Women of History honor Alderson, Colvard, Dominguez, Hendren & Walsh

April 12, 2002
Santa Paula News

Cameos of women and decorative flags brightened the Community Center when five Santa Paula Women of History were honored March 27th.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesCameos of women and decorative flags brightened the Community Center when five Santa Paula Women of History were honored March 27th.“In 1980, a group of women teachers noticed that only 3 percent of textbooks,” had information about women and their accomplishments, said Sandi Tovias. “So they formed the National Women of History,” to annually honor women who have made a difference; Santa Paula women mirrored the effort in 1994 when they joined together to honor local Women of History, and many past recipients attended the event.The Santa Paula Theater Center’s Readers’ Theater portrayed the life story of each woman honored, whose biographies were excellently written by Kay Wilson-Bolton, Bonnie Bruington and Marianne Ratcliff. Each writer showed through the words of the honorees that indeed, in the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”“Think of me as a person who has been surrounded by books for most of my life,” said Mary Beth East, the voice of Pat Alderson, who came from a pioneer family who loved books and reading. In fifth grade, Pat was mayor of McKevett School, “especially nice for me since my father had been mayor of Santa Paula.” At Isbell, Pat skipped a grade and her desire to be a playwright was realized with the school production of “Willie’s Worms Incorporated.” Pat also helped start the eighth-grade newspaper, the progressive “Isbell Sweeper.” At Santa Paula High, she participated in student council, loved drama class, music appreciation and was editor of the yearbook. Pat’s later career got a boost when during high school - “It is interesting that my great-grandfather helped start the library there” - she worked as a page at the old Carnegie library. Pat now lives in the house built by her great-grandfather 112 years ago. “. . .anxious to spread my wings and prove myself outside of Santa Paula,” at UCLA Pat majored in English “and immersed myself in the diversity of cultures and ideas. . .there was also the interesting, good-looking student,” named James R. Alderson whom Pat married when she graduated in 1957. They became the parents of five children and in 1971 moved back to Santa Paula. “Our children were attending Blanchard School when the principal sent home a list of things that parents could do to help; one of those was to start a library,” a challenge taken on by Pat, who eventually created libraries at each school. “. . .realizing that I had the heart and soul of a librarian,” she became a city library commissioner and then a trustee, serving 28 years. After six years of volunteerism, the school district hired Pat part time, with her office a small shared room. At Isbell with several employees, an impressive library system was created, “but I will always remember that it wouldn’t have been possible without the great help of our parent volunteers over the year. Now retired, Pat said “I wanted to give to others some of the advantages that had been given to me, while I’ve tried not to be too pushy about the libraries.”Margaret Genelle Stubblefield Colvard, as portrayed by Kathryn Dippong-Lawson, said her life has focused on “several blessed responsibilities - to my Lord, my church, my family and to my teaching profession.”Born in Louisiana, Genelle moved with her family to Santa Paula in 1937, to “a little cabin where Glen City School now stands.” Her parents worked in local packinghouses, and “I started kindergarten at McKevett School, where I now have the wonderful opportunity to teach.” After moving in and out of Santa Paula, the family finally settled for good in the river valley. Genelle went to various river valley schools, graduating from Fillmore High as an honor student in 1952 after taking part “in a whole slew of organizations, and in my senior year was student body secretary, Phi Theta Club secretary-treasurer, senior representative for the D.A.R., designed the emblem for our yearbook, was Senior Queen,” voted Most Likely to Succeed, and awarded a life membership in the California Scholarship Federation. “At a 1949 Halloween church party, I met a very nice young man. The story is that when he saw me, he told a friend, ‘I’m going to marry that girl’ and, as usual, Buddy Colvard knew what he was talking about.” They married in 1952 and attended college while having a family of three children. Buddy was drafted into the Army in 1954. “When we returned to Santa Paula, Buddy again drove a bus for the high school, but we soon left for Los Angeles where he worked and graduated from Pepperdine in 1960,” and was hired by Isbell School. Genelle received her teaching credential in 1968. “It’s hard to realize that it has been 34 years of teaching second and third grade to the young people of Santa Paula. There is my beloved and supportive family: Life with Buddy never has a dull moment. . .Our children and grandchildren are our special blessings,” with many emulating Genelle and Buddy with educational careers. “There is our loving community,” which offered an outpouring of love and donations when granddaughter Amy was diagnosed with cancer. Genelle’s mother died last year: “She was there when I was born and I was there when she died. I believe and hope that she would be very proud and happy tonight.”
Calla Dominguez, portrayed by Leslie Nichols, grew up on the same spot where she lives today, albeit in a different house. She’s also in a different place: subjected to physical and mental abuse, “Mom had no one to talk to and took it out on us.” Calla made sure she stuck up for her little brother, worked hard and attended college. Calla became a SPPD matron dispatcher, searching female suspects and finally moved out of the house at 32 years old. “Lo and behold, I discovered there is a life out there,“ although Calla didn’t try marriage until she was 46. She attended the Police Academy and worked investigations, undercover, search warrants and sex crimes, taking part in actions that often turned violent. “I didn’t live on my own for too long, as I returned home to take care of my mother, who died in 1978 at age 58, and for my dad, who had Parkinson’s disease.” Calla had to stop working and supported herself making wedding cakes. In 1986, she returned to the SPPD as a dispatcher. Her father entered the VA Hospital in 1991, and passed away in 1993. Calla and Sonny, a troubled Vietnam veteran, married in 1990 but in 1996, “I found I had married someone just like my father,” and Calla left Sonny, finding comfort in her many animals. She became involved in the Las Piedras Park Community Policing Building effort in 1998, hosting neighborhood meetings about the escalating problems with gangs and drugs. “I couldn’t sit in my front yard without worrying about being shot,” and she told the City Council the area had become a “war zone. . .” Calla became the storefront coordinator, a volunteer job she devotes up to 60 hours a week to. But, “No one came. For five months, five days a week, eight hours a day, we were there to show the neighborhood, ‘We’re here and we’re not afraid.’” Now there are 23 programs run from the storefront, and Calla helped in the successful Weed & Seed $1.25 million grant effort.Shirley Hendren has learned that “every one of us is here for a reason, for only a short time, and needs love and comfort,” said Leslie Carson, who portrayed her. “I was little when I determined to take care of my family and myself,” as their single mother worked for Union Union Oil to support the four kids. A native of Oklahoma City, Shirley’s family moved to Santa Paula when she was an infant. Friends at Union Oil helped fill the void of her absent father, a deadbeat whose bills Shirley worried about. “From that, I learned the importance of paying as you go and living within your means. I also believe that a child should never be held responsible for the behavior of the parent.” Shirley worked hard as a child to earn money but by the fifth grade developed rheumatic fever and was forced to stay in bed for “one long and very lonely year.” A visiting tutor and “that longing for adult attention carried over into my initial motivation to run,” for the Santa Paula High School Board of Trustees.” Her grandparents were also inspirations to Shirley, who lived with them for a while. Several teachers also left fond memories, but it was Buddy Colvard who hammered on students about attending college. “I knew more about Pepperdine than I did about Isbell.” Although she moved and did not graduate from SPHS, there met her Ron Hendren. “Changing schools was very hard for me, but I had a chance to experience new things that paid off in the long run,” including a photography class at Whittier High School that led to winning the L.A. County Photography Contest. Ron and Shirley were married one month after her graduation; he was drafted into the Vietnam War and she started beauty school. They started to buy property and Shirley became a talented renovator. When Ron was sent overseas, Shirley became a successful hairdresser; upon his return they attended Modesto Ag College and later moved to San Luis Obispo for Ron to finish college. Shirley started several businesses as the couple started to have children - three in all - before moving back to Santa Paula. Shirley became active in her children’s schools and 4-H and served as a Recreation Commissioner for nine years. Shirley not only coached a variety of sports but was PTA president at Briggs/Olivelands and received the California State Service Award. “I was moved to run for the high school board first in 1985 when I experienced a situation where a student was denied access to a tutor. . .I’m still trying to fix things like that. I’ll be around the Board of Trustees until the reconstruction,” is completed.”A native of Windsor, Mo. June Pendleton Welsh, according to Marilyn Fotte, who portrayed her, acquired an early love of everything Disney. “When I was in the second grade,” June attended the same school as Walt Disney and students who excelled in art class got to sit at the desk he carved Mickey on. “Ever since, I’ve collected Mickey Mouse gifts and I love to go to Disneyland.”Her father, a long-distance driver accompanied often by June’s mother, collected many antiques which June inherited. “Irish to the core,” with a Dublin-born grandfather, June also collects anything Irish. After high school graduation, June entered public relations. She met her first husband, an Air Corps trainee; they married in 1944 and moved frequently with their three children. He eventually got a pharmacist’s job at Cauch’s Drugstore, “so we moved up here, and I think it’s the best thing we ever did.” Later, the couple became partners with the Ringles in College Pharmacy in Ventura, where June “did a little bit of everything.” June was also Glen City PTA president and “the teachers and the students were all very special during that time.” In 1963 June was involved in a serious head-on accident and was told she would never walk again. She and Walter divorced in 1965, and June and daughter Mary moved to Ventura. “It was hard, but I’m an independent person. A lot of people can’t get by without a man, but I found out I could. I loved working,” and helped open an Esplande gift shop, Memory Lane: “It was a beautiful place and I loved it.” She also found another love, Gordon, in 1971, a widower with a daughter. Gordon was transferred to Houston, but they wrote, the romance grew and they married in March 1972. A petroleum geologist, Gordon and June lived in Texas until 1981, “and I hated every minute of it. It was so hot. The humidity is just unreal.” Gordon was transferred back to Santa Paula and they bought their View Drive home. They again became active in their church where June was president of the United Methodist Women for five years, served as an officer of various committees, and now is the church historian, restoring a history room and photographs taken by June. They are close to their extended family and to their many friends. “You have to keep in touch with people if you’re going to stay friends.” June delivered Meals on Wheels for five years and when Gordon retired in 1987, he took over and has been CASP president for 15 years. A member of the Ebell Club, President of AARP, June is also working with the Centennial Committee.

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