When Cochise College dedicated its first campus in Douglas nearly 50 years ago, “The Heliograph” student newspaper featured an article outlining the college’s three-year history, beginning with the 1961 election to establish a college district, and a photo of a plaque that has hung on the campus Administration Building since its unveiling. Another announced the first birth to a campus resident – one Jennifer Ann Long, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George R. Long Jr., head residents of the men’s dorm; George was a science professor who later became department chair of chemistry and biology at an Illinois college. A note from “The Heliograph” staff introduced the “journalistic effort of the students” and explained the challenges of starting from scratch, of having “inherited nothing from any previous staff.”
Starting from scratch makes for a memorable time, and the newspaper will be included in a historical display of college mementos that will rotate to museums and other sites around the county during the anniversary year.
While the college retains many photographs, publications and promotional items, there are holes in the collection. Specifically, we are looking for your help in identifying items that our former students, employees and board members held dear.
Each item already submitted has a story.
Cochise alum John Sauer (’66), a member of the basketball team recruited from the Midwest, provided two of the four “Heliograph” issues planned in the college’s first year. The June 1965 issue features an article about his hole-in-one shot at the Bisbee Country Club a month prior. The publications provide rich insight into the culture and attitudes of the times, as do the personal papers of Dr. George Spikes, a college founder and board member, and Dr. William Harwood, the college’s second president. These collections include detailed and skillfully crafted “snail mail” related to college priorities and notes from early staff meetings. What a treasure!
Bruce Wertz of Las Vegas, N.M., contributed pins he received in the 1960s for his role on the Student Senate and Dorm Council. A New Mexico native, Wertz was concerned about going to a university; in researching Arizona’s junior colleges, he selected Douglas’ cooler climate over the heat he could face at the Phoenix and Yuma schools. Ultimately, he recalls a campus performance by Louis Armstrong, frequent dances and film screenings, athletic competitions, dorm life, and being impressed that college president Jack Netcher made time to have coffee with students.
he plaque mentioned above caught the eye of Art Smith when he visited campus for a meeting. Mr. Smith had never visited campus before last year, but he knew many of the leaders named on the plaque because his father was a college supporter, pilot and publisher of “The Tombstone Epitaph,” which memorialized him when the plane he piloted that was also carrying the college’s first president – Dr. T.C. Johnston – and Don Ensign, another local education leader, crashed in January 1964 prior to the college’s opening. Mr. Smith graciously shared his memories of that time and sent relevant copies of that newspaper.
There also exist a baseball cap owned by a member of the 1980s Cochise teams that went to the Junior College World Series; college yearbooks from the early years and one that appears to feature primarily the Sierra Vista Campus in the 1980s; photos of the Cracchiolo family, which contributed the property that is now home to the Sierra Vista Campus; and a shovel used at the groundbreaking of the Benson Center.
Cochise College has a fascinating history. With your help, we look forward to depicting it for the general public. College memorabilia (and related stories) may be submitted to the Cochise College Office of External Affairs, (520) 417-4735 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Items will be returned if the contributor so desires.
J.D. Rottweiler is president of Cochise College. Contact him at email@example.com.