2016 Pay Dirt Club-Hall of Fame Recipients David Gourley and Rebecca Chavez-Houck
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Bingham High Pay Dirt Club 2016
By Scott Crump
A miner in the early days of Bingham Canyon, who struck it rich was said to have struck pay dirt. Those miners would take a mule, shovel, pick and dynamite along with a drill bit and double jack and work hundreds of hours drilling, blasting and shoveling. With a combination of hard work and little bit of luck a miner might find a rich vein of gold silver of copper ore. This was “dirt” that paid him money or pay dirt. Striking pay dirt symbolizes a successful miner. Because of this, Bingham High School’s Hall of Fame is called the Pay Dirt Club. Two successful Bingham Miners, Rebecca Chavez-Houck (Class of 1978) and David Gourley (Class of 1970) were formally inducted into the Bingham High School Pay Dirt Club at the homecoming assembly on September 21, 2016.
REBECCA CHAVEZ-HOUCK (Class of 1978)
Rebecca Chavez-Houck grew up on a produce farm in Riverton, where her family grew sugar beets, tomatoes, corn and other vegetables. Many long-time residents of our community frequented the Chavez family produce stand during the 1960s and 1970s.
Rebecca was in the first sophomore class that came to our current South Jordan campus back in 1975. She fondly remembers her years at BHS, where she was a member of the National Honor Society, debate team, drama club, orchestra, and choir. She was the 1978 Bingham High Sterling Scholar in the category of music and also garnered a number of awards in dramatic interpretation, one-act plays, and extemporaneous speaking. She represented Bingham High at Utah Girls State at Southern Utah State College in the summer of 1977. She has said the following about her Bingham High experience, “I have such fond memories of high school, so many opportunities that set me on my pathway and so many good friends (some who have already passed on, sadly). I’ll always remember the blue and the white…”
After graduating from Bingham High, she attended the University of Utah, where in addition to her studies, she was an active member of Delta Delta Delta Sorority. There she used her musical and leadership talents to serve as chapter song leader and social chair. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism & Mass Communication in 1982 and continued on to earn a Master’s of Public Administration degree in 2006, also from the University of Utah.
Rebecca’s 30-plus years of professional experience in non-profit administration and public affairs has included positions with Centro de la Familia de Utah, Utah Public Employees’ Association, Girl Scouts of Utah, and the Utah Museum of Natural History. She began her career as a reporter/photographer for the Uinta County Herald in Evanston, Wyoming. Rebecca has also cultivated another career as a board member for myriad local nonprofit groups ranging from Intermountain Healthcare and Envision Utah to Episcopal Community Services and the United Way of Salt Lake. She relishes working with emerging political leaders, especially Latino and women candidates who are seeking elected office. She is a founding member of Real Women Run. She also currently teaches courses in nonprofit management as adjunct faculty for the University of Utah’s Master of Public Administration program.
In 2008 she was elected to the Utah House of Representatives representing Salt Lake City’s District 24 which encompasses Capitol Hill, the Avenues and part of Downtown Salt Lake City. During her tenure in the House she has passed more than 20 bills, focusing primarily on health and human services as well as voter engagement and access. She currently serves as House Democratic Whip.
Rebecca’s passion for social justice advocacy and desire to develop progressive public policy was forged in the multicultural community of Bingham Canyon, where her parents met. Her father, Carlos Chavez, was a Mexican immigrant who came to work at the Kennecott mine in the 1930s and her mother, Katherine Valdez Chavez, was born in Pueblo, Colorado. Rebecca’s compassion for the less fortunate, pride in cultural diversity, commitment to the environment, and support for our public education system was undoubtedly shaped by her parents’ influence. Her mother was a graduate of the Bingham High Class of 1938 and Rebecca’s aunts, uncles, siblings, and many of her nieces and nephews are also BHS alumni. Rebecca knows her success is due in large part to the support of her wonderful family.
Rebecca and her husband of 31 years, Martin Houck, met at a debate tournament in their senior year of high school. They own a successful property management company and in their leisure time enjoy traveling throughout the country in their Class C RV. They have two children, Erica, a family resource coordinator at Seattle Children’s Hospital, and Michael, a senior studying digital media at Utah Valley University.
DAVID L. GOURLEY (Class of 1970)
David Gourley was born into a family of educators. Discussions at family reunions were often about the current state of education and the laws being enacted by the legislature. From these discussions, he decided early on that he was not going to be an educator. He would be proven wrong on this prediction.
At the age of six he moved with his family from the Gourley farm in Pleasant Grove to his home in West Jordan. West Jordan was country living then and he had a wonderful childhood riding horses, playing with his dog, hunting with his father and playing with his neighborhood friends. Because West Jordan was small, he actually attended school with many of his friends for his entire public school experience.
David graduated from Bingham High School in 1970 and is still close to his classmates. During his time at Bingham he was involved in a number of activities including: student government, where he was elected senior class president, the Prospectors (service club), the Coppertonian Yearbook staff, and the band. He exclaims that the Class of 1970 was packed with amazing people. He has always looked back at his Bingham years with pride and fond memories.
Following high school, he attended Utah State University where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Biology Science with a Composite in Secondary Education in 1974.
While attending college, he met his wife, Nancy, who also graduated in education in 1974. They were married, and moved back to Salt Lake City for a job. Interestingly, his wife was hired at David Gourley Elementary (named after his grandfather) where she worked one year until they started their family. He started his Masters’ program at the University of Utah in the fall of 1974 and in the Spring of 1975 accepted a job teaching science in the Granite School District. He continued his career and would earn a Master’s of Education Degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Utah in 1978, an Educational Specialist Degree in 1983 and a Doctor’s Degree in Education in 1986 from Brigham Young University. His Doctor’s Dissertation was on: Comparative Analysis of Student Achievement in 8 period block vs. traditional schedule.
During Mr. Gourley’s 39-year educational career with the Granite School District, he worked as a science teacher at Eisenhower Junior High (1975-77), a school Counselor at Kearns Junior High (1978-83), an assistant principal at Cyprus High School (1984-86), principal of Hunter Junior High (1987-92), Director of Junior High Schools for the Granite School District (1992-93), principal of Taylorsville High School (1993-02), and Assistant Superintendent of the Granite School District (2002-14). As an educator he would be honored as the Granite District Administrator of the Year in 1996 and 2006 and the Utah Administrator of the Year for Utah High School Association in 2007.
David retired in 2014, but continues to supervise student teachers for the Western Governor’s University. His wife, who left her teaching job for 18 years to be with their five children, Janae, David, Daniel, Scott, and Camille, retired a year before he did after working 21 years. They have lived in Bountiful for most of their married life and are active in community and church affairs. Most of his involvement has been with the young men of his ward and the scouting program, but he has also served in the ward bishopric and other assignments.
David and Nancy have been married for 42 years and are currently traveling and playing with their 21 grandchildren. He says that it is surreal to be at this point in his life, but he is not sure he could have done it any better if offered another chance to do it once again.