Connecting Verbum Dei’s Past and Present

It is with great pleasure that I get to interact with alumni from time to time. The history and tradition of Verbum Dei High School is fascinating…and often heart-warming.  Please enjoy the recent interaction between the son of Claude Child, a Chemistry & Physics teacher from 1963 – 1979, and Steve Wellington, one of Claude’s students from the Class of 1972:

Dear Verbum Dei,

It is with great fondness that I recall Fr. Francis visiting our home after Sunday Mass at Our Lady of the Rosary in Paramount, California during the sixties.  He did so often, creating a strong friendship with my dad, Claude H. Child.

In those days my Dad worked as a staff scientist with North American Aviation in Downey, California.  Fr. Francis had plans for an all-boys high school in Watts.  He would talk about these plans with my Dad, asking if he would teach Chemistry and Physics when the campus was built.  To my recollection, the campus was completed mid-summer 1963 with its first classes starting in the Fall of 1963.   I know this because I helped my dad set up Verbum Dei’s Chemistry class room.   I must have been 10 or 11 years of age. 

Bishop Francis, my Dad and many years have since passed away. I read the legacy of Bishop Francis. It warms my heart.  Like any son, I wonder if my Dad’s efforts made a difference.  I read on your web site that Verbum Dei has gained recognition for its sports program.  Did any of Verbum Dei’s students from the sixties go on to careers in the science fields? 

The men my dad taught would be in their mid-sixties to seventy years of age by now.   Like me, they’d probably have grandchildren, possibly even grandchildren soon to be attending Verbum Dei.

It would be a blessing to know this legacy story, so that I may pass along a more complete history to my grandchildren.  Does Verbum Dei’s Alumni have active members that might remember my Dad?

Having written to you about a year ago, and receiving no reply, I had given up hope of following up on these legacy thoughts.  This evening, at a fund raiser for Mother Teresa Maternity Home here in Placerville, a chance conversation with a priest named Fr. James sparked a renewed interest.  Fr. James taught at Verbum Dei before leaving to teach in China.  He is now a pastor here in Eldorado County.  I was encouraged to try contacting you again.

May God Bless You,  

John J. Child

Response…

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Hello John,

I was one of your father’s physics student’s during the 1971 – 72 school year. He was a great influence on me as I pursued a biology degree from UCSD and a Master’s degree in Business Administration and Technology from the University of Phoenix. I spent most of my career in science and seven years ago I managed a state-accredited laboratory, which supported a major utility, nuclear and non-nuclear, water plant operations.

I am grateful he devoted his time and knowledge of physics to students wanting to realize their full potential in life. Some of us held to the sciences while others led fulfilling and meaningful lives elsewhere.

Thank you for reaching out; your father was a great teacher and wonderful person to have known.

Steve Wellington

(Verbum Dei Class of 1972)

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