This has been a big week for San Gorgonio High School as it renamed its quad after recently retired Robert “Bob” Satterfield who taught English and organized student on the campus for 35 years.
Working as a city reporter, I quickly learned that you don’t have to go far to meet interesting people who have lived impressive lives. Just reporting on Highland, I have interviewed three-war veterans, Tuskegee Airmen, an Iron Man triathlon record holder, one of the Marines who guarded JFK’s body in the White House, pioneer of infant heart transplants Dr. Leonard Bailey, actors and many others.
Satterfield is impressive for his dedication to caring for generations of San Gorgonio students.
He also has a hobby that I find particularly fascinating; he collects autographs.
It’s a hobby from an earlier time as, for most people today, meeting a celebrity is a prime selfie opportunity.
Satterfield stuck with his autograph book because it has allowed him to better interact with and, in several cases, form several lasting friendships with many famous and interesting people.
Bob, a passionate patriot, began by collecting autographs of actors but later focused on meeting military veterans, especially Medal of Honor recipients. He has meet over 70 of America’s greatest heroes.
“I’m very honored and blessed to have met these recipients. I’ve collected autographs and met celebrities almost all my life. The celebrities today don’t measure up to the old ones and no one measures up to the Medal of Honor recipients. These are American heroes and treasures,” Satterfield once told me after a road trip to meet two Medal of Honor recipients.
I have Satterfield and his hobby to thank for a few of my favorite interviews, including Medal of Honor recipient George Sakato. Sakato, a Japanese-American, grew up in Redlands, and when his family was relocated to Arizona to avoid internment he enlisted in the Army. While serving in the famed 442nd “Purple Heart” Battalion in France, Sakato made a one-man rush on a German-held hill, leading to the surrender of 30 Germans.
You don’t have to go far to meet interesting people; you just have to start talking to those around you for them to share their stories.