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In the News - Friday, July 29, 2011



 Three Rivers chokes on Lion Fire smoke

  Firefighters in the Little Kern Canyon area of the Golden Trout Wilderness have ignited thousands acres in the past week as part of a strategy that federal officials hope will stop the massive blaze dubbed the “Lion Fire” in the next couple of weeks. The fire was ignited by a lightning strike on July 8 near Lion Creek.
   The latest release dated Thursday, July 28, indicated that the huge fire burning in the southern Sierra backcountry is approximately 15 percent contained.
   A backburning strategy was conducted mainly on the southern and eastern perimeters of a fire line that will eventually encircle more than 34 square miles. Ignitions also helped to reduce the fire’s intensity near Peck’s Cabins, a private in-holding in the Golden Trout Wilderness, and near the historic Quinn Patrol Cabin within the southern boundary of Sequoia National Park.
   According to Deb Schweizer, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks fire education specialist currently assigned to the Lion Fire, the latest hurry-up-and-burn strategy was the outcome of an air quality advisory that was issued for the entire region.
  “In the next several days, high pressure is expected to build into the region and that could mean that the prevailing air currents won’t be much help to disperse the smoke in areas that are north or west of the fire like Three Rivers,” Deb said. “While we had a window of reasonably good air quality on Tuesday and Wednesday ignitions were accelerated.”
   This decision was the outcome of talks with the Lion Fire incident command and air district officials from the San Joaquin Valley, eastern Kern, and the Great Basin.
   Deb said the weather forecast and the changing air quality are the causes of the huge jump in the reported acreage that has burned so far in the Lion Fire. In the past seven days, the number of acres burned has more than tripled from 5,000 to 15,000.
   On Wednesday, a huge plume of smoke from the blaze was visible for 40 miles, funneling northward along the west side of the Sierra in Kern and Tulare counties.
   While the fire marched steadily on its own toward Hockett Meadow and Farewell Gap along the southern boundary of Sequoia National Park, firefighters ignited huge areas on the fire’s southern and eastern perimeter. On Wednesday, ignitions were being concentrated near Pecks Canyon Creek along the divide north of Quaking Aspen.
   The Golden Trout Wilderness is one of the most pristine native fishing areas in the lower 48 states. A backcountry network of hiking trails is currently closed due to fire activity. A well-preserved log cabin was discovered in the Golden Trout Wilderness in the northwestern segment of the Lion Fire complex (see above). The cabin was discovered Saturday, July 23, by a helicopter crew that was conducting aerial ignitions to moderate fire intensity. The previously undocumented cabin is being protected from the fire.

  If all goes according to plan, Deb said, the fire will reach 22,000 acres and be fully contained in the next 10 days or two weeks. The northeastern perimeter of the fire near Farewell Gap is expected to hold because that area is mostly granite.
  “We know the smoke has been really bad this week in Three Rivers, especially in the early morning hours,” Deb said. “We expect that the fire will be slowing down soon and less fire means less smoke.”
   The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District issued a health cautionary statement on Thursday, July 28. It was issued for six Central Valley counties — Stanislaus, Merced, Madera, Fresno, Tulare, and Kern.
   The latest fire information and a detailed closure map can be found at http://inciweb.org/incident/2400/. Those planning to travel in the Sequoia National Forest wilderness are being asked to call 539-2607; for wilderness travel in southern Sequoia National Park, call 565-3766.

Vehicle fire sparks blaze on Generals Highway

  A Dodge Ram 350 truck hauling a trailer on Wednesday, July 20, burst into flames along the Generals Highway in the Giant Forest area, one-quarter mile south of the Four Guardsmen (the row of giant sequoias along the highway on the western edge of the forest). The vehicle fire sparked a small wildland blaze that, if left unattended, could have developed into a major incident.
   But the two male occupants of the vehicle, with the assistance of Sequoia National Park rangers and a fire crew, were able to extinguish the vehicle fire and make certain that the wildland fire did not become a catastrophe. The forest fire was contained within one-quarter of an acre.
   The driver and a passenger in the vehicle, who are in Sequoia National Park working as subcontractors on the Generals Highway road construction, were not certain what sparked the blaze. The vehicle was damaged; the trailer was not involved.
   A park helicopter also made a water drop in the vicinity to ensure the fire did not flare up later.

MK rollover closes road

  The Mineral King Road is one of the most scenic and challenging roads anywhere in the mountain west. Last Sunday, one driver apparently became distracted on that historic roadway and in an instant was a victim of a rollover accident.
   Fortunately for the 24-year-old male motorist, he was not injured in the afternoon mishap that occurred Sunday, July 24. But the late-model Toyota 4Runner that was upside down in a narrow stretch of the Mineral King roadway near mile marker 23, closed the road in both directions for more than seven hours.
   Sequoia Park rangers finally gave the all-clear at the accident scene at 8:30 p.m. Details as to what caused the solo-vehicle accident were sketchy.
   The motorist from Woodlake said when he noticed he was too close to the right shoulder he overcorrected and that caused him to drive up the embankment on the opposite side of the roadway. After the vehicle turned over, the uninjured man was able to crawl out.
   The investigating ranger at the scene issued a citation to the driver for failure to control his vehicle that included a $275 fine. The ranger also noted that the poor condition of the vehicle’s tires might have been a factor in the accident.

Power outage hits Village Shopping Center

  Todd Tashiro, owner of the Three Rivers Pizza Factory, knew something was wrong when his air conditioning went down on the afternoon of Monday, July 25. After climbing up on the roof he noticed all the units in the complex were off but the popular pizza place still had enough power to stay open and serve some understanding patrons.
   It was a “three-phase outage,” which according to one local electrician occurs when the line fails that is designed to carry the heavier voltage to refrigerators and commercial air conditioners. That failure can be usually traced to a short somewhere.
  “We still had some power but it was so hot with the ovens operating that we had to close at 7 p.m.,” Todd said. “It wasn’t anything SCE did but they were ultimately responsible to restore full power to the complex.”
   The outage also affected the offices of Darrell Rich, DDS; Sequoia Pacific Real Estate; and the Three Rivers Community Services District (CSD).
  “I didn’t know the power was off until I came to work in the morning,” said Cindy Howell, CSD general manager whose office is in the rear of the Pizza Factory complex. “I’ve never seen so many SCE repair crews at one location.”
   Todd said SCE crews were on-site by 1 a.m. and had the power fully restored by 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday. The Pizza Factory had to replace some refrigerated food products and also lost some customers who were turned away by the oppressive heat.
   The lesson to be learned in this incident is that there are lots of businesses in Three Rivers with aging wiring and old breakers. Those who want to avoid stressful outages, or worse yet a fire during the peak of the summer season, might want to consider an electrical system upgrade.

Secretariat descendant settles in Three Rivers

By Brian Rothhammer

  Christy Wood is the owner of Wood ’N’ Horse Training Stables on North Fork Drive in Three Rivers. Late one Tuesday in July 2011, she was going through her emails.
  “I had been receiving emails from a breeders’ association for about six months, and as I had stopped my own breeding program in ’08, I was going to unsubscribe,” she said. “Apparently I became distracted, because the next morning there was another email from them about a horse named Cousin Sara.”
   Christy explained that she almost hit the delete key, but saw the name Secretariat in Cousin Sara’s bloodline. Cousin Sara is a granddaughter of the Triple Crown winner.
  “I couldn’t believe that this horse could be available,” said Christy. “Secretariat… Secretariat… kept going through my mind as I remembered the 1973 Triple Crown and how magnificent he was.”
   Within days, Christy was on her way to Logan, Utah, to pick up the newest horse that would call Wood ‘N’ Horse Training Stables in Three Rivers home.

A horse with heart
   For six weeks during the late spring of 1973, a horse named Secretariat dominated sports headlines and captured the attention of horse-racing fans and non-fans alike. On June 9, he captured their hearts with a staggering 31 length win at the Belmont Stakes for the coveted Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing.
   The Crown had not been won since 1948, and to date no other horse has broken Secretariat’s record setting time of 2:24 on the 1½-mile dirt track at Belmont. The record he set at the Kentucky Derby on May 5, 1973 (1:59 2/5) also still stands.
   Secretariat became a media superstar and his name was known worldwide. He went on to win more races (16 of the 21 races of his career) and set more records, retiring after his win at the Canadian International Stakes at Toronto on October 28, 1973. He was three years old.
   After Secretariat’s death in 1989, it was determined that his heart was two-and-a-half times the size of the average horse’s. A veterinarian remarked that “…it was just this huge engine.” In 2010 a major motion picture titled Secretariat was released, grossing over $60 million at the box office

Coin Toss
   As depicted in the film, Secretariat came to be owned by Penny Chenery as the result of a coin toss in 1969. Chenery actually lost the toss, ending up with Secretariat. In 2011, Christy Wood of Three Rivers would feel that fortune had smiled upon her.
  “I picked up the phone and called the breeders’ association, and they were screening applicants,” Christy said. “They had other options. I just hung on and talked to the woman about my philosophies on horses, on training. I encouraged her to go to my website while we discussed articles I had written about retraining race horses.”
   Christy suggested training Cousin Sara as a saddle horse and spoke of her desire to introduce the Secretariat bloodline to the Appaloosa industry and to the western horse show world.
  “By the end of our conversation, the deal was set,” Christy said. “I felt as if I’d won my own coin toss!”

X factor
   Cousin Sara had a successful racing career in Pennsylvania and Florida. Christy does not intend to race her.
  “She’s not for show,” she said. “She will be a brood mare and saddle horse.”
   Christy shows competitively at the national level, competes in Extreme Cowboy races, and will soon be off to Montana to ride in her eighth annual Chief Joseph Historic Trail Ride. She lives and breathes horses, having written two books, a how-to manual on horse shows and a children’s book.
   Cousin Sara is almost 10 years old, is 16.2 hands, and has had three foals. Her mother, Jazz Session, is a daughter of Secretariat. With championship lines through both sire and dam,   Cousin Sarah brings the “X factor” to her offspring.
   The abnormally large, yet perfectly proportioned heart of Secretariat has been attributed to a genetic condition passed down through the dam (female) line. Known as the X-factor, it can be traced to a horse named Eclipse (1764-1789).
   Regarding appaloosa breeding, Christy explains, “It’s what’s flowing through those veins — the heart -— that’s first. Heart will get you distance. Color is the icing on the cake.”
   A beautiful thoroughbred, Cousin Sara displays the stunning chestnut red shine of Secretariat, which is why he had the nickname “Big Red.”
  “I’m really glad to have her here, even just to go up and pet her every day; just to look at her,” said Christy. “This is a part of history, right here in Kaweah Country.”


The top 10 giant sequoias: A review and update

  In the summer of 2002, I embarked on a quest to visit the largest giant sequoias on the planet. Good thing they all happen to be within a day’s drive of my home.
   I brought my family along on this adventure. And the project lasted through the top five trees.
   Life happens. Our two children were busy with their activities, and one day, they sat me down and gave me an ultimatum.
  “Mom, we’ll make a deal with you. We will go backpacking anytime you want if we don’t have to day hike when we don’t want to.”
   The end of an era. There has been a real slow-down in the “Hiking the Parks” feature since we had that talk.
   I rarely missed any of their games or performances, and we continued to take our week-long backpacking vacation together each year until they left for college. But my day-long explorations of the southern Sierra were put on hold.
   Well, the kids have been gone for several years, but it’s taken me awhile to return to my crusade of counting down the really big trees. Although John is a great hiking partner — he had to pass that test before I would marry him — we both miss the kids during our explorations.
   After all, there’s nothing like seeing nature through the eyes of a child.
   But last autumn, just before the snow began falling and didn’t stop until March, my devoted hiking buddy of 24 years and I took the long drive and short hike to Big Tree number five, which since I last wrote in this series has been promoted to number four.
   I’ll explain why at the end of this article. Here’s a review of what’s going on with “The Biggest of the Big Trees.”

  Here is the introduction to the series that was published in July 2002. This was also read by Dick Martin, then-superintendent of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, during the dedication ceremony of the Giant Forest Museum that summer.

  Giant sequoia. Just the name inspires the senses to come alive.
   Their immense size and cinnamon color is a feast for the eyes. Though the largest trees on earth, they are soft and gentle to the touch.
   The smell of a giant sequoia grove in the early morning, after a rain, or on a warm summer’s day is magical. Breezes can be heard in the uppermost branches of these massive trees that can’t be felt at ground level, and birds call from treetops that can’t even be seen.
   The largest of these magnificent trees make the tallest buildings look small. They are wider than most city streets.
   They have survived fire and flood and drought. Some have lived for over 2,000 years.
   They are worthy of our protection. They have been here since the dawn of time and have much to teach us about life and survival.
   Giant sequoias grow only on the west side of the Sierra Nevada mountains in just 75 groves, 30 of which are in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. They grow at elevations of 4,000 to 8,400 feet and prefer gentle slopes near moist, yet well-drained soil, alongside streams and meadows.
   Nicknamed “Big Trees” for obvious reasons, sequoias, for all their girth, have amazingly shallow root systems. The trees’ bark is their secret to longevity — they don’t die of old age.
   Sequoias are relatively fire resistant and the wood has a low resin content, which provides further protection. The trees are immune to most fungus diseases, and insects rarely harm them seriously.
   Giant sequoias reproduce only from seed. In early summer, the trees offer a picturesque backdrop for the Pacific dogwood, whose white flowers add another magnificent dimension to what is already a unique and spectacular forest scene.
                                                                        * * *
   Here are what was at the time the top two giant sequoias. However, the second largest tree in the world met a fiery end at the hands of the very people who are charged with protecting them.


   Even amidst an entire grove of giant sequoias, the General Sherman Tree is massive. It is the largest tree in the world and the most visited attraction in Sequoia National Park.
   The tree is 274.9 feet tall and has a circumference at the ground of 102.6 feet. The volume of wood contained in its trunk is approximately 52,500 cubic feet, although several years ago the tree lost a colossal limb.
   Estimated to be between 1,800 and 2,700 years old, the General Sherman Tree is still growing and continues to bear cones. It adds about 40 cubic feet of wood each year, which is about the size of a 50-foot tree that is one foot in diameter.
   The General Sherman is located just off the Generals Highway 19 miles from the Ash Mountain entrance station and 2.25 miles past the Giant Forest Museum. It is at the northern-most edge of the Giant Forest.
   A new parking facility has been built that today removes most vehicle traffic away from the sensitive root systems of the Big Trees.
   The General Sherman Tree was named Aug. 7, 1879, by James Wolverton, pioneer cattleman and trapper, in honor of General William Tecumseh Sherman, under whom he served as first lieutenant in the 9th Indiana Cavalry.
   In fact, many of the giant sequoias that received names during this era are in honor of military leaders who were prominent during the Civil War. During the latter part of the 19th century, the nation was still attempting to heal its wounds caused by the violent conflict that took place among its citizens.
   A walk on the Congress Trail, which begins near the Sherman Tree, is a hands-on history lesson in the forming of the United States government and those who were important in the founding of this country.
   Since the General Sherman has been around since long before the dawn of civilization, it is to be expected that it has represented more than one group of peoples. Its prehistoric significance is unknown, but within mere years of the white man named Wolverton bestowing the honor of Sherman on this landmark, another group gave it a name representing what they, too, perceived was a great honor.
   The Kaweah Colony, a group of idealists who formed a cooperative colony and hoped to build a utopian center of culture and equality, named the tree after their inspiration, Karl Marx. The colony, which was based in the Three Rivers area on the upper portions of what is now North Fork Drive, was in existence from 1886 to 1890.
   This group is, in part, responsible for the creation of Sequoia National Park and the preservation of the Big Trees. Because they filed claims for timber lands in a section of forest that contained giant sequoias and built an access road and lumber mill, local conservationists were spurred into action to protect the ancient groves.
   The Sherman Tree is admired by millions each year. Take time to visit this tree often. View it in the early morning without the crowds. Then visit it at sunset, when its rich reddish-brown bark is accentuated by the sun’s rays.
   Examine it up close. Notice its furrowed bark, its generations of burn scars.
   Walk all the way around it and see it from all sides. Lie down and look up at its ragged, yet regal, crown.
   Look at its uppermost branches, many of which are larger than most trees. Climb the hill behind where it stands, and see it from this perspective.
   Make time to visit the area in late spring, when the dogwood are in bloom. Visit it with the summer crowds and be proud of this national treasure.
   Come back in the fall and commune with it during the quiet time. Ski to it in the winter and revel in the stillness of a forest sleeping, yet so alive.


   The name “Washington Tree” has appeared on maps as early as 1905. It is obvious for whom this tree was named, but whoever named it is unknown.
   The Washington Tree may be reached by several circuitous routes. It used to be one of the best specimens to visit because it is in the heart of Giant Forest, yet off the beaten path.
   Trails that provide access to the tree begin at Crescent Meadow, Giant Forest Museum area, and the General Sherman Tree area. No matter what route is selected, it is good practice to take a topographical map of the Giant Forest area.
   There is a vast network of trails that transect the plateau, making it very easy to take a wrong turn, but not realize it. This is an area that is well-traveled, yet it is extremely easy to lose sense of direction.
   The route described here will take hikers in from Crescent Meadow, making it about a four-mile round-trip hike with very little climbing. The tree can be reached in less than half this mileage from a trail that begins along the Generals Highway, about a quarter mile east of the Giant Forest Museum.
   From the Giant Forest Museum, take the Moro Rock/Crescent Meadow Road (closed on summer weekends to all vehicles except the free shuttles). The drive itself explores some of the most beautiful portions of the Giant Forest Grove.
   The road ends in two-and-a-half miles and at 6,700 feet elevation at the Crescent Meadow picnic area. At the northeast end of the parking lot, near the restrooms, take the trail that heads north and parallels beautiful Crescent Meadow.
   This portion of trail is popular with summer visitors, but the farther one ventures into the forest, the crowds begin to disappear. We’ve been to the Washington Tree many times and there has never been anyone else there.
   In a half-mile, the Crescent Meadow Trail junctions with the Trail of the Sequoias, which on this section is also part of the Huckleberry Meadow Loop Trail. Turn left (northwest) and continue for about another half mile, and when the trail junctions again, veer left, staying on the Huckleberry Meadow trail.
   Within one-quarter of a mile, the west end of Circle Meadow is reached. In another tenth of a mile, there is another trail junction.
   Stay left and continue on the Huckleberry Meadow Trail. The trail to the right is a fun detour as it parallels Circle Meadow to reach the Bear’s Bathtub in another quarter-mile.
   The Bear’s Bathtub is actually two giant sequoias that have grown together and formed a hollow at their bases that is filled with water most of the year. The trees were named in 1902 by Ralph Hopping, a partner in the first Giant Forest concession company, after hearing the story that Chester Wright, a Sierra guide, once saw a bear bathing in the pool.
   To continue on to the Washington Tree, turn around and backtrack to the trail junction. Take the Huckleberry Meadow Trail north for just over a quarter of a mile.
   Even though the trail that spurs off to the left for one-tenth of a mile to the Washington Tree can be easily missed if not watching for it, the tree used to stand like a sentry and was easily seen.
   Maybe it’s the location — the tree was surrounded by others that were no match to its size — but the Washington Tree seemed extraordinarily huge and grandiose. This tree — previously ranked number two in size behind the General Sherman, which grows just over a mile away — had one branch that jutted straight out then skyward that was bigger than most mature trees.
   In 2002, I wrote: “[The branch] resembles a giant arm, and the tree seems very alive and humanlike, as if it has feelings and knowledge of its mortality.” (Was this a premonition? In just over a year, this massive tree would be a victim of a managed fire. Maybe the tree was trying to warn me of its impending doom.)
   The General Sherman Tree (274.9 feet) is actually 20 feet taller than the Washington Tree (254.7 feet) used to be. The Washington Tree’s ground perimeter is 101.1 feet; the Sherman Tree’s is 102.6. The Washington Tree’s diameter at breast height is 26 feet; the Sherman Tree is 25.1.
   While spending time in this secluded area that is near the center of the Giant Forest Grove, it’s easy to understand why people would want to live here. Just one-quarter of a mile to the north, down a gentle slope and near Little Deer Creek, which feeds both Round Meadow and Circle Meadow, is the site of an ancient Indian village.
   Dozens of bedrock mortars, where acorns and pine nuts were ground, and blackened soil from generations of fires is what remains of Indians who made their summer home in Giant Forest. With the Washington Tree towering over the site on the hill to the south and beautiful pools and falls formed by the granite creek bed, it is not difficult to imagine the plentiful and peaceful life these native peoples led.
   Ravens, which are said to contain the spirits of Indians, are always nearby and keep close watch on the area. Every time we have explored the area and relaxed on the sun-drenched granite boulders, they kept constant vigil, guarding this precious hideaway for their ancestors of long ago.
   Update (July 29, 2011): The summer of 2003 was a tough fire year. The Dinely Fire in Three Rivers created many tense moments for homeowners. Antelope Mountain in Woodlake burned.
   In the local national parks, fire crews were busy balancing prescribed fires and several lightning-caused blazes, including one in the Giant Forest. Although orders were reportedly given to create a perimeter around the Washington Tree and protect it from the approaching fire, something went horribly wrong.
   Word trickled out that the second largest tree in the world had caught fire. Today, it is a shell of itself; its defining branch on the ground in a charcoal heap.
   As of this writing, the Washington Tree will be removed from this list of the “Biggest of The Big Trees.” I have been avoiding this so I wouldn’t have to say my final goodbyes to a very old and dear friend.
   Next week: Big Trees numbers two through four.


Making peace with our bodies

By Charlene Vartanian

  What is the purpose of pain? How do we deal with it? What are its gifts? Can we prevent it? And, if not prevention, how do we remain gentle and calm in the midst of it, even as we seek relief? These questions, spoken or unspoken, are very much present during any health crisis or healing journey.
   The definition of “healing” is to make sound or whole, to restore to health. The word “health,” an old English word of Germanic origin, means related to the whole. Mandala, a Sanskrit word, also means circle, completion, and wholeness. In Jungian psychology, mandala means an effort to reunify the self.
   In 1946, the World Health Organization (WHO) defined health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” In 1986, WHO went on to say that “health is not just a state,” but also “a resource for everyday life, not the objective of living. Health is a positive concept emphasizing social and personal resources, as well as physical capacities.”
   The search for health or wholeness appears to be a basic need of human beings. The above definitions evoke the intention of growth and healing necessary to understand this process of life and the function of pain in our lives.
   And relative to our bodies, they are very much at the forefront of people’s lives, particularly as we age (read: move into our wisdom years). This striving for wholeness, and most importantly the ability to achieve wholeness, is a core belief of healing-with-the-hands therapeutic bodywork, and of any treatment or modality intended to provide relief and/or health support.
   The body has an amazing capacity to tolerate insult. It also has an amazing capacity to heal.
   We all know the miracle of a scab over a wound; what a beautiful process to witness. The body knows how to protect a wounded area, seal it off to prevent further injury, and then provide a safe environment so that it can heal from within.
   This same process of protection and renewal is at work when we have an injury, strain, or sprain. The body “hugs the lesion” to protect the injured area, often resulting in tight muscles and limited movement. As it heals, relaxation occurs and natural range of motion can once again be achieved.
   When an injury does not heal on its own, it is possible to assist the healing process. Healing with the hands seeks to support the injured tissues so that the energetic force of the injury can be released. The body then no longer needs to hold itself close, so that the natural relaxation process can begin and freedom of movement restored.
   If you are in pain, living with a chronic illness, or just have your share of daily tension, hands-on work can often help when other options may not have worked. The therapeutic benefit of human touch, skilled and experienced hands, and a compassionate presence do much to nuture and empower our human potential and our pursuit of health and wholeness. It is synonymous with the philosophy of nursing and patient or client advocacy.
   In addition to the very real and meaningful physical outcomes people experience, the power of touch can also help us explore the different dimensions of our mind, body, and spirit. When we provide an opportunity to connect with our body, we can begin our own conversation with its physical needs relative to the emotional, intellectual, and spiritual aspects of our self.
   Oftentimes, physical pain or discomfort is the way our body gets our attention in order to address these other dimensions of self. As we tend and nuture our self, the body usually responds by feeling more alert and more gently fully alive from a calm and centered state.
   This is often called the transformative aspect of hands-on healing bodywork. As we integrate the different aspects of our self, we feel better. This is reason to celebrate.
   Charlene Vartanian, R.N., is a therapist specializing in craniosacral therapy and massage.


Helen Blaszak
1918 ~ 2011

   Helen Clara (Shaikoski) Blaszak of Auburn died Saturday, July 9, 2011. She was 93.
   Helen and her husband, Robert Edward Blaszak, lived on Dinely Drive in Three Rivers from 1984 to 2010. Bob preceded Helen in death by less than four months; he passed away March 15, 2011.
   Bob and Helen grew up together on neighboring farms near Canby, Minn. During World War II, Helen was a “Rosie the Riveter,” working for Northwest Airlines in Minneapolis-St. Paul.
   Bob and Helen married on June 18, 1946. They worked on the family farm and began raising their family.
   In 1959, Bob and Helen left farm life in Minnesota and moved to Torrance, Calif. Helen, a highly skilled seamstress, worked first for Rose Marie Reid, a swimsuit designer, then as a design seamstress for Barbie dolls with Mattel Inc.
   Helen and Bob retired to Three Rivers in 1984, where they built their riverside dream home and enjoyed entertaining friends and family In 2010, the couple moved to Auburn to be near their daughter Linda.
   In addition to her husband of 64 years, Helen was preceded in death by her parents, Alex and Cecelia Shaikoski, brother Harry Shaikowski, and grandchildren Heather Lynch and Scott Johnson.
   She is survived by daughters Romayne Anderson of Torrance and Linda Lynch and husband Bill of Auburn; sons Robert Blaszak and wife Marcia of Wasilla, Alaska, and Luvern Blaszak of Kingsburg; her brother Donald Shaikoski and wife Patricia of Fairmont, Minn.; seven grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.
   Helen will be laid to rest with her husband at the Veterans Cemetery in Dixon, Calif. A celebration of life will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society or the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

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