With a unanimous consent and enduring acclamation, the Campbell Veterans Memorial Foundation was proud to designate Mr. Art Ring as our 2017 Veteran of the Year. CVMF Board Member Mike Kotowski was honored to announce the award during the illustrious “Celebrate Campbell” event at Villa Ragusa on 3/18/17. Mike also regaled the audience with Art’s military history and civilian biography. Art also earned awards and citations from the Chamber of Commerce, the City of Campbell, the County of Santa Clara, State Representative Evan Low, and State Senator Jim Beal.
The Celebrate Campbell affair honoring Art was nicely reprised at Campbell’s Senior Lunch Program on March 23 during which Mike Kotowski presented all those well-earned awards to Art. Of course, everyone was delighted to hear Art describe a few key elements of his life.
Born in 1926 in the Bronx, New York, Art Ring enlisted in the United States Navy in 1943 where he trained in aviation communications. He was assigned to Squadron VP17 as a Radioman 2nd class on PBM Patrol bombers (aka, flying boats) and was ordered to NAS Oahu in1944. Amazingly, WWII ended one week after Art arrived for duty. Rumors at the time claim the Japanese learned that Art had entered the war so they decided to surrender.
Radioman Ring was then assigned to various Pacific combat theaters that included Johnson Island, Saipan, Okinawa, and then to NAS Sangley Point near Manila, Philippines. Art’s crew conducted carrier flights to Okinawa, Korea, and China and was in the first American squadron to land near Lung Wa airport near Shanghai. In 1946 Art was discharged from the Navy after serving 33 months of active duty in the Pacific.
Art worked various jobs until he landed a position at Western Electric. He also joined the Navy Reserve and returned to active duty at the outbreak of the Korean Conflict in 1951. Again, he flew as a Radioman for PBM Squadron VP 731 at NAS Sangley Point, Philippines.
Once combat operations ended in 1953, Art’s squadron returned to NAS San Diego where he transitioned to civilian life for good. Art’s squadron lost all of its activity and duty logs, however, during their redeployment to Stateside. Because of that mishap, Art and his crew were not awarded their Air Medals until 1996, more than four and a half decades after ending their service to America.
While rehearsing for a musical play at NAS San Diego, Art met a Navy WAVE named Josephine “Jo” Hotaling who was also in the show. It turned out that Jo had served during the Korean Conflict, too. They began dating and, after both were discharged, Art returned to Syracuse where he completed his Bachelors and Masters Degrees while Jo finished her studies at San Francisco State University in Education.
Art and Jo eventually married and had two children. After teaching at various elementary schools in Northern California, they settled in Campbell in 1957 after Art was hired to teach in the Campbell Union School District. He taught 5th grade at Cherry Lane for 6 years. He became a Master Teacher and the Curriculum Coordinator for the district, a position he held for 21 years. Art developed teaching techniques that are still used today. He introduced the MGM (Mentally Gifted Minors) program that later became GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) and SOI (Structure of Intellect). Art was a member of the Elementary School Science Association (ESSA) for over 20 years and served as its President in 1973.
Art Ring also served as a science consultant for McGraw-Hill and Random House publications. He developed materials for teaching science and compiled them into a book which he also illustrated. Called “The Hands-On Science Handbook”, it sold in school districts throughout the United States. With the advent of the digital age, Art introduced computers to the Campbell School District(s). Ten years before retiring, Art taught in the San Jose State University’s programs science workshops.
The Art Ring Science Fair was another legacy after he organized the first fair at Cherry Lane in 1957. The fairs ran for 38 years until 1995. He was a founding board member of the West Valley Historical Association which was a predecessor of the Campbell Historical Museum and the present Campbell Museum Foundation that manages the Ainsley House.
His longstanding interest in John Steinbeck began in 1978 when he and Jo attended a conference on English Literature in San Francisco. He has since become a recognized expert and speaker on the history of Steinbeck and is a member of the National Steinbeck Association. Every August, Art helps organize the National Steinbeck Conference in Salinas and curates his personal complete library of Steinbeck books and papers. He is also a Board Member of San Jose State University’s Steinbeck Research Center and is the Secretary of the Board of the Cannery Row Foundation.
Art Ring now has two grandsons and enjoys his Steinbeck garden. Sadly, Jo, his wife of 60 years, died in May of 2015. Undaunted, Art continues to “march on” even at age 90.