Blind Costa Mesa Man Becomes Celebrity by Devising Tools for Disabled

Costa Mesa resident Abner Garrison, 69, blind for nearly 20 years, has won a first-place award for designing and building special tools and devices for the disabled. Garrison won over 75 other entrants in the Celebrity Senior Contest sponsored by FHP Inc., a health maintenance organization with corporate offices in Fountain Valley.

Garrison taught himself to use a drill press, power saw, belt sander, lathe and other machinery in his garage.

Others who received awards were Joseph Del Greco, 69, of Westminster, who plays second base for a softball team; Rosemary Tanis, 68, of Huntington Beach, who cares for foster children; Joseph Medina, 75, of Fullerton, a volunteer worker; Alex Koba of Westminster, an actor; Wayne Gundry, 80, of Newport Beach, a pilot, and Henry Herriford, 80, of Compton, member of the Senior Assembly in California.

“We congratulate all of them for their outstanding accomplishments that make them Celebrities among seniors,” said FHP spokeswoman Janice Atzen.


San Clemente High School student Nick Lessick, 16, won first-place honors in the 43rd District Congressional Art Competition with his portrayal of an American Indian couple on the plains.

His graphite drawing is being displayed with other state district winners in the corridor of the U.S. Capitol and will remain there until next year’s contest.

Other student winners in Congressman Ron Packard’s district are James Fields of St. Margaret’s Episcopal School in San Juan Capistrano, second place; Andre Mossman, Trabuco Hills High in Mission Viejo, third place, and Mark MacQuiddy, Mission Viejo High, honorable mention.

Fullerton resident Dr. Sharon Kawai, restricted to a wheelchair with a spinal deformity, was honored by the California Department of Rehabilitation with its prestigious Governor’s Hall of Fame for the Disabled Award for her achievements in overcoming significant limitations imposed by her physical disability.


Kawai, medical director of rehabilitation services at St. Jude Hospital & Rehabilitation Center in Fullerton, was presented with an original sculpture commissioned for the honor.

Brooks Van Bouten, Placentia police services supervisor who plans to retire in January after 16 years with the city, has been named to receive Placentia’s 1988 Employee Recognition Program Award for outstanding service.

Developer George Argyros of Newport Beach has been named to head the 1988 Golden Eagle Club’s $300,000 fund drive to support Boy Scouting’s outreach program in Orange County, which includes in-school Scouting and Scouting for the handicapped.

Huntington Beach artist Fonnie Hoversten won first place and $800 with her watercolor called “Port-A-Prince” in the sixth annual Newport Salute to the Arts, a juried art competition. Second place and $400 were won by Mary Ann Rall of Newport Beach and third place and $200 were won by Beverly Kadler of Irvine. The show was sponsored by the Newport Beach City Arts Commission.

Tustin High School graduate Matthew B. Blitch, son of Michael Blitch of Tustin, has entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point as a member of the class of 1992.

A new book on traffic safety that was co-authored by UC Irvine Prof. Frank Haight and an international team of researchers, has received the 1988 Volvo Traffic Safety Award which includes a $77,000 grant the researchers will use for further study in traffic safety.

The book, “Reducing Traffic Injuries--A Global Challenge,” outlines strategies for traffic accident prevention and injury management that can be put to use by both public and private institutions.

Haight said that worldwide nearly 500,000 die each year in traffic accidents and that 15 million are injured. “Unless we begin to examine and implement new traffic safety measures, these figures may double by the year 2000,” he said.


Thurl Ravenscroft, narrator for the Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach for 15 years and the voice of Tony the Tiger on television, has been selected by Toastmasters International to receive an award for his contributions to the communication field. He will receive the award Nov. 12 at the group’s fall conference at the Hyatt Regency Alacante Hotel in Garden Grove.

The Kennedy High School Shamrock Regiment Band, a consistent winner of parade and field competitions, has been invited to play in the Dec. 31 Sunkist Fiesta Bowl Parade in Phoenix, which is held in conjunction with the Fiesta Bowl Football game on New Year’s Day.