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Turlock resident chosen as literacy champion
Pat Portwood
Turlock resident Pat Portwood, a longtime advocate for libraries and reading programs, was named a Literacy Hero by the Great Valley Bookfest (Photo contributed).

Turlock resident Pat Portwood has been named a Literacy Hero by the Great Valley Bookfest.

“Portwood has dedicated her life to literacy and learning,” festival organizers stated in a news release. “During her 35-year career as a teacher, principal and district administrator (including more than 20 years with Modesto City Schools), Portwood has positively influenced the education of thousands of students.”

Portwood retired in 2010, but her work in increasing literacy was far from done. In 2012, Portwood joined the Stanislaus Library Foundation, which raises funds for all 13 libraries in Stanislaus County. From 2013-2018, she served as chairperson for the Library Foundation, and she continues to serve as vice-chair. She has been instrumental in raising thousands of dollars each year to support library youth summer reading programs – programs which would not exist without those funds. 

In 2017, Portwood co-chaired the committee to pass Measure S, the "Save Stanislaus Libraries" initiative. She spent many days and evenings making informative presentations about library services at numerous service clubs and organizations throughout Stanislaus county. Thanks to the tireless efforts of Portwood and other volunteers, the measure to secure library funding for an additional 12 years passed by more than 80 percent.

Portwood has long been an active member of the Friends of the Turlock Public Library, currently serving as President for that group. She helps to organize the library's annual book sale and to raise funds for library programs. She also devotes many hours to support the process of building a new Turlock Library.

In addition to her work with schools and libraries, Portwood supports lifelong learning for adults. She is an active member of the Tuesday Women’s Reading Club in Turlock and the Turlock-Modesto branch of the American Association of University Women. In 2017, she received the Outstanding Women Award from the Stanislaus County Commission for Women.

“During her long career and throughout her retirement, Pat Portwood has supported literacy for all ages,” commented Melissa King, who chairs the award committee. “We agree that she is an outstanding woman, and we are lucky to have her among us. We are proud to recognize her as one our region's Literacy Heroes.”

“I consider it a great honor to be recognized by the Central Valley Bookfest,” Portwood said. “My love of reading and libraries came from my mother, an avid public library supporter. I am thankful for all the folks dedicated to increasing literacy in our communities.”

The Great Valley Bookfest is a non-profit organization that celebrates the fun of reading with an annual festival in Manteca. The festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at The Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley anchored by Bass Pro Shops.

More than 80 authors will be at the free event to discuss their books as well as share the power of reading and writing. While they will be offering their books for sale, the Great Valley Bookfest is more than just a chance to meet and greet authors. It is designed to inspire young and old to read and even author books.

Dozens of author presentations will take place. There even will be workshops for aspiring authors who want to learn about the ins and outs of getting a book published.

The Friends of the Manteca Library have amassed thousands of gently used books that can be purchased typically for a quarter. There will be food vendors, most on trucks, including Kona Ice, Black Dragon Beverage Co., Dazzle Dogs, Dos Brothers Tacos, The Rock Oven Pizza, Smokin’ Portagee, Dippin’ Dots, Red Robin, Snowie Shaved Ice, and Royal T Café.

There will be a scavenger hunt and authors will have their books for sale.

If you know a heroic individual who selflessly promotes literacy in Stanislaus or San Joaquin county, please consider nominating them for the 2020 Literacy Hero Awards. Nominations may be submitted online at

— MNC Editor Dennis Wyatt contributed to this story.