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Sherry Ferguson was raised in La Palma on a farm, being the third generation in her family in the Coolidge area. Sherry’s father’s family migrated from New Mexico in the 1920s to farm, and her mother’s family came from Oklahoma. Growing up on the farm, Sherry learned how to ride a horse when she was just five years old following her father around the farm. She competed in her first rodeo at the age of six and took second place in barrel racing. She also learned to rope, well before girls were allowed to rope at rodeos. Sherry was the only girl to win both the All-Around Cowgirl and All-Around Cowboy at the Florence Junior Parada and City of Mesa Junior Rodeo. She was a member of the Girl’s Professional Rodeo Association and she continued to compete in rodeos through her college years at the University of Arizona.
While attending Coolidge High School (CHS) Sherry participated in many extra-curricular activities including Student Government, JV and Varsity Cheerleading; Future Farmers of America (FFA), National Honor Society; Girls State Representative; Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) Officer; Debate Club and was a member of various other clubs. She was also selected as “Best Personality” her senior year. Sherry won the Arizona State Public Speaking Contest at the state level for FBLA and won the first-runner-up National Championship Public Speaking Contest at the New Orleans national convention.
Sherry continued her higher education at the University of Arizona where she was a member of the U of A Rodeo Team and was chosen as the U of A Rodeo Queen of 69-70. She received a degree in Secondary Education with a Major in Social Studies, Minors in American Government and Economics, and a MA degree in Educational Administration. Sherry met her husband of 50 years, Hugh Ferguson, at U of A during her senior year.
After finishing her degree Sherry took on a job with the Coolidge High School where she taught and sponsored many of the extra-curricular clubs and programs. She was soon elected to be the Pinal County Superintendent in 1976 and served until 1993. Sherry also served as President for the Arizona State County School Superintendent’s Association and the Arizona Association of County Officials. Sherry served two terms under the County Officials and has been the only individual to have done so. This association represented all County Elected Officials of the State of Arizona.
In 1993, Sherry and her husband rebuilt the old Dairy Queen located in Coolidge and successfully ran a family-owned and operated business of Sodas & Sundaes until it was sold in 2006. During this timeframe, Sherry and a colleague wrote a nationally published book by Clarkson N. Potter, a division of Random House, entitled Parent Power – A Program to Help your Child Succeed in School. In 2000, Sherry worked with Maricopa County to write legislation, worked with Secure Care for youth detention where she retired in 2004. In 2005, she formed the Education Review Group, LLC. to help school districts comply with the Arizona Auditor General’s Office where she consulted with districts until 2011 when she retired for a second time. In 2011 Sherry came back to Coolidge High School where she served for the remaining year until she retired for the third time.
Sherry says, “My husband, Hugh Ferguson, has always been my biggest supporter and fan. Without him, I would not have been able to have the career I had.” Sherry has two sons, Tayne (current teachers and coach for CHS) and Cayle (former teacher and coach for CHS) who are both CHS alumni, four grandchildren, Xabia and Cyson who are both CHS alumni, Connor, who is currently a senior at CHS and the quarterback for the Bears, and Gwyn, who is in kindergarten at West Elementary, and one great-grandchild, Keeley, who is two years old.
With nearly 25 years of instructional and administrative experience in higher education, Dr. Gonzales has proven his commitment to education and established himself as an industry leader. Dr. Gonzales served as the eighth president of GateWay Community College, an MCCCD college that serves approximately 10,000 students and employs more than 400 faculty and staff members and is the only college in the district to boast a Children’s Learning Center, an Early College High School, more than 150 post-secondary and higher education options, and the Center for Entrepreneurial Innovation. Currently serving as the Interim Chancellor for the Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD), Dr. Steven R. Gonzales is responsible for one of the largest community college systems in the nation, serving nearly 200,000 students with the support of 10,000 faculty and staff members across 10 colleges. Prior to MCCCD, he worked for Central Arizona College in a variety of roles each with progressive responsibilities. He served as the acting associate vice president of academic affairs and chief academic officer, dean of communications, math, and learning support, associate dean of academic services, and math professor over a 15-year period.
Before his higher education career, Dr. Gonzales taught math at Coolidge High School (CHS) for two years alongside his favorite math teacher, student-teacher supervisor, and mentor Mr. Jim Whipple. Dr. Gonzales coached wrestling for seven years at CHS during a time when the wrestling team birthed more one, two, and three-time state champions than any other time in the program’s history. Dr. Gonzales also attended school in Coolidge and graduated from CHS in 1991 in the top five of his class. He served in many student organizations and was elected class president and student body president at CHS. He was a 152-lb state runner up in 1990 and state champion wrestling in 1991 and placed in the top three at state and regional track meets in the 100m, 200m, and 4x100m sprint relay.
Equally committed to community involvement, Dr. Gonzales has previously or currently serving on several organizations and boards including the Coolidge Lions Club and Coolidge Rotary along with the American Association of Community Colleges Board of Directors, National Community College Hispanic Council Board of Directors, Arizona Hispanic Chamber Board of Directors, Arizona Commission for Post-Secondary Education, Terros Health Board of Directors, Greater Phoenix Leadership, City of Phoenix Workforce Development Board of Directors, Greater Phoenix Economic Council, and many others.
Dr. Gonzales earned his doctorate in educational administration in the top-ranked Community College Leadership Program from the University of Texas at Austin. He holds a Master of Arts in teaching mathematics and a Bachelor of Science in secondary education – mathematics from Northern Arizona University. He is an adjunct faculty member for Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College graduate program and the Roueche Graduate Center’s Community College Leadership Program, Kansas State University doctoral program.
Dr. Gonzales currently resides in Coolidge and credits his parents who are also CHS Alumni, Ray and Frances Gonzales, for instilling in him the importance of education, perseverance, and faith. His younger siblings, Terri and Anthony, have also committed their professional livelihood to education. He and his wife Desiree have five children together, Austin, Jenna, Corbin, Reagan, and Jaxen.
“Looking back on my life, growing up in Coolidge was truly a blessing. I was surrounded and supported by friends and family in this small town. I am so grateful for the many teachers, coaches, and members of the community who were always so supportive and encouraging throughout my educational and professional journey. I experienced so many life lessons here that helped to shape the person I am today. I am proud to call Coolidge home to this day and will always be a Coolidge Bear!”
Dr. Chalmers Duthie Johnson left his home state of Colorado and moved his wife and his first child to Coolidge in 1951. It was there he began a medical practice that would span three decades. The last of a vanishing breed, Dr. Johnson was a “hospital-going, house-call making, certified country doctor”. He helped the sick regardless of economic status and was often paid with fresh-picked cantaloupe, watermelon, or zucchini – treating everything from cuts and the common cold to removing tonsils and delivering babies.
As his four children – Linda, Pam, Debbie, and Scotty – will attest, he kept a medical bag by the front door for house calls. Every Sunday morning, he drove to the Pinal County Hospital in Florence to attend patients and was known to spend an hour afterward at Shope’s Market detained in the vegetable department by an ailing patient hoping for medical advice. He loved to tell of the baby he delivered in the parking lot of his first clinic on Arizona Boulevard, and the time he was called to treat a horse because the veterinarian was out of town.
Dr. Johnson’s career as an exemplar for students to emulate. Born in 1919, he was the son of a hard-working, blue-collar railroad engineer. He grew up at the height of the Great Depression and after serving as a Navy medic during World War II put himself through medical school on the GI Bill. It was there he met his first wife, Clare Etoile van Zandt.
Those who knew Dr. Johnson marveled at his keen curiosity, passion for adventure, and dedication to helping his patients. Even after formal retirement in 1982, patients would stop by his house on Roosevelt Avenue to have “Doc” look at this or that ailment or suggest something to ease the pain.
Dr. Johnson dedicated his life to the Coolidge community. For more than ten years during the 1960s and 1970s, he volunteered as the team physician for the Coolidge High School athletics program. He provided physicals for athletes and monitored their health while in season.
In this capacity, he served as the “on-call” team Doctor for practice and game emergencies. This responsibility sometimes called him away evenings and weekends, but he attended dutifully, even after exhausting twelve-hour days at the clinic. Many former Coolidge High School athletes fondly recall his dedication and generosity in providing medical counsel. Throughout his career, he served as an ethical and inspiring role model for the students and athletes he encountered.
Dr. Johnson fathered three daughters and one son with his wife Clare: Linda Lee Johnson, Pamela Mural Johnson, Debra Duthie Johnson, and “Scotty” Michael Chalmers Johnson. In 1974, when Clare passed away from cancer, he married Margie Lee “Storie” Hanna and became a trusted companion and father to Margie’s three boys: George Court, Howard Clayton, and Mark Woodman Hanna.
If you had three older athletic brothers and grew up next to a vacant lot, you would probably spend a lot of time playing baseball when you were growing up. That is how N.G. “Jim” Manship remembered his early years. He was the youngest of five children born to John R. and Mattie Olson Manship at the beginning of World War I in LeGrand, Iowa. His father was a builder and auctioneer and his mother, the daughter of Norwegian immigrants, had left school at twelve to clean and bake for a local inn.
Instead of his given name “Norman”, the local kids started calling him Jim or Jimmy and the nickname stuck. As his older brothers started coaching careers in Iowa high schools, Jim played basketball and baseball for LeGrand High School occasionally going against their teams. After graduation, Jim eventually continued his education at Iowa State Teachers’ College (ITSC), now known as the University of Northern Iowa, but due to his father’s sudden death and the necessity of helping to support his newly widowed mother, Jim spent some time working in the local rock quarry. While attending ISTC, Jim majored in physical education and lettered in basketball and baseball. Upon graduation in 1937, Jim began teaching and coaching high school sports in Bagley, Iowa.
In 1939, Jim found employment in Rudd, Iowa, where he coached, taught high school science and shop classes, and was the school principal. During War World II, he served as a Link Training and Celestial Navigation Instructor for the U.S. Army Air Force. Along with instructing future pilots and navigators, Jim played on the base basketball and baseball teams. To improve morale and promote camaraderie, these teams traveled to other military bases for games.
During this time, he met Mary Ann Hunter, another Rudd teacher who became his wife in 1951. A fellow teacher encouraged Jim and Mary Ann to move to Arizona. Jim found employment as a teacher and a high school coach in Coolidge. With a one-year-old daughter, they moved in July 1953 and two weeks later, Mary Ann gave birth to their second child.
Jim coached several different sports and moved into administrative jobs for the district. At one point he coached a girls’ softball as well as high school track. Another son was born in 1956 and Jim became an elementary principal with an office at North School. Some of his favorite times were going out at recess to play softball with the students. Jim retired in 1980 as assistant superintendent.
Outside of district responsibilities, Jim was a charter member of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, helped with Little League, and was a member of the Rotary Club. He was a passionate pigeon breeder, exhibiting his Modenas at the county, state, and national competitions. In 1978, one of his birds won Best Category awards.
In 1982, Jim was inducted into the Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in recognition of his consistent winning season at Bagley and Rudd. Jim passed away in June 1983 leaving his love of family, animals, and sports as a legacy to his children and grandchildren.