Lewis Griswold

Visalia educator recalls late author Pat Conroy as Citadel classmate

Friends of Visalia resident Frank Linik have been giving him newspaper clippings of obituaries about Pat Conroy, author of “Prince of Tides” and “The Great Santini.”

“We were classmates at The Citadel,” Linik said. The Citadel is a military college in South Carolina.

Linik, a retired educator, said they were in different battalions so they weren’t close friends, but knew each other because it was a small school.

“What I remember most about him is basketball,” Linik said. “We’d go to watch the game to get out of study hall. I remember watching him and enjoying watching him play.”

Conroy played a position that today would be called point guard, under a coach who was ahead of his time and foresaw how the position would grow in importance, he said.

Classmates knew Conroy was destined for a career in words.

“Everybody there said, ‘Someday Pat’s going to be a writer,’ ” Linik said.

Conroy famously wrote a poem for the school magazine that disparaged upperclassmen. Linik remembers it well.

“He did it as a freshman – it was a rather brash thing to do,” Linik said.

The displeased upperclassmen exacted revenge on the freshman class.

“We all did a lot of extra push-ups,” Linik said with a laugh.

As a cadet, “Pat was not the most military of students,” Linik said. But as a senior he was elected to the Honor Committee because of his good character, even though he was still a private.

“He reveled in the fact that he was still a private,” Linik said. “It was kind of like an anti-establishment attitude that he had.”

As Conroy’s fame grew when his books were made into movies, being his old classmate paid social dividends.

“Once people find out I was a classmate of his, it gives me a little bit of celebrity status on his coattails,” Linik said.

“The guys want to hear everything about his basketball,” he said. “The women want to know all about him and want to see pictures of him as a young man.”

LONDON CALLING: A groundbreaking ceremony for the London library will take place at 4 p.m. Friday, bringing to fruition the dream of Robert Isquierdo.

Two years ago Isquierdo, a teacher who grew up in the tiny town in Tulare County, launched a campaign to open a library.

The ceremonial groundbreaking is for a new 1,400-square-foot modular building.

“It’s surreal,” Isquierdo said. “We’ve talked about it for so long.”

The Tulare County Library is putting $200,000 into the project, including books and furniture.

Isquierdo passed the hat in northern Tulare County and Kingsburg and received $25,000 in donations, while the Tulare County Library Foundation has promised $42,000.

“It’s super exciting,” said county librarian Darla Wegener. “I’ve been meeting with Citizens for a Better London. They are really deserving and really excited about the project.”

The library will open this summer and be staffed two days a week. It will be the county library system’s 16th branch.

Additionally, Isquierdo said, the Library for London 5K run will be March 26. The purpose is to raise awareness about the community. Information: www.libraryforlondon.com.

NEW CAPTAIN: Timothy Fosnaugh has been promoted to Tulare County Sheriff’s Department captain in charge of the jails.

Fosnaugh has 30 years experience, including detentions, Orosi substation, K9, ag crimes and property crimes.

“Every one of them has prepared me for today,” he said last week when he got his captain’s bars.

Fosnaugh graduated from Fresno City College Police Academy in 1984.

CHIEF DEPUTY DA: The new position of chief deputy district attorney is being created in the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office.

The proposal is on the Board of Supervisors agenda for approval Tuesday.

Whoever gets the job will be in charge of operations and logistics, Tulare County District Attorney Tim Ward said.

The two assistant district attorneys will oversee prosecutions.

The DA’s office has 61 attorneys and reviews 24,000 cases a year.

Lewis Griswold covers the news of the South Valley for The Fresno Bee: 559-441-6104, @fb_LewGriswold