Category Archives: Silver Stars

“Silver Stars” are folks who are still shining brightly. They are the do-ers, go-ers and servers. These folks are not content to rest on their laurels and let the world pass them by. “Silver Stars” finish well.

Keeper of History

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Evelyn Elsbury

Not much happens in my friend Evelyn Elsbury’s world that she doesn’t note, jot, type and photograph. Her closets shelves display binder after binder chalked-full of photographs, letters, cards, clippings, and love. She has worked tirelessly to make sure she has collected and cataloged not only her life and history but has also created individualized binders for all her family members – including great grandchildren.

Born in Cook, Nebraska, on June 22, 1913, when Woodrow Wilson was President, Evelyn was the oldest of six children, three girls, and three boys. For the first 100 years of her life, she believed that her birthday was June 23, but one day while filling a prescription, it came to light that it might actually be June 22. After sending off for a certified copy of her birth certificate, she was surprised to learn that she was indeed born on June 22, 1913. It may be hard to imagine how it didn’t come up earlier, but it seems that there just wasn’t a lot of need to produce birth certificates during the previous century. Her Mother broke her leg just prior to giving birth to Evelyn, so the record-keeping may have had occasion to slip.

Her formative years were spent in Omaha, Nebraska, but in 1927, her Father packed up the whole family and headed to California. The journey would take them almost three months as roads were rough and they experienced many breakdowns and flat tires.  The California destination was triggered by her mother’s asthma and the doctor had suggested they try living in a dryer climate.

Her father saw an advertisement that said, “Come to Rio Linda, raise chickens and get rich!”  So they tried to make a go of it, but the ground was too hard to grow anything.  Her Father had driven a street car in Nebraska, and in California became a streetcar driver for PG&E.

Her mother passed away when Evelyn was 22 leaving several young children to care for. Even though she had already met the man she was going to marry, Evelyn spent the next four years caring for her younger siblings. With so many mouths to feed, Evelyn did what she could to supplement the family’s income with a variety of jobs including babysitting and ironing. Her mother had been a housekeeper for a local doctor, and after the death of her mother, she took over that responsibility as well.

She married Bill Ensbury, the love of her life on Oct. 15, 1939, and was married 52 years until Bill passed away in 1991. They had one son, Richard who lives in Northern California.

Bill was a forest ranger. They lived in Sterling City while young Richard was in elementary school, but when he graduated the 8th grade, they moved to Chico.  Evelyn was a housewife when they lived in Sterling City, but after they moved to Chico, she went to work capping toothpaste tubes to earn enough money to buy a Television Set. She also worked at Grants Department Store. After Chico, they moved north to Yreka, where she worked for the Welfare Department.

Evelyn has always been involved in church. While in Sterling City, they became acquainted with a pastor and his wife Bernard and Doris Johnson who were planning to go to Brazil as missionaries. Evelyn spent the next several decades creating hundreds of beautiful placemats out of recycled Christmas cards each year to send to the Johnson’s to brighten up their holidays.

Evelyn has shown that same industrious spirit in everything she turns her attention to. The history she has kept and preserved will continue to bless family and friends for countless generations to come.



Has your world been touched by dementia? My recent book, “Finishing Well: Finding Joy in the Journey”, is a collection of stories and tips finishingwellinlife3Dcoverabout doing life with my Mama. May it encourage and inspire you to find the joy in your own, unique journey.

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Finishing well – but way too soon

Andy Jon

My brother Andy was born early – he was due in November, but was born October 26, 1965. We had just moved to Red Bluff and Mama always said that it was all the packing and unpacking that brought on those early labor pains. Andy was the youngest of four children and also the smallest child they had.

Even though he was little, he was quick and very curious about everything. Somehow when he was really little, he heard there was candy available at a new store (Shortstop) that had been built up the street and around the corner. He snuck out of the house and attempted to get to the store but was hit by a car. Thankfully, Joe Parker, a Highway Patrolman on his way home was right behind the car that hit Andy. Joe saved Andy’s life, got him breathing again and called for an ambulance. He was rushed up to Mercy Hospital where our Mama had worked prior to our move to Red Bluff. It took some time, but he gradually improved and eventually was released.

Even though Andy recovered from the accident, it marked him in such a way as to be his definition of who he was. (If he couldn’t do something, it was because of ‘The Accident’). That, however, was never able to dampen his curious and impulsive spirit which remained with him throughout his life – as well as his ability to do large math calculations in his head and retain an enormous amount of baseball stats – he loved stats.

Our family did quite a bit of traveling – which included camping. Somehow due to his curious nature, Andy usually managed to sneak off and get lost on a regular basis. These incidents were the origin of one of my earliest beliefs as a child – it was: “The way you know that you really love someone is that you miss them terribly when they are gone.”

His childhood years were typical, although as a sister, I thought that he was a bit spoiled. Andy was only eight years old when Wayne and I got married. We moved away and began living a new life separate from the day-to-day of the family life in Red Bluff. Life went on; Andy grew up, married, had a family and moved away as well.

Our lives moved on and for a time we were connected by family but separated by distance and differences. We reconnected again when difficult circumstances and aging parents required more of our time.

When Andy returned to Red Bluff he was not at a good place in his head. He was angry with God as well as everyone else around. He felt as if he was a victim and the world owed him a great debt.

Wayne and I reconnected with him and began the process of loving, mentoring, and supporting him through the most difficult times of re-adjustment. In some ways, it was easy… Andy was fun to hang out with; he simply had issues. Wayne and Andy became best buds – they hung out all the time – going to movies, working on projects and discussing life issues. My job was usually to try to improve his housework habits.

Through our time together, Andy’s world steadily improved. Although Andy made progress on several fronts, ultimately, his turning point came after he finally embraced the truth that God was not his enemy. In fact, once he began to realize how much God loved him, his faith grew stronger. Andy became a better decision-maker in his daily life; he also became more social with a broader circle of people. His housing conditions became more stable as well.

Andy left this life the same as he entered it – too soon. My childhood belief still holds true:The way you know that you really love someone is that you miss them terribly when they are gone.”

Though my heart is broken, the Lord gave me Isaiah 57:1&2 to help with the grief:

“The righteous perish, and no one takes it to heart; the devout are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.”

We know that Andy had many struggles in life but over the past several years he experienced many victories and was in a good place – he finished well.

Millie, the Turtle Teacher changes the world one student at a time

When a person works in the same profession for 62 years, there is no doubt they love what they do. Such is the case with Millie Shuford.  Born in Asheville, North Carolina in 1927, during the Coolidge administration, she left in 1944 to attend college at Mars Hill just north of Asheville to study history and English. She went on to receive a Mastor’s degree in English at Wake Forest University. Her education served her well as she spent the next several decades impacting class after class with her knowledge infused with kindness, compassion and encouragement.

Millie Shuford and Muffin
Millie Shuford and Muffin

English was the subject most near and dear to Millie’s heart throughout the years. One of her favorite stories is about the time she was given a class of 8th graders that had caused two other teachers to up and quit. It was in the early years of de-segregation and the kids were an unruly bunch. Millie described her first impression of the class as going to war—the kids were used to getting up and walking around or talking any time they wanted to. Millie’s first task was to get them to share ideas—but speak one at a time. After a couple of weeks, she was able to get them in line and begin to enjoy learning.

About that time, a band was scheduled to come to the school. She mentioned to the principle how excited her class was about the band. He said that since he knew how disruptive her class was they couldn’t go. She tried to assure him they would be fine, but he disagreed. When she told the kids, they were very sad; so she went back to the principle and asked again—promising him they would behave. Again he said no. She was determined that her class would attend the concert. So one morning, at a break; she picked up her pocketbook and went back to the principal’s office to ask one more time. Before he could say no, she told him, “If my class cannot go, then I cannot stay here as a teacher.” He could tell she meant it. He finally relented, but said they better be good. Her class was so happy—they attended the concert and behaved perfectly.

Millie Shuford as a young teacher
Millie Shuford as a young teacher

One of her greatest joys in teaching was to help her students get ready for college. She recognized that the kids needed extra training in order to succeed in life and was able to make significant changes in the way teaching was done. She was also instrumental in helping her kids find scholarships to go on to college.

Millie’s impact on the children and the education system of Myrtle Beach, SC is displayed by the street around the school that was named after her called “Shuford Avenue”.

One day, Millie read a poem to her kids about turtles – how they had such struggles to grow up because of all the obstacles they had to overcome – their legs were short it was hard to walk and they had a heavy pack on their backs, and yet they could do amazing things and live wonderful lives. The students could really identify with that, so they started bringing her turtles. She received so many she had to create a place to display all the turtles – over 400. There were stories about each one. The kids loved to look at and talk about all the turtles, Eventually Millie became known as the Turtle Teacher.

Another animal that she had an impact on, or better said had an impact on her is a darling little rescue dog named Muffin—so named because the doggie’s shaggy fur is the same color of the muffins her mama always baked for breakfast when she was a little girl.  The original owners found they didn’t have the time or inclination to care for the little doggy, and left her out on her own to wander the neighborhood. When they were asked if they would like someone else to care for the dog they immediately agreed. Muffin moved in with Millie and they are living happily ever after.

Other evidence of her impact is the abundance of letters she has received over the years from former students thanking her for the wonderfully positive effect she had on their lives.

Tommy Dodd, a former student wrote in a heart-felt letter, “This note is no praise, but the deepest thanks are owed to you. You have been much more than just a teacher. You have given me encouragement, and an inspiration to express myself. I only hope that every guy like me gets assigned a teacher like you somewhere in his educational life.”

His letter ended with a phrase she wouldn’t have thought he would say when she first met him, “May God bless and keep one of the kindest sweetest, most beautiful people in the world.”

Millie said her desire was always, “To realize that I’m capable of living on my own, and taking care of others, and doing something important.”

I believe she has accomplished that immeasurably.



Has your world been touched by dementia? My recent book, “Finishing Well: Finding Joy in the Journey”, is a collection of stories and  tips finishingwellinlife3Dcoverabout doing life with my Mama. May it encourage and inspire you to find the joy in your own, unique journey.

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The Messenger

Muriel Aasve Blankenship (Mama)

Over the past decade or so, my Mama’s communication skills progressively deteriorated throughout the entire journey of the disease called dementia (perhaps Alzheimer’s).  The first indicators that something was wrong began to manifest as seemingly normal conversations included statements that were repeated over and over (We referred to those incidents as her loop).

As time went on, her conversation skills melted slowly away as her ability to string sentences together decreased.  At first it was a back and forth thing – there were good days and bad. The good days gave us hope, while the bad days confirmed we were still on the same downhill path.

For a period of time, Mama retained what I called ‘Muscle Memory responses’. For example, if you asked her how she was doing, she would respond, “Fine.” Or, “Would you like something to drink?” her answer might be “No”, but then she would proceed to pick up the glass and drink it right down.

Mama’s ability to sing remained long after her ability to speak went silent. We knew a lot of songs and so the majority of our visits were spent singing. Eventually, her ability to sing left as well, so I sang all the songs for both of us.

In spite of the fact that her voice was silenced, Mama still had the ability to communicate with her eyes. Quite often when I was singing, reading or praying, her eyes would fill and tears would roll down her cheeks. I found a few Psalms, such as Psalm 23 and 71 that seemed to fit her so I read them to her over and over. I knew they would minister to her spirit so it felt as if I could still ‘do’ something for her.

Over the course of this extraordinarily long journey, various folks would comment that it seemed such a shame about her condition. I had more than one conversation with the Lord regarding it as well. Early on, our family was determined that we would do everything possible to help Mama finish well, but there were times that I wondered just what could be the purpose for this lingering a little longer.

Then one day while reading Psalm 71 to her, I noticed something. Verse 18 says, “And even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Thy strength to this generation, Thy power to all who are to come.

I wondered how Mama, who couldn’t even speak, be able to declare anything about God to anyone? I gave it some thought. I pondered it. I wondered.  Revelation came to me over time. I learned that the word ‘declare’ could also mean ‘messenger’.

Mama was a messenger. Her life was a message that didn’t need words. She silently communicated that God did not forsake her.  In spite of the long, downward journey into the valley of the “Shadow of Death” that lasted over a decade, Mama’s sweet quietness steadily declared God’s strength to everyone around her.

This season also gave her family something else. Time. The extra time we were given allowed us the opportunity to show her honor. Honor due a parent and honor to a fellow human being. We had time not only to care for her, but her condition opened doors that we never would have otherwise walked through.  We were able to get to know both residents and caregivers alike, and these visits were full of chats, sharing the love of Jesus, joys and concerns as well as praying and singing. Perhaps even providing hope to someone else on a journey that God will give them strength as well.

The day came and Jesus sent the angels; her work here was done. Mama finished well.

Jack Hansen re-retires (again)

55 years in the world of education just might be enough for Jack Hansen, but he’s not saying for certain that the third time for retiring will be the charm. When asked why he continued to return, he responded simply, “I missed it.”

Jack was recently recognized by the School Board for all that he has done to enhance education in California.

Todd Brose, Superintendent of Red Bluff Joint Union High said, “Jack Hansen has had a profound impact on education during his 55-year career. As an educational leader in Tehama County, he collaborated with many school districts developing leaders and finding solutions for the betterment of students. Red Bluff Joint Union High School District thanks him for his service and wishes him the best of luck. Thank you Jack.

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Jack Hansen

He came by his love for the teaching profession honestly as his mother and older sister were both teachers (his father was an attorney), and he was able to see first-hand both the rewards and challenges of the classroom. He didn’t initially plan to go into teaching, but after doing some volunteer work during college, he became hooked.

When Jack began kindergarten in 1944, his teacher might not have predicted that he would have a career in education: On the first day of school once he realized that his mother had left the room, he had a couple of tearful hours adjusting, by the end of the day, all was good.

Jack’s career began back in 1961 when he taught in Sacramento. In 1966 he was hired in Yuba City as a principle and at the age of 27 he was the youngest person on staff as well as the youngest principle in the state of California.

Jack’s vocation, which spanned from teacher, to principle, to superintendent, and school board member has taken him to a variety of counties, but Hansen believes that the 25 years he spent in Tehama County were some of the most enjoyable.

There have been many changes in the world of education over the past several decades, but Jack believes that the one thing that has not changed is the need to interact with the kids and building relationships. There are more electronics and tools for teaching, but it still comes down to interaction.

If Jack had to name his most rewarding and most challenging positions, he replied that they were both at the same time. He spent a year in a dual role as Superintendent of Red Bluff Elementary and Principle of Vista Middle School in the early 1990s.

Jack and his wife Cindy love to travel – especially enjoying river cruises, they have been fortunate to have visited a good part of the world. They have 8 children and 10 grandchildren, most live in California and one even lives in Red Bluff – they love spending as much time as possible with them.

Being an avid golfer, one thing that Jack really enjoys about retirement is that he gets to get out on the golf course about three times a week.

When asked again if he was done, he replied: “If something challenging or interesting comes up again, I’ll consider returning to the workplace.”

Only time will tell.



Has your world been touched by dementia? My recent book, “Finishing Well: Finding Joy in the Journey”, is a collection of stories and  tips finishingwellinlife3Dcoverabout doing life with my Mama. May it encourage and inspire you to find the joy in your own, unique journey.

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Joy has the ‘Wright’ idea

I just had a delightful phone conversation with a dear, old friend of mine, Joy Wright. It’s not that I have known her for so many years, but Joy is one of those people that once you become acquainted, it seems that you’ve been friends always.

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Joy Wright pauses from sorting blankets for a photo at the Recycle The Warmth 2016

She is interesting and amusing, compassionate and energetic. Joy’s personality reminds me of an M&M (not the kind with the nut inside), colorful and hard on the outside and sweet and soft on the inside.

We met one year when she volunteered to help at “Recycle The Warmth”, an annual project that provides blankets and warm coats to anyone in need. We immediately hit it off and she has returned to volunteer every year since.

Joy, who was born in 1928, has always been a bundle of energy. She is involved in a variety of projects and volunteer activities. I knew she was a busy girl, but until recently, I had no idea just how busy. Joy operates on the principle that when she sees a need, she tries to fill it – not wait for someone else to come along. Well, she certainly filled a need at Recycle the Warmth – coming early and staying late.

Joy’s  willingness to jump in and do what’s needed even captured the attention of the Soroptimists International of Red Bluff. They awarded her  Senior Citizen of the Year 2016 at the annual Farm City Night banquet hosted by the Tehama County Farm Bureau.

Other ‘needs’ that Joy is trying to fill includes “Alternative To Violence” (ATV). She was one of the founding board members. Joy also volunteers at the P.A.T.H. shelter three times a month as well as helping with the Presbyterian Church’s annual Thanksgiving dinner they offer for anyone who might find themselves alone on the holiday.

Joy spent 14 years as the then newly–minted ‘Executive Housekeeper’ for St. Elizabeth Community Hospital where she oversaw ‘all things clean’ in her own, unique style.

After retirement, Joy returned to college and received a BA in Business Administration from Simpson University. She can be seen regularly doing various office projects at the Shasta College Tehama Campus – she began when it was on Palm Street before they built the nice, new campus on Diamond Ave. Her focus there now is proctoring tests.

But wait….there’s more! Joy is also a member of the Soroptimist International Red Bluff whose motto is: “Improving the Lives of Women and Girls” – a perfect fit for her. For over a decade, Joy has also been involved in providing the ‘building guards’ for the Tehama District Fair each year. The guards keep an eye on things and watch over the exhibits during the fair.

Wow. It makes me tired just thinking about it. I asked Joy why she is so involved and she told me about something she read on a wall in Truckee where her husband was working for PG&E back in 1969: “Not here on Earth to see through each other, but to see each other through”.

Joy is well named – it’s what she brings to those in her world. She is always at the ready with acts of kindness that will help see someone through.

 



Has your world been touched by dementia? My recent book, “Finishing Well: Finding Joy in the Journey”, is a collection of stories and  tips finishingwellinlife3Dcoverabout doing life with my Mama. May it encourage and inspire you to find the joy in your own, unique journey.

Find our group on Facebook 

World traveler gathers ideas to plant in his garden

Visiting historical places around the globe is a good fit for a history major who loves to travel. Len Stohler has always enjoyed exploring new places – even as a young man, he sold two steers in order to raise the money for a Boy Scout trip that stretched from his home in South Texas up to New York, Chicago and St. Louis. He also made a couple of trips to California to visit his great grandmother in San Jose.

After graduating from Baylor University he began attending Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, located in Marin County. His original plans were to become a minister, but eventually he switched directions and decided to become a teacher. He finished the credential requirements at San Francisco State.

In 1969 he came to Red Bluff to teach junior high. Len also served as the district’s Technology Mentor Teacher. With a major grant from Apple, Inc, he was able to work on a project that was presented at a national computer conference. During this time, he also oversaw school activities such as the yearbook and newspaper as well as photography.

Back then, photography was mostly the art of shooting and developing black and white film. He mentioned that the Daily News gave Vista a much-needed projector during that time. Today, photography is quite different, but Len has kept abreast of the latest technology. He even gave me some tips on how to use my new iPad.

He also introduced the “Bay Area Writing Project” in the district, a form of writing that focused more on fluency than form in the first drafts. It promoted more creativity in writing making it more enjoyable. He marveled that when encouraged, junior high students were so insightful and good at writing.

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Len Stohler stands in the beautiful garden he created to enjoy year-around color and a variety of wildlife.

After retiring, Len spend many years as a member of the School Board. In 1995, Len experienced a heart problem that required open heart surgery. That episode offered him a second chance in life and the opportunity to consider new projects and activities. One thing that blossomed from his new lease on life was the idea to plant a garden similar to the style he had observed on a trip to China in 2006.

The concept of a Chinese garden is that it should be compact, asymmetrical and pleasing to the eye. The garden should also have a focal point. Len’s beautiful backyard garden has a wooden walkway surrounded by a wide variety of colorful flowers, shrubs and trees.  His delightful garden is an attraction to a multitude of bees, birds and wildlife. While visiting with Len at an outdoor table in the shade, I was fortunate to watch, among other things, flocks of tiny finches, big black bumble bees and darting humming birds appreciating the flowers.

When asked why he gets involved in so many different things, Len responded, I’ve always want to learn new things. I know I don’t have the answers – there’s always something to learn.”

A multitude of other interests compete for his travel and gardening time. His great love of theology has led him to become active in a number of ministries and activities at the Presbyterian Church in Red Bluff.

Len has also been a long-time member of the “Sons In Retirement” group known as SIRS. He has held many offices in SIRS including ‘Area Governor’, a position whose area includes Mt. Shasta, Redding and Red Bluff.

Len has a son, Bill who lives in Hawaii. He is a Senior Project Manager for AECOM. He loves diving and is a very talented underwater photographer (Len’s living room wall display many of his son’s photos).

Exploring interesting bridges has been added to his love for traveling, as well as writing Travelogue articles for the Red Bluff Daily News.  A love for theatre and movies are also part of Len’s world – which all adds up to a life that is well lived and well-traveled.

 



Has your world been touched by dementia? My recent book, “Finishing Well: Finding Joy in the Journey”, is a collection of stories and  tips finishingwellinlife3Dcoverabout doing life with my Mama. May it encourage and inspire you to find the joy in your own, unique journey.

Find our group on Facebook 

Avid hiker explored the world and now captures local history

Hiker, backpacker, mountain climber. These are just a few of the interests that have driven Gene Serr to explore the great outdoors. As a young man, he climbed Mt. Whitney, the tallest mountain in the “lower 48″ states, three times – once he even spent a very cold night on top of the mountain. He has also climbed Mt. Shasta and over 20 other 14,000-footers in California and Colorado.

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Gene holds an ice axe passed down to him by his father that he used to climb Mt. Shasta and for a winter climb of Mt. Lassen.

Born in Yuba City in 1925, where his dad was a Farm Advisor, his family moved to Stockton where he spent his formative years before moving to Davis where he graduated from high school.

Selected for the Marine College Training Program at UC Berkeley, Gene received a Civil Engineering degree as well as a commission in the USMCR as 2nd Lt.  He was called up for the Korean War, and served a few months at a supply depot in Philadelphia.

His education continued at Colorado State University – receiving a MS in Irrigation Engineering. His Master’s Thesis caught the attention of the US Geological Survey in Lincoln, Nebraska, where he worked for two years before moving back to California with the Bureau of Reclamation in Santa Barbara. While there, Gene helped plan the Casitas Dam on the Ventura River and the Twitchell Dam on the Santa Maria River.

Gene married his high school sweetheart, Nancy Wilson, in Davis in 1951. They eventually had two sons, David and Jeff, three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, with another on the way.

Nancy, who passed away in 2005, was a wonderful artist. A memorial exhibit of her work was held at the Tehama County Museum in 2011. She worked in a variety of media, particularly oils and watercolor, also silk screen and batik. Beautiful paintings hanging on the walls of Gene’s lovely home attest to her talents. Gene established a Nancy Serr Art Scholarship at Red Bluff High School in 2016.

Gene and Nancy loved to travel. They were able to visit many countries and continents, including Australia – with stops in New Zealand and Tahiti as well. Other trips included China and several visits to Europe. Gene was able to find the small village in Germany where his family had lived before immigrating to the United States a few generations before. Places in the U.S. also provided fun and adventure for them when they took their jeep to Alaska for a driving tour. The beautiful pieces of pottery and carvings Nancy brought from their travels adorn their lovely home.

They spent many of the hot, summer days up at a cabin they owned in Mineral, which was the ideal base camp for their numerous hikes in Lassen Park and surrounding areas.

Starting in 1957, Gene worked for the California Dept. of Water Resources in Sacramento until 1966, when he was transferred to the Northern District in Red Bluff.  Here he worked on various projects and programs, notably the Davis-Grunsky program, which provided loans to small water districts to construct water systems. He retired from the DWR in 1988.

Curiosity about the lumber flumes that came down from the mountains led Gene to discover a second career in researching and writing articles about the history of Tehama County. He became an active member of the Tehama County Genealogical and Historical Society and served as editor of the Tehama County Memories for several years. Gene also helped write Tehama County, 1856-2006; Tales from Ishi Country; and Mineral-Mill Creek Place Names. He served as Regional VP, Conference of California Historical Societies.

A member of the Red Bluff Presbyterian Church, he is also involved in Kiwanis, Sons in Retirement, Nature Conservancy and several historical organizations.

Gene usually has several history projects going at the same time. He said, I enjoy the research and try to fit the puzzle together . You’re always missing pieces, but you do the best you can to fit the pieces together.

One of his current projects is Mary Ellen Place and Trail, about 20 miles west of Red Bluff.  It is a remote area that will require some serious hiking to reach. He is considering the use of an ATV to get there, assuming he can get permission from the property owner.

Gene intends to keep working his history puzzles as long as he can.

 



Has your world been touched by dementia? My recent book, “Finishing Well: Finding Joy in the Journey”, is a collection of stories and  tips finishingwellinlife3Dcoverabout doing life with my Mama. May it encourage and inspire you to find the joy in your own, unique journey.

Find our group on Facebook 

Still the life of the party at 105

Even at the age of 105, Babe Gow isn’t the oldest living member of her family. That distinction is held by her brother, Larry Matthews. At 110, he is currently the oldest living man in the United States.

Born in Oakland on Aug. 22, 1911, she was the seventh of nine children. Her given name is Clairbel, but you’ll get ‘the look’ if you call her that – she prefers to go by the name ‘Babe’.finishing_well_in_life_babe

Babe married Andrew Gow, now deceased, in the early 1930s. They moved to Red Bluff in 1944. Having the opportunity to go into business, they opened “Andy Gow’s Donut Kitchen”.  Every morning the delightful scent of the doughnuts cooking drew folks in from nearby business – it was common for the line to reach down the block.

Later, they became the managers of the “Tremont Hotel” on Main Street. It was told that they never turned anyone away. During the busy rodeo season, even if they were completely booked, Babe was known to allow out-of-town cowboys to find a corner to get some much-needed sleep.

Babe’s managerial abilities were also put to good use as the manager of the Hope Chest on Grant Street – a position she held for many years.  Never one to sit still, she was also the secretary of the Auction Yard. If that wasn’t enough, she spent some time working in Rasco’s Variety Store and Sprouse Ritz on Walnut Street as well as selling Avon and Home Interiors.

Babe loved to be on the go. A full blooded Portuguese, she was pleased to have the opportunity to travel to Portugal for a trip of a lifetime with her family after the death of her husband.

In spite of her busy schedule, Babe always found time for her two favorite sports; Bowling and Golf. She was on a bowling league for several decades, and continued to play golf well into her late 80s. Ever spry, she was still climbing up on the house at the age of 90, but hiding her ladder put a stop to that.

Loving people is a skill that comes naturally to Babe, and she shines the brightest when she is with her family – especially the babies. Anytime the little ones arrive at Brookdale to visit, her whole face lights up. Babe’s speech is becoming limited, but her ability to communicate is still quite strong.

Andrew and Babe’s three daughters still live in Northern California, as do many of her grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren.

A party was held a few weeks ago to mark Babe’s 105th birthday. One of the cards on display said, “Happy Birthday to one hot Babe”. At the age of 105, she’s still the life of the party.



Has your world been touched by dementia? My recent book, “Finishing Well: Finding Joy in the Journey”, is a collection of stories and  tips finishingwellinlife3Dcoverabout doing life with my Mama. May it encourage and inspire you to find the joy in your own, unique journey.

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Retired banker investing in his community

Everett McDonough is a man who never stops reading. He routinely reads about 200 books a year. He has settled on a favorite spot in his lovely living room surrounded by family portraits and mementos to enjoy all his books. There are plenty of regular books, but I noticed that a Kindle and smartphone were at his fingertips. Ev has certainly kept up with the technology of the day as attested to by the beautiful classical music courtesy of Pandora emanating from his Sonos speakers system.finishing_well_in_life_ev

Born in 1934, his family moved to Yonkers, NY in 1935. He was raised in the neighborhood of Bryn Mawr and attended public schools. Ev received his BA in Economics and History at Cornell University.

While at Cornell, he was in the Air Force ROTC. Ev served as a commissioned officer after graduation working as an Aircraft Navigator in the Air Force. After his discharge, he was fortunate enough spend a summer as a tour guide throughout Europe for the children of a close family friend.

Returning to the US, Ev earned an MBA at Columbia University and was immediately hired by Security First National Bank of Los Angeles. After graduation in the early 60s, he came out to California and eventually settled in the Pasadena area. More schooling was ahead as he attended Pacific Coast Banking School in the University of Washington, Seattle on behalf of the bank. He graduated with honors from the three-year summer program.

Ev’s father, who has a PhD in Organic Chemistry instilled into him the importance of giving back to your community. Taking it to heart, Ev became involved with the Pasadena Jr. Chamber, and both the Los Angeles and Pasadena Rotary Clubs. His boss was the National Chairman of American Red Cross and Ev was fortunate to work closely with him on several projects.

Ev loved his work and had a successful career in banking. He was told once that his successes were not from luck, but that he was able to use experiences that came his way. He retired from Security Pacific Bank as a Sr. Vice President.

After retirement, he stayed in the Pasadena area until he discovered Red Bluff while visiting friends. He moved north shortly afterward. Ev immediately jumped into activities and associations with both feet. In fact, he began attending the Red Bluff Rotary Club meetings before he even moved to the area.

Other areas of interest include the Friends of the library, SIRS (Seniors in Retirement), St. Elizabeth Development Committee, Tehama Concert Series, P.E.T.S., Board member of The Grove and my personal favorite – where I became acquainted with Ev: Tehama County Tax-Aide program, that he has headed up for the past several years. He is also very active in the Presbyterian Church.

Knowing Ev, there are probably many other involvements as well. He did mention that it might be time for him to cut back and slow down a bit – we’ll see how that goes.

In 2008, Ev was named ‘Senior Citizen of the Year’ at the annual Farm/City night. Ev loves animals and is the personal valet of his three cats. He thinks he owns them, but the cats know better. Everywhere Ev goes he changes and enriches the community around him.

When asked why he is so involved, he responded, “There’s no limit to what can be accomplished if it doesn’t matter who gets the credit. I appreciate the opportunities that are here and I feel an obligation to give back to the community.



 

Has your world been touched by dementia? My recent book, “Finishing Well: Finding Joy in the Journey”, is a collection of stories and  tips finishingwellinlife3Dcoverabout doing life with my Mama. May it encourage and inspire you to find the joy in your own, unique journey.

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