NewsCovering Kern County


Local Principal passes away from Cancer

The community reflects on John Hefner's life
Posted at 11:52 PM, Jan 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-05 02:52:33-05

The community is grieving the loss of a beloved former junior high school principal after he passed away from cancer. Those who worked closely with Hefner say he changed countless lives both locally and globally.

According to his former colleagues, Hefner was a principal who stood out from the rest. He was hands on, and always went above and beyond to engage with his students. Due to that, this is a huge loss for so many people.

Hefner retired in 2007 from Fruitvale Jr. High, after spending 30 years with the school. According to his friend Cathy Abernathy, Hefner passed away on Sunday. He was diagnosed with lymphoma in November and underwent several rounds of chemotherapy, but died after fighting for months.

His former Vice-Principal and former Superintendent, Mary Westendorf says he was an inspiration to so many. She says that he got to know his students on a very individual level, which made him so different from the rest. She says, “kids really need support and they need to know that they are valued, and John did that. He knew what kind of home they came from, he knew if they needed extra support, or an extra dose of compassion, or if they just needed to be pushed a little bit more.”

As for plans for his funeral services, that date and location is yet to be announced. We will have any updates as they become available.