Several people have asked me some version of the question, where did you get the information and knowledge to write your Desert Studies column. I'll tell you now.


I do a lot of reading and research and much of my learning comes from these sources. I also attended Victor Valley College, where I graduated with an Associate of Arts degree. I was lucky in college though. I had three mentors who helped me along the way. Those three were Milt Danielson, Ralph McKinlay, and Ted Frohner. Only one is still with us (to my knowledge) and that's Milt Danielson. Ralph McKinlay, beloved teacher of geology, physical science, and astronomy, died sometime in the 1970s. Ted Frohner also passed away on March 8, 2009, at the age of 83. I knew him (and Ralph and Milt) as teacher, mentor, and colleague, for I was employed by the college from 1969 to 1992.


It is fair to say that if it weren't for Ted Frohner, brilliant and enlightened person that he was (and one of the smartest persons I've ever know), I could not have written my Desert Studies column for the Hesperia Star, now in its ninth year. I might not have studied the Joshua tree or the desert like I did. And I wouldn't be a weather spotter for the NWS, now in my 28th year. All these things were inspired by Ted Frohner.


I once saw a movie, whose title I don't recall, where a scientist (I believe it was David McCallum, of the Man from UNCLE fame), extracted the knowledge from the brain of a dying scientist. I wish I could've done that with Ted Frohner. He was so brilliant and well informed.


I first knew Ted Frohner as my geography instructor. This would've been in 1967 or 1968. At the time he had just joined VVC from (I believe) San Bernardino Valley College. He taught geography from his former syllabus for one or two years, then re-wrote it and started with a new textbook. Ted tried to relate geography to the desert as much as possible. Later he divided the course between physical and cultural geography, and I took the course again.


Ted was very serious about educating students. He also encouraged students to use the library, where I was a library assistant. In this regard, we worked as colleagues in several ways, one of which was to index the American Universities Field Staff Reports set, a brilliant but under-used periodical. Together we published the Geographical Index, beginning in the early seventies, and convinced VVC to sponsor the project. Hundreds of copies (and the Supplement Service) have been distributed to colleges, universities, individuals, and organizations, including the National Geographic Society itself.


Ted encouraged all his students and demanded their best efforts. A lot of students have benefited from his teaching (including me) and his good rapport with them. He would have made a great secretary of state, if he'd been inclined to do so. He was so knowledgeable about the world, and so concerned with others. God gained a great counselor when he died, and we lost one, and I've lost a very valuable friend.


I will miss Ted a lot, but his legacy lives on!