All About the Trivia Bee 2016

Originally appeared in The Record April 22, 2016

By Jason Anderson
The Record Staff Writer

STOCKTON — A man who was dubbed William the Second following a series of second-place finishes in the Library and Literacy Foundation’s annual Trivia Bee finally became William the Conqueror on Friday night at Stockton Arena.

Bill Maxwell, 63, the Bank of Stockton archivist, helped Friends of the Stockton Library win the Trivia Bee with 79 points. Maxwell’s team, which included Dave Scheffer and Justin Allen, mounted a second-half comeback after trailing at intermission.

“I don’t know why it was different this year,” Maxwell said. “We were really stumbling at the beginning, but we just got into a groove in the second half of the competition.”

Maxwell, Scheffer and Allen were awarded the coveted bobblehead bee for winning the competition. They edged North Stockton Rotary, which amassed 74 points, and The Record, which finished third with 73 points. Jim Elliot Christian won the high school competition.

Maxwell said he complained so much after finishing second again in last year’s Trivia Bee that his sister-in-law had someone create a bobblehead doll in his likeness.

“The Bill bobblehead will stay in my office, but this new one will be in my home,” Maxwell said. “I can’t believe I finally won it. I had a couple of very good teammates and it all worked out for us.”

The 25th annual Trivia Bee was emceed by one of San Joaquin County’s most recognizable newsmen, who walked into the arena shortly after signing off for the final time as a reporter with KXTV Channel 10.

One person after another approached Tim Daly to wish him well in retirement after nearly 25 years spent covering San Joaquin County for Channel 10. Daly accepted their compliments with humor and grace, and the next thing he knew he was standing behind a microphone again.

“Good evening,” Daly said. “Welcome to the Library and Literacy Foundation’s 25th — wow, 25th — annual Trivia Bee.”

Thirty teams participated in the Trivia Bee. Hundreds more attended the annual fundraiser for literacy programs throughout San Joaquin County. This year’s theme was: “Heroes and Villains – Who Will You BEE?”

Many of the contestants dressed up as heroes and villains. Some came as Superman and others as Batman. Christian Clegg, John Alita and Scott Carney — representing the city of Stockton as Team Evil — came as Austin Powers, Dr. Evil and Mini Me.

“I give Scott all the credit,” Alita said. “This was his idea. Whatever it takes to raise money for the library and literacy. That’s what we’re here for.”

Event co-chairs Lesley Fontanilla and Jack Jacobs estimated that the Trivia Bee has raised nearly $200,000 for literacy projects over the years.

Jacobs noted that it was founded in 1992 in order to raise money for a program designed to teach adults to read and write. Fontanilla said it has become a vital part of their efforts to promote literacy in the county.

“The endowment we manage for the city library limits us in terms of how we can spend the money,” she said. “The Bee allows us to fund other literacy programs and events throughout the county.”

Harry Mersmann, a professor of sociology at San Joaquin Delta College who was dressed as Thor, dropped the hammer early in the evening when he called out his team’s rivals from University of the Pacific.

“Our goal every year is to get a higher score than UOP,” Mersmann said. “I don’t know if they keep track, but we keep track. I will tell you that five of the six times I’ve competed we’ve beaten UOP.”

Michael Wurtz, head of special collections at Pacific and a member of the university’s Trivia Bee team, responded with some good-natured ribbing of his own.

“University of the Pacific founded Delta College back in the 1930s,” Wurtz said. “We’re proud that our progeny has done so well in this competition.”

Daly said the Trivia Bee is an enjoyable and worthwhile community event.

“Folks are having dinner, wine and beer, so that means they’re having fun,” he said. “This has a festive atmosphere. All I have to do is read stuff and then give the answer, and there’s a judge up there to overrule if I screw it up, so this is a lot of fun. It’s a great event.”

Daly, a Stockton resident, has emceed the event for the past several years with the exception of 2011, when he was sent to Santa Cruz on assignment for Channel 10.

“I had to miss it because of the earthquake in Japan that sent waves crashing into Santa Cruz,” Daly said. “One of the best stories I’ve ever been on. We were in Santa Cruz watching waves from Japan toss boats around like they were toys.”

Daly’s days as a newsman are done, but he said he will continue to emcee community events such as the Trivia Bee.

“I’m pretty good at this and it’s a way to help,” he said. “This event, like a lot of events I do, I just keep coming back because really good people and really good organizations run these things for all the right reasons.”

— Contact reporter Jason Anderson at (209) 546-8279 or Follow him at and on Twitter @Stockton911.

Skip to content