel with her husband Lee.

About 200 school supporters showed up for the event held on Saturday evening, Feb. 18, at the Radisson Hotel.

Everyone is sad that the popular Father Riz Carranza, pastor at St. Mary’s Church, will be leaving the area this summer. Despite this, the evening was one of revelry. Among the 200 guests were St. Mary’s alum Jim Glines, who, of course, conducted the live 

auction; Ed and Lisa Murray; and Henry and Beverly Grennan.

Former St. Mary’s principal Carmen Vidillo wouldn’t have missed this for anything. She arrived with husband Judge Art Garcia.

Clare Fox Sheehy and her brother Brian Sheehy were on hand to admire the handiwork of Brian’s daughter and son-in-law Amanda and Jason Ramirez. The Ramirezes made a wonderful table out of a wine barrel and donated it with four benches for the live auction.

The Mardi Gras event is the school’s largest fundraiser.

“Last year, our focus was technology. Mardi Gras raised about $20,000 for us,” said Michelle Cox, St. Mary’s School principal. “Today we have a new campus-wide WiFi network, upgraded server, and new multimedia projection systems in most of our classrooms.”

Santa Maria Historical Society board president Jim Zemaitis (left) met up with members of the board at the society’s 56th annual dinner meeting on Sunday afternoon, Jan. 29, at the Santa Maria Inn.

St. Mary’s is the Santa Maria Valley’s oldest Catholic School. Founded in 1938, the school serves more than 250 students, from preschool to 8th grade.

Santa Maria Historical Society

Such fun stories Roger Brown had to tell about sports in Santa Maria.

The old timers remember when Hancock won a state basketball championship (or was it two?). Those days of glory can’t be revisited often enough.

The Historical Society’s 56th annual meeting took place on Sunday afternoon, Jan. 29, in the Santa Maria Inn’s Kent Room. Brown proved that he can regale us with sports lore as well as anyone. The congenial local had his audience in the palm of his hand.

The legendary Bill Bertka, once-upon-a-time basketball coach at Hancock, recruited Brown to come here from Ohio to play for Hancock. Bertka and Brown were from the same area, which goes to show how much fate and happenstance play a role in our lives.

Bertka, as sports fans know, went on to become an assistant coach and head scout for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Brown hung around Santa Maria long enough to play basketball and baseball and become coach at Righetti High School and a member of the city’s Planning Commission.

His stories are cute and fun.

Joni Gray, Santa Barbara County 4th District supervisor, joined Roger Brown, former baseball and basketball star, at the Historical Society’s 56th annual dinner meeting on Sunday afternoon, Jan. 29, at the Santa Maria Inn.

“Roger is great for storytelling,” said Santa Barbara County 4th District Supervisor Joni Gray. “He was on my sports talk radio show several times.”

Gray was one of 50 people in the audience, which also included Dee and Richard Martini, Sue Sword, Tom and Barbara Urbanske, and Historical Society icon Shirley Contreras.

Jim Glines, Jim and Eldora Enos, and Ute Cota were also among the guests.

The society’s president, Jim Zemaitis, welcomed guests and showed that the Historical Society is not just about the past. They have lots of fun projects planned for the future.

If you want to hobnob with Helen, you may contact her at

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