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Ken Hafer & his true blue love affair with Manteca history

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POSTED July 16, 2012 12:12 a.m.

Ken Hafer is the Dean of Manteca History.

Ask him a question about Manteca history and the odds are overwhelming that he’ll know the answer.

Ken was in his element Sunday serving as master of ceremonies for the Manteca Museum’s 20th anniversary.

You would be hard-pressed to find another museum in the Central Valley in a community Manteca’s size that has such an extensive collection made possible by an extremely active historical society.

The museum without a doubt is the labor of love of scores of dedicated volunteers.  And among those volunteers stands one hard-headed man by the name of Ken Hafer. His tenacity provided the fuel that not only helped launch the society and the museum but has gotten it to the point where it is an integral part of Manteca today.

Make no mistake about it. The museum would not be what it is today without dedicated volunteers such as LaMerle Peterson, Claudia Machado, Jeanie Mardsen, Lois Page, Phyllis Abram, Evelyn Moore, Velma Scarborough, Delbert Webster, Ron Howe, Leon Sucht, Vivian Sarina, Betty Mueller, Earl Pimentel, Pat Gobel, Mike Brockman, Mabel Brocchini, Dale Johnson, Ron Howe, Jeanette Farley, Evelyn Prouty and countless others.

Ken will tell you he is simply one spoke. And without all the other spokes they’d be no wheel.

A few years back another true blue Mantecan - Lucille Harris - shared a story about Ken. She was frustrated that he once again turned down being inducted into the Manteca Hall of Fame. She thought the community needed to know about what good Ken has done.

She illustrated her point by sharing how back in their high school days, Ken cajoled the principal and journalism teacher into allowing students to clean up and renovate two storage rooms in the beloved Manteca High tower that is now history. One room was converted into an office for the yearbook and the other for the newspaper.

It may not seem like much but it was Ken through and through. He has lifetime reputation of being committed to getting things done for the community.

And the only love probably stronger than his passion for Manteca is that he has for the love of his life - Alice - and family.

Ken and the society membership that is a healthy blend of longtime and newer Manteca residents have provided current and future generations with an invaluable gift.

That gift is the sense of being.

The museum’s extensive collection gives a clear snapshot of how Manteca started, how it evolved, and how people lived before smartphones and even prior to the advent of crank phones.

It is a museum that is not just cherished by those who have fond memories of growing up in Manteca or even of stories handed down to them by their parents. It is also embraced by newcomers.

A week doesn’t go by that someone who has just recently moved to Manteca doesn’t make their way through the doors at 600 W. Yosemite Avenue.

When asked what brought them there by docents, virtually every one of the Manteca newbies will say they wanted to have a feel for the community that they have chosen to call home.

And some of the visitors who are the most impressed are youngsters who have never known a life without computers, cell phones, and Internet.

Every person who has donated an item or given of themselves or money should take a bow for what they have created: A museum that effectively connects past generations with current generations and those yet to come.

And among those people is a man by the name of Ken Hafer whose drive and vision played a key role in making it all happen.


This column is the opinion of managing editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at or 209-249-3519.

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