Former AD Herb Loken passes away

BC archive

Robert Mullen, Sorts Editor

LokenHerb Loken, former Bakersfield College athletic director and gymnastics coach, passed away on Feb. 14.
Loken was hired as BC’s athletic director in 1968 to replace Gil Bishop who was the AD from 1954-68. Loken was also the gymnastics coach from 1957-70 except during the 1960 season.
Bob Covey, who taught at BC and was the track and field coach from 1963-2005, was office mates with Loken in 1963 and remembers his time with him fondly, especially Loken’s quiet sense of humor.
“When we walked in, sometimes he’d be coming from a class and he’d be in his teaching clothes and we’d talk awhile and then someone would have to say ‘well Herb, do your trick’ and he would grab a wooden chair, put one hand on the top and one hand on the seat and go and do a hand stand.”
“He was a good athlete, but a really good person,” said Covey. “He was just a charming, charming man.”
Ken Schwocho, a BC alumni and president of the BC Alumni association in 1959-60, recalls how he first met Loken in 1959 after coming back to Bakersfield after leaving the Marine Corps.
“I joined the alumni, and he was kind of running the alumni, and what we would do is go out and do our barbecues out by the river. We would give the money to [Herb], whatever we made. The only funny thing that ever happened that I could think of, is one time I told him we had made $15,000, and I overestimated by about $10,000,” he said.
“The thing about Herb that I can remember was that he never raised his voice, a very gentle person; he was just a very nice person.”
Schwocho talked about the last time he saw Loken, during the Nov. 14, 2013 Hall of Fame Dinner at BC.
“He wanted me to introduce Bill Houser and he really wanted me to do it because he really didn’t want to do it, he didn’t want to have to get up and talk,” said Schwocho.
Loken was an award-winning gymnast, and holds places in several halls of fame, including the Kern County Sports Hall of Fame. Loken was the athletic director at BC for 15 and a half years, adding the extra six months to beat Gil Bishop’s record.
He was also a WWII veteran, having served in the 82nd airborne division. He made two combat jumps in France, and fought in the Ardennes forest in Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge.
In a small biography of Loken written by Covey, Loken talks about his service in the war. “I crawled forward so someone could possibly use my bazooka against the halftrack. When I reached Second Squad, their bazooka was frozen, so they told me to keep on moving forward toward the target. When I was about 300 yards from the [German halftrack], I wired the bazooka to fire,” he then told his buddy to get ready to bug out as the Germans would know their position after he fired. “I attempted to fire, but it failed. I wired it again and fired, rolled over in the snow and my buddy and I retreated.”
Loken would learn he had destroyed the halftrack and killed the Germans inside. He was awarded the Bronze Star after refusing the more prestigious Silver Star.
“I’m certain that Bakersfield College, with its wonderful support from the community, provided opportunities for staff members unparalleled in other institutions. My forty plus years on staff and as Executive Secretary of the BC Alumni Association has been a wonderful experience,” Loken once wrote in a letter.