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In the News - Friday, August 14, 2009

All stories written by John or

Sarah Elliott unless otherwise noted

 

—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)

A ridgetop view of the Horse Fire and, to the right,

Homers Nose. The wildland fire was discovered July 19

after being ignited by lightning. It is located in southern

Sequoia National Park, east of Hockett Meadow. It is currently

about 70 acres in size; there are no trail closures in effect.

Visit national parks

for free this weekend

   It’s the third and final weekend of the summer that this generous offer will take place. The National Park Service will waive all entrance fees on Saturday, Aug. 15, and Sunday, Aug. 16. Grab the family and take advantage of this opportunity to go play outside!

Teen dies in park fall

   Visitors to Lodgepole in Sequoia National Park often take the scenic 3.5-mile roundtrip day hike to Tokopah Falls. The trail is clearly marked, ascends the Tokopah Valley gradually, and affords plenty of dramatic views of the nearby peaks.
   Once near the steep waterfalls, the polished granite walls are inviting for some non-technical rock climbing. But often scrambling up proves easier than coming back down.
   Apparently, that all-too-familiar scenario played a role in the death of Kevin Trevor Rodriguez, 19, from Southern California. According to the Park Service incident report, on Monday, August 10, Rodriguez and a friend were scrambling on the rocks above the trail when the accident occurred.
   Instead of climbing down the same way they had ascended, the duo attempted to descend what appeared to be an easier route. While less steep, the rocks they chose to descend were smooth and had become very slippery by water that polished the granite surface during countless seasons of high water.
   Rodriguez took a tumbling fall, landing some 50 feet in a small pool below. He sustained severe head injuries as a result of his fall.
Bystanders and the victim’s companions attempted to administer CPR for approximately 45 minutes. At that point, park medics arrived and continued CPR. At about 4 p.m., Rodriguez was pronounced dead at the scene.
   Visitors are reminded that rocks can be slippery and treacherous even if they are dry.

  “Injuries, rescues, and fatalities occur often when a down-climb is more difficult or impossible than it appeared from the ground,” said Adrienne Freeman, parks spokesperson. “Visitors are warned to use extreme caution when scrambling or climbing in the parks.”

Accidents underscore local hazards


   The winding mountain roads in and around Three Rivers are difficult to drive in the best of times. Add some distracted tourists and a drunk driver or two into the mix and there are bound to be accidents.
Fortunately, in the spate of recent incidents, nobody was seriously injured. The first in a series of recent mishaps occurred Saturday, Aug. 1.
   At approximately 6 p.m. several cars with visitors were heading westbound on Sierra Drive in the vicinity of the Totem Market. Apparently, a Saturn sedan driven by Bradley Hall, 48, of Visalia was rear-ended by a Chrysler PT Cruiser driven by Sergey Serakov, a Russian national from Moscow.
   Although the investigation was hampered by the fact that Serakov and his two female passengers did not speak English, it appeared that Serakov took his eyes off the road for a moment and bumped into the Saturn. The fender-bender attracted several emergency vehicles, including a helicopter that responded to the scene where both vehicles were stopped on the shoulder of the busy highway.
   A female passenger in the Saturn appeared to be moderately injured. She was transported via ambulance to Kaweah Delta Hospital in Visalia for treatment.
   On Sunday afternoon, Aug. 9, a Three Rivers man hit a utility pole while attempting a left turn into the Cherokee Oaks subdivision. A CHP officer followed a trail of auto parts and fluids to a Cherokee Oaks Drive residence.
   The 45-year-old driver of the damaged 1996 Chevy Suburban was arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI).
   On Tuesday, Aug. 11, a 1994 Kia, driven by a 19-year-old Three Rivers man, ran off the road and crashed into a fence on Blossom Drive near the intersection of Old Three Rivers Road. The errant motorist was arrested at the scene and also charged with DUI.

  “There is typically an increase in the number of calls in Three Rivers during the busy summer season,” said Officer Wright of the Visalia CHP. “Please don’t drink and drive and use extra caution as there are lots of visitors who are not familiar with the local roads or driving in the mountains.”

Pot plantations targeted for eradication

   In the past four weeks, a task force made up of law officers from 15 agencies has really made a dent in the current pot-growing season. Operation S.O.S. (Save Our Sierra) concentrated on the public lands located in Fresno County and eradicated more than 400,000 pot plants.
   The illicit drug trafficking and associated support activity, a fixture for more than a decade in Sequoia National Park, has been detected recently by park rangers in Kings Canyon. Much of this illegal activity has occurred along the Highway 180 corridor between Grant Grove and Cedar Grove.

  “Collaboration between these multiple agencies has made Operation S.O.S. a huge success,” said Craig Axtell, superintendent of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
   Twenty-nine NPS rangers, park police, and special agents conducted highway stops, disrupting the trafficking during the peak harvest season. More than 40 arrests were made by NPS personnel.
   One known cultivation site near the Sequoia National Park boundary was abandoned due to the law enforcement presence in the area.
   On Wednesday, Aug. 5, NPS rangers raided a grow-site near the northwest boundary of Sequoia National Park. Located at 6,000 feet, the site is the highest elevation within Sequoia to be raided to date.
   There was some serious damage done to establish the site. The raid netted more than 1,000 pounds of trash, hose, and hazmat and plant materials.
   All the recovered materials were flown out by helicopter at the end of the day. To reach the area, a tactical team was inserted by helicopter via short haul.
   The resultant raid seized more than 3,500 plants with an estimated street value of $14 million.
   Another raid on private land just outside the parks in the Eshom Valley area near Badger was conducted Monday, July 27, by Tulare County Sheriff’s Tactical Enforcement Personnel (STEP) team. Eradicated were 1,369 plants, which would have ultimately had a street value of nearly $5.5 million.

Generals Highway roadwork continues

   In addition to the ongoing daily work, construction will begin at night on the Generals Highway between the Red Fir Maintenance intersection and the Little Baldy summit.
   The plan calls for night closures to begin Sunday, Aug. 16, and to continue through Friday, Aug. 21. The road, the main artery from Sequoia National Park to Kings Canyon National Park, will be closed during this period from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.
   There will be no restrictions on traffic from 5 to 6 a.m. or from 6 to 9 p.m. each day.
   The daytime schedule will remain in effect from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. During this time, travelers will have an escort through the five-mile construction zone.
   From 6 to 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 to 6 p.m., there are half-hour delays with traffic let through at the top and bottom of the hour. From 8 a.m. until 4 p.m., there will be one-hour delays with traffic being allowed to pass at the top of the hour.
   In addition, there is roadwork ongoing between the Wuksachi Village intersection and Clover Creek Bridge. Expect up to 15-minute delays in this area.

SPEAKING OUT:


Time to resuscitate the medical industry


by Bill Haxton

   Like a massive flood that sweeps away everything loose on the surface, the debate over healthcare reform is exposing the major fault line in the philosophical bedrock of American society: What things should government do, and what things should it avoid?
   That’s the debate within the debate. Progressives argue that access to healthcare is a basic human right and that government should make it available at a reasonable cost to those who can't afford it — the social responsibility argument. Conservatives argue that healthcare access is a personal responsibility, not the responsibility of government.
   Neither side is likely to change its position anytime soon.
   I’d like to take a different approach. For me, the central issue is whether we would be better off individually, better off as a nation, with the existing healthcare system, or whether we'd be better off with a reformed one. Approached from this angle, healthcare reform ceases to be a moral issue and becomes a question of infrastructure.
   Why infrastructure? Because it is infrastructure that liberates a nation to realize its full potential. In the 19th century, massive investment in canals, turnpikes, and railroads made it possible for food grown in the Midwest to get to markets in the east, and for manufactured goods made in the east to get to the Midwest.
   In the 20th century, even larger investments in the electrical grid, the air-traffic control system, the interstate highways, and the telephone network united America from coast to coast and propelled us into a position of global leadership. Without these infrastructure investments, all carried out by government, America would likely have remained a loose cluster of underperforming regional economies with very poor prospects for defending ourselves during World War II.
   But physical infrastructure is only half the story. The other half is social infrastructure.
   Social infrastructure includes the less tangible but equally important services that provide the security and the resources that permit Americans to pursue their individual dreams. Many believe this liberation of individual energy is the real engine of America.
   Education, defense, the Postal Service, the financial system, police and fire, and now the Internet — these are part of national infrastructure, too. These are just as important as bridges and airports. Universal healthcare needs a place here, too.
   Our current healthcare system retards us as a nation and creates enormous disadvantages for millions of Americans. Everyone is affected.
   The cost of providing medical care to the uninsured, right now, increases our health insurance premiums by over $1,000 per person per year, as hospitals, laboratories, and clinics increase their fees to those who can pay to compensate for those who can’t. If you receive health benefits from an employer, this means your employer is paying $1,000 toward premiums they could be paying to you as salary.
   According to a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers audit of the healthcare system, poor management, operational gaps, sloppy medical records, duplicated testing, and unnecessary surgeries waste as much as $1,200,000,000,000 ($1.2 trillion) every year, about half of our total annual expenditures on health care.
   American corporations, who spend nearly $10,000 per year per employee to provide them health coverage, suffer a real cost disadvantage when they bid for contracts against European or Asian competitors. Economists from the right and the left are nearly unanimous that our current healthcare system reduces American productivity and has a significant negative effect on our Gross Domestic Product.
   Worse, healthcare costs (waste included) are expected to continue rising by 8 to 10 percent annually, a ticking time bomb that’s going to explode in the not-distant future.
   It’s tempting in a free society to believe that the free market will compel the medical industry to heal itself. History suggests it won't.
   Left on their own, private utility companies were never going to electrify rural America. Quite simply, it cost too much with too little apparent return on the investment.
   Rural electrification occurred for one reason and one reason only: the federal government made it happen. Similarly, the medical industry has had decades to improve the way it delivers health services, yet things are getting worse.
   Health insurers routinely deny necessary care, kick people out of the system, and stonewall sending qualified payments to doctors and clinics. Corporations have declared they would like to raise individual co-pay for premiums to 25 percent or higher.
   Of the three main strategies for insurance reform — nonprofit cooperative, public option, or single payer — I favor the public option, although with negotiated, not dictated, fees.
   The nonprofit insurance cooperative is an attempt to reform the system from the veneer; it may succeed in negotiating lower premiums for insurance but it will preserve the current system’s waste because it can do nothing to alter the way health services are delivered.
   The single payer system would eliminate choice; many people who can afford higher level insurance coverage should have the option to purchase it.
   The public option has the advantage of keeping private options in the mix yet would give its administrators the leverage to reform the system from the bottom up. The medical industry would remain profitable, encouraging research and development of new instrumentation and equipment, new diagnostics, new procedures.
   If we believe that efficient universal healthcare is an essential part of our national infrastructure, and that individuals and the nation will benefit from it, then it has to be done and government has to do it. The debate over how to accomplish it and at what cost is perfectly valid.
We have to remember, however, that when we were electrifying rural America it seemed that investment would never pay off, ever. But it did — many, many times over — by liberating millions of Americans to learn, to invent, and to produce.
   Government-sponsored healthcare reform will yield equal or greater benefits to our descendants. And the nation will be stronger for it.


KAWEAH COUNTRY

GOES BACK TO SCHOOL

THREE RIVERS
UNION SCHOOL
(559) 561-4466

Founded: 1927

Grades: K-8
School year: Aug. 19-June 3
Trustees: Bobbie Harris, Bob Burke, Kristina Roper Graber, Scott Sherwood, Valerie Abanathie.
Administration: Sue Sherwood, superintendent/principal.
Teachers: 8

Non-teaching staff: 10
Enrollment: 157

WOODLAKE UNION
HIGH SCHOOL
(559) 564-3307


Founded: 1914

Grades: 9-12
School year: Aug. 19-June 4
Trustees: Edmund Pena, Wayne Hardcastle, Charley Mills, Kent Owen, Richard Rochin.
Administration: Tim Hire, superintendent; Nicole Glentzer, principal; Tony Casares, vice principal
Teachers: 33

Non-teaching staff: 17
Enrollment: 785


Woodlake High School:
95 years of quality education


by Brian Rothhammer

   The year 1914 will be remembered as a year of change. The assassination of Austrian archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, Bosnia, would thrust all of Europe into war. The Ford Motor Company revolutionized industry with the introduction of the standard eight-hour workday. The Panama Canal opened for business, as did the Federal Reserve. U.S. Marines invaded and captured Veracruz as the Mexican Revolution raged on.
   And in Woodlake, Calif., a high school was born. Woodlake founder Gilbert Stevenson donated 10 acres of land on which the first Woodlake High School would be built, and a fledgling school district was formed. From the start, Woodlake was a dynamic and growing community.
   Woodlake High School students and staff held classes in the “Brick Block” on the southeast corner of Naranjo and Valencia rather than wait for construction of their new school. By the end of 1916, they had a new Spanish colonial style building and campus awaiting them.
   The year 1917 saw the U.S. entering the European war, then called the “war to end all wars.” In Mexico, a new constitution was drafted. In Woodlake, former students of the Brick Block would be the first to graduate from the state-of-the-art campus located where the school buildings are today.
   The original campus had 13 classrooms, an auditorium that seated 600, and showers. Notable at the time was the fact that WUHS had its own water supply, unlike any other school in the county.
   Fast-forward to the year 2009. Woodlake remains a dynamic and growing community. The spirit of initiative and innovation is still at the heart of Woodlake High and Tiger Pride.
   Long gone are the original school buildings as WUHS has constantly grown and adapted to meet the challenges of changing times. One example is the football stadium, which is undergoing an extensive renovation with the support of taxpayers’ dollars.

  “Home bleachers are scheduled to be completed before the first regular season football game,” said Tim Hire, superintendent of Woodlake School District. “A $70,000 grant has also been secured to surface the new nine-lane, all-weather track with a material composed of recycled rubber tires.”
   Also new is the implementation of Tulare County Area Transit bus service for late transport of students with co-curricular or extra-curricular programs. This is yet another example of how the Woodlake administration is finding new partnerships with county and community organizations to cope with tough financial times.

  “Our budget has definitely been cut,” added Tim. “The American Recovery and Rehabilitation Act [federal stimulus] funds may be a short-term solution to long-term problems. We are very conscious of our spending habits and work hard to economize while maintaining high-quality education.

  “We are proud to say that we have not had to lay off any teachers… we have made our staff a priority,” he continued.
   There are four new teachers joining the WHS staff this year.
   JEAN TERRY is new to WHS and to the agricultural department and will also work with the Assistance Service Dog Educational Center. The other three new teachers were on hand for an interview as they set up their classrooms at WUHS.
   JASON GIBBS will be familiar to some Woodlake students. Even though he is new to a full-time teaching position, he has already “subbed” at WHS for six months.

  “I loved it,” he said. “Especially the students.”
   Gibbs is a resource specialist and came to Woodlake for long-term opportunities with special education students.
   SHAUN SUMMERS has also been a substitute teacher, but is new to Woodlake. Formerly at Taft Union High School in Kern County, Shaun relocated to Visalia and said he is excited to be here.

  “I just really like history,” said the new Social Studies teacher.
   He has a B.A. in history and enjoys “reading history, sharing it, and discussing with others how the past relates to today.”
   CRISTY RIDDLE majored in social work at Point Loma in San Diego and is new to WHS. She chose special education because “...it combines teaching with social work.”
   Riddle, like Gibbs, comes to WHS with the IMPACT program, wherein promising new teachers can earn their credentials “on the job.”
   She strives “to help each student to achieve to the best of their ability,” and is “excited to be a part of this community.”
   The same sentiment was echoed by the other new teachers, as was their appreciation of the acceptance from fellow staff and all their new Woodlake neighbors.
   From 1914 with its phonographs, flivvers, and moving pictures (no sound) to the modern world of iPods, computers, and cell phones; from the Great War to the War on Terror; from the Red and Gray (1914 school colors) to the Orange and Black, the spirit of Woodlake High and its students, alumni, teachers, and staff lives on.
   Go Tigers!

Fallen soldier remembered

by Brian Rothhammer

   There is a garden on the east side of Woodlake Middle School where the campus faces Palm Street. To the passerby it may look small. It is not.
   The Memorial Garden was dedicated to Woodlake High graduate Joaquin Holguin on the weekend before Memorial Day 2009. In November 2001, while a senior at WUHS, Joaquin joined the United States Army.
   He was following a proud family tradition. Joaquin’s grandfather was a veteran of World War II and two of his uncles served in Vietnam.
Just days after Joaquin graduated from boot camp, U.S. ground forces were deployed to Iraq. Soon after, he found himself on a 16-month tour with the 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, and 1st Armored Division.
   Having served with pride and distinction, in 2004 he returned home to Woodlake and his family. Not long after, he received the call to serve again under the stop-loss program.
   Not only did he answer the call, but refused two subsequent opportunities to return home during his next two tours. One time, it was to allow another soldier, who was married, to return home. The second time it was to stay with his unit rather than allow them to be one man short.

  “He had no qualms about why he was in the military and what his job was,” Joaquin’s father said previously. “He was very proud to serve his country.”
   On July 15, 2006, Army Specialist Joaquin Holguin and his unit came under fire while patrolling Baghdad in their HMMWV and exited the vehicle to engage their attackers.
   An improvised explosive device took Joaquin from his family, friends, and community.

  “He had to do what was right,” said his father, Manuel Holguin.
   A small, simple plaque stands on a pedestal in the Memorial Garden. An immense, selfless sacrifice was made by Spc. Joaquin Holguin to improve the lives of others, and a great loss is felt by all who knew him.
   When passing by the Woodlake Valley Middle School grounds, take a moment to remember the sacrifices of Joaquin and others who have given their all to protect and preserve the freedoms that we hold dear.

WELCOME TO MY FOOD COLUMN

Bringing fine dining home

by Tina St. John

   When my two youngest children were beginning their college years, I wanted to celebrate their academic achievements, so decided to take them to a fancy restaurant.
   Going to their neck of the woods required me to research the area. I wanted to pick a place that would give them an experience in fine dining.
   There were three criteria: A restaurant with a dress code, a gourmet menu, and beautiful décor. We went to Torrey Pines in La Jolla.
   They were a bit puzzled. Why a five-star restaurant?
   It’s not that they didn’t appreciate the generous offer, but they knew my budget didn’t exactly scream discretionary funds.
   On our way to our morning reservation, my son Devon asked, “Are you sure you want to do this? I’m good with eating pizza.”
   I had planned this food venture for some time, often wondering, why drive so far to spend so much money on one meal? I’m a budgeter to the 10th degree, but believed that this would be money well spent.
   We arrived at valet parking. The maitre d’ at the door delivered us to our reserved table.
   The table was lovely with white linen napkins, crystal glasses. I even noticed that the silverware was real.
   It was nice to see my son’s manners as he waited to sit himself down until his sister and I were seated. Perhaps he had noticed his grandfather do the same thing when dining with his grandparents.
   I let him know his modus operandi was appreciated and added that any young lady whom he would invite for a meal would very well value such a gesture.
   After receiving our menus we all seemed to be in a trance. Items on the menu were described as grandly as the place itself.

  “What are Lemon Ricotta Pancakes, Mom?”

  “Well Dev, why don’t you order them and find out.”
   Julia knew exactly what she wanted: Belgian Waffles with Fresh Raspberries and Whipped Cream. That’s my girl!
   I ordered Asparagus Frittata with Basil and Parmesan.
   While waiting for our order, I asked the kids if they noticed the ambiance; the elegance of sitting in an exquisite place, being served with beautiful dinnerware, eating food so freshly prepared, and taking time to savor the flavors. This was not “fast food” eating.
   When we finished our delectably prepared meals, we sat back to take it in.

  “So what do you think, kids? Did you enjoy yourselves?”

  “Totally” was their one word answer. In fact, my son added, he could get used to it. Good thing he’s still in college.
   The moral of this story is to dine with thoughtfulness, grace, and an appreciation for the food we eat.
   Some of us may not have a budget that gives us the opportunity to eat at a five-star restaurant, but that doesn’t mean we can’t create our own sublime setting.
   At home, on a picnic, at a beach, or anywhere for that matter, set your tables with the best you have; place your food in the nicest bowls, platters, and trays; pour water in your finest glasses; and savor what you’ve created and enjoy the company you are with.
   Hey, that sounds more like a six-star restaurant to me.
   Bon Appetit!

  Tina St. John's "Welcome to My Food Column" appears every other week in The Kaweah Commonwealth.

OBITUARIES


Mary Keenan
1939 ~ 2009

   MARY ALICE KEENAN died Wednesday, July 22, 2009, at her Three Rivers home. She was 70.
   Mary was born Feb. 9, 1939, in Huntington Park. In the 1980s, Mary was the publisher at Mineral King Publishing, managing the Exeter Sun, Woodlake Echo, Three Rivers Current, and Farmersville Herald newspapers.
   By the mid 1990s through June 2009, Mary sold advertising for West Coast Broadcasting’s KJUG Radio. She was affectionately known as “Miss Mary” to her clients and friends.
   Mary was known for her love of cooking and gardening, which she turned into a business venture. As Keenan Gardens, Mary developed original recipes for salad dressings, mustards, and herbal rubs.
   Several local stores carry these products, they can be found at the Saturday Farmers’ Market in Visalia, and her mustard is on the menu at the Vintage Press in Visalia.
   Mary is survived by her husband, Robert; daughters Ann and Beth; stepson Robert; stepdaughter Elana; sister Toby; brother Ed; daughter-in-law Eve; and seven grandchildren, Stephanie, Scott, Mike, Jason, Jack, Will, and Sage.
   A memorial service was held Saturday, Aug. 8.

Hank Adams
1918 ~ 2009

   WILLIAM HENRY “HANK” ADAMS died Saturday, July 18, 2009, in Conway, Ark., after a brief illness. He was 90.
   Hank was born in Conway, Ark., on Oct. 29, 1918, to Charles and Minnie Adams. In 1940, he graduated from Arkansas State Teachers College (present-day University of Central Arkansas).
   He served in the U.S. Air Corps during World War II and the U.S. Air Force during the Korean war.
   He worked in Sequoia National Park for several years until his retirement in 1968.
   He is survived by two nephews, one niece, and two sisters-in-law, all of whom reside in Arkansas.

Maureen Weeke
1952 ~ 2009

   MAUREEN WEEKE, formerly of Three Rivers, passed away peacefully on Friday, July 31, 2009.
   Maureen was born in Pomona to Nila and Harold Weeke. She previously resided in Three Rivers for 10 years.
   Maureen was a great friend and wonderful sister. She enjoyed life, had a ready smile, and was a good listener. She will be greatly missed.
Maureen was preceded in death by her mother and father, Nila and Harold Weeke.
   She is survived by her sister, Jeanene, and niece and nephew Tara and Cameron Williams, all of Texas; and sister Karen Dennis of Three Rivers.
   Remembrances may be made to Hospice of Tulare County Foundation, 900 W. Oak Ave., Visalia, CA 93291.

Frances Runyon
1914 ~ 2009

   FRANCES MARY COFFELT RUNYON died Saturday, Aug. 8, 2009. She was 95.
   A mass will be held today (Friday, Aug. 14), 9 a.m., at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Visalia.
   Frances was born March 13, 1914, on the White Earth Indian Reservation in Callaway, Minn., to Euclid and Genevieve Bellefeuille. When Frances was five, the family moved to California.
   Frances attended George McCann Memorial Catholic School in Visalia and graduated with the Class of 1933 from Visalia High School
   On April 25, 1937, Frances married JB Coffelt. The newlyweds first resided in Colfax, then moved to Exeter, where JB worked for the Gill Cattle Company.
   When JB accepted a position at Sequoia National Park, the couple moved to Ash Mountain. For several years, Frances and JB lived in Ash Mountain and, later, in Three Rivers during the winters and spent their summers in Lodgepole and Wolverton, where Frances worked at the old Giant Forest Post Office.
   During their 25 years in Three Rivers, JB and Frances were two of the founding members of St. Clair’s Catholic Church and St. Anthony Retreat Center.
   After residing in several other California communities, the couple finally settled in Visalia, where Frances lived the remainder of her life, staying involved in the community and St. Mary’s Catholic Church.
   Following the death of JB, Frances married Alvin Runyon. According to her family, “They had almost two years before Alvin’s death in September 2000. Alvin was a true blessing to our family.”
   Frances was preceded in death by her parents, two husbands, two children Jerry and Johnny, and siblings Claude, Veronica, and John Bellefeuille and Joan Odgers.
   Frances is survived by six children, Kenny and wife Bernadine of Salem, Ore., Phyllis Lieb of Atchison, Kan., Jan Beutler and husband Garry of Porterville, Roberta Williams of Tulare, Stan and wife Betty Sue of Woodlake, and Mary Ellen of Visalia; 15 grandchildren; 28 great-grandchildren; four great-great-grandchildren; and her siblings, Julie Bellefeuille of Belmont, Basil of Hanford, Bernard of Stockton, Charles of Santa Barbara, and Ben of Templeton.
   In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. Charles Altar Society or St. Charles Building Fund, 506 N. Garden St., Visalia, CA 93291; American Cancer Society; or to the donor’s favorite charity.

Leonard Hansen
1922 ~ 2009

   LEONARD DAVID HANSEN, a longtime resident of Woodlake, died Wednesday, July 29, 2009. He was 86.
   Leonard was born to Danish immigrants on Oct. 30, 1922, in a Depression-era farmhouse (no electricity or plumbing) in Creighton, Neb. After serving in World War II, he returned home and married the former Elizabeth Vanderhoof on July 14, 1945.
   After Leonard graduated college on the G.I. Bill from University of Southern California, he and Elizabeth moved to Woodlake, where Leonard became a cattle rancher with Elizabeth’s father and brother.
   Leonard and Elizabeth were active in the Woodlake Presbyterian Church. In 1952, they began their first Young Life Club and, for the next 25 years, delivered the gospel of Christ to high school kids through this volunteer ministry.
   Leonard was also the “voice” of Woodlake Tigers football for 25 years. He was active in the Rotary Club and served on boards of directors for Woodlake schools and the Tulare County Department of Education.
   After retiring from the cattle business, Leonard began a career in life insurance sales and real estate. He and Elizabeth also traveled worldwide, often visiting missionaries they supported.
   In 1972, the community awarded him with the annual Man of the Year award; in 2000, he was honored with the prestigious Man of the Decade award.
   In 2002, Leonard was preceded in death by his wife of 57 years, Elizabeth. In 2008, his second wife, Margaret Mills Vanderhoof, also preceded him in death.
   He is survived by his four children and their spouses, Suzanne Bidwell of Woodlake, Cynthia and Russ Brickey of Clovis, Betsi and Eric Helgesen, and David and Janice Hansen of Reedley; 13 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.
   In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be sent to one of Leonard’s favorite charities: Students International, P.O. Box 2733, Visalia, CA 93279; or Young Life, 2134 E. Mineral King, Visalia, CA 93292.


 
THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
EDITORS/PUBLISHERS: John Elliott and Sarah Barton Elliott
41841 Sierra Drive (Highway 198), Three Rivers, CA 93271
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