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Retired county schools leader enjoying life
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Rick Wentworth - photo by Photo Contributed

Rick Wentworth may be retired. But he’s still on the go.

His pace is leisurely at best these days. That’s a far cry from his heydays as the San Joaquin County Office of Education’s superintendent of schools, where he was in charge of overseeing 15 school districts along with some 155,000 students.

“The job was in three parts – business, politics and education,” Wentworth said recently while sipping on a diet soda at a Manteca restaurant.

He was dressed comfortably in a golf shirt – Wentworth is a member of Spring Creek Golf and Country Club in Ripon where he plays at least once a week – while awaiting an upcoming trip to Cactus League action in Arizona.

Spring training is all about enjoying the sun, scenery and the return of the Major League Baseball season. Wentworth was looking forward to catching a few exhibition games while in the Valley of the Sun.

When at their Manteca home, he and his wife Judy spend most of their time sitting for their four grandchildren. They range in age, from 4 through 12, with two each from Kevin, 45, a former professional golfer now into real estate, and daughter Kristen, who is 43.

Rick Wentworth retired from SJCOE in 2010. Prior to that, he spent 18 years with the Manteca Unified School District, including the last five of those heading the Regional Occupational Program / Independent Studies at Lindbergh School. He also taught at Manteca High and East Union High.

Wentworth began his 43-year career in education at Escalon High, where he taught Biology and coached basketball for five years.

He was proud of people he brought over to SJCOE. Included were current Superintendent of Schools Mick Founts and Deputy Superintendent James Mousalimas, who he endorses in the upcoming campaign for his old post as county superintendent.

Founts expressed his thanks Thursday to Wentworth for recruiting him to serve initially as the director of Alternative Education Programs, which became better known as the one.program. He later co-authored the Venture Academy Charter School, Excel Academy Charter School, and re-structured the Regional Occupational Program, in respect to program and funding.

“I appreciated the freedom Rick gave me to develop programs for at-risk youth, for the freedom to write and develop charter schools,” said Founts, who himself is retiring in January.

When Wentworth was elected to office in 1991, the SJCOE complex consisted primarily of the Gaylord A. Nelson Education Center. He recalled purchasing three acres on an adjacent site for $1.5 million on the steps of the San Joaquin County Superior Court House in Stockton.

From that came the Dr. Fredrick A. Wentworth Education Service Center named in his honor.

“Teacher, coach, counselor, and school administrator – (Wentworth) touched the lives of students through his involvement at the state level,” said Founts during the August 2010 dedication ceremony.

Wentworth had served as president of the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association and was a long-standing member of the Association for California School Administrators.

“I miss the people (at work) but not the obligation of attending meetings,” he said.

These days, his meetings are limited to functions involving St. Paul’s United Methodist Church.

Other from that, Wentworth enjoys spending time with friends and family, and traveling.

Not too long ago, he went on a golfing vacation with a group of guys to Mexico. Food and drinks were provided along with four rounds of golf with temperatures hovering in 70s and 80s. Wentworth described the Cancun course as “narrow with jungles.”

He went on a similar-type excursion but only in the Hawaiian island of Kauai, where he played 15 rounds of golf in 17 days.

Up until a few years ago, Wentworth used to help out at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. He grew up in Gilroy, where he and his father would work the event known back then as the Bing Crosby National Pro-Am or just the Crosby Clambake. “I remember back in 1962 when snow delayed (the Clambake),” said Wentworth.

To this day, he still finds time to play golf on the Monterey peninsula.

“Life is good,” Wentworth said. “I’m just enjoying this free time.”