UC Merced

Local folks want to see 'Michelle'

Bert and Nancy Crane enjoy a long history in Merced County.

Bert Crane has been a cattle rancher for years. His family name adorns street signs in rural areas of the county.

The Cranes have worked hard for local causes, such as building a new hospital and helping out the less fortunate.

But Saturday, Bert and Nancy Crane were like thousands of other people in Merced: just a couple of local residents who wanted to see first lady Michelle Obama speak at UC Merced.

Obama came to Merced to speak in front of thousands of students, their relatives and folks who just wanted to see the woman they called "Michelle."

Nancy Crane said on her way to the Lakireddy Auditorium on campus, where the UC commencement exercises were shown on a big screen out of the hot sun, that it was a memorable day for Merced.

"It's a historic event, probably one of the most historic ever," Nancy Crane said.

Her husband, Bert Crane, said that it was nice to have some good publicity for Merced for a change.

"We've had a lot of bad publicity," Bert Crane said. "She's showing that there's good things in Merced."

Bert Crane said that Obama is such an educated person that he believes Merced was lucky to have a person of her caliber come to town.

"It's really quite a tribute to Merced," Crane said.

Lee Boese, a local dentist deeply instrumental in bringing the 10th UC campus to Merced, looked forward to hearing Obama speak.

"I can't wait," he said. "Getting the UC here has been a long haul, and this is wonderful."

Reporter Carol Reiter can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or creiter@mercedsun-star.com.