Campus: CSU, Bakersfield -- December 15, 1999

Library Collection Will Remember Walter Stiern

The 60+ Club at California State University, Bakersfield is sponsoring a project that will document the life of one of Kern County's most extraordinary residents and the man the university library memorializes. The Walter Stiern Collection will provide a repository for documents, photographs, publications, and oral histories about the longtime Kern County legislator. The collection will be dedicated March 1 at the library.

Arthur Johnson has directed the project, and in an interview, he offered these comments.

"The goal was to prepare a comprehensive biography of Walter Stiern in the archives of the Library. There was only a page and a half [about Stiern] on the library. Here was the 'state of the art' library, named after a truly great man, with only such a minute story about him. It would be tragic if this sparse data was all there was. It would be more tragic still if no one cared.

"I volunteered to start a project to [collect] material for his biography and so the project has been going on for several years.

"I worked on the Senate staff at the state Capitol for 12 years. My boss, Senator Teale, was a very close friend of Senator Stiern, and through their association I got to know Walter Stiern. Since both us had World War II experience, we had something in common. I knew Senator Stiern before I knew there was a Kern County or a Bakersfield!

"[I was concerned] that time was running out for the Walter Stiern story. In many cases, that has happened. Several key persons have already passed on and many of the aging cannot now remember with clarity.

"Walter Stiern must not be forgotten. He accomplished so much for Kern County and his Senate district, for California education and agriculture, that his deeds should be remembered. Everyone who patronizes the library should be able to find out something about the person for whom the library is named.

"An editorial memorializes Stiern thus: 'Throughout his seven campaigns for the Senate, there never was a hint of dirty politics, no last minute smears of opponents, no questionable television advertisements. His campaigns were as clean as his record. In fact, someone should write a biography of Stiern to be used as a guide for future politicians. If ever there was a man who embodied the qualities of leadership, integrity, and moral strength so needed in government, Stiern was that role model.'"

For more information about the Stiern project, call 661/664-3211.

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