Legacy of 'Mr. Bakersfield' lives on

Posted at 5:50 PM, Mar 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-17 20:51:04-04

Raymond Dezember, better known as Mr. Bakersfield, died Monday.

Fuchsia Ward, who serves as President on the Friendship House Advisory Board, remembers the year she met Dezember, and his wife, Joan.

"I met them in 1957 when they were out there looking around for a land to establish a community center," Ward explained.

That community center evolved into The Friendship House Community Center, that still exists today.

The Dezembers, known for their faith and philanthropy were a pivotal part in Ward's life. They gave Ward her first college scholarship, something she didn't think was possible, being one of twelve siblings.

"I learned that through Friendship House that education was a way out of poverty," said Ward.

Ward was raised in Southeast Bakersfield.

To this day, a college scholarship remains in the Dezember name at UC Merced. The scholarship is only applicable for students from Kern County. It's part of the reason why Ray, is better known as Mr. Bakersfield. 

"I think anyone that knew Ray here in Bakersfield knew to appreciate Ray, as he was a strong proponent of Bakersfield and what it stood for," said Scouting Executive of the Southern Sierra Boy Scouts, Jesse Lopez.

Dezember was a boy scout and made it to the prestigious Eagle Scout tier, the highest rank for the organization. 

A reading room inside the library at CSUB is named in the Dezembers honor, as well as a leadership center at the university. 

"His legacy is service. His legacy is relationships. His legacy is let's do it, it can be done," said Ward.

Dezember was also involved with numerous other organizations in town including Rotary Club of Bakersfield Downtown, CSUB Foundation Board, Trinity Anglican Church, and Mission Kern County.

His spirit will live on through the lives he touched.

"He touched my life, and he lives in me today, so he will always be a part of me," said Ward.