Class of 1965
The second oldest of four siblings, Dr. Phil Wandschneider was born in northern Minnesota. With economic opportunities on the horizon, his family arrived in Oceanside on Halloween Day 1952. He completed his entire K-12 education in the Oceanside Unified School District, attending Ditmar Elementary School and Lincoln Junior High before officially becoming an Oceanside High School Pirate. A member of the OHS varsity basketball team and the French Club, he graduated ranked third in his class and was the recipient of the Bank of America Award in Math and Science his senior year. In 1969, Dr. Wandschneider earned his B.A. in Psychology with an emphasis in economics from Occidental College. That same year, he joined the Peace Corps, spending two years stationed near Mt. Kenya working in cotton production and youth agricultural programs. The unique experience of living in Kenya required crossing the equator to get to and from work and home each day. He married his college sweetheart, Mary Rosengrant, in Nairobi toward the end of his stay. A subsequent trip to Oregon and a life-changing meeting with an agricultural economist inspired his own interests in the field of economic development. Pursuing his lifelong ambition to become a college professor, he earned his Master’s in Economics in 1977, and four years later completed his Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics at Michigan State University. During a six-year period at MSU (1973-79), Dr. Wandschneider worked as a Research and Teaching Assistant. Since 1979 he has served as a faculty member at Washington State University in Pullman, where he continues to help shape and inspire future economists as a Professor of Sustainable Development in the School of Economic Sciences. He and Mary have three sons. One was born with profound disabilities and died in March 2011 just short of his 36th birthday. Their other two sons, Dan and John, live in Portland, Oregon. Dan works for a leading chemistry software firm, while John pursues a still wide-open future.
Class of 1970
As a child, future NFL defensive lineman William “Bill” Sandifer and his two older brothers were relocated to the North County when their father was assigned to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. Bill would eventually go on to complete his entire K-12 education as a student in the Oceanside Unified School District. A standout football player, Bill was a three-sport athlete who also competed in varsity basketball and track for the Pirates. During his senior year, in the annual football battle with Carlsbad High School, he received the Defensive Player of the Game award presented by the American GI Forum. Upon his graduation in 1970, he moved on to play two seasons at MiraCosta College, where he was named a Desert Conference JC All American. With numerous football scholarship opportunities, Bill selected UCLA at which to pursue his path of higher education and play football for the Bruins. In 1973, he wrapped up his collegiate gridiron career as the Defensive Player of the Game in the annual East-West Shrine Game. The following spring, the San Francisco 49’ers selected him as the 10th overall pick in the 1974 NFL draft. He spent three seasons in the Bay Area before being traded in 1977 to the newly-formed Seattle Seahawks. After three years with the Seahawks, Bill made the decision to retire from the game due to injuries and the potential for further injury. Never one to revel in the glory and glamour of being a professional athlete, Bill considered it a huge honor to play the game saying, “I’m forever grateful to have been a member of the NFL.” Outside of football, Bill has enjoyed great success in the construction and property management industry. After 22 years of marriage he and his wife Denise, are still on their honeymoon. They are proud parents and step-parents of daughter Heather, and son Matt, who live and work in Southern California.
Class of 1969
Born in San Diego on July 29, 1951, Gary Thomasson and his family moved to Oceanside in 1955. Following a stellar athletic career playing baseball and football for the Pirates, Gary, at the age of 17, was selected in the seventh round of the Major League Baseball draft by the San Francisco Giants. Hitting .285 in his first full season with the Giants, Gary was named to the Topps 1973 All-Star Rookie Team. He would go on to play a total of nine big league seasons, with his most productive year being 1977. During that campaign, Gary slugged 17 home runs and drove in 71 runs while playing in a career-high 145 games. The following year, Gary joined fellow Oceanside High graduate and OHS Hall of Fame member Chris Chambliss as a teammate playing for the 1978 New York Yankee World Series champions. With the exception of the Yankees, Gary played his entire major league career in California, from the Giants, to the Oakland A’s and the Los Angeles Dodgers, his final stop in the big leagues.
Class of 1962
Born and raised in Southern California, Robert Opiat was dedicated to physical fitness and never lost his love for surfing. Following his graduation from Oceanside High School in 1962, he embarked on a career in the world of business and finance that would take him all over the world. In 1966, he graduated Cum Laude with a B.A. in Economics from UC Santa Barbara. He continued his path in higher education at UCLA and the University of Bristol, where he earned a Rotary International Fellowship to the School of Political Economics in Bristol, England. In 1971, he completed his MBA in International Finance at the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration. Known by his peers as an exceptional talent, he went to New York in 1971 and joined the credit department of Chase. Subsequent positions followed in London and Paris, and then Hong Kong, where in 1978, he formed his own merchant bank. Eventually, he was lured back to Orion Bank in London, a consortium bank in which Chase was a leading shareholder. In 1984, he moved to Midland Bank, with stops in Singapore and Sydney, Australia. Eleven years later, Robert joined the Swiss Bank Corporation, where he founded the Australian chapter of the Chase Alumni Association. During a five-year period in Auckland, New Zealand, he oversaw a retirement village, hospital and nursing home business for Met Life. His return to Sydney included positions as the COO of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and in-house investment banker for the Public Private Partnership business, a subsidiary of Bilfinger Berger AG. Known for his enormous generosity of spirit and keen ability to mentor others, Robert passed away at age 65 on May 2, 2010 in Spoleto, Italy. In the words of one former colleague, his most memorable attributes are likely to be his “considerable personal style, curiosity and genuine interest in people.” He is survived by his wife, Desiree-Ann, and two step-daughters, Estee and Amelia.
Class of 1975
The child of an active duty Marine based out of Camp Pendleton, Robert E. Dixon was born in San Diego. He attended Libby Elementary School and Lincoln Junior High prior to graduating from Oceanside High in 1975. For nearly the past three decades, he has worked for Southern California Edison. But it’s outside the workday that Bob shows his true colors as a community-minded individual. Bob is known as a man who always steps up when there is a need, and is especially loyal to organizations that involve youth. With a true passion for the Boy Scouts of America, he has used his position as an Eagle Project Counselor to help more than 100 scouts attain the rank of Eagle Scout. As an avid camper, he has taught outdoor and leadership skills to both youth and adult leaders. Some of his biggest outings include leading troops on three-week trips to the national scout ranch in Cimmaron, New Mexico and canoeing expeditions on the Delta River in Alaska. His commitment to scouts has earned him election to the Boy Scouts’ Fellowship of Honor Campers, the Order of the Arrow. He has also received the Vigil Honor Award, the highest award a lodge can bestow on any member, and the Crossed Feathers Award, an award presented by youth to adults for outstanding service to scouting. His other volunteer endeavors include: Girl Scouts; Brother Benno’s Homeless Shelter; the Mission San Luis Rey; Canine Companions for Independence; Oceanside Swim Club; Oceanside Little League, and San Luis Rey Elementary School. Bob’s sense of community also extends to animals. Through his favorite hobby, wildlife habitat construction, the backyard of his home, where he helps care for rescued turtles, was in 2000 named a certified wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. He and his wife Pam, share their home with two dogs and 30 turtles.
Class of 1947
A lifelong resident of Oceanside, Peter Nares Magana devoted his life to serving his community. Born in 1928, his introduction to formal education came at the local Americanization School, a facility where young Hispanic children were sent to learn English from first through fourth grade. As an OHS Pirate, Pete lettered in both football and baseball. Upon his graduation from OHS in 1947, he entered the field of construction. Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton was one of the many projects Pete helped build in the North County. Drafted in 1951, he served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War as a member of the D Battery, 26th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion, 24th Infantry Division. Following his military service, Pete joined the world of retail sales, a career that spanned 32 years. Throughout his life, he served on the boards of numerous advocacy groups, including the Latino Alliance of North County, the Eastside United Community ActioN (UCAN) and El Grupo Sin Nombre. In 1961, he founded the local chapter of the American GI Forum, a group comprised mainly of Latino veterans who raise scholarship funds for needy students. Eight years later, he served as Chairman of Fiesta Mexicana, a celebration held in conjunction with the 200th anniversary of the city of San Diego. Pete was twice named Oceanside Citizen of the Year, first in 1972 and again in 1983. For 15 years he held the post of Laurel Elementary School PTA President. His devoted service to the school earned him a lifetime PTA membership. He spent five years employed by OUSD, and put in an additional 10 years as a member of the Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee, contributing to the success of bond measures Propositions G and H. Proud parents of six children, Pete and his wife Angie were married for 52 years. They became grandparents to 10 grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild. Pete passed away on October 19, 2011.
Class of 1965
OHS graduate Suzanne Knauf was destined for a legal career as her father, grandfather and great grandfather were attorneys and judges. Born and raised on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Suzanne arrived at Oceanside High School to start her sophomore year. As a Pirate, Suzanne participated in AFS, CFS, Senior Council and was a National Merit Scholar. With inspiration from her OHS teachers and counselors, in 1969, Suzanne graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a political science degree. In 1972, she earned her J.D. at California Western School of Law and embarked on a distinguished career, including a number of “firsts” for a woman in a then male-dominated profession. As the first practicing female attorney in North County, Suzanne began her career in private practice as a trial attorney. With encouragement from the legal community, in 1978, she not only became the first woman appointed to the bench in North San Diego County, but also the youngest judge appointed in the State of California. With 31 years on the bench, the last 10 years serving on Special Assignment by appointment of the state’s Chief Justice, Suzanne retired as a Superior Court Judge in 2009. Her outstanding career also included educating fellow jurists at the California Judicial College and Continuing Judicial Studies Program and serving on the California Courts Budget Commission and the Presidential Commission on Domestic Violence. Her ingrained belief in the value of community service, and understanding that those to whom much is given, much is expected, led to years of involvement in community organizations. Suzanne served on many Boards of Directors, including Vista Boys and Girls Club, North County Bar Association, Tri City Christian School, North County Concert Association and Vista Rotary. Suzanne continues her volunteer work with Harvest Alliance International and Children of the Amazon leading Christian missionary groups into the cities and jungles of Peru, focusing on leadership training, missionary care, children’s ministry and medical clinics.
Class of 1969
Wally Ta’aga Molifua was born in 1951 in Pago, Pago, American Samoa. It was there and in the tiny community of Laie, Hawaii on the beautiful island of Oahu that he spent his childhood years. His parents and 11 siblings eventually settled in Oceanside where he graduated as part of the Class of 1969. From OHS, Wally made his way to Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, earning a full-ride scholarship where he played for the Cougars under legendary Coach Lavelle Edwards. Soon after completing both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, Wally returned to the North County in 1976, taking on a faculty position at his alma mater, while becoming the first person of Samoan heritage to teach in the OUSD. For nearly three decades, he taught science and physical education and coached a variety of teams and athletes. In addition, Wally spent countless hours working with the Boy Scouts and the city’s annual beautification project. A man clearly devoted to his family and faith, Wally became simply known as “Uncle Wally” to many of the students whose lives he touched. Filled with integrity and a firm belief in all the students he encountered, Wally coined the simple phrase “Fire Up” and eventually started the luau tradition at OHS. A fifth-degree black belt in Lima Lima, Wally used these skills as the foundation for his well-known security business. Following his untimely passing at the age of 53 on April 4, 2005, the OHS gymnasium was officially named for him in 2006. The City of Oceanside soon followed with a resolution signed by the Oceanside City Council proclaiming April 29 as “Wally Molifua Day” in remembrance of the solid work and life lessons he taught in the community. For those who knew him, Wally remains an example of an ordinary man whose heart and hard work resulted in extraordinary things. He is survived by his wife Davyne and their six children.