Hall of Fame 2009
I. The Distinguished Knight in Shining Armor Alumni Award:
Sheridan Downey, III, Class of '59.
He received his BA from Stanford University, and juris doctorate from UC Berkeley, Boalt Hall.
Sheridan lived in East Oakland for 65 years, and practiced general business law. He also taught law at the University of Santa Clara. Sheridan was appointed to California Fair Political Practices Commission by then-State Attorney General Bill Lockyer, and served as Commissioner for six years.
Sheridan’s grandfather was a U.S. Senator from California. His father was a federal bankruptcy judge. His father helped officiate meets, transport athletes, housed them in motels at away meets and came to know the families of many athletes. His father often arranged his court calendar around Castlemont’s track meets schedule.
Sheridan also ran track at Castlemont, under the legendary coach, Nick Garedaki. In 2003, he met Chuck Schneekloth, a track coach at Castlemont. Sheridan was impressed with Chuck’s enthusiasm and love of the sport, and saw the "reincarnation" of the legendary coach Nick Garedakis.
Over the past five years, Sheridan attended several track meets and helped organize them, along with contacting other alumni and community members to get them to donate their time and money. He, himself, has donated time and money to Castlemont. While at meets, he literally gets his hands dirty; one can often find him raking the sand, running the high jump event, or taking time at the finish line. For one senior, he donated a computer to help her in college.
He is also supportive of the track team’s coaching staff. Be it over emails or dinner that he buys, Sheridan has been a great source of enthusiasm and encouragement to the staff over the years.
II. The Community Service Alumni Award:
Ester Dixon, Class of '66
She attended San Francisco State University, and received a B.A. in Home Economics with a minor in Sociology. In 1976, she came back to Castlemont and became a Home Economics teacher at Castlemont. She is still at Castlemont, teaching business and culinary arts. Ester Dixon is always a proud Knight, often wearing purple.
Most notably, in 1996, she helped start and managed the award-winning “Knights Café,” a coffee and snack kiosk at the Oakland Airport. The Knight’s Café has trained more than 60 students in all aspects of business. The café ran for 12 years, closing April of last year. The café received the Oakland Business of the Year award in 2002. Ms. Dixon, herself, received the Marcus Foster Educational Institute Distinguished Educator Award.
III. The Gold Key Alumni Award:
Robert E. Beechler, Class of '52
Bob came to Castlemont in 1950 as a Junior. He married his high school sweetheart, also a Castlemont graduate.
He immediately became enthralled with the beauty of the building and tradition of the Knights, King Arthur and his Court. He involved himself in gathering as much history of Castlemont as he could find. Bob has yearbooks and Criers going back to 1930. He has building materials such as slate from the old school’s roof, which he used in remodeling his home. He has several lanterns which were on the entrance to the school, prior to its demolition, which are now proudly hanging at the entrance of his own home.
After Castlemont, he went into the Army. After the service, spent 7 years in North Africa flying for the Oil Companies and spent over 27 years flying for Union Oil Co. in Los Angeles, retiring in 1994.
Bob has participated actively in his Class Reunions, creating several Knights to use in decorating the reunion site.
IV. The Sports Hall of Fame Alumni Award:
Will Souza, Class of '54
He excelled in baseball, basketball, and football during his tenure as a student at Castlemont. He was captain of the varsity basketball team. National Baseball Hall of Fame Joe DiMaggio presented Will with a gold watch for being one of the most valuable baseball player.