the News - Friday, August 14, 2009
stories written by John or
Elliott unless otherwise noted
this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)
ridgetop view of the Horse Fire and, to the right,
Nose. The wildland fire was discovered July 19
being ignited by lightning. It is located in southern
National Park, east of Hockett Meadow. It is currently
70 acres in size; there are no trail closures in effect.
Visit national parks
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
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
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
“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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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.
BACK TO SCHOOL
School year: Aug. 19-June
Trustees: Bobbie Harris,
Bob Burke, Kristina Roper Graber, Scott
Sherwood, Valerie Abanathie.
Administration: Sue Sherwood,
School year: Aug. 19-June
Trustees: Edmund Pena,
Wayne Hardcastle, Charley Mills, Kent Owen,
Administration: Tim Hire,
superintendent; Nicole Glentzer, principal;
Tony Casares, vice principal
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
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
“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
“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
Gibbs is a resource specialist and came
to Woodlake for long-term opportunities with special
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
TO MY FOOD COLUMN
Bringing fine dining home
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
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
We arrived at valet parking. The maitre
d’ at the door delivered us to our reserved
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
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
Julia knew exactly what she wanted: Belgian
Waffles with Fresh Raspberries and Whipped Cream.
That’s my girl!
I ordered Asparagus Frittata with Basil
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.
Tina St. John's "Welcome to My Food Column"
appears every other week in The Kaweah Commonwealth.
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
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,
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
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.
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,
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
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
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
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
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.
1922 ~ 2009
LEONARD DAVID HANSEN, a longtime resident
of Woodlake, died Wednesday, July 29, 2009. He was
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
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
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
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.