Alumni Spotlight - Theresa Mendenhall Sisson
The Alumni Spotlight this month is on Theresa Mendenhall Sisson from the mighty class of 1978. Theresa’s two brothers also are St. Bernard’s graduates: her older brother Garry, who graduated in 1977 and still holds the scoring record in basketball (when only 2 point shots were allowed) and her younger brother, Michael Linus who graduated in 1987.
Theresa was a dynamo during her four years at SB! She was on the yearbook for all four years and was the Editor during her senior year. She was on Student Council as the Activities Coordinator, involved in Quota Club, and volunteered for different activities from helping the Mother’s Guild to raising money for different events. Theresa says, “Going to SBHS was about giving back to our students, school, and community.”
Theresa loved her days at St. Bernard’s High. Her fondest memories were working in the photography lab, staying late into the night working on yearbook deadlines (no computers or photoshop then) and locking up the school when everyone was gone. Yes, she was entrusted with a key to the school! Those were the days.
Riding the rooter’s bus to Ferndale for the football and basketball games were always a highlight for her. When Ferndale opened their new gym and the SB bus arrived for the game, there weren’t enough seats to sit together. Theresa recalls, “I just went in with the drum and ‘set up shop’ with the Ferndale fans. Once our cheerleaders started and I started banging the drum there were seats for all of us!”
Other school memories include the people she met at SBHS. “Some of the best people I ever met went to school with me as teachers or fellow students. My best memory was when my very good friend, Paul Vallee, and I were named Crusaders of the Year 1978. I was so happy and proud that we won together. Paul and I are still friends to this day.”
Theresa helped solve a 41 year old Crusaderville “mystery” by revealing that “Yes, Lynn Fredrickson (‘78) took the paint from her house and painted the street in front of the gym – while Bingo was going on!”
After graduation from SB, Theresa packed her car and moved to Santa Rosa with her roommate and fellow SB graduate, Mary Strahan Callens to attend Santa Rosa Jr. College. She received her AA in Communications. From there she went to San Jose State University and majored in Mass Communications, Public Relations, and Sociology.
Theresa is now starting her tenth year at College of the Redwoods as the Administrative Assistant in the PE, HE, Kinesiology and Athletics Department. Theresa says, “I love my ‘CR kids,’ many who are the children of my SBHS fellow classmates, I really enjoy my job and the students I work with. I try to be a positive force and a person providing kindness to all.”
Theresa was married for 23 years to her husband, Steve Sisson. She adds that Steve “lost his battle to mental health issues and took his life on October 8, 2017. My brother, Linus, also lost the same battle 12 years ago. So I cherish my time with my family, especially my children.”
Her son Sebastian is 22 years old and working in the lumber business, and her daughter, Gillian,18, is now at Chico State University after graduating from College of the Redwoods.
“I think the close family we had at SBHS made me have a strong commitment to those around me. I still volunteer as often as I can. One of the biggest events I work on is the College of the Redwoods Dinner & Sports Auction. It is the biggest fundraiser for the college. It reminds me of the Mother’s Guild fashion shows we helped with back in the day. I think all the fundraising I did at SBHS prepared me to help others. I am grateful for the sense of family SBHS gave me. I always felt encouraged, supported, and loved at SBHS. I agree with the ONE FAMILY theme that is still so strong today.”
Facebook has helped her stay connected to most of her class. She still gets together with Paul Vallee, Mary Strahan Callens, Marcia Hurst Skavdal, and Jill Galbraith Kimura for dinner and drinks. She runs into many alumni at SBHS games. The person she sees the most is Julie Green Winburn, Moonlight Catering, who is her other boss! Theresa loves working the SBHS events with Julie. And, she still sees her favorites Mrs. Maher and Fr. Cloney. Perky Roberts just moved back to Eureka, so Theresa is excited to visit with Perky when she is settled in.
Theresa reflects, “I am truly grateful for the fond memories, solid education, commitment and support I felt while attending SBHS. I am a proud member of Crusaderville. ‘78 is super great because that’s the year we graduate!’”
Theresa, Crusaderville is proud of all your accomplishments and your commitment to serving the community around you. You are a Crusader of the Year every year!