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6 to join Berkeley High Hall of Fame

Daily Planet Staff
Monday April 17, 2000

Six graduates of Berkeley High will be inducted into the school’s hall of fame at a ceremony later this month, joining 55 other BHS alumni who have been previously recognized for their accomplishments. 

This year’s inductees into the Berkeley High School Hall of Fame will be Jacqueline White, Philip Elwood, Sylvia and Stephen Sharnoff, Gregory Hoblit and Kenneth Cameron. The Berkeley High School Hall of Fame was established in 1990 to recognize and honor graduates who have distinguished themselves in their chosen field or fields of endeavor and who serve as excellent role models for current students. 

This year’s inductees join a distinguished group of their peers including: Pulitzer-prize winning playwright Thornton Wilder, 1915 graduate; fitness expert Jack LaLanne, 1934; basketball great Don Barksdale, 1940; television journalist Belva Davis, 1951; environmentalist David Brower, 1928; Supreme Court Justice Wiley Manuel, 1945; Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh, 1957; Grammy award winning gospel singer Tramaine Hawkins, 1969; jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman, 1986; and rhythm and blues great Johnny Otis, class of 1939.  

Jacqueline White, class of 1938, Berkeley High School English teacher and department chair. Hall of Fame organizers note that many of the members of the Hall of Fame would not be where they are today if it was not for the teaching staff at Berkeley High School, and Jackie White exemplifies the best of that staff. Born, raised and educated in Berkeley, White brought her talents back to the high school in 1961 after receiving her B.A. and teaching degrees from San Francisco State University. She taught English at Berkeley High for 25 years, and served as department chair from 1973 to 1978, inspiring many students in the love of literature and fine writing, including several of the teachers who are currently on staff. She received many honors during her career including the John Hay Whitney Fellowship. She served as supervisor to many UC teaching interns at various Bay Area schools. For the last 10 years of her teaching career, Jackie taught at University High School in San Francisco. Even in her retirement she volunteers much of her time helping students. 


Philip Elwood, class of 1943, the “Dean of West Coast Jazz Critics.” Elwood is also a distinguished historian and teacher of American cultural history, and an honored journalist and broadcaster. After his graduation from Berkeley High, he enrolled at UC Berkeley, graduating in 1945, and then immediately went into the Navy. While at Cal, he was a drummer in the marching band and was well known in many saloons around town for his piano playing. After returning to the Bay Area, Elwood taught history at Albany High School for many years. He has also taught at Berkeley High, Laney College, and the Peralta Community Colleges. He joined KPFA radio in 1952 and broadcast there continuously for 44 years. He joined the San Francisco Examiner in 1965 and has been its popular music critic for 35 years. He is close friends with many of the jazz greats of the past half-century and has interviewed dozens of musicians including Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Rosemary Clooney, Bonnie Raitt, Woody Allan, Mel Torme, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John and Jerry Garcia. 


Stephen and Sylvia Duran Sharnoff, class of 1962, nature photographers. Steve and Sylvia met at Berkeley High School and married in 1965 after she attended Scripps College and he the University of Chicago. Their relationship has been a partnership, a team, a collaboration, and true soul mates. They began taking photographs of lichens (colorful fungus which grows on rocks and tree trunks) in the early 1970s and their work has been published widely. They have traveled all over the United States and Canada photographing lichens, and their book, “Lichens of North America,” will be published by Yale University Press in 2001. They have amassed the largest library of lichen photographs in North America. Their work has been featured in National Geographic Magazine and has been displayed at the Oakland Museum and the display subsequently traveled to 16 other museums. Sylvia was diagnosed with cancer in 1995, but was still able to travel and photograph in between medical treatments. She passed away in 1998, just after her 54th birthday. Steve continues to do nature photography and is working on a book about plants in the Sierra Nevada. 


Gregory Hoblit, class of 1962, television and film director. Hoblit has received numerous awards for his work including Emmys for “LA Law,” “Hooperman,” and “Hill Street Blues,” as well as the television movie “Roe vs. Wade.” In addition to the Emmys, Hoblit has received numerous Golden Globe, People’s Choice, and Peabody awards. After graduating from Berkeley High School, Hoblit attended Oakland City College and UC Berkeley, but transferred to UCLA where he found his way into the Film and Television School. He eventually joined Steven Bochco at 20th Century Fox where they collaborated on several TV projects. He directed the critically acclaimed film “Primal Fear” with Richard Gere in 1996, “Fallen” with Denzel Washington, John Goodman and Donald Sutherland in 1998, and his newest film, “Frequency,” is due to open this month. 


Kenneth Cameron, class of 1946, Navy captain and pilot and prisoner of war, Vietnam. Cameron was born and raised in Berkeley, attending Berkeley schools and graduating from Berkeley High School, where he had been very active in athletics, lettering in both football and basketball. He graduated from UC Berkeley in 1950, with a major in business administration. He was commissioned as an ensign in the Naval Air Corps in 1952 and flew 40 missions over North Korea during the Korean War. After his release from the Navy in 1954, he moved to Washington, D.C. and joined the FBI. Dissatisfied with his FBI career, Cameron returned to active duty in the Navy and served on the USS Saratoga. He was sent to Vietnam in 1967. While flying a A-4C aircraft off of the USS Bon Homme Richard to North Vietnam, he was shot down, imprisoned, and held in solitary confinement. His wife, Eileen, received a letter in 1974, confirming Ken’s death in October of 1970. He was awarded the Navy Cross, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Purple Heart, among many, many other awards. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery and his buddies from Berkeley had a special gravestone placed on his grave there. 


The criteria for hall of fame membership are that the candidate: must have been a student in good standing with the majority of high school years spent at Berkeley High; must have graduated 10 years before becoming eligible for induction; must be a person of integrity; must serve as a role model for current students; and must have achieved excellence in his or her chosen field or fields of endeavor. 

These graduates will be inducted at a school-wide assembly on April 28, beginning at 9:30 a.m. in the Berkeley Community Theater. The public is invited to attend the assembly.