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HONOR STUDENT: Remember the stories your parents...

HONOR STUDENT: Remember the stories your parents used to tell about walking untold miles to school each day when they were kids? Gladys Battle says the same thing to her children, and her grandchildren. But she’s doing it now (B4). . . . The 47-year-old Thousand Oaks resident is a junior at California Lutheran University, walking several miles each day because she has no other way to get there. . . . Battle hopes to inspire her children as well as her grandchildren to pursue higher learning. “Sometimes it’s hard, but I do what I need to do,” she says.

YOUNG AT HEART: George Burns turns 99 today (F2), but Ojai artist Beatrice Wood can’t figure out what all the fuss is about. . . . “I think he’s a spring chicken,” says Wood, who will celebrate her 102nd birthday on March 3. . . . “You know, as far as George Burns is concerned, he’s a little bit young for me,” she says. “But I’m not concerned about his age. If he’d like to take a trip to the Caribbean with me, I’m perfectly willing to go.”

UP IN SMOKE: Giving up smoking is a tough prospect under any circumstances . . . but KVEN radio talk-show host Carl Haeberle is trying to do it on the air. A three-pack-a-day man since the late 1950s, Haeberle is devoting half an hour of his midday show to the topic and encouraging listeners who smoke to quit along with him. Health officials and former smokers have offered encouragement. . . . “It’s brutal,” Haeberle said. “But when you do it in front of God and your radio audience, you have a little bit more motivation.”

PRODIGAL SON: It’s tough being the basketball-playing son of a basketball coach. Just ask Willie West III, the Ventura College ballplayer whose father, Willie West Jr., is the most successful high school basketball coach in the state (C8). . . . Their relationship became so strained that they weren’t even speaking a few years ago. . . . “That’s the most important thing to me, the relationship with my father,” West says. “The absence of that relationship left a void, and we’ve worked on it ever since.”

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