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Old-Timers Club honorees

Dorothy H. Andersen

Age 90/ Merced County for 50 years

Born on a farm near Cromwell, Iowa

Was married to Reynold B. Anderson for 60 years before being widowed. She has two children and three grandchildren. Dorothy took her first job after her children were college age. She was the secretary to the director of nursing at MCMC, and later worked as an instructional aide at John Muir Elementary School in Special Education.

Her community service activities included: Red Cross, helping at voting centers, Church Outreach, and knitting newborn hats for Sutter Hospital.

Dorothy’s hobbies are limited now, but she still loves to read, knits a little, walks when she is able, and feeds her backyard birds.

Although she has many fond memories of living in Merced County, Dorothy most loved the beauty of Merced when they first came here in 1960. Her memories include both military and civilian life and God’s beauty all around.

“I’ve been so blessed.”

John J. Areias

Age: 89 soon /Lifelong resident of Merced County

Born in Volta, CA. Now resides in Los Banos

Married but now widowed. He has 4 children and 5 grandchildren.

John was a self-employed dairy farmer for many years.

He has enjoyed hunting and fishing.

John has many fond memories of spending time with good friends and enjoying the good weather of Merced County.

John Red Areias

Age 85/ Merced County since birth

Born at home in Volta now resides in Los Banos.

John was married to Anne Branco for 42 years before being widowed in 2006. He has 3 children, 6 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren.

John worked on a local dairy until 1958, when he moved into town. He worked at the fairgrounds for 6 months and since then has worked at Sorenson’s, where he is still employed. (51 years)

John’s hobby is gambling from “time to time.”

His greatest joys in life come from spending time with his family and many friends.

Hiro Asai

Age 86/ Merced County since birth

Born in Cortez, CA

Married to Hisako for 63 years and together they have 4 sons, 8 grandchildren, and 8 great grandchildren.

Hiro served in the US Army in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in France and Italy for 2 years.

Hiro was a farmer and worked in appliance sales and service with H & H Appliance in Merced.

Past and present community service includes: Cortez J.A.C.L., Cortez Service Society, VFW Post 8985, Friends and Family of Nisei Veterans, Ballico School Trustee, and Cortez Buddhist Church.

Hiro’s hobby has been raising fruit and vegetables to give to family and friends.

His fondest memories of living in Merced County include starting from horse & buggy days, the depression, walking 3 miles to school, to now living in “present luxury.”

Mary H. Avila

Age 95/In Merced County, 85 + years

Born in Los Banos still resides there.

Mary was nominated for this recognition by her sister, Belle Sousa. She worked for many years for Tri Valley Growers.

Miye Baba

Age 87//Merced County for 65 years

Born in Alamo, CA.

Miye was married to Nobuzo for 56 years before being widowed. Together they had 3 daughters. There are now 4 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren in her family as well.

Her community service revolved around her church community and leading Karaoke Singers.

Miye’s hobbies include crafts, sewing, and singing.

Her fondest memories of living in Merced County include helping out at school and community events.

Leon H. Bartlett

Age 85 this August/ Merced County for 62 years

Born in Quitman, Arkansas.

Leon has been married to Diane for 17 years. He has one daughter, Karen.

Leon worked for 12 years for Standard Oil; 50 years as an oil jobber.

Leon has been a member of the following organizations: Elks Lodge, Masonic Lodge, and Shriners. He was on the board of directors for the Red Cross for 3 years.

His hobbies include being on the ranch and taking care of his cattle.

Leon’s fondest memories are being in Merced, watching the growth, and taking care of his customers.

Michael Berklich

Age 85/ Merced County for 56 years

Born in Hibbing, Minnesota

Married to Mary Garrity Berklich for 61 years and together they have 4 children, 3 grandchildren and 2 step grandchildren.

Michael was a paratrooper in WWII in the Battle of the Bulge. His last jump was over the Rhine River prior to the end of the war. He escaped as a prisoner of war and did not return home until May 1946 because of long stays in military hospitals.

He worked at Farmers Insurance for 37 years.

Michael’s community service: He was very active in his younger years both at Our Lady of Mercy School and different sports in Merced coaching Little League, Legion Baseball, and teaching golf. He was instrumental in introducing slow-pitch softball to the City of Merced.

Some of his hobbies included golf, all types of hunting and fishing. He particularly enjoyed watching his dogs pointing and retrieving.

Michael’s fondest memories of living in Merced County come from watching his children growing up, finishing college, getting married and being successful in their chosen fields.

John Borba Jr.

Will be 85 this October/ Has lived in Merced County since 1927

Born in Riverdale, CA now resides in Merced.

John was married to Cecelia for 54 years, when he was widowed in 2005.

They have 5 children, 12 grandchildren, and 7 great grandchildren.

John’s life career was that of a self-employed dairyman.

His community involvement centered around various service groups: Elks, YMI, and Eagles.

John enjoys playing cards with friends. His greatest joys in life come from being on the dairy with his family.

Norman Bradford

Age 85/ Has lived in Merced County for 68 years

Born in Shirley, Arkansas currently resides in Le Grand.

Married to Audrey Holland Bradford for 63 years. They have 3 children, 9 grandchildren, and 12 great grandchildren.

Norman served in the Navy during WWII. He enlisted in 1942 at the age of 18 and served until December 1945. He served on the USS Prometheus in the Pacific Front.

Norman worked for F.W. Anderson from 1940-1981, where he started as a general laborer and worked his way up to foreman. Eventually Norman purchased most of the Anderson ranch, including the genetic plant breeding business in 1981. Up until 2008, Norman was self-employed almond farmer and plant breeder. He patented 70 fruit and nut varieties during that time. He retired from breeding in 2008, but continues to farm almonds in the Bradford Farms partnership with his son, Glen.

Norman’s community service included a variety of venues. He spent time coaching youth baseball, welcomed FFA members for pruning lessons, hosted numerous tours at Bradford Farms, and served on the board for the CA Almond Growers Exchange. Through Bradford Farms, he helped sponsor many of the youth activities, especially sports programs, and he and Audrey hosted many foreign exchange students. He has also been a member of the Masonic Lodge since the 1950’s.

Fishing, hunting, attending his granddaughters’ softball games, watching baseball and football are just some of his hobbies. Norman also enjoys playing cards and dominos, visiting with family and traveling. He and Audrey have traveled to Spain, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Fiji, the Bahamas, and Hawaii.Norman’s greatest joy in life comes from raising his family here in Le Grand and farming in such a wonderful location.

Joe Brown

Age: 85 this year/ Has lived in Merced County for 60 years

Born in Hobbsville, North Carolina and now resides in Merced.

Married to Geri Brown and they have 4 children, 12 grandchildren, 28 great grandchildren, and 1 great-great grandchild.

Joe served in the US Army from 1943-1946.

He was employed with Vangas Petrolane Propane and Shannon Pump Co. in Merced.

Joe volunteered his time with the Merced Comm CB Radio Watch.

His hobbies over the years include: hunting, fishing, car races and baseball.Joe’s greatest joy in life comes from watching his children and grandchildren grow up.

Ralph Busby

Age 85/ In Merced County for 61 years

Born in Berkeley, CA

Married to Bunny Busby for 62 years. They have 4 children, 5 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild.

Ralph served in the US Army from 1943-1945.

He was one of the founders of Fluetsch and Busby Insurance Agency, working in the business for 48 years.

Ralph has many organizations in which he served in leadership roles, helping to better his community. Past President of: Kiwanis Club of Greater Merced, Merced City Chamber of Commerce, Castle Air Museum, Merced Cemetery District, Merced Boosters, John Muir School PTA. In addition, he was Head Trader for Merced Trade Club, served one term on Merced City Council, and a trustee on Merced County Retirement Association.

Some of Ralph’s hobbies include golf, fishing, hunting, and hiking.Ralph’s greatest joy comes from having 4 children and spending time with them doing a variety of activities.

Mary Areias Cardoza

Age 90/ In Merced County since birth

Born in a home in Volta, near Los Banos.

Married to Frank S. Cardoza for 25 years until his death. Together they had 4 children. There are 11 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren in Mary’s family currently.

Mary taught Catechism for St. Joseph’s program with Sister Rosario for several years.

She has enjoyed crocheting, reading, and watching “The Golden Girls.” Mary’s children are her greatest joy in life. Her fondest memories of Merced County is her continued enjoyment of the beautiful agriculture and dairy cattle.

Nellie A. Cherry

Age 97/ In Merced County for 66 years

Born in Brock, Oklahoma, now resides in Atwater.Nellie was married to Sidney Cherry for 64 years before his death at age 84. She has 7 children, 18 grandchildren, 27 great-grandchildren, and 3 great-great grandchildren.

Nellie worked for 23 years at FW Woolworth and JJ Newberry stores and went on to work an additional 15 years in home party sales.

She was an active member of the Merced Rebecca Lodge for many years.Nellie loves to play cards, bingo and mostly enjoys a family dominoes night. Her greatest joy in life is her seven children, their families and her close friends. Although Nellie left family in Oklahoma she was thankful to be able to raise her children in rural Merced County and to have them attend local schools, graduating from Merced/Atwater High Schools before going on to have great successes in their personal lives, including wonderful families of their own. Nellie is also thankful that all her children and their families have been blessed with good health.

Timothy Oliver Cooksey

Age 85/ In Merced County 65 years

Born in Fordyce, Arkansas, now resides in Atwater

Timothy has been married to Myrtle Cooksey for 66 years. Together they have six children, 25 grandchildren, 61 great-grandchildren, and 4 great-great grandchildren.

Timothy was employed as a construction worker during his employment years. His hobbies include reading and sitting on his couch and talking with friends and loved ones.

Timothy’s greatest joy is serving as the Pastor of Bethany Church.

Verne L. Davis

Age 85/ Merced County for 53 years

Born in Halstead, Kansas and currently lives in Sonora, CA

Married to Dawn Lincoln Davis for 61 years. They have 2 children and 2 grandchildren.

Verne served in the US Navy in WWII from 1943-45. He was trained in San Diego Naval Training Center and Naval Air Tech Training school in Norman, Oklahoma. He was stationed at ADAK Alaska Naval Air Station.Verne was employed by Merced County for 38 ½ years, starting in the road dept., promoted up through the ranks and was the 4th county road commissioner. He was later appointed as Merced County’s first director of Public Works.

Verne is a 53 year member of Merced #83 American Legion; 50 year member of Yosemite Masonic Lodge #99; Life Member of Merced County Historical Society; First president of Merced High School Athletic Booster Club, and a Fresno Tehran Shriner.

His hobbies long ago included golfing and water skiing (he says he was not good at either one)

Verne shared, “There are so many wonderful memories, but the first thing that comes to my mind is when Dawn and I were married in Le Grand. It was a beautiful garden wedding in her folk’s back yard and everyone was so happy! It was the same happiness when our children were born, and followed me as my work for Merced County proceeded. Merced County was a wonderful place to work and I loved and enjoyed every minute.”

On a P.S. “Attending Plainsburg Elem. School and graduating from Le Grand Jr. & Sr. High Schools could not have been better!”

Alice Deane

Age 85/ Lifelong resident of Merced County

Alice was born at Mercy Hospital and still lives in Merced.

She was married to George Dean Jr. before being widowed. Alice has 3 children and two grandchildren.

Alice worked for a short time for the county auditor’s office before her marriage. After her children went off to college she worked at Sprigg’s Center in Merced.

Alice has given of her time to several organizations over the years including: Hospital Assistance League (past president), Friends of the Library, Camp Fire leader, Den Mother with Boy Scouts, and a deaconess at Central Presbyterian Church.

Alice has always enjoyed her garden. She also spent much of her free time supporting her husband in his extensive community outreach activities.

Alice’s family has brought her the greatest joys in life. She is happy to watch the county and city grow so well.

Amelio A. Duni

Age 85/ In Merced County 82 years

Amelio has been married to Bernice D. Minghetti for 62 years. They have 2 children, 7 grandchildren, and 5 great-grandchildren.

Amelio was employed in farming, including the dairy industry.Over the years, Amelio enjoyed big game hunting and guiding and packing into the back country.

Amelio’s greatest memories of living in Merced County include working hard, and enjoying family and friends.

Epifania A. Fuentes

Age 85/ In Merced County for 60 years

Born in Los Angeles, CA, now resides in Merced, CA.

Epifinia was married to Pedro Fuentes for 64 years before becoming widowed. They had 2 sons, one who is deceased. 5 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren complete their family tree currently.Epifania worked for many years before retiring 6 years ago. Her employers included: Nabisco Cracker, Lockheed Aircraft, Bear Creek Camp Foreman Braceros, C & M Surplus, Tractor Supply, Fisco, and Kellogs Supply.

Epifania performed as a dancer during concerts in the park. She has also been involved in the Neighborhood Watch organization for 7 years.

Her hobbies include sewing and gardening. Epifania’s greatest joy in life comes from enjoying the small town atmosphere and concerts.

Toni Gaestel

Age 85 this Sept./ In Merced County for 62 years

Born in Los Angeles, currently resides in Merced. Married to Joe Gaestel II for 57 years before he passed away in 2005. She has 2 children and 4 grandchildren.

Toni served in the 8th Air Force in England for 3 years.

She was employed as a model in LA and worked for the State Fair.

Toni’s community service includes: hospital volunteer, hospital assistance league, Parkinson’s Assoc. Group, Merced Co. Art Council, Merced Comm. Theatre, and past president of Mother’s club at O.L.M School.

Her hobbies over the years included: golfing, singing, being in community plays, skiing, and camping.

There are too many memories to settle on just one, but being with family and friends is where the happiest times happen.

Thelma (Rusty) Ganci

Age 85/ In Merced County 64 years

Born in Webber Falls, Oklahoma/ now resides in Merced.

Married to Bill Ganci for 64 years. They have 3 children and 5 grandchildren.

Thelma (Rusty) worked for Felice & Perelli Cannery for 33 years, superintendent of the sanitation crew.

She is a past president of the O.L.M Mothers’ Club, OLM High School Representative, Mercy Hospital Volunteer for over 25 years in the gift shop.

Thelma (Rusty’s) greatest joy in life comes from raising her children and participating in all their activities including sports, dances, etc. and serving as a chaperone as was needed.

William (Bill) Ganci

Age 86/ In Merced County 64 years

Born in New York City, New York, now resides in Merced.

Married to Thelma for 64 years, together they have 3 children and 5 grandchildren. Bill served in the US Army from 1943-46. He served under General George Patton’s 3rd Army in France and Germany from 1944-46.

Bill retired from the Merced Sun Star in 2000, having been employed as a retail advertisement salesperson.

He was involved in many community organizations: Optimist Club, Atwater Rotary, Jr. Merced Chamber of Commerce, O.L.M. Parents’ Club, and Honorary Member of the American Legion. Bill has held many offices in the Knights of Columbus Fraternal organization: he is a 3rd & 4th degree knight, past Grand Knight, District Deputy, served as secretary-treasurer for 27 years. Bill also coached little league for 10 years.

Bill’s greatest joy in life comes from raising his children, educating them at OLM school, being involved with the Knights of Columbus, Italo picnics, and the conveniences of every to do and see here.

Paul Garibay

Age 92, almost 93/ In Merced County since 1938

Born in El Paso, Texas. Now resides in Merced.

Married to the late Cecelia Garibay for 59 years. Together they had 8 children, two who are deceased. 17 grandchildren and 21 great grandchildren complete Paul’s family currently.

Paul served in the Army Air Corps from 1944-45.He was in construction and farming for 70 years.

Paul’s hobbies include going to the casino, reading western books by Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour, watching western movies and gardening.

His greatest joy in life came from celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary with his beloved wife Cecelia and taking a 2nd honeymoon in Hawaii.

Raymond B. Harcksen

Age 90 this year/ In Merced County 55 years

Born in Modesto, CA. currently resides in Ballico.

Married to Betty for 59 before her death. The family includes 3 sons, 4 grandchildren, and 9 great-grandchildren.

Donald served in the US Army for 4 years during WWII.

His livelihood came from farming from 1946-2002. Donald was co-founder and manager of Northern Merced Hulling Association, a farmer owned almond shelling cooperative (1969-1990).

Donald was an active member of the Ballico community. He is a 55 year member of the Delhi-Ballico Lions Club; 50 year member of the Ballico Volunteer Fire Dept.; served on the Ballico-Cressey School Board for 9 years, and the Blue Diamond Growers Board from 1962-84. In addition, Donald was co-founder of the Almond Hullers & Processors Assoc. formed in 1971, served on its board of directors a number of years, a Farm Bureau member and board member, member of Merced County Chamber of Commerce, and the Ballico American Legion.

Donald enjoyed back packing, but has retired from that sport. He still enjoys playing bridge.

Donald’s fondest memories come from the pleasure of raising his family and farming in Merced County. Those same joys are experienced as he watches his grandchildren and great grandchildren grow.

Charlie Huddleston

Age 85/ In Merced County for 73 years

Born in Oklahoma. Now resides in Merced.

Married for many years before his wife’s passing. Charlie has 4 grown children, 54 grandchildren, and 4 great grandchildren.

Charlie spent many years working hard in the local fields and being active in the community with various events.

Over the years, Charlie has enjoyed fishing and hunting.

His greatest joys in life come from helping people in the community.

Margarita Huerta

Age 89/ In Merced County 68 years

Born in Phoenix, Arizona, now resides in Le Grand.

Married to Tony Huerta for 54 before becoming widowed. She has 5 children, 8 grandchildren, and 12 great-grand children.

Margarita worked in the fields and packing sheds, cannaries, and almond hullers. She also did some domestic work and babysitting over the years.Along with her husband Tony, Margarita was instrumental in establishing the Water Company in Le Grand. In addition, she was also very active in her church, our Lady of Lourdes. She is a member of the Altar Society there and the Guadalupana Club. Margarita, while she was still able, would visit people who were ill and home bound. She also helped distribute food and clothing to the needy. Margarita has enjoyed sewing, crocheting, cooking and canning.

Her fondest memories come from seeing her children grow up in a small community where people were close and cared about what was happening. In those days, no drugs, no crime. She takes pleasure in seeing her children’s successes and their families. Margarita’s greatest joy is spending time with her grandchildren.

Berent Isenberg

Age: Will be 85 in June/ In Merced County 50 years

Born in Muessen, Holstein, Germany. Now resides in Merced.Married to Marilynne for 54 years, together they have 2 children and 3 grandchildren.

Berent served in the German Army. He later served in the US Army in Italy, where he was a POW.

In 1952-54, Berent worked in construction engineering in British Columbia. From 1955-59 he was partners in VW agency in Modesto; 1960-97 Berent was owner/manager of VW dealership in Merced which included other makes such as Peugeot and Subaru.

Berent’s community involvement included: Member of County Chamber, Merced Chamber, both since 1960; He has been a member of the Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church in Merced where he has served on the building committee when the first church was built, along with numerous terms on the church council. He is currently president of the church council.

Berent has enjoyed traveling, gardening, and his church membership.

His greatest joys in life come from having the total support in what he was doing by his wife and children.

Elmer Jantz

Age 100/ In Merced County 73 years

Born in Durham, Kansas, now resides in Winton, CA.

Married to Viola Unruh for 74 years, they have 9 children, 38 grandchildren, 100+ great-grandchildren, and 15 great-great-grandchildren.

Elmer worked for G & M Equipment and was a farmer and dairyman.

His hobby was working.

Elmer’s greatest joys in life come from being with his family: wife, children and grandchildren and the turns each family took with meals.

John Kollmann

Age 85/ Merced County for 52 years

Born in Madera, CA, now resides in Merced.

Married to Alma Jane Kollmann for 52 years. They have 4 children, 13 grandchildren, and 5 great grandchildren.

John served in the US Army for 2 years during the occupation of Korea

John was a teacher for 32 years. He started his teaching career in Mariposa (3 years) and then moved to Merced City where he taught at Tenaya for 28 years.

His hobbies include painting and photography.

John’s fondest memories of living in Merced County include living in the center of the state, close to San Francisco, Oakland, and of course, Madera.

Julia Larson

Age 85/ In Merced County for 57 years

Born in Sacramento, now resides in Merced.Married to A. Howard Larson for 63 years. They have 5 grown children, 7 grandchildren, and are expecting their first great-grandchild in September.

Julia was a teacher.

Her community service included: PTA, Friends of the Library, Hospital League, AAUW, Friends of Merced College & UC Merced, CWA, and Historical Society.

Julia’s hobbies include golf and bridge. Her fondest memories of living in Merced County come from the many friends they have made.

Frank Martin

Age 89/ in Merced County for 85 years

Born in Gustine, still resides there.

Married to Ines E. Martin for 27 years. Frank has 2 children, 4 grandchildren, and 1 great-grandchild.

He served in the US Army for 3 years, serving his tour in Europe.Frank was a supervisor at a feed mill for many years.

He has served as a docent for the local museum.Hunting and gardening were hobbies of Frank’s.

Frank’s fondest memories come from enjoying good weather and the friendly and trusting people in the county.

Ines E. Martin

Age 85/ In Merced County lifelong

Born in Volta, CA, now resides in Gustine.

Married to Frank Martin for 27 years.

Ines has 5 children, 8 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren, and 1 great-great-grandchild.

Ines worked as a migrant aide, cooked at sales yard in Los Banos, worked at a truck stop, and did some nursing and babysitting over the years.

She has served her community by working at the local museum and serving as a docent.Ines’ favorite hobby is cooking, “I Love it!”

Her fondest memories come from having lived on a dairy, going to a country school, then high school. Ines always felt safe and protected.

Albertina Martinelli

Age: will be 90 in June/ In Merced County for 58 years

Born in San Colombano, Italy, now resides in Merced.Albertina was married to Angelo Martinelli for 49 before being widowed. She has one son and 2 grandchildren.

Under employment history, Albertina wrote “strong Italian housewife!”

She has been active in the Italian Ladies Club and Italian Catholic Federation.

Albertina’s hobbies were taking care of her house, family, and gardening.

Her fondest memories include meeting her husband Angelo in Merced, and having a son, Reno.

George S. Naumann

Age: will be 85 in Sept./ In Merced County lifetime

Born in Merced, now resides in Snelling. Married to Nadine for 62 years. They have 2 children, 1 grandchild, and 3 great-grandchildren.

George served in the Army Air Corp from 1944-46 in Europe.He worked for Merced County Fire Department.

George’s hobby is flying.

Roland Noya

Age: Will be 85 in Sept./ Lifelong resident of Merced County

Roland has been married to Audrey for 61 years. They have two daughters, 3 grandchildren, and 2 great-grandchildren.

Roland served in the US Navy on the USS 259 for 2 years in the Philippine Islands. He served as a letter carrier for 40 years for the US Postal Service.

Roland has always enjoyed working on his cars, and still, every Saturday, spends time detailing their cars.

Lois Parker

Age 85/ In Merced County 58 years

Born at Mercy Hospital.

Lois has been married to Tom Parker for 67 years. They have two sons, 4 grandchildren, and 2 great-grandchildren.

Lois was a teacher for 30 years.

She was active in various organizations: PTA, serving as president; docent at Merced Co Museum; on the committee for the Festival of Cultures, and corresponding secretary for AARP.

Lois’ hobby is watercolor painting.

One of her favorite memories of living in Merced County was going for an all day picnic and swim as a child at Lake Yosemite.

Blix Pluim

Age 85/ in Merced County for 70 years

Blix was born in Kimble County, London, Texas and now resides in Merced.

She was married to Albert R. Pluim for 61 years before being widowed in 2007. Blix has 2 sons and 3 grandchildren.

Blix worked at Castle Field from 1943-45, court reporting AWOL cases in Gregg Shorthand. She also worked for Crocker-Huffman Land & Water Co. from1945-47.

Her community service included: serving on election boards over the years and volunteered to work on civic affairs when needed.

Blix’s hobbies include: golfing, sewing, reading , bridge, gardening, crossword puzzles and cooking.

Her fondest memory of living in Merced County is: “Upon moving here in 1939, I went to Merced Theatre for the first time to see Gone With the Wind. I thought it was beautiful and am very eagerly awaiting its refurbishment. One of my greatest joys is just living in Merced and calling it home. It’s a great area with nice people living here.”

June (McHugh) Rahilly

Age 85/ Has lived in Merced County for 85 years

Born in Richmond, CA, currently resides in Merced.

June was married to Rodney Fisher for 36 years, and Michael Rahilly for 21 years.

She has 5 children, 13 grandchildren, and 20 great-grandchildren.

June was employed by Pat Graham’s Dress Shop, Merced County, and JF Collins Co.

She has served her community in a variety of service organizations, including: Crippled Children, Red Cross, Beta Sigma Phi, and her class reunion chairperson.

June enjoys painting, reading, and spending time with her family.Her thoughts on living in Merced County: “I have been happy all my life here in Merced.”

Seraphina Rios

Age: will be 85 in September/ In Merced County 74 years

Born in Pittsburg, CA, now resides in Merced.

Seraphina was married to Donald Rios for 47 years before his death in 1993. She has 2 children, 3 adult grandchildren, and 3 great-grandchildren.

Seraphina worked for 29 years at Farmer’s Insurance.

She is a past member of the YLI and still a member of the Merced Colony Grange.

Seraphina enjoys crocheting, gardening, and crossword puzzles.

Her fondest memory was her grammar school days at Farmdale School and 8th grade graduation at Merced Colony Grange.

Yeichi Sakauchi

Age 90/ In Merced County for 66 years

Born in Santa Clara, now resides in Turlock (Cortez area)Yeichi has been married for 63 years. He has 4 children, 6 grandchildren, and 2 great-grandchildren.

Yeichi was self-employed. He has served his community through church sessions, Cortez Growers director, and J.A.C.L. as president.

His hobbies included fishing and golf.

Yeichi’s greatest joys in life come from begin able to farm many acres of almonds, raising 4 children and sending them all to university, and building a new house on his property.

Charles L. Sawyer

Age: 86/ in Merced County 78 years

Born in Fresno, CA, now resides in Los Banos.Charles has been married to Helen M. Taylor Sawyer for 56 years. They have 2 sons and 2 grandsons.

He served in the US Army Signal Corp for 3 years in Europe, from 1943-46.Charles was self-employed for many years, operated an Auto Body Repair business.

He served as past president of the Los Banos Lions Club, president of Milliken Museum Society, and Los Banos Veterans. Charles has enjoyed #1, collecting barbed wire, collecting local Westside history, traveling, and spending time in the outdoors.

His fondest memories of living in Merced County come from spending time with great friends, the small town atmosphere, and the great outdoor activities. It was a great place as a youngster.

Charles R. Sidebotham

Age: 85/ In Merced County 78 years

Born in Long Beach, CA, now resides in Merced.

Charles served in the US Navy from 1943-46 in the South Pacific.He worked in the air conditioning and refrigeration industry from 1952-1991.

Charles has enjoyed hunting, fishing, and camping. His fondest memory of living in Merced County is growing up in Winton, CA.

Gilbert E. Silva

Age: 87/ Lifelong resident of Merced County

Born in Winton, CA now resides in Los Banos.

Gilbert has been married to Belmira D. Ferriera Silva for 57 years. They have 3 children and 7 grandchildren.

Gilbert served in the US Army for 25 months in the Philippines and Korea.He was self-employed as a dairy farmer for many years.Gilbert was involved in the O.L.F Society and collected money yearly for O.L.F School.

His hobby is gardening.

Gilbert’s greatest joy in life comes from being a dairyman.

Levongia Slaton

Age: 92/ in Merced County for 80 years

Born in Montgomery, Alabama, currently resides in Merced. Levongia was married to Jack Slaton for 60 years. She had 8 children, 2 who are deceased. There are 45 grandchildren and 79 great-grandchildren in Levongia’s family tree.

She worked at CC&G Cannery for at least 50 years.

Levongia belongs to Eastern Star organization, was involved in her church, and helped to feed the homeless.

Her hobbies included sewing, canning, gardening, farming, and cooking.Levongia’s greatest joys in life come from taking care of children, hers and others. She often watched others’ children as they went off to work.

Clara M. Soares

Age: 87/ In Merced County 80 years

Born in Gustine, CA, now resides in Los BanosClara was married to Melvin Soares for 58 years before being widowed in 1999. Together they had 10 children, one who is deceased. She also has 11 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren.

Clara worked as a payroll clerk for the LB Bowl for 6 years. She also worked as secretary for LB Chamber of Commerce, and secretary for LB Junior High School for 11 years.

Clara has enjoyed volunteering for the Los Banos Arts Council and New Bethany Guild.

She enjoys quilting and playing bridge.Clara’s fondest memories of living in Merced County come from marrying her husband Melvin and raising her family in Gustine and Los Banos. “Living during the best years of the 20th century in this simple plain lifestyle of Merced County as it was then-the patriotism of the time during WWII, experiencing the 1st man on the moon- the 1st black president elected- my life has been full of work, full of love, and very blessed, all here in Merced County.”

William C. Stephens

Age: will be 85 in December/ In Merced Co. 70 years

Born in Manchester, Tennessee, now resides in Merced.William was married but is now widowed. He served with the US Marines for 2 years in Okinawa.

William was employed with Merced County for 36 years.

Over the years, he has enjoyed fishing and hunting, which have also provided William with his fondest memories of Merced County life.

Lloyd “Lefty” Stepp

Age 88/ In Merced County for 53 years

Born in Hendersonville, N.C., now resides in Atwater.

Lloyd is married to Betty Stepp.

He served his country in the US Air Force for 26 ½ years being stationed in several places throughout the United States. Lefty served in three wars: WWII, Korea, and Vietnam wars. He was stationed at Castle Air Force Base for 10 years.

Lefty worked for Merced County for 16 years, and was self employed for 6 ½ years as owner of Yum Yum Drive In Restaurant.

He has served his community with his membership in several organizations: Masonic Lodge, Golden Lions Club, Livingston Lions Club, Reach Program-Salvation Army. Lefty also distributed food to the poor through the St. Vincent de Paul Society, and volunteered as a tour guide at Castle Air Museum for 16 years.Lefty enjoys traveling.

His greatest joy in life came from being owner of the first and only eating place North of Bear Creek for 6 ½ years.

Joan Edmonson Stribling

Age 87/ In Merced County 72 years

Born in Amo, Hendricks County, Indiana, now resides in Merced.Joan was married to Willis Stribling for 65 years before his death. She has two children, 5 grandchildren, and 5 great-grandchildren.

Joan held several unusual jobs before entering the field of education. She worked as: a car-hop at Santi’s Drive-in; a programmer at KYOS Radio; a technician at Fresno State College; and was a clerk at the sub-depot supply at Merced Army Flying School in Merced Army Air Field. Joan was a teacher at McSwain Elementary and later Hoover Jr. High. She also was employed as the librarian at Chenoweth Elementary and also East Campus in the Merced Union High School District.

Joan served her community in many ways. She was a Red Cross Grey Lady, Cub Scout Den Leader, involved in PTA, Community Players (drama group), and community concerts and theater. Joan served on the Recreation Commission for the City of Merced, was the first woman recipient of Citizen of the Year by the Merced Chamber of Commerce, served 8 years as Trustee for Board of MUHSD, 4 years as first woman chairperson. Joan’s hobbies included singing, reading, attending concerts and theater, and storytelling.

Joan’s greatest joy in life comes from hearing of the lives and achievements of her former students.

Helen Swickard

Age 87/ In Merced County 60 years

Born in Sunland, CA now resides in Winton. Helen was married to Lee Swickard for 52 years before being widowed.

She has 3 children, 10 grandchildren, and 5 great-grandchildren.Helen was an Art Teacher at Merced College and choir director at the Atwater Baptist Church.

Her community service was also involved with the arts. Helen volunteered at the Arbor Gallery and Merced Co. Multicultural Art Center.

Helen has enjoyed painting, music, and church activities.Her fondest memories of living in Merced County include her many friends in her lifetime in Merced, Livingston, and Atwater communities.

Charlie E. Testa

Age 87/ Lifetime resident of Merced County

Born in Merced and still resides there.Charlie has been married to Bernice for 60 years. They have 3 sons, 5 grandchildren, and 1 great-grandchild.

Charlie served in the US Army in the 4th Infantry from 1943-45.

He has always been involved in farming.Charlie’s hobbies included deer & elk hunting and restoring tractors and trailers.

John Joseph Teixeira

Age: 85/ In Merced County for 70 years

Born in Newman, CA now resides in Dos Palos.John has been married to Adelina for 57 years and they have 4 children and 5 grandchildren.

John was a self-employed dairyman in Newman before moving to Dos Palos in 1951. He sold the dairy and remained in farming full time since then.

John has given back to his community with his involvement in the Los Banos Sportsman and Dos Palos Y Service Clubs.

His hobbies include hunting and fishing. John’s greatest joys in life come from his involvement in agriculture with his family. He also shared that the people of Merced County have made his life very joyful.

Vernal R. Tornquist

Age: 87/ Lifetime resident of Merced County

Vernal now resides in Hilmar.He has been married to Barbara for 55 years. They have 2 children and 2 grandchildren.

Vernal served in the US Air Force for 33 months.

He has been self-employed for many years.

Alfred J. (Al) Torres

Age: will be 85 in November/ In Merced County 74 years

Born in Merced Falls, now resides in Atwater.

Al was married to Albina Q. Torres for 19 years. He has 3 daughters, 1 grandchild, and 1 great-grandchild.

Al served in the Army Infantry at Camp Roberts and in the Philippines for 18 months.He worked for Miles & Sons for 18 years, Bank of America 2 years; City of Merced 24 years, and Winton School District (part time for 5 years). Al has also worked for American Legion for the past 18 years part time and is still employed there.

Al annually visits all veterans confined in private homes. He has also volunteered at hospitals and convalescent homes providing other services.

Al’s hobbies include gardening and cooking.

His fondest memories of living in Merced County: “I cannot forget Merced Falls where I was born and lived there 18 years.” He has so many, many memories he couldn’t list them all, however raising his 3 daughters was one that brought him great joy.

Gustavo Villalta

Age 93/ In Merced County 68 years

Born in Pordenone, Italy now resides in Los Banos.Gustavo was married to Carmella for 65 years before she died in Nov. 2008 at the age of 92. He has 2 children, 3 grandchildren, and 1 great-grandchild. Gustavo served in the National Guard from 1937-40; in the 40th Signal Corps from 1941-46 serving in WWII in Bengal, China and Burma, India; and finally in the Air Force Reserves from 1946-49.Gustavo was owner of Gus’ TV and Radio Repair Service in Los Banos for over 50 years.

He was involved in his community by serving on the Los Banos Planning Commission for 13 years; was a founding member of St. Joseph’s Hospital Guild; a 4-H Leader and Boy Scout Leader.

Gustavo’s hobbies include being a Ham Radio operator and collecting radio and television antiques.

His greatest memories of living in Merced County, “After living in New York, San Francisco, and the military it was a joy to be in such a quiet, peaceful environment.”

David I. WenrichAge 86

Lorraine Costa (Murphy) Wenrich

Age 86/ Lifelong resident of Merced County

Born in Franklin District, Merced now resides in Merced.

Lorraine was married to Ed Murphy for 38 before his death in 2001. She has been married 1 1/2 years to David Wenrich. Lorraine has 2 children, 2 grandchildren, and 2 great-grandchildren.

She was employed as a medical secretary, bookkeeper, and was executive director of the Merced Symphony Association.

Lorraine’s service to her community involved many organizations. She was the 2nd executive director for Merced Mental Health Assoc; 1st president of Merced Concert Orchestra in 1958; 1962- present member of Merced Symphony Orchestra; is a member of: Merced Theatre Charter Foundation, Merced Women’s Club, Garden Club, St. Luke’s since 1949. She was a co-founder of Merced College Orchestra, Euphonium Player Merced College Concert Band for about 40 years. Lorraine helped plant flowers at the entrance of UC Merced with the Garden Club, and also planted flowers at Merced Theater at its re-opening in 1999.

Lorraine’s hobbies include: music, gardening, anything that helps make Merced County a better place.

There are many wonderful memories, too many to mention with the exception of her most recent joy. Lorraine met her present husband when they were 14 years old at Merced High School in band and orchestra. Then, they met almost 70 years later and were married in July 2008!

Janet Larsen

Age 88// Has lived in Merced County for 58 years

Born in Plymouth, CA// Now resides in Merced

Janet was married to Carl L. Larsen Sr. before being widowed. They have 3 children, 6 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren.Janet taught at McSwain School for 29 years and worked summers at the Merced County Fair.

Her community service involvement came from her membership with St. Luke’s Church Vestry, American Assoc. of University Women (for 50 years), Merced Garden Club, and Cub Scouts.

Janet’s fondest memories are watching her children and 2 of her grandchildren grow up in Merced. She has been very significant influence in their lives.

Domenico Marchini

Will be 85 years in Sept.// In Merced County 60 years

Born in Marlia, Lucca, Italy// Now resides in Le Grand

Domenico has been married to Eva for 59 years. They have 4 children and 6 grand children.

He worked various jobs, mostly in saw mills, while he lived in Italy. After arriving in the US in May 1949, he worked for one year for Giampoli & Marchini before farming on his own. Domenico farmed until his retirement in 1989.

Domenico has been active in Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church. His hobbies include vegetable gardening, maintaining his yard, and spending time with his grandchildren.

Domenico has many great memories, all the people he’s met. It is difficult to single one thing out.