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A publication of Press and Publications, McHenry Museum & Historical Society

HPNbooks A division of Lammert Incorporated San Antonio, Texas


First Edition Copyright © 2017 HPNbooks All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, without permission in writing from the publisher. All inquiries should be addressed to HPNbooks, 11535 Galm Road, Suite 101, San Antonio, Texas, 78254. Phone (800) 749-9790,

ISBN: 978-1-944891-38-1 Library of Congress Card Catalog Number: 2017954682 Touchstones: Life and Times of Modesto editor: Ken White contributing writer for “Sharing the Heritage”: Joe Goodpasture cover artist: John Mattos HPNbooks president: Ron Lammert project managers: Daphne Fletcher Jennifer Folkert Autumn Link administration: Donna M. Mata Melissa G. Quinn Lori K. Smith Kristin T. Williamson book sales: Joe Neely production: Colin Hart Evelyn Hart Glenda Tarazon Krouse Tim Lippard Craig Mitchell Tony Quinn Christopher D. Sturdevant

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TOUCHSTONES: Life and Times of Modesto










P UBLICATIONS Our People Are Our Strength





























Touchstones Prayer for You, On the Way to Wherever You’re Going Modesto: My Favorite Place OF
















From Sleepy Railroad Town to Bustling Metropolis The Heart of Our Hometown Graffiti USA Extraordinary Arts and Entertainment Experiences The Gift of Time and Talent: Philanthropy and Volunteerism in our Community Balancing Urban Amenities with Rural Values A Year-Round Playground Modesto Notables The Life-Blood of Our Economy Common Threads: Diversity in Modesto A Tapestry of Hope Honoring the Past While Moving into the Future A Model of Collaboration Modesto Delivers Local, High-Quality Healthcare Cutting Edge Design Improving the Quality of Life for Modesto Artists of the City On the Road that Lies Before Us: The Future of Modesto Contents ✦
























In Pursuit of Modesto Minutiae Important Dates in Modesto History Ever After is Here and Now



Although “Draggin’ 10th” is long gone, our love of classic cars, chrome, and rock ‘n’ roll still shines bright. PHOTOGRAPH BY CORY WARNER, STUDIO WARNER.

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TOUCHSTONES: Life and Times of Modesto

SPECIAL THANKS My thanks to the artists, photographers, and writers who volunteered their time and talent; the businesses that shared their stories; and the following individuals, who contributed to this uniquely collaborative effort. I could not have done it without you. Carl Baggese James A. Ewing Janet Lancaster Michael Mangano Scott Mitchell Henrietta Sparkman Amy Vickery Cory Warner Todd Aaronson Ralph Anaforian Don Aspito Debra Banuelos Lois Belt Susan Belt-Highiet Patrick Burda Tiffani Burns Suzanne Byrd Vickie Chu-Hermis Sandy Clark Florence Combes Tonja Conway Sean Copeland Brad Cornwell Kathleen Correia Maria Cortez Doug DiFranco Mike Dunbar Kathy Espinoza

Daphne Fletcher, HPN Jennifer Folkert, HPN Becky Fortuna Marc Garcia Melissa Gascon Curtis Grant Tom Hampson Bill Harris Doug Highiet Dana Hohn Amanda Hughes Ruben Imperial Jessica Irish Danny Johnson Dr. Jim Johnson Ron Lammert, HPN Catherine Larsen Gwen Larson Joan Lee Judy Leitz Autumn Link, HPN Roni Lubliner Wendy Lucas Katharine Martin Wayne Mathes Donna Mata, HPN Dominique Maurer James McAndrews Dina McCall

Ken McCall Suzanne McCaslin Mary McGranahan Maggie Mejia Kristin Mostowski Ana Murphy Caroline Nickel Natalie Nielsen Tracy Norris Jamie Norwood Susan Patricola Kristin Platts Michele Proffitt Janet Rasmussen Lynn Reeves Lisa Ribeiro May Rico Marijke Rowland Robert LeRoy Santos Carin Sarkis Mike Sessions Talbott Smith Leo Stutzin Barbara Tregea Kevin Valine Connie Wethington Scott Williams, HPN

LEGACY SPONSOR Through their generous support, Stanislaus Food Products helped to make this project possible.

Stanislaus Food Products 1202 D Street Modesto, California 95354 800-327-7201

Special Thanks âœŚ



Virginia White, Modesto Arch in November 2006, watercolor.

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Why do we need another history of Modesto? Actually, we don’t. Our city history has been chronicled over the years by a number of knowledgeable, dedicated, and respected authors. Each either examined a small slice of that history or presented a larger, more expansive view. These publications continue to give us a credible and comprehensive account of our city since its founding in 1870. That is why our organization decided to publish a book which is much more than a history as we approach the sesquicentennial of that founding, a book which showcases our city’s treasures—people and places, assets and institutions, hopes and values—which are rooted in a rich historical background. A book which tells where we came from, where we are now as a city, and where we are going. Touchstones is a contemporary portrait which has become the most recent history of the city. Who is Press and Publications? We are an offshoot of the early Stanislaus County Historical Society, which was chartered by our County Board of Supervisors in 1966, one year after the City of Modesto chartered a similar group called the Citizens’ Cultural Center Committee. The two organizations had much in common with the similar goal of preserving local history. They each had a collection of artifacts

TOUCHSTONES: Life and Times of Modesto

and archives, but neither had a permanent building. The county historical society’s accomplishments are told in detail in Kathleen Gooch’s 1988 Stanislaus County, an Illustrated History. The Modesto Bee published several articles between 1967 and 1972 about Heidi Warner’s and the Cultural Committee’s efforts to acquire the McHenry Public Library building as a museum. This building had been built in 1912 with money left by Oramil McHenry specifically for a library, with the stipulation that if the building ceased to be used as a library, the property would revert to the McHenry family unless the city used the building for a related public purpose. When the library moved into a new, larger site in 1971, the city and the Cultural Committee worked out a partnership involving city ownership of the building and archives, city maintenance, along with Society volunteer staffing. A new name was adopted by the volunteers; the incorporated, nonprofit organization was named the McHenry Museum Society, which occupied its new home in 1972. The refurbished library became their museum, still known as The McHenry Museum today. But what happened to our ancestral Stanislaus County Historical Society during the growth and transition of the Cultural Committee? They continued to build membership and had concentrated their efforts on publishing local history, reprinting Branch’s 1881 History of Stanislaus County, publishing Jack Brotherton’s Annals of Stanislaus County, and beginning the quarterly journal Stanislaus Stepping Stones, which Press and Publications still publishes today. However, with no building of their own and with similar purposes and collections, in 1987 the Historical Society merged with the McHenry Museum Society, resulting in the current name of McHenry Museum & Historical Society. The Amended Articles of Incorporation stated that there would be a Publications Committee to carry on the work of the Historical Society, and the Historical Society officers became members of this Publication Committee. The Historical Society added some 500 members to the newly formed merger. The new Publications Committee acquired the $25,000 treasury of the old Stanislaus County Historical Society, a significant figure with which to carry on its book publishing mission.

Since that 1987 merger, there have been a few name changes of the Publications Committee now known as Press and Publications, McHenry Museum & Historical Society. The Society is governed by a Board of Directors, and its Bylaws designate Press and Publications as a Support Group, along with Acquisitions, the Docents, and the Guild. Press and Publications has continued to bring authentic local history in written form to the community, with a list of fifteen original publications and several reprints. So now we go a step further and bring you this publication Touchstones: Life and Times of Modesto which, as stated earlier, builds on our heritage but goes beyond history with detailed stories of present day Modesto and projections into our future. We are confident this new venture will provide hours of good reading.

Above: McHenry Museum, home of the McHenry Museum & Historical Society. COURTESY OF THE CITY OF MODESTO.

Below: Press and Publications provides authentic local history in written form. PHOTOGRAPH BY SCOTT MITCHELL.

Press and Publications ✦



Georgia Herrick, Valley Vineyards, watercolor.

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As Modesto approaches the 150th anniversary of its founding, we will have an opportunity to reflect on where we’ve been and to decide where we want to go. This book is a testament we share with future generations, as its many contributors express their views of these reflections and decisions. There is no doubt that the strength of Modesto is its people. Whether you were born here and stayed or were born here and left, special qualities exist if you were Modesto-grown. Two brothers started a winery after reading some pamphlets in the county library, stayed, and turned their business into the largest privately owned winery in the world—E. & J. Gallo Winery. Other world-class businesses were built here, such as Bob Piccinini growing Save Mart Supermarkets and Dan Costa cultivating a series of creative and successful ventures. A son of Modesto grew up here, dreamed of making movies, made one called American Graffiti about Modesto’s car culture, and became one of the greatest storytellers in the history of the world by creating the Star Wars saga, among others. Modesto-grown George Lucas is Modesto’s greatest export of all time! Countless others who are Modesto-grown have gone on to succeed in their chosen vocations around the world, and we take great pride in them all. There are many like me, who moved here from other places around the nation, and around the world, helping make Modesto an outstanding city. Our people best reflect who we are as a city, and not just our famous ones. Mothers and fathers raise strong families here. Grandmothers and grandfathers keep memories alive of the past successes

TOUCHSTONES: Life and Times of Modesto

WORKING TOGETHER TO MEET THE CHALLENGES AHEAD The naming of Modesto has its roots in the Spanish word for “modest.” Though its citizens tend to be modest people, there is nothing modest about what Modesto has accomplished over the span of almost 150 years. Growing to a city of over 211,000 and listed as one of the 100 largest cities in the United States, its agricultural “roots” run deep, but its downtown and urban amenities provide its population with a diversity of opportunities to live, work, and enjoy. Nearly 150 years of growth have changed the city in profound ways. Modesto truly finds itself at the “crossroads.” The Great Recession of 2008 and “Growth/No Growth” debates have dampened enthusiasm and optimism about the future, and clouded over some of our strengths. However, this time of uncertainty has created many new opportunities in Modesto. Born out of a desert and located in the heart of the Central Valley, we are a very resilient community that is unafraid of challenge. We have succeeded time and again where others have failed. The beginning of the twenty-first century saw an amazing growth spurt that came tumbling down in 2008. The leadership of the community made the hard choices necessary to reduce and rebalance the budget to maintain the fiscal sustainability of the city. Eight years later, growth remains slow, but that has not dampened the spirit or the “can-do” attitude of the community. A strategic plan is in place that prioritizes precious resources to invest and expand on our “Great Safe Neighborhoods,” strengthen “A Healthy Economy and Great Quality of Life,” reestablish a “Vibrant Infrastructure and Sustainable Environment,” and continually improve as an “Effective, Responsive, and Transparent Government.” These commitments are no easy challenge, but Modesto has a strong foundation and good “bones” to build upon, a resilient and entrepreneurial spirit, and a broad diversity of talent and strength that will carry us forward. We know that government is not the solution. Building partnerships, engaging our diverse community, collaboration, sharing, networking, and reaffirming what used to be called civic responsibility to our neighborhood and community are the characteristics that will help us choose the right direction and achieve success. Though our beginnings were founded on “modesty,” we are confident of who we are, and proud of what we have accomplished. We are ready as ever to work together, meeting whatever challenges lie ahead. We are looking forward to an even greater 150 years to come and an even brighter future for Modesto.

Above: Modesto City Hall: Ready to work together to meet the challenges ahead. COURTESY OF THE CITY OF MODESTO.


- Jim Holgersson, City Manager of Modesto (May 2014-March 2017)

Introduction ✦


we’ve enjoyed and some failures we’ve learned from. Our churches, our voluntary associations, clubs, and charities fill the many needs of our citizens. This is Modesto. It is a humbling honor to be mayor of this exceptional city, as it approaches its sesquicentennial. To readers of this book in the future, judge us by what we did with both the

community and the city passed on to us by our forbearers. Did we succeed or fail to make a great city even greater? That’s the question I ask myself every day as mayor. Thank you to Ken White for organizing this volume, as well as to each of the many contributors, for chronicling this particular point in time in the history of Modesto, California.

S H A P I N G A B R I G H T F U T U R E F O R S TA N I S L A U S C O U N T Y Stanislaus County and the City of Modesto have a long and rich history of working together in a commitment to improve and better serve their communities. This collaborative spirit is perhaps best exemplified in Tenth Street Place, the administration building for both the city and county, where there are no walls dividing the city manager’s office portion of the building from the county chief executive office. Over the years, these two public agencies have entered into a variety of partnerships from a joint Regional 911 Call Center to an “Energy-from-Waste” facility. Working together, they have brought sewer services to county islands, a community/onestop center for our veterans, and one of the largest recycled water projects in the country. These partnerships have resulted in greater efficiencies in the delivery of government services and have led to a growing recognition of the value of cooperation. Like many counties and cities in the Central Valley and across California, Stanislaus County faces profound challenges. Recognizing that local government acting alone cannot create the future hoped for in our county and cities, in 2015, leaders and residents throughout Stanislaus County joined together to launch a long-term movement to improve the quality of life for residents and families across our county. Initiated by the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors, this “Focus on Prevention” movement is growing through the efforts of volunteers and leaders from multiple sectors, including: neighborhoods; businesses; education; faith; health; nonprofits; philanthropy; media; arts, entertainment and sports; and local government. These sectors have committed to focusing on prevention by moving more of our resources and attention to addressing root causes and the long-term conditions that lead to individuals and families struggling in our county. They are also committed to acting and working together, to doing better through learning and mutual accountability, and to remaining committed for the long haul. We are convinced that by working together, we can shape a bright future for the residents of Stanislaus County. - Stan Risen, Chief Executive Officer, Stanislaus County (November 2013-August 2017)

The Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors, acting together to better serve our community. PHOTOGRAPH BY DAVID JONES. COURTESY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY.

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Once upon a time, a touchstone was used by ancient alchemists to test the purity of gold or silver. Now it is used to determine the excellence or genuineness of something. When it comes to the place where we live and work, there are many touchstones used to determine the quality of life. These benchmarks are the focus of Touchstones: Life and Times of Modesto, commissioned by the McHenry Museum & Historical Society to commemorate Modesto as it approaches the 150th anniversary of its founding. Located in the heart of California’s Central Valley, there is more to Modesto than meets the eye. The closer you look, the more interesting it becomes. That is the story we tell in Touchstones. Our goal is to highlight the many uncommon threads that make up this amazing tapestry we call home. Touchstones is a contemporary snapshot of the values, people, places, organizations, and activities that make Modesto a unique, attractive, and authentic California city; that contribute to its identity and quality of life and form the foundation of our community. Touchstones is a prestigious portrait of all the things that make Modesto quintessentially Californian, as well as the cultural and economic center of Stanislaus County. This collection of essays, illustrations, stories, photographs, and artwork captures the vibrant lifestyle, rich heritage, distinctive culture, evolving diversity, and essential character of our hometown. It showcases what connects and unites us. It identifies what we’ve done, are doing, will do, and still need to do. It is a chronicle of the immediate future. Touchstones features a special sponsored section entitled “Sharing the Heritage,” which profiles prominent local businesses and institutions that have played a major role in the growth and development of our city. These tributes look at the history, accomplishments, and vision of the many respected and

Bruce Miller, McHenry Museum, acrylics on board.

Foreword ✦


Above: Touchstones—used to determine excellence. PHOTOGRAPH BY NICK GIRON, NICK GIRON PHOTOGRAPHY.

Below: A contemporary snapshot. Tesoro of the Valley. Mural by Frankie Franco. PHOTOGRAPH BY JAMES A. EWING.

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diverse companies, organizations, and families born and based in Modesto. Each profile provides an opportunity for these entities to share their heritage, pride, and success, while creating a lasting legacy for future generations to enjoy. Touchstones is much more than another history book, as it reaches into our past, present, and future to tell a memorable story about this town. Each chapter covers an important aspect of our hometown; significant themes that help illuminate our evertransforming city. Each chapter was written by experts in their respective fields; a prestigious group of knowledgeable, well-known, and wellrespected contributors. Ted Brandvold, mayor of Modesto, gives us a brief glance at what makes our city one of a kind.

TOUCHSTONES: Life and Times of Modesto

Ken White, writer and editor, sets the stage before chronicling our history, introducing us to some notable natives and creative people, and closing with some final words. Stella Beratlis, Modesto Poet Laureate, captures the many facets of our town. Robert Ulrich, casting director/producer, talks about the small town that helped shape him. Carl Baggese, retired journalist and local history writer, describes the downtown heart of Modesto, as well as compiling an entertaining list of trivia, and an enlightening historical timeline. Chris Murphy, president and vice president of Marketing, Sierra Pacific Warehouse Group, takes us on a nostalgic trip to visit the roots of our American Graffiti heritage. Dr. Jim Johnson, arts education coordinator, Gallo Center for the Arts, showcases the spectrum of arts activities that illuminate our city. Kate Trompetter, development and communications director, Center for Human Services and Tom Ciccarelli, deacon, St. Patrick’s Church Ripon, collaborate on the story of volunteerism and philanthropy in our community. Garrad Marsh, former mayor of Modesto and owner of McHenry Bowl, provides an overview of the type and role of local government. Jennifer Mullen, Visit Modesto, chronicles the incredible range of entertainment, recreation, and sports options available to locals and visitors. Wayne Zipser, executive director, Stanislaus Farm Bureau, shares the incredible bounty and impact of agriculture. Jeremiah Williams, owner, Oak Crafts by Jeremiah, looks at the blessings and challenges of our diversity. Elizabeth Greenlee-Wight, CEO, Inter-Faith Ministries; Mark Haskett, president, Stanislaus County Interfaith Council (SCIC); and Dan Onorato, Modesto Peace/Life Center, come together to convey the good work being done by our faith-based institutions and organizations. Doug Ridenour, Sr., Modesto City Council member and retired police officer, talks about the roles and responsibilities of the many individuals and agencies involved in keeping us safe. Dr. George Boodrookas, dean of advancement, Modesto Junior College, discusses the incalculable value and influence of our local educational system.

Colleen O’Brien Preston, RRT, RN, service director, Kaiser Permanente, examines the state of our healthcare. Robert Barzan, founder, Modesto Art Museum and Modesto Architecture Festival, tours of our architectural landmarks. Cecil Russell, CEO, Modesto Chamber of Commerce, provides insight into why Modesto means business. Carol Whiteside, principal, California Strategies, gazes into the future to see what lies ahead. A percentage of all book and sponsor sales will be donated to the McHenry Museum & Historical Society. Purchasing a book or profile benefits the museum, the community, and the sponsor.

Acclaimed author Joan Didion, a native daughter of the Golden State, once wrote that “a place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his own image.” We believe that. The Central Valley belongs to us and Modesto is ours.

Above: Sharing the heritage. COURTESY OF SAVE MART SUPERMARKETS.

Bottom, left: Reaching into our past, present, and future. COURTESY OF CHRIS MURPHY AND NOEL ROCHA.

Bottom, center: This publication

This valley after the storms can be beautiful beyond the telling, Though our city-folk scorn it, cursing heat in the summer and drabness in winter,

includes contributions from a prestigious group of knowledgeable, well-known, and well-respected contributors, including Jim

And flee it – Yosemite and the sea.

Johnson, Ph.D.

They seek splendor, who would touch


them must stun them; Bottom, right: Proceeds from this publication benefit McHenry Museum & Historical Society. COURTESY OF MCHENRY MUSEUM & HISTORICAL SOCIETY.

Foreword ✦


The nerve that is dying needs Above: The Central Valley belongs to us and Modesto is ours. PHOTOGRAPH BY JAMES A. EWING.

thunder to rouse it. I in the vineyard, in green-time and dead-time, come to it dearly, And take nature neither freaked nor

Below: There is much to be proud of in our community. PHOTOGRAPH BY WILLIAM HARRIS, WILLIAM HARRIS PHOTOGRAPHY.

amazing, But the secret shining, the soft indeterminate wonder. I watch it morning and noon, the unutterable sundowns; And love as the leaf does the bough.

This poem was written by William Everson, “the Beat Friar.” Another Central Valley patriot and refugee, he too loved this valley. It was his touchstone, not a flat spot on the map viewed in the rear-view mirror while on the way to someplace else. Unfortunately, many of us have lost our connection with this place; with what helped make us who we are, in all its kaleidoscopic glory. The familiar sight of the sun low on the flat horizon. The soft sound of whispering oak trees. The cool touch of flowing rivers. The sweet taste of a fresh peach. The memory-etching smell of

irrigated soil. Here in this part of the world, we are all linked by the land, the people, and this place we call home. It is our tap root. From it, we draw sustenance, inspiration, and determination. Our town is known around the globe. Our landmarks are universally recognized. Our products are sold across the planet. Our people have changed the world. There is much to be proud of in our community. Much to feature. Much to remember. Much to celebrate. And much to prove that Modesto is, and will remain, a great place to live and work. It is our deepest and most sincere wish that this book will help change how we are perceived. That it will help communicate all that is singular about our little town. That it will cultivate hope for the future. A message of compassion, inclusion, trust, and optimism. And, ultimately, a sense of community.

THERE’S MUCH MORE TO THIS TOWN We hope to reverse the stigma that’s strongly associated with Modesto as leastliterate, least-educated, most-miserable city. We want to tell the story of this vibrant, energetic culture we have. We’re trying to say there’s much more to this town. - Sam Pierstorff, Editor-in-Chief, Quercus Review Press; Founder, Slam on Rye and The Ill List; Professor of English, Modesto Junior College; Modesto Poet Laureate 2004–2008. Originally published in the April 24, 2016 edition of The Modesto Bee.

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While you’re on your way to wherever you are going, make time for interesting civic slogans, kind tones of voice from your offspring, and tender pork chops at dinner, as you wait for those children to grow;

Rebecca Murphy, Through the Arch, 100 Years, acrylic.

and on your way, don’t forget to wave at the passing cars, the ’62 Rambler Ambassadors, the ’57 Chevy Impalas – lowered or not – the ’49 Chevy pickup with the two-tone paint job and its wine press in the wood-slat bed on which you chipped your front tooth; meanwhile, on your way to being an adult in Modesto, don’t forget to stand at the side of the street watching the veterans parade by, the group ever-smaller year by passing year – and to think about what that means; A Modesto Poem ✦


and on the way to wherever your route ends, remember the urban forestry division and its cherry-pickers taking crews up high, clearing out the mistletoe taking hold in your soul. It roots to your higher self, takes in your exhalations and thrives. And on the way to wherever you are going, don’t forget to design the official flag of your being. Do it with your own brand of thinking, all of the small sadnesses mixed with triumph, your flag waving in the same air that we breathe, here in Modesto – And while you are on the way to wherever you are going, bless each face you meet, the creases at the bottom corners of both eyes; bless the line of the lips where they meet. Curve your own mouth into a shape, a symbol, the flag of this singular moment, when you meet your neighbors at every corner – in the Virginia Corridor, in Dry Creek. You are here in this moment, you fill it, are filled; you are firmly twined around the tree trunk of time. And so, on the way to wherever you are going, you find yourself always arriving here, where you are: inside this frame, and this frame, and this frame. Note: I recall that when my family and I moved here from the Bay Area in the late ‘70s, Modesto’s slogan (perhaps a Chamber of Commerce-created slogan) seemed to be a phrase along the lines of Modesto: We’re on the Way to Where You’re Going. In this poem, I work with that slogan, which might be true only in my memory’s imagination. As an adult who has now lived in Modesto for the past 21 years after leaving “for good” back in my college days, I’m fascinated by the idea of a city—any city, really, but especially one’s hometown—as both a transitory and a permanent place, a place where one projects one’s own desires, regrets, and hopes.

When you meet your neighbors at every corner—in the Virginia Corridor, in Dry Creek. PHOTOGRAPH BY WILLIAM HARRIS, WILLIAM HARRIS PHOTOGRAPHY.

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Everyone’s relationship to their hometown is personal. Some people can’t wait to get out, and some people want to stay there the rest of their lives. If I hadn’t wanted to pursue a professional career in show business, I would’ve been truly happy to stay, and I know that I would have found great comfort and joy in playing an active role in the community. However, I had a different calling. I loved growing up in Modesto, and I don’t think that I have created an idyllic perspective of it. I think it really was a pretty darn perfect setting to live out my youth. My parents were so proud of the town and all its history. My great-grandfather was mayor. My grandfather was one of the initial founders of the Modesto Reds baseball team. I lived around the corner from Ulrich Avenue, down the street from the wonderful O’Brien family, and directly next door to the Ulrich Shopping Center, where I would grab my ice cream cone at Swenson’s and walk ten yards to visit Lulu, the chimpanzee, in my dad’s zoo, which was the only zoo in the Central Valley at the time. I was very active while attending Grace Davis High School and fairly active while at Modesto Junior College. Theater played a huge part in my formative years, and I was mainly involved in the Modesto Youth Theater, headed by Paul Tischer. That was a wonderful time in my life and the experiences and friendships I gained were invaluable. The people I performed with in plays and musicals became friends and, later, became major fixtures in Modesto’s art scene—Melanee Wyatt, Karen Lotko, Michael Johnson, John Duerner, Debbie Holtzclaw, Penny Sweeney, Claudia Streeter, and Candy Chamberlain, to name a very few. Even though I moved to New York City and eventually to Los Angeles, where I currently reside and work as a casting director, I have always returned to my hometown for parties, events, and plays, both to support my friends, and to not lose my connection with my roots. I have always been extremely impressed that a town the size of Modesto has its own symphony, so many respectable theaters and dance companies, and now the beautiful Gallo Center for the Arts.

Tyler Abshier, North and Dakota, The Great Tree, oil.

Preface ✦


Top, left: Downtown Modesto, 1960.




Modesto: A nurturing, enriching, and unique environment. COURTESY OF THE MCHENRY MUSEUM.


Every city has a story that it believes about itself. Modesto is no different. Over the last few years, citizens from Modesto’s neighborhoods have been intentional in highlighting the positive characteristics of the city and its citizens. A shift of perception, what is believed about the city, has been occurring. A shift from a negative view of the city to a more positive outlook. This shift in perception has led to a shift in conversation. The stories that Modesto’s citizens tell about their fair city is The positive benefits of helpful neighbors. changing. Yes, crime rates are COURTESY OF THE COLLEGE AREA NEIGHBORHOOD ALLIANCE. high and income is low, but the city is also made up of great neighbors that create great neighborhoods. Yes, many citizens have been complacent, but the encouraging emergence of proactive citizens willing to get to work to improve the conditions in our city is giving rise to stories of volunteerism, philanthropy, and loving acts of random kindness. As this shift in conversations is occurring, there is also developing an alternative experience that people are having in the city; experiences of sacrifice for others and investing time and effort for the sake of neighbors. A growing number of people are benefiting from this “city of great neighbors.” As people are seeing their city in a positive light, expressing a positive story, and experiencing the positive benefits of helpful neighbors, there is also a small but growing shift in positive action taking shape in our city. This is reflected in citizens willing to “get to work” to improve the health and well-being of others; investing their own resources and abilities to build a great city. - Marvin Jacobo, Executive Director, City Ministry Network

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TOUCHSTONES: Life and Times of Modesto

OUR SENSE OF COMMUNITY The sense of community and the great people make Modesto special. I also love the climate, the proximity to other great places to visit, the special things that make Modesto extraordinary—MoBand, the Gallo Center, the restaurant and music scene, outdoor life such as biking, hiking, al fresco dining. Modesto is small enough to know “everyone,” but large enough to have the amenities of a bigger city like healthcare, shopping, dining, professional services. What makes me proud to be a Modestan is the way Modestans come together to help each other and rally around good causes that increase our sense of community. - Lynn Dickerson, CEO/President, Gallo Center for the Arts


The youth of today are incredibly lucky to have such an amazing facility to perform in; what I would’ve given to have had that back when I was growing up. One of the things that my wife, Kim, and I look forward to the most every year is coming home and judging “Valley’s Got Talent,” now known as the “Valley Talent Project.” It really is a highlight for us.

Modesto is, and always will be, my favorite place. I’m so proud that I can call it my hometown. It’s actually a joke in my office that the word “Modesto” is mentioned so often. My staff always says that the way to get me on the phone is using that “special” code word. I feel that I am not only successful at what I do, but I am also the person I am because of all I learned in the nurturing, enriching, and unique environment that is Modesto. Preface ✦





William “Bill” Scheuber, Down in the Valley, acrylic.

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Modesto was born with the coming of the railroad. In 1870, the Central Pacific Railroad—the western link of the first transcontinental railroad—bought property and laid out another of the many railroad stops snaking down the valley’s spine. At the time, Modesto was the end of the line. William Chapman Ralston, a banker who previously made millions from the Comstock silver mines in Nevada, was a director of the Central Pacific Railroad and was known as “the most resourceful and daring of the West Coast’s financiers.” Legend has it that the city was briefly named after Ralston. When he declined, a Mexican railroad hand was heard to say, “Señor es muy modesto (The man is very modest).” The name had a ring to it and was adopted with acclaim. Because the people of the area recognized the advantages of the railroad’s year-round, reliable transportation, the citizens of Paradise and Tuolumne City literally picked up their houses and buildings and moved them to Modesto. The first business district was Ninth Street, then known as “Front Street” because it fronted the railroad tracks. A frontier boomtown teeming with life and energy, Modesto quickly gained a reputation as one of the wildest towns of California’s Central Valley. Commerce and civilization soon tamed it. Businesses were rapidly followed by schools, churches, parks, and beautiful homes.

TOUCHSTONES: Life and Times of Modesto

In the late 1840s, like the rest of California, folks living in the Central Valley were infected with gold fever. Some 300,000 people migrated to California in search of the valuable nuggets. When dreams of quick riches were quickly shattered, hundreds of miners and prospectors turned to the land to ranch and farm. Unfortunately, two natural disasters threatened to end ranching and farming in the valley before it really began. During 1861 to 1862, the area experienced two months of steady rain, melting the Sierra snowpack. Rivers overflowed, washing away entire villages. Land used for grazing was destroyed, and much of the livestock was drowned. The following year, the region braved the worst drought in recorded history. The dry spell killed most of the remaining animals and threatened to finally wipe out valley farming. But, in the mid1860s, a shortage of wheat around the world offered impoverished farmers a golden opportunity. With the drought a not-so-distant and still painful memory, the locals rolled up their sleeves and planted thousands of acres of wheat, transforming Stanislaus County into endless amber waves of grain. From 1867 to the mid-1880s, Stanislaus County was a leader in the wheat industry. While Stanislaus County had plenty of wheat, farmers had a significant problem transporting it because primary roads and major bridges were not yet built. The creativity and determination of the people shined through once again. They started using rivers as highways. In 1870, the railroad replaced this mode of transportation.

In 1871, Modesto became the county seat. Between 1872 and 1873, a courthouse was erected at a cost of $60,000. From that point on, Modesto became the hub of the region, roughly defined as the area between the Stanislaus and Tuolumne Rivers. In 1884, it incorporated. A major boost to the town and the economy was the development of an irrigation system. In March 1887, California’s governor signed legislation authorizing the creation of irrigation districts. Modesto Assemblyman C. C. Wright introduced the bill. Local voters approved the formation of the Modesto Irrigation District (MID) in mid-1887, which became California’s second irrigation district. The first was the Turlock Irrigation District (TID). Although

Top, left: The Central Pacific settles the Central Valley. COURTESY OF THE MCHENRY MUSEUM.

Top, right: Gold fever infects California. “Head of Auburn Ravine, 1852.” COURTESY OF THE CALIFORNIA HISTORY ROOM, CALIFORNIA STATE LIBRARY, SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA.

Above: Modesto blossoms with irrigation. COURTESY OF THE MCHENRY MUSEUM.

A History of Modesto ✦


The Modesto Arch was built in 1912 to attract commerce. COURTESY OF THE MCHENRY MUSEUM.

formed in 1887, the Modesto Irrigation District did not actually begin functioning until the early 1900s. That was due to a number of reasons, including litigation by the anti-irrigationists who challenged the constitutionality of the Wright law, believing that the district should be privately owned and operated, as well as the lack of funds to carry on operations thanks, in part, to the litigation’s effect on bond measures. Robert McHenry was selected as the district’s first president. MID built a canal system and started delivering irrigation water in 1904. A Grand Jubilee in April 1904 marked its official opening. With the founding of MID and the creation of irrigated agriculture, Modesto blossomed. Irrigation made it possible to grow a diversity of

F O U R G E N E R AT I O N S I N M O D E S T O My roots are deep here in Modesto. At the turn of the 1900s, my great grandfather made harnesses. His son, my grandfather, in his early years drove a mule team with hay from Paradise City into Modesto and then worked his way into hardware management. My other grandfather taught at Modesto High School in the 1930s. One grandmother helped start the PTA, my other grandmother was a science teacher in Turlock. My father was a carpenter and my mother was a librarian. The setting was rural when I grew up. We knew each other. Our neighbors were our friends and extended family. The memory that lives deep in my bones is that we cared for each other. - Twainhart Hill, Fourth Generation Modestan

Family roots run deep in Modesto. COURTESY OF TWAINHART HILL.

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TOUCHSTONES: Life and Times of Modesto

crops and to plant year-round, as well as enabling farmers to make a living on a relatively small piece of land, often consisting of 20 to 40 acres. Throughout the 1880s, lovely new homes were built east of downtown. Today, only one of those beautiful homes still stands in its restored state. From 1882 to 1883, Robert McHenry constructed an Italianate Victorian, now better known as the McHenry Mansion. The prosperity fostered by irrigated agriculture was reflected in the creation of a number of civic structures, such as the McHenry Public Library (1912; now the McHenry Museum), the Modesto Arch (1912), the Southern Pacific Railroad Depot (1915), large, multi-story hotels (Hotel Modesto, 1914; Hotel Hughson, 1914; and Hotel Covell, 1924), and splendid churches (St. Stanislaus, 1913; First Presbyterian Church, 1911; and First Methodist Church, 1932). The McHenry Public Library was underwritten by money left in the will of Oramil McHenry, Robert’s son, when he died in 1906. Construction was started in 1911 and the new library opened on May 1, 1912. An addition, which doubled its size, was built by the city in 1928. When a new city library was constructed in the 1970s, the original building was converted into the McHenry Museum. By 1910, Modesto was growing, boasting a population of nearly 4,500. In an early attempt at self-promotion, the young community described itself as the “most metropolitan and classy of its size in California.” It was also soon referred to as the “Rose City” and the “Garden

CAUGHT UP IN CIVIC PRIDE The people are friendlier, it’s not as crowded or rushed, and there is rural beauty a stone’s throw from downtown. There is an unusually high level of community involvement here. People seem to care more about their city than I’ve seen elsewhere. It’s hard not to get caught up in that civic pride. - Chris Wight, Senior Marketing Analyst

City,” thanks to the citizens planting the fragrant flowers and meticulously grooming their lawns, as well as the development of Graceada Park under the supervision of John McClaren, designer of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. The Modesto Arch, which spans I Street at Ninth Street, was promoted by the Modesto Business Men’s Association, which later became the Modesto Chamber of Commerce, as a way to attract commerce. Built in 1912, a contest was held specifically to find a slogan to adorn the arch. The entry that came in first, “Nobody’s Got Modesto’s Goat,” was passed over in favor of the runner-up, which remains atop the arch today— “Water, Wealth, Contentment, Health.”“ Founded in 1921, Modesto Junior College is the oldest junior college in California. This institution has helped tens of thousands of students blaze a path to higher education and a better future. MJC continues to be a place that

thousands of students seek out each year for an affordable, quality education. The 1930s were marked with the founding of the Modesto Symphony (1930) and new theaters, such as the State Theatre (1934). The day prohibition ended in 1933 was an important day in the United States. It was also one of the most significant dates in Modesto’s history. That is the day two brothers, Ernest and Julio Gallo, opened a small winery in Modesto with $5,900 in borrowed funds. Over 80 years later, the winery that Ernest and Julio founded is now the largest privately owned winery in the world, employing thousands of workers in Modesto, the Napa Valley, and other locations throughout California and the world. In the 1940s and during World War II, Hammond General Hospital opened as a burn and convalescent hospital for wounded troops. The National Arbor Day Foundation has named Modesto a “Tree City, USA.” This honor


Bottom, left; Downtown Modesto. COURTESY OF THE CITY OF MODESTO.

Bottom, right: The El Viejo Post Office. Modesto is the nineteenth largest city in California. COURTESY OF THE CITY OF MODESTO.

A History of Modesto ✦


Modesto is California’s 19th largest city, with more than 211,000 residents. Although it has become a major American city, Modesto has remained true to its early history and continues to be the center of one of the largest and most diverse agricultural regions in the United States. From its wild beginnings through its years of hardships and uncertainty, people have been


Above: The E. & J. Gallo Winery, the largest privately owned winery in the world. COURTESY OF THE E. & J. GALLO WINERY.

Below: Modesto is the birthplace of filmmaker George Lucas. COURTESY OF SKYWALKER PROPERTIES LTD.

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has been bestowed in recognition of the city’s “urban forest,” which includes more than 81,000 trees lining our streets and shading our parks. It is estimated that there is one tree for every two people in Modesto, which doesn’t include all the privately maintained trees. To keep this forest healthy, the city’s Parks and Recreation Department utilizes an award-winning, state-ofthe-art, computerized street-tree maintenance program. The conscientious planting of these trees was only the beginning of the city’s urban beautification. Parks, large and small, dot the community’s many neighborhoods. Throughout the ‘50s, “draggin’” 10th Street was the popular pastime for Modesto’s teenagers. This resulted in native son George Lucas’ 1973 film American Graffiti that asked the question, “Where Were You in ‘62?” Each summer, Modesto continues to preserve the small town feel as depicted in this popular film. In 1954, Modesto was named an “All-America City” by the National Civic League. This award honors citizen action in community affairs and recognizes exceptional successful collaboration between residents and elected officials to make the city a better place to live and visit. It received the honor again in 1972. The 1960s and 1970s saw a significant growth and spread in Modesto’s population, resulting in a dispersing of businesses to shopping centers and strip malls, as well as the loss of productive farmland. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the downtown experienced a vibrant renaissance. Leading the way was the construction of Tenth Street Place, which included new offices for the City of Modesto and Stanislaus County (1997), restoration of the historic State Theatre (2005), construction of the prestigious Gallo Center for the Arts (2007), and plans for a future county courthouse complex.

TOUCHSTONES: Life and Times of Modesto

“Modesto, Where Dreams Come True” 1st Verse There’s just one spot In the world for me, No matter where I roam. A wonderful city, most fair to see, Modesto is my home. With golden beauty upon its fields, Its flowers of every hue, Its towers of learning, Its homes so blest, Modesto, I love you. Chorus My Modesto, where dreams come true will be loyal and true to you, City of water, City of wealth, City of contentment, City of Health Fairest and best of the great Golden West, Modesto, the city of my dreams. 2nd Verse Our founders brave In days gone by. Together toiled and planned; So we will keep our courage high; Together we will stand. With high endeavor we’ll work for this, The city of the west. We’re here to serve, And here to build. Modesto, we pledge our best. Repeat Chorus - Words and Music by Winifred McGee.

attracted to Modesto. Today, just as it has for nearly 150 years, Modesto’s beauty, charm, and style of life continue to draw people from all over the country.

M O D E S T O AT- A - G L A N C E • With a population of more than 211,000, Modesto is the largest city within Stanislaus County and the 19th largest city in California. • Founded in 1921, Modesto Junior College is the oldest junior college in California. • The City of Modesto maintains and operates 76 parks, encompassing 1,100 acres of developed and partially developed land. This includes five regional parks or trails, six community parks, 54 neighborhood parks, and 11 miscellaneous parks or parklets. • Modesto is the hometown of George Lucas and is the inspiration for his first hit film, American Graffiti. Every June, the city celebrates with classic car parades, concerts, showings of the movie, and much more. • The city is home to Seneca Foods Corporation, which operates the largest wetprocess cannery in the world. • Modesto is home to the largest garden club in California, with nearly 600 members helping to make Modesto a more beautiful place to live. • Modesto and the garden club received the international “Enhancement of the Landscape” award in 2002 for its flower clock, located at downtown’s Centre Plaza. • Modesto is also home to the world’s largest privately owned winery, the E. & J. Gallo Winery. The Gallo Glass plant is also located in Modesto, and most of the company’s products are bottled here. The winery plant is large enough to hold three football fields. • Foster Farms is the largest poultry producer in the Western United States. • Frito-Lay, Del Monte, Hunt-Wesson, and Kraft Foods also operate processing plants in Modesto. • The Almond Board of California is the second largest organization of its kind. • Modesto’s many local dairies are partially responsible for making California the secondlargest cheese-producing state in the nation.

REFERENCES If you would like to learn more about Modesto’s history, we recommend the following sources: Websites Modesto Convention & Visitors Bureau; City of Modesto; Stanislaus Alliance; and Print Resources Modesto: Images of Yesterday, Images of Today, Robert Gauvreau; “Visitors Guide & Meeting Planner,” Modesto Convention & Visitors Bureau; The Modesto Bee; City of Modesto Parks, Recreation, and Neighborhoods Department. Publications Modesto—Images of America and Modesto—Postcard History Series by Carl P. Baggese Early Modesto and Nearby Towns: Stories Published in The Modesto Bee; The McHenry Mansion—Modesto’s Heritage; Modesto Then and Now; and The Modesto Story by Colleen Stanley Bare The Greening of Paradise Valley: Where the Land Owns the Water and the Power—The First 100 Years of the Modesto Irrigation District by Dwight H. Barnes History of Stanislaus County by L. C. Branch Along the Stanislaus, 1806-1906 by Florabel McKenzie Brennan Annals of Stanislaus County, Volume 1: River Towns and Ferries by I. N. “Jack” Brotherton Growing Up in the Valley by Charlotte Smith Couture Modesto on My Mind: Columns from The Modesto Bee by Dave Cummerow Stories of Stanislaus: A Collection of Stories on the History and Achievements of Stanislaus County by Solomon Philip Elias Landmarks and Legends: History from the Pages of The Modesto Bee and Stanislaus County: An Illustrated History by Kathleen M. Gooch One Hundred Years: Modesto, California by Jeannette Gould Maino Modesto—Then & Now by Wayne Mathes An Insightful, Rousing, Sagacious, Artful, but Not-too-Serious History of the Stanislaus County Library by Michael McGranahan Stanislaus Stepping Stones and Stanislaus County History: From the Pages of Stanislaus Stepping Stones, an Anthology; 1976-1986, by the McHenry Museum & Historical Society Modesto: An Informal History by B. J. Osborn Stanislaus County and the Western Movement and Stanislaus County and World War I: Draft, Training, Combat, Casualties, and Letters by Robert LeRoy Santos The Story of Stanislaus County: Where the Land Owns the Water by the Stanislaus County Board of Trade A History of Stanislaus County by the Stanislaus County Department of Education Old Times in Stanislaus County: A Journey to the Past by Robert Daras Tatam History of Stanislaus County by George Henry Tinkham

A History of Modesto ✦






Michael J. Mangano, Michael J. Photography & Design, Beaty Then and Now, ghost photograph.

26 âœŚ

In 1973, when George Lucas decided to tell a story of his youth on a night in 1962 Modesto, he chose to film American Graffiti in Petaluma. At the time, Lucas admitted that Modesto had changed so much since his high school graduation over ten years before that it was no longer recognizable as the town he remembered and, thus, would not work for his purposes. In the years between 1962 and 1973, downtown Modesto had gone through an upheaval that changed the landscape and helped push the development of strip malls and the massive enclosed shopping mall that would become Vintage Faire, far from the central core of the city. Anyone who lived through the turmoil of the 1960s would not necessarily point to the changes in downtown Modesto as the most significant events of the time. Yet the impact to the dynamic city center was indelible and has continued to be a source of repeated attempts to create a more viable and useful area than what was left behind. Documented in many articles over the period written by Lu Gandolfo for The Modesto Bee, Modesto’s past was subject to the wrecking ball in a systematic destruction of old buildings deemed unworthy of saving for posterity. During the mid-1960s, most city centers consisted of aging buildings that had outlived their original purpose. Modesto was founded in 1870 by the Central Pacific Railroad and had gone through several

TOUCHSTONES: Life and Times of Modesto

distinct changes, from its wild-west youth to its adolescent years of growth and its maturity into the business center of agriculturally rich Stanislaus County. Banks, offices, government buildings, department stores, hotels, and all other types of businesses flourished as the community grew and prospered. Downtown was the magnet for the county’s population seeking a place to shop, work, and be entertained. The mantra of the 1960s was “urban renewal,” which was designed to improve and regenerate areas in a city that had become slums. Fresno had built a pedestrian mall in its downtown that brought new development with it. Modesto saw its chance to do the same. The first area to go was “skid row,” which consisted of the old State Hotel (once a grand Victorian edifice called the Tynan Hotel, built in the 1890s); Rogers Hall, one of Modesto’s oldest buildings that had housed one of the city’s first performance spaces on the upper floor and now featured The Hub Clothiers below; the old Turner Building, which now hosted a liquor store and billiard parlor; and the two-story Claremont Hotel, as well as Plato’s Opera House. This was the block between I, 10th, Highway 99, and H Streets, in close proximity to the Modesto Arch. What happened next is what made Modesto less attractive to Lucas when he decided to set his film in his hometown. As each area met the wrecker’s ball, it seemed that parking lots, not new structures, replaced those torn down. No pedestrian mall was ever approved or built. By the late 1970s and early 1980s, when a new hotel and Modesto Centre Plaza were planned and built at Ninth and K, Modesto had been bypassed by a freeway for State Route 99 and major businesses were moving to the outskirts. Sears and J.C. Penney, the two mainstay department stores in downtown, moved to anchor Vintage Faire Mall at the north end of town, which would soon become a maze of new shopping centers, subdivisions, and streets. Downtown seemed to be an afterthought. In an attempt to make the city center viable again, a plan to use state-provided redevelopment funds to build a new city hall and county building was put into place after a contentious battle for and against the plan in the mid-1990s. The downtown had languished for a number of years, losing the long-unused Strand Theatre to a fire in

1984 and seeing the Hotel Hughson and Covell become eyesores. Many of the buildings that remained were empty, and it was mostly city and county government workers who went into the area on a daily basis. The rebirth of downtown Modesto began with construction of Tenth Street Place after both old hotels were torn down, along with the Covell Theater. The 1925 Beaty Building, which stands across J Street from the new construction, is one of Modesto’s oldest surviving buildings and complements the new construction with its still classic look. Part of the plan included an 18-screen, state-of-the-art movie theater, built partially on the site of the old Strand, and a parking structure which also houses a restaurant and offices. Across 11th Street from Tenth Street Place is an upscale Italian restaurant, Galletto Ristorante, housed in a former bank building. Other businesses,

Above: Downtown Modesto had changed over the years. COURTESY OF THE MCHENRY MUSEUM.

Below: Downtown Modesto, 1962. COURTESY OF THE MCHENRY MUSEUM.

Downtown Modesto ✦



Top, right: The rebirth of downtown Modesto. COURTESY OF THE MCHENRY MUSEUM.

Below: Gallo Center for the Arts. PHOTOGRAPH BY CARL BAGGESE.

including the Modesto Chamber of Commerce, are located in the old J.C. Penney building on the southeast corner of J and 11th Streets. Along with new construction, Modesto’s one remaining original movie theater has been given new life as well. Built in 1934 and designed by renowned theater architect, S. Charles Lee, strictly for film, the restored State Theatre now houses live performances with an emphasis on concerts and comedy. Art films and movies not shown at larger local cinemas are also scheduled, as well as classic films. The jewel of downtown’s rebirth is the performing arts complex at the corner of I and 10th Streets, sharing the block with Modesto’s old city hall, now a court building. The Gallo Center for the Arts, named for the famous winemaking family whose winery and offices are located in Modesto, houses two theaters: the 444seat Foster Family Theater and the 1,250-seat

Mary Stuart Rogers Theater. Throughout the year, this arts venue routinely brings large audiences to downtown to dine in local restaurants and attend professional Broadway touring shows, concerts, and other arts performances. It has been a very long passage for downtown Modesto from the city’s birth in 1870 to the present. While the metamorphosis has been ongoing, a continuing effort is being made to keep downtown active and alive. The next step in the rebuilding process will be a new eightstory Stanislaus County Courthouse on a largely

A BETTER, MORE VIBRANT COMMUNITY Like any city, Modesto is not without its social and economic issues, yet the fact that I can personally name so many talented individuals that dedicate themselves to making our city a better, more vibrant place for their family and community, makes me proud to be a Modestan. Their dedication and love of home makes mine all the stronger. - Ryan Leupp, Assistant Management Consultant, Stanislaus County

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unused portion of property bounded by G, H 10th, and Ninth Streets. The hope is that new construction will help bring housing and businesses to help downtown Modesto thrive.

HISTORIC BUILDINGS OF DOWNTOWN MODESTO While not a definitive list of the buildings that once graced downtown, this list is a sampling of some of those long-gone and others still standing. The Stanislaus County Courthouse, located between I and H Streets, built in 1873. The courthouse stood until the late 1950s, when a new building was erected on the site. The Tynan Hotel, located at H and 10th Streets, 1890. Constructed by Thomas Tynan, it boasted a clock tower, but no clock. In later years, the tower was removed, along with its Victorian-era trim. The building was renamed the State Hotel and became part of Modesto’s skid row. It was torn down in the late 1960s. The Modesto Bank Building, located at the corner of I and 10th Streets, 1893. This building had an iconic clock tower that was a centerpiece of downtown until 1941. That year, a new building replaced this structure, and later housed Crocker Anglo Bank, until the city used it for storage in the late 1990s. It was eventually replaced by the Gallo Center for the Arts.

The Modesto Theatre, located on 10th Street, between I and J Streets, 1913. Built by the Mensinger family, the interior caught fire and burned in 1914, but was soon rebuilt. This was an ornate theater for stage shows and, later, films. In 1934, when the State Theatre opened, use diminished. The building still stands, but is an empty shell. The Hotel Modesto, located at the corner of 11th and H Streets, 1914. It was expanded several times over the years and became the city’s social center. It burned in 1944 and the remnants stood until 1958, when the new brick city hall replaced it. The Hotel Hughson, located at the corner of J and 10th Streets, 1914. It was built by the

Above: Historic downtown Modesto. COURTESY OF THE MCHENRY MUSEUM.


Downtown Modesto ✦


FOOD: REFLECTING AND BUILDING A COMMUNITY To me, a city is defined by its gathering places. Whether they be restaurants, pubs, cafés, coffee shops, or farmers markets (for simplicity’s sake, we will refer to them all as “restaurants”), they provide the best snapshot of the community—past, present, and future. You see, everyone eats, and everyone needs care and attention. Around the table is where this happens; food, atmosphere, company, and service. Take our town for instance. You can walk into the coffee shop down the street and enjoy art from local artists; wander to the tapas restaurant around the corner, have a glass of wine and see new and old faces alike; grab a beer at the local pub or have a cocktail at one of the many bars run by good people with big hearts. With an open mind and general curiosity, you can go into a restaurant that has been around for decades and get a feel for the history of that city, as well as the cultures of its people. You can go into familiar places that hold memories, or into new establishments and see them striving to find themselves. You can witness first-hand the personalities of the place and its people evolving and growing. And, even better, you can be a part of it. The beauty of a good restaurant is that they value you, and understand that you affect the outcome of that place. These places are defined by you, who populate them, as much as those who work there, and so the culture of a city is largely determined by its restaurants. Modesto is a good and hospitable place, filled with an extremely diverse set of people who care for their work, their loved ones, and their community. The downtown is a great place to witness this. There are restaurants on every corner, and they pull from the bounty that is our valley. You can sample a number of restaurants and enjoy a meal created entirely from local products. Take a stroll downtown, from one end to the other, you will see the diversity in our community represented in its food. Greek, Italian, Chinese, Mexican, Japanese, Thai, and American BBQ. There is all this and much more, waiting to be explored and experienced. We have such a diverse selection of food and food establishments and people that fill them that you are sure to discover something new and something old, something familiar and something bold. Venture out, ask a neighbor, a friend, or a stranger to recommend a spot. Start a dialogue, then bring some friends, and take it in. Sit, eat, drink, laugh, cry, have silly talks, and important conversations. The food scene in Modesto is about much, much more than food. It’s about people. It’s about community. And we have incredible people, who have created a powerful community. - Damon Robbins, Owner/Operator, Camp 4 Wine Café—”Life happens at the table.”

The food scene in Modesto is about much, much more than food. PHOTOGRAPH BY DAMON ROBBINS. COURTESY OF CAMP 4 WINE CAFÉ.

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widow of the founder of the town of Hughson and designed by Bernard J. Joseph, who also designed the Modesto Arch. The hotel boasted an indoor swimming pool, restaurant, and ballroom. Eventually falling into disuse, it was razed in the late 1990s to make way for Tenth Street Place. The Strand Theatre, located on 10th Street between J and K, 1921. The grand theater was designed and built by Reid Brothers. It was used for stage shows, graduations, and films. After years of neglect, it burned in 1984 and was demolished. An almost identical theater built by the same company is still in use as a performing arts center in Eureka, California. The Hotel Covell, located at the corner of 11th and J Streets, 1924. Built by rancher George Covell and his wife, Grace. Originally seventy rooms, it was expanded in 1929. The hotel was demolished in the late 1990s to make way for Tenth Street Place, the new citycounty building. The Covell Theater, built as part of the Hotel Covell. It was called the Richards Theater during construction, but was actually named the National. Later, it was the Princess and then the Covell. Most often the location for Disney films, it later was turned into an adult movie house. The theater was torn down when the hotel was demolished. The Beaty Building, located at the southwest corner of 11th and J Streets, 1925. Still standing, it houses Tresetti’s Restaurant, as well as various other shops and offices. The building was built by John Beaty, who was manager of the Hotel Hughson. The J.C. Penney Building, the third and final downtown Modesto location for the department store, 1947. Originally managed by the founder’s nephew, Richard Penney, it was converted into office space in the mid-1970s when J.C. Penney moved to Vintage Faire Mall. The Modesto Chamber of Commerce is currently one of the tenants. The Black Building, located at 11th and I Streets, 1922. This was the original site of L.M. Morris, a business supply company owned by George Lucas, Sr. It also housed Lowery Gift House, a long-time downtown business. The El Viejo Post Office, located at 12th and I Streets, 1933. The building was authorized by

THE BEAUTY AND FREEDOM OF MODESTO As a Bay Area native, and later in life, a longtime resident of Los Angeles, it took me several years of stubbornness and self-reflection to finally appreciate the beauty and freedom of living in Modesto. As a filmmaker and writer, my most precious commodity is time. The low cost of living affords me the luxury of working full-time on my craft. My girlfriend and I own a home a mile from downtown Modesto, so I’m never too far from a pint of beer at Commonwealth Gastropub, a meal at Concetta, or an art film at the State Theatre. Being a runner and cyclist, my daily workouts have me joyously hitting the trails of Dry Creek, or the newly laid bike paths on the Virginia Corridor. My favorite thing about living in Modesto: spending time in my garden, surrounded by succulents, drought tolerant plants, and my three cats. - Mark Runnels, Filmmaker, Writer

The beauty and freedom of living in Modesto. COURTESY OF THE CITY OF MODESTO.

Congress in July 1930 as a Federal Construction Project by the Hoover Administration. It was commissioned as the Federal Building and included the post office and all Federal offices, such as the Internal Revenue Service, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other Downtown Modesto ✦


A THRIVING HIVE The “American Dream” is possible in Modesto—no debt, savings accounts for retirement and children’s education, date nights downtown, and occasional vacations. My highly educated friends in the Bay Area can’t afford a home and barely make rent. Although they have access to more amenities, Modesto is starting to compete on the arts and culture front, too. I love going to Concetta and bumping into neighbors, colleagues, or friends of my parents. I lived in a lonely fish bowl in San Francisco, but in Modesto I’m part of a thriving hive of folks, all working together to improve our community. Above: The Beaty Building. COURTESY OF THE MCHENRY MUSEUM.

Below: The El Viejo Post Office. COURTESY OF THE MCHENRY MUSEUM.

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departments. The cornerstone was laid March 12, 1933. It opened October 2, 1933. The lobby contains hand-painted, Depression-era murals by Ray Boynton that were commissioned by the New Deal’s Treasury Relief Art Project (TRAP), which was funded by the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The post office was dubbed El Viejo (“the old one”) when the new main post office opened on Kearney Avenue in 1962. El Viejo closed on April 29, 2011, was redeveloped as legal offices in 2013, and occupied by McCormick Barstow, LLP in 2014.

TOUCHSTONES: Life and Times of Modesto

- Amanda Hughes, Program Director, Stanislaus Community Foundation

The State Theatre, located on J Street, 1934. Built in the waning days of the Art Deco period, this structure was designed by S. Charles Lee, a renowned California theater architect. It contains plaster murals of leaping gazelles and greyhounds. It has been restored and is still in use.


It’s all about the music and the cars! Oh, yeah, maybe dating, too. After World War II, the roads opened up. Gas was plentiful, rubber and metal were no longer rationed, and people could drive; sometimes for no reason at all. Along with the open road came the drive-in. Across the busy highways of America, carhops served up burgers, fries, and shakes to the hungry motorists. In the case of Modesto’s own Burge’s Drive-In on Highway 99, chicken was the specialty. In the ’40s, a new music created in Modesto circa 1938 by the Maddox Brothers and Rose called “Hillbilly Boogie,” would reach around the country via radio and would become “Rockabilly.” The “slappin’ bass” technique of brother Fred Maddox put the beat in the rhythm and blues that would become the foundation of “Rock ‘n’ Roll.” This is the birth of cruising; having time, gas, a car, music, a place to hang out and, of course, a date, or the hopes of getting one. People that grew up in Modesto during the late ’50s and early ’60s say that Modesto native George Lucas really got it right in his landmark 1973 film, American Graffiti. It was a fun, innocent time, and even the police officers of the day recall that most of the action was pretty tame. Of course, it was all about seeing and being seen. The slow crawl of the cars was a spectacle and, whether you were parked or driving, it was a mobile mating ritual for many. When Modestans were cruising, then known as “draggin’ 10th,” there was only one radio station that played the rock ‘n’ roll hits. KFIV 1360 AM was, for many, the soundtrack of their lives. American Graffiti opens with the Rockabilly-inspired 1954 song, “Rock Around the Clock.” These and many other rock ‘n’ roll anthems were broadcast live from a booth in Burge’s, located at Ninth and O Streets, a key turnaround for the evening ritual. American Graffiti was the first movie created around a selection of popular music not written specifically for the movie. These songs were integral to the script. Securing the rights to the songs

Aaron “Fasm” Vickery, Modesto Graffiti, spraypaint.

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G R A F F I T I TA K E S M E B A C K Graffiti Summer is a great event. The parade, the car show, and the music all take me back. We did the same thing growing up in Fort Worth, Texas. Having my name in the Graffiti “Walk of Fame” alongside George Lucas and Bo Hopkins is pretty cool. Modesto is where it all started. That’s why I like coming back. It still feels like the small town it was in the good old days. Everybody is so nice. I love meeting people who love American Graffiti. I’ll return as often as they’ll have me. It’s always a real good time. Above: Burge’s Drive-In on Highway 99. COURTESY OF BELT PRINTING.

Below: Radio provided the soundtrack for cruisin’. COURTESY OF STEVE PEDEGO.

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consumed 10 percent of Lucas’ $750,000 budget. This was the playlist of a generation. American Graffiti made a legend out of one of the many car clubs in Modesto. “The Pharaohs,” their name stylized in the movie to protect the “innocent,” were originally the FAROS. There were many car clubs before the FAROS that included numerous “Cruise Legends.” Most of the clubs in town started as high school “Athletic” clubs, such as the 36ers and the Regs. The first real racing car club was the Century Toppers, founded by Gene Winfield, along with Bart Bartoni and Pete Hischier. There were a variety of clubs in Modesto; some were more social and some were filled with car enthusiasts, like the Modesto Mill Jockeys, Road Rebels, and the club

TOUCHSTONES: Life and Times of Modesto

- Candy Clark, Actor, “Debbie” in American Graffiti

that George Lucas belonged to, the Ecurie AWOLs. All of these clubs had special logos, jackets, patches, and other items to help promote club unity. It was a simpler time when “The Cruise” took place. The police officers on the beat would write multitudes of tickets for illegal turns, lowered cars, and excessive speeds for the kids “draggin’ 10th.” The cruise from Burge’s Drive-In was underway in 1947 and cruisers also frequented Al’s, Felix’s, and Warren’s drive-ins and dragraced from light to light. Pranks were pulled all over town using oil slicks and smoke shows. But, most of all, it was about hanging out for some harmless fun, going on dates, and showing off your car. You could dance to Kent Whitt and the Downbeats with Rockabilly legend Roddy Jackson at the California Ballroom or the Fable Room in the Hotel Covell. Whether you had a Gene Winfield “Candy Apple Red” paint job, your car was lowered and chopped, or even if you drove the family car, downtown Modesto was the place to be. Whether you were in the FAROS, Road Rebels, or Century Toppers car clubs, or one of the fraternities or sororities, or just enjoyed a night out with your date, most cruisers agree that George Lucas’ movie captured the magic and mystery of the cruise in Modesto. While the cruise has evolved over time, with the two-way, 10th Street strip yielding to a loop of 10th and 11th Streets ultimately being

replaced by a route out McHenry Avenue, the music, the cars, the fun, and the connections remain an important part of our culture. Even though the days of cruising are no longer, our love of classic cars, chrome, and rock ‘n’ roll still shines bright and comes to life each June during Graffiti Summer. Modesto Graffiti is more than a chapter in the history books. Subsequent generations have kept cruising alive and well into the ’70s, ’80s, and early ’90s, and are now sharing the experience with future generations of car lovers. We have the Rockabilly bands and fans that embrace our retro heritage, the elaborate low-riders that celebrate the Impalas of the ’60s, and all kinds of people who want to embrace a positive feeling about Modesto and share in the excitement we can create with our tuck-and-rolled heritage. Graffiti is cross-cultural and cross-generational. It is steeped in art, music, soul, and respect for a simpler time. Watch American Graffiti and you will be amazed at what can happen. Modesto has memorialized the cruising years featured in the film classic with a statue of two cruisers in downtown Modesto at the Five Points intersection. Classic Community Murals is producing timeless, Graffiti-themed murals throughout the city that celebrate the era. Downtown, 10th and 11th Streets have been

named the “Modesto Historic Graffiti Cruise Route.” The route features a 25-kiosk walking tour and a “Walk of Fame” at Tenth Street Plaza that honors the “Legends of the Cruise,” including George Lucas, stars from the film like


Left: Modesto Graffiti USA celebrates our tuck-and-rolled heritage. PHOTOGRAPH BY DREW KYLER. COURTESY OF CHRIS MURPHY AND MODESTOVIEW.

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T H O S E W E R E T H E D AY S I graduated from Thomas Downey High School in 1954. That was a great time to be a teenager. Compared to now, life was simple. There was no stress of having to answer our cell phone, which is now a constant leash around our necks, so to speak. We didn’t have social media to keep us up on what was happening. Our parents didn’t worry about us much, as long as we got home every night and got our homework done after school. We did not appreciate the life we were living then. In the evening, we would go “draggin’ 10th.” That is where we found out what was happening. The route at that time was Burge’s Drive-In at Ninth, which back then was Highway 99 and O Street to 10th. Down 10th to J and out J to McHenry Avenue. The northern turn-around was Al’s Drive-In at McHenry and Frances Avenues, just north of the canal. Then there was Felix’s Drive-In on the way. We’d follow the route back to Burge’s and do it all over again. Sometimes, the route would take us around the police station on 11th Street. Today, that good time in our lives has been recreated by the North Modesto Kiwanis Club. The year 2017 will mark the 19th year we have put on the American Graffiti Festival and Car Show. On the Friday night of Graffiti weekend, there is a parade through downtown Modesto, just like in the Fifties. This, of course, was encouraged by the movie American Graffiti by Modesto native, George Lucas. I have been asked many times if Mr. Lucas got it right in depicting a typical night “draggin’ 10th.” My answer is always, “Absolutely.” Watch the movie, and you are living 10th Street in Modesto, California, in the 1950s. I am always amazed at the number of different cars in the movie. I have counted roughly 64. George Lucas has always considered the movie to be a musical, because it has music playing constantly throughout the film. A large part of his budget was spent on securing the rights to the songs. The cars, though, are certainly the glue that keeps it all together. Aaaah, those were the days! - John Sanders, General Chairman, American Graffiti Festival and Car Show


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our culture, our soul, and our brand. Around the world, there is only one Modesto Graffiti USA, a Classic American City. See you on the Cruise Route.


CAN YOU DIG IT? A tribute poem for American Graffiti’s 25th anniversary celebration.

A SMALL TOWN FEEL Growing up in a very small town in Iowa, Modesto has that same feel, but just larger. I love the parades, the festivals, the farmers market, downtown, and the amazing people. - Kole Siefken, Westmont Hospitality Hotel General Manager, DoubleTree by Hilton

Candy Clark and Bo Hopkins, Gene Winfield, Modesto car clubs, and others. Each June, a new round of inductees are added. There is much more being planned to celebrate and promote our Graffiti heritage. Thanks to Modesto Graffiti USA, there is a line of retro souvenirs, and the annual Graffiti Summer celebration continues to grow. So, take some time to stroll the Modesto Historic Graffiti Cruise Route and “Walk of Fame.” Check out the murals. Learn about our history and share it with someone you know. Show your kids a classic ’57 T-bird and play some rockabilly or Roddy Jackson music on your record player. This is our history,

A D D I T I O N A L I N F O R M AT I O N For more information, please visit:

If you unearth the body parts buried beneath G street, you will find a hot rod’s canary yellow doors, the steel wings of a white T-Bird, the tire tread of a ’55 Chevy still smokin’ like the Sixteen Candles you let burn on the last night of summer, 1962. These are not footprints or fossils. These are the birthmarks of Modesto. Rest your ear against the hot asphalt of McHenry Ave. and you will hear Wolfman Jack spinning At the Hop, and Johnny B. Goode, and That’ll Be The Day when cruising meant living and death was a finish line no one saw coming. And if you look closely at the exhaust curling out of the tailpipes of yesterday’s vintage cars, you might see George Lucas rising like a genie, and your first wish will be to rewind – turn back the clock so you can rock around it again and erase every name in your Book of Love because you were the fool who kept falling for great pretenders. But you knew that every stoplight was a fresh start; every turn could lead you to your goddess. People say that “You can’t stay 17 forever.” And you believe them, but American Graffiti is spray-painted on the walls of your whole body. The engine that roars loudest is your own heart beating, beating. Do not wait for the checkered flag. Do not look over your shoulder. Look ahead. The fastest thing in the valley is life. Don’t let it pass you by. - Sam Pierstorff, Editor-in-Chief, Quercus Review Press; Founder, Slam on Rye and The Ill List; Professor of English, Modesto Junior College; Modesto Poet Laureate 2004–2008.

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Ed Cesena, Duet, acrylic.

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To our nation and the world beyond, Modesto may be known for its prodigious agricultural output, a far-reaching influence on the international wine industry, and the magical cinematic inspirations of native son George Lucas, but for Modesto’s fortunate residents it also is home to a robust arts community that one might not necessarily expect to find in California’s 19th largest city. For more than forty years, I served as an administrator and professor of speech and theater at Modesto Junior College. As a Bay Area transplant arriving in Modesto in 1969, I had a snobbish attitude about the cultural scene in Modesto. That attitude quickly changed when I discovered the rich history of artistic accomplishments going back to the founding of Modesto in the 1800s. What other community our size can boast long-standing traditions embracing symphonic music, ballet, opera, professional and community theater, and more.

TOUCHSTONES: Life and Times of Modesto

A THRIVING, HOMEGROWN ARTISTIC COMMUNITY In its 15-year history, Prospect Theater Project has produced over 100 plays and provided an artistic home for hundreds of theater artists, as well as expanding and relocating to a new downtown location. PTP is Modesto’s longest operating, nonprofit, independent, resident theater company. Noted for its intimate setting, high production values, and artistic excellence, PTP is regarded by its patrons as on a par with any comparably sized theater in the world. It is a testament not only to the local artists and craftspeople who have contributed to the ongoing success of this small company, but to the region’s commitment to, and confirmation of, the place and value of a thriving, home-grown artistic community in Modesto. Because, what is perhaps most remarkable, is that PTP has achieved this, almost entirely, through ticket sales and individual donations. Truly, a grassroots organization. - Jack Souza, Founding Artistic Director, Prospect Theater Project

Today, on any given night, extraordinary arts and entertainment experiences await Modestoarea residents. In addition, local actors, directors, designers, and others are able to work in a thriving artistic environment. What our community lacked for many years, however, was a performing arts venue that would provide not only a home for local arts organizations, but also a magnificent setting for professional touring companies and artists. Thanks to a visionary public/private partnership, which combined the investment and efforts by Stanislaus County with generous contributions from more than 4,000 individuals and businesses, the Gallo Center for the Arts opened in 2007. To date, it has attracted more than 1.2 million patrons. Acknowledged as one of the finest performing arts venues in the nation, the Gallo Center has improved and enriched the lives of

valley residents with high quality entertainment at affordable prices, as well as an arts education program that has touched the lives of tens of thousands of school children. With its two performing spaces—the 1,250seat Mary Stuart Rogers Theater and the intimate 444-seat Foster Family Theater—the Gallo Center for the Arts is home to six resident arts organizations. Under the direction of René Daveluy and Leslie Ann Larson, Central West Ballet presents full-length ballets such as Romeo and Juliet and Peter Pan, as well as numerous contemporary works and entertainment style shows. Central West Ballet has staged classics such as Giselle, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, and The Nutcracker. The goal of CWB is to provide a training company for aspiring dancers and to increase experience opportunities for dance students. Long before the Gallo Center opened, the Modesto Community Concert Association was organized to meet the demand for more cultural entertainment in the Modesto area. For more than fifty years, MCCA brought to Modesto such

Above: Local artist Jim Christiansen. Modesto has a robust arts community. PHOTOGRAPH BY DAVID SCHROEDER. COURTESY OF CENTRAL CALIFORNIA ART ASSOCIATION.


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talented artists as opera star Eileen Farrell, the Boston Pops Tour Orchestra, pianists Leon Fleisher and Victor Borge, and many others. MCCA concerts continue to be of the highest quality, presenting a vital mix of established artists and performers still on their way to prominence. Under the artistic direction of Paul Tischer, Modesto Performing Arts was established in 1968. It was then known as Modesto Youth Theatre.

T R U LY R I C H I N C U LT U R E A N D H I S T O RY There is a lot to do and be proud of right here in Modesto! There’s the beautifully restored and historic, nonprofit State Theatre, where you can experience entertainment not found in the cineplexes. The Gallo Center for the Arts provides a wide variety of top-notch entertainment at affordable prices. The Modesto Junior College Arts, Humanities and Communications Division hosts many wonderful theater, music, and dance productions in its beautifully restored Performing and Media Arts Center. We have Prospect Theater, Center Stage Conservatory, Sankofa Theatre Company, Gallo Center Repertory Company, Modesto Performing Arts, Central West Ballet, Townsend Opera Players, MoBand, Opus Handbell Ensemble, Funstrummers Ukulele Band, American Graffiti Festival and Car Show, the Modesto Historic Graffiti Cruise Route, the MAMA Awards (Modesto Area Music Awards), ModestoCon, “Valley Talent Project,” YES Company (Youth Entertainment Stage Company), McHenry Mansion, McHenry Museum, Modesto Radio Museum, the Mistlin Gallery, Modesto Architecture Festival, Peer Recovery Art Project Gallery, MICL (Modesto Institute for Continued Learning), the Modesto Marathon, Tuolumne River Trust, 50 Plus Club of Stanislaus County, and the Stanislaus Veterans Center. The list goes on and on. Modesto is truly rich in history and culture. - Wes Page, Retired Media Producer; Volunteer

Modesto Junior College Performing and Media Arts Center. PHOTOGRAPH BY DAVID TODD. COURTESY OF MODESTO JUNIOR COLLEGE.

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During its history, MPA has presented more than ninety productions, among them musicals including Guys and Dolls, Oklahoma!, Bye Bye Birdie, and The Music Man. MPA also produces holiday offerings such as A Christmas Carol and classic children’s plays. The organization has received numerous awards for directing, set design, lighting design, and choreography. For the past 84 years, the Modesto Symphony Orchestra has enjoyed a strong bond with the community. The orchestra strives to enrich our community’s vitality and quality of

C E L E B R AT I N G 5 0 Y E A R S OF PERFORMING Modesto Performing Arts (MPA) is a community theater primarily performing Broadway musicals, although we also present children’s and non-musical plays. We cast both local and professional talent in our productions. In 2017, MPA celebrates its 50th anniversary. The mission of MPA is to contribute to the enjoyment of the arts and to the cultural life of the community. Cities thrive where the arts are strong and influential. Our goal is also to provide training and an opportunity for youth and adults to participate and learn about the theater; an opportunity to be creative and imaginative. For our young people, the values and work ethics learned while participating in theater productions are assets they can rely on in life, as well as any future job opportunities, either in the theater or elsewhere. - Paul Tischer, Artistic Director, Modesto Performing Arts

A RICH, DIVERSE ARTS COMMUNITY I will always remain grateful to the Modesto/Stanislaus directors and producers who helped revive my acting career. When I moved here in 1991, I had not worked in the theater since 1975, sadly due to stage fright. My passion lay dormant all those years. However, it remained an inherent part of who I am. In 1994, when I decided to return to the stage, I auditioned and was cast in the principle role of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s, The King and I, and have been working ever since. The Modesto theater scene has grown by leaps and bounds with more opportunity now than ever before. Young people who are interested in stage and dance have more choices today, and parents are supporting their children and encouraging them to excel in the arts. When the Gallo Center for the Arts opened in 2007, it brought a plethora of bigger names and acts to the community. Local artists initially were worried it would cause the smaller venues to go by the wayside. Their fears were unfounded. The Gallo Center actively promotes and partners with theaters and dance groups in the area and affords them the opportunity to have a space for their productions. Theater and dance have blossomed in and around Modesto, while attracting a diverse audience. On any given day, you’ll see farmers, liberals, conservatives, gays and lesbians, Latinos, African-Americans, and Asians in the audience and onstage. An example of this is Sankofa Theatre Company, founded in 2012, by four African-American actors. I would like to extend special thanks to Dr. Jim Johnson and Lynn Dickerson of the Gallo Center, Richard Mann of Riff Raff Productions, Melanee Wyatt of YES Company, Charline Freedman (1933-2011) of Modesto Junior College, Dennis Soares (19512006) of Newman Performing Arts, and, of course, the timeless Paul Tischer of Modesto Performing Arts. I am quite proud to have been a part of such a rich and vibrant community. Thank you Modesto/Stanislaus for supporting the arts, and helping one person revive his acting career! - Dwight Mahabir, Actor/Singer

Local arts and entertainment continue to attract diverse audiences. PHOTOGRAPH BY GREG SAVAGE. COURTESY OF THE SANKOFA THEATRE COMPANY AND THE GALLO CENTER FOR THE ARTS.

life through music. Its mission is to produce and present music of the highest caliber and quality. MSO became a fully professional ensemble in 1977. Today, the orchestra consists of 75-85

musicians from the valley and the San Francisco Bay Area. The MSO is led by David Lockington, who began his tenure in 2007 as the orchestra’s eighth music director. The Arts ✦




Townsend Opera was founded in 1983 by Modesto native Eric Buck Townsend. Townsend Opera is a professional opera and musical theater company, which presents both traditional and forward-looking productions of the standard operatic repertoire, as well as new American opera. Recent productions include A Streetcar Named Desire, Tosca, Sweeney Todd, Carmen, and Dead Man Walking. Led by General and Artistic Director Matthew Buckman, Townsend Opera also has forged a creative partnership with Fresno Opera. Under the direction of Melanee Wyatt, YES Company is a multifaceted youth theater program introducing students to the performing arts through intensive summer theatrical training and

year-round exposure to performance and the arts. YES Company brings young people, grades 7-12, together to gain a sense of community through trust, acceptance, and celebration of their differences as they work toward a common goal. Recent productions have included Mary Poppins, Peter Pan, Hairspray, and Les Misérables. In addition to these organizations, Modesto is enriched by a wide variety of artistic enterprises. Prospect Theater Project, under the artistic direction of Jack Souza, develops and presents traditional, as well as unconventional theater works each year. Each season, PTP produces challenging and provocative plays in an intimate setting. Recent productions include To Kill a Mockingbird, Death of a Salesman, The Belle of Amherst, The Prisoner of Second Avenue, Faith Healer, and Glengarry Glen Ross. PTP also offers workshops for actors and directors, classes in theater genres and styles, and a showcase for original works. Sankofa Theatre Company is dedicated to presenting plays which reflect African-American history, life, and culture through the performing arts. Founded in 2013 by John Ervin, Greg Savage, Cheryll Knox, and Elizabeth Garmon, STC has produced The Piano Lesson, Looking Over the President’s Shoulder, Freedom Riders, and Fences, all in partnership with the Gallo Center for the Arts. The theater company also conducts workshops for aspiring actors and directors. The Central California Art Association (CCAA) was established in 1952. It was started by a small group of artists committed to supporting the arts in our community. The Mistlin Gallery is run by volunteer members of the Central California Art Association, who endeavor to promote and provide art education and cultural opportunities for all residents of

THE ROLE OF MUSIC Music plays an essential role in Modesto’s history and its future. Each season we aspire to truly reflect the community’s spirit, enthusiasm, and passion. - David Lockington, Music Director, Modesto Symphony Orchestra

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MODESTO ARTS COME OF AGE Modesto, often maligned as a "cultural desert" and "one of the worst places to live in the USA," has come of age. As a native Modestan, I have observed the Modesto Arts Scene go through the tail end of its infancy, into the struggles of childhood and adolescence, and emerge full bloom into a vibrant and multifaceted adulthood. I consider myself fortunate to have had parents, especially my mother, who supported the performing arts in Modesto. She had a beautiful soprano voice that she was too shy to share, and used to talk lovingly of all the major performers of the ‘20s ‘30s, and ‘40s who came to perform in Modesto at the Strand Theater, a major and mysterious loss to the Modesto community, and other venues long gone. Her favorites were Mario Lanza and Ezio Pinza. It is a wonder that I developed an appreciation for music and the performing arts following the sounds of opera screaming from our Philco radio, or the droning shouts of whatever sports event was being broadcast every Saturday afternoon at our home, and the memories of squirming in my seat to the music of the Modesto Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Conductor Mancini, or performances of the Modesto Community Concert Association. I never did learn to appreciate spectator sports, but as I reached adulthood my appreciation for music and the performing arts developed into a passion, as the Modesto Symphony Orchestra came of age as a world-class orchestra and Modesto Community Concerts continued to bring outstanding artists from throughout the United States. Modesto has entered an age of excellence in the arts, which today incorporates one of the largest Architectural Festivals in the nation, the state-of-the-art Gallo Center for the Arts, the long-standing Modesto Performing Arts community theater company the Prospect Theater Project, the Mistlin Art Gallery, a thriving poetry community under the umbrella of MoSt (Modesto-Stanislaus Poetry Center), and numerous other community and school theater, applied arts, and performing arts options. On any given day of the week throughout the year, there is likely to be music, theater, and workshops for most any artistic interest; art walks, open studios, and garden tours punctuate the arts calendar, while music and performing arts continue to be supported in schools and colleges. As has Modesto, I have also developed an appreciation for music and the arts over my lifetime, and have served as an artistic director of Sunday Afternoons at CBS since 2000. This community-based series has presented music of many genres by local and global artists from as far away as Australia and Canada. We celebrate our 25th season in 2016-17, and have enjoyed a reputation for bringing world-class musicians to our intimate acoustic venue. Sunday Afternoons at CBS is proud to be a member of Modesto’s cultural renaissance and legacy. - Tina Arnopole Driskill, Artistic Director, Sunday Afternoons at CBS


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EIGHTY YEARS OF SERVING OUR COMMUNITY THROUGH THE ARTS The National League of American Penwomen is an organization of professional women artists, composers, and writers, dedicated to serving communities through the arts. The Modesto branch of the NLAPW was founded in 1936, with five charter members: Alice Scott Carlson, Grace M. Davis, Irene Childrey Hoch, Blanche Willis Allen, and Helen Hope Page. Past presidents have included Jeannette Maino, Colleen Bare, and Martha Loeffler, names familiar to Modesto residents. Peggy Mensinger, Modesto’s first woman mayor, was also a Penwomen member, as was internationally known artist, Yvonne Porcella. Each year, the Modesto branch supports the local Educationally Interpretive Exhibit at the Stanislaus County Office of Education, a visual arts exhibit open to K-12 students. In addition, the branch sponsors an annual poetry contest for students in memory of Aileen Jaffa, a former member. Branch artists and writers collaborated in an ekphrastic “Inspiring Women” exhibit at the Carnegie Arts Center in Turlock; members have also collaborated with music students at California State University, Stanislaus, and Peter Johansen High School. Currently, the Modesto branch of NLAPW has 30 members. In 2016, members celebrated their 80th anniversary with a special program, and 19 women were present to honor their past, present, and continued contributions to the arts. - Nancy Haskett, Modesto Branch President, NLAPW

The Modesto Branch of National League of American Penwomen celebrated its eightieth anniversary in 2016. COURTESY OF NLAPW, MODESTO.

Modesto and the surrounding region. The gallery supports the visual arts by offering paintings, sculpture, graphics, and crafts by local artists. High schools throughout the region provide a foundation for the arts with award-winning band programs, theater, art, and music classes. 44 ✦

TOUCHSTONES: Life and Times of Modesto

Students are often introduced to the arts for the first time and gain a lifelong appreciation that enriches their lives forever. Programs offered by Modesto Junior College and California State University, Stanislaus, serve the valley with superb performing and visual arts

experiences for student and community audiences. Both educational institutions have art galleries that present a variety of shows each year focused on student, faculty, and community work. The fine arts programs include orchestra and band concerts presented throughout the school year. Theater and dance departments produce events each year including comedies, dramas, and

modern, jazz, and hip-hop concerts. Both MJC and CSU, Stanislaus, have partnered with the Gallo Center for the Arts and other organizations to produce an annual calendar of special events including international music ensembles, guest speakers, solo artists, and master classes. Try to imagine Modesto without this remarkable panoply of arts and entertainment choices!

TOUCHED BY BEAUTY Royal has always been touched by beauty; out-of-doors, in music, in dance. That was something that made him very different from the others at Camp 4 in the ’50s and ’60s. That difference was most appealing to me; this rugged climber who valued things that I did. He was so inspired by classical music that he named one of his routes, “The Nutcracker.” When we saw the potential of Central West Ballet and what it could bring to the community, we wanted to support it. The bond was solidified when we found that the dance mistress, having been a principal dancer for years, was also a serious climber. - Liz Robbins, Co-Founder, Royal Robbins®

Supporting beauty in the community: Liz Robbins, Royal Robbins, and René Daveluy at a fundraiser for Central West Ballet. PHOTOGRAPH BY CHRIS MURPHY. COURTESY OF MODESTOVIEW.

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Sue Siefkin, Morning Mist, San Joaquin River, fabric collage.

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Recent headlines in The Modesto Bee include, “Stanislaus residents stepping up to help less fortunate,” “Giving more, than giving thanks,” “Spirit of giving warms chilly air in downtown Modesto,” and “Employees spend holiday building houses.” Modesto is a town with a strong sense of civic responsibility and dedication to its residents. Our diverse community is overflowing with people who enjoy helping others. Many of those people participate in innovative, reliable, and productive organizations. These people and organizations are providing services throughout this great city for families, youth, and individuals. They offer solutions ranging from meeting basic needs, like food and clothing, to helping families and individuals build their capacity to take care of themselves and their children, as well as providing access to some of the top talent of our day in theater, music, and more. There is no shortage of ways for people and families in Modesto to become engaged in giving back. Correspondingly, there is no lack of examples demonstrating how philanthropy, volunteerism, and civic responsibility are a clear part of the Modesto life. In the 1930s, a natural disaster would change American culture and then the landscape for many of its people. The Dust Bowl of the Great Plains devastated a 150,000-square-mile area that included

TOUCHSTONES: Life and Times of Modesto

Oklahoma, Texas, and neighboring sections of Kansas, Colorado, and New Mexico, setting in motion a great exodus. By 1940, more than 2.5 million people had fled the region. Nearly 10% of those people moved to California. Entire families were displaced and homeless, some living in camps along rivers in the Modesto area. During this time, churches and families already residing in Modesto were the ones to help these migrant workers through difficult times. More than 60 years later, the landscape of Modesto has changed, the makeup of our neighborhoods and residents looks different, and our social challenges and needs have transformed. Those homeless migrant workers have been replaced by another kind of homeless, while others in our community—of every class and caste, ethnicity, age, and gender—struggle with drug and alcohol abuse, mental health issues, and generational poverty. These are some of the challenges of our day, of our Modesto. Over the years, many community-based organizations, neighborhood groups, and nonprofits have been started to address some of these social ills. Furthermore, Modesto understands the contribution of culture and art make to a thriving,

engaged community and thus houses some of the most notable and successful nonprofit arts organizations and cultural assets in the valley. Modesto recognizes that one of the significant ways we make community is through the sharing of arts and culture. These resources are central to

Florence Owens Thompson, one of the most famous faces of the Dust Bowl of the Great Plains. PHOTOGRAPH BY DOROTHEA LANGE. COURTESY THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS.

T H E I M P O RTA N C E OF GIVING BACK Modesto pioneer leaders were entrepreneurs in business and community building. Bette Belle Smith was a member of that generation who valued their city so much that they were always working to make it the best place to live. Her generosity and those other trailblazers’ expectation of giving laid the groundwork for us to follow. That is the expectation when you reside here. These leaders have inspired me and my family and taught us the important lesson of giving back. We are not alone. The standard of volunteerism and giving permeates our community. - Kenni Friedman, Community Volunteer Bette Belle Smith, an inspiring trailblazer. COURTESY OF THE SMITH FAMILY.

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ROOTED IN GENEROSITY Modesto is a city rooted in generosity. In fact, Robert and Matilda McHenry were avid benefactors of various causes at the time they built the McHenry mansion. Today, those charitable roots have borne incredible fruit. Philanthropy is a common vision shared by many giving families and individuals in our region. The charitable giving in a community is often the measure of its heart and soul: whether that giving is to support the neediest, inspire imaginations through the arts, make the “American Dream” accessible for all, or shelter those who need it. Philanthropy touches every corner of Modesto, and is a large part of what makes our town so special. - Marian Kaanon, President/Chief Executive Officer, Stanislaus Community Foundation

creating a sense of community, a sense of place. Through the arts, we also enhance personal development, improve social cohesion, reduce isolation, and create a more active community. Through these pathways, Modesto community groups, service-providing organizations, and our charitable public are contributing to the health and wellness of Modesto in a variety of ways.

NUMEROUS OPPORTUNITIES TO GIVE Today, a quick search of the internet yields hundreds of nonprofit and community-based

The Center for Human services offers programs and services for children, families, and individuals. PHOTOGRAPH BY KATE TROMPETTER. COURTESY OF CENTER FOR HUMAN SERVICES.

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organizations, and numerous opportunities to give back located in Modesto. Many of these organizations were founded by community members, joining together around a shared concern for the state of their hometown. These organizations continue to be supported by, and connected to, local people. The nonprofit sector has become a vital component in dealing with many of the social challenges of our day, and they wouldn’t survive without the devotion of many of Modesto’s residents. According to the Stanislaus Community Foundation and other statistical resources, Modesto residents have been more than generous over the years in sustaining and furthering the mission of local nonprofits. Additionally, Modesto residents contribute countless volunteer hours. Modesto is a town that has long understood the impact the gift of time and talent can have in creating a better community. People of all kinds, from all walks of life, give thousands of hours each year, some singlehandedly making sure local organizations keep their doors open. Beyond individual residents, Modesto is also known for exceptional levels of corporate philanthropy and engagement. Modesto is a city that often feels like a small town. One reason for that is the many locally owned, successful businesses, large and small. These businesses, their owners and employees, are committed to taking care of, and providing opportunities for,

HOMELESSNESS: CARE, C O M PA S S I O N , C O M M U N I T Y C O L L A B O R AT I O N Modesto is a community built on trusting relationships, faith, and strong values. The city has always been a great center for volunteerism and philanthropy. In recent years, across this great nation, cities are encountering many who are suffering from the effects of homelessness. The city known for “Water, Wealth, Contentment, Health” is in the midst of experiencing similar issues. The number of individuals and families who are homeless has risen dramatically, with no apparent solution. There are outcries in our community to somehow hide the homeless. The parks have been declared by some as unsafe and taken over by “undesirables.” Some say our streets have been overrun by panhandlers. The stark reality is our community is experiencing issues that do not have a simple answer. There are many local agencies and organizations tasked with the responsibility of offering services to those in need. They work diligently to help the homeless, but it can be overwhelming. I have lived in Modesto off and on for 30 years and there is one thing I know about this town. We have care, compassion, and an incredible sense of community. I am encouraged by the collaboration that is occurring between so many of the different sectors in our town. As a community, we are beginning to understand that those experiencing homelessness are no different than us. As a matter of fact, they are part of us. They are our brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, fathers, grandfathers, and mothers. There are no “others.” We are them and they are us. Many of the agencies that work alongside those experiencing homelessness understand that each person has a name and a backstory. Many residents may not agree with some of the behaviors and actions that the homeless display, but we must remember to treat them with dignity and respect. They have worth and value. Compassion is a great character trait to have and this community is benevolent to a fault at times. How we structure our compassion is a difficult process. Should we give money to those in need? Do we engage or ignore? How do we build trust? What should I do to help? These and more questions are asked daily by the citizens not only of Modesto, but of cities across our nation. I am proud to live in Modesto. I came back here with my family to be part of the solution for those in our community who are in need. Understanding that people need people is the heart of compassion. And Modesto has a very big heart. It’s all about building bridges, not fences. As a community, we face huge issues and challenges, but I believe we can make a difference as we go forward as one. We can do so much more together than we can apart. Remember that what we do today will echo into eternity.

Combatting homelessness: Building bridges, not fences. PHOTOGRAPH BY WILLIAM HARRIS, WILLIAM HARRIS PHOTOGRAPHY.

- Kevin Carroll, Executive Director/CEO, Modesto Gospel Mission (June 2013-July 2017)

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Below: Operation 9-2-99, Tuolumne River Cleanup. PHOTOGRAPH BY ED AGUILAR, TUOLUMNE RIVER TRUST. COURTESY OF OPERATION 9-2-99.

the people and families who reside here. There is no shortage of options available through local nonprofit and community organizations for corporations to engage. Whether through event sponsorship, employee giving and volunteer programs, or direct gifts, our business community exhibits stewardship of their community.

A BRIGHT FUTURE Modesto values community, collaboration, and people. Modesto believes that people in our city have a right to a decent quality of life, a life that includes having basic needs met, and access to the better things in life, including art, theater, and music. Modestans accomplish this by

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working together with their neighbors and partners to create a vibrant, giving community. The future for Modesto is bright. With an engaged, supportive, community-minded group of patrons, givers, and nonprofits serving our town every day, Modesto must now turn its attention to the next generation of supporters; millennials and other young individuals and families working and raising their families here. As a community, we are facing the challenge of engaging a new group of givers; givers that perhaps don’t yet have the capital to give monetarily to local causes they are passionate about. Across America, people often aspire to make a difference, but believe they need to achieve a certain success before they can give back. A current snapshot of Modesto would

MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN THE LIVES OF YOUNG PEOPLE Project UPLIFT! was started as a result of the disparities that became so prevalent within our schools. African-American boys, in particular, had the highest dropout rates, suspensions, expulsions, and juvenile justice/law enforcement contact rates in our county. As an educator, I wanted to do more to overcome the barriers and challenges that these boys faced in our community to becoming successful. As a mentor in another program in the ’90s, I experienced first-hand the powerful effect a positive, supportive, and caring adult role model could have on the lives of young people growing up with no hope. I began to recruit likeminded prospective mentors who wanted to make a difference in the lives of young people facing seemingly insurmountable odds for success in school and life. In the beginning, we targeted youth who were not on track for graduation, who had been suspended multiple times, who struggled with behavior issues, had problems with core academic subjects, and who came from single mother homes. We started by taking a group to a youth leadership conference in Los Angeles in 2001. We soon found ourselves working with a diverse group of young people who all had common socio-economic backgrounds and school issues. The results of this initial experience and our other mentoring efforts were outstanding. We were able to achieve 100 percent graduation rate, 70 percent college attendance, 90 percent reduction in suspensions, and 100 percent reduction in expulsions. Of the initial group of 18 youth we mentored, only one briefly had contact with the juvenile justice system. We continue to target the youth population we identified at the beginning, but our mentees now come from all walks of life—ranging from youth struggling academically, personally, and socially to foster youth and youth who just need, or want, a consistent, positive, caring, and supportive role model in their lives. Our motto is: “Be Somebody…Be a Mentor!” I can truly say, I found my purpose in life here in Modesto!

Project UPLIFT! helps young people overcome the barriers and challenges facing the youth of our community. PHOTOGRAPH BY GREG SAVAGE. COURTESY OF PROJECT UPLIFT! YOUTH MENTORING PROGRAM.

- John Ervin III, Regional Community Outreach and Partnership Manager, Aspire Public Schools; Director/Founder, Project UPLIFT! Youth Mentoring Program; Recipient of the 2017 Martin Luther King, Jr., Legacy Award; Co-Founder, Sankofa Theatre Company

suggest that many young people are beginning to reject that assumption and are busy building a community of people who give first, which will

make Modesto a better, brighter place to live. Such a trend is encouraging for the people and place we call home. Community ✦


FOCUS ON PREVENTION: OUR BIG PROBLEMS REQUIRE BIG SOLUTIONS The results of dysfunction are as clear as they are painful to see. Too many families in Stanislaus County struggle to make ends meet. Too many children are not succeeding in school. Too many are homeless, or soon could be. Too many suffer from physical and mental illnesses. Too few have access to the care needed to heal. Too many are isolated and fearful, their neighborhoods beset with petty crime and profound violence. As disturbing as these problems are, we are hopeful. Why? Because so many among us are willing to rise and confront the challenges we all see so plainly. That’s happened The “Focus on Prevention” initiative is a long-term effort to before and now it’s happening again—but this time our approach is different. improve the quality of life for residents and families. In 2015, caring and concerned people throughout Stanislaus County launched PHOTOGRAPH BY DAVID JONES. COURTESY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY. a long-term effort to improve the quality of life for residents and families. Rather than concentrating on those all-too-obvious symptoms of dysfunction, we decided instead to address the root causes of the problems. Thus, “Focus on Prevention” came to be. Initiated by the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors and overseen by a Stewardship Council, the movement began to grow as volunteers and leaders stepped forward. We come from throughout the county and its communities. We come from different areas of life. We represent neighborhoods, businesses, education, faith, health, nonprofits, media, the arts, sports, local government, and even the homeless. Together, we have a common goal: To achieve results that will last a generation and beyond. Unfortunately, you can’t create such change in just a few months, or even in a year or two. The results we are trying to build require sustained engagement by ever-growing numbers of people throughout the county. In other words, a commitment for the long haul. Our first year has been about building a firm foundation for “Focus on Prevention” by nurturing the critical roots of connection, collaboration, and commitment. And already we’ve seen commitment to action from many individuals and organizations in our region. Our goal is about doing better, much better, and we envision a three-step process to help achieve that goal. First, we will live out our name—prevention—by devoting more of our resources and attention to the underlying causes and longterm conditions that cause individuals and families to struggle. Second, we will work together to achieve our goals. Government alone cannot create the future we want for our county. Businesses alone cannot strengthen and expand our economy. Hospitals and healthcare workers by themselves cannot improve the physical and emotional well-being of families and communities. Community and faith leaders, by themselves, cannot help neighborhoods thrive and become safer and more vibrant. Teachers and school administrators by themselves cannot improve the graduation rates and reading levels of our children. No, the only way to significantly improve the well-being and futures of our families and communities is to act together. Third, we will be accountable to each other. Acting together is not enough. Many of the challenges we face do not have simple or obvious solutions. As we learn together, we must also learn how to share honestly and openly. When something works, we’ll explain why; when it doesn’t, we’ll share that, too. To do this requires collecting good data and reflecting unflinchingly on what the data reveals. These commitments—to prevention, to acting and learning together, and to holding ourselves mutually accountable—can be challenging, to be sure. No single sector can tell another what to do. Sometimes acting together takes longer because we have to build the shared understanding and deep commitment to whatever actions we take. This commitment to act together, however, and to learn and adapt based on data and experience, is what will sustain this movement over time. Ultimately, the “Focus on Prevention” initiative is about a cultural shift toward hope in our community. Our priorities are having healthy residents, safe and connected neighborhoods, economic prosperity, and a strong cradle-to-career continuum for kids. The “Focus on Prevention” initiative embraces a new way of working together to improve the quality of life in our county. It won’t be quick or easy. But, ultimately, we will do better, because we are committed for the long haul. And we invite you to join us. The authors are all members of the “Focus on Prevention” Stewardship Council. They are Marian Kaanon, president/chief executive officer, Stanislaus Community Foundation; Stan Risen, chief executive officer, Stanislaus County (November 2013-August 2017); Mark Vasche is the former editor of The Bee and executive director of the Pinnacle Forum; Terry Withrow is a Stanislaus County supervisor. Originally published in the February 4, 2016 edition of The Modesto Bee. 52 ✦

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A GENEROUS COMMUNITY After a 25-year career in the Fortune 500 corporate world, I had the opportunity to serve in a nonprofit. Community Hospice was a small healthcare organization struggling financially, but with a great mission and local leadership support. For several years, I repeatedly heard from hospice nurses that we could take better care of this patient if they didn’t live under the Seventh Street bridge, or in a camper shell in the airport district. Thus was born the ambitious vision of building a Hospice House in Stanislaus County. At the time, there were only six such facilities in California and less than 40 in the United States. It was expected to cost over four million dollars to build and operate at an expected annual loss of $500,000. It was then that the community stepped up. Our board leadership accepted the challenge and months later, John and June Rogers entered our lives. With a matching dollar challenge offered by the Rogers, we started the capital campaign to build our Hospice House. Within the next year, we had raised over four million dollars in matching funds and the Rogers built our Hospice House on the Samaritan Village campus in Hughson. This kind of project would never have been completed without the generosity of every one of our donors, large and small. For the past 30-plus years, hundreds of donors have trusted us with their loved ones at their greatest hours of need, and those same people were, and continue to be, generous with their contributions. Over one million dollars of the money raised was given by the everyday people in our community. Every nonprofit organization in our community has seen the same generosity, so you know that Community Hospice is not unique. Whether it is for cancer, Alzheimer’s, homeless shelters, a children’s home, a safe place for abused women, food banks, literacy, parent education, or the many other worthy efforts being addressed by these nonprofits, there is always someone in our city or county that is making that donation to help. One such donation came from Sammy and Rosita. Their donation came with this note: “Enclosed $1.00 is because Sammy is also dying of Cancer and is now under Hospice Care. Sorry such a small amount and wish we could give you more. Signed, Dying of Cancer, Sammy.” Once I received this letter with the dollar bill taped to the note, I donated a dollar and kept the letter. Fifteen years later, I still carry that letter in my briefcase, just as a reminder of the generosity of our community. We live in a very generous community. Each person gives according to what they can and what fills their heart, whether it’s a large donor like the Rogers family or a small one like Sammy. - Harold Peterson, President/Chief Executive Officer, Community Hospice (Retired)

A community filled with generous donors, large and small.

Hospice House at Samaritan Village.



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Tom Duchscher, Rhombus Cubis III, welded steel.

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Modesto has a quality that is special and worth sustaining; a uniquely Central Valley lifestyle: urban amenities with rural values. I grew up in Modesto. In fact, I’m a third- and fourth-generation Modestan. There is a pace of life, a connectivity, and a hominess that makes Modesto a great place for families. I have had the

TOUCHSTONES: Life and Times of Modesto

A LEGACY OF PUBLIC SERVICE It’s interesting how a place can imbed itself inside you. I’m not from here. But, once I arrived, I never left. Modesto Junior College helped set me on my path after I left the service by providing the best possible liberal arts education. I met my wife, Modesto native Joan Pedego, there. We were leads in a musical together. It was a classic love story—on-stage and off. I realize now, and hope I realized then, that you need a supportive partner if you’re going to dedicate your life to public service. Joan was that partner. It’s also interesting how, in life, one thing seems to lead to another. When I joined the Modesto Junior Chamber, I was seeking to hone my skills, find mentors, and develop opportunities. I found all that and more. As a Junior Chamber member, I volunteered to be on the Modesto Planning Commission. That led to my running and being elected to the city council (1967 to 1974) for two terms, which, in turn, led to eight terms on the Board of Supervisors (1976 to 2007). During my service on the Board, I continued my public service as a volunteer consultant to five different governors on criminal justice matters. Governor Pete Wilson appointed me to the California State Board of State Corrections, where I served for three years. That led eventually to the creation of the Ray Simon Regional Criminal Justice Training Center, a state-of-the-art training facility for public safety professionals. Around that same time, I was able to combine my skills as a public servant with my love of entertainment as I collaborated with Marie Gallo, her brother Frank Damrell, Stanislaus County CEO Reagan Wilson, and others to build the Gallo Center for the Arts. The project wasn’t without its detractors, but we were able to fund, build, and sustain it. Thanks to the center, as well as Tenth Street Place, I can honestly say that downtown Modesto, which had been decaying for years despite our best efforts, came to life and became the place to be again. It still is today. I am a public servant. If it wasn’t what I started out to be, it certainly is what I became. I am also an amateur entertainer. That may have been who I always was. I have been fortunate to have remained involved in both in some capacity over the span of a long public career and private life. I don’t often talk of legacy these days because it signals some kind of end. But, if I did, I would say that my legacy combines the two things that defined and shaped my life: public service and entertainment. The two benchmark accomplishments that each represent one pillar of that legacy are the Ray Simon Regional Criminal Justice Training Center and the Gallo Center for the Arts. I owe a great deal to this city. It gave me a fresh start and a new direction, a wife and a family. I’m proud to say that the second and third generations of the Simon-Pedego family have returned home and continue to love and support this place as much as I do.

Above: Ray Simon Regional Criminal Justice Training Center. COURTESY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT.

Below: A Gallo Center production. Downtown is the place to be. PHOTOGRAPH BY GREG SAVAGE. COURTESY OF GALLO CENTER FOR THE ARTS.

- Ray Simon, Retired, Modesto City Council, Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors Government ✦



Bekow: Modesto operates under a “Council-Manager” form of government. PHOTOGRAPH BY CORY WARNER, STUDIO WARNER. COURTESY THE CITY OF MODESTO.

opportunity to live in Virginia and New England, as well as Hawaii and the Bay Area, but I have never found a better place to live than Modesto. I became involved with local government for two reasons. One was the simple desire to serve and help. The other was the need to preserve a unique quality of life; the balance of rural and urban that I saw being eroded away. As a two-term Modesto city council member and former mayor, I believe I have some knowledge of Modesto’s governmental characteristics as they stand today. Modesto is a voter approved charter city. A charter is much like having a “constitution,”

which allows somewhat more freedom regarding the form and rules of its governance. Modesto’s charter was originally adopted in 1954. As adopted by the voters, Modesto has operated under a “Council-Manager” form of government. It has a mayor and six council members, who comprise the city council. The council hires the city manager, as well as three other charter positions: city attorney, city auditor, and city clerk. The city manager leads the operation of the city. Part of the city manager’s duties are to hire all department heads and supervisors, thus all other positions are under the manager’s purview. The city charter has been amended several times, both from a ten-year charter review process and from citizen initiatives. A 2003 initiative placed term limits on the elected positions, allowing only two four-year terms. The 2007 charter amendments changed the council member elections to districts. Six districts, each with its own council member, were formed and the mayor’s position remained an at-large election. The 2007 amendment also increased the mayor’s involvement in the budgeting process.

A FULL-SERVICE CITY Modesto is a full-service city, meaning it not only provides police and fire services, but also provides the water and wastewater infrastructure 56 ✦

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ADVOCACY FOR ABUSED AND NEGLECTED CHILDREN More than 500,000 children live in foster care in the United States. These children were abused or neglected and then removed from their families and the place they called home. Sadly, many can become a victim a second time in an overwhelmed child welfare system that does not allow for close attention to each child and their needs or wants. Each day in California, more than 70 children who have been abused or neglected join the state’s population of nearly 80,000 children in foster care. California is home to nearly one-fifth of all foster children in the United States. In Stanislaus County, there are over 700 children in foster care at any given time. As dependents of the juvenile court, these children pass through a court system that can leave them frightened, confused, and alone. The mission of CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Stanislaus County is to provide quality advocacy services for all abused and neglected children in the dependency system through the use of trained volunteers. CASA of Stanislaus County is a passionate community organization that provides children received through the court system with personalized advocacy and support. Our goal is to provide a safe, permanent, nurturing environment for every child served. - Steve Ashman, Executive Director, CASA of Stanislaus County, County Nonprofit of the Year, 2016

CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Stanislaus County. COURTESY CASA OF STANISLAUS COUNTY.

for its citizens and some surrounding areas. About 80 percent of general use revenues are spent for safety staffing: the city’s police and fire services. The remainder of general revenues are used to cover administration, parks, and some road maintenance. Stanislaus Council of Governments (StanCOG), composed of Stanislaus County’s five supervisors and representatives from the nine cities in the county, distributes much of the federal and state road funds. They also control funding for transit needs within the county, with Modesto’s MAX service being the largest recipient for its bus system.

Modesto opened the first municipally owned airfield in the United States in 1918. Municipal Golf Course (Muni) was the original site of the city’s airfield, prior to relocating to the current site of the Modesto City-County Airport in 1929. The City of Modesto also operates three golf courses. The oldest is the 9-hole Muni, mentioned above. Modesto’s second golf course, the 18-hole Dryden course, was built in 1959. The Dryden family donated much of the Dryden Golf Course property. The newest city course is the 18-hole Creekside Golf Course, opened in 1991. Government ✦


Above: Opened in 1918, Bud Coffee


Field was the first municipally owned airfield in the United States. COURTESY OF THE MCHENRY MUSEUM.

Below: Modesto Irrigation District (MID) is the provider of electrical power and water to Modesto and much of the surrounding farmland. PHOTOGRAPH BY WILLIAM HARRIS, WILLIAM HARRIS PHOTOGRAPHY.

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Following World War II, Modesto grew very rapidly. It doubled in population during the 1950s and doubled again in the 1960s. Population growth continued to be significant through the remainder of the twentieth century. As part of that growth, McHenry Village was opened in 1953 and Vintage Faire Mall in the mid-1970s. Both retail complexes contributed to the deterioration of the city’s downtown. An early voter-initiated charter amendment, “Measure A,” passed in March 1979. It was a reaction to the city’s rapid growth and conversion of farmlands to housing and developments like the mall. Later that year, Modesto elected its first woman mayor, Peggy Mensinger, and she was reelected in 1983. Mensinger was a leader in the group that put forth Measure A, and was an

TOUCHSTONES: Life and Times of Modesto

advocate for “smart growth,” green concepts, and sustainability before these ideas were common. She advocated for campaign finance reform to assure that public servants weren’t unduly swayed by constituent contributions. It was a message to future citizens to be aware and involved; to temper the influence of money on local politics and policy with education, transparency, and oversight. In the late 1980s, the city used a state property tax financing vehicle, the Redevelopment Agency (RDA), to start reversing the deterioration of the downtown area. First came the Lincoln Center shopping area, followed soon after with the building of Modesto Centre Plaza and the Red Lion Hotel, currently the DoubleTree by Hilton. The next big endeavor was Tenth Street Place. This property included a new City-County building on the site of the razed Covell and Hughson Hotels. It also included the Brenden Theatres multiplex on the site of the former Strand Theatre. In 1963, the State of California instituted Local Agency Formation Commissions (LAFCos) in every county except San Francisco. LAFCos have evolved to be a powerful force within counties. They are tasked with: 1. Encouraging the orderly formation of local governmental agencies; 2. Preserving agricultural land resources; and 3. Discouraging urban sprawl. Any land additions to Modesto or changes in jurisdictions require decisions by LAFCo. LAFCo is comprised of two county supervisors, two city representatives, and a “citizen-at-large.” Modesto Irrigation District (MID) is the provider of electrical power and water to Modesto and much of the surrounding farmland. MID has its own five member governing board of directors elected by its constituents. Prior to mid-1990, Modesto provided all of its urban water needs from well water. By 1995, MID and the City of Modesto partnered to build a surface water purification plant. This provided an alternative source for some of the city’s potable water needs. That partnership was augmented by further water agreements, culminating in a second purification plant going into service in 2015. Modesto’s wastewater system has provided the disposal needs for all its residents and businesses, but also for our area’s agricultural canning operations. In 1998 a separate line for

B U I L D I N G PA RT N E R S H I P S T O C R E AT E A MORE PEACEFUL WORLD The City of Modesto has seven sister cities around the world. These global relationships provide opportunities for cultural awareness, as well as business, government, and student exchange experiences. Civic participation and community support are what make our Sister City Program a success. The U.S. Sister City Program originated in 1956 at then President Eisenhower’s White House Summit. Eisenhower proposed a citizen diplomacy program that would create a more peaceful future. He reasoned that people from different cultures could understand, appreciate, and celebrate their differences, while building partnerships that would lessen the chance of new conflicts if this initiative were successful. Many cities throughout the nation adopted the program to promote international relationships through community level efforts, to build understanding, camaraderie, and goodwill. A sister city relationship was intended to be a long-term, cooperative relationship between two cities in different countries through which cultural, educational, business, and technical exchanges take place. According to Adrian Harrell, board president of Modesto Sister Cities International, “The concept of international friendship is as relevant today as it was over 60 years ago when Sister Cities International was born. Friendships across national borders are important in developing understanding and goodwill. Hosting people from our sister cities around the globe helps us bring the world to Modesto and showcase all the wonderful things Modesto has to offer the world.” Modesto Sister Cities International is a nonprofit volunteer organization that was incorporated in 1994. Prior to incorporation, it was governed by a city steering committee called the City of Modesto International Friendship Committee. Former chairman of the board, John Mensinger, has a fondness for the program and its ability to create and foster lasting relationships around the world. “I know of at least three marriages between Modesto residents and people from our sister cities, which is remarkable,” he said. “Modesto is a wonderfully diverse and tolerant community. The Sister City Program promotes and encourages the understanding and appreciation of other countries and cultures. That’s good for us and the world at large.” Advancing global friendships and business exchange opportunities are key priorities for the program. Sister cities are selected for their similarities in size, primary industry, and other demographics. Our first Sister City (since 1983) was Vernon, British Columbia. Since that time, we have added Khmelnitskiy, Ukraine (1987), Kurume, Japan (1992), Vijayawada, India (1993), Aguascalientes, Mexico (1995), Mengzi, China (2011), and Laval, France (2011). Exchange activities are organized and implemented by volunteers, local institutions, and municipal employees. An important component of the program is youth exchange. Modesto has participated in high school student exchanges with all of our Sister Cities except Mengzi, China. In 2010, the Modesto Sister Cities Program was awarded one of nine federal grants for a Trilateral Exchange Program, which offered financial resources allowing the City of Modesto to participate in a unique program centered on youth exchange opportunities over the course of three years. Youth volunteers interned in sister nations to study the concept and practices of volunteerism in their sister cities. Participants also explored critical community services provided by local governmental, business, or private sector entities. Every year, Sister City delegates spend time in Modesto building friendships, learning about our government, and spending time observing the practice of their profession in America. Visits from our friends around the world are always welcome. We anticipate continued growth for the Sister Cities Program and look forward to building on these meaningful relationships around the globe.

Above: The City of Modesto is creating and fostering lasting relationships around the world. COURTESY OF THE CITY OF MODESTO.

Below: Sister City representatives from Khmelnitskiy, Ukraine, visiting Modesto. COURTESY OF THE CITY OF MODESTO.

- Amy Vickery, public information officer, City of Modesto (July 2015-July 2017); public information officer, Stanislaus County Government ✦


Modesto will overcome future challenges with imaginative, innovative, and practical solutions. PHOTOGRAPH BY WILLIAM HARRIS. WILLIAM HARRIS PHOTOGRAPHY.

cannery wastewater was put into operation, allowing this effluent to be applied to city-owned farmland. In 2015, a tertiary treatment plant was completed. Concurrently, a regional partnership with Patterson-based Del Puerto Water District made plans to use Modesto’s treated water for agricultural irrigation to farms on the west side of Stanislaus County. When I took office as mayor in 2012, I was challenged with an unsustainable budget, lack of public safety personnel, and a tax system that could not provide the level of services our citizens deserved. Much of Modesto’s financial challenges stemmed from the Proposition 13 initiative of 1979. California’s implementation of Prop 13 put Modesto, and Stanislaus County at a severe financial disadvantage. Our area is allowed to retain only about 7 percent of its property tax compared to 14 percent that an average city in the state receives. To combat that fiscal challenge, I had hoped to enact development fees (Community Facilities Districts) to compensate for this revenue disadvantage.

P R O M O T I N G S T E WA R D S H I P O F G R E E N S PA C E S The mission of the Dry Creek Trails Coalition is to promote stewardship and a sense of ownership of our city’s open green spaces for all to enjoy. We do this by organizing quarterly cleanup events, which involve volunteers from all corners of the community who enjoy spending time at Dry Creek Regional Park. - Darin Jesberg, Dry Creek Trails Coalition

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MODESTO IS B E Y O N D E X P E C TAT I O N S Additionally, I also felt that ag preservation was important to maintaining this community’s special quality of life. I was a proponent of both ag mitigation requirements and residential urban limits. Those remain a work in progress. Modesto is unique and, as such, is positioned to overcome its ills. To maintain our singular quality of life, we need to address and deal with these challenges, not ignore them. That means cooperation. That means working together. That means partnerships. That means thinking outside the box. There are tough challenges ahead, but I am optimistic that Modesto will be imaginative, innovative, and practical in its solutions. What is it that makes Modesto special? It is its neighborhoods, its level of volunteerism, and its friendliness. Those characteristics reflect a spirit of optimism and energy that is uniquely California. It is a notable fact that, for a city our size, we don’t have the level of problems similar urban cities have. It is a fact that we’re still rural, even though we have over 200,000 people. It is a fact that we have a history of slow and measured growth. When new arrivals come to our city, they are almost always surprised by how wonderful they find Modesto. People commonly move here thinking it is a short-term stop. Then, they fall in love with the local lifestyle and choose to stay. They find that Modesto is beyond the usual; beyond the tried and true; beyond the typical. It is truly Beyond Expectations.

W H AT C A N W E D O T O F I X L O W V O T E R T U R N O U T ? One thing that jumps out following an election is the continuing pattern of civic disengagement across our region, our state, and our country. Simply stated, Americans do not vote at nearly the same rate as they once did. Sadly, that’s not a stop-the-presses revelation. Turnout, generally, has been falling for almost two generations, with the exception of the presidential races every four years. Though the region’s biggest city, Modesto, elects city council and school board members in odd years, there are always plenty of competitive races in many of Stanislaus County’s other cities, in addition to local initiatives on high-interest topics, such as roads and public safety, as well as statewide propositions dealing with water, public safety, and healthcare. And yet, barely four out of ten eligible voters bother to show up. Odd-year elections are even worse. It’s hard to divine exactly why people don’t vote, but some answers appear obvious: • Dissatisfaction and distrust nationally and statewide with politicians from all parties. • The millions of dollars spent on negative ads, which has trickled down to the local level more and more often. • The hyper partisanship seen on TV, whether it’s Fox or MSNBC. • Cynicism about the process and simple apathy. Whatever the reason, too many people believe their ballots don’t matter or, worse, that voting is a waste of time. What are the solutions? I am neither a political scientist nor a sociologist, just a political enthusiast frustrated by the lack of participation. But, I do believe this: Voters want to support candidates who honestly and responsibly discuss and debate issues and ideas that have relevance to their lives. It means talking rationally about how to improve our school system, protect our citizens, strengthen our neighborhoods, build a more efficient transportation system, and sustainably manage our precious water resources. It means running open, issue-oriented campaigns conducted by candidates who will talk about what they stand for and what they’ll do, as opposed to tearing down an opponent. It means being approachable and engaging voters directly via forums, debates, and precinct walks. It means candidates having the courage to admit they don’t have all the answers. It means embracing collaboration, treating others with respect, and always putting the public’s needs first. Remember this the next time election season is upon us. Our forefathers and veterans have given much to provide us the freedom to be a democratic union. Do not let issues such as negative campaigning deter us from this freedom.

It is critical to our democracy that we not squander the freedom to vote. PHOTOGRAPH BY CARL BAGGESE.

- Mani Grewal, Modesto City Council, District 1 Originally published in the November 19, 2014 edition of The Modesto Bee. Editor’s Note: Voter turnout in Stanislaus County for the 2016 Presidential Election was 73 percent, the highest on record since the 1990s. This may indicate that voters are more interested in national versus local elections. Voter registration is also at its highest, with 241,196 residents signing up to vote.

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Glen Streeter, From Tee to Green, oil.

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When you visit Modesto, you will be delighted to discover a vibrant, diverse destination. From lively music festivals to delicious culinary events and everything in between, we have something for everyone. The city offers world-class artistic and cultural facilities, symphonies, theater companies, museums, an amazing array of classic cars, virtually unlimited opportunities for outdoor recreation, spectacular scenery, one-of-a kind cafés and diners, unbeatable roadside produce stands, and farmers markets. Modesto is the art and cultural hub of the Central Valley. With everything from theatrical productions and ballet performances to classical concerts, global music, jam sessions, comedy showcases, and poetry slam competitions, Modesto’s entertainment holds center stage. Our yearround calendar spotlights international and local stars. You’ll enjoy famous actors, opera singers, classical musicians, jazz quartets, and bands playing rockabilly, blues, country, and rock, as well as many other gifted artists performing in a variety of genres. Designed to showcase the local music scene and our wide variety of musicians, each October we hold the Modesto Area Music Awards (MAMAs). The MAMAs are a celebration of the huge talent based in our city. It is a true recognition of all the hard working people in the local music industry; the bands, the venues, the promoters, and all the folks who work behind the scenes to make it all happen. Every August, a terrific outdoor concert is held known as Modstock. The goal is to foster the next generation of musicians by helping fund youth music programs and by putting instruments in the

TOUCHSTONES: Life and Times of Modesto

hands of kids and some adults who might not otherwise have them. The objective is to keep the fundamentals of music available for our youth and community. The California Women’s Music Festival in October is a celebration of women in music, art, literature, poetry, and business. It began as an idea between like-minded women who wanted to create a culture and community of sisterhood among the local area performers, artists, and musicians. This desire brought together a committee of women committed to furthering the format for all women to come together to celebrate each other. All summer long, enjoy Music in the Plaza at Tenth Street Place. Each Friday, you can hear performances by area musicians. The Modesto Band of Stanislaus County is one of the oldest, continuously performing bands in the United States. In 1919, Professor W. W. Higgins gathered eleven boys together and formed The Modesto Boys’ Band. In 1927 the original band became the Stanislaus County Boys’ Band. Gradually, women were included and, finally, in the early 1950s, the name was changed to the one used today: The Modesto Band of Stanislaus County, affectionately known as MoBand. Today, this wonderful band, composed of approximately 130 volunteer musicians, features extraordinary talent of all ages. They perform free concerts at Mancini Bowl in Graceada Park each summer on six consecutive Thursday evenings beginning in mid-June. MoBand has become an iconic Modesto summer experience, transforming the park into a patchwork of picnickers and providing music lovers with an opportunity to hear the best music under the stars. A musical tradition over 98 years in the making, the MoBand Concert in the Park series is one of Modesto’s most treasured summer traditions. Modesto is energized and enlivened by a dynamic art, live music, and theater community. The city is honored to have its own resident symphony (Modesto Symphony Orchestra), a community band (MoBand—Modesto Band of Stanislaus County), opera (Townsend Opera), ballet (Central West Ballet), youth theater (Youth Entertainment Stage Company), community concert association (Modesto Community Concert Association), and more.

A RESONANT MUSICAL RENAISSANCE Since 2012, I’ve curated the Modesto Unplugged Music Festival and its related monthly concert series. MUMfest is the only event of its kind in town, focusing almost exclusively on acoustic music and structured not as a large outdoor affair, but as a series of the most intimate listening showcases, in small theater and art gallery-type venues—crucial for the proper appreciation of the genres we present. Modesto Unplugged’s programming has included Grammy-winning bluegrass and Celtic songwriters; world-famous instrumentalists and national champions rocking the violin, cello, harp, and more; traditional folk songs from Russia, Finland, and South Africa; as well as many of the gifted Americana, country and folk artists from right here at home. One of my favorite showcases we’ve done featured Xin Zhang, a classically trained erhu (two-string Chinese fiddle) player, as well as classically trained crossover cellist Rebecca Roudman and her blues/bluegrass group Dirty Cello. The cello and the erhu are two of my very favorite instruments, and it was a thing of beauty when Xin and Rebecca performed a duet on one song. I doubt anything quite like that combination had been heard in Modesto before. We work alongside organizations such as the Modesto Community Concert Association, Townsend Opera, and other regional music presenters, always seeking to foster greater awareness of and engagement with the independent arts. In the few years I have been active in the local music scene, I’ve seen a number of vibrant new arts offerings spring up. I hope to see this resonant renaissance continue to grow, and transform our city into an arts mecca as great as San Francisco or New Orleans. - Aaron Rowan, Founder, MUMfest


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A PA S S I O N F O R T H E A RT S Above: The Modesto Area Music Awards (MAMAs) celebrate the spectrum of talent based in Modesto. PHOTOGRAPH BY MICHAEL J. MANGANO, MICHAEL J. PHOTOGRAPHY & DESIGN.

Below: The Open Studio Tour provides a behind-the-scenes look into working artist studios. PHOTOGRAPH BY DAVID SCHROEDER. COURTESY OF THE CENTRAL CALIFORNIA ART ASSOCIATION.

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If art is your passion, you can visit local artists in the evening on the third Thursday of each month at the Downtown Art Walk. Or, the annual Artists Open Studios, a two-day event in April, showcasing over 80 local artists. This unique self-guided tour provides a behind-thescenes look into working artist studios located throughout Stanislaus County. The tour features artists who specialize in handmade pottery, glass, photography, jewelry, watercolor, fiber arts, and much more. You’ll also find handmade

TOUCHSTONES: Life and Times of Modesto

masterpieces ranging from fine art to funky folk creations. Discover for yourself Modesto’s rich heritage of handmade crafts at one of the many galleries and shops. Modesto is the proud home of one of the premier performing arts venues in California, the Gallo Center for the Arts. Featuring two stages, it presents regional, national, and international entertainment. The beautifully restored State Theatre is Modesto’s only remaining historic theater and a recognized Landmark Preservation Site by the City of Modesto. This art deco style theater, built in 1934, plays host to a variety of live concerts and productions, as well as cutting edge and independent films. Charming, historic downtown Modesto is an enjoyable place to shop, dine, and meet friends in the heart of the city. Stroll the pedestrian friendly, tree-lined streets and find amazing locally owned restaurants, historic buildings, service businesses, unique shops, galleries, and theaters. Discover Modesto’s spirited nightlife scene, including neighborhood taprooms and wine bars, live music venues, coffee houses, sidewalk cafes, and latenight hot spots. Great shopping and rich dining experiences await you throughout the city. Our farm-to-table fresh culinary scene will delight you, as you taste an array of elegant to casual cuisine. The McHenry Mansion is Modesto’s treasure. It is the city’s only remaining original Victorian home and one of the few reminders of the town’s rich

heritage still in existence. Its restoration has proved to be the community’s most visible, extended renovation project. Thousands of local citizens have participated and contributed to the restoration. Built in 1883 by Robert McHenry, a prominent local rancher and banker, the McHenry Mansion is on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1923, it was converted into apartments and remained that way until 1976, when the Julio R. Gallo Foundation purchased it. The mansion was then donated to the City of Modesto and was refurbished and decorated with antiques appropriate to the period (1883-1896) that Robert and his wife, Matilda, lived there. The wellmaintained interiors really show how people lived at the turn of the century and beyond. Today, the McHenry Mansion is one of Modesto’s favorite tourist attractions. It is a truly wonderful way to step inside Modesto’s history. Admission is free.

Only a block away from the McHenry Mansion, delve deeper into the roots of the Modesto area at the McHenry Museum, which offers a variety of paintings, photographs, and historical artifacts depicting early life and times in the city, county, and surrounding communities. Originally the McHenry Public Library, the facility was built in 1912 with funds bequeathed in the will of Oramil McHenry, son of Robert McHenry. After the Stanislaus County Library was built nearby in the 1970s, the original building was turned into the museum you see today. Many of the museum’s exhibits are changed regularly so there is always something new to see. The museum is a Modesto Landmark Preservation Site, and is open to the public. Space for private functions is available, as are group tours, which provide a revealing glimpse into Modesto’s past. Admission is free.

The Gallo Center for the Arts is known for its superb acoustics. PHOTOGRAPH BY FISHBOWL PHOTOGRAPHY. COURTESY OF GALLO CENTER FOR THE ARTS.

LEGENDARY ACOUSTICS Legendary singer Tony Bennett was among the first to perform at the Gallo Center for the Arts when it opened in the fall of 2007. Taking the stage in the Mary Stuart Rogers Theater, Mr. Bennett promptly regaled the audience with effusive praise for the center’s architectural beauty and superb acoustics. In a remarkable demonstration of the latter, at one point Mr. Bennett set his handheld microphone down on the stage and then spoke in a conversational tone to the rapt audience. “He could be heard in the seats furthest away,” remembers Al Poulus, the Gallo Center’s director of technology and theater operations. “What he did was stunning. I think everyone believed that the center had been very carefully designed from an acoustic standpoint, but in that moment, with that simple demonstration, we knew it with an absolute certainty.” - Doug Hosner, Director of Marketing, Gallo Center for the Arts

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S T I L L E N T E RTA I N I N G A F T E R A L L T H E S E Y E A R S When we talk about arts and entertainment in Modesto and the surrounding region, no discussion is complete without mention of the State Theatre. When it opened on Christmas Day in 1934, its modern, Art Deco décor and “refrigerated” air made it the “go to” theater for first-run films. It was the last of the historic movie palaces to be built in the city, and it drew a throng of loyal film-goers every Saturday night when a new film premiered at midnight. That’s when Hollywood reigned supreme and everyone was enamored with movie stars. As the times changed, along with the desires of the community it served, so too did the State, with the removal of about 300 seats and the addition of a stage in the early ‘90s. The State then became all about independent and foreign films, live music, special events, and most importantly, helping to revitalize the downtown. Fast forward to 2016 and the State has reinvented itself again, this time transforming into an art film house and a venue for plays, live music, social, and community-based events. To stay relevant and remain vital and vibrant after 82 years is quite an accomplishment. The State has managed to be all that and more, as it continues to welcome all in the region to Modesto’s original home for film, arts, and entertainment. - Sue Richardson, Executive Director, State Theatre

The State Theatre is relevant, vital, and vibrant. PHOTOGRAPH BY ADRIAN MENDOZA. COURTESY OF STATE THEATRE.

Modesto is an agricultural powerhouse. Here it is a very important way of life. It is inspiring when you drive down country roads and see the abundant crops, farms, ranches, and beautiful 66 ✦

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blooming orchards that are considered among the most fertile and productive regions in the world. Designed to showcase and celebrate where our food and drinks come from, you can get up close and personal with the people who are feeding the world with tours, tastings, and “U-Pick” farms.

A FULL SPECTRUM OF F O O D - R E L AT E D A D V E N T U R E S Local farmers and chefs take pride in their commitment to quality and share a passion for locally grown food. Because our farms and restaurants are so close together, chefs can pick products at just the right moment to create tasty works of art, all in the same day. When you taste local staple ingredients, whether it be fresh produce, cheese or olive oil, you get a taste of the rich culinary history and overall culture of the region. Modesto also offers a full spectrum of foodrelated adventures, from the unique dishes available on menus to festivals dedicated to particular food products to tours of the places where specific products are made. Taste honey and other honey bee items at Beekman and Beekman’s original 104-year-old farmhouse. More than eighty years of beekeeping experience convinced them to start their own line of honey and led to the opening of a tasting room. The tasting room provides the stage to highlight the unique flavors of pure varietal honeys, mead wine, and lavender products. Blue Diamond Almonds, formed in 1910, has turned into the world’s largest almond processing and marketing company. They produce over eighty percent of the world’s almond supply. You can visit their store, sample, and view a video that highlights the almond process from tree to table. Classic Wine Vinegar, a family-owned company, has been producing quality wine vinegars for over twenty years. You can tour and see the aging and flavor process, sample the wide variety of flavors, and shop in their designer gift store. Do Good Distillery, another family-owned and -operated company, formed in 2013, strives to live by Ben Franklin’s philosophy that “You Do

Well by Doing Good.” The business has been intertwined with family from the beginning and that’s how they intend to grow. Their philosophy is to cherish every day with family and friends and just “do good.” They invite you to try their California distilled spirits—gin, white rum, and beechwood smoked whiskey. They are open for tours and tastings. Dutch Hollow Farms is a springtime sensation with over 300,000 colorful tulips. Despite the valley’s notoriously warm weather, owner-operator John Bos manages to grow over 100 varieties of tulips. They’re arranged in circles shaped like a peace sign and surrounded by grape hyacinth, which makes them look like they are floating on an ocean. He sells them to the public during a few months in the spring. Walter Nicolau III, an artisanal cheesemaker, produces a variety of specialty goat and blended milk cheeses at his family farm. They make about a dozen cheeses with different processes and different ages. They are rich, complex, and refined cheeses that showcase the quality of the milk and the art of cheesemaking. Nicolau Farms offers tours and tastings. Sciabica Olive Oil is a family-owned, fourth generation olive oil producer that has been coldpressing olive oil in Modesto since 1936. That makes them by far the oldest producer in the United States! Jonathan Sciabica regularly hosts olive oil tastings at the company’s gift shop, where you can enjoy the many varieties, flavors, and aromas of extra virgin olive oil, the highest grade of olive oil. Sciabica offers eight flavored oils made by pressing natural ingredients, such as garlic, basil, and jalapeño with the olives. Every Thursday and Saturday mornings from May until November, you can visit the Modesto Certified Farmers Market to sample the wares of local vendors selling everything from fresh produce to flowers, baked goods to cheeses. On Thursday evenings from June until November, cruise downtown to grab a bite, meet friends, and listen to live music at the DoMo Night Market. If you are interested in having a fun and authentic farm experience, you are invited to enjoy orchards full of ripe fruit, literally bursting with flavor. You can have a hands-on experience

for the entire family by going out into the fields and picking lush fruit at a number of seasonal “UPick” farms. If you’re a real foodie, it is easy to enjoy our locally grown produce thanks to a variety of fruit stands and farmers markets, including the Modesto Certified Farmers Market, waiting to share their bounty.

Above: The Modesto community has a commitment to quality and a passion for locally grown food. PHOTOGRAPH BY WILLIAM HARRIS, WILLIAM HARRIS PHOTOGRAPHY. COURTESY OF MODESTO CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU.

Below: The International Heritage Festival celebrates the ethnic diversity



Modesto is home to a diverse variety of festivals that will inspire you with experiences perfect for anyone. We invite you to explore the character of Modesto through these unique events.

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THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE ARE FREE… … O R , W H AT C A N Y O U D O W I T H A TA N K O F GAS AND SOME CHANGE? When my wife and I were young, just graduated from college with new jobs and a 1950 MG TD, one of the first questions we asked ourselves after moving to Modesto was, “What can you do with not much money, but cheap gas?” We were curious about what was available to do other than work. We both had grown up in a small valley town, so Modesto was a big city to us. Well, we filled up the tank, took the top down, and went exploring. We looked around Modesto first. We were fascinated by the styles and types of houses close to McHenry Avenue. We were equally surprised by the number of parks, especially Graceada Park and the summer concert band performances held there. Next, we started driving out into the country, finding many back roads with little traffic, abundant wild flowers, and swarms of tricolor blackbirds, egrets, and red-tailed hawks. There were poppies and goldfields, patches of shooting stars and brodiaea. With the assistance of readily available identification books, we learned what we had just seen. We watched the old and getting older barns as the area transformed from dairy to grapes, peaches, and almonds. Each weekend was a new adventure; whether driving around little towns to see buildings like the old church in Farmington, or driving up Highway 4 to Telegraph Road to examine what remained when the old highway was bypassed by the new as it snaked its way to Copperopolis. What to do? Not a problem. Hours of adventure await for the curious and bold. Just fill up the tank and hit the highway! What a great place to live Modesto is. - Jack Leach, Retired School Psychologist

There is much to experience in and around Modesto. PHOTOGRAPH BY DULCEY REITER. COURTESY OF TUOLUMNE RIVER TRUST.

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The Modesto Architecture Festival is held each September. Beginning in the 1930s, the city developed a national reputation for cutting edge design, when architects began experimenting with what we now call Central Valley Modernism. The architecture festival is your opportunity to explore and celebrate the city’s design heritage, contemporary world architecture, landscape, public art, and urban design. The Greek Orthodox Church presents the Greek Food Festival, also in September. Authentic Greek cuisine; outdoor coffeehouse with live Greek music and entertainment by award-winning Greek dancers; a marketplace; a bakery shop with homemade Greek pastries; and tours of the Byzantine-style Orthodox Church adorned with magnificent frescoes are all part of this traditional gathering. Another September staple is the Edible Extravaganza, which features samples of food and beverages from over sixty local vendors, all benefiting the work of local nonprofit Center for Human Services. International Heritage Festival is a festival celebrating the ethnic diversity of the community and offering an opportunity for groups to showcase their cultural heritage. The event, held in October, is free and family-friendly, located in an outdoor setting with lots of cultural activities for the kids. It celebrates sounds, dances, and tastes from around the world. The annual Downtown Modesto Harvest Festival originated to celebrate the farmlands’ harvest. Held in October, it features fresh baked pies and breads, live music, kid’s activities, food, and an array of arts and crafts. Shiny hot rods, muscle cars, and classics are a favorite part of the festival. Other festivals include the annual Tresetti’s Fat Tuesday Celebration, St. Patrick’s Day Lucky Fest, Earth Day in the Park, Taste of the Valley, Family Cycling Festival and Downtown Criterium, Highland Games, Modesto Fiji Festival, Autumn Art Festival, Women of the West Film Fest, Oktoberfest, PRIDE in the Park, Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) Celebration, Mod Shop, and Dickens Faire. The Great Valley Museum is located in the Science Community Center on the Modesto Junior College west campus. The museum brings together the wonders of science and nature, featuring native habitat displays of the

California Central Valley; the Science on a Sphere (SOS) 3-D globe; an interactive periodic table; observatory and planetarium shows. The planetarium, which is the third largest in the country, consists of top-of-the-line projection instruments that display unparalleled images of the night sky and full-dome planetarium films projected onto a 40-foot, suspended dome ceiling. Tours of the facility are available. The Lilly of the Valley Alpaca Farm features rare, gentle, and charming suri and huacaya alpacas. Their country store is stocked with alpaca yarn, hats, gloves, scarves, blankets, and more. Each spring, the Modesto Garden Club hosts its Spring Garden Tour. The tour showcases the landscapes of local homes to raise money for its many educational and beautification projects.

A Y E A R - R O U N D P L AY G R O U N D Boasting one of the best climates in the world, lovers of sports, nature, and the outdoors will find Modesto a paradise. It is a yearround playground with recreational options from the rivers and many parks to a network of bike trails and professional baseball. Set against the backdrop of the glorious Sierra Nevada and Coastal mountain ranges, Modesto offers virtually unlimited opportunities for sports and outdoor recreation. The Hetch Hetchy trail, the Peggy Mensinger trail, Dry Creek, and the Virginia Corridor

trails provide a healthy and scenic way to enjoy Modesto. The Modesto Marathon was founded by the ShadowChase Running Club to promote physical fitness and a healthy lifestyle. Runners come from all over to compete in the marathon, which is known for being flat and fast. The marathon includes an event expo and finish line festival. It is typically held in March. The course is certified as a qualifier for the Boston and New York Marathons. Since its inception in 2006, Amgen Tour of California has become America’s most prestigious annual cycling event, featuring an unsurpassed field of men and women’s professional teams. Many of the top cyclists in the world face off across nearly 800 miles of California terrain. The eight-day event features 18 of the world’s most decorated and esteemed teams competing for one of the sport’s most coveted titles. Modesto has had the pleasure of being host to stage starts and stage finishes with the electrifying international field of riders racing through our streets. Over the past decade, Modesto has built the gold standard for the Lifestyle Festival and Breakaway from Cancer® parade held in conjunction with the race. Annually, this world tour cycling event includes two hours of live television coverage of each stage on 24 media outlets worldwide, including NBC Sports, which combined broadcasts the Modesto leg of the race to over 11.3 million households in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide.

The Modesto Marathon is a certified qualifier for the Boston and New York Marathons. COURTESY OF THE MODESTO MARATHON AND CAPTIVATING PHOTOS.

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The Tuolumne River, which runs through Modesto, is an excellent wildlife habitat and a great resource for recreational facilities, rafting, kayaking, and educational activities. The Modesto Nuts are the Class A California League affiliate of the Seattle Mariners. Baseball has a long and storied history in Modesto, having been played here since the late 1800s. The Nuts play 70 home games a year between April and September at the fan-friendly John Thurman Field.

A LONG AND STORIED HISTORY Professional baseball in Modesto has a long and storied history. As one of only 120 communities in the United States with a full-season minor league baseball team, Modesto has seen more than its fair share of future superstars. Baseball fans have cheered on future Hall of Famers such as Joe Morgan, Reggie Jackson, Rollie Fingers, and Rickey Henderson, as well as current superstars, such as Troy Tulowitzki and Nolan Arenado. Since joining the California League in 1946, more than five million fans have seen over 300 players reach their goal of making the Major Leagues. From fireworks to food, baseball and promotions, minor league baseball has been a staple in our community, generating revenue, providing countless hours of affordable entertainment, and inspiring future Hall of Famers. - Mike Gorrasi, Modesto Nuts, Executive Vice President, HWS Baseball


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Golfers can tee up on Modesto’s three wellmaintained, uniquely different public golf courses and a country club course, each with its own challenges and levels of play. Creekside Golf Course features three lakes, intricately contoured bunkers, large manicured tees, and narrow fairways. It is a fair test for every club in your bag. Noted for fast, expansive greens, this championship course has a particular appeal to the more experienced golfer. Dryden Park Golf Course winds along the Tuolumne River, encompassing mature pines and oaks, as well as wide, emerald fairways. Both beginners and experts, who prefer a more traditional round, will appreciate its mediumsized greens and small bunkers. “Muni,” Modesto Municipal Golf Course’s picturesque, tree-lined course has been a hub for local golfers for over 70 years. As most players will point out, it is a full-length course. Small, level greens make it ideal for juniors, seniors, families, and those with time for only a quick round. Del Rio Country Club is the premier country club in the Central Valley. Founded in 1946, it is a private club with eight tennis courts and three golf courses. The 27-hole, par 72 golf course plays through Del Rio’s 325-acre property with serene views at every turn. Whether you’re on the Oak, Bluff, or River courses, each round of golf promises to be challenging, as well as enjoyable. The Mary Grogan Park Soccer Complex, a 42acre community park opened in 2013. There are seven outstanding soccer fields, three synthetic turf fields, and four natural turf fields, all featuring sports field lighting for night play. The complex includes a 500-stall parking lot, concession stand, and a lighted walking path around the park. The Stonehenge Indoor Climbing Wall, a locally owned facility, has something for the advanced climber looking to improve themselves, or the true beginner with a sense of adventure looking to try something new. With its abundant and attractive mixture of artistic and outdoor adventures, Modesto is sophisticated and stylish, yet it remains genuine and unpretentious. Underlying the latest in agriculture, entertainment, and a robust culinary scene is a deep sense of community. You are invited to experience the character of a city that blends a vivid present with a very special past and a promising future.

G R A F F I T I S U M M E R C E L E B R AT I O N For years, Modesto has recognized and celebrated the era that George Lucas immortalized in his popular film, American Graffiti. Our hometown hero, George was born and raised in Modesto, graduating from Thomas Downey High School in 1962. Only a little more than a decade later, he co-wrote and directed one of the top 100 movies of all time, American Graffiti. Modesto pays tribute each June to Mr. Lucas’s film and the twin themes of car culture and rock ‘n’ roll. Modesto is recognized as the car cruising capital of the nation with a monthlong lineup of events for Graffiti Summer. Modesto’s signature event is the North Modesto Kiwanis Club’s American Graffiti Festival and Car Show. Held the second weekend in June, it kicks off with a nighttime classic car parade where over a thousand hot rods, vintage vehicles, and classic cars rumble Each Summer, Modesto celebrates native son George Lucas’s popular film American Graffiti. through the streets of downtown Modesto, on PHOTOGRAPH BY MICHAEL J. MANGANO, MICHAEL J. PHOTOGRAPHY & DESIGN. the original cruise route of 10th, 11th, and 12th Streets, and out McHenry Avenue. Fans of all ages line the streets to relive old memories, make new ones, and show their appreciation for these incredible cars. The two-day festival, which started in 1999, brings thousands of visitors to Modesto from around the United States and the world to experience our custom car culture. Spectators enjoy some of the nation’s premiere classics, customs, hot rods, vintage, restored classics, pro street cars, modern and vintage race cars, and muscle cars. With over 1,300 cars arrayed on the beautiful greens of a golf course under big shade trees, there is something for everyone. This festival features more than just rare and unique autos. Visitors can spend the day shopping among arts and crafts vendors, viewing new products, experiencing interactive displays, and enjoying activities for the whole family. There is a variety of food booths selling delicious foods and great live music throughout both days. Spectators can also visit with stars from American Graffiti, including Candy Clark, Bo Hopkins, and Paul Le Mat, along with the very talented custom car builders, Gene Winfield, also from Modesto, and Chip Foose, star of Overhaulin’.

Del Rio Country Club is the premier country club in the Central Valley. COURTESY OF DEL RIO COUNTRY CLUB.

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Yvonne Porcella, Waiting for Pink

“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” - Joseph Campbell, American Mythologist, Writer, and Lecturer

Linoleum, art quilt.

For a relatively small town, Modesto has produced its fair share of hometown heroes. Not heroes in the sense of curing cancer, or negotiating peace. But, people who have been very successful in their high-profile careers and made an impact beyond our city limits. These are some of the notable people that have made a difference in our world—culturally, socially, economically, or politically. It’s quite a cast of characters that started their journey in Modesto. Winemakers Ernest and Julio Gallo, who founded their multi-national winery in a small warehouse on 11th and D Streets in 1933. Filmmaker George Lucas, whose break-out film American Graffiti was based on his teenage years cruising 10th and 11th Streets. George’s first wife Marcia, an academy-award-winning film editor, was also born in Modesto. 72 ✦

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Royal Robbins, a pioneer of American rock climbing, whose competitive spirit helped change the sport forever. Liz Robbins, the first woman to climb Half Dome in Yosemite, and co-founder with Royal of the heritage apparel brand Royal Robbins®. Actor and two-time Academy Award nominee Jeremy Renner, who honed his craft at Modesto Junior College. Modesto has also nurtured a spectrum of musical theater performers, including Erik “Buck” Townsend, Jeremy Stolle, Morgan James, Lindsay Pearce, and Sharon McKnight. Former executive director of UNICEF, Ann M. Veneman, who also served as secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture from 2001 to 2005, the first and only woman to hold that position. Ann’s father, John, was a five-time California assemblyman and undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare under Secretary Robert Finch. Dr. Herbert McLean Evans, Modesto High School Class of 1900, discovered vitamin E. California Assemblyman and Speaker of the Assembly Ralph M. Brown, author of the Brown Act. Enacted in 1953, it was California’s first sunshine law, which provided increased public access to government meetings.

Attorney and former sports agent Jeff Moorad, a Downey High School and Modesto Junior College graduate, who was a one-time CEO and owner of Major League Baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres. He founded the Jeffrey S. Moorad Center for the Study of Sports Law at Villanova University

Ernest and Julio Gallo. COURTESY OF THE E. & J. GALLO WINERY.

M O D E S T O W I L L A LWAY S B E H O M E As a child growing up on a peach farm on the outskirts of Modesto, I never would have imagined where my life’s journey would take me. My early years in Modesto, with its strong community, quality education, and great people gave me the foundation to take advantage of opportunities in public service in Sacramento, Washington, and with the United Nations. Despite my many moves around the country and my travels around the world, Modesto will always be home. - Ann M. Veneman, Secretary, California Department of Food and Agriculture (1995-1999); U.S. Secretary of Agriculture (2001-2005); Executive Director of UNICEF (2005-2010)

Ann Veneman, former executive secretary of UNICEF, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, and California Secretary of Food and Agriculture. COURTESY OF ANN VENEMAN.

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Below: George grew up surrounded by a loving family and community of friends. COURTESY OF SKYWALKER PROPERTIES LTD.

Bottom: George (left) and his friend, Fred, build a fort in a simpler time. COURTESY OF SKYWALKER PROPERTIES LTD.

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Filmmaker George Lucas’ devotion to timeless storytelling and cutting edge innovation has resulted in some of the most successful and beloved films of all time, including American Graffiti, the Star Wars saga, and the Indiana Jones franchise. He founded Lucasfilm Ltd. in 1971. He also pioneered new digital standards for sophistication in film visuals at Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) in 1975, and sound at Skywalker Sound at Skywalker Ranch in Marin County in 1987. In addition to being a writer, director, and producer, he became a powerful force for charitable giving, especially in the area of education. He founded the George Lucas Educational Foundation in 1996 to celebrate and encourage innovation in schools. Over the years, George has been honored with many outstanding awards. Most notably: the Irving G. Thalberg Award, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science’s highest honor (1992); Honorary Degree, Doctor of Fine Arts, from the University of Southern California (1994); American Film Institute (AFI) Life Achievement Award (2005); Grand Marshal of the Tournament of Roses Parade (2007); California Hall of Fame Induction (2009); and Kennedy Center Honors recipient (2015). George W. Lucas, Jr., was born in Modesto on May 14, 1944, to George W. Lucas, Sr. and Dorothy Bomberger Lucas. He grew up surrounded by a loving family, including two older sisters, Ann and Kate, and a younger sister, Wendy, as well as a community of close-knit neighborhood friends. He spent the first 15 years of his schooling attending John Muir Elementary School, Roosevelt Junior High School, Thomas Downey High School, and Modesto Junior College. He then transferred to the University of Southern California to study cinema and filmmaking. George recalls the early experiences and events in his home town that helped shape his life and helped set him on his journey to become a world-renowned filmmaker, entrepreneur, educator, and philanthropist. I have wonderful memories of growing up in Modesto. It had small town values, and it was fun because we had a great neighborhood, and a few lifelong friendships were forged during this time. There weren’t as many people living here, and there were no malls. Everything was centered in town —grocery stores, clothing stores, and things like that. When McHenry Village was built out in the country, everyone thought it would fail. I grew up at a time when life was very different than it is today. My family didn’t have a television until I was ten years old. Because there were no computers, cell phones, or internet, I listened to the radio, drew pictures, played games, rode my bike everywhere, read comic books, read books from the children’s library, which was located in the basement of the McHenry Public Library, and went to the movies at the Strand, which is where the Brenden Theatres are now; the Covell, where the Disney movies were shown; and the State Theatre. I placed a large piece of plywood on top of a storage cabinet in my bedroom where I would create cities and landscapes for my train set. I was also a Modesto Bee paperboy and a Cub Scout. We played outside a lot in our neighborhood, and we had to use our imagination to create our activities. We built forts and soapbox derby cars, designed spooky houses rigged with special effects in a neighbor’s garage, produced backyard carnivals, crafted a ramp for a roller coaster, which was nothing more than a large tub on wheels, in a friend’s backyard, and published a neighborhood newspaper. One of my close neighborhood friends moved to Southern California. I was able to visit him when I was 11, and we went to Disneyland the second day it opened in 1955. It was such an exciting place. After I came home, I would write articles for our

TOUCHSTONES: Life and Times of Modesto

neighborhood newspaper to describe the rides at Disneyland. My parents bought a 14-acre walnut ranch off Sylvan Avenue in 1959. I was pretty isolated, so rock ‘n’ roll records, Mad Magazine, and experimenting with trick photography kept me busy. After I got my driver’s license, my life became exciting. I started working on my first car, a small Fiat Bianchina, at the Foreign Car Service on Scenic Drive, across from the Scenic Drive-In. I got involved with autocross racing by becoming a member of the Ecurie AWOL Car Club. And, I began cruising the 10th and 11th Street loop. I later used those memories to write the screenplay for American Graffiti. It all happened to me, and so I glamorized it in the film. I spent four years cruising the main streets of Modesto. I drove the cars, chased the girls, listened to rock ‘n’ roll on the radio, and stopped at Burge’s Drive-In at the comer of 9th and 0 Streets. I was bored in high school, and wanted to be a race car driver, or an auto mechanic. My grades were not good at all. During finals week of my senior year in 1962, I went to the library to finish a term paper that was due. If I didn’t finish it, I wouldn’t graduate. As I was returning home, I turned left onto the lane that went to

my house and was hit broadside by the driver of a large Chevy Impala, who decided to pass me going 75 mph. My small car flipped three times. On the first flip, my metal seat belt, which was bolted to the floor, held me in so I wasn’t run over. It broke on the second flip and I was thrown out on the street. On the third flip, the car crashed into a walnut tree, and actually moved the tree. I was critically injured with a punctured lung, chest and rib injuries, and internal bleeding. The school administrators were not sure if I would live, so they gave me my diploma in the hospital. After two weeks in the hospital, several weeks of physical therapy, and a lot of time to think, I decided that instead of becoming a race car driver, I would attend MJC, and do something meaningful and significant with my life.

Top, left: George’s first car revved up his teen years. COURTESY OF SKYWALKER PROPERTIES LTD.

Top, right: George nearly died in this horrific crash on June 12, 1962. COURTESY OF THE MODESTO BEE.

Bottom, left: Cruising 10th Street was captured in American Graffiti. COURTESY OF UNIVERSAL PICTURES.

Bottom, right: George returned home to be the grand marshal of the North Modesto Kiwanis Club’s American Graffiti Classic Car Parade and to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the release of American Graffiti on June 7, 2013. PHOTOGRAPH BY SUSAN DAVID. COURTESY OF STANISLAUS MAGAZINE.

Hometown Heroes ✦


Above: Jeff Moorad, sports executive. COURTESY OF JEFF MOORAD.


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School of Law and is currently chairman of PrimeSport, a global sports travel and eventsmanagement company. Mike Piccinini and Nick Tocco, who founded Save Mart Supermarkets, and Mike’s son, Bob, the former chairman and CEO. Dr. Joan Mitchell, also a Downey Knight, was one of the key contributors to the JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) algorithm for photographic image compression, as well as some of the MPEG (Motion Picture Expert Group) standards for video. Esto B. Broughton was the first woman elected to the California legislature in 1918, as well as being the first female attorney in Stanislaus County. Howard Flory revolutionized the food industry by mechanizing the harvesting of beans, barley, and grains. Flory Industries is a world leader in mechanized harvesting, with shakers and sweepers harvesting everything from almonds to walnuts. Country singer-songwriter and radio personality Chester Smith founded a broadcasting empire that revolutionized Spanish-language programming in the U.S. Yvonne Porcella, a world-renowned artist specializing in wearables and art quilts, whose work is on permanent display at the Smithsonian.

TOUCHSTONES: Life and Times of Modesto

Entrepreneur Dan Costa, a Davis High graduate, started multiple businesses, including the Velvet Creamery restaurants, Mallard’s Restaurant, Davis Lay Food Service, and 5.11 Tactical. Modesto High graduate Bruce Bomberger was an illustrator for Time, Life, Look, and Saturday Evening Post. James Algar was a film director, screenwriter, and producer who directed sequences in the Walt Disney films Fantasia and Bambi. Modesto boasts a stellar collection of Olympic athletes, including Cyrus “Cy” Young (javelin), Suzy Powell-Roos (discus, javelin), Erin Cafaro (rowing), Ali Cox (rowing), and Tisha Venturini-Hoch (soccer), as well as Modesto-born Mark Spitz, who won seven gold medals at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. Richard “Dick” Lyng was director of the California State Department of Food and Agriculture and secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, holding both positions under Governor and President Ronald Reagan. We were also home to actor and singer Harvey “Harve” Presnell, who debuted his baritone voice at Modesto High School. Guitarist Michael Allsup, who played lead for the popular rock group, Three Dog Night. Andrew J. Toti, a world-renowned inventor, who held more than 500 patents, including the inflatable lifejacket (nicknamed the Mae West), an automated chicken plucker, and the EndoFlex endotracheal tube. Motorcycle racer and racing team owner Kenny Roberts, the first American to win a Grand Prix motorcycle racing world championship. Downey High’s Joe Rudi, a baseball All-Star, who won three consecutive World Series rings playing left field for the Oakland A’s. Max and Verda Foster, founders of Foster Farms, whose eighty-acre farm grew into the West’s most trusted poultry company. Major league baseball’s Ray Lankford, a Davis High grad who went on to play center field for the St. Louis Cardinals and San Diego Padres. Actor Timothy Olyphant, a Fred C. Beyer High School grad and swimming standout, who starred as Seth Bullock in the HBO series Deadwood and Raylen Givens in the television show Justified.

MY UPBRINGING MADE ME WHO I AM My childhood in Modesto could be likened to planting a seed in the fertile soil of our region: It provided me with the opportunity to grow and find my potential. I am so very appreciative of my entire family and community for nurturing me with stability and acceptance through all my endeavors as a boy and young adult. The freedoms they gave me opened the floodgates for an exploration of my limitations, providing me the courage to reach beyond them. This upbringing surely made me the man I am, the father I have become, and the artist I will always be. - Jeremy Renner, Actor/Producer


Emmy Award-winning casting director Robert Ulrich, a Davis High grad, known for his casting work on the CSI series, Glee, and other prime-time hit TV shows.

Florence Owens Thompson, the subject of Dorothea Lange’s iconic photo, Migrant Mother, lived in Modesto and is buried at nearby Lakewood Cemetery. Legendary car customizer Gene Winfield, a Modesto High School grad, who created worldfamous modified cars for racers, collectors, movies, and television. NBA star Chuck Hayes, who attended Modesto Christian High School and later played for the Houston Rockets, Sacramento Kings, and Toronto Raptors. Biologist Chris "Floyd" Zaiger, best known for his work in fruit breeding and hybrid development of varieties such as the pluot, has been called "the most prolific stone fruit breeder in the modern era." While living in Modesto, Polish-born photographer Roman Loranc captured the beauty of the Central Valley in his stunning black-and-white images. Other notables include philanthropists June and John Rogers; character actor Jack Elam; one-time resident and actress Carol Channing; chef Michael Chiarello; actor James Marsters;

Robert Ulrich, casting director and producer. COURTESY OF ROBERT ULRICH.

Hometown Heroes âœŚ


Dry Creek Park, Modesto, 1998. PHOTOGRAPH BY ROMAN LORANC.

singer-songwriter Brett Dennen; prestigious floral designer Reg Merritt; Tower of Power trumpeter and trombonist Mic Gillette; singer-songwriter and founding member of the indie-rock band

Grandaddy Jason Lytle; prolific television director Richard Bare; professional football player and coach Paul Wiggin; as well as musician and bandmaster Frank “Proof” Mancini.

INSPIRED BY THE SUPPORT OF THE HOMETOWN CROWD The Modesto Relays, formerly the S&W Relays and later the Coca-Cola Modesto Relays, were Modesto’s first, world-class athletic competition (1942), founded by the legendary Tom Moore. My dad would take me to the Relays as a young girl, and I would watch the Olympic athletes run, jump, and throw. I was amazed and inspired. Several years later, it would be my turn to compete at the Modesto Relays as an Olympian. Some of my best performances happened at the Relays, and I’m convinced it had something to do with the fervent support of the local crowd, and the sense of pride I felt competing in my hometown. - Suzy Powell-Roos, Three-Time Olympic Athlete

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D I S C O V E R I N G T H E O R D I N A R Y I N T H E E V E R Y D AY I was born in Bielsko-Biala, Poland. I defected to the United States in 1981. In 1984, I moved to Modesto, California. Not long after that, I developed a love for the Central Valley, finding elegance in its fragile wetlands and ancient oaks, rural back roads and farms. And an appreciation of my hometown, discovering the extraordinary in everyday things like bountiful orchards, drifting fog, ebbing Dry Creek, chattering migratory birds, the bustling farmers market, and the beautiful McHenry Museum. I often think about how interconnected the world is. When I’m out on a crisp winter’s morning, shooting a stand of native oaks, I see oak galls hanging from the trees. These were once used to make the pyrogallol chemicals I use to develop my negatives. In reality, the oak trees I am photographing played a part in the developer I use to process my negatives of those same trees. It is healthy to remember that we are often linked to the natural world in ways we don’t even suspect. I’m fascinated by the ancient churches of my homeland. These are holy spaces where millions of people have prayed for hundreds of years. They are places of great humility, and remind us how brief our lives are. I feel the same way when I’m photographing ancient groves of native oaks in California. I was unconscious of this when I began, but upon reflection, I think the oaks are just as sacred as the old cathedrals of Europe. They are sacred in that they have survived for so many years. I’m aware that the native people of California held all living things as divine. For me, a grove of valley oaks is as sacred as any church in Europe.

Roman Loranc, photographer. PHOTOGRAPH BY LINDA CRUZ.

- Roman Loranc, Photographer Hometown Heroes ✦







Chella, Twin Creeks Vineyard, oil/ en plein air.

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Stanislaus County has a rich history of agricultural diversity. Over time, we have seen our crops change with fluctuating market demands around the world. Forty years ago, it was common to see peach orchards on the east side of the San Joaquin River and apricots on the west side. Today, it is a much different picture. Almonds and walnuts make up the majority of permanent crops throughout the county. Even with this shift, our county still offers the bountiful diversity of over two hundred different crops. The city of Modesto is the largest of the nine cities in Stanislaus County. Modesto is home to over 200,000 of the 531,000 residents of Stanislaus County, as well as the largest privately owned winery in the world—E. & J. Gallo Winery, which employs over 6,000 people. Modesto is also home to other large food processors, such as Blue Diamond Growers, Del Monte Foods, Nestlé USA, Seneca Foods, and Stanislaus Food Products. These businesses, and many more small processors, export to over 109 countries around the world. Modesto is truly at the heart of feeding the world. The Stanislaus County Agricultural Commissioner’s office started collecting crop data in 1965. The Annual Crop Report indicates the “farm gate” revenue, which is the gross value of the crops when they are shipped off the farm. It is important to note that this is not the net revenue a farmer collects. Agriculture, like any other business, has bills to pay that are part of the cost of production.

TOUCHSTONES: Life and Times of Modesto

Sometimes the ledger is positive and sometimes it is negative. When we incorporate the agricultural businesses mentioned above and the many ancillary supply functions to these products, the value increases by nearly 3½ fold. Simply put, $1.00 of “farm gate” revenue equals $3.50 of economic activity for Stanislaus County. In 1965, the harvested crop values were roughly $200 million. It took twenty-five years for that value to reach $1 billion. It took sixteen more years to get to $2 billion, five more to get to $3 billion, and only three more years to get to $4 billion. The 2014 crop report stated that agricultural commodities produced more than $4.397 billion of on-farm income. Stanislaus County ranks higher than twenty (20) individual states in agricultural income and higher than the combined income of the smallest eight (8) states. Locally, agriculture contributes over $15 billion in economic activity.

NEW TECHNOLOGY HAS CHANGED THE AGRICULTURAL LANDSCAPE One of the main reasons for such a quick upsurge in the growth of the industry has been the utilization of new technology. Advances in irrigation, production automation, animal health, solar energy, global positioning systems, crop protection material spray efficiency, aerial photography, and environmental sensors have dramatically impacted Stanislaus County agriculture. Farmers and ranchers have combined these new practices with proven practices to improve yields, efficiency, and the quality of the products grown. The incorporation of this new technology has also changed our landscape. This is most evident in the eastern foothills of Stanislaus County. Farmers have expanded into less desirable and previously limited production soils. The use of terracing and irrigation technology in terrain traditionally too hilly to farm most crops has allowed this land to be farmed and irrigated efficiently, while limiting runoff and soil erosion. These technologies include high efficiency drip and microirrigation, originally created to transform the deserts of Israel into a thriving agricultural area.

There is a tradeoff with the cultivation and transformation of native and dryland pastures. Our beef producers are finding it harder to locate grazing lands for their cattle. These farms are also extremely dependent on groundwater resources for their water supply. As we have seen before, changing markets will dictate what crops will be grown and it will continue to change over time. Land use in Stanislaus County, and especially in the largest city of Modesto, will always be a “hot topic.” Preserving our most prime, highquality soils will be an ongoing challenge. Cities will inevitably grow, so current and future leaders need to continue to address land use policies, such as vertical growth or incentivizing infill that will protect our rich agricultural heritage. Both agriculture and cities covet flat,


Below: Agriculture contributes over $15 billion in economic activity. COURTESY OF THE STANISLAUS COUNTY FARM BUREAU.

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O P E R AT I O N 9 - 2 - 9 9 : S T E P P I N G U P A N D TA K I N G R E S P O N S I B I L I T Y In almost every part of Modesto, you can find something that has been dumped, dropped, vandalized, littered, or spilled. Unfortunately, it goes hand-in-hand with living in an urban environment. You start to ask yourself, “Why doesn’t somebody pick that up?” and “Whose responsibility is it?” Sometimes you decide to pick it up yourself and you feel great. Sometimes you wait to see how long the same item can sit in the same spot day after day and nobody touches it, leaving you with the feeling that nobody cares. I found an area in our community along the Tuolumne River that was suffering from a tremendous amount of blight and asked the same two questions. After some investigation, I found out that because everyone was responsible, nobody was responsible, and our river had become a tragedy of the commons. It seemed that nobody cared. Over the past two years though, I have been proven wrong about that. Twenty-three monthly cleanups and 1300 volunteers later, we have a much cleaner river and have reduced a great deal of the blight through Operation 9-2-99. We started working on one mile of river and ended up cleaning up seven. And, along the way, I found that our community contains passionate people who are willing to step up and address the issues we face. It gives me hope that, in the future, Modesto will be a place where we don’t walk away from our problems, we find a way to solve them. As Dry Creek Trails Coalition coordinator Darin Jesberg says, “Don’t pass it up, pick it up and make Modesto a better place to live, work, and recreate.” - Chris Guptill, Modesto Native, High School Teacher, Operation 9-2-99 Coordinator

Volunteers take responsibility for cleaning up our rivers and trails. PHOTOGRAPH BY DARIN JESBERG. COURTESY OF THE DRY CREEK TRAILS COALITION.

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well-drained soils for very different reasons. Education, versatility, and flexibility will be key factors in assuring that sustainably allows these goals to co-exist.

UNIQUE AGRITOURISM D E S T I N AT I O N S Modesto is blessed with an institution of higher education that is second to none— Modesto Junior College. Their Agricultural & Environmental Sciences Department is the “golden gem” of the Central Valley. MJC’s new hands-on production units and state-of-the-art Agriculture Pavilion, as well as their great instructors and staff, make this department the envy of many community colleges. MJC Ag has a long history of being the number one community college Ag Department in the nation. MJC students compete for various judging teams against some of the top universities in the nation and always place in the top 10 and, in fact, often surpass many fouryear universities. The investment the community has made in these facilities has paid huge dividends. Modesto is also home to some unique agritourism destinations. With the dairy industry riding the ups and downs of the economy in recent years, local dairymen have come up with creative ways to market themselves. Fresh milk comes in a variety of flavors and colors at Nutcher Milk Company, while Fiscalini Farms is producing worldrenowned cheeses, including a spicy horseradish cheese spread and a cabernet soaked cheddar. Both companies welcome guests to visit their farms to see firsthand where they create their products. Those looking for fresh fruits and vegetables must look no further than the many produce stands in Modesto. Loretelli Farms and Rodin Farms each offer an array of fresh produce during the summer growing season, pumpkins in the fall, and Christmas trees in December. A fun, farm-themed day with the family might also include picking your own blueberries by the bucket full at VanderHelm Farms or Ott Farms, or sampling awardwinning olive oils at Sciabica & Son’s California Olive Oil tasting room.

AGRICULTURE IS THE LIFEBLOOD OF OUR ECONOMY Each day we are all aware that agriculture is the life-blood of our economy here in Modesto and Stanislaus County. We have seen from our crop reports of the last fifty years that it has grown and will continue to thrive. Farmers and farm families are resilient, independent, hardworking, and patriotic people. They know the risks of farming. Farmers are the most proud when taking care of their land. They are the true original “environmentalists.” They care for the land so it can be sustainable forever and they invest heavily in conservation practices to prevent adverse effects on the environment that each of us as residents share. Modesto should be proud of its agriculture and the opportunities farming provides its citizens. The true value can never be measured by dollars alone. The true value is measured by the quality of life that farms provide our citizens.

AGRICULTURAL THINGS TO DO This is a sampling of some of the ag-related attractions available in Modesto. Ag in Motion: A mobile science agricultural laboratory that allows middle school students to participate in hands-on, standards based science labs without leaving their school site. The lab is managed by the National Ag Science Center. Blue Diamond Growers Store: A wide selection of the highest quality Blue Diamond nut

products for snacking, cooking, and gift giving. Open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. 4800 Sisk Road, Modesto; 209-545-1602; Dutch Hollow Farms: Whether you visit us in the fall for pumpkins or in the spring for tulips, we strive to provide learning opportunities so you can further enjoy our products in your home. 5101 Oakdale Road, Modesto; 209-5417448; Fiscalini Farms: Handcrafted cheese is produced on a family farm using both traditional and state-of-the-art techniques. Each of their cheeses receives exceptional care from a master cheesemaker. 7231 Covert Road, Modesto; (209) 545-5495; Loretelli Farms: Stop by the farm to sample or buy a variety of produce, from fruit to nuts. 1151 Claratina Avenue, Modesto; 209-968-7902. Modesto Certified Farmers Market: Open every Saturday from May through November and every Thursday from May through October.

Above: New techniques improve yields, efficiency, and quality. COURTESY OF THE STANISLAUS COUNTY FARM BUREAU.

Below: Modesto Junior College is second to none. COURTESY OF THE STANISLAUS COUNTY FARM BUREAU.

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C L O S E T O C A L I F O R N I A’ S N AT U R A L W O N D E R S Another perk we’re really enjoying is Modesto’s central location to so many of California’s natural wonders. We visited Yosemite once a month for the first four months we were here. The California foothills are gorgeous year-around and so accessible. I love how everything is a short drive away and never overrun with crowds.

Above: Ag in Motion is a mobile science agricultural laboratory. COURTESY OF THE STANISLAUS COUNTY FARM BUREAU.

Below: Fresh produce is available in and around Modesto. COURTESY OF THE STANISLAUS COUNTY FARM BUREAU.

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16th Street between H and I Streets, Modesto. 209-632-9322; Nick Sciabica & Sons Olive Oil & Gift Shop: The gift shop is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m., closed weekends and holidays. 2150 Yosemite Blvd., Modesto. 209-577-5067; Nutcher Milk Company: A family-owned and -operated dairy that offers whole milk, light milk, reduced fat, and an assortment of fun seasonal flavors. A storefront is on site to welcome guests to the farm to purchase milk straight from the source. 5213 W. Grayson Road, Modesto; 209-537-1118; Ott Farms: A small family farm growing the freshest fruit, while preserving and protecting the natural resources that sustain it. Open May and

TOUCHSTONES: Life and Times of Modesto

- Courtney Ringsted, Courtney Ringsted Photography

June. “U-Pick” blueberry and cherry Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.; 3082 Shiloh Road, Modesto; Rodin Farms: A family-owned farming operation that provides a large selection of fresh fruits and vegetables. Corner of Claribel and Oakdale Roads, Modesto; 209-551-6701; VanderHelm Farms: A family-owned, youpick blueberry farm growing several varieties of blueberries. The farm is open May and June, Wednesday through Saturday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; 1678 Albers Road, Modesto; 209-614-8307; www.vanderhelmfarms.com16.

PROTECTING OUR HOME RIVER TA K E S E X P E R I E N C I N G I T People root for their home team, but many folks don’t know that the Tuolumne is their home river, as so many people rely on it for their water supply. I think the Tuolumne River Trust’s work in educating folks and getting them involved is magnificent. It can’t just be something they read about in the paper. Once they get out and experience the river, they will do better at protecting it. - Leah Rogers, Volunteer, Tuolumne River Trust

The Tuolumne River Trust works to educate people about the river. PHOTOGRAPH BY MEG GONZALEZ. COURTESY OF TUOLUMNE RIVER TRUST.

IDEAS MAKE A DIFFERENCE History reminds us that ideas, even those that were once unpopular, expensive, and time consuming, can make a difference. In 1887 the idea of bringing water from the mountains to irrigate our otherwise dry valley led to the formation of the Turlock and Modesto irrigation districts. Water was in the Turlock canals as early as 1900, followed by Modesto in 1903. Today, that water continues to flow, nourishing crops and people. Your idea, however small or large, might help make this place we call home a better place in a year, ten years, or 100 years. Find people who share your interest, develop a plan, and see what you can accomplish together. You can make a difference. - Maree Mundelius Hawkins, Retired Public Affairs Specialist, Modesto Irrigation District; Community Volunteer

Agriculture ✦






Randy Crimmel, Altered Vase Form, ceramic clay and glaze.

“He who is different from me does not impoverish me—he enriches me. Our unity is constituted in something higher than ourselves—in Man…. For no man seeks to hear his own echo, or to find his reflection in the glass.” - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, French Writer, Poet, and Journalist There are many common threads that unite this uncommon town. They are the values that tie and bind this community. One that is especially important and unifying is our diversity.

S U C C E S S I V E WAV E S O F M I G R AT I O N We are a city, a valley, and a state of immigrants. We have a history of migration. We have often provided a home for refugees. People have come here from all over the country and the world and for all kinds of reasons. Many to chase gold or work on the railroad or labor in the fields. Many to escape the crushing poverty of the Dust Bowl. Many for a new start. Many after Vietnam. Many from the years of war in the Middle East. Many for new opportunities. Many to simply re-invent 86 ✦

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themselves. After all, this is California, the Golden State, offering the dream of a new life, unlimited opportunity, and greater freedom. The story of diversity in California, Stanislaus County, and Modesto must begin with the native peoples who lived here in the beginning. Yokuts first appeared in the San Joaquin Valley 8,000 years ago. Over the last 200 years, contacts with the white man, as a result of exploration, expansion, and exploitation, vastly reduced their population and completely displaced them. The story of migration in California, Stanislaus County, and Modesto is one of arriving, fitting in, and making life better— arrival, acculturation, and advancement. For many of the early immigrants, the California dream promised work in the fields and a lower cost of living. Since its discovery, successive waves of immigrants have traveled to California on a regular basis by land and sea from all four corners of the earth. They came from almost every region in America and nearly every continent in the world, including Asia, Africa, Europe, South and Central America. They came to mine for gold, work the fields, build the cities, and seek something more promising. Of the 300,000 who had arrived by 1855, most were Americans;

Yankees from the east and Southerners from Dixie. There were also many thousands of Mexicans, Chinese, Portuguese, Britons, Australians, French, Italians, and Latin Americans, as well as smaller populations of African-Americans, Filipinos, Basques, and Turks. One of the early waves of immigrants came from 9,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean, as young Chinese men, mostly from the coastal counties near Hong Kong, answered the siren call of gold. They mined, built the railroad, washed clothes, cooked food, and did jobs others refused. Modesto, like many cities in California, had a “Chinatown.” Modesto’s “China Alley” was located south of the railroad tracks between Seventh and Eighth Streets and F and G streets.

A Dia de Los Muertos celebration. The unifying thread of diversity runs throughout Modesto. PHOTOGRAPH BY MICHAEL J. MANGANO, MICHAEL J. PHOTOGRAPHY & DESIGN.

DIVERSITY IS A CHOICE My daughter, Savannah Williams, is the first of her twenty-two cousins on the Williams side of the family to graduate from a university, having received her B.A. in business administration from Central Washington University. She said, and deeply believes, “Diversity is a choice and is not a requirement.” - Jeremiah Williams, Owner, Oak Crafts by Jeremiah

Diversity ✦


Left: Since its discovery, a wide


variety of immigrants have been stirred into the California melting pot. PHOTOGRAPH BY DOROTHEA LANGE. COURTESY OF THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS.

Right: People have come to the Central Valley from all over the world seeking a better life. PHOTOGRAPH BY DOROTHEA LANGE. COURTESY OF THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS.

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The next immigrant group to be stirred into the melting pot was the Mexican national. Native Mexicans had helped settle California as part of the ranchos and missions that followed the occupation of Alta California by Spanish adventurers and priests. With the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, thousands of Mexican nationals living in the Southwest and California became part of the United States. Following statehood in 1850, as settlers flooded California to homestead and farm, there were new opportunities for the Mexican farm peasant. With the coming of the railroad in the 1870s, irrigation, and the decline of available cheap labor from Asia due to immigration laws in the 1880s, California employers looked to Mexico to find workers to fill the need in agriculture, mining, construction, and transportation. Many stayed and became citizens, which was an option the Chinese did not have until much later. Poverty and political upheaval at the beginning of the twentieth century, including the Mexican Revolution of 1910 to 1917, forced thousands to seek a new life north of the border. That movement continues, but at a much reduced rate because of recent federal efforts to restrict the flow of undocumented people into the U.S. The most recent census indicates that the Latino population constitutes the majority in Stanislaus County.

TOUCHSTONES: Life and Times of Modesto

A large influx of Europeans, mostly Irish, took place in the mid-1840s. The greatest number of Italians immigrated between 1880 and 1924. The Greeks came in the early 1900s. The Portuguese also arrived in the early 1900s. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to set foot on California soil when João Rodrigues Cabrilho, a Portuguese exploring for Spain, sighted San Diego Bay on September 28, 1542. The Portuguese later came to California as whalers and fishermen, as well as miners and farmers. When the search for gold didn’t pan out, instead of returning to whaling, the Portuguese pursued farming and dairying. The first Portuguese came to the San Joaquin Valley at the turn of the nineteenth century in search of inexpensive land. By 1923, 85 percent of the dairymen in Stanislaus and Merced counties were Portuguese.

A MULTICULTURAL MOSAIC The next piece in this multicultural mosaic was provided by Japanese young men, who left their homeland to escape poverty and the military, to get an education, or pan for gold. They first arrived in California in 1869 and Modesto in 1906. Many of these families also made their living as farmers, purchasing land throughout California. In addition to the Chinese and Japanese, other East Asian immigrants came to California to farm. Following the U.S. annexation of the Philippines in 1899, many Filipinos migrated to California, joined by more after World War II. Hindustanis and Punjabis arrived in the state in

N O TA B L E F I R S T S A N D P R O M I N E N T C I T I Z E N S There has been no shortage of firsts achieved by, and prominent citizens from, our diverse community. • Kristi Ah You, the first woman and first civilian to hold the position of chief deputy coroner, Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department. • Charles Edgar Aguilar, the first Latino judge in Stanislaus County. • Stella Beratlis, the first Greek Poet Laureate of Modesto. • Mani Grewal, a native-born Modestan, who is the first Sikh city council member. • Balvino Irizarry, the first Puerto Rican city council member. • Odessa Johnson, the first African-American teacher in Modesto. • David Lopez, the first Mexican-American city council member. • Maggie Mejía, the first Latina to be honored with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Legacy Award at the annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Commemoration. • Peggy Mensinger, Modesto’s first female council member and mayor. • Phil Newton, the first African-American city council member. • Sam Pierstorff, the first Muslim Poet Laureate of Modesto. • Leopard Ray Prescott, a prominent African-American landowner and community advocate. • Dawna Frenchie Reeves, the first African-American judge. • Rubén Villalobos, the first Panamanian Stanislaus County Superior Court judge. • Dr. James H. Williams, the first African-American president of Modesto Junior College. • Jeremiah Williams, the first African-American to serve on the Stanislaus County Fair Board; the first African-American lieutenant governor of Kiwanis, Division 46.

Sam Pierstorff. Our diversity is a powerful social, political, and economic force. PHOTOGRAPH BY FRANK GRAHAM, SACRAMENTO POETRY CENTER.

The accomplishments of each of these individuals is a reflection of our growing and vibrantly diverse community.

the late 1800s and early 1900s to work on the railroads, while others were recruited to break the hold of the Japanese farm workers. In recent decades East Indians from the Fiji Islands have made their home in the Modesto area. When the hard times of the Depression and Dust Bowl struck, white residents of the hardest hit states “Grapes-of-Wrathed” it west, soon taking jobs from Asian and Mexican farm workers. Many Dust Bowl refugees and skilled agricultural workers were drawn to Stanislaus County because of its canneries.

AFRICAN-AMERICANS IN PURSUIT OF THE “AMERICAN DREAM” Sarah and William Boyd Bishop, former slaves in Missouri, settled in Modesto in early 1892. They are reported to be the first AfricanAmerican family in Modesto. Private Bishop, Co. G, 18th Regiment, U.S. Colored Troops, is the only black Civil War veteran buried in Stanislaus

County. Additional African-American families arrived in Modesto in the early 1900s. Margaret Harris Deal, born in Stanislaus County and raised in Modesto, died at the age of 103 in 2013. Her family built their first home because no contractor in 1958 would assist them. There were many other pioneering families like Margaret’s, including the Batties, the Prescotts, the McCoys, the Shepards, the Greens, and others. In the early 1950s, a group of AfricanAmerican families started the Monterey Park Tract community west of town. Their goal was to start a predominantly African-American

NEVER FORGET No matter where you are or what you do, never forget where you are from. - Jean Kea, Site Supervisor, The Bridge/Sierra Vista

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Vietnam War in 1975, Southeast Asian refugees from Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia emigrated to California and the Central Valley. Refugees from the Middle East have been a constant over the years, but the number increased dramatically following unrest in the Middle East in the early 2000s. Coinciding with the Southeast Asian exodus was the migration of thousands of Americans escaping the severe Eastern winters of the late 1970s.


Above: The Modesto Monarchs, 1948. The first African-American family settled in Modesto in 1892. COURTESY OF THE ARD FAMILY, FACES OF STANISLAUS, AND MCHENRY MUSEUM.

Below: A Cinco de Mayo celebration. By valuing our diversity, we’ve become

community, similar to Allensworth, a township located in Tulare County and founded in the belief that African-Americans could own property, become educated, prosper, and live the “American Dream.” In the early twentieth century, a large number of Assyrians migrated to California, as a result of persecution by the Turks. With the end of the


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Because farming is what most of these immigrants knew and could do, and because agriculture remains a major employer and source of capital for California and the Central Valley, the state and the region are among the most ethnically and culturally diverse sections of the country. And, because agriculture is so important to Modesto, our city is more diverse than some cities in California, but not as diverse as others. While that reliance on agriculture has provided jobs, some claim that it has made it harder for the area to diversify economically, thus negatively affecting the upward mobility of our diverse population. Today, the kaleidoscope of our diversity is most visible in our places of worship, our media,

DIVERSITY IS OUR STRENGTH This community is home to many people of color and people with diverse cultures, ethnicities, and religions. It is important that there is respect for this diversity and a spirit of inclusivity and openness to all the perspectives in this city. For 100 years, a small Jewish population has been part of the success and growth of Modesto and Stanislaus County. We are not a Christian nation and we are not a white nation; we are a country and city whose diversity is our true strength. - Rabbi Shalom Bochner, Congregation Beth Shalom

Members of the Laotian community at a cultural diversity festival. Modesto is a community blessed with a spirit of inclusivity and openness. PHOTOGRAPH BY MARC GARCIA. COURTESY CITY OF MODESTO.

our food, and our festivals. We have a mosque, a synagogue, and various Asian temples, as well as many Catholic and Protestant churches. Our radio and TV options are spiced with Spanish language programming and East Asian music. Our cuisine includes barbecue, soul food, sushi, pho, tikka masala, and a potpourri of Southeast Asian noodle dishes. Tacos and burritos are as common as hamburgers and hotdogs. Our festivals and ethnic events highlight our

varied heritage, from Portuguese to Fijian, from East Indian to Chinese, from Greek to Cambodian and Laotian, including the Modesto Fiji Festival, Greek Food Festival, Chinese New Year, the Portuguese festa, as well as QuinceaĂąeras and Mexican Independence Day, Dia de los Muertos, Cinco de Mayo, and Our Lady of Guadalupe celebrations. Two singular endeavors are examples of projects developed to celebrate our diversity. Diversity âœŚ


Students at the Grace Davis High School Language Institute. The people of Modesto are developing innovative ways to identify, address, and engage the diverse realities of our community. PHOTOGRAPH BY LINDSEY BIRD. COURTESY OF GRACE DAVIS HIGH SCHOOL LANGUAGE INSTITUTE.

“Faces of Stanislaus” in 2001 documented our diversity. The International Heritage Festival yearly celebrates it. “Faces of Stanislaus” was part of “Faces of America,” a national project helping people to discover through photographs how they and their families fit into the larger vista of American history and culture. The photographs in this exhibit told the stories of the many different ethnic and cultural groups that have settled in our area. In their work, their leisure, their commitments, and their family, cultural, and religious traditions, these groups have added their imprint on the collective portrait of who we are. The goal of this project was to use imagery to help us

all feel more deeply the bonds that connect us as people. For twenty-five years, the International Heritage Festival has taken us on a trip around

A D VA N C I N G T H E C O N V E R S AT I O N Faith in Stanislaus, formerly Congregations Building Community, was founded when different local pastors came together to work on systemic changes to improve the life of those in the community usually not represented socially, politically, or economically. We concentrate on immigration reform, getting out the vote, racism in the criminal justice system, and other issues that Latinos and the broader community, among many others, care about. We primarily work with people living in underrepresented neighborhoods who attend the various member congregations. We found that people often don’t vote because they don’t understand the process or impact it will have on their daily lives. As a result, we do voter education and work on getting ballot measures passed that impact low-income and communities of color. Immigration reform is another issue that is very important to a community like ours that relies on agriculture. We try to help documented and undocumented individuals who want to work, but who have no driver’s license or had their cars impounded or have a police record. There are those in the community who say, “People don’t get ahead because they don’t want to,” and that’s simply not true. We work with lawyers and hold forums to inform undocumented people what their constitutional rights are. We also help students apply for their temporary protective status, which is DACA. We also train folks to advocate for themselves. One of the biggest challenges we face is basically a contradiction of values. As a community, we value our agricultural heritage, but we don’t value the people who give their life for it. These people do one of the hardest jobs imaginable, but they have no health benefits. They’re forced to use emergency rooms as their primary health insurance, which becomes more expensive for everybody. Another major issue is understanding the complexity of the immigration system. It is estimated there are four million people waiting to become residents. The average wait is 15 to 20 years. Another problem is the fear these families feel about possibly being separated. It’s very real. My father came here when he was 17. He traveled back and forth from Mexico to work. Finally, he brought the rest of our family to California. We were undocumented. I became a resident and then a citizen, went to college locally, and found work. I understand what it’s like. I think the thing that bothers me the most is that our community believes that immigrants are the root of the problem and should be removed, yet they shop, work, pay taxes, and contribute like everyone else. Most people don’t see that because they’re invisible. If we’re going to progress as a community, we must all engage, especially the people who feel like they have nothing invested or nothing to gain by doing so. We all do. You can choose to live where everyone looks like you but, by making that choice, you’re not helping the community advance and come together. You’re perpetuating “them and us”; that dangerous myth of “the other.” We need to embrace everyone in our community if we want to make it better. In the long run, it’s the job of our organization to push the conversation, even though there are those who will resist it. We won’t move forward as a city, a county, or a country until we have this very real and necessary conversation. - Homero Mejia, Director, Faith in Stanislaus

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the world. The event takes place each year on the Modesto Junior College East Campus. It features a parade of nations, music, dance, food, and exhibits from countries across the globe. The free event showcases the kaleidoscope of international heritages from the local area and celebrates a shared American heritage.

LEVERAGING THE POWER AND PROMISE OF OUR DIVERSITY Unfortunately, our diversity has not yet been fully nurtured, tapped, or appreciated. Instead, our differences have historically been used to scapegoat immigrants, out of fear of the unknown and a perceived threat to health and well-being. Regrettably, as people, many of us fear what we don’t know. And what we fear, we try to eliminate. Despite the common ground we share, despite the richness of our differences, discrimination persists. A number of the many issues facing today’s immigrants are the same as those their ancestors faced. Low wages, limited access, racial bias, harassment, predatory practices, and restricted civil rights. Some forms of discrimination are unique to today. In our post-9/11 world, for example, fear of terrorism raises the specter of violent retaliation, quarantine, and deportation. The fact is, our diversity, when properly harnessed and utilized, is a social, political, and economic force that can benefit the city, the county, and the state. However, properly recognizing the value and contributions of our ethnic neighbors and leveraging the power and promise of our diversity requires moving beyond face value; beyond the apparent. It means truly getting to know and understand the language, religion, customs, and identity of other cultures. It means developing innovative ways to identify, address, and engage the diverse realities of our community. It means helping migrants, immigrants, and refugees become a productive and responsible part of our community fabric. Although there are still many issues to resolve, we have begun to truly appreciate our diversity in the last few decades. We will only reach our full potential as a community when we realize that diversity is an asset, not a threat.

Modesto is home to a diverse cross-section of people, cultures, community, and experiences. PHOTOGRAPH BY MICHAEL J. MANGANO, MICHAEL J. PHOTOGRAPHY & DESIGN.

A VIBRANT MELTING POT We’re a vibrant melting pot of people, cultures, community, and experiences that I know, through my journeys, is unique. Modesto is more than a pass-through town in the middle of a state. It’s a thriving community with proud people who work hard and care about making the community better and are actively working to do that. I didn’t experience that in other communities. Modesto offers a small town charm mixed with a growing, vibrant city. You can find that in the people you meet. You can taste it at the small markets, food trucks, and taquerias. You can experience it in our many parks. You can feel it in our places of worship. Modesto is more than a town where people come and go. It’s a community. - Mike Daniel, Partner & CMO, Final Cut Media

There are still many challenges ahead, including opportunity, access, and participation. By working together, by communicating, by promoting civility and dignity, by valuing our differences, we can create an uncommon city united by the common threads of compassion, inclusion, trust, respect, equity, and hope. A true multicultural community. “Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilisation.” - Mahatma Gandhi, Indian Civil Rights Leader Diversity ✦




Lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders, and their allies (LGBT/A) appear to have existed throughout history. We can assume, then, they will always be with us in our communities. There have been positive changes since the Stonewall uprisings of 1969, especially the 2015 Supreme Court ruling, which determined that the Constitution guarantees every American the right to marry the person he/she loves. Yet, as GLADD puts it, we all need to “push for accelerated acceptance of LGBT people, couples, and families across the US. Marriage equality is a benchmark, and not a finish line, and we (need to) continue to tell the stories of everyday LGBT people so that the decisions from the Supreme Court can resonate with the hearts and minds of the public.” To that end, what follows is an alphabetical listing of community champions, especially those which continue to help attain and ensure LGBT equality, respect, and appreciation in the Greater Modesto Area. As well, some have met their objectives, served their purposes, and achieved success in offering a variety of beneficial services and programs. • Bay Area Career Women (BACW), Central Valley Chapter, c. 1985: Lesbian membership organization that fostered career networking. • Bird Cage, c. 2004-present: Monthly LGBT gathering for libations and socialization at a Modesto venue. • Birds of a Feather Committee, Modesto, 1994: Twelve celebrations over thirteen years on the Klamath Ferry moored at private, gated property, on the channel near Stockton; aimed at socializing, while enjoying libations, great food, dancing, silent auction, and raffle by as many as 250 attendees; an after-cost total income of $15,143 awarded to bird-friendly nonprofits, such as BACW, GLSEN, PFLAG. • College Avenue United Church of Christ: Committed to including those excluded by other churches; invites lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people to participate fully. • GLEE Foundation of California (Gay Lesbian and Everyone Else), 2006: Stemmed from Stanislaus Pride Center; awarded annual $1,000 scholarships to high school seniors to recognize and support outstanding lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and straight ally students. • Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), Modesto Chapter, c. 1982: Instrumental in getting special on-going policy, “Principles of Rights, Responsibilities, and Respect to Ensure a Safe School Environment” adopted by Modesto City Schools in 1984. • Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) Network, 1999-present: 4,000 chapters in secondary schools, colleges, universities; works for safe schools via activism on campus, with events such as Day of Silence, National Coming Out Day; Oakdale High’s GSA presents Rainbow Prom each spring. • LGBTQA Collaborative for Greater Well Being in Stanislaus County, 2013-present: Promotes health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning persons, and their allies by uniting and cooperating with agencies, organizations, and groups of like purposes. • Liberty Action Network, c. 2001: Central Valley civil rights advocacy organization. • Modesto Pride Day, 2012: Offered “Pride in the Park” gathering after Stanislaus Pride Center concluded its sponsorship of the event. • MoPRIDE, Inc.: Provides leadership, education, peer support, outreach (particularly to youth), community development, visibility, and advocacy, including educating the public in tolerance and respect for all people; sponsors yearly “MoPRIDE in the Park;” planning to open a PRIDE Resource Center; wants to be known as more than just a party in the park. • Owl Empire of Stanislaus County, Inc., 1967-present: Nonprofit public benefit corporation dedicated to charitable fund-raising to meet needs of everyone in LGBT communities of Stanislaus, Merced, Calaveras, and Tuolumne counties. • Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) Modesto, 1994: Offered support and love to all Stanislaus LGBT people and those who love them; committed to advancing equality through its mission of support, education, and advocacy; sponsored the International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, MoFest. • PRIDE on Tour Committee–Modesto, 2012: Supported four LGBT plays, at the Gallo Center, by San Francisco’s New Conservatory Theatre Center: The Bus (2013), Standing on Ceremony (2014), From White Plains (2015), and Buyer & Cellar (2016); each year, more than $3,000 awarded to area agencies/organizations that carry out LGBTQ/Ally initiatives. • St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Modesto: Invites persons of every race, ethnicity, creed, age, gender, marital status, physical or mental ability, sexual orientation, and gender identity to attend; publically flies the Gay Pride Flag in front of the church. • Stanislaus PRIDE Center (People Respecting Individuality, Diversity, and Equality), 2005: First facility of its kind between Stockton and Bakersfield, it was a place for LGBT to socialize/organize outside of a bar atmosphere; resources to strengthen and support LGBT persons in Stanislaus and surrounding counties; offered free/inexpensive counseling services; in 2007, presented first outdoor Pride Day event in the Modesto area. 94 ✦

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• The Place, 2007-present: Support group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth ages 14-20; also offers parents of LGBTQ youth—whether accepting, conflicted, or rejecting —opportunities to attend parent support groups. (Please note: Any omissions were not intentional.) - R. J. Moriconi, Ed.D. Professor Emeritus, California State University, Stanislaus

Community champions continue to help attain and ensure LGBT equality, respect, and appreciation in the Greater Modesto Area. COURTESY OF MOPRIDE.




The Language Institute serves immigrant, refugee, and asylum seeking teens who are new to the United States. Over the past eight years, the program has welcomed students from 39 countries speaking 19 primary languages. While some students arrive with a solid background education and some exposure to the English language, others enter the classroom with significant gaps in their formal education and without mastery of the Roman alphabet. This became more and more common as Modesto evolved into a war refugee resettlement hub of California. It is the duty of the Language Institute, regardless of the academic and linguistic level of the student upon enrollment, to bring the student up to a level of mastery of the English language where they can graduate high school, succeed in college, and be career ready. But, most importantly, to help these students be independent and contributing members of their new community. We are proud to say that over 80 percent of our graduates each year enter higher education. These students represent the epitome of the “American Dream” and are already making the greater Modesto region a better place to live. - Lindsey Bird, Language Institute Program Coordinator, Social Science and Acculturation Instructor, Grace Davis High School; 2015 Carlston Family Foundation Teacher of America

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS We would like to thank the following for their contributions to this chapter: Carl Baggese, George Boodrookas, Curtis Grant, Mani Grewal, Dr. Jim Johnson, Jean Kea, Janet Lancaster, James McAndrews, Maggie Mejía, Dan Onorato, Sam Pierstorff, and Robert LeRoy Santos. Additional information about Modesto’s diverse past and present can be found in issues of Stanislaus Stepping Stones, McHenry Museum & Historical Society.

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L I TA N Y O F U N I T Y A N D S H A R I N G C: All: C: All: C: All: C: All: C: All: C: All: C: All: C: All: C: All:

We gather from different neighborhoods. We come from diverse families, faiths, and cultures…and as seekers. And yet we share a common humanity. We share space as neighbors, co-workers, citizens, and friends. Many of us have different beliefs, differing ways of seeing things. We have different customs, practices, and foods. Yet we share so many common values. And we appreciate the opportunity to experience one another’s presence, and to learn about one another’s faiths. We all have a common need to connect, to live in harmony and mutual respect. We all long for peace and safety in our community. We can all share in caring about, and for, one another. We can all join in acts of service to help our neighbor survive, and even thrive; acts that proclaim, “Even as we are individuals, we are bound together.” We can choose to build bridges that will connect us... …rather than walls that divide us. May this be a night for getting to know our neighbors who are different, yet so much the same. May this be a night for recognizing the common threads among us... …and for continuing to bind them together for good. May the offering of our presence here, and the offerings we gladly give to Inter-Faith Ministries… …bear good fruit for our communities, and for a nation that cherishes our religious freedom and our diversity. May this night represent one act among many ... …of sowing the seeds of kindness, gentleness, and peace-making. And let us, as Gandhi prayed, “BE the change we want to see in the world.”

- Erin Matteson, Pastor, Church of the Brethren; Mark Haskett, President, Stanislaus County Interfaith Council (SCIC); Interfaith Thanksgiving Celebration, 2016


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B Y E L I Z A B E T H G R E E N L E E - W I G H T, M A R K H A S K E T T, A N D D A N O N O R AT O

THE VOICES OF FAITH Modesto has over 400 congregations, churches, and houses of worship, representing a variety of denominations, faiths, and spiritual traditions all woven together in an intricate and vibrant tapestry of faith, community, and service. Nearly every faith tradition can be found here: Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Unitarian, Non-denominational, and many more. The voices of these faiths can be heard praying, teaching, singing, chanting, and enjoying fellowship in languages as diverse as our population. From tight-knit communities to loose, interconnected networks, from the ancient to the more progressive and contemporary, faith communities are the beating heart of our city. We are inundated with news reports that church attendance is down nationwide, and that members are aging and dying, a trend which statistics reinforce. This pattern would seem to hold true in Modesto as well. However, while participation declines in some areas, a new generation of young adults are nevertheless finding new ways to connect to their faiths and to one another. Social media makes it easier for faith groups to share meetings, events, scripture, testimony, and moving stories of answered prayers and changed lives, as well as faith-culture in-jokes, inspirational blogs, and music.

Sandra Veneman, St. Stanislaus Plaque, clay, tile with embossed image.

Faith Communities âœŚ


Above: Faith communities are the



Below: Modesto has a rich history of interfaith collaboration. PHOTOGRAPH BY MARC GARCIA. COURTESY OF CITY MINISTRY NETWORK.

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The young faithful don’t just worship together. They “do life” together. They share workouts, study scripture, enjoy moms’ groups and men’s groups, attend life-skills lectures and recovery workshops, courses for couples, for singles, for newlyweds, and for seekers. They raise money for causes, they volunteer, they open socially responsible businesses, where the goal of giving back to the community is as much a part of their mission as profit. In many neighborhoods, faith-groups stand at the center of grassroots efforts to unify residents, to keep parks and streets safe and

TOUCHSTONES: Life and Times of Modesto

clean, and to take care of neighbors in need. Organizations like the West Modesto KingKennedy Neighborhood Collaborative, South Modesto Partners, Manos Unidas, City Ministry Network, and the much-acclaimed “Love Modesto” volunteer movement now being copied across the country, are models for community activism driven by this socially responsible faith. Modesto is proud of its rich history of interfaith collaboration. While divisions still exist, and misunderstandings and differences are likely to occur where there is religious and cultural diversity, we live in a community that thrives on the combined efforts of many people of many faiths working toward a goal of

THE TREASURE OF HOPE Modesto seems to be riding a seventy-year civic wave that is still gathering speed. Modesto’s area of influence is in step with its faith community. Five largerthan-usual churches in a city of this size is phenomenal! Over one hundred neighborhood churches and a fresh crop of new churches serve our communities. Billy Graham held a two-week crusade here in 1948. Reverend Graham’s guiding document, the “Modesto Manifesto,” was drawn up and signed here. Cliff Barrows, long-time program director for the Billy Graham Crusades, who passed away in 2016, came from this area. Lorne Sanny, the late international leader of the Navigators, was also a native of Modesto. A high treasure of life in Modesto is the hope it demonstrates for the future. The arch over I Street demonstrates that hope—“Water, Wealth, Contentment, Health.” The Modesto area faith community welcomes all to enter that eternal Arch from whom all blessings flow, Jesus our Lord and Savior. - Ben Jennings, Senior Consultant, Campus Crusade for Christ

Churches large and small fill our community with hope. PHOTOGRAPH BY ANDREW AUSTIN. COURTESY OF CROSSPOINT COMMUNITY CHURCH.

common good. It was a diverse group that joined together over forty years ago to create Interfaith Ministries of Greater Modesto to address hunger and poverty in our city. It is a vast and inclusive network of multidenominational congregations and individuals who keep it alive today.

immigrants from the Punjab; along with a thriving Islamic community gathered from the Middle East, and newly augmented by refugees fleeing the Syrian crisis.

A broad religious and cultural diversity has taken root in the



While a largely Christian ecumenism has fueled many of these efforts in the past— including the mainline Greater Modesto Ministerial Association and an evangelically inspired “Church of Modesto”—recent decades have recognized the much broader religious and cultural diversity that has taken root in the Central Valley’s rich soil: Catholics from South America; Hindus from the Indian sub-continent and South Pacific islands; Assyrian Christians from Iran and Iraq; Jews escaping Europe in the 1930s to 1940s, joined by relatives already in the United States; a sizable post-Vietnam-era influx of Cambodian and Lao Buddhists; one of America’s largest concentrations of Sikh Faith Communities ✦


THE MODESTO PEACE/LIFE CENTER: P R O M O T I N G A M O R E P E A C E F U L , J U S T A N D E N V I R O N M E N TA L LY F R I E N D LY W O R L D The Modesto Peace/Life Center ( ) was started in 1970 by members of an ecumenical group whose primary aim was to provide draft counseling to young men grappling with questions of conscience regarding the Vietnam War. Most of the founders were drawn from the Modesto Church of the Brethren and a regional Quaker Meeting, joined later by other people of faith who shared their outlook. While the roots of the center came out of the social Gospel, the center wanted to serve people of all faiths or no faith. Since its beginning, then, the center has been secular and inclusive in its approach. Over the years, new issues have called for new projects, but the underlying goal of promoting nonviolent solutions to global and local issues remains its core focus. The center has led or participated in a wide range of efforts, from opposing nuclear power plants in California to promoting energy conservation and environmentally clean energy; from protesting wars, in Central America and the Middle East, for example, to engaging thousands of students throughout our county in an annual Peace Essay Contest; from hosting an annual summer Peace Camp in the Sierra Mountains to organizing, with other major sponsors, the City of Modesto’s Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration; from holding public monthly peace vigils on topics like immigration reform, climate change, and a living wage for all to promoting our vision of social change on Facebook (Modesto Peace/Life Center); from publishing Stanislaus Connections (, a monthly newspaper focusing on peace, social and economic justice, and a sustainable environment to promoting increased awareness of homelessness in our community ( and helping homeless and low-income people obtain an official photo ID or birth certificate so they can secure a job, housing, or services from local agencies. Changing needs will inevitably inspire more such projects. In late 2015, the FCC granted the center a full-power FM radio station license. The center is now engaging local groups and committed people to develop a vital community radio station that informs, entertains, and stimulates involvement in the betterment of our community. In this effort, as in all the center does, the vision is to create what Dr. King called the “Beloved Community,” in which people of all races, nationalities, genders, religious, and political beliefs live together in harmony, thereby ensuring a more peaceful, just, and environmentally healthy world. - Dan Onorato, Professor Emeritus, Modesto Junior College; Board of Directors, Modesto Peace/Life Center

The Modesto Peace/Life Center, founded 1970. PHOTOGRAPH BY DAN ONORATO.

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Below: The Islamic Center of Modesto PHOTOGRAPH BY SCOTT MITCHELL.

Inter-religious groups like the 1990s InnerFaith Resources and the Stanislaus County Interfaith Council (SCIC) now provide avenues by which these diverse faiths can learn more about one another, accommodate and even celebrate their differences, and unite in common purpose. The churches, temples, and houses of worship in Modesto shelter more than our weekly rituals, ongoing spiritual development, and religious schools. They are our community centers, hosting Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, sponsoring 4-H clubs, offering salsa lessons,

H E L P I N G I S C O N TA G I O U S Research shows us that people live longer, children are healthier emotionally, they experience better mental and physical health, and neighborhood crime rates fall when neighbors are connected relationally. Helping neighbors is contagious—acts of generosity and kindness beget more generosity in a chain reaction of goodness. - Marvin Jacobo, Executive Director, City Ministry Network Originally published in the April 27, 2014 edition of The Modesto Bee.

Faith Communities âœŚ


A M AT C H M A D E I N H E AV E N Three faith-based organizations have come together to shelter those who have nowhere to go. Executive Director Tamra Losinski and Family Promise of Greater Modesto has been collaborating with Rabbi Shalom Bochner of Congregation Beth Shalom and Reverend Lance Lowell of Neighborhood Church to temporarily house homeless individuals in their houses of worship. Family Promise is a partnership of local congregations working together to reduce homelessness and transform lives. It is one of 171 affiliates in 41 states and the District of Columbia. Family Promise is committed to helping families until they can become independent again. Currently, 16 congregations are sheltering families, while four others are providing different types of support. CBS had the space, but not the beds or staff. Family Promise had the beds and Neighborhood Church had the volunteers. As each entity said, it was a match made in heaven. The director, the rabbi, and the pastor all believe that this partnership may ripple out with a message of inclusion that counters an ever-present culture of fear and divisiveness. Excerpted from an article originally published in the December 21, 2016 edition of The Modesto Bee.

yoga, GED classes, tutoring, and CPR courses. They host marriage workshops and town-hall meetings, youth groups, book clubs, and interfaith forums. On any given Friday, Saturday, or Sunday in Modesto, on nearly any street corner, in both impressive sanctuaries and converted storefronts, you will find congregations brimming with the old and young


celebrating births, marriages, and the lives of those who have passed away. Our communities of faith, whether growing or waning, continue to be an enduring, vibrant, and vital part of a social network interwoven with the cultures, charities, businesses, and committed individuals that make Modesto a resplendent tapestry of hope.

THE CHANGE YOU WISH TO SEE IN THE WORLD” I got so tired of seeing Modesto on these worst city lists and hearing the negativity from different people about our city. I started thinking and asking the question, “If my church were to suddenly disappear from Modesto, would anyone even care or notice?” I don’t think we had a lot of good answers back then. At the same time, many of our friends were moving away and so excited to get out of here. It was discouraging. I knew if I was going to stay living here, I needed a renewed passion and love for my city. I love the quote by Mahatma Gandhi: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” I wanted to be the change I wished to see in Modesto. - Jeff Pishney, Executive Director, Love Modesto


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Originally published in the April 2016 edition of ModestoView.





A T R A N S F O R M AT I O N I N P U B L I C A N D P R I VAT E S A F E T Y S E RV I C E S Public safety in many communities can mean a joint effort by government and private emergency medical providers to protect the public and keep people safe. It can also provide a career path, as it did for my family. We now have fourteen family members who have served with several agencies throughout California. In Stanislaus County, the sheriff’s office provides law enforcement in the unincorporated areas and/or contracted cities throughout the county. The sheriff’s office is also the coroner for the entire county. In the incorporated areas of the county, it is the distinct responsibilities of police, city fire departments, fire districts, and private ambulance services to provide full-scale public safety services. These are ongoing professional relations between city and county jurisdictions. It has not always been this way. In the years following the Vietnam War, public safety in Modesto and Stanislaus County changed significantly. Before this time, it was characterized by “grab and run” handling of trauma patients on the streets of our city by ambulance attendants, “hook and book” of alleged criminals by police, and some volunteer fire departments committed to “only saving the home’s foundation” in structure fires. Since then, a transformation has taken place, resulting in the professional public and private services we benefit from today, including pre-hospital care (paramedics), trained law enforcement, and a professional fire service.

Henrietta Sparkman, Aerial Arena, acrylic.

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Finding innovative and cost-effective ways to combat crime. PHOTOGRAPH BY CORY WARNER, STUDIO WARNER.

KEEPING MODESTO SAFE Policing has changed a great deal over the past several decades. The Modesto Police Department has evolved to meet the challenges presented by an increasing crime rate, changing criminal justice system, evolving state and federal legislation, and low staffing levels. As a key agency tasked with public safety, MPD continues to find innovative and cost-effective ways to combat crime, including the early adaption of body cameras, technology that predicts the probability of crime, crime analysts, a real-time crime center that provides intelligence and tracks precious resources, and nextgeneration smartphones to help officers efficiently and effectively accomplish their duties. The department continues to research and utilize technology as a force multiplier to assist our shortstaffed agency in keeping Modesto safe. At the request of its officers and to signify a rebirth of the department, we also changed uniforms, badges, and patches; honoring the past, but moving into the future. The Modesto Police Department is proud to say that, along with the community, “We are Modesto,” as the majority of officers working for the department either live in Modesto, grew up in the city, or have family members who live here. MPD is proud and honored to partner with the community to make the City of Modesto a great and safe place to live, visit, and do business. - Galen Carroll, Chief of Police, Modesto Police Department

Between 1950 and the turn of the century, ambulance companies were comprised primarily of privately owned operators. In Modesto, there were three competing companies: Doctors, Modesto, and Community ambulances. Most of these companies housed their businesses in homes or small commercial buildings in the downtown area and 104 ✦

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independently dispatched for their individual companies, almost entirely through private answering services. At that time, the only mandatory training of ambulance attendants was that the driver of the ambulance had to have an advanced first aid card. There was little medical accountability by the state or local government in the “grab and run” model of

transporting the sick and injured to local hospitals. These private companies were interested in the business side and weren’t as focused on pre-hospital patient care as they are now. Only one of those original companies (Modesto/Ceres Ambulance) has survived to this day, having been bought by one of the largest national ambulance corporations in the country—American Medical Response (AMR). Today, each attendant must be an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), or a paramedic, in order to operate an ambulance service. Paramedics must have a minimum 1,090 hours of initial training, including 450 hours of didactic classroom study, 160 clinical hours in a hospital emergency room setting, and 480 to 720 hours of pre-hospital field internship. The State Emergency Medical Services Agency and local government regulate certification for EMTs/paramedics and response times for ambulance companies. Long gone are the days of simply having just a first aid card.

GOOD OLD COMMON HORSE SENSE The return of so many soldiers from the war was a benefit for their communities, and for law enforcement in particular. Police services required qualified and experienced men and women to become police officers, helping to deter the ever-increasing crime in our city. Until the early 1970s, Ann Fulmer was the only female in the Modesto Police Department (MPD). For many years, the MPD depended primarily on a strong volunteer reserve program to help keep crime under control. MPD dispatched for both police and fire during this time and often would use reserve officers that had little to no training to dispatch emergency services. Anyone 21-years or older could apply to become a police reserve officer. There was no training or mandated certification required. A person wanting to be a reserve police officer, once sworn in by the chief of police, then had constitutional authority to arrest and investigate crimes without any training. During those years, full-time police officers had in-house academy training lasting only 13 weeks before they could start their job.

In 1972, one reserve officer was sworn in by the chief of police, then directed to contact the sergeant in charge of the reserve program to get his equipment and instructions for work. Sergeant Claus “Sandy” Fuhlendorf gave the new reserve officer his uniform, leather gear, a .38 caliber six-shot revolver, handcuffs, baton, key to the police department, and a notebook. When the reserve officer asked Sergeant Fuhlendorf if there was any training, the sergeant explained that his training would be on the job. He added, “Be ethical. Don't talk to anyone, including friends and family, about

Above: Public safety is a joint effort to keep people safe. PHOTOGRAPH BY HEATHER GRAVES. COURTESY OF THE MODESTO POLICE DEPARTMENT.

Below: Long gone are the days of simply having just a first aid card. PHOTOGRAPH BY CARL BAGGESE.

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The sheriff’s office remains committed to providing the very best in public

police investigations, watch other veteran officers, and make ‘good old common horse sense’ decisions.” That reserve officer was me.


S TA N I S L A U S C O U N T Y SHERIFF’S OFFICE After the 2007 financial crash, most public safety agencies had to lay off police officers/deputies, firefighters, and paramedics. Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office, along with our local municipal police and fire agencies, were hit hard by the recession. Even today, local public safety agencies have not been fully restored to pre-financial crash years. Still, crime rates remain challenging and agency philosophies have changed, focusing on public education, fewer police officers, less proactive work in the community, and more inter-departmental

cooperation. As a result, the community has had to take on a greater responsibility for their own homes and families to help prevent becoming victims through public-private neighborhood watch, nonprofit neighborhood prevention programs, and private security. The sheriff’s office has a much greater responsibility than merely general law enforcement services and criminal investigations. They’re also responsible for the safety and security of the superior court, correctional services for jails, mental health of inmates, civil services (i.e., court mandated eviction orders, child and welfare services), coroner and death investigations, local state emergency services coordination for mutual aid, park and water way safety for the entire county, and much more. The sheriff’s office has embraced the inevitable change in California’s public safety value and belief system, building public safety facilities with inmate medical/mental health care services and program opportunities to address addiction and recidivism. The sheriff’s office remains committed to providing the very best in public safety services with the available resources despite economic challenges, court ordered changes, and voter approved initiatives.

M O D E S T O F I R E D E PA RT M E N T Fire services have also changed over the years. In their early days, local fire departments also depended on volunteers to support the fire services. One of the volunteer fire departments was McHenry Dry Creek Fire District, located at Scenic and Coffee Roads. They utilized a loud

PA RT N E R I N G T O E N H A N C E P U B L I C S A F E T Y Modesto has been getting a rather bad “rap” for several years now when it comes to crime. I think it is really unfortunate and unwarranted. Modesto is now one of the 100 largest cities in the country, so we should certainly expect that we will have crime commensurate with our size. What is often left unsaid, however, is that we have progressive prosecution and law enforcement ideas and practices. We work well together. We also partner with local nonprofits and community-based organizations to make our limited tax dollars go further, so that we can better serve crime victims and enhance public safety. Not every city can boast of such cohesive partnerships in such an important area, so we should be really proud of our efforts. - Birgit Fladager, District Attorney, Stanislaus County

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COMMITTED TO PROTECTING OUR COMMUNITIES The Stanislaus County Sheriff's Office, founded in 1854, has played a pivotal role in public safety for several generations. Even as the City of Modesto began its humble beginnings on the banks of the Tuolumne River, shaped by the Central Pacific Railroad in 1870, the sheriff and his deputies served to keep the peace. Modesto evolved from a frontier boomtown plagued with gunslingers, card sharks, and opium parlors, earning the dubious reputation as the wildest town in the Central Valley, to a highly respected agricultural community and 19th largest city in California, with tremendous potential and a bright future. Over the years, the sheriff's office, led by 21 elected Sheriffs like Sheriff R.B. Purvis, Sheriff Dan Kelsay, and Sheriff Les Weidman, has become an organization of strength, courage, and determination in our ongoing commitment to protect our communities. We've grown to nearly 700 employees and we serve a much larger population today, but our motto and mission haven't changed. We're still “Keeping the Peace Since 1854.” - Adam Christianson, Sheriff-Coroner, Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office; Immediate Past President, California State Sheriffs’ Association

The officers of the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department have played a pivotal role in public safety for generations. COURTESY OF THE STANISLAUS COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT.

The current Modesto Fire Department is an all-risk emergency service. COURTESY OF THE CITY OF MODESTO AND THE MODESTO FIRE DEPARTMENT.

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siren on their rooftop to alert area volunteers of the emergency, prompting them to rush to the fire station to get the location of the fire, then proceed to the fire in their personal cars. Their district included some very large unincorporated areas of Modesto’s northeast side. There was only one paid firefighter. The rest were volunteers. Unfortunately, some house structure fires sustained significant damage due to delayed response and the lack of well-trained firefighters, staff fire engines, tactical fire plans, and backup fire resources. In 1953, the Modesto City Fire Department (MFD) had nine volunteers and thirty-five paid firefighters. Today, MFD has 11 fire stations, nine engines, two trucks, and one airport rescue with 138 sworn firefighters and 12 non-sworn. The MFD serves the entire incorporated city and has automatic mutual aid agreements with the Ceres Fire Department and the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District, which means the closest fire engine responds, regardless of the jurisdiction. Firefighters must have an EMT certification, possess the Firefighter One Certificate, complete fifteen semester units of college coursework in Fire Science, and pass a one-year probation.

A D A P T I N G A N D E V O LV I N G The Modesto Fire Department has proudly served the citizens of Modesto and surrounding communities since 1875. Over the past 140-plus years, we have evolved from a volunteer department that responded to fires with horses and buggies to today’s all-risk department that operates with state-of-the-art equipment. From preventing and suppressing fires, providing emergency medical services to technical rescues, hazardous materials incidents, and terrorism responses, the Modesto Fire Department continually adapts to meet the needs and challenges of our great city and its citizens. The outstanding services we provide our citizens would not be possible without the tremendous dedication, bravery, and selfless sacrifice of every member who has humbly worn the badge of a Modesto firefighter. - Chief Sean Slamon, 12th Fire Chief (August 2014-March 2017), Modesto Fire Department

Continually adapting to meet the needs and challenges of the city and citizens. COURTESY OF THE CITY OF MODESTO AND THE MODESTO FIRE DEPARTMENT.

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In the late 1980s, the Modesto City Council approved MFD to enter the First Responder Program to help the sick and injured patients normally handled only by the private ambulance companies. With the reduction in fire calls due to improved fire prevention, new building codes, sprinklers, and public education, the First Responder Program better utilized the on-duty firefighters and improved service to the citizens. Ambulance response times were a major concern then and, with multiple fire stations throughout the city, MFD many times could beat the ambulance to the scene and provide basic emergency care. As the service continued to improve, firefighters became certified EMTs and some even became paramedics, offering advanced life support. The fire department was responsible for funding this added service. Today, 65 percent of MFD’s emergency calls are for medical emergencies. The current Modesto Fire Department is an all risk emergency service. In addition to responding to fires and medical emergencies, the fire department provides hazardous materials and urban search and rescue services for the entire county.

A FA M I LY T R A D I T I O N I was proud to be a firefighter in my hometown and to follow my grandfather’s and father’s footsteps in the fire service. The best part of being a firefighter was being able to help people in need and being there for this community. It was very rewarding to assist people in any emergency. My grandfather started in 1909 and retired in 1948. At his retirement, he was the senior fire chief in the United States. My dad started in 1947 and retired in 1983. I retired in 2011. For 102 years, there has been a Wallace in the Modesto Fire Department. I thoroughly enjoyed and was deeply honored to be a firefighter serving my hometown. - Bill Wallace, Retired Modesto Firefighter

MODESTO POLICE D E PA RT M E N T Municipal law enforcement has been impacted as well by the changing times. Today’s police officers are better educated and trained to handle different social, legal, civil, emotional, technical, tactical, and multiple-threat responsibilities and policies. They grasp the administrative orders, constant awareness of violence on police and others, physical requirements, constitutional law, community mandates, neighborhood relations, town hall meetings, daily expectations from our society, onbody cameras, and added accountability. Law enforcement officers today must be dedicated to a calm, appropriate, and professional response to whatever may arise in a second's notice. From homelessness, drugs, gangs, cybercrime to

increasing violence and other issues of public safety, police officers are expected to respond in a manner that meets the department’s mandates, as well as the media’s and society's expectations. In 2011, based on a three federal judge panel, California was ordered to reduce the prison population. As a result, the state released approximately one-third of the prison population. While those released were supposed to be non-violent offenders, inmates were released based on their current charges, not their criminal background. As Modesto was just overcoming those two challenges with doubledigit drops in crime two years in a row, at the end of 2014, voters passed Proposition 47, which made most drug offenses misdemeanors. As a result, Modesto saw an immediate jump in reported crime. The Modesto Police Department continues to combat crime in an era where fewer and fewer criminals are held accountable by the criminal justice system for their crimes. At the end of 2012, well before the rest of the nation was debating the use of body cameras for police officers, Modesto was a test site for Taser body cameras. The program has been very successful in documenting crimes, as well as protecting both officers and citizens. In 2013, the police department implemented Predictive Policing, which is a software program that uses algorithms to determine the probability of crime based on calls for service over a ten-year period. In addition, the police department reemphasized the use of crime analysts to help identify individuals who are the most likely offenders and to assist in deployment of resources. In 2015, the police department began construction of a Real-Time Crime Center to provide real-time intelligence to officers

Today’s police officers are better educated and trained. COURTESY OF THE CITY OF MODESTO AND THE MODESTO POLICE DEPARTMENT.

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Above: The Modesto Police Department combats crime with nextgeneration technology. PHOTOGRAPH BY CORY WARNER, STUDIO WARNER.

Below: Throughout their history, the men and women of public safety have loyally and steadfastly done their job regardless of the risks. PHOTOGRAPH BY CORY WARNER, STUDIO WARNER.

responding to calls and to supply intelligence updates during investigations. The center acts as a fusion center for cameras in the city, tracking resources, as well as calls for service and intelligence. Additionally, all officers were equipped with smartphones to aid in the free flow of intelligence and to assist officers in doing their jobs. Instead of issuing cameras, tape recorders to dictate reports, and devices to view and mark body camera footage, officers are now able to do everything on one device. Today’s public safety services are much more coordinated and include automatic response through a regional dispatch center, Stanislaus

Regional 911 (SR911). A joint powers agreement between City of Modesto and Stanislaus County, serves Modesto City, Consolidated, and Salida Fire services, as well as the police and sheriff’s department. The American Medical Response (AMR) communications center is a privately owned communications center providing medical dispatch to their paramedic units and other contracted emergency services. Private and public entities continue to work closely to achieve professionalism, quick emergency response times, accountability, cross training, and quality public safety services. Still, it takes all these entities working together to keep our citizens and public safety personnel safe, even during tragic times.

PUBLIC SAFETY AGENCIES COMMITTED TO THEIR PROFESSION At times, the past 40-plus years have brought incredible sadness to our law enforcement brothers and sisters when people we know have given their lives to our community in the line of duty. Modesto Police Officer Leo Volk (1973), Police Sergeant Steve May (2009), and Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Deputies Bob Paris (2012) and Dennis Wallace (2016) were personal friends of mine. Their tragic in-theline-of-duty deaths reflect the dark reality of the 110 ✦

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PUBLIC SAFETY IS EVERYONE’S RESPONSIBILITY Safety has never been the sole responsibility of our government or law enforcement. Public safety is everyone’s responsibility. What keeps us safe is connecting with neighbors, watching out for each other, getting to know each other by name. Don’t get me wrong, law enforcement has a crucial role in public safety. But there are many efforts and resources beyond law enforcement that keep us safe. As a boy growing up in west Modesto, neighbors took care of each other and their homes. There was an understanding that we all watched out for each other. Today, in many parts of our city for various reasons, there’s a hesitancy to take on that responsibility. Secondly, somewhere we began to believe the negative self-speak about our neighborhoods and city. Our city has challenges, but we will overcome them together one city block at a time. - Marvin Jacobo, Executive Director, City Ministry Network Originally published in the April 27, 2014, edition of The Modesto Bee.

A meeting of the College Area Neighborhood Alliance. There are many resources beyond law enforcement that help keep us safe. PHOTOGRAPH BY BART AH YOU. COURTESY OF COLLEGE AVENUE NEIGHBORHOOD ALLIANCE.

ongoing risk every peace officer must constantly be prepared to face every day in law enforcement. The names of 14 officers killed in the line of duty in Stanislaus County since 1935 are inscribed on the police monument at Lakewood Memorial Park, where they are remembered every May during police officer memorial week. Still, officers today must calmly prepare themselves to respond to any threat in spite of fewer officers, possible tragedy

that may confront them at any second, the worry of domestic terrorism, disrespect, and mandates our society requires of them to keep us all safe. Yet, throughout the Modesto Police Department’s history, the men and women of law enforcement, like Chief Gerald McKinsey, who served 37 distinguished years in law enforcement and after whom the police department building is named, have loyally and Public Safety ✦


Above: Effective public safety is still all about using “good old common horse sense.” COURTESY OF THE CITY OF MODESTO AND THE MODESTO POLICE DEPARTMENT.

Below: Each of these public safety agencies have come a long way from the early 1940s. PHOTOGRAPH BY BAIRD PHOTOGRAPHY. COURTESY OF MCHENRY MUSEUM.

steadfastly committed themselves to their profession regardless of the tragic realities of the job and limited resources they are given. Each of these public safety agencies and their combined capabilities have come a long way from the early days. Retired Modesto Police Officer Sergeant Ed Russell recalled, during an interview with Sergeant Steve Ferry and myself in the 1980s, that when he started, they only had one patrol car, which was a “Hupmobile.” They would park their only car on 10th Street at Nichol News, where the clerk would hang the lone key on a hook, and then the officers would walk the downtown beat. Any

time they saw a red light on the call boxes located throughout downtown, they would call the department, receive the call for service, pick up the car key from the Nichol News clerk, and drive to the police call. It was indeed a very different time. With all its new technology, constant mandated training, and psychology of emergency services, it still holds true that effective public safety in today’s world remains all about using “good old common horse sense” decisions in a twenty-first century way.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to acknowledge the following for their assistance in helping with this story: Steve Ferry, Modesto Police Department sergeant, retired; the late Ed Russell, Modesto Police Department sergeant; Chief Sean Slamon, Modesto Fire Department; Mike Corbin, American Medical Response (AMR); Doug Ridenour, Jr., police officer and son; Linda Ridenour, wife; Chief Galen Carroll, Modesto Police Department; Adam Christianson, sheriffcoroner, Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office; Amy Vickery, public information officer, City of Modesto (July 2015-July 2017); public information officer, Stanislaus County; and Bart Bartoni.

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T H E K E Y I S PA RT N E R S H I P On any weekend evening in May, Modestans will catch a glimpse of red, blue, green, black or gold commencement gowns and mortar boards as graduates of junior high, high school, and college programs dot the landscape. Proud parents, relatives, and friends with great hopes for a bright future accompany the graduates to these joyous events. They celebrate the end of a chapter and the beginning of many possibilities. As a native Modestan, I was a product of Modesto’s schools. My teachers prepared me well for the University of California, Berkeley, and, later, a doctoral degree right down the road at California State University, Stanislaus. We all remember those special teachers along the way. For me, there were many. I’m proud of my Modesto roots and now, as a long-time administrator at Modesto Junior College, I take pride in the efforts of many organizations working to improve educational outcomes in this community.

Nicole Slater, A Friend Near and Dear, mixed media on glass.

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Above: An end and a beginning. © BRIAN RAMSAY/MODESTO BEE/ZUMAPRESS.COM.

Below: “Stanislaus READS!” is an example of the spirit of collaboration in Modesto’s educational community. COURTESY OF THE STANISLAUS COMMUNITY FOUNDATION.

The key to enhancing education is partnership. Schools, families, businesses, nonprofit groups, and community members are mobilizing to surround our youth with support. Modesto is a model of such collaboration and it is making a difference in our schools. In “A Love Letter to Stanislaus County,” Modesto’s former Poet Laureate and MJC English Professor Sam Pierstorff, captures the spirit of that collaboration as follows, “We are working in your schools, dusting the cobwebs off young minds, showing them they can find hope in the pages of great books.” There is no better example of this than the recent community-wide initiative known as “Stanislaus READS!” When local leaders discovered that 71% of our third graders do not read at grade level, the Stanislaus Community Foundation and more than 30 strategic partners from the public and private sectors joined forces to change that picture. This partnership has sent

ripples throughout the community and we are all on our way to creating a new reality for our youth.

CHANGING OUR TOUTH’S TRAJECTORY IN LIFE Modestans realize that by working together, we can change our youth’s trajectory in life, thus improving our economy and our collective quality of life. It’s working! Modesto City Schools, our largest school district, recently announced a celebration of five consecutive years of increasing graduation rates. Five of the seven comprehensive high schools in the district now have a graduation rate exceeding 90 percent. For socioeconomically disadvantaged students, the dropout rate has fallen 15 percent in that time. This has taken commitment by teachers, administrators, families, community partners, and, especially, our students. Modesto City Schools Superintendent Pam Able speaks proudly of the district’s heritage and impact: Since 1871, Modesto City Schools has been preparing students for life after graduation, in whatever path they choose. Our graduates have won Olympic medals, been nominated for Academy Awards, run high-tech companies, and represented the region in political office. Our schools are the hub of every neighborhood and a great part of this community’s history. Like the trees that line our streets, Modesto City Schools will maintain a strong foundation rooted in history, while reaching for the stars to improve the future of our students.

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DREAM BIG One of my big dreams is to see every one of our Modesto schools have as many community partners as possible to meet the needs of each school. I encourage businesses, congregations, service groups, etc. to dream big with me on how they can be a part of helping to make our schools the best they can be. To learn more, check out - Jeff Pishney, Executive Director, Love Modesto Originally published in the April 2016 edition of ModestoView.

OFFERING STUDENTS MORE LEARNING CHOICES Our schools are a complex undertaking and a very big business in our community. Stanislaus County Superintendent of Schools Tom Changnon, describes the scope of our county’s schools as follows: Since 1854, the Stanislaus County Office of Education (SCOE) has provided quality public education and support for students, school districts, and the community. We serve 26 school districts and support them in their educational endeavors. Stanislaus County has the 14th largest pupil population in California, serving well over 106,000 students. It is a job we take seriously.

Above: Preparing students for life. COURTESY OF MODESTO CITY SCHOOLS.

Our schools offer students more learning choices than ever before. Specialized academies, middle college programs, private and public charter schools, the International Baccalaureate Program at Modesto High School, advanced academic and technical pathways, hands-on career technical learning, as well as private and public college and university programs, are popular and growing parts of this education landscape of choice in our community. In addition, our community collaboratives are doing everything possible to ensure success in these educational pathways:

Below: Students, such as these graduates of the Come Back Kids! program, benefited from the community’s alternative educational opportunities. PHOTOGRAPH BY JUDY LEITZ. COURTESY OF THE STANISLAUS COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION.

SCOE provides opportunities to students through Career Technical Education pathways, student events (i.e., Academic Decathlon, Mock Trials, and the Science Olympiad), Visual and Performing Arts, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), and outdoor education. We have had tremendous success with providing students alternative educational opportunities, such as the Stanislaus Military Academy and the “Come Back Kids!” program, both designed to provide students with high school diplomas and job skills. We look forward to more years of supporting education and readying a diverse student population to become productive citizens and lifelong learners capable of achieving a successful future. Education ✦


Options like the IB Program offer more learning choices than ever before. PHOTOGRAPH BY SCOTT MITCHELL. COURTESY OF MODESTO CITY SCHOOLS.

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• New partnerships between K-12, community college, and university leaders; • Community-wide mentoring projects to link adults to young students; • The Destination Graduation and Graduation Coach efforts to increase high school completion and urge college attendance; • The Stanislaus Partners in Education (SPIE), now hosting over 300 school and business partnerships in the community; • “Love Modesto” and the neighborhood movements all over town linking faith-based and nonprofit organizations with our schools; • “Stanislaus Futures” aimed at increasing the college-going rate in our community. Despite all of these learning options and partnerships, only 16 percent of our adults, 25 years of age and above, possess a bachelor’s degree or higher (compared to 30 percent statewide). No doubt our collaborative efforts with the early grades will change that, in time. Generational poverty in our area has taken its toll and the mountain to climb is steep. But, Modestans will rally and change this path for greater numbers of our youth in the future. Our spirit of collaboration is as strong as ever. I was reminded of this when a champion for education and collaboration, Peter Johansen, passed away. He founded the Stanislaus Partners in Education and the Parent Institute for Quality Education locally. He contributed to many other ventures in support of learning. Modesto’s

TOUCHSTONES: Life and Times of Modesto


MODESTO JUNIOR C O L L E G E S AV E D M Y L I F E My life was a long list of bad mistakes, attitude, and trouble. I was involved in gangs and other activities that were getting me nowhere. I enrolled at Modesto Junior College and struggled. I felt as if I didn’t belong, but it wasn’t until I was accepted into the Extended Opportunity Programs & Services Bridge and CARE programs that I began to find my way. I always thought I was not good enough, smart enough, or had what it takes to be successful in life or in college. Today, I have a college degree. I am the first college graduate in my family. MJC saved my life, changed my life, and helped me create a great life. I will always consider this place my home. - Letty Blanco, Class of 2015

Johansen High School is named after him. Peter’s work and the work of hundreds of nonprofit, business, education, and government leaders is now paying off. The tipping point is within reach.

E D U C AT I O N A L OPPORTUNITIES ABOUND My own institution, Modesto Junior College, contributes mightily to the ideal of educational access and opportunity for all in our community. Since 1921, this great college has paved the way for tens of thousands of learners who seek employment opportunities, skill improvement, certification, or transfer to the university level. Dr. Jill Stearns, president of MJC, states: Serving over 20,000 students each year, Modesto Junior College provides a clear transfer path for students to the university and to the workforce. MJC offers opportunity through

The Princeton Review has listed CSU, Stanislaus,

access and a focus on student success in our

among the top 380 universities in the country,

Modesto Junior College contributes to

outstanding educational programs.” Indeed, our

while, in 2015, Money Magazine ranked CSU

the ideal of educational access and

alumni stories are filled with praise for the

Stanislaus number one among the nation’s

opportunity for all in our community.

passion of MJC instructors and the benefits of

public universities that best help students


the community college experience.

“exceed expectations.

Our community’s university, California State University, Stanislaus, has been a beacon for higher education opportunity in our region since 1960. Students choose from 41 undergraduate programs, 23 masters programs, six graduate certificate programs, and seven school credential programs, as well as a doctoral program in Educational Leadership. For ten straight years,

Educational opportunities in Modesto and the surrounding region abound. Our community’s collective spirit is now focused on leading more of our youth to those educational opportunities and to building options for our college graduates to stay in Modesto and surrounding communities once they graduate.

C R E AT I N G A H E A LT H Y ENVIRONMENT TO LIVE AND THRIVE The Mary Stuart Rogers Foundation is pleased to be able to support many organizations, institutions, and venues in Modesto. We have underwritten education and scholarships not only in our local community, but also throughout Stanislaus County. We have been fortunate to have the assets and capability to collaborate with so many groups as they work tirelessly to help create a healthy environment in which to live and thrive. We hope the future will find us able to continue our efforts to enrich our community.

Community organizations, institutions, and venues unite to enrich our community. COURTESY OF MODESTO JUNIOR COLLEGE.

- John S. Rogers, President, Mary Stuart Rogers Foundation

Education ✦



A community that engages in conversations and actions around cultural competency. PHOTOGRAPH BY MEG GONZALEZ. COURTESY OF THE TUOLUMNE RIVER TRUST.

My mother and father were refugees from Cambodia. In 1983, mom gave birth to me in a refugee camp near the border of Thailand. Life was dysfunctional in our family and my mother and father struggled to make ends meet. I found my way onto the streets of Stockton, where we had moved when I was eight. After my parents separated when I was ten, a life of gangs, drugs, and the juvenile justice system became my new normal. My siblings and I dropped out of school and I never completed my high school diploma. Our little sister, though, was the example in our family and became the first to graduate from high school and college. She reached out to me to take me off the streets and I found myself enrolled at MJC. That first semester I barely kept my grades above the financial aid requirement of 2.0. When I got my first financial aid check, I found the motivation I needed. I worked hard and improved my grades. I learned to write better. I studied hard. I listened to my instructors and mentors. I persevered. Commencement day in 2014 was one of my proudest days. Today, as a single parent of two, I’m working part-time for Stanislaus County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services as a group facilitator for the mentally disabled. Someone recently asked me what I’d like for my own children and I responded, for me, I had to go through hell to reach heaven. I hope they don’t have to go through the same, but find a different and better path. - Bunreth Sok, Class of 2014

S E RV I N G S T U D E N T S O F C U LT U R A L LY DIVERSE BACKGROUNDS At this time, Modesto finds itself in one of its most pivotal moments with regard to education and serving its culturally diverse students. As a first generation Chicana (daughter of Mexican immigrants) born in the United States, I represent the growing number of minority students living in Modesto and its neighboring cities. Given that almost half of Stanislaus County’s residents are of Hispanic/Latino backgrounds (2010 U.S. Census, updated 2015), this number is expected to continue growing within various cultural/ethnic groups beyond those of Hispanic/Latino descent. As a recent doctoral graduate from California State University, Stanislaus, and as someone who understands the potential challenges and unique needs of first generation students, I feel privileged to be able to live in a community where conversations and actions around cultural competence played a major role in my own academic career and continue to play a role in the education of our students. Furthermore, this allowed me to feel valued and supported by the local educational institutions, which I attended while pursuing my bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees, without having to move away from my hometown. Additionally, the support and mentorship of local community leaders was invaluable to my educational success. Because of this support, I was able to marry my husband, whom I met in high school, purchase our first home, and work as a public servant for my community. I very much look forward to the future impact that Modesto will have while serving its students, especially those of culturally diverse backgrounds. - Janet Nuñez-Pineda, Ed.D., Community Leader

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“ S TA N I S L A U S

FUTURES”: P R O V I D I N G O P P O RT U N I T Y T O L O W- I N C O M E S T U D E N T S “Stanislaus Futures” is a long-term and large-scale effort to provide low-income Stanislaus County students the opportunity to achieve their college and career goals. Stanislaus Community Foundation is working closely with the College Futures Foundation, a respected statewide foundation, that has studied the experience and achievements of more than 20,000 low-income California scholarship recipients over time. We’re also collaborating with local education partners and philanthropists to build scholarship funds, align systems, and deepen family engagement around financial aid and college resources. “Stanislaus Futures” will focus on three key areas: Access, Attain, and Align. The Access focus involves educating students and their parents about college options and access to financial aid. A bilingual outreach coordinator provides culturally sensitive college and financial aid preparation and guidance for low-income, underrepresented students and their parents. Administrators and consultants support college counselors trained to help the transition to college and increase FAFSA completion rates. Financial aid information, scholarship links, and a common application for local scholarships are all provided on the “Stanislaus Futures” website. The Attain focus centers around building and administering strategic, needs-based scholarship funds to students with the most financial need. Together, Stanislaus Community Foundation, The Modesto Bee, College Futures Foundation, and donors from the community provide scholarships to low-income students who have the potential and drive to succeed in college, but lack the means. Stanislaus Community Foundation and The Modesto Bee present opportunities for Stanislaus County residents and corporations to invest in “Stanislaus Futures.” The Align focus involves working with high school districts and institutions of higher education to embrace best practices. Stanford’s John Gardner Center for Youth & Communities gathers and provides data and identifies gaps and opportunities along a student’s path through Stanislaus County’s K-12 system and into college. Stanislaus Community Foundation convenes working groups focused on key transition points among Stanislaus County Office of Education, local high school districts, Modesto Junior College, and California State University, Stanislaus. For more information, please visit - Stanislaus Community Foundation

NURTURING THE SEED Receiving the scholarship made me realize, “Here’s the seed, just water it. Let it grow.” I don’t know if life would’ve turned out the same or gone different if it weren’t for the small seed that grew and blossomed. - Danny Mauricio, UC Merced Student, 2014 Stanislaus Community Fund Scholarship Recipient

“Stanislaus Futures” is helping Danny Mauricio achieve his college and career goals. COURTESY OF STANISLAUS COMMUNITY FOUNDATION.

Education ✦


E D U C AT I O N I S C R U C I A L T O HELPING FOREIGN-BORN RESIDENTS With approximately 20 percent of Stanislaus County residents identifying themselves as foreign-born and over 40 percent with a native language other than English, education is crucial in helping newcomers and language learners engage and achieve equality in our community. To that end, Modesto Junior College has opened the English Language Learner Welcome Center to directly assist students new to the country and new to English in the college matriculation process, including individual help with enrollment, registration, testing, and general advising. - Ruth Luman, English Language Instructor, Modesto Junior College

HELPING LOCAL YOUTH ACHIEVE A BRIGHTER FUTURE Our region has been blessed with a sturdy economic backbone: agriculture. Water has brought contentment, health and, to some, much wealth. But we also face considerable challenges. We must reduce poverty and increase opportunities for all—in particular for young people. In an economy dependent on one major industry, we face growing workforce competition, dramatically shifting demographics, very low college completion rates, “brain drain,” a tepid entrepreneurial environment, and persistent poverty. Despite these challenges, we believe Stanislaus County not only stands a chance in the new economy, but has a powerful case for prosperity—but only if we unite to support our children in their journey from cradle to career. California faces a shortfall of college-educated workers in the next decade and that shortfall will deeply affect our county. To address this issue, the Stanislaus Community Foundation and The Modesto Bee have partnered in an unprecedented effort called “Focus on Futures.” The Foundation will provide “last dollar in” scholarships to college-bound students who demonstrate financial need as part of their “Stanislaus Futures” program, which is supported by local philanthropists, educators, and businesses. The Bee will create an expansive media campaign to raise awareness, celebrate success, and drive scholarship funds. As part of this initiative, the Foundation and The Bee are supporting and recognizing the work of dedicated, inspiring, and innovative educators already hard at work in our community: • Like Manny Escamilla, who survived south Modesto’s “Devil’s Street” to attend graduate school at Harvard and is teaching coding and life skills to underprivileged children in south Modesto middle schools. • The “Mighty Milers” running group at Wilson Elementary School, who run every Friday morning. • Ron Boren, a sixth-grade teacher at Tuolumne Elementary, who uses a song to solve mathematical equations. • The Grace Davis High School Language Institute and its director, Lindsey Bird, who is teaching English to immigrants and changing their lives. Other programs include local law enforcement walking young kids to school through tough neighborhoods; mentoring classes through Sierra Vista; classes for parents in a “café” setting; and a “pathway” at Peter Johansen High School that leads students into careers in digital film, game design, and video arts. Studies have shown that education and expectation are critical links to success not just of individuals, but of entire communities. Areas that become hubs of excellence also become magnets for the success that follows. That excellence always begins with education. The long-term goal of “Focus on Futures” is developing engaged, productive, upwardly mobile citizens who stay in the region and become its leaders. - Marian Kaanon, President/Chief Executive Officer, Stanislaus Community Foundation Ken Riddick, Publisher and President, The Modesto Bee Excerpted from articles originally published in The Modesto Bee.

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MODESTO DELIVERS A FULL SPECTRUM OF HEALTHCARE SERVICES In every community, people become ill and require access to healthcare facilities, physicians, and treatment. Healthcare problems can be acute in nature: heart attack, fever, injury; can be chronic: hypertension, diabetes, cancer; can also be a mental condition: depression, substance abuse, stress. Women have unique needs related to pregnancy and childbirth, while children require preventive care for immunization against common disease, and monitoring their growth and development trajectory. Regardless of the nature of the health need, Modesto delivers, providing access to the full spectrum of healthcare services. Early in its history, Modesto healthcare leaders initiated a vision to develop a healthcare infrastructure capable of providing a “self-contained,” robust, and comprehensive network of medical services ranging from ambulatory and ancillary care, mental health, and hospitals, as well as programs encompassing county health services and federally qualified health centers focused on our underserved residents.

Bruce Klein, Yosemite Wall, acrylic.

E A R LY Y E A R S Modesto became the county seat in 1871, which prompted the founding of medical services driven by both a societal and entrepreneurial imperative. The Stanislaus County Medical Society was Healthcare ✦


thus securing its role as an essential organization responsible for preparing our medical workforce.


Above: Kaiser Permanente Hospital is part of the spectrum of healthcare services offered in Modesto. COURTESY OF KAISER PERMANENTE.

Below: The historic Stanislaus County Hospital. Modesto has a long tradition of medical services. COURTESY OF THE MCHENRY MUSEUM.

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organized in 1894 and continues to this day. As early as 1903, the public “old county” hospital and existing private hospitals evolved and improved, attracting general physicians and specialists to Modesto. A plus for Modesto was the unexpected opportunity to establish a military hospital in 1942 and the development almost overnight of the Hammond General Hospital, which was a magnet surgical center specializing in thoracic, neurological, and orthopedic surgery. Modesto Junior College quickly stepped up to assist in creating, expanding, and eventually supervising training programs for nurses and technicians,

TOUCHSTONES: Life and Times of Modesto

Today, ambulatory settings provide the majority of care, and so are very essential in any community. Modesto has a variety of choices for primary care access: multi-specialty groups, small groups, and solo practices that, over the years, have been very innovative and influential in establishing the current local hospital systems, including Doctors Medical Center, which is part of Tenet Health System; Memorial Medical Center and Stanislaus Surgical Hospital, which are both part of the Sutter Health network of hospitals and physician organizations; and Kaiser Foundation Hospital. Modesto’s citizens benefit from the comprehensive services of two major medical provider health systems: Sutter Gould Medical Group and The Permanente Medical Group. Both were formed in the 1940s, have similar models utilizing Epic electronic medical records, and supervise over 500 physicians capable of resolving complex medical conditions, or facilitating referrals to their respective network of specialists. In 1948, Sutter Gould began in Modesto as Gould Medical Group, which utilized the Mayo Clinic model of care, grouping multi-specialty physicians and ancillary services within a single medical office. Sutter Gould physicians have contributed to the growth and success of Memorial Medical Center since its

in Modesto. This group has the depth of experience to care for Modesto’s children on its own, as well as offering referral connections to Stanford, UCSF, and Oakland Children’s Hospital as needed. There are also a number of solo, small internal medicine, and pediatric group practices available in Modesto, all who have their niche in the community. The many specialty group practices in our town, which include cardiology, orthopedics, obstetrics and gynecology, and ophthalmology, have fueled growth and expansion of advanced services at our local hospitals. Known for their contribution to cardiac care, Valley Heart Associates was founded in the 1970s. Originally

opening. The Permanente Medical Group arrived in the Modesto community in 1996, offering its long history of integrated care. It is now a major competitor, bringing additional physicians to the Modesto area, as well as adding its own Modesto Hospital in 2008. If care cannot be obtained locally, both Sutter Gould and Kaiser have access to specialized providers and hospitals across Northern California. For those who prefer care offered by a smaller, local multi-practice, Modesto is home to the McHenry Medical Group. Formed in 1969, this practice, which was founded by some of the internists and surgeons who practiced at Doctors Medical Center, has done much to enhance thoracic, vascular, and trauma programs. This group became First Choice Physician Partners, a nonprofit medical foundation committed to serving the healthcare needs of the community. They also expanded their services to include pediatrics, as well as opening additional locations.

Doctors Medical Center. Residents of Modesto have access to the comprehensive services of major medical provider health systems. PHOTOGRAPH BY CORY WARNER, STUDIO WARNER. COURTESY OF DOCTORS MEDICAL CENTER.

S A F E , H I G H - Q U A L I T Y, AFFORDABLE HEALTHCARE At Memorial Medical Center, we are proud to be part of our community. And, as a not-for-profit health care organization affiliated with Sutter Health, we proudly offer safe, high quality, affordable healthcare, with excellent service to our patients. We are one of the area’s largest employers, and are committed to giving back to the community through numerous charitable contributions each year. – Daryn Kumar, Chief Executive Officer, Memorial Medical Center

FA M I LY P R A C T I C E G R O U P S Family Health Care, Orangeburg Medical Group, and Cornerstone Family Medical Group have been practicing in Modesto for several decades. Valley Oak Pediatrics, a comprehensive group specializing in the development, care, and diseases of babies and children, was founded in 1991. It brought together under one roof many of the solo pediatric physicians based

Memorial Medical Center has grown along with the area. PHOTOGRAPH BY CORY WARNER. COURTESY OF MEMORIAL MEDICAL CENTER.

Healthcare ✦


Family Health Care. The healthcare community of Modesto includes a variety of family practice groups. COURTESY OF FAMILY HEALTH CARE.


Modesto’s health professionals overcome challenges and changes to provide the best that medicine has to offer. COURTESY OF FAMILY HEALTH CARE.

Currently in Modesto and the United States, we are undergoing major changes in medicine and the politics that affect healthcare. We have a diverse population with a spectrum of serious health problems and this challenges healthcare providers daily in their care and management. I have seen a number of positive changes with our area being designated a “nationally underserved healthcare region” and the implementation of a national healthcare program. While we still have a long way to go to serve our many people in the valley, these are moves in the right direction. As an established private practice providing healthcare for over thirty years, we have seen many previous, as well as recent changes. We expect many more evolvements as medicine makes advances on a population level and strives to treat large numbers of people as effectively and inexpensively as possible. In my years in Modesto, I have had the privilege of caring for multigenerational families from all walks of life. Our smaller community affords the opportunity to take care of people we work and live with every day, and to provide a personal touch of medicine you can’t find in larger cities. My hope is that as progress and changes go forward, we can continue to provide healthcare at a local and personal level rather than in a generic and detached bureaucratic fashion. We have an amazing group of families and individuals in the area that deserve the best that medicine has to offer. As medical professionals, we need to work to overcome any challenges and changes that might try to prevent us from doing that. -Tracy Brockman, MD, Family Health Care Medical Group

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TEACH YOUR CHILDREN As a youth in Modesto, my mother taught me to become involved with my community by helping families in need, but not just by giving things. “Things” go someplace to someone you may never know or see. We were encouraged to get involved. We volunteered for home therapy for a young girl with severe dystrophy. Five people were in her home, five days a week to prevent terrible contracture. We were part of a team. My mother volunteered weekly at the local hospital. She spent months working with my cousin, made quadriplegic in an auto accident, helping her to learn to work the BIRD, a new respirator. We turned her every few hours on a huge, round bed. I was 11, and proud of what we did. My mother was hands on; a true Modesto volunteer. Modesto offered me a great place to continue in her footsteps. I have been in medicine for over 35 years. I continue to see so much need for community service in Modesto; from the education and care of young mothers to the needs of our ever-growing homeless population with drug and mental health problems. Service comes in many forms. It needs to be taught, practiced, shared, and valued. – Jennifer Glover, Physician Assistant

housed inside Doctors Hospital, it quickly expanded to include cardiac surgeons providing comprehensive services to Modesto and Central California. They are now affiliated with Doctors Medical Center as Valley Heart Institute, making available a full scope of cardiac services. Another association of entrepreneurial specialists became owner-operators of the Stanislaus Surgical Hospital, providing specialty surgical and procedural services. This facility is now a part of the Sutter Health network. Memorial Medical Center’s cardiac program is also well-regarded, with an accredited Chest Pain Center and STEMI Receiving Center. This means Memorial Medical Center provides a high level of expertise dealing with patients arriving with heart attack symptoms, including the ability to care for heart patients with a reduced time for diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring. Memorial Medical Center is also one of the few medical centers that operates a Cardiac Independence Program, which provides comprehensive outpatient care and support to patients with heart disease.

UNDER-SERVED RESIDENTS For the medically under-served, underinsured, and disadvantaged residents in Modesto, comprehensive care is available from a

network of federally qualified healthcare service agencies known as Health Services Agency (HSA), as well as the Golden Valley Health Center clinics. HSA has outpatient clinics and public health services for all of Stanislaus County, an indigent health program, and a family medicine residency program affiliated with Doctors Medical Center. The residency program historically supplies family medicine physicians to area practices. Through its affiliation with Doctors, which has a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, HSA offers after-care treatment for children through California Children Services. For pediatric cardiac care, HSA brings specialists from UCSF Children’s Hospital to handle special cases in our town. Golden Valley complements HSA with an additional range of services, which includes dental and on-site clinics at several Modesto schools, for families in need of healthcare.

H O S P I TA L S Modesto is blessed to have hospitals that collectively administer over 1,000 beds for community care, as well as high-level specialized services. The existing hospitals encompass three major health systems, including Memorial Medical Center (Memorial Hospital), Tenet Healthcare (Doctors Hospital), Healthcare ✦


Memorial Medical Center.. Modesto’s healthcare community provides nationally recognized quality of care. PHOTOGRAPH BY WILLIAM HARRIS, WILLIAM HARRIS PHOTOGRAPHY. COURTESY OF MEMORIAL MEDICAL CENTER.

and Kaiser Foundation Hospital (Kaiser Hospital Modesto). These health systems create a stable, continual physician recruitment base to practice within each hospital, as well as providing outpatient care to the community.

All three of these hospitals are Joint Commission Accredited and nationally recognized for their Quality of Care. All three are certified Stroke Centers and have Cardiac Catheterization Laboratories, with Doctors and Memorial featuring long-standing cardiac surgery programs. Doctors and Memorial are both Level II Trauma Centers, offering services for emergent needs and the critically injured, augmented by air ambulance services that reduce the critical time period from accident to the operating room. Doctors Medical Center's Darroch Brain & Spine Institute offers both specialized neurological care and spine surgery care close to home. Doctors and Kaiser are equipped with Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Units for Modesto’s “smallest” residents, who most often stay in a hospital for up to two months, allowing families to remain in Modesto and “bond” locally with their new child. Additionally, Stanislaus Surgical Hospital contributes another 23 beds and a variety of

COMMUNITY SUPPORT OF CRUCIAL SERVICES In the early 2000s, I was a newly licensed marriage family therapist who had stumbled upon eating disorders through a colleague’s family experience. Even though eating disorders were serious, life-threatening illnesses impacting millions of people in the United States, there was a profound gap in services for treatment in the area. Margaret Hunter and I co-founded our practice to fill that need in our community. Since we opened our doors in 2004, the Modesto community has supported our work, allowing us to provide crucial services to individuals from the Central Valley region and beyond. Modesto Bee health writer Ken Carlson ensured our work was consistently visible to the community, while the State Theatre helped increase awareness through the showing of bodypositive documentaries and speakers. Memorial Medical Center invited Stanford University’s Eating Disorders Division team to address area professionals, while the Center for Human Services initiated our training as interns, sending us to national conferences where we enhanced our skills under the tutelage of the world’s leading experts. Thanks to Modesto’s continued support, I am now president of the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals, San Francisco Bay Area Chapter, with my largest caseload continuing to be in my own hometown. My book, entitled No Weigh!, on which I collaborated with Dr. Shelley Aggarwall from Stanford University’s Eating Disorders Division and dietitian Wendy Sterling, who is the team nutritionist for the Oakland Athletics and consultant for the Golden State Warriors. No Weigh! focuses on attuned eating and overall intuitive self-care for adolescents. I realize it is sometimes tempting to be at odds with the community you and your family have been in forever, given that everyone knows your business. But, I will tell you that the benefits of a community that is “in your business” outweigh any negatives. - Signe Darpinian, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

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specialties. Founded by entrepreneurial medical and surgical physicians, it is now affiliated with Sutter Health. Well-known and rated as a leader in hip and knee replacements, it has the ambiance of a “boutique” facility.

HEALTHCARE VS. HEALTH Modesto has a world-class healthcare system. The providers and hospitals are equally dedicated to prevention, as well as caring for us when we become ill. Ultimately, we all want good health for ourselves and our families. In truth, we would be thrilled not to need healthcare. In reality, because it is part of life, it is important to know how Modesto residents’ health status rates, as well as what will make Modesto’s health as excellent as its healthcare. Our residents report that they have generally “poor health.” Unfortunately, Modesto is challenged by high poverty rates, low education

levels, and uninsured and underinsured citizens, resulting in health disparities. Though we have a healthy farmers market, we also have an abundance of “fast food” restaurants. While we have a generally active population, our obesity rates for adults and children are higher than the rest of California. This can be a critical problem since obesity is the primary cause of diabetes, stroke, and heart disease. The essential question is, “What is needed for a Healthier Modesto?” The honest fact is, people in our community need to eat better, live with less stress, exercise more, and avoid destructive behaviors. We must live in a way that significantly reduces how much emergent care we seek. Our message to the residents of Modesto is to embrace health, correct poor behaviors, and begin to improve diet and exercise habits. This is the best approach to achieve the “health” proclaimed in our famous Modesto Arch: “Water, Wealth, Contentment, and Health!”

Stanislaus Surgical Hospital. PHOTOGRAPH BY CARL BAGGESE.

Healthcare ✦


S I M P L E P U B L I C H E A LT H E D U C AT I O N Y I E L D S D R A M AT I C R E S U LT S In the 1960s, the Stanislaus Medical Society obtained a federal grant to help migrant workers. The result was something we can all be very proud of. At that time, there were several migrant labor camps that opened in the spring for the harvest season. The camps were run by Stanislaus County, but the society hired the nurses and assistants to provide early intervention for health of pregnant women and children. At that time, children were kept in the fields by their parents when they were working. In hot weather, many children would develop diarrhea and arrive at Stanislaus County Hospital (renamed Scenic General Hospital in 1966) in serious dehydrated condition. Many very sick children took up an entire ward with dozens on IV fluid therapy. We called it, “The “IV Jungle.” Many pregnant women working in the fields would wait until the very last minute to come to the hospital for their delivery. Of course, none had received any prenatal care, so many would become high-risk deliveries. Under the leadership of pediatrician Dr. Rush Bailey, the nurse in each migrant camp was trained to educate the mothers about early observation of a sick child, along with early feeding of salt solution to avoid serious dehydration. The nurses also kept track of pregnant women by monitoring their weight, blood pressure, and urine for sugar and protein. Most private physicians in the county volunteered to work in the clinics, and none would turn down a call from the nursing staff. Within three years, the ward of “The IV Jungle” at Scenic was closed and high-risk deliveries were reduced by over 50 percent. The entire program was an excellent example of simple public health education and measures that resulted in dramatic results. The medical society ran the program for ten years until Stanislaus County became the program managers. Scenic Hospital then became the training center for the Family Practice Residency program that has grown from nine to thirty-two residents today. The growth of the residency program has been a godsend for our county due to our chronic physician shortage. We currently retain one or two out of every three graduate doctors every year. - Roland Nyegaard, M.D.

Left: Roland Nyegaard, M.D. Right: The Stanislaus Medical Society served the underserved local population. COURTESY OF THE MCHENRY MUSEUM.

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PROGRESSIVE ARCHITECTURAL PROJECTS In the early twentieth century west coast building journals, many articles referred to Modesto as one of the prosperous cities in the state. The journals’ editors were interested in Modesto because wealthy residents and developers were building numerous large residential, commercial, government, and community projects designed by some of the best architects in California. The progressive architectural projects reflected not just the wealth of the city but also confidence in the future. You can see many of those projects today. San Francisco architect Bernard Joseph designed the Modesto Arch (1912); the George Cressey residence (1912) at 915 17th Street; and the first downtown Modesto home of J. C. Penney (1911) at 1022 I Street. The original McHenry Public Library building (1911) by William Weeks still stands at 14th and I, one block from the beautifully restored McHenry Mansion (1883). Clarence Dakin designed and George Ulrich built the Hawke residence (1929) at 115 Magnolia Avenue. John Leonard was nationally known for his inventive bridge engineering, and three of his bridges are still in use: the Jennie-Grand Bridge over Dry Creek (1906), the Highway 99 Stanislaus River Bridge near Salida (1905), and our beautiful Lion Bridge (1916).

Virginia White, Gallo Center for the Arts, watercolor.

Architecture âœŚ


California, laid out the 18-hole Oak/Bluff course at Del Rio Country Club, and Thomas Church and Lawrence Halprin designed many residential landscapes. Several local architects and engineers contributed to Modesto’s architectural heritage. City engineer Frank Rossi designed the addition to the library (1928) and Mancini Bowl (1949) in Graceada Park. George Hilburn’s B & T Market (1938) is altered but still stands at Eighth and H Streets. And many buildings by Herbert Ramont and Russell DeLappe remain.


The Cressey Residence, 1912; Bernard Joseph, architect. COURTESY OF THE MCHENRY MUSEUM.

Along with these noted architects, several well-known landscape designers helped make Modesto beautiful. John McLaren, who designed San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, planned our Graceada Park, and Howard Gilkey designed the grounds of Modesto High School (1918), Modesto Junior College, and the Hawke residence. In 1946, William P. Bell, one of the most important golf course designers in

Some of the most noteworthy buildings in the city are from the mid-twentieth century when Modesto became an architecture laboratory where both local and nationally known architects experimented with a new architectural style. They adapted European Modernism to our local climate and created Central Valley Modernism. Their experiments in Modernism drew national attention because they were on the cutting edge of environmental

CUTTING EDGE ARCHITECTURE Architecture and design are at the very core of our community. As an architect, it is inspiring to work in a city with such an incredible history of cutting edge architecture. Even when Modesto was a small community, we were producing amazing buildings. I look forward to continuing this tradition as the city grows and building an even better Modesto for our future. I am fortunate to be an architect that now practices within the community that I was raised. Growing up, there were always certain buildings in Modesto that stood out to me, like the former City Hall Building and County Courthouse. I didn’t know why, but there was something different about these buildings; something that set them apart. It wasn’t until years later, when I myself started practicing architecture, that I took the Modesto Art Museum’s guided walking tour of downtown and discovered that these buildings were indeed special and a part of an amazing, mid-century modern architecture history within Modesto. This gave me a whole new appreciation and pride for the city that I call home. - Barrett Lipomi, AIA, principal architect, Pires, Lipomi + Navarro Architects

Modesto City Hall. Modesto: A small community producing amazing buildings. COURTESY OF THE MCHENRY MUSEUM.

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Top: Hawke Residence, 1929; Clarence Dakin, architect. PHOTOGRAPH BY CARL BAGGESE.

Middle: Dry Creek Bridge, 1906; John Leonard, architect. COURTESY OF THE MCHENRY MUSEUM.

Bottom: B & T Market, 1938; George Hilburn, architect. COURTESY OF THE MCHENRY MUSEUM.

and artistic design. The architects responded to the hot, dry summer with architectural features that provided shade and cooling, and they responded to the dark, wet winter with architectural features that provided light and shelter. But, what really set Modesto apart, what makes it a model for other cities even today, is the development of an architectural style that responds to the local environment in a way that is also aesthetically pleasing. The first attempts to create a Modernism that was appropriate for our area were made by John Funk with the Heckendorf house on Patricia Lane; Russell DeLappe with the Stanislaus County Hall of Records on I Street, both designed in 1939; and William Wurster with the Everett Turner house on Brady designed in the late 1930s and completed in 1941. All three buildings were praised for their innovation and design, but the Heckendorf house was held up as a model for future American house design by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The museum included the house in three books and featured it in its trend-setting national exhibition on modern architecture Built in the USA. A photo of the house was on the cover of the exhibition catalogue. Again in the 1940s through the 1960s, many books, professional journals, and popular magazines published articles on Modesto buildings. The city’s national stature in Architecture âœŚ


C E L E B R AT I N G M O D E S T O T H R O U G H P U B L I C A RT Royal Robbins, Rock Climbing Pioneer, Camp 4 Wine Café. MURAL BY AARON “FASM” VICKERY. COURTESY OF AARON “FASM” VICKERY.

“Murals in Motown” is a community based mural project founded in 2012 by a small group of young professionals hoping to generate pride in the community through publicly displayed art. The volunteer led nonprofit highlights the wonderful elements of Modesto by showcasing the abundance, history, and accomplishments of the community through artistic portrayals of the seven most distinguishing attributes of our city: Hometown Heroes, Agriculture, Industry, Community, Culture, Parks & Outdoors, and Location. “Murals in Motown” relies solely on the charity of the community and has successfully raised funds to commission two murals. The first mural is an homage to Royal Robbins, a Yosemite National Park rock climbing pioneer, which also celebrates Modesto’s proximity to the park. This mural is located on the north-facing wall of the Camp 4 Wine Café. The second mural celebrates the rich and abundant agriculture and farmland surrounding our beautiful city. It adorns the south-facing wall of Dewz Restaurant. Also in 2012, Peer Recovery Art Project, another local nonprofit, launched a community arts initiative entitled, “Classic Community Murals,” which celebrates the city through our American Graffiti heritage. As the hometown of filmmaker George Lucas, Modesto provided the real life inspiration for his 1973 film, American Graffiti, which paved the road for a renewed appreciation of classic cars, rock ‘n’ roll, and “cruisin’.” The first mural commissioned by “Classic Community Murals” was a ’32 Deuce Coupe, the iconic car from the movie as driven by John Milner (actor Paul Le Mat). This car has become synonymous worldwide with the Graffiti experience. It decorates the north-facing wall of Peer Recovery Art Project’s office on J Street. As of 2016, “Classic Community Murals” has commissioned 13 murals focusing on Modesto’s rich Graffiti heritage. Murals like these not only tell a positive story about our hometown, but they also encourage the entire community to get involved, create, and celebrate. - Karlha Davies, Vice President, “Murals in Motown”

architecture began with the Heckendorf house, and, in the following years, many other significant pieces of architecture were built and are here to enjoy today. The Modesto Art Museum has so far identified more than 85 Modernist buildings and 132 ✦

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landscapes from 1939 to 1972 by noted midtwentieth century designers including Frank Lloyd Wright, Gardner Dailey, Anshen and Allan, William Turnbull, Brian Green, Joseph Esherick, SOM, and many more.

Top: Heckendorf House, 1939; John Funk, architect. PHOTOGRAPH BY BILL GIBBONS.



Not all the experimentation was successful. DeLappe’s adapted International Style plan for the Hall of Records included flooding the roof with water in an unsuccessful attempt to cool it during the summer. In the early 1970s, Christopher Alexander designed a group of buildings for the county mental health clinic on Scenic Drive that he considered of mixed outcome. The complex is a remarkable design and is significant because it helped Alexander refine his influential Pattern Language theory. Local designers Ray Abst, John Bomberger, and Kenneth Kaestner also made significant contributions to the development of Modernist design in Modesto, especially in the local banks and schools. Mitchell Van Bourg was clearly influenced by his Architecture ✦


Right: Modesto Commerce Bank, 2008; Mark Horton, architect. PHOTOGRAPH BY CARL BAGGESE.

Below: Modesto Savings and Loan, 1965; Mortensen and Hollstien, architects. PHOTOGRAPH BY SCOTT MITCHELL.

Harvard professor, Walter Gropius, in his design for the new Stanislaus County Courthouse (1960) on 11th Street. The 1965 Modesto Savings and Loan Building at 10th and I by Mortensen and Hollstien is a Modernist gem.

MODESTO ARCHITECTURE F E S T I VA L Architecture is celebrated in the City of Modesto. Since 2008, the city has hosted the Modesto Architecture Festival, a multiple day event with dozens of free events, activities, talks, movies, and tours. Produced by the Modesto Art Museum and the Sierra Valley Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, the award-winning festival draws more than 5,000 people annually. The architecture of a city and the interest and care that a community puts into its built environ-

GROUNDBREAKING ARCHITECTURAL DESIGNS I have a fondness for Modesto. I grew up here. But, the affection for this wonderful town didn’t develop until after I had the opportunity to travel. I enjoyed rummaging through architecture in Arizona, Denver, Washington DC, and Nevada, to name a few. After those visits, I developed an appreciation for the history and culture Modesto has to offer. The city has some noteworthy architectural landmarks and was a testing ground for midcentury modern architecture during the ’40s and ’50s. Architects and developers together created groundbreaking designs that were, and still are, beautiful and functional, such as the Heckendorf House (1939) by John Funk. The excitement for me doesn’t stop in the ‘50s. The talented architects of today, along with forward-thinking clients, are dreaming up new and creative buildings. The future is bright for Modesto and the remarkable architectural gems are there for those willing to look. - David Burkett, AIA, architect

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ment tell us something about the people who live in that city. For most of the twentieth century, we see from their building and landscape projects that the people were confident and optimistic about the future of Modesto. They were willing to invest money, not just on utilitarian buildings, but on the best designed and aesthetically pleasing buildings that were possible at the time. They embraced experiments with cutting edge design, not just in commercial and civic building, but even in their own homes. These progressive people built the Modesto we know today.

E N G A G E D A N D I N V O LV E D Modesto has a number of challenges, not the least of which is its general negative perception in the media. The cool thing about Modesto is the engagement by people to counteract this negative publicity. There is a unity of people putting efforts toward improving the city unlike anything I've ever experienced. This common enemy being met by people fighting for a common goal creates a uniquely exciting and positive environment. There are so many people here passionate about seeing their city succeed that makes it a great place to live. I call myself a Modestan because I am part of the solution here. I am engaged and involved in community development efforts and I feel like I'm needed and a part of the large team working to significantly improve our city. I have friends here, family here, and a hope for a bright future here. - Jay Pink, attorney, Gianelli & Associates









A RICH HISTORY The business community has a rich history that has prevailed for well over 100 years. The Modesto Chamber of Commerce was officially created in 1912 as a successor to the Modesto Business Men’s Association and the Modesto Boosters Club. The Modesto Business Men’s Club was comprised of a group of local business people who banded together to promote Modesto’s business interests. One of the organization’s first major accomplishments was the construction in 1912 of the iconic Modesto Arch, which spans I Street at its intersection with Ninth. The development of this centerpiece of Modesto’s growing downtown involved the entire community. A contest was held to select the design, as well as a slogan, that was later worked into the Arch. “Water, Wealth, Contentment, Health,” the phrase which actually took second place to “Nobody’s Got Modesto’s Goat,” still graces the Arch. This slogan continues to inspire and guide us today as a business community and a city of great neighborhoods. The Modesto Bee was started in 1924 as the Modesto News-Herald. It dropped News-Herald to officially become The Modesto Bee in 1974. E. & J. Gallo Winery was started in 1933, Foster Farms in 1941. McHenry Village opened in 1953. Doctors Medical Center was dedicated in 1967, Memorial Medical Center

Brian Swander, Farmer’s Market, oil.

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in 1970. Through the years, these businesses were key cornerstones of our economy and continue to thrive today. The Modesto Chamber’s mission has been, and continues to be, “To promote the region’s economic strengths and vitality; identify and promote services that are valuable to our business members; advocate for public policy that is advantageous to the business community; fully participate and partner in activities to improve quality of life for all of our citizens.” In the 1930s, the Chamber endorsed Ninth Street as the main highway artery through Modesto. It also supported the expansion of Modesto Junior College and drafted a long-range plan for an extensive list of local improvements. These included, among other things, enlarging

our municipal airfield, as well as lobbying for a dormitory at Modesto Junior College. The fiveyear plan also included a new civic auditorium, an annual county fair, and the creation of Lake Modesto. A decade later, the Chamber advocated making Highway 99 a four-lane highway between Stockton and Bakersfield. In the 1950s, Modesto enjoyed post-war prosperity and received its first designation as an “All-America City.” The Chamber partnered with the City of Modesto to establish an industrial department to serve existing industry and to attract new companies to town. It was during this time that the plan was initiated to widen McHenry Avenue and Yosemite Boulevard. During the 1960s and early 1970s, Modesto had a thriving downtown, as well as a large


Dan Costa. As an All-American city, Modesto is a perfect place to

I was born and raised in Modesto. I started multiple businesses here. Through the years, my hometown has proven to be a great place to do business. I like to compare it to a watermelon, with the rest of the country being the watermelon and Modesto its heart. That’s because, as an AllAmerican city, it’s a perfect place to test market a product. If it works here, it’ll work anywhere. Modesto offers a terrific infrastructure for business, including a reliable work force, access to transportation, abundant raw materials, and a solid customer base. It’s also a place with a lot of folks like me who were born and raised here. When I visit other California cities, most of the people I talk with are not from there; they’re from “someplace else.” Not Modesto. Many local families have been here for generations. There’s a stability and comfort in knowing that. I have been fortunate to shepherd many successful businesses. That has allowed me to give back to the community that gave me my start. I can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing than living in and supporting the city I call home.

test market a product. COURTESY OF INNOV8 PARTNERS.

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- Dan Costa, CEO, Innov8 Partners

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business and retail complex at McHenry Village. E. & J. Gallo Winery and other businesses were continuing to grow in the Beard industrial tract. Save Mart Supermarkets grew from four to five grocery stores, eventually expanding to become one of the largest regional supermarket companies in the entire country. The regional Vintage Faire Mall opened in 1977, and the once thriving downtown business community began a transition to a new wave of retail. The mall also had its impact on locally owned businesses in McHenry Village. In 1988, the Red Lion Hotel, later purchased by DoubleTree by Hilton, and Modesto Centre Plaza also opened.

R E V I TA L I Z I N G D O W N T O W N In the 1990s, plans were developed to revitalize downtown with the construction of new government buildings that included 1010 10th Street. This facility became the new headquarters of the City of Modesto, as well as housing the consolidated Stanislaus County government offices. The Brenden Theatres complex was completed in 1999. New restaurants opened in this same time period, including Galletto Ristorante, an upscale, white tablecloth restaurant that owner Tom Gallo established in 2001 inside a converted and totally remodeled bank building. This new activity launched a resurgence and revival of downtown Modesto.

During the mid-2000s, growth was hit hard by the great recession that impacted the whole country. Retail and other business were not only slowed, but many were forced to close. Local nonprofit groups have had an equally significant impact on the marketing of Modesto. The North Modesto Kiwanis undertook the resurgence of our American Graffiti heritage, sponsoring and producing an American Graffiti Festival & Car Show that has attracted over a thousand custom and vintage cars to Modesto every June since 1999. We have visitors from all over California and other states that come to participate and view this automobile extravaganza.


Below: Tenth Street Place. PHOTOGRAPH BY CARL BAGGESE.

A STORIED HISTORY Modesto is a community with a storied history. The McHenry family has left a legacy on which the greater community was built. As Modesto grows, it is important to honor its past. The business community here understands that. With agriculture as the backbone of our economy, all sustainable business growth must never lose sight of that. To stay relevant we must grow and with that growth comes balance if we all work together for smart growth. - Ken McCall, Pacific Media Group, Stanislaus Magazine

Business âœŚ


A WIDE DIVERSITY OF INDUSTRIES A N D C O M M E R C E I N T H E VA L L E Y Owning a business that depends on local clients opened my eyes to the wide range of industries and commerce here in the valley. I wasn’t raised in Modesto, so the opportunity to work with business and public leaders has helped me connect with and understand my community. We have grown as a company and diversified our services to handle our client's marketing and advertising needs. Our clients rely on us to be experts on the technology side from digital marketing and social media to the latest web language, now that traditional media is a shrinking part of the marketing mix. You can blink and what you know of current technology has already changed. There is plenty of knowledge right here in Modesto.” - Julie Orona, Vice President/Art Director, Never Boring Associates, Inc.

Since its opening in 2007, the Gallo Center for the Arts has become an icon that is a magnet for all things downtown Modesto. This started another uptick in business in our downtown. During major downturns in our overall economy, our agriculture industry, which is the major driver of our local economy, continued to thrive and expand. We also experienced the growth of a very strong and robust health industry that employs thousands in well-paying jobs. The new Kaiser Hospital, which opened in October Tenth Street Plaza. A downtown assessment district will support improvements to established businesses. PHOTOGRAPH BY CARL BAGGESE.

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2008, the expansion of Memorial Medical Center, the new Doctors Medical Center’s Valley Heart and Darroch Brain & Spine institutes have all contributed to this expansion. There have also been other rehabilitation centers that have located to our city, bringing with them many needed jobs. Slowly, our retail and service industry have started to recover and we are once again seeing growth in our overall economy.

MODESTO IMPROVEMENT PA RT N E R S H I P In 2010, the planning started to replace our aging county courthouse. After many meetings with the Judicial Council of California’s state court system, the project was approved and funding was set aside to finance this replacement project. The City of Modesto and the court system settled on a downtown location encompassing an entire city block that will again promote resurgence in the core of our downtown businesses. This will be the single largest funded construction project in the history of downtown Modesto. After it is completed and occupied, a decision will be made regarding the best use of the old courthouse property. In 2015, the city and county agreed to support a downtown assessment district, which has the ability to self-assess funding for the purpose of improvements to established businesses in the downtown core. The district is known as the

The Mary Grogan Park Soccer Complex. COURTESY OF THE CITY OF MODESTO.

Modesto Improvement Partnership, which will work in conjunction with the existing Downtown Improvement District. The board of directors has hired a director and is in the process of developing an expenditure plan. With the continuing success of retail business at both Vintage Faire Mall and McHenry Village, as well as at other shopping area businesses, including an expanding restaurant and hospitability sector, we are optimistic that the service portion of our economy will continue to develop and provide employment.

AN OPTIMISTIC FUTURE The city is currently examining all assets it owns, including the McHenry Mansion, McHenry Museum, John Thurman Field, the municipalowned golf courses, the Mary Grogan Park Soccer Complex, and Modesto Centre Plaza. This review is being done with the ultimate objective of exploring how to better market these properties, as well as developing an overall strategic plan to finance and manage these assets. The city is involving many groups in this review. Their recommendations will assist in the marketing of Modesto as a destination to attract more visitors, will help grow more tourism, and ultimately, will boost the economy. The city and county asked the voting public to support a half-cent sales tax increase to support badly needed transportation infrastructure. With the passage of Measure L, Stanislaus County can look forward to more and better roads. It will also give the

county more leverage to obtain federal funding. It is believed it will help create more jobs and help support our existing industry, as well as bringing new industry and diversifying our economy. With all of these things in motion, we are optimistic for our future and confident we will continue to improve the quality of life for all of our citizens.

ENTREPRENEURIAL HEARTLAND OF AMERICA When thinking comprehensively about our rich history of business and agricultural innovation and success stories, it becomes clear to me that Modesto and Stanislaus County are the Entrepreneurial Heartland of America. With our rich and fertile soil; our unique climate; high density of wise, multi-generational business entrepreneurs; talented C-level corporate executives; and somewhat limited, but mighty, supply of hardworking craft workers and laborers, we see a long list of world-class families and firms that have stood the test of time. On top of that, we have a community of faithful and generous benefactors who are the catalysts for a full array of community services intent on leaving no person behind. This beautiful reality is quite evident to those in our community who have previously experienced life in other parts of our great country before locating here. They number in the hundreds, if not thousands. There are scores of these individuals and families who would never trade away their sense of opportunity, of community, and all they have found here in Modesto. I am proud to be one of those persons. - Pete Herrmann, Principal, NextStep Business Consultants

Business âœŚ


MODESTO’S TECH ECONOMY Technical vocational opportunities have existed in Modesto and neighboring communities for many years. Being an agricultural epicenter, Stanislaus County has been a hotbed for technological development in agriculture. However, in recent years, the existence of technological opportunities has begun to extend beyond the agricultural field and into IT and programming. In 2004, James Bates and David Darmstandler founded Datapath—a Modesto-based company that provides custom IT solutions to organizations. Datapath quickly found success as a service provider, with clients including large school districts, major municipalities, and fortune 500 companies. Their organizational impact garnered attention, and Datapath has been recognized each year by Inc. Magazine’s “500” and “5000” lists, as one of America’s fastest growing private companies from 2011 to 2015. While Datapath’s success put Modesto on the map as a provider of information technology services, significant strides have been made in recent years to further the growth of the computer programming community. Recognizing the existence of programmers within the greater Modesto area, Simeon Franklin, a programming language instructor for a Bay Area company, formed the Modesto Scripting Language Meetup (MSLM) in 2012. Though small initially, the Meetup began to unite a previously disconnected group of tech enthusiasts. When Franklin began work at Twitter in 2014, MSLM leadership was given to James Moore, who was later succeeded by Nate Bunney, the current MSLM organizer, in 2015. Over the past four years, MSLM attendance has grown in numbers and popularity. The existence of MSLM, a Modesto Google Developers Group, and other such groups has not only marked the existence of programmers in the Central Valley, but has also been a vehicle to foster both individual skills and a growing tech community. The rising attendance in social tech clubs, in addition to other indicators of a growing tech culture, caught the attention of the Stanislaus Business Alliance. David White and Kurt Clark recognized that Stanislaus County has long been a home to programmers who commute to jobs in the Bay Area. However, they also noticed the existence of independent contractors working in programming, graphic arts, and other tech-related fields. In 2015, the Stanislaus Alliance Small Business Development Center founded ModSpace to support the nascent tech economy within Stanislaus County. ModSpace is a collaborative workspace for independent consultants and entrepreneurs specializing in fields such as web development and computer graphics. Heather Rapinchuk is the current chairperson of ModSpace. In addition to housing local technical innovators, ModSpace has hosted several tech events, such as the 2016 Valley Hackathon. Organizers Nate Bunney and Phillip Lan helped grow the programming contest to include over 70 participants. The hackathons connect programmers in the Central Valley and raise awareness about Modesto’s budding tech economy. Oportun, a fin-tech institution with headquarters in Redwood City, California, caught sight of the emerging programming community in Modesto. In a progressive move, Oportun opened a Modesto location in April 2016 that now houses employees living in the Central Valley. With a limited supply of programmers in Silicon Valley, areas such as Modesto may help meet the growing demand for capable tech workers. Over roughly the past decade, the technological climate in Modesto has shifted. Programmers and IT professionals have begun to emerge in the area, as have companies to employ them. In the coming years, the Modesto tech community hopes to take the lead in providing growth opportunities for the Central Valley. - Phillip Lan, Digital Strategy Advisor, Business Development and Marketing at IBM, Hearst, and E.& J. Gallo Winery Nathan Bunney, Web Development Consultant; Founder, Inventaweb; Organizer, Valley Hackathon Heather Rapinchuk, Chairperson, ModSpace; Organizer, Valley Hackathon

Left: Modesto Scripting Language Meetup united a previously disconnected group of tech enthusiasts. PHOTOGRAPH BY NATE BUNNEY. COURTESY OF MODSPACE AND THE VALLEY HACKATHON.

Right: The Valley Hackathon helps raise awareness about Modesto’s budding tech economy. PHOTOGRAPH BY BONNI LAN. COURTESY OF MODSPACE AND THE VALLEY HACKATHON.

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“Creativity is piercing the mundane to find the marvelous.” - Bill Moyers, American journalist Everyone is a storyteller, everyone has a story to tell, and everyone appreciates a story well-told. Our lives, our experiences, and our world view are our stories. Each of us tells our stories from that unique perspective, whether it’s in a novel, a song, a painting, a poem, the volunteer work we do, or the way we live our lives. Michelangelo believed that every block of marble already contained a statue and it was the job of the sculptor to discover it. The same is true of every artist. We all carry the stories within us. We just need to find them and share them. A community is defined in part by its creative minds. Its success, vitality, and uniqueness are determined by the number and variety of genuinely visionary individuals a place can produce, cultivate, and share. Based on that metric, we feel Modesto is doing very well. Creatives are all storytellers at heart. They differ only in the form of their art. The following are profiles of some of the gifted creatives in our community. They tell their stories in their own words. They talk about their lives, their art, and their community.

Dorian Gibbons, Geisha, acrylic.

Creatives ✦


military was left out – Navy, Marines, Army, Air Force, and Coast Guard. - Barry Day, Musician, Silvermoon

W H AT W O U L D B E Y O U R DREAM PROJECT? WHY? I would love to sing in Antarctica and Australia, so that I would have performed on all seven continents! - Annalisa Winberg, International Opera Singer, Educator Top: Tammy Jo Schoppet. Middle: Barry Day. Bottom: Annalisa Windberg.

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.” - Martha Graham, American Dancer and Choreographer

W H O O R W H AT I N S P I R E D YOU TO BECOME AN ARTIST? Fingerprints in 3,000-year-old pottery! When I was 17, I worked at the Egyptian museum and spent hours staring at the ceramic work in glass cases. Twenty-five years later, a doctor’s recommendation to “get a hobby” started my artistic clay journey. - Tammy Jo Schoppet, Potter

W H AT H A S B E E N Y O U R M O S T R E WA R D I N G P R O J E C T ? Without a second thought—traveling overseas to entertain our troops. Silvermoon had the honor to take two Department of Defense USO Tours, which included ten countries and a special performance on the hanger deck of the USS Enterprise aircraft carrier in the Philippines. We performed for over 100,000 men and women during our combined tours. No branch of our 142 ✦

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W H AT D O Y O U C O N S I D E R Y O U R G R E AT E S T ACHIEVEMENT? After 40 years of teaching speech and theater at Modesto Junior College, I consider my greatest achievement to have been touching so many people, both young and old, who took my classes and performed in my productions. I often have former students tell me how much my Readers’ Theater class meant to them as they pursued careers in education. Former actors often tell me that the production they were in was one of the highlights of their academic

career. I also take great pride in the eight years that I was dean of the MJC Arts Division. During that time, I was a part of creating a new dance program, guitar program, humanities program, plus adding a diverse new staff in art, music, and theater. These instructors are now leaders in the arts community. - Jim Johnson, Ph.D., Educator, Director, Actor

ANY REGRETS ALONG T H E WAY ? Sometimes I think of a life led down a different path, and I kind of fantasize scenarios fueled by endless “what ifs”: what if I went to a four year university, what if I pursued a different passion, what if I did something else, what if, what if, what if? But, in the end, no, I can’t say I do have any regrets. It all works itself out eventually, one way or another. And, if you like where you are presently, then you can’t really regret where you’ve been. - Erikka Reenstierna-Cates, Dancer, Teacher, American Repertory Ballet

W H AT A R E Y O U R P L A N S F O R THE FUTURE? Above: Jim Johnson.

Annalisa and I have touched the lives of 500,000+ students through our AmazingVox School Residencies, which will continue. Also, I have developed some remarkable partnerships in the international philanthropic communities that will probably lead to interesting collaborations in the Balkans and other fascinating areas of the world, both as organizer and performer. Finally, I am again reinventing myself as a singer. I have performed internationally as a dramatic baritone and heldentenor. Now, I will return to the baritone category of roles. It is exciting to begin a new vocal adventure.

Bottom, left: Erikka Reenstierna-Cates. Below: Roy Stevens.

- Roy Stevens, International Opera Singer, Educator

W H Y I S A RT I M P O RTA N T ? HOW DOES IT BENEFIT PEOPLE? A COMMUNITY? I think art is maintenance on the universe. There is an artist in everyone and it can help reveal to yourself what is important to you. Making art requires that you listen to yourself. I am sad to see how art in all its many forms is Creatives ✦


A V I B R A N T, I N C L U S I V E W R I T I N G C O M M U N I T Y Writing can be a lonely endeavor, and breaking into the publishing world is often a frustrating experience. Many Modesto area authors have found camaraderie – and confidence – through a vibrant and inclusive local writing community. From informal groups meeting at local coffee shops to events centered around the downtown arts scene and Modesto Junior College, writers have a number of opportunities to connect and share their work with a larger public. MoSt (the Modesto-Stanislaus Poetry Center) hosts a monthly Tuesday poetry series at local restaurant “Barkin’ Dog Grill,” inviting poets from our area and beyond to share their work. The Queen Bean Coffee House is the scene of monthly poetry nights hosted by Summer Krafft, where participants perform in front of a packed house and members of the crowd often join in during the open mic period. Another popular event is Modesto Junior College English professor Sam Pierstorff’s popular “Slam on Rye,” which showcases talent from Modesto and around the country. Through the Stanislaus County Library system, writers have an opportunity to share their work at various events, including the annual Local Author Fair. On a larger stage, writers can interact with readers at Manteca’s Great Valley Bookfest, and a number of Modesto writers participated in Fresno’s inaugural LitHop in 2016. Our local bookstores, Barnes & Noble, and the beloved Yesterday’s Books, support a number of local authors and provide a venue for reading and signing. Modesto’s small but thriving arts community guarantees that writers don’t have to go far to find those with similar passions and to reach a reading public.

Stanislaus County Library Local Authors Fair. PHOTOGRAPH BY JAMES A. EWING.

- Paula Treick DeBoard, Author of The Drowning Girls and The Mourning Hours

Brian Swander.

being sidelined or eliminated in our educational system. I believe that the natural creativity we are all born with should be nurtured and encouraged. Whether you want to become an artist or choose another path, creativity is the foundation of all problem solving. A community is often defined in part by its commitment to the arts. - Brian Swander, Painter, Musician, Carpenter

W H AT W O R D S O F A D V I C E WOULD YOU GIVE TO THOSE W H O WA N T T O B E A N A RT I S T LIKE YOU? Taken from the words of poet “Spoken Reasons.” F.C.H.W—Faith, Consistency, Hard 144 ✦

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Work. Secondly, be sure to practice as you plan to perform. When you perform, perform as you have practiced. Finally, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Don’t let any obstacles block your aspirations. - Khalil Williams, Student, Saxophonist, Actor

WHY DID YOU COME TO S TA N I S L A U S C O U N T Y ? W H Y D I D Y O U S TAY ? I was born, raised, and educated in Stanislaus County, as well as Colorado. I’ve

really been here most of my life with the exception of spending time in Italy, serving my country in the military, and spending some time in Hollywood with Paul Henning, the producer of The Beverly Hillbillies. I call this great place of Modesto home and I like it. - Roberto Chiesa, Filmmaker, Documentarian, Media Producer

W H AT I N F L U E N C E H A S Y O U R H O M E T O W N A N D S TA N I S L A U S COUNTY HAD ON YOU? ON YOUR ART? I moved to Modesto in seventh grade. I had never really sung. I had a karaoke machine, but that’s about it. I joined choir. I started doing theater and taking voice lessons. My musical schooling began here and was so encouraged and fostered. I wanted to go to Juilliard and I didn’t have any musical background, outside of choir. My voice teacher suggested that I take classes and get some coaching, so I would be better at the theory. Everybody was so supportive of me. It felt like a huge achievement for all the people who had helped me finally get in. Modesto is a great place to grow up. I was afforded so many performing opportunities.

Above: Khalil Williams. Left: Roberto Chiesa.

- Morgan James, Singer, Songwriter, Actress

ON THE CUTTING EDGE OF C U LT U R E , T E C H N O L O G Y, A N D C R E AT I V I T Y We are on the cutting edge of culture, technology, and creativity. And it shows in our growing community arts scene, our incredible youth-focused technology innovation program, CodeX, and the many other creative innovations exclusive to our community. We’re a mix of grit, passion, and flavor; from our food to our history to our people. I’m an example of what Modesto is to the core: Born and raised in South Modesto by Dust Bowl refugees who never gave up and had a dream to make something great for their family. I am continuing that tradition as a local business owner and community leader. I hope to pass that tradition on to my children. - Mike Daniel, Partner & CMO, Final Cut Media

Creatives ✦


Above: Mike Pascale. Right: Morgan James. Below: Carolina Stevens.

IN ONE WORD, HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF? Imaginator. - Mike Pascale, Artist, Writer

W H AT I S O N E T H I N G P E O P L E WOULD BE SURPRISED TO KNOW ABOUT YOU? I grew up homeschooling around the world, following my international opera singer parents. This has given me a fascination with other cultures, as well as the performing arts. - Carolina Stevens, Student, Stage Manager, Actress

A few of the other creative people who have been profiled in Stanislaus Magazine include: Dorian Gibbons, painter, sculptress, designer; Nita Gunnarson, painter and educator; Dwight D. Mahabir, actor, singer, producer, director; John Mayer, educator, actor, director, producer; Scott Mitchell, photographer, educator; Wes Page, film, video, and radio storyteller and educator; Henrietta Sparkman, artist, educator; Jim Sanders, veteran, author; and Gillian Wegener, Modesto Poet Laureate, educator. “Creativity takes courage.” - Henri Matisse, French Artist Photographs by James A. Ewing. Interviews and images courtesy of Stanislaus Magazine.

TREMENDOUS CIVIC PRIDE I have only been here four years, but the people I have met and the tremendous civic pride in this community are what really make me feel proud to reside in Modesto. - Kole Siefken, Westmont Hospitality Hotel General Manager, DoubleTree by Hilton

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T H E B E S T- K E P T S E C R E T IN MODESTO Sometimes it seems the best-kept secret in Modesto is at 1015 J Street. When people walk into The Mistlin Gallery, they’re amazed to find a well-lit art gallery, tastefully exhibiting the work of local and regional artists right in the heart of town. Regular visitors and participants in the monthly “3rd Thursday Art Walk” know better. The Central California Art Association (CCAA), an all-volunteer group that operates the gallery, has been a part of the community for years, and the beautiful Mistlin Gallery has been in its present location since 2004. First, a little history. In 1942, a group of local artists formed the Modesto Art League, which evolved into the Central California Art League in 1952. The group was incorporated as a nonprofit a little over a decade later. For a number of years, the CCAA operated their gallery in the basement of the McHenry Museum. Once a year, they sponsored a Spring Art Competition, where art was displayed at the E. & J. Gallo Winery corporate headquarters. When the museum decided to expand into their basement, the CCAA had to relocate. With the help of generous donations from art patrons like Honda car dealer Tony Mistlin, Edna Mellis, and others, the current location was secured. The CCAA provides a number of services, including art education, art exhibition—both in the Mistlin Gallery and at other venues— cultural activities, and special events. CCAA has played a key role in Memorial Medical Center’s Complementary Therapy Program, which The Mistlin Gallery is a community treasure. provides therapy to cancer patients and PHOTOGRAPH BY VIRGINIA WHITE. COURTESY OF THE CENTRAL CALIFORNIA ART ASSOCIATION. caregivers through artistic expression. In addition, support and recognition for young artists in the region comes through the CCAA’s annual “Young@Art” exhibition, which features work by young artists from ages two to 18. The Art Scholar Program provides art instruction to underserved high school students. In recent years, the CCAA has expanded its outreach to area schools through their CLASS program, providing art instruction in public schools. However, the real appeal is the gallery itself. For those who enjoy and appreciate art, The Mistlin Gallery offers ten different exhibits each year, including several competitive events. The Gift Shop has one-of-a-kind jewelry, ceramics, and small format original artworks and prints, as well as cards for gift-giving. The gallery is open to the public and admission is free. It is a great place to view and purchase art. Plan on visiting the Mistlin Gallery regularly. You will see something new and different with each visit. And tell your friends. The Mistlin Gallery deserves to be a community treasure, not a best-kept secret. - Tony Pooler, President, Central California Art Association

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THE CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES OF THE FUTURE Linda Jones, California Foothills by Knights Ferry, watercolor.

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It is hard to write about the future of Modesto. There are so many alternatives and possibilities to consider. There are, however, a few things about which we can be fairly certain. The population of Modesto will continue to grow. It is estimated that it will reach as high as 300,000 in 20 years. People from other parts of California, other states and nations who seek the ambient climate and affordable cost of living will come to our area. With high birth rates locally, much of the growth will be internal; simply expanding and growing the families who already live here. Modesto began as, and will remain, an agricultural-based community. Increased automation of agriculture will decrease the need for unskilled labor, potentially adding to an unemployment pool that is already too large. However, with more vertical integration of agriculture, and increasing global demand for high quality foodstuffs, we can safely assume that agriculture will continue to be an important part of the local economy, even as the number and kinds of jobs and industries grow and change. The local economy will continue to diversify. Diversification will be necessary to leverage the skills of the local work force, to build upon emerging technologies, and to provide access to new economic sectors. This trend, in turn, will promote upward mobility for the educated and talented so they can stay, live, and work in the area. Education for our young people will be more important than ever. The role of education will be critical if we are to assure prosperity for the growing population. The graduates of California State University, Stanislaus, and University of California, Merced, will help provide a better educated, more competitive workforce, but every school and every district has to prepare students to be part of this new economy.

TOUCHSTONES: Life and Times of Modesto

Many of the influences that will shape Modesto in the future may come from the outside. Our physical and social connection to the other metropolitan areas of the state will get stronger. Our challenge and our opportunity will be to manage the influences and pressures to ensure the future that we want, not one that is dictated by outsiders.

URBAN FORM: W H AT W E B U I L D Modesto has perhaps the most successful downtown for a city its size in the valley. Modestans worked together for decades to improve our downtown and to re-establish it as the “heart” of the city. Continued focus, building on the successful arts and entertainment venues provided by restaurants, theaters, museums, and the Gallo Center for the Arts, will create a lively downtown with appeal for everyone. Soon, a new high-rise courthouse will change the skyline, expand the footprint of downtown, and bring more offices, workers, and investments to the city center. Small shops, services, coffee shops, and even lofts or condos for those who want to live in a more urbane environment will enhance our downtown and provide a focus for the community. Modesto’s neighborhoods are strong and increasingly cohesive. First, the La Loma neighborhood, and then the College Area Neighborhood Association and Del Wood

IRVINE NEW LEADERSHIP NETWORK— C R E AT I N G C I T I Z E N L E A D E R S The Irvine New Leadership Network (NLN), a new civic innovation project in partnership with The James Irvine Foundation, launched in Stanislaus County in September 2016. The NLN brings together business, nonprofit, education, government, health, faith, and media leaders to work in the “dynamic space” between sectors—finding common ground and building trust—and then working together on important initiatives in the community. The overall goal of this program is to create a meaningful network of wellconnected citizen leaders who can help drive significant change in their community. To accomplish this, cohorts of 12 to 15 leaders immerse themselves in an intensive nine-day program, meeting three times over six months. These cohorts are then woven together to create one larger network. For more information, please visit - Stanislaus Community Foundation

Neighborhood Alliance have formed coalitions of neighbors, who take some responsibility for keeping the neighborhoods safe and clean. More neighborhoods, organizing and pulling together, will mean lower crime rates, safer routes for children, and an environment that supports remodeling and updating existing houses. Land use and urban form have always been part of local policy discussions, and they will continue to be in the future. Development is an important part of the local economy, as the city

Love Modesto, perpetuating the values of the community. COURTESY OF THE CITY OF MODESTO.

Our Future ✦


ARRIVING HOME I kissed my wife goodbye, turned, and boarded the bus. I put my right leg on the first step and hoisted myself up. I was not only climbing onto a bus; I was stepping out of my comfort zone. When I moved to Modesto from Phoenix, I vowed to become active in my new community. I heard about a unique program. One that exposed its participant to the movers and shakers who helped shape the area. “Leadership Modesto” was started by the Chamber of Commerce over thirty years ago and its alumni were the virtual “who’s who” of the community. The bus was heading to Bass Lake. The program starts with a weekend retreat. There, we would get to know one another, and spend a little introspective time focused on our personal style of leadership. I looked down the aisle and saw the faces of strangers who I would be not only spending the weekend with, but a Friday a month for the next ten months. I look back now at the moment, and recognize that it’s when I actually arrived home. Those strangers are now my friends. Today, I am an active member of the community and one that I hope is viewed as a positive difference maker. I found a bit of my voice on that bus. I also learned how lucky I was to now call this my town. For some reason, as a community, we are apologist. Sure, we have our challenges; what community doesn’t? Yet, what I found was that our people and their passion make this a place that not only has a rich history, but a bright future. - Elliot Begoun, Principal, The Intertwine Group

and surrounding areas work to enable housing and jobs for the growing region, while preserving precious agriculture resources. We will have to build neighborhoods where residents can live together and perpetuate the values of the community.

A SENSE OF OUR PLACE There are a variety of characteristics that make a place special and unique. A larger city and metropolitan area will bring challenges— more traffic, more crime, and greater frustration with the inconveniences that come with more people and crowded spaces. However, with more people will also come more amenities, including recreational activities for young people, shopping options, cultural venues, and economic growth. Our sense of place, here in Modesto, comes from a combination of experiences that encompass local knowledge, history, and our shared memories. It involves our unique experiences. We share an understanding of our place in the world; our connection to the land, the rivers and open spaces around us, our neighbors and neighborhoods, and our geography, as well as our demography. Our sense of place comes from the joy of concerts in the park and almond blossoms in the spring; from festivals and parades, charity events, bike rides, marathons, and cancer walks. Our sense of place is perhaps most uniquely demonstrated with the “Love Modesto” events that bring thousands of people out to work together to improve our neighborhoods and the community. There is a strong sense of place here. It is worth nurturing and protecting to make sure that Modesto remains a real community, not just an unconnected aggregation of streets, houses, and buildings.


“Leadership Modesto” inspires, grows, and unites the next generation of leaders in our community. COURTESY OF “LEADERSHIP MODESTO.”

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We have the world’s best soil for crops. We have taken leadership steps to provide a water supply that will serve us well, even as we struggle with huge statewide issues like the drought and groundwater depletion. Our natural advantages will continue to support this “growing” part of our economy. Modesto has

always valued agriculture, but it has traditionally been an assumption rather than a strategy. With increasing global demand for a safe, healthy food supply, an explicit strategy to support and ensure that our agriculture economy will remain healthy has to be a part of Modesto’s economic planning. However, agriculture alone is not sufficient to provide the economic engine needed to make certain that our growing city will prosper. Regional medical facilities and services are showing strong growth potential. Already, there are signs of a growing tech sector in the city. Work spaces for tech entrepreneurs, business incubators, and angel investors ready to provide capital and counseling could support home grown businesses, fundamental to a diversified local economic base. Creating and maintaining a workforce that can meet the needs of new

businesses and economic sectors will continue to be a challenge for the region, and will require improved collaboration between educational institutions, employers, and public agencies.

The El Viejo Post Office. The Modesto community nurtures and protects a strong sense of place. PHOTOGRAPHS BY SCOTT MITCHELL.

CIVIC ENGAGEMENT Below: Our community is making

A bright future for Modesto will depend on a shared and sustained vision. Local government will increasingly play the role of facilitator as investors, business leaders, and philanthropists assume a greater responsibility for change and development. While the city may provide the zoning and infrastructure for a regional medical center, it will be the private sector that builds the clinics, hospitals, and labs. While the city oversees basic water, roads, and utilities, it will be the private sector that builds processors, manufacturers, and incubators.

certain that our growing city will prosper. PHOTOGRAPH BY WILLIAM HARRIS, WILLIAM HARRIS PHOTOGRAPHY.

Our Future âœŚ


A P L AY F U L O P P O R T U N I T Y T O R A I S E AWA R E N E S S A B O U T A S E R I O U S I S S U E While hidden away, domestic and sexual violence is immune to cure, so it’s critical to open communication about this scourge. Haven Women’s Center of Stanislaus was founded in 1977 as Haven/Stanislaus Women’s Refuge Center, providing domestic violence support services to battered women and their children in Stanislaus County. By 1993, following a merger with the Stanislaus Rape Task Force, Haven Women’s Center of Stanislaus became a comprehensive provider of vital community services and advocacy for victims/survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. How do you get people talking now, so they can prevent it from happening? In 2014, to Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club supporting a Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event to raise public awareness of promote public awareness in Stanislaus sexual and domestic violence. County, Haven ran its first Walk a Mile in Her PHOTOGRAPH BY MAY RICO. Shoes (WAM) event in downtown Modesto. An ever-increasing number of men, women, ® and their families are joining the award-winning Walk a Mile in Her Shoes : The International Men’s March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault & Gender Violence. A Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® event is a playful opportunity for men to raise awareness in their community about the serious causes, effects, and remediations to men’s violence against women. Having walked in two of the three annual WAM events, I was one of 200 to 275 men who wore red high heels to gingerly and un-artfully walk roughly 1,700 strides from the Gallo Center for the Arts up I Street, over to 16th Street, back on J Street to 10th, and return to the Gallo Center, bruised and sore. As they say, “You can’t really understand another person’s experience until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” But, in a perfect example of mind over matter, I was proud to not just have written a check in support of Haven, but to have joined these other men to publicly declare NO MORE to the criminal bullying and terrorizing done to vulnerable women and men. It’s not easy walking in these shoes, but the more we get men talking about the problem, the closer we’ll be to hardening the target by removing these despicable acts from the dark shadows into the light where we can better police the offenders and protect the isolated victims who desperately need our help. We encourage all men to walk in WAM every April in downtown Modesto. Every man’s voice counts to attack this insidious problem. ®

- Phil Trompetter, Board of Directors, Haven Women’s Center of Stanislaus

Civic engagement at all levels will be essential to tap into the newest and most creative ideas, and find ways to monetize opportunity, encourage entrepreneurs, and move nimbly to take advantage of trends and community choice. A stable local government that can facilitate change without controlling, in tandem with an interested, engaged civic sector, will enhance and expand the possibility for accomplishment and community prosperity. It is the tradition of visionary leadership shared between the public and private sectors that will guide and help steer 152 ✦

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the future. And that collaborative trait is a fundamental part of our character.

THE KEY IS PEOPLE Young people, who left to find their fame and fortune elsewhere, are coming back to Modesto. They now see their hometown as a good place for their families; where their roots run deep and life is simpler and less chaotic than in the Bay Area or in Southern California. With them comes new energy and new perspectives. Their leadership and

optimism is being felt in community organizations, businesses, and religious institutions. Local governments, educational support groups, charitable organizations, and the arts are all benefitting from the enthusiasm and participation of a new and/or returning generation of expatriate Modestans. Neighborhoods in Modesto are strong and will get stronger. Neighbors know each other, children can play together, and elementary schools serve the families who live in the area. Human connections—across ages, genders, and cultural backgrounds—create incredible bonds, and will be key to our successful future. Building on these connections, Modesto will find ways to include the rich cultural diversity of people, already living and working here, in our civic activities and community leadership, which gives everyone a stake in the success and prosperity of the community. Inclusion, participation, and mutual support will strengthen Modesto, and be important to our success in a global economy.

NO GUARANTEES A successful Modesto has not been—and will not be—without its challenges. If there had not been an organized, informed, and inclusive civic culture, Modesto would never have approved the formation of a public utility district with its own power supply. That wasn’t an easy decision, and many opposed it, but Modesto voters saw a future that would give us inexpensive power and a safe and secure water supply. We continue to benefit from that foresight and vision today. Modesto also made the difficult political decision to build a convention center and a performing arts center to anchor downtown. Several elections revolved around whether or not those were good decisions. Today, those are no longer issues, and the old controversies have faded away. These decisions, which benefit us in the present, were the result of courageous, persuasive, and consistent leadership by Modestans in the past. Success is not certain. There are twists and turns in the road that lies ahead. We could reject new ideas and try to live in the past. We could fail at educating our young people, making employment an elusive goal. We could ignore the gangs, crime,


M O D E S T O — A G R E AT C I T Y T O G R O W U P I N AND GROW OLD IN I foresee a day when the majority of the public and private conversation about our city is about the great servant citizens we have, neighbors watching out for each other, concerned about the well-being of the people on their block. Another thing we’ll be looking for is an intentional move by our local governments to invest resources to strengthening leadership at the neighborhood and community level. If we’re successful, we’ll see an increase in the numbers of churches, businesses, and citizens acting together on their own behalf to improve their schools, create more jobs, cut the crime rate, and make true the saying, “Modesto—a great city to grow up in and grow old in.” – Marvin Jacobo, Executive Director, City Ministry Network Originally published in the April 27, 2014 edition of The Modesto Bee.

The key to strengthening Modesto’s success is giving everyone a stake in the success and prosperity of the community. PHOTOGRAPH BY CHRIS MURPHY. COURTESY OF LOVE MODESTO AND MODESTOVIEW.

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and drugs that are a threat to our community. We could refuse to make the necessary investments that will be the foundation for the future. We could lose our sense of community and become just another bland agglomeration of roads, homes, and structures. But, based on the past; based on our history of courage, vision, and leadership, I don’t believe that will happen. I am confident Modesto’s future is bright. It is splendid in its diversity and opportunities. It will be exciting and worthwhile to be part of the coming decades in our city. It won’t be easy, but we have never taken the road most travelled. We have a history of taking the right road, overcoming obstacles, and reaching our goals. That is the future I am counting on for Modesto.

Collaboration is a fundamental part





Streetsblog California recognized Modesto for its bike-friendly improvements, naming it a “Bicycle-Friendly Town.” Streetsblog California is a website that informs Californians about ways to improve an outdoor lifestyle through walking, biking, and transit. By adding buffered bike lanes, building roundabouts, and walking paths like the Virginia Corridor, the city is becoming known for encouraging healthy outdoor lifestyles. Modesto topped the list of California cities taking part in National Night Out. The city won first place in the state for participation in its size category and finished fifth in the nation. National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live. featured the E. & J. Gallo Winery in their online article, “9 Companies as Cool as Google.” The story featured nine companies whose corporate culture and values have consistently led to long-term employee and job satisfaction. According to the article, “Gallo is a large enough company that there’s plenty of room to move across the organization based on your career interests, but small enough to build relationships across teams and departments.” The city’s focus on technology earned Modesto a “Digital Cities Award.” The city deployed several projects that engage citizens and boost the city’s commitment to effective, responsive, and transparent government. Some of these include the police department’s Real-Time Crime Center and the GoModesto! mobile app. In a WalletHub report, Modesto was listed as the seventh “Most Fun” city in California, based on the number and variety of entertaining and cost-effective activities. The study compared the 150 largest cities across 51 key metrics, ranging from “number of fitness clubs per capita” to “movie costs.” Modesto was ranked in the “100 Best Places to Live in the USA,” compiled by U.S. News & World Report. To make the list, a city had to have good value, be a desirable place to live, have a strong job market, and a high quality of life. - Amy Vickery, public information officer, City of Modesto (July 2015-July 2017); public information officer, Stanislaus County Excerpted from Our Community Matters, a monthly newsletter published by the City of Modesto.

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CONNECTING FOR GOOD The third “Connecting for Good” event took place on April 28, 2016, and brought a capacity crowd to Modesto Centre Plaza for a day with Dave Viotti and Smallify. As the day progressed, we watched hundreds of attendees develop bold yet actionable approaches to the vexing challenges they face daily in their community work. Stanislaus Community Foundation has supported the “Connecting for Good” event for the past three years, as one of many ways we invest in our region. All of our work—whether through our grantmaking, our conferences, or our regional initiatives—is underscored by a singular, core belief: Stanislaus is at a tipping point. What does it mean to be a community at a tipping point? It means we have a critical set of choices to make. We can choose business as usual: focused only on our organizations, led by our unique funding streams, building relationships only defined by contracts, focused on agendas and deadlines and the headlines that tell us we’re at the bottom of various national lists for various things. Or, we can make an entirely different set of choices. We can: • Choose mission over brand. Put aside your organization’s agenda and see yourself in a larger movement for change within your respective field, whether that’s education, healthcare, the local economy, etc. Ask yourself: “How can my organization’s mission align around a common agenda?” • Choose to view our community as a network or hive. When one of us isn’t winning, the rest of us aren’t winning either. This means open-sourcing relationships and building trust so that change happens quickly. • Choose relentless curiosity. We think we must possess all the answers when, in truth, we really could benefit from asking more questions. This commitment to inquiry leads to some challenging conversations about what we all take for granted as hard facts. It means we’ll tip some sacred cows on the way. • Choose empathy. Instead of averting our eyes, we can try to walk in the shoes of the people we want to help. We can cultivate deep empathy by putting aside our assumptions and learning what it means to be poor in Stanislaus County. We can begin to view the issues faced by the working poor, not from our perch as service providers and funders, but through the lens of the human being who experiences poverty first-hand. When you arrive at this place of authentic understanding, that’s when innovation can begin. • Choose experimental design. It’s not a linear path to solutions. Oftentimes, it’s the zigzags that lead to meaningful change, and these curves require patience and what I call “intestinal fortitude.” We all love our rigid plan and we all love our tangible programs. But, remain open to possibility and even serendipity along the way. • Choose to fail fast. The best way to learn is to try something new and fail at it. But, the key is to stay riveted by that failure so that it teaches you and refines your work. We see many individuals in our community already selecting from the above set of innovative choices, which makes it an incredibly exciting time to live in the Central Valley. For our part, Stanislaus Community Foundation will continue to invest in the local capacity for change through our grantmaking and our leadership initiatives. We look forward to supporting your good work.

Above: “Connecting for Good” sessions help citizens develop bold yet actionable approaches to the challenges we face each day in our community work. PHOTOGRAPH BY BILL WOOD, BILL WOOD PHOTOGRAPHY. COURTESY OF THE STANISLAUS COMMUNITY FOUNDATION.

Below: The Stanislaus Community Foundation invests in the local capacity for change. PHOTOGRAPH BY BILL WOOD, BILL WOOD PHOTOGRAPHY. COURTESY OF THE STANISLAUS COMMUNITY FOUNDATION.

– Marian Kaanon, President/Chief Executive Officer, Stanislaus Community Foundation

Our Future ✦






Michael J. Mangano, Michael J. Photography & Design, Echoes of the State, ghost photograph.

Trivia can be defined as “unimportant facts or matters.” It also can be interpreted as “little known facts” about people, places, or things. For the sake of the following information, let’s use the second definition, since everything that follows may be little known to many, but historically significant nonetheless. That old 1970s game of Trivial Pursuit classified its trivia by distinct categories, so we will do the same to make it easier to find information that may be of interest.

GEOGRAPHY Before white settlers decimated the Native American tribes inhabiting the area, four thousand Yokuts lived in the region. The initial crop grown in the region was wheat, which, until the railroad arrived, had been shipped by river to the Port of Stockton. The Central Pacific Railroad was responsible for the original mapping of the street grid in Modesto. Many of the original buildings in Modesto were moved from the river towns of Paradise City and Tuolumne City, including the two-story Ross House Hotel building, which arrived in two pieces. The Modesto Arch is located across the original state highway route that ran through town on I Street. The arch was dedicated in 1912 and christened with canal water. China Alley, in an area bounded by Seventh, Eighth, and G Streets, was active in the late nineteenth century. Tunnels as deep as 14 feet below ground connected many of the buildings in this area. La Grange Dam was built by the Turlock and Modesto Irrigation Districts and completed in 1893, but water did not flow into the irrigation canals until 1903. Anti-irrigation lawsuits 156 ✦

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stymied the completion of the system for ten years. Modesto threw an irrigation “jubilee” in 1904 and took visitors on train tours of the entire irrigation district.

E N T E RTA I N M E N T Modesto’s first performance space was located in a loft above Ross Livery Stables on the south side of I Street, between Ninth and 10th Streets, according to early historian and former mayor, Sol P. Elias. It was called simply, “The Theatre.” The first presentation by the Modesto Amateur Company was Ten Nights in a Barroom, which premiered on February 9, 1872. On May 3, 1944, the Hotel Modesto burned in a spectacular fire. Among the throng of people watching the spectacle were Dorothy Lucas, nine months pregnant, and her daughter, Kate. Two weeks later on May 14th, Dorothy gave birth to George Walton Lucas, Jr. Kate would later say she was fearful her mother might go into labor on the street while watching the fire. Modesto High School graduate, Harvey “Harve” Presnell, was headed for a career in opera when Meredith Willson heard him sing and had him audition for the role of Leadville Johnny Brown in The Unsinkable Molly Brown. He played the role on Broadway opposite Tammy Grimes and on film opposite Debbie Reynolds. He would later be cast in several films and many television programs and play the role of Daddy Warbucks on stage in Annie over 2,000 times. During the 1965-1969 run of Barbara Stanwyck’s The Big Valley on television, the

Barkley clan often visited Modesto, since their ranch was located near Stockton. The Briggsmore Theatre, located on McHenry Avenue, was the first new movie theater since 1934 to be built in Modesto. It was a state-ofthe-art, 70mm, six-track stereo theater with 524 seats. The first feature was The Sound of Music, which played for 14 weeks. At that time, most movies played in Modesto for a week, at most. This theater would later welcome George Lucas for the premiere of his Modesto-based film, American Graffiti, in 1973, and eventually host the local opening of Star Wars, in 1977, with the introduction of a new Dolby sound system, and comments from George Lucas, Sr. In 1976, Peter Bogdanovich brought Ryan O’Neal, Burt Reynolds, Tatum O’Neal, and the rest of his players to Modesto to film Nickelodeon. The movie was shot in and around town, using the old ice warehouses on Ninth Street as sound stages.

Above: The 1904 Irrigation Jubilee. There are many little-known facts about Modesto. COURTESY OF THE MCHENRY MUSEUM.

Below: The Ross House Hotel (center) arrived in Modesto in two pieces. COURTESY OF THE MCHENRY MUSEUM.

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At the time it opened, the state-of-theart Briggsmore Theatre was the first new movie theatre since 1934 to be built in Modesto. COURTESY OF THE MCHENRY MUSEUM.

In the early 1990s, famed movie star Elizabeth Taylor stayed in Modesto at the Red Lion Hotel (now the DoubleTree by Hilton), while visiting her seventh husband’s mother, who was hospitalized at Memorial Hospital. Construction worker Larry Fortensky had married Taylor in 1991 in her eighth wedding ceremony (she married Richard Burton twice). Modesto made its animated debut as the location of the DreamWorks Animation SKG film, Monsters vs. Aliens, in 2009. Modesto was the location of a highly acclaimed television series on ABC called, American Crime. With little help from the community because of its controversial subject matter, the series was filmed in Texas with some background scenes shot in Modesto. Modesto has been mentioned in song, including “Holiday Hotel” by Loggins & Messina, “Modesto, My Destination” by Carla Piper, and “Modesto, You’re My Home Town” by Carol Channing, and in television commercials, including a Henry Weinhard spot.

HISTORY The story of the actual naming of Modesto is the stuff of legend. The closest and most accurate retelling is from Sol P. Elias in Stories of Stanislaus, where he says a convention was held, a vote taken and, with William Chapman Ralston in attendance and declining the honor 158 ✦

TOUCHSTONES: Life and Times of Modesto

of using his name, the Spanish term for modesty (modesto) was chosen “with great acclaim.” Modesto was founded in November 1870 when the Central Pacific expanded railroad lines into California’s Central Valley. This was a year and six months after the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad and the driving of the “Golden Spike” in Utah. Modesto replaced Knight’s Ferry as the county seat of Stanislaus County in 1871. Knight’s Ferry had replaced LaGrange as county seat in 1865. During the early years after its founding, Modesto was as wild and lawless as any western town. Front Street (Ninth Street) had saloons, brothels, and opium dens. Gunfights erupted daily. It took citizens becoming the San Joaquin Regulators, a group of vigilantes, to turn Modesto into a suitable place to live. Over the years, Modesto has had several visits by influential politicians. Whistle-stop visits included President William Howard Taft in 1909 and President Harry S. Truman in 1948. President Bill Clinton made a fundraising visit during his term in the 1990s. Candidate visits included Thomas E. Dewey in 1948 and Richard Nixon in 1950 and 1952. Both John Kennedy and Robert Kennedy were on whistle-stops that paused in Modesto, one in 1960 and the other in 1968. Vice President George H. W. Bush spoke at Beyer Park during his 1988 presidential campaign. Democrat Michael Dukakis, his opponent, spoke at Mancini Bowl in Graceada Park shortly after his nomination.




Prolific pulp fiction author and creator of the famous Dr. Kildare books, Max Brand, was actually Frederick Faust, who spent his formative years living with his uncle, Thomas Downey, in Modesto. He would later credit his experience in the Central Valley as inspiration for the many western novels he wrote, including Destry and Destry Rides Again. Thomas Downey was the first principal of Modesto High School. Modesto’s second high school bears his name. Francesco Nicolo “Frank” Mancini, a cofounder of the Modesto Symphony and renowned Modesto High School music teacher, played in a visiting orchestra at the Strand Theatre and decided to stay. He had originally

played with John Philip Sousa’s band at the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco. Modesto native James Algar was a top studio executive and close confidant of Walt Disney. He is listed as one of the main directors of the Disney classic, Bambi. He was named a Disney Legend in 1998. John Martel, a 1948 graduate of Modesto High School, writes highly acclaimed “legal thrillers,” such as The American Lawyer. He is also a composer, former lawyer, and U.S. Air Force pilot. From her marriage to former Modesto city council member, Harry Kullijian, in 2003, until his death in 2012, Broadway legend Carol Channing frequently lived in Modesto and performed, especially in summer concerts with MoBand at Graceada Park’s Mancini Bowl. Modesto currently boasts many former residents active in the arts, including Oscarnominated Jeremy Renner, Emmy-winning Robert Ulrich, Emmy-nominated Timothy Olyphant, Broadway performer Jeremy Stolle, Tonynominated stage and cabaret performer Sharon McKnight, television performer Lindsay Pearce, and singer, songwriter, and actress Morgan James, among many others. A sculpture by Betty Saletta of two teens and a portion of a mid-century automobile adorn a tribute to famed film director and Kennedy Center honoree, George Lucas, at the convergence of McHenry, Needham, 17th Street, and J Street in downtown Modesto.




The Tynan Hotel, built in 1890 at 10th and H Streets, boasted the city’s first elevator and used a system of voice tubes for guests to communicate from their rooms with the front desk. The hotel also boasted a clock tower, but no clockworks. Graceada Park, created in 1907, was designed with the help of John McLaren, designer of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. Modesto was the first city in the nation to recognize the importance of aviation. In its 1911 charter, the city included plans to develop a municipal airport. The J-7 (“The Rio”) airplane, which crashed in Modesto on July 14, 1921, killing local pioneer air pilot, Harold “Bud” Coffee, and three others, was built by Jacuzzi Brothers, Inc., in Oakland. It was

one of the first airplanes built to establish passenger service. The J-7 featured room for seven in an enclosed cabin. The Jacuzzi family abandoned their airplane and propeller business after the crash, which also killed Giocondo Jacuzzi. They went into plumbing and invented a hydro jet whirlpool system now generically known as “the Jacuzzi.” Loeb’s Department Store, located on 10th Street, between I and H, had a system of pneumatic tubes to transport cash and other papers from the sales floor to the office. The Modesto Ash tree was developed for the hot climate and clay-like soil of the city and planted all over town. Thought to be disease resistant, the tree has proven to be susceptible to leaf blight and causes significant sidewalk and street damage with its prodigious root system. After co-founding the world’s largest privately owned winery with his brother Julio in 1933, Ernest Gallo became a marketing whiz; so much so that unique stories of his prowess are still recounted. From his “What’s the word? Thunderbird!” campaign to hands-on rearranging of wine displays in local stores on shopping visits, he made sure the Gallo brand was always up front and clearly visible.



Above: Television performer Lindsay Pearce is one of many entertainers born and raised in Modesto. PHOTOGRAPH BY MARILYN DAYS PHOTOGRAPHY. COURTESY OF CONTENTMENT HEALTH & LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE.

Below: Graceada Park was designed with the help of John McLaren. COURTESY OF THE MCHENRY MUSEUM.


Modesto’s baseball team has been called the Reds, Colts, A’s, and Nuts and has been affiliated with the St. Louis Browns (1948), Pittsburgh Pirates (1949-1952), Milwaukee Braves (1953), New York Yankees (1954-1961), Houston Colt .45s (1962-1964), Kansas City Athletics (1966), St. Louis Cardinals (1967-1974), Oakland Athletics

Tr i v i a ✦


FAMILIAR MODESTO BASEBALL NAMES Modesto Reds, 1946-1961 Jim Brenneman, 1961 Pedro Gonzalez, 1959 Bob Roselli, 1953 Modesto Colts, 1962-1964 Joe Morgan, 1963

Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays. The New York Yankees and San Francisco Giants practiced in Modesto during the rain-delayed 1962 World Series. COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL BASEBALL HALL OF FAME AND MUSEUM.

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(1975-2004), Colorado Rockies (2005-2016), and Seattle Mariners (2017-present). Many famous players have found that their path to the major leagues included a stop in Modesto. Both Reggie Jackson and Rickey Henderson were named as Modesto’s representatives to the new California League Hall of Fame. During the 1962 World Series, seeking a place to practice away from the water-soaked field at Candlestick Park, the San Francisco Giants and New York Yankees traveled to Modesto’s sufficiently well-drained Del Webb Field (now John Thurman Field) to swing away. They would later resume the World Series in San Francisco when the rain stopped, with the Giants losing the series in Game 7. Downey High School graduate Joe Rudi was a three-time World Series Champion with the Oakland A’s and a three-time Gold Glove outfielder in the 1970s. Modesto’s Municipal Golf Course on Tuolumne Boulevard is located on the site of the city’s first airport, Bud Coffee Field. The Plunge was the name of a large swimming pool at Playland, a family recreation area located on Kansas Avenue near the Borden plant. Playland also boasted one of the finest steakhouses in the area. For those more daring, Nunes Drop near Morris and Virginia was the place to learn to swim and cool off in the triple-digit heat of summer. The drop was part of the irrigation canal at that location. Modesto’s Tisha Venturini-Hoch earned her place in United States’ soccer sports history by being part of both the 1996 women’s gold medal team at the Atlanta Olympics and the World Cup Champion 1999 women’s team.

TOUCHSTONES: Life and Times of Modesto

Modesto Reds, 1963-1974 Pedro Borbon, 1968 Jose Cruz, 1970 Rollie Fingers, 1966 Reggie Jackson, 1966 Joe Rudi, 1966 Ted Simmons, 1968 Angel Torres, 1973 Modesto A’s, 1975-2004 Lance Blankenship, 1986 Mike Bordick, 1987 Eric Byrnes, 1999 Jose Camacho, 1976 Jose Canseco, 1984 Nelson Cruz, 2004 Mario Encarnacion, 1997 Andre Ethier, 2004 Mike Gallego, 1981 Jason Giambi, 1993 Rickey Henderson, 1977 Chuck Hensley, 1981 Tim Hudson, 1998 Mark McGwire, 1984 Scott Spiezio, 1993 Nick Swisher, 2003 Miguel Tejada, 1993 Walt Weiss, 1985 Curt Young, 1981 Modesto Nuts: 2005-Present Nolan Arenado, 2009 Chad Bettis, 2010 Charlie Blackmon, 2010 Corey Dickerson, 2010 Dexter Fowler, 2007 Ubaldo Jimenez, 2005 Juan Nicasio, 2010 Troy Tulowitzki, 2006 Eric Young, 2007





THE NINETEENTH CENTURY William Harris, The Pink Cadillac,


1871 1872

1873 1874




• In October, the Central Pacific Railroad completes the street layout for the new village of Ralston. As late as November 18, it is still referred to by that name in published newspaper articles, as buildings are moved there from the river towns of Tuolumne City and Paradise City. • At a convention of citizens, William Chapman Ralston declines the honor of having the village named for him, and, due to his modesty, the location is named Modesto. • In a contentious election on September 6th, Knight’s Ferry loses its status as the county seat to the new town of Modesto. • Construction begins on the Stanislaus County Courthouse built on property donated by the Central Pacific Railroad on I Street, between 11th and 12th Streets. • The first church built in Modesto is the Congregational Church on I Street, between 12th and 13th Streets. • Modesto School District is established for students in the community. It is governed by a board of trustees under County Superintendent of Schools James Burney. • First Methodist Episcopal Church is built at 13th and H Streets. • Modesto holds its first Fourth of July parade. This yearly patriotic display continues to this day. • The Brick Schoolhouse, Modesto’s first school, is built at 14th and I Streets. It is also known as Fourteenth Street School. • Modesto Hook and Ladder Company, a volunteer fire department, is organized. • St. Stanislaus Roman Catholic parish is established in Modesto. A church is built three years later on Eighth Street, between J and K Streets, and is attended by visiting priests. • Rogers Hall, a commercial building built on I Street near Front Street, houses the first “legitimate” entertainment space in Modesto on its second floor. The formal opening is held on New Year’s Eve with a ball by the Hook & Ladder Co. • Modesto Gas Company begins operation. In 1930, PG&E purchases its plant. • The San Joaquin Regulators, a vigilante group, first appears. Formed in an effort to clean


Timeline ✦


1880 1881

1883 1884



1892 1893

1895 1899 1900

up the “murky atmosphere” of Modesto, they will reappear for the last time in 1884. • The population of Modesto is 1,693. • Nearly all the businesses on Ninth Street (The Front) are destroyed by fire. • First Presbyterian Church is built at 14th and I Streets. The church had been organized in 1879. • Father Patrick Walsh is appointed permanent priest at St. Stanislaus Church. • McHenry Mansion at 15th and I Streets is built by Robert McHenry (born Robert Henry Brewster). • There are 40 high school students enrolled in Modesto. • The Daily Evening News is founded and publishes continuously as a daily newspaper under a variety of names through the present. • Modesto is incorporated as a municipal city on August 6th, with a population of over 1,000 people. • California’s governor signs legislation March 7th authorizing the creation of irrigation districts. Modesto Assemblyman C. C. Wright introduced the bill. In mid-1887, local voters authorize the formation of the Modesto Irrigation District (MID). • Modesto High School graduates its first class on May 27th. There are seven girls and three boys and the ceremony is held at Rogers Hall. Among the graduates is future mayor and early historian, Sol P. Elias. • New homes are built east of downtown in the late 1880s. • The population of Modesto is 2,402. • Dr. Thomas Tynan builds a grand Victorian hotel at the corner of 10th and H Streets. The Tynan Hotel has a clock tower without a clock and boasts Modesto’s first elevator, as well as rooms with fireplaces. • Stanislaus County Hospital and Almshouse is built on Scenic Drive at a cost of $14,500. The Victorian structure will survive until 1950, when it is torn down to make way for a modern building. • Rogers Fountain is placed in the intersection of 10th and I Streets. It is dedicated on Decoration Day, in remembrance of Rogers’ family members. • Modesto Ice Company, established by Admer Brown, begins business. • Modesto Bank Building is constructed at the corner of 10th and I Streets. It boasts a working clock in its clock tower. The building is remodeled in 1922 and replaced in 1941. • Modesto Steam Laundry begins operation and continues in business for 114 years, until closing during the business recession in 2009. • A high school district is established for secondary education. • Modesto’s population is 2,024.





1907 1908

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• The Stanislaus County Courthouse gets a new Hall of Records. • Modesto’s first high school building is completed at 12th and L Streets. Eighty-one students attend school there, including eighth graders. • I. E. Gilbert and Company General Store, on the northeast corner of 10th and I, becomes Schafer’s. It is underwritten by Oramil McHenry for his brother-in-law, George Schafer. • First water flows through miles of MID canals to irrigate the fields of Stanislaus County. • The Modesto Irrigation District Jubilee is held April 21-22 to commemorate the opening of the irrigation canals and to celebrate the wedding of land and water. Trains take visitors from throughout the country on trips to see the irrigated fields of Stanislaus County. The city is ablaze with electric lights. California Governor and Mrs. George Pardee are in attendance. • Stanislaus County celebrates the 50th anniversary of its founding. • The First National Bank of Modesto is completed. • Oramil McHenry dies and his will bequeaths three 10th Street lots to the city plus $20,000 to build a library. The lots are sold and the library is built at a quieter location. • Rogers Fountain is moved to Courthouse Park because of increased traffic at its former location in the intersection of 10th and I Streets. • Sixth Street School, also known as Pioneer and Longfellow School, is established at Sixth and I Streets. The school is sold in the 1930s and converted to a church. • Modesto Canning Company begins operation on Ninth Street. In 1919, it is sold to Pratt-Low Preserving Company and later becomes Flotill, owned and operated by Tillie Lewis. TOUCHSTONES: Life and Times of Modesto


1911 1912



1915 1917 1918 1919 1920


1922 1923 1924

• Modesto’s population is estimated at 4,034. • Modesto adopts a new municipal charter. • George E. Wallace is hired as Modesto’s first paid fire fighter because he is good with horses. He is appointed fire chief in 1911, a job he holds for 39 years. • Real Estate Agent George Wren is elected mayor under the city’s new charter. • The Cressey Building, consisting of shops and apartments, is constructed on 10th near H Street. • The Modesto Businessmen’s Association completes construction of the iconic Modesto Arch. Erected at a cost of $2,000, the arch’s foundation is christened with canal water. • Oramil McHenry’s bequest is realized when the McHenry Public Library is dedicated on April 29th. The building is located at 14th and I Streets. • A fire destroys the Modesto Creamery building. The Milk Producers Association of Central California purchases the Ninth Street site in 1918. • The Modesto Theatre on 10th Street opens with a production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance, produced by the Modesto Chorale Company. • Modesto’s new St. Stanislaus Church is built in a Spanish mission style on Seventh and J Streets. • The Hotel Hughson and Hotel Modesto give Modesto two new opulent options for travelers and residents. • James Apartments on I Street near the library are advertised as “strictly new.” • Thomas K. Beard’s house at 102 Sycamore is built. Beard is founder of the Modesto and Empire Traction Company and an MID director from 1901-1907. • The interior of Modesto Theatre is gutted by fire, but owner William B. Mensinger immediately rebuilds. • Southern Pacific opens a new train station at the foot of J Street, across Ninth Street. The building matches St. Stanislaus Catholic Church’s Spanish mission style. • Production begins at the Borden’s Condensed Milk Plant. • The Seventh Street Bridge, or “Lion Bridge,” is dedicated on March 22nd. • A new campus for Modesto High School opens at First and H Streets with 545 students and a cost of $160,000. The campus remains in use today. • William W. Higgins establishes the Modesto Band, later known as “MoBand.” Francesco Nicolo “Frank” Mancini— ”Modesto’s Music Man”—takes over leading the band when Higgins dies in May 1922. • Modesto’s population is 9,241. • Modesto celebrates its 50th anniversary. • The resplendent Strand Theatre opens on 10th Street with The Mark of Zorro. Frank Mancini is a member of the grand opening orchestra and decides to stay in Modesto. • Modesto Junior College is founded under a new California act that establishes independent junior colleges. It is the first such institution in the state. The first junior college student to transfer moves from MJC to Stanford in 1922. • Modesto’s flying ace, Harold “Bud” Coffee, and three others, including Giocondo Jacuzzi, die in a fiery airplane crash near Maze Wren Park on July 14th. • A snow blizzard hits Modesto • The Black Building is constructed for $100,000 on I Street at 11th. • Modesto and Turlock Irrigation Districts dedicate Don Pedro Dam on June 25th. • The first meter is installed and electric power reaches Modesto customers. • George and Grace Covell open their upscale 70-room hotel at the corner of 11th and J Streets. The Hotel Covell is in the same block as the Hotel Hughson, and contains a movie theater known variously as the Richards, National, Princess, and Covell.

The Seventh Street Bridge, or “Lion Bridge,” is dedicated, 1917. COURTESY OF THE MCHENRY MUSEUM.

Timeline ✦


1925 1929 1930 1931 1933

1934 1936 1937 1940 1942


1946 1947 1948 1950

1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1959

• Construction starts on the Beaty Building. Tenants begin occupying in March 1926. The building is one of the only remaining 1920s structures in Modesto. • A new section is added to the Hotel Covell, bringing the number of rooms to 128. • Modesto’s population is 13,842. • The first performance of the Modesto Symphony Orchestra. Frank Mancini, Malin Longstroth, and Leonardo Fristrom founded the orchestra during 1929-1930. • Ernest and Julio Gallo open a small winery in Modesto with $5,900 borrowed from Ernest’s in-laws, the Franzias. • The Modesto Daily Evening News changes its name to The Modesto Bee and News-Herald. • Harvey “Harve” Presnell, stage, film, and television actor, is born in Modesto. • The new Modesto Post Office opens in October at 12th and I Streets. The building’s lobby features hand-painted murals commissioned by the WPA. • The art deco-inspired State Theatre, designed by famed architect S. Charles Lee, opens on December 25th. The first film is Flirtation Walk. • Carl Shannon home is completed on 17th and I Streets next to Shannon Funeral Home. Shannon serves as mayor of Modesto from 1939-1950. • The new Safeway grocery store opens on H Street. • Modesto’s population is 16,379. • The first California Relays take place at the Modesto Junior College Stadium. The relays are an annual event until 2008. • Hammond General Hospital, the largest military hospital on the West Coast, opens in Modesto. Over 24,000 soldiers are treated there during World War II. • The Hotel Modesto is destroyed by fire on May 3rd. The ruins will remain fenced-in until the late 1950s, when a new city hall is built on the site. • George Lucas is born on May 14th. Lucas will immortalize Modesto in American Graffiti in 1973 and launch the most successful film series in history with Star Wars in 1977. • The Modesto Reds join the reestablished California “C” League as an independent baseball team.. • J.C. Penney Department Store is built in downtown at a cost of $750,000. J.C. Penney’s nephew, Richard E. Penney, is the store’s original manager. • President Harry S. Truman speaks to a crowd during a September 23rd whistle-stop at Modesto’s train station. • Modesto’s population is 17,389. • Richard Nixon visits Modesto while running for Congress. • Mark Spitz, Olympic gold medal swimmer, born in Modesto February 10th. He and his family move to Hawaii when he is two years old. • Modesto’s second high school opens. The school bears the name of Modesto High’s first principal, Thomas Downey. • Mike Piccinini and Nick Tocco open their first Save Mart Supermarket in Modesto on Crows Landing Road. • In October, Richard Nixon speaks at Courthouse Park while running for vice president. • McHenry Village opens north of town on McHenry Avenue. It is the first major shopping center to lure businesses away from downtown. • Stanislaus County celebrates its Centennial. • Look Magazine names Modesto an All-America City. The city wins the award again in 1972. • B & T Market on H Street is renamed Angelo’s Market. Angelo’s had originally been the San Francisco Fruit Market. • Modesto opens its third public high school. The school is named after educator Grace M. Davis.

Left: Modesto Junior College is founded, 1921. COURTESY OF THE MCHENRY MUSEUM.

Right: Hammond General Hospital, the largest military hospital on the west coast, opens in Modesto, 1942. COURTESY OF THE MCHENRY MUSEUM.

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Left: McHenry Village opens north of town on McHenry Avenue, 1953. COURTESY OF THE MCHENRY MUSEUM.

Right: Modesto celebrates its Centennial, 1970. COURTESY OF THE MCHENRY MUSEUM.


1960s 1962 1966 1967 1968

1970 1971 1972

1973 1975 1976 1977

1980 1983

1984 1988 1990

• Modesto population is 36,585. • The new, red brick City Hall opens on the site of the old Hotel Modesto at 11th and H Streets. • Senator John F. Kennedy stops in Modesto while campaigning for the presidency on September 8th. • Many homes built between Fifth and Sixth Streets are razed for construction of a Highway 99 freeway bypass. The sunken, six-lane roadway disrupts much of the neighborhood feel of this part of Modesto. • The World Series comes to Modesto for a day on October 14th when the San Francisco Giants and the New York Yankees take batting practice at Del Webb Field. • Modesto’s first private Catholic high school, Central Catholic, is founded. A campus is eventually constructed on Carpenter Road, near Maze Boulevard. • The Briggsmore Theatre opens on McHenry Avenue on April 26th. The first film is The Sound of Music, which will play for 14 weeks in 70mm and six-track stereo sound. • Robert F. Kennedy stops to speak at the Modesto Southern Pacific Train Station on May 30 during a whistle-stop tour while campaigning for president. • Paul Tischer creates Modesto Youth Theatre and stages a production of The Boyfriend. The company will eventually become known as Modesto Performing Arts. • Movie and television actor Timothy Olyphant is born in Modesto on May 20th. • County Superintendent of Schools Fred C. Beyer and Assistant Superintendent Joseph Howard are killed in an airplane crash near Pacheco Pass on November 20th. • Modesto population is 61,712. • Modesto celebrates its Centennial. • The McHenry Public Library, built in 1912, is replaced by the new Stanislaus County Library, located on I Street. The original McHenry Public Library becomes the McHenry Museum. • On November 27th, Ernest and Julio Gallo appear on the cover of Time magazine. Their winery is extolled as the largest, privately owned winery in the world. • Modesto opens its third public high school and names it for late Stanislaus County Superintendent of Schools, Fred C. Beyer. • American Graffiti makes filmgoers around the world aware of “cruisin’” in Modesto. • The Modesto Bee and News-Herald abbreviates the name on its masthead to The Modesto Bee. • The Julio R. Gallo Foundation purchases the McHenry Mansion and gives it to the City of Modesto. After years of use as an apartment house, it is to become a museum. • Sears and J.C. Penney flee downtown to relocate in the new regional shopping center, Vintage Faire, located near Highway 99 in North Modesto. The indoor mall opens in March. • George Lucas’ Star Wars has a gala opening at the Briggsmore Theatre. The theater installs a new Dolby sound system for the occasion. • Modesto’s population is 106,963. • The McHenry Mansion is opened to the public. • Professional opera star Erik “Buck” Townsend establishes Townsend Opera Company in his hometown. • George Lucas appears on the cover of Time magazine on May 23rd for an article about Return of the Jedi. The Star Wars universe has been featured on seven Time covers. • As talk of refurbishing begins, a fire destroys the 64-year-old shuttered Strand Theatre. • Modesto Centre Plaza, a downtown convention hall, opens on March 3rd with a gala, “Bob Hope In Person.” • Modesto’s population is 164,730. Timeline ✦


1992 1993 1994 1998 1999


• Modesto’s fourth high school opens. It is named after former mayor Peter Johansen. • Julio Gallo, innovative winemaker and co-founder of E. & J. Gallo Winery, dies in a jeep accident. • The Hotel Covell is placed on the National Registry of Historic Places. • The Hotel Hughson and Hotel Covell are demolished to make room for Tenth Street Place, a building housing a new city hall and county administration offices. • The 18-screen Brenden Theatres complex opens on the site of the former Montgomery Ward Department Store and Strand Theatre. • Modesto gains national notoriety because of the Sund-Carrington murder case, as news reporters descend on the town to cover the “Yosemite Murders.” • Modesto’s population is 188,856. TH E T W E N T Y - F I R S T C E N T U R Y

2001 2002

2006 2007


2011 2012 2014 2016


• Modesto native, Ann M. Veneman, is sworn in as the 27th Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 2005, she leaves to become executive secretary of UNICEF. • The Chandra Levy murder in Washington, D.C. again focuses national attention on Modesto. Chandra is a Modesto native working for local Congressman Gary Condit, whose political career is irreparably damaged by the crime. • More national attention is focused unfavorably on Modesto because of the disappearance of pregnant Laci Peterson on Christmas Eve. The story eventually evolves into a murder case with her husband, Scott, convicted of the crime. • James C. Enochs High School opens in the Village One development. The fifth public high school is named after the city school superintendent. • Co-founder of E. & J. Gallo Winery, Ernest Gallo, dies on March 7th at the age of 97. • Long talked about, often planned and never realized, Modesto finally gains a performing arts facility. The Gallo Center for the Arts opens its two theaters in September. • Construction begins on a new St. Stanislaus Catholic Church on Maze Boulevard. • Modesto population reaches 201,165. • Modesto native and Beyer High graduate Jeremy Renner is nominated for a best actor Oscar for his performance in the years’ best picture winner, The Hurt Locker. In 2011, he is nominated for best supporting actor for The Town. • Modesto’s sixth public high school opens near Salida. It is named for late district administrator and educator, Joseph Gregori. • A fire started by Christmas decorations causes extensive damage to the front of the McHenry Mansion. • The Modesto Arch is refurbished with a new, low-energy LED lighting system and a new paint job in time for its 100th anniversary. Its twin flagpoles are also restored. • The Modesto Historic Graffiti Cruise Walk celebrates the history of cruising and American Graffiti in downtown Modesto. • Streetsblog California recognizes Modesto for its bike-friendly improvements and names it, “Bicycle-Friendly Town.” • Modesto places first in the state and fifth in the nation for cities its size participating in the National Night Out campaign. • E. & J. Gallo Winery is featured in an online article by entitled, “9 Companies as Cool as Google.” • Modesto earns a “Digital Cities Award” by implementing technology to provide better services to residents, including the police department’s Real-Time Crime Center and the GoModesto! mobile app. • WalletHub ranks Modesto as the seventh “Most Fun” city in California. • Modesto is included in the “100 Best Places to Live in the USA,” compiled by U.S. News & World Report.

Timeline compiled by Carl Baggese with research help by Judi Baggese.

Left: Modesto Centre Plaza opens, 1988. PHOTOGRAPH BY CARL BAGGESE.

Right: Joseph Gregori High School, Modesto’s sixth public high school opens, 2010. COURTESY OF MODESTO CITY SCHOOLS.

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BY KEN WHITE In recent years, Modesto has unfortunately and undeservedly been maligned by being included in the top ten on a number of derogatory lists about places to live, work, or retire. Most haven’t been flattering. These are lists compiled by people who don’t live here. People who look at us through the prism of statistics and interviews with jaded refugees. Bloggers who sit at their computers and use Wikipedia for their facts and figures. News readers who get their information from less than reliable or objective sources. Few, if any, have ever set foot in our town. Some are folks who grew up here, had a bad experience, left, and continue to blame their malaise and misfortune on the town. Regrettably, these people have not, do not, and will not look below the surface. Or spend time here. It’s impossible to know a place without being a part of the fabric of that place. Yes, we have homeless, but we have people and agencies that try to help them. We have crime, but we have a conscientious corps of vigilant law enforcement and charitable volunteers to counteract it. We have eyesores, but we have devoted community activists who work very hard to beautify and maintain our city. We have pollution, but we have committed citizens working diligently every day to reverse that. We have poverty, but we have organizations and schools, selfless advocates and educators dedicated to assisting people to change their circumstances. We have auto theft and meth labs, but we also have Graffiti Summer and farmers’ markets. We are far from the urban cultural centers of San Francisco or Los Angeles, but we have a symphony orchestra, an opera company, a performing arts center, a theater company, a minor league baseball team, and a ballet company. For every Scott Peterson, there is a George Lucas, Jeremy Renner, or Ernest Gallo. A town is its people and ours are stellar. Modesto has grown and changed, as everything does. We have warts, but we also have unexpected beauty. We are not Carmel, Eugene, or Santa Fe. We are much more than many other places. Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder. So is blight. People will see what they want to see. You cannot paint it black, nor can you paint it white. It is, like all things, a spectrum of gray.

Georgia Herrick, After the Rains, watercolor.

Afterword ✦


Making a difference by making it better. PHOTOGRAPH BY CHRIS GUPTILL. COURTESY OF OPERATION 9-2-99.

There are many in Modesto who are dedicated to making this a better place. Who are willing to praise it, not damn it. Some of them have contributed their stories to this book; a book we hope will also help change how our hometown is perceived and portrayed. Join us. Do your part. “Ever After” is “Here and Now.” You can make a difference by making it better.

MAKING OUR CITY A BETTER PLACE TO LIVE One of the results of Love Modesto that fulfills me so much is hearing about the high percentage of people who continue to volunteer and have pride in our city. The volunteer day is just a catalyst to spur people on to continual involvement in our city, neighborhoods, and schools. I want to see as many people as possible in our community reaching out and caring for others. This is really what Love Modesto is all about—loving our city year-round and not just one day a year. What if everyone knew and looked out for their neighbors? What if our schools were amazed by the number of people wanting to volunteer? What if our city became known for the overwhelming amount of loving foster families and known for how hard we work at keeping families together in the first place? Everyone can and should do something to make our city a better place to live. - Jeff Pishney, Executive Director, Love Modesto Originally published in the April 2016 edition of ModestoView.


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Modesto floats in people’s minds like a little formless island between one place and another. We know Modesto is not an island though, and the formlessness takes a thousand forms. Modesto has a middle-range voice, mezzo-soprano on some days, alto on others, And historically enjoys being accompanied by mandolin, harmonica, and standing bass. Modesto has alleyways, some dirt, some paved, some linking this thought and that. Walking down the alleys makes the neighborhood dogs bark in sequence. Winter in Modesto is a gray and hopeful gamble. Every day it might rain. It might not. Summer in Modesto is no gamble at all. Heat rises off the pavement like malevolent ghosts. Modesto isn’t someplace those not from Modesto think they want to live. Modesto ends up with its fair share of residents who are not from Modesto. Modesto is sometimes portrayed in films that need a Middle America. So far, we have not seen a realistic representation of our town called Modesto. Modesto has both a deep love for and a slight allergy to almonds, it turns out – They are thirsty, thirsty trees, but in spring we take family portraits amidst the blossoms. Modesto isn’t someplace that those from Modesto plan on staying Imagine the surprise at finding themselves parents of children born in Modesto. Caught on camera, Modesto can’t turn away from unflattering images. Of course, There is crime in Modesto; there are the thousand faces of grief and desperation. People from Modesto can tick off the names of movie stars from Modesto, But the writers, the musicians, the filmmakers, the painters…mostly anonymous. Modesto changes costume regularly. She cannot decide which she likes better – The pink and white flashiness of spring or the orange and yellow wildness of autumn. Many languages are spoken in Modesto: Spanish, English, Portuguese, Hmong. Also the languages of rivers, weather, seasons, streetlights, and traffic patterns. Caught on camera, Modesto can’t turn away from unflattering images. Of course, There is work to do in Modesto; there are the thousand faces of hope and action and love. Modesto’s history is made up of names and buildings and streets, of secret passage-ways, Of landmarks preserved, of landmarks razed, of trees and fizzled dreams and resurrected dreams. And in Modesto, the future’s unfolding – someone finds her footing, someone thinks big, Someone paints or writes or builds or plans, someone gathers others together, someone acts. In Modesto, the future’s unfolding – it’s chanting its Water, Wealth, Contentment, Health mantra. It’s looking into all the faces of all the good people of Modesto, eager to see what’s coming next.

Afterword ✦


CONTRIBUTORS ARTISTS Tyler Abshier creates landscapes and cityscapes rendered in a naturalistic combination of impressionism and sharp-edged realism. His goal throughout is to bring out the beauty of our ordinary landscapes in such a way that the viewer comes away with a new perspective on the region he or she lives in. Ed Ceseña is an award-winning painter whose work features, and was inspired by, the great jazz artists of past decades. Mostly self-taught, Ed began painting in his teens and hasn’t stopped since. “I just got to keep the brush moving,” he says. Chella has painted for over 50 years. She is a retired art instructor from the Modesto City School system. Her specialty is painting outdoor scenes (en plein air) of the disappearing farmland, as well as changing agricultural techniques and methods. Randy Crimmel has been doing pottery since 1972 and teaching since 1991. He has worked to find his creative voice in the traditions of pottery and ceramic sculpture. Tom Duchscher, a native Californian, has been teaching design, sculpture, and ceramics at Modesto Junior College for the past forty years. Professor Duchscher’s work has been exhibited throughout Northern California and the Pacific Northwest. His sculptures are visual experiences in themselves and are subject to change with both the environment and the observer. Linda Jones Ewing was born in Modesto, California, in 1952. After spending 34 years in Southern California, she and her husband, James, returned to Modesto, where she began exploring a variety of art mediums. Linda is the granddaughter of Dr. J.C. Robertson, who began Robertson Hospital on 12th and J Streets in Modesto in 1919. Dorian Gibbons is a native Modestan. Drawing, painting, and other creative pursuits seem to have been ingrained in her DNA. Now retired, she is able to follow her inspirations to create in a number of mediums. Georgia Herrick is a well-known local artist who has taught art for over 30 years, as well as serving in many other capacities with local and regional art groups. Her work, which encompasses portraits to landscapes and abstracts to still life, is rich and diverse. Bruce Klein is constantly surprised and spurred on by painting. It feeds his soul. He paints to trap small intellectual and emotional truths in a strong and original style. He feels lucky to be married to a beautiful woman who supports his life’s work. Yvonne Porcella specialized in bold and vibrant wearables and fabric art. Her work has been featured in major quilt shows, decorative art galleries and museums. She also wrote a number of books related to her work. Before she passed away in February 2016, she taught and lectured at quilting conferences, symposiums, and craft schools throughout the United States and Canada and in Australia, Europe and Japan. William “Bill” Scheuber was born and raised on a dairy in Modesto. He started to paint and draw on napkins in 1970. His main subjects are farm scenes and lighthouses. His napkin art is found in collections all over the world. Sue Siefkin has been sewing all her life. Her textile “paintings” reflect her love of nature and travel. Using collaged cottons and silks, she hand dyes and paints her fabric to achieve her desired palette and adds extensive threadwork detail. A member of Studio Art Quilt Associates and Country Crossroads Quilters, she is a retired Superior Court judge. Nicole Slater specializes in painting people set in fashion, weather, and places. As an artist of diverse mediums and subjects, she uses her art skills, life art lessons, and art education (B.F.A.) to help others in their own art quest, dreams, and desires. She manages and offers classes at a public art space named “The Artist’s Loft.” Henrietta Sparkman is a visual artist who enjoys working in different media and subject matter. She explores her own personal timbre and, through her eyes, you may discover your own perception and meaning. Suzanne Staud has been designing and painting since high school. With encouragement from teachers and competitive recognition, she has made art her business. As one fellow artist said, “Suzanne’s art is who she is every day.” Glen Streeter has enjoyed a forty plus year career as an artist, art teacher, and student teacher supervisor. He has done commissioned work for the San Francisco 49ers, Save Mart, Budweiser, and Golden Gate Fields. He has won a National Art Competition and been featured at the Classic Art Gallery in Carmel. Brian Swander is a carpenter, printmaker, painter, and mosaicist. He translates his spontaneous sketchbook drawings into finished prints and paintings. Much like poetry, often only an echo remains of the original intention. What might begin in the sketchbook takes on a life of its own in ink or paint, although the fresh and lively character of the initial line drawing remains. 170 ✦

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Sandra Veneman enjoys working in many different media, but her true love is clay. Most of her art pieces have a very organic form, which reflects her love of creation, especially the oddities found in nature. Aaron “Fasm” Vickery started doing graffiti art in 1991. Considered by some a pioneer of authentic legal graffiti, he has painted all over North America. Most notably, he had a 72-foot mural on display at Facebook’s headquarters. Virginia White is a retired art teacher from the Oakdale public schools who now paints full-time. She has been living and painting scenes of the Central Valley since 1972.

PHOTOGRAPHERS Bart Ah You Ed Aguilar Andrew Austin Carl Baggese Baird Photography Monica Barber Ted Benson Bicek Photography Lindsey Bird Nate Bunney Elizabeth Cardenas Brad Cornwell Linda Cruz Susan David Marilyn Days, Marilyn Days Photography James Ewing Fishbowl Photography Marc Garcia Vanessa Garcia Bill Gibbons Nick Giron, Nick Giron Photography Meg Gonzalez Frank Graham Heather Graves Chris Guptill William Harris, William Harris Photography Doug Holcomb Darin Jesberg Philip Johnson, Philip Johnson Photography

David Jones Drew Kyler Bonnie Lan Dorothea Lange, Library of Congress Roman Loranc Michael J. Mangano, Michael J. Photography & Design Pablo Mason Adrian Mendoza Scott Mitchell Chris Murphy Dan Onorato Ruben Porras Ashley Purple, Ashley Purple Photography Janet Rasmussen Dulcey Reiter May Rico Damon Robbins Aaron Rowan Greg Savage David Schroeder David Silva Ashley Rose Tacheira David Todd Kate Trompetter Jeff Vespa Cory Warner, Studio Warner Virginia White Bill Wood, Bill Wood Photography

WRITERS Carl Baggese is a retired journalist, communication specialist, and local history buff. He is the creator of the “” website and the author of a photographic history of Modesto for Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series, as well as a postcard history book of Modesto for Arcadia. Robert Barzan is the architecture curator of the Modesto Art Museum, an honorary member of the American Institute of Architects, Sierra Valley Chapter, and one of the founders and producers of the award-winning Modesto Architecture Festival. Stella Beratlis is the author of Alkali Sink (Sixteen Rivers Press, 2015) and co-editor of the collection, More Than Soil, More Than Sky: The Modesto Poets (2011). Alkali Sink, her first collection, was a nominee for the Northern California Book Award in poetry in 2016. Stella is the City of Modesto Poet Laureate for the 2016-2018 term. She is a librarian. Dr. George Boodrookas is a 27-year veteran of community college administration. He has served his entire academic career at Modesto Junior College in various capacities. He has served on numerous campus, community, regional, and statewide committees and organizations Contributors ✦


focused on student access and success, community and workforce development, and fundraising. George is a proud native of Modesto. He graduated from Thomas Downey High School and earned his bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley, his master’s and doctoral degrees from CSU, Stanislaus. George is married to native Modestan, Anna (Skiles) Boodrookas, and they have raised two children. Mayor Ted Brandvold was elected in February 2016 and currently serves as chair of the Appointments Committee. He has served the community as a member of the Modesto Planning Commission, Board of Zoning Adjustment, and as a board member for Casa de Modesto Retirement Center. He is also a current board member of Stanislaus Partners in Education. His vision is to create a collaborative City Hall driven to create long-term financial sustainability, increased quality of life, and significant economic development for Modesto. Mayor Brandvold has been a resident of Modesto since 1990. He and his wife, Jeri, have two children, Benjamin and Elyse. They also have four grandchildren—Eli, Avery, Ethan, and Allen. Mayor Brandvold is a licensed architect and is owner of a local architectural firm. Tom Ciccarelli has spent most of his career as a senior business executive and founder and/or director of local nonprofits, including Inter-Faith Ministries, Redwood Family Center, United Way, and the Stanislaus Family Justice Center. Deacon Ciccarelli serves as director of Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Affairs and is the administrator at St. Patrick’s Church in Ripon, California. Elizabeth Greenlee-Wight is CEO of Interfaith Ministries in Modesto. Modesto-born, she is the creator of IFM’s Feed Modesto programs, including the Free Mobile Farmers Market, and is the founder of the Artsy Folks collective and annual event. Mark Haskett is author/publisher of several fiction and non-fiction books, each with a spiritual theme or focus on faith. Currently board president of the Stanislaus County Interfaith Council (SCIC), Mark has lived in Modesto with wife Nancy, a retired teacher and prolific poet, since the 1970s. Dr. Jim Johnson is a retired Modesto Junior College instructor and dean. He is now the artistic director of the Gallo Center Repertory Company. He previously served for six years as the Gallo Center Arts Education Coordinator. He is currently serving as a board of trustee member for the Gallo Center for the Arts. He graduated with B.A. and M.A. degrees in Communication from California State University, East Bay, and a PH.D. in Communication Arts and Sciences from the University of Southern California. Garrad Marsh is a lifelong resident of Modesto. After serving in the U.S. Navy, he returned home and joined the family business, McHenry Bowl, built in 1959. After obtaining an M.B.A at Berkeley and negotiating the purchase of the company, he became the president and general manager. Garrad has been very active in his community, serving on the City of Modesto Planning Commission, the Modesto City Council, and as mayor. Garrad and his wife, Dallas, have four grown children and six grandchildren. Two children live locally and are raising their families here, while the other two are living in North Carolina and San Diego. Jennifer Mullen is with Visit Modesto, the official source of all the great things to see and do in Modesto. She works to create a positive economic impact in our community by marketing Modesto as the ideal destination for meetings, conventions, sporting events, tours, film production, and leisure travel. She is the past president of the Central Valley Tourism Association and currently the Northern California representative. Chris Murphy is the president and CEO of Sierra Pacific Warehouse Group, publisher and founder of ModestoView, Inc., cofounder of the Modesto Area Music Association, and founder of the Modesto Historic Graffiti Cruise Route and “Walk of Fame.” Capturing and celebrating Modesto’s history is his passion. Born in Yosemite and raised in Modesto, Chris worked globally in the cycling industry before returning to Modesto in 1996 to join the family logistics business. Chris is married to his artist wife, Rebecca, and has two daughters, Madison and Abigail. He is lead singer and guitarist for his band, Third Party, which donates their performances to nonprofits. Colleen O’Brien Preston is a “hometown Modesto girl.” She has been involved with healthcare for 42 years. She is currently director of population management for Kaiser Permanente in Modesto, which allows her to live her passion for promoting the need for more “health” rather than relying so much on “healthcare.” Dan Onorato is a retired Modesto Junior College instructor. He has been active in the Peace/Life Center since it started in 1970. Currently, he is a member of the center’s board and active in its many projects. Doug Ridenour, Sr., represents District Six on the Modesto City Council. Before being elected in 2015, he served 41 years at the city of Modesto Police Department. In addition to serving the people of Modesto, he enjoys photography, camping, and spending time with his family. Cecil Russell was raised in Manteca, California. He attended Modesto Junior College. After leaving college, he left the area. He returned to Modesto in 1986 as the vice president of Save Mart Supermarkets. Cecil retired in 2010 from Save Mart. He has been active in many Modesto Organizations, including the Modesto Chamber of Commerce. He became the president and CEO of the Chamber in 2011, which is the position he continues to hold today. Kate Trompetter is the development and communications director for the Center for Human Services. She is involved in many community efforts related to branding, culture, and tourism, as well as being active on several local boards and committees. Born and raised in Modesto, she is known to many as a “connector.” She is an accomplished musician and celebrates all things Modesto: music, culture, and community. 172 ✦

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Robert J. Ulrich is a partner in Ulrich/Dawson/Kritzer Casting and an owner of Stay Relevant Productions LLC. A native of Modesto, he is a seven-time Emmy nominee and winner of a 2011 Creative Arts Emmy for “Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series” (Glee). Over the last twenty-four years, he has cast more than one hundred different television shows, including the remake of the cult classic, The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Ken White retired from the worlds of advertising, corporate communications, and interactive entertainment to concentrate on writing and community service. Born in Lathrop and raised in Modesto, most of his stories are about his hometown and the Central Valley heartland. Carol Whiteside has been involved in the community and the San Joaquin Valley for decades. She served on the Board of Education for Modesto City Schools, the Modesto City Council, and was elected mayor of Modesto. She worked with local governments throughout the state for Governor Pete Wilson, and was the founder and president of the Great Valley Center. Carol and her husband, Judge John Whiteside, continue to be active in the community. They have two grown sons. Jeremiah Williams is a community leader/activist and owner of Oak Crafts by Jeremiah, a cabinet shop that has been in business for 30 years. He attended local schools, Modesto Junior College, received an Associate Degree in Theology from Purpose Institute, and is a Leadership Modesto graduate. He has been involved in a wide variety of civic projects and organizations, including Healthy Start, N.A.A.C.P., Kiwanis (lieutenant governor, Division 46), Stanislaus County Human Rights (commissioner), King-Kennedy Center (president), Modesto Chamber of Commerce, Gallo Center for the Arts (founding trustee), Stanislaus County Fair Board, and Boys & Girls Club of Stanislaus County (founding board member). He is also a minister at the United Pentecostal Church. He has been married to Nancy for 30 years and has two daughters (Iris and Savannah), twin sons (Joshua and Jeremiah), and two grandchildren (Isaiah and Savannah). Wayne Zipser is the executive manager of the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau. Born and raised in Ceres, he attended Modesto Junior College and Fresno State University before returning home to farm and form Zipser Farms, Inc., a farm management business. Having been involved with the SFCB for over 29 years, Wayne oversees all operations and is also an integral part of the management of the East San Joaquin Water Quality Coalition

Carl Baggese

Robert Barzan

Stella Beratlis

Dr. George Boodrookas

Ted Brandvold

Tom Ciccarelli

Elizabeth Greenlee-Wight

Mark Haskett Contributors ✦


Dr. Jim Johnson

Garrad Marsh

Jennifer Mullen

Chris Murphy

Colleen O’Brien Preston

Dan Onorato

Doug Ridenour, Sr.

Cecil Russell

Kate Trompetter

Robert Ulrich

Ken White

Carol Whiteside

Jeremiah Williams

Wayne Zipser

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INDEX # 100 Best Places to Live in the USA, 154, 167 3rd Thursday Art Walk, 147 5.11 Tactical, 76 50 Plus Club of Stanislaus County, 40 9 Companies as Cool as Google, 154, 167 A Ag in Motion, 83-84 agriculture, 11, 21, 70, 73, 76, 80-83, 88, 90, 92, 120, 132, 137-138, 140, 148, 150-151, 167 agritourism, 82 Al’s Drive-In, 34, 36 All-America City, 23, 136, 165 Almond Board of California, 24 American Graffiti, 7, 11, 23-24, 26, 3337, 40, 71-72, 74-75, 132, 137, 157, 165-167 American Graffiti Festival & Car Show, 137 American Medical Response, 105, 110, 112 Amgen Tour of California, 69 architecture, 12, 40, 68, 129-132, 134, 172 Artists Open Studios, 64 arts, 9, 11, 16-18, 23, 28-29, 31-32, 3845, 47-48, 52, 55, 63-66, 68, 71, 74, 115, 120, 129, 132, 138, 140, 143146, 149, 152-153, 158-159, 166168, 173-174 Autumn Art Festival, 68 B Barkin’ Dog Grill, 144 baseball, 16, 69-70, 73, 76, 159-161, 165, 168 Beaty Building, 27, 31-32, 165 Beaty, John, 31 Beekman and Beekman, 66 Bennett, Tony, 65 Beyer, Fred C., 76, 166 Beyer High School, 76, 167 Black Building, 31, 164 Blue Diamond Almonds, 66 Blue Diamond Growers, 80, 83 Bomberger, Bruce, 76 Boynton, Ray, 32 Brand, Max, 158 Breakaway from Cancer®, 69 Brenden Theatres, 58, 74, 137, 167 Brick Schoolhouse, 162 Briggsmore Theatre, 157, 166 Brotherton, Jack, 6 Broughton, Esto B., 76

Burge’s Drive-In, 33-34, 36, 75 business, 7, 12, 16, 19, 22, 27, 31, 47, 50, 59, 63, 67, 80, 87, 104-105, 115116, 126, 135-140, 145, 149, 151, 155, 159, 163, 171, 173-174 C Cafaro, Erin, 76 California League, 70, 160 California Relays, 165 California State University, Stanislaus, 44, 95, 113, 117-119, 148 California Women’s Music Festival, 63 Camp 4 Wine Café, 30, 132 Campus Crusade for Christ, 99 car clubs, 34, 37 Career Technical Education, 115 Carnegie Arts Center, 44 CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), 57 Center for Human Services, 11, 48, 68, 126, 173 Center Stage Conservatory, 40 Central California Art Association (CCAA), 39, 42, 64, 147 Central Catholic High School, 166 Central Pacific Railroad, 19, 26, 107, 156, 162 Central Valley, 8-10, 12-13, 16, 19-20, 54, 56, 62, 68-71, 77, 79, 82, 88, 90, 94, 99, 107, 126, 130, 140, 155, 158, 172-174 Central West Ballet, 39-40, 45, 63 Centre Plaza, 24, 27, 58, 137, 139, 155, 166-167 Chamber of Commerce, 12, 15, 22, 28, 31, 135, 150, 173-174 churches, 9, 11, 19, 21, 47, 68, 79, 91, 94, 96-97, 99-102, 130, 153, 162164, 167, 173-174 City Ministry Network, 17, 98, 101, 111, 153 civic engagement, 151-152 Civil War, 89 Clark, Candy, 34, 37, 71 Classic Community Murals, 35, 132 Classic Wine Vinegar, 66 Coca-Cola Modesto Relays, 78 Coffee Field, 58, 160 Coffee, Harold “Bud”, 159, 164 College Area Neighborhood Alliance, 111 Come Back Kids!, 115 community, 6, 8-13, 16, 18, 21-24, 2728, 30, 32, 35, 38-53, 57, 59-60, 6263, 65-68, 70, 72-74, 77, 82, 85-86,

89-101, 104, 106-107, 109-110, 113127, 129-130, 132, 134-137, 139-141, 143-155, 158, 162, 168-169, 172-174 Community Hospice, 53 Concert in the Park, 63 Congregation Beth Shalom, 43, 91, 101 Connecting for Good, 155 Contentment Health & Lifestyle Magazine, 133, 159 Cornerstone Family Medical Group, 123 Costa, Dan, 7, 76, 136 Covell Theater, 27, 31 Cressey residence, 129-130 cruising, 33, 35-37, 71-72, 75, 167 cycling, 69, 173 D Daily Evening News, 163, 165 Darroch Brain & Spine Institute, 126, 138 Datapath, 140 Davis High School, 16, 76-77, 92, 95, 120 Davis High School Language Institute, 92 Day of the Dead, (Dia de los Muertos), 68, 91 DeLappe, Russell, 130-131 Del Monte Foods, 24, 80 Del Rio Country Club, 70-71, 130 Del Wood Neighborhood Alliance, 149 Dewz Restaurant, 132 Dickens Faire, 68 Didion, Joan, 12 Digital Cities Award, 154, 167 diversity, 8, 10-11, 21, 30, 67-68, 80, 86-87, 89-94, 96, 98-99, 153-154 Do Good Distillery, 66 Doctors Medical Center, 122-123, 125126, 135, 138 DoMo Night Market, 67 DoubleTree by Hilton, 37, 58, 137, 146, 158 Downey High School, 36, 71, 73-74, 76, 160, 173 Downey, Thomas, 36, 71, 74, 158, 165, 173 downtown, 8, 11, 17, 21-24, 26-32, 34-37, 39, 46, 55, 58, 64, 66-68, 71, 104, 112, 129-130, 135-139, 144, 149, 152-153, 159, 163, 165-167 Downtown Art Walk, 64 Downtown Improvement District, 139 Downtown Modesto Harvest Festival, 68 Dry Creek, 15, 31, 60, 69, 78-79, 82, 106, 129, 131 Dry Creek Regional Park, 60 Dry Creek Trails Coalition, 60, 82 Index ✦


Dust Bowl, 46-47, 86, 89, 145 Dutch Hollow Farms, 67, 83 E E. & J. Gallo Winery, 7, 23-24, 73, 80, 135, 137, 147, 154, 167 Earth Day in the Park, 68 economy, 8, 20, 52, 80, 82-83, 114, 120, 136-140, 148-151, 153, 155 Ecurie AWOL Car Club, 75 Edible Extravaganza, 68 education, 9, 11, 22, 24, 32, 39, 42, 44, 52-53, 55, 58, 73-74, 82, 88, 92, 9495, 106, 108, 113-120, 125, 127-128, 142, 147-149, 155, 163, 171, 173-174 Elias, Solomon Philip, 24, 157-158, 163 El Viejo Post Office, 22, 31-32, 151 English Language Learner Welcome, 120 Enochs High School, 167 entertainment, 9, 11, 38-41, 45, 55, 6264, 66, 68, 70, 149, 157, 162, 174 Everson, William, 13 F Faces of Stanislaus, 90, 92 Faith in Stanislaus, 92 Family Cycling Festival and Downtown Criterium, 68 Family Health Care, 123-124 Family Promise, 102 farm-to-table, 64 FAROS, 34-35 Fat Tuesday Celebration, 68 Felix’s Drive-In, 34, 36 festivals, 12, 36-37, 40, 62-63, 66-69, 71, 91-92, 94, 134, 137, 150, 172 Fiscalini Farms, 82-83 flower clock, 24 Focus on Futures, 120 Focus on Prevention, 9, 52 Foster Farms, 24, 76, 135 Fourth of July, 162 Fred C. Beyer High School, 76 Frito-Lay, 24 Funk, John, 131, 133-134 Funstrummers Ukulele Band, 40 future, 6-13, 22-23, 30, 35, 40, 42, 50, 52, 58-60, 70, 81-82, 99, 103-104, 107, 113-118, 120, 129-131, 134, 139, 143, 148-154, 163, 170 G Galletto Ristorante, 27, 137 Gallo Center for the Arts, 11, 16-18, 23, 28-29, 39-43, 45, 55, 64-65, 94, 129, 138, 149, 152, 167, 173-174 Gallo Center Repertory Company, 40, 173 Gallo, Ernest, 22, 159, 167-168

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Gallo Glass, 24 Gallo, Julio, 22, 72-73, 165-167 Gallo Foundation, Julio R., 65, 166 Gallo Winery, E. & J., 7, 23-24, 73, 80, 135, 137, 147, 154, 167 George Lucas Educational Foundation, 74, 154, 167 gold, 10, 20, 69, 76, 86-88, 113, 160, 165 Golden Gate Park, 22, 130, 159 Golden Valley Health Center, 125 golf, 57, 70-71, 130, 139, 160 Gould Medical Group, 122 government, 8-9, 11, 27, 52, 54, 56, 59, 73, 103-105, 111, 116, 129, 137, 149, 151-152, 154 Grace Davis High School, 16, 92, 95, 120 Graceada Park, 22, 63, 68, 130, 158-159 Graffiti Summer, 34-35, 37, 71, 168 Graham, Billy, 99 Great Valley Bookfest, 144 Great Valley Museum, 68 Greek Food Festival, 91 Gregori High School, 167 H Hammond General Hospital, 22, 122, 165 Haven Women’s Center of Stanislaus, 8, 152 Hawke residence, 129-130 Health Services Agency (HSA), 125 healthcare, 12, 18, 52-53, 61, 121-127, 155, 173 Heckendorf house, 131-134 Henderson, Rickey, 70, 160 Hetch Hetchy trail, 69 Higgins, W. W., 63 Highland Games, 68 Hillbilly Boogie, 33 history, 5-7, 9-11, 16, 19-20, 22-25, 30, 35, 37-40, 42, 60, 65-66, 70, 80, 82, 85-86, 92, 94, 98, 110-111, 114, 121, 123, 130, 132, 134-135, 137139, 145, 147, 150, 154, 158, 160, 162, 165, 167, 170, 172-173 homeless, 47, 49, 52-53, 100, 102, 125, 168 Hopkins, Bo, 34, 37, 71 Hotel Covell, 21, 31, 34, 164-165, 167 Hotel Hughson, 21, 27, 29, 31, 164, 167 Hotel Modesto, 21, 29, 157, 164-166 houses of worship, 97, 101-102 Hub Clothiers, 27 Hunt-Wesson Foods, 24 I Ill List, 13, 37 immigrants, 86-88, 90, 92-93, 95, 99, 118, 120 immigration, 88, 92, 100

TOUCHSTONES: Life and Times of Modesto

interfaith, 98, 102 Interfaith Council, 11, 96, 99, 101, 173 International Baccalaureate Program, 115 International Heritage Festival, 67-68, 92 irrigation “jubilee”, 157 Irvine New Leadership Network (NLN), 149 Islamic Center of Modesto, 101 J Jackson, Reggie, 70, 160 James C. Enochs High School, 167 Johansen High School, 44, 116, 120 Johansen, Peter, 44, 116, 120, 167 John Thurman Field, 70, 139, 160 Joseph Gregori High School, 167 Joseph, Bernard J., 31, 129-130 Julio R. Gallo Foundation, 65, 166 K Kaiser Foundation Hospital, 122, 126, 138 Kaiser Permanente, 12, 122-123, 173 KFIV, 33 King, Jr., Martin Luther, 51, 89, 100 Kraft Foods, 24 L La Grange, 156 La Loma neighborhood, 149 land use, 81, 149 Landmark Preservation, 64, 66 Lange, Dorothea, 47, 77, 88, 172 Language Institute, 92, 95, 120 Leadership Modesto, 150, 174 Lee, S. Charles, 28, 32, 165 Leonard, John, 129, 131 Levy, Chandra, 167 LGBT, 94-95 Lilly of the Valley Alpaca Farm, 69 Lion Bridge, 129, 164 Local Agency Formation Commissions (LAFCO), 58 local author fair, 144 Loranc, Roman, 77-79, 172 Loretelli Farms, 82-83 Love Modesto, 50, 98, 102, 115-116, 149-150, 153, 169 Lucas, George, 7, 23-24, 26, 31, 33-38, 7172, 74, 132, 157, 159, 165-166, 168 Lyng, Richard “Dick”, 76 M Maddox Brothers and Rose, 33 Mancini, Francesco Nicolo “Frank” (“Proof”), 78, 158, 164-165 Manos Unidas, 98 Martin Luther King, Jr., Commemoration, 89

Mary Grogan Park Soccer Complex, 70, 139 Mary Stuart Rogers Foundation, 117 McGwire, Mark, 160 McHenry Mansion, 21, 24, 40, 64-66, 129, 139, 163, 166-167 McHenry, Matilda, 48 McHenry Museum, 5-6, 10, 12, 17, 2021, 24, 27-29, 32, 40, 58, 66, 79, 90, 95, 112, 122, 128, 130-131, 136, 139, 147, 157, 159, 164-166 McHenry Museum & Historical Society, 6, 10, 12, 24, 95 McHenry, Oramil, 6, 21, 66, 163-164 McHenry Public Library, 6, 21, 66, 74, 129, 164, 166 McHenry, Robert, 21, 48, 65-66, 163 McHenry Village, 58, 74, 135, 137, 139, 165-166 McLaren, John, 22, 130, 159 Memorial Hospital, 125, 158 Memorial Medical Center, 122-123, 125126, 135, 138, 147 Mensinger, Peggy, 44, 58, 69, 89 Mistlin Gallery, 40, 42, 147 MoBand (Modesto Band), 18, 40, 63, 159, 164 Mod Shop, 68 Modernism, 68, 130-131 Modesto A’s, 160 Modesto Arch, 5, 21-22, 27, 31, 127, 129, 135-136, 156, 164, 167 Modesto Architecture Festival, 12, 43, 68, 134, 172 Modesto Area Music Awards (MAMAs), 40, 62, 64 Modesto Art Museum, 12, 130, 132, 134, 172 Modesto ash, 159 Modesto Bank Building, 29, 163 Modesto Boys’ Band, 63 Modesto Certified Farmers Market, 67, 83 Modesto City Council, 11, 55, 61, 108, 173-174 Maddox, Rose, 33 Modesto City Schools, 94, 114-116, 167, 174 Modesto Colts, 160 Modesto Community Concert Association, 39, 43, 63 Modesto Fiji Festival, 68, 91 Modesto Fire Department, 106-109, 112 Modesto Garden Club, 69 Modesto Google Developers Group, 140 Modesto Gospel Mission, 49 Modesto High School, 21, 73, 76-77, 115, 130, 157-159, 163-165

Modesto Historic Graffiti Cruise Route, 35, 37, 40, 173 Modesto Historic Graffiti Cruise Walk, 167 Modesto Institute for Continued Learning, 40 Modesto Irrigation District (MID), 2021, 24, 58, 85, 163-164 Modesto Junior College (MJC), 11, 13, 16, 22, 24, 37-38, 40-41, 44-45, 55, 68, 73-75, 82-83, 89, 93, 100, 113114, 116-120, 122, 130, 136-137, 142-144, 164-165, 171-174 Modesto Marathon, 40, 69 Modesto News-Herald, 135 Modesto Nuts, 70, 160 Modesto Peace/Life Center, 11, 100 Modesto Performing Arts, 40-41, 43, 166 Modesto Police Department, 104-105, 109-112, 173 Modesto Reds, 16, 160, 165 Modesto Relays, 78 Modesto Sister Cities International, 59 Modesto Symphony, 22, 40, 42-43, 63, 158, 165 Modesto Theatre, 29, 164 Modesto Unplugged Music Festival, 63 “Modesto, Where Dreams Come True”, 23 ModestoView, 35, 45, 50, 102, 115, 153, 169, 173 ModSpace, 140 Modstock, 62 Monterey Park Tract, 89 Moorad, Jeff, 73, 76 Moore, Tom, 78 MoSt (Modesto-Stanislaus Poetry Center), 43 multicultural, 88, 90, 93 Municipal Golf Course, 57, 70, 160 murals, 32, 35, 37, 132, 165 Murals in Motown, 132 museums, 62, 149, 171 music, 18, 23, 33-38, 40-46, 50, 62-64, 66-68, 71, 91, 93, 97, 143, 157-158, 164, 166, 173 Music in the Plaza, 63 N National League of American Penwomen, 44 New York Yankees, 159-160, 166 Nicolau Farms, 67 "Nobody’s Got Modesto’s Goat", 22, 135 North Modesto Kiwanis Club, 36, 71, 75 Nutcher Milk Company, 82, 84 O Oktoberfest, 68 Olympics, 76, 160

Olyphant, Timothy, 76, 159, 166 Operation 9-2-99, 50, 82, 169 Opus Handbell Ensemble, 40 Orangeburg Medical Group, 123 Ott Farms, 82, 84 P Paradise City, 19, 21, 156, 162 parks, 19, 23-24, 49, 57, 68-69, 93, 98, 132 Peace Camp, 100 Peer Recovery Art Project, 40, 132 Peggy Mensinger trail, 69 Penney, J. C., 27-28, 31, 165-166 Peter Johansen High School, 44, 120 Peterson, Laci, 167 PFLAG Modesto, 94 philanthropy, 9, 11, 17, 46, 48-49 Piccinini, Bob, 7 planetarium, 69 Playland, 160 Porcella, Yvonne, 44, 72, 76, 171 Powell-Roos, Suzy, 76, 78 Presnell, Harvey “Harve”, 76, 157, 165 Press and Publications, 5-6 PRIDE in the Park, 68 Project UPLIFT!, 51 Proposition 13, 60 Prospect Theater Project, 39, 42-43 public safety, 55, 60-61, 103-104, 106107, 109-112 Q Queen Bean Coffee House, 144 R Ralston, William Chapman, 19, 158, 162 Ray Simon Regional Criminal Justice Training Center, 55 Renner, Jeremy, 73, 77, 159, 167-168 Roberts, Kenny, 76 Robbins, Liz, 45, 73 Robbins, Royal, 45, 73, 132 Rockabilly, 33-35 Rodin Farms, 82, 84 Rogers Foundation, Mary Stuart, 117 Rogers Fountain, 163 Rogers Hall, 27, 162-163 Rudi, Joe, 76, 160 S S&W Relays, 78 Saletta, Betty, 159 Samaritan Village, 53 San Francisco Giants, 160, 166 San Joaquin Regulators, 158, 162 San Joaquin River, 46, 80 San Joaquin Valley, 87-88, 174

Index ✦


Sankofa Theatre Company, 40-42, 51 Save Mart Supermarkets, 7, 12, 76, 137, 165, 171, 173 Scenic Drive-In, 75 Scenic General Hospital, 128 Sciabica & Son’s California Olive Oil, 67, 82, 84 Seneca Foods Corporation, 24, 80 sense of place, 48, 150-151 ShadowChase Running Club, 69 Slam on Rye, 13, 37, 144 Smith, Bette Belle, 47 Smith, Chester, 76 South Modesto Partners, 98 Spitz, Mark, 76, 165 sports, 9, 11, 43, 52, 62, 69-70, 73, 76, 159-160 St. Patrick’s Day Lucky Fest, 68 Stanislaus Business Alliance, 140 Stanislaus Community Foundation, 32, 48, 52, 114, 119-120, 149, 155 Stanislaus Council of Governments, 57 Stanislaus County, 5-6, 8-11, 20, 23-25, 27-29, 39, 44, 52-53, 55, 57, 59-61, 63-64, 66, 76, 80-81, 83-84, 87-89, 91, 94, 96, 99, 101, 103, 106-107, 110-112, 114-115, 117-122, 125, 128, 131, 134, 137, 139-140, 144145, 149, 152, 154-155, 158, 162163, 165-166, 173-174 Stanislaus County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, 118 Stanislaus County Boys’ Band, 63 Stanislaus County Courthouse, 28-29, 130, 134, 162-163 Stanislaus County Historical Society, 5-6 Stanislaus County Medical Society, 121, 128 Stanislaus County Office of Education (SCOE), 44, 115 Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department, 55, 89, 106-107 Stanislaus Food Products, 80 Stanislaus Futures, 116, 119-120 Stanislaus Magazine, 75, 137, 146

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Stanislaus Partners in Education (SPIE), 116, 173 Stanislaus READS!, 114 Stanislaus Regional 911 Call Center, 9, 110 Stanislaus River, 20, 129 Stanislaus Stepping Stones, 6, 24, 95 Stanislaus Surgical Hospital, 122, 125127 Stanislaus Veterans Center, 40 Star Wars, 7, 74, 157, 165-166 State Theatre, 22-23, 28-29, 31-32, 40, 64, 66, 74, 126, 165 Stonehenge Indoor Climbing Wall, 70 Strand Theatre, 27, 29, 31, 58, 158, 164, 166-167 Streetsblog California, 154, 167 Sunday Afternoons at CBS, 43 Sund-Carrington, 167 Sutter Gould Medical Group, 122-123 Sutter Health, 122-123, 125, 127 T Taste of the Valley, 68 technology, 65, 81, 104, 110, 112, 115, 140, 145, 154, 167 temples, 91, 101 Tenet Health System, 122 Tenth Street Place, 9, 23, 27-28, 31, 55, 58, 63, 137, 167 Tenth Street Plaza, 35, 138 Thomas Downey High School, 36, 71, 73-74, 76, 160, 173 Thurman Field, John, 70, 139, 160 Townsend Opera Players, 40 Tree City, USA, 22 Tresetti’s Restaurant, 31 Trivia, 156 Tulowitzki, Troy, 70, 160 Tuolumne City, 19, 156, 162 Tuolumne River, 40, 50, 68, 70, 82, 85, 107, 118 Tuolumne River Trust, 40, 50, 68, 85, 118 Turner Building, 27 Tynan Hotel, 27, 29, 159, 163

TOUCHSTONES: Life and Times of Modesto

U urban renewal, 27 V Valley Hackathon, 140 Valley Heart Associates, 123 Valley Oak Pediatrics, 123 Valley Talent Project, 17-18, 40 VanderHelm Farms, 82, 84 Velvet Creamery restaurant, 76 Veneman, Ann M., 73, 167 Venturini-Hoch, Tisha, 76, 160 Vietnam, 86, 90, 99-100, 103 Vintage Faire Mall, 26-27, 31, 58, 137, 139, 166 Virginia Corridor trail, 15, 31, 69, 154 volunteerism, 11, 17, 46-47, 49, 59-60 W Walk a Mile in Her Shoes (WAM)®, 152 Walk of Fame, 34-35, 37, 173 Wallace, George E., 164 WalletHub, 154, 167 Water, Wealth, Contentment, Health, 22, 49, 99, 127, 135, 170 West Modesto King-Kennedy Neighborhood Collaborative, 98 Winfield, Gene, 34, 37, 71, 77 Wolfman Jack, 37 Women of the West Film Fest, 68 World War II, 22, 33, 58, 88, 165 Wright, C. C., 20, 163 Wright, Frank Lloyd, 132-133 Y Youth Entertainment Stage (YES) Company, 40-42, 63 Yokuts, 87, 156 Yosemite, 12, 73, 84, 121, 132, 136, 167, 173 Young@Art, 147 Young, Cyrus “Cy”, 76 Z Zaiger, Chris "Floyd", 77

Suzanne Staud, Water, Wealth, Contentment, Health, digital design/painted mural

SHARING THE HERITAGE Profiles of businesses, organizations, and families that have contributed to the development and economic base of Modesto

Q U A L I T Y O F L I F E ........................................................... 180

T H E M A R K E T P L A C E .................................................................202

B U I L D I N G A G R E AT E R M O D E S T O ...........................................234

FA M I LY H E R I TA G E ...................................................................268



“Focus on Futures” is designed to cultivate citizens who will become local leaders. PHOTOGRAPH BY BRAD CORNWELL.

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QUALITY OF LIFE Healthcare providers, foundations, universities, and other institutions that contribute to the quality of life in Modesto Memorial Medical Center ...............................................................182 Sutter Gould Medical Foundation ....................................................184 Doctors Medical Center..................................................................186 D a r ro c h B r a i n & S p i n e I n s t i t u t e o f D o c t o r s M e d i c a l C e n t e r . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 8 8 Va l l e y H e a r t I n s t i t u t e o f D o c t o r s M e d i c a l C e n t e r . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 8 9 Central Catholic High School ..........................................................190 Community Hospice, Inc. ...............................................................192 Gallo Center for the Arts ...............................................................194 Modesto Rotary Club .....................................................................196 Mary Stuart Rogers Foundation .......................................................198 M o d e s t o S y m p h o n y O rc h e s t r a . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 9 9 Center for Human Services .............................................................200 M c H e n r y M u s e u m S t o re . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 0 1




Memorial Medical Center (MMC) opened in Modesto on May 1, 1970, as a 72,000-squarefoot, 99-bed facility, bringing to fruition the dream of a group of community residents dedicated to providing quality healthcare in Stanislaus County.

Today, Memorial Medical Center, a full affiliate of Sutter Health since 1996, has expanded both in size, beds, and medical services to fulfill its mission to “…enhance the well-being of people in the communities we serve through a not-for-profit commitment to compassion and excellence in healthcare services.” Being a part of Sutter Health is integral to fulfilling this mission. Sutter Health is a family of not-for-profit hospitals, physician organizations, and other medical services that share resources and expertise to advance healthcare quality and access. Serving more than 100 communities in Northern California, Sutter Health is a regional leader in cardiac care, cancer treatment, orthopedics, obstetrics, and newborn intensive care, and is a pioneer in advanced patient safety technology. Sutter Health’s vision is to lead “the transformation of healthcare to achieve the highest levels of quality, access, and affordability.” 182 ✦


Throughout its history, MMC has grown along with the community. It is guided by the community’s healthcare needs and supported by community contributions. As a not-for-profit hospital, the residents of Stanislaus and neighboring counties are MMC’s only shareholders. After paying for patient care, Memorial reinvests any funds remaining to enhance treatment, improve facilities and equipment, provide health education and research, and fund community benefit programs. Memorial Medical Center has been responsible for several medical milestones in the community’s healthcare history. Two years after opening, MMC initiated twenty-four-hour emergency services, and, in 1978, introduced the first air ambulance services in Stanislaus County. Known as Medi-Flight, at the time it was one of only nine programs of its kind in the nation. MMC began offering Stanislaus County’s first outpatient surgical services in 1980 known as Same Day Surgery, and a year later the hospital received community cancer accreditation by the American College of Surgeons. The Advanced Medical Diagnostic Center opened in 1988 with specialized equipment for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), angiography, myelography, ultrasound, and nuclear medicine, as well as an expanded cardiac catheterization laboratory. A year later, MMC added an open-heart-surgery program. Other major milestones include: • Project 40: This five-story west expansion of Memorial Medical Center in 1991 opened two floors featuring additional birthing services and intensive care beds, with the remaining three floors completed by 2000. • Level II Nursery: Created in 1994 to provide care for high-risk infants. • Health Center: In 1999, MMC began providing comprehensive outpatient programs for breastfeeding assistance, cardiac and pulmonary independence, diabetes management, and heart failure education. • The Outpatient Surgery Center at Spanos Court opened in 2001. • The Weight Loss Surgery Program was initiated in 2003. • Level II Trauma Center designation was awarded in 2004.

In 2007, the first five floors of the North Tower expansion opened, part of a seven-story patient care tower featuring 112 inpatient beds and eighteen operating rooms. As with previous construction, the remaining two floors were shelled to accommodate future expansion. Throughout its history, MMC has won numerous awards, designations, and accreditations. In 2008, MMC received the American Cancer Society’s Visionary Award presented for providing exceptional commitment and financial support for the fight against cancer, and, in that same year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services presented the medal of honor for organ donations to MMC for the first—but not the last—time for surpassing the health resources and services administration’s goal for organ donations. MMC’s Diabetes Treatment Program received recognition in 2009 from the American Diabetes Association for offering high-quality education services to its patients. In 2010, MMC received an excellence in patient care award given by outcomes firm Studer Group for exemplary overall rating of hospital results based on a patient survey. Through the years, MMC has won numerous consumer-choice awards, such as the prestigious consumer’s choice award from the National Research Corporation. Consumers in the Modesto market ranked MMC at the top of the list for best overall quality service for ten years in a row. In addition to providing quality service, MMC has been recognized for its commitment to the environment by reducing the waste that goes into landfills. The awards keep coming. In 2015, MMC received the award for cardiac care from the American College of Cardiology and Advanced Certification for Primary Stroke Centers from the American Heart Association/ American Stroke Association.

MMC’s awards and certifications are the byproduct of its commitments to services, professionalism, care, and compassion, as well as the belief that employees are the most important resource and the basis for becoming a model not-for-profit care system.




Sutter Gould Medical Foundation is a not-forprofit healthcare organization dedicated to providing the highest level of care for its patients. More than 320 providers in both primary and specialty practices provide outpatient services for residents in Stanislaus, San Joaquin, and Merced Counties, communities, and care centers in Modesto, Stockton, and six other Central Valley communities. SGMF offers high-quality medical care close to you and your family.

Sutter Gould Medical Foundation is an affiliate of Sutter Health, one of the nation’s leading systems of community health services, serving hundreds of Northern California communities from the Oregon border to the San Joaquin Valley, and from the Pacific Coast to the Sierra Foothills. SGMF provides a full range of outpatient medical services, including a clinical laboratory, audiology and hearing aid center, EKG/ treadmill labs, radiology and mammography, nuclear medicine/ultrasound, and gastrointestinal endoscopy. Physician services primarily are provided by Gould Medical Group, Inc., which has been operating in the Central Valley for nearly seventy years. SGMF also provides access to independent physicians in the Central Valley by way of its Community Provider Network.

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Because SGMF has been part of the Central Valley community for many years, we take pride in supporting health-related activities in the area. Our non-for-profit mission allows us to have close ties with community organizations and to offer support in many ways. We continually strive to improve the services and care that we provide. Our patients’ opinions count and ultimately provide us with the direction in which we need to go to make improvements. We gather your opinions and suggestions in many ways. We also collect, trend, and report patient complaints and grievances in order to identify and rectify recurring problems. We track and report patient access issues to identify ways to improve scheduling and physician access. Finally, we have patient representatives trained and experienced to help resolve all patient complaints. Helping keep medical costs at a minimum is as important to SGMF as it is to you. We do this through our utilization management program, which is designed to ensure that managed care members receive timely, medically necessary, and cost-effective care services. Through this program, SGMF provides patients with prior authorization/concurrent review, discharge planning, case management, and retrospective review. Our UM staff, including RNs, LVNs, and trained representatives, work closely with our medical staff to help coordinate with external specialists. Our goal is to meet the needs of patients, as well as the programs’ needs. SGMF ensures decisions are made only on appropriateness of care, service, and existence of coverage. Neither the staff nor the providers receive any compensation, direct or indirect, or financial incentives based on review decisions. Providers are ensured independence and impartiality in making referral decisions that will not influence hiring, compensation, termination, promotion, or any other similar matters. SGMF encourages appropriate utilization and discourages inappropriate underutilization by providers and staff. Quality is also a central concern of SGMF. Our cinical quality committee is devoted to designing, implementing, and evaluating programs to improve the health of our patients. Past achievements include the implementation of a breast health program in which patients

are notified of test results sooner, and care is provided by increased coordination between radiology, surgery, and oncology departments. Other achievements include development of an asthma program for pediatric and adult patients and review of the procedures for our diabetes treatment programs at all of our care centers. Thanks to our commitment to quality, SGMF received a three-year accreditation from the Institute of Medical Quality (IMQ), a subsidiary of the California Medical Association. The IMQ’s standards cover essential quality of care domains and were developed to accommodate the needs of California Ambulatory Facilities. Sutter Gould

Medical Foundation became the first foundation in the Sutter system to complete this process. Sutter Gould was previously accredited by Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care and The Medical Quality Commission. Providing care to residents who struggle to, or lack the ability to, pay for healthcare is an important part of our mission. We do this through a financial assistance policy for lowincome, under-insured or uninsured patients who may be eligible for full or partial care at no cost. Sutter Gould Medical Foundation is committed to the health and well-being of all community residents.




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Doctors Medical Center has served the healthcare needs of the Central Valley since July 7, 1962, when a group of local physicians opened what was then called Doctors Hospital. In 1979, the name was changed to Doctors Medical Center to reflect a full and growing scope of services. For more than three decades, this spirit of excellence has resulted in an everincreasing level of care to the community.


A $72-million expansion in the 2000s allowed Doctors Medical Center to continue to meet the growing healthcare needs of the Central Valley in the areas of trauma, heart care, high-risk obstetrics, neonatal intensive care, neurology, and oncology. Through these measures and others, the 461-bed hospital has established itself as a provider of quality medical care and treatment. This multispecialty hospital offers a full range of medical services plus stateof-the-art treatments in the areas of traumatic injury, microsurgery, and nuclear medicine. Doctors Medical Center of Modesto is a full-service, comprehensive healthcare facility, dedicated to providing the finest medical care for the Stanislaus County community. From preventative and diagnostic services, to expertise in some of the world’s leading technologies, DMC’s multidisciplinary team of physicians and healthcare professionals is dedicated to patient’s good health and well-being. The largest hospital between Stockton and Fresno, DMC is part of Tenet Health System, one of the nation’s foremost providers of healthcare services. Doctors Medical Center: • Provides access to more than 600 physicians; • Employs more than 2,600 people and is served by more than 180 volunteers; • Treats more than 100,000 emergency patients each year; and • Admits more than 25,000 patients annually. Doctors Medical Center is fully accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, is licensed by the state of California and is an approved provider of benefits for many insurance plans in addition to Medicare and Medi-Cal. Other accreditations include: • State of California Department of Health Services (General Acute Care Hospital); • Commission on Cancer (Community Hospital Cancer Program of Doctors Medical Center); • State of California Department of Health Services (Clinical Laboratory of Doctors Medical Center); • American Association of Blood Banks (Transfusion Service of Doctors Medical Center); • Department of Health and Human Services Health Care Financing Administration Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments

(Clinical Laboratory of Doctors Medical Center); and • Certified Primary Stroke Center ( Joint Commission Gold Seal of Approval). One of the most recent accreditations went to Doctors Medical Center’s Surgical Weight Loss Program, which received national accreditation as a comprehensive center, meaning it meets the highest standards for patient safety and quality of care. The accreditation was awarded by the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP), a joint program of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) and the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS).

In the more than fifty years serving the Central Valley, Doctors Medical Center has achieved a growing list of recognitions. They were recognized as one of the top five hospitals in the state for coronary artery bypass graft outcomes. In addition, Doctors Medical Center has the first Level II Verified Trauma Center in the region. This enables them to provide twentyfour-hour emergency care, immediately have surgeons and anesthesiologists on hand, and provide backup care for rural and community hospitals. As part of the Level II designation, they also provide continuing education for their trauma team and preventive outreach programs for the community. Other recognitions include: • Advanced Certification in Inpatient Diabetes by the Joint Commission;

• American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get with the Guidelines Heart Failure Gold Plus Award; • American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Stroke Gold Award, with designation as a Target: Stroke Honor Roll Elite Facility; • American Heart Association Mission: Lifeline Receiving Center Gold Level Recognition Award for Heart Attack Care; • American College of Cardiology Foundation’s NCDR ACTION Registry—Get with the Guidelines Platinum Performance Achievement Award for Heart Attack Care and • Joint Commission’s Top Performer on Key Quality Measures distinction for heart attack, pneumonia, surgery and heart failure. Doctors Medical Center plays an active role in promoting good health in the Central Valley. They take pride in the community and are involved in many community outreach programs and efforts. Among those is Family Medicine and Orthopedic Residency programs they host and support, training the next generation of doctors for our community. At Doctors Medical Center, their priority is making sure patients get the compassionate care they deserve in the Central Valley. From maternity to heart care to stroke care and beyond, they provide the medical services and specialties patients need at all stages of life. QUALITY OF LIFE ✦



Above: Large, warm reception area at Darroch Brain & Spine Institute of Doctors Medical Center. Right: Dr. John Darroch.

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Dr. John Darroch, Modesto’s first neurosurgeon, left a profound mark on the region thanks to talented hands and an extraordinary heart. Dr. Darroch’s legacy lives on in the Darroch Brain and Spine Institute of Doctors Medical Center, where medical and support personnel provide medical care with a personalized touch. Whether your pain was caused by a car accident or an old sports injury, the medical professionals at DBSI work to find out what is wrong and help you deal with it through surgical or non-surgical treatments. They bring together dedicated doctors and nurses to help evaluate, diagnose, and treat you. They aim to improve your quality of life through non-surgical means whenever possible, and when surgery is needed, you can rest assured knowing you’re in qualified hands. DBSI employees take pride in knowing their patients’ names and stories. Non-surgical treatments in the Darroch Brain and


Spine Institute include, among others, guided exercise, medication, braces, traction, acupuncture, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. When surgery is unavoidable, the Darroch Brain and Spine Institute uses state-of-the-art facilities at Doctors Medical Center, the region’s first Level II Trauma Center and a Blue Shield of California Distinction Center for spine surgery. DBSI’s utilizes specialized, minimally invasive spine surgery to treat herniated discs, disc degeneration, spinal stenosis (narrowing), fractures, spinal deformity, infections, and tumors. Doctors Medical Center has been certified as one of the region’s first Primary Stroke Centers. Their rapid response team implements synchronized stroke alert protocols to improve patient outcomes. DMC’s Neuro Critical Care nurses are certified in trauma nursing care, pediatrics, life support, advanced cardiac life support, and the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale. The neurosurgeons of the Darroch Brain and Spine Institute are trained in diagnosing and treating all types of back, spine, and neurological pains, conditions, and injuries. Surgeons at DBSI employ Deep Brain Stimulation to treat Parkinson’s disease, implant spinal cord stimulators, and treat aneurisms. When no one else seems to know what is wrong or how to help, reach out to the medical professionals at the Darroch Brain and Spine Institute for the help you need to heal and return to enjoying life.

Valley Heart Institute offers the region a convenient and comprehensive solution for patients at risk for heart disease and is the area’s foremost provider of cardiac care. Serving the entire Stanislaus County, the multidisciplinary specialists at Valley Heart Institute are committed to providing patients with access to nationally recognized care. This ranges from detecting and managing the early stages of heart disease using minimally invasive treatment options to providing some of the most advanced outpatient surgical procedures. They offer a full spectrum of diagnostic and therapeutic treatment options, delivering a standard of care to the region. They provide patients a wide range of treatments, such as: a complete cardiovascular evaluation and treatment, echocardiography, nuclear stress testing, heart rhythm management including electrophysiology, ablations, pacemakers and defibrillators, cardiac catheterization, balloon angioplasty, stenting, peripheral and cerebral vascular disease management and treatment. Their commitment to care has helped lead Doctors Medical Center to many awards and accreditations. These include: • Recipient of the American Heart Association/ American Stroke Association’s Get with the Guidelines Heart Failure Gold Plus Award; • Recipient of the AHA Mission: Lifeline Receiving Center Gold Level Recognition Award for Heart Attack Care; • American College of Cardiology Foundation’s NCDR ACTION Registry—GWTS Platinum Performance Achievement Award for Heart Attack Care (one of only 197 hospitals in the U.S. to receive this award); • Accredited as a Chest Pain Center by the Society of Chest Pain Centers (becoming the first hospital in the region to receive this designation); • Recipient of the Joint Commission’s Top Performer on Key Quality Measures distinction for heart attack, pneumonia, surgery, and heart failure; and, • Accredited as a Mission: Lifeline Heart Attack (STEMI) Receiving Center by the American Heart Association (becoming the first hospital in California to receive this accreditation).

In addition to treating patients with chronic heart conditions, Valley Heart Institute serves as a referral center for complex and difficultto-treat cardiac cases. Valley Heart Institute believes offering the best possible care requires more than the latest technology. This is why they offer a personalized approach to care. Valley Heart Institute’s goal is to see patients in a timely fashion and assign every patient one clinician who will guide patients through the entire treatment process and, whenever possible, ensure all tests and evaluations are coordinated on the same day.


Dedicated access nurse coordinators assist patients by taking relevant information about each patient’s condition and symptoms and follows up by arranging a prompt evaluation with the most appropriate cardiac expert. Clinicians guide patients through cardiac risk assessment and lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise, so they naturally become part of a patient’s daily routine. Valley Heart Institute is committed to educating patients, physicians, and nurses about heart disease. Clinicians share new scientific discoveries and innovations in patient care with others through local, state, and national conferences and publications. Experience is the cornerstone of Valley Heart Institute. The board-certified cardiologists treat thousands of patients each year for a wide range of cardiovascular conditions, ranging from the common to the complex.




In the early 1960s, Bishop Donohoe, the first Bishop of the Diocese of Stockton, envisioned a Diocesan high school accessible to all Catholic families in the southern part of the Diocese. With this vision to guide and inspire him, Bishop Donohoe engaged the Augustinian Fathers and Holy Cross Sisters to work with dedicated parents and a supportive community to open Central Catholic High School on land donated by St. Stanislaus Parish. Central Catholic High School accepted its first students in 1966. Faithful to its Catholic tradition, its mission is to witness to the Gospel while building an educational community that inspires the spiritual, academic, and social development of young adults. The Augustinians and Holy Cross Sisters remained involved with the coed school until 1980 when Father Richard Morse, an Oblate of St. Francis de Sales, became the fourth principal. He was followed by the 190 âœŚ


first lay principal, Dr. Les Clements, and, in 1987, Jim Pecchenino (class of 1972) took on the role before transitioning to president when the school moved to a president-principal model. Today, Central Catholic High School (CCHS) is a four-year college preparatory high school in California’s Central Valley serving students from twenty-five communities, including and surrounding Modesto. CCHS also serves a growing population of international students. The school welcomes students of all faiths and offers a strong scholarship program providing students from every economic background the ability to attend Central Catholic. CCHS alumni play an important role in the school’s operations and the children of alumni comprise a significant percentage of the student body. Central Catholic High School believes the best preparation for life is a challenging, well-rounded, academic education combined with diversified co-curricular activities grounded in the teachings of Jesus Christ. CCHS has an outstanding track record getting students into top colleges up and down the state and across the nation. A Central Catholic High School student is spiritually developed, academically prepared, socially responsible, and globally conscious. Students also enjoy a sense of belonging, a real family atmosphere, unique to other educational institutions. As an academically prepared student, Central Catholic students exhibit skills and knowledge of a well-rounded, college preparatory education, employ creative and critical thinking to promote independent lifelong learning, and utilize technology as a tool for learning, communicating, and building skills. A full complement of college preparatory and AP classes are offered in small-class settings. Students learn to be responsible leaders by practicing a healthy lifestyle in body, mind, and spirit. They are guided by morality, compassion, confidence, and integrity and participate in school and community activities. Central Catholic High School students become agents of change for a just society and model team and family values. Central Catholic students become globally conscious citizens demonstrating an understanding of the cultural, political, and economic challenges for the twenty-first century. They respond

to world, national, and local crises and challenges, promote environmental stewardship, and understand and respect cultural and ethnic diversity. As a spiritually developed person, Central Catholic students demonstrate acceptance of self, compassion, and concern for others based on the teachings of Jesus Christ. Students engage in personal and communal prayer, recognize and appreciate the tenets of both the Catholic and non-Catholic faiths, practice active involvement in community through volunteer service, and apply Christian values, ethical standards, and moral integrity to life. Another long-held tradition at Central Catholic is the availability of a wide variety of sports for both young men and women. CCHS currently offers nineteen varsity sports. In its fifty-year history, the CCHS athletic program has delivered over 160 league championships, over 50 section titles, and a dozen state titles, including an historic 4 state championships in a row for Central Catholic Football in 2012-2015. Student-athletes perform on and off the field, garnering numerous athletic-scholar awards every year. The athletic program is another way in which CCHS develops the whole student. As Central Catholic embarks on its fiftieth year, CCHS is proud to unveil the new Mark Gallo Health and Fitness Center. The Mark Gallo Health and Fitness Center will provide a beautiful, large venue for sports, a state-of-the-art fitness center for our students, two additional

classrooms, and a kitchen capable of serving gourmet dinners to groups of 500 or snack and luncheon items on a daily basis. The Center provides the perfect opportunity to expand curriculum into nutrition, as well as providing a home for the new and growing FFA program, which started in 2014. The proximity of our FFA program will encourage homegrown food use in preparations in the state-of-the-art kitchen in the Center. Bishop Donohoe’s vision endures in Central Catholic High School’s students and staff, as each day we embrace our core values of faith, academic rigor, family, community, and integrity. We are proud to demonstrate a tradition of excellence while witnessing to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.




Top: Mary Jean Coeur-Barron Thompson, co-founder. Above: Kathy Oberg-Erlenbeck, co-founder. Below: Members of the Friends of Community Hospice.

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The seed that sprouted into Community Hospice, Inc. was planted in 1979 when a nurse and her husband, an oncologist, decided to do what they could to alleviate the pain of children suffering from leukemia. Mary Jean Coeur-Barron, was working on a degree in public health nursing, and a classmate, Kathy Oberg-Erlenbeck, approached local hospitals, home health agencies, and community organizations to create a local hospice program. Thirty-five healthcare providers met with a consultant in Modesto to determine whether the community would support hospice services. A board of directors was formed with representatives from all 5 area hospitals, many home health agencies, 2 physicians and 2 nurses to complete the 12-member board. Community Hospice, Inc., nurses visited their first patient on January 22, 1980. Today, Community Hospice serves Stanislaus, San Joaquin, Merced, Calaveras, Mariposa, Tuolumne, and parts of Contra Costa, Sacramento, Alameda, and Santa Clara Counties. On October 31, 1985, Community Hospice became the first freestanding hospice in the nation to receive accreditation by the Joint Commission on Accreditation. A little more than two years later, Community Hospice merged with Project VIA, an independent nonprofit agency providing bereavement care, allowing Community Hospice to provide services to anyone facing any terminal illness. It also enabled Community Hospice to provide bereavement services to anyone faced with the terminal illness or death of a loved one, regardless of the cause of illness. As awareness of hospice spread through the Central Valley, financial needs increased.


In 1982, Friends of Community Hospice, a voluntary ladies’ auxiliary was established to serve the fundraising needs of Community Hospice. After one year, more than forty community members were fundraising ambassadors for Community Hospice. To date, the Friends of Community Hospice have raised over $1 million to help support the patients and families of Community Hospice. The Community Hospice Foundation was founded in 2001 to raise funds to support the mission of Community Hospice. Community Hospice Foundation has garnered support to ensure quality patient care during end of life journeys for thousands in our region. The Community Hospice Volunteer Program also became pivotal providing a vital link with the patient, family, and community members, providing thousands of hours of service annually. As the 1990s ended, Community Hospice recognized some patients needed more care requiring around the clock nursing care. Community Hospice’s vision broadened to include a hospice inpatient facility, which became a reality when John and June Rogers offered a $3-million challenge grant to help build a freestanding hospice inpatient facility in Hughson, California. After a year-long campaign and strong community support, a significant gift was given to Community Hospice. Thanks to the generosity of gracious community donors, Community Hospice Alexander Cohen Hospice House accepted its first patient on March 7, 2005. The 20,000-square-foot hospice inpatient facility includes sixteen private rooms with adjoining patios, a chapel, and activity and family rooms for patients and their families.

Shortly after Community Hospice Alexander Cohen Hospice House opened, Community Hospice and Community Hospice Foundation moved to the Haig and Isabel Berberian Patient Services Center in Modesto, paving the way for the continuing work of Community Hospice and allowing the organization to grow. In 2010, Community Health Accreditation Program (CHAP) awarded Community Hospice accreditation with deemed status under the CHAP Hospice Standards of Excellence. Community Hospice was again awarded reaccreditation with deemed status in 2013 and 2016. In 2011, Community Hospice opened a 20,000-square-foot Logistics Center in the River Bluff Business Park in Modesto. The Logistics Division building houses the Durable Medical Equipment division operations and the processing center for Community Hospice Hope Chest Thrift Stores seven locations. All proceeds generated at the Hope Chest Thrift Stores are used to support the patients, families and programs of Community Hospice. The

processing center’s efficiency has allowed the Hope Chest Thrift Stores to achieve the City of Modesto Business Recycling Award for outstanding waste reduction in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. In 2013, President/CEO Harold A. Peterson III retired and was succeeded by C. DeSha McLeod. Community Hospice opened a San Joaquin Branch office in Stockton, California, in 2013 followed by a Community Hospice Hope Chest Thrift Store in 2015. In 2016, Community Hospice San Joaquin Branch relocated to a larger facility to meet the need of expanding patient services and programs in the county. As the oldest and largest nonprofit hospice provider in the Central Valley, Community Hospice has provided the community compassionate, quality care, education, and support to terminally ill patients and their families regardless of ability to pay. Everyone has the right to walk their life’s journey with dignity and peace, regardless of ability to pay…that is the Community Hospice promise.

Above: The Alexander Cohen Hospice House. Below: The Haig and Isabel Berberian Patient Services Center.




Below: Movin’ Out, a touring Broadway production; and a children’s show, Dinosaur Zoo LIVE!

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The beginning of the campaign to build the Gallo Center for the Arts occurred in January 1997 when Mayor Richard Lang announced that he was appointing Marie Gallo to chair a research team to determine the feasibility of the project. Marie assembled a diverse team of community leaders and City of Modesto and County of Stanislaus officials to study options for building and operating an arts facility. Members of the research team included Bob Cardoza and Fred Silva, representing the private sector, and Modesto Mayor Lang, Stanislaus County Supervisor Ray Simon and Chief Executive Officer Reagan Wilson, representing the public sector. Over the course of a couple years, team members visited other arts centers and received advice from experts to help them formulate a plan.


Members of the research team came up with a unique public/private partnership to build and maintain an arts center for the Central Valley. It was determined that for the Center to be financially stable, an endowment fund was needed. In July 1999, the Gallo Family Foundations pledged $10 million to fund an endowment and in October the Mary Stuart Rogers Foundation added another $5 million. In mid-2000, the board of supervisors of Stanislaus County voted to contribute the land and $15 million. The public campaign to raise the additional $32 million began in May 2001 with the “Arts for All” fundraiser attended by almost 800 people at the home of Bob and Marie Gallo. At this event, Marie announced that the Foster Family had pledged $3 million to the project. Over the next six years, more than 4,000 individuals and businesses contributed to the building fund. Stanislaus County Assistant Chief Executive Officer Patricia Hill Thomas served as project manager working closely with the architect, Steven Gaffney, contractors, and designers to build a spectacular addition to the downtown landscape. Performers have been particularly complimentary about the superior acoustics designed by internationally acclaimed acoustician Christopher Jaffe. Marie is recognized as the “spark plug” that made the long-held dream of an arts center a reality. Her tenacity, encouragement, dedication, hard work, and passion convinced people it could happen—and it did! In September 2007, with great fanfare and celebration, the Gallo Center for the Arts opened its doors with a concert featuring Broadway star Patti LuPone and the Modesto Symphony Orchestra. Since the grand opening, the Gallo Center has set a new standard for arts, education, and entertainment for the region, attracting top-flight performances from around the world. The downtown Modesto complex operates two theaters—the 1,250-seat Mary Stuart Rogers Theater and the 440-seat Foster Family Theater. The Center is also home to six resident companies—Central West Ballet, Modesto Community Concert Association, Modesto Performing Arts, Modesto Symphony Orchestra, Townsend Opera, and YES Company.

Programs at the Gallo Center reflect the interests, diversity, and history of the people who call the Central Valley home. Its focus is on arts, entertainment, and multicultural programming. The Center is an enriching complement to the region’s educational activities, providing extraordinary opportunities for students at all levels. The Gallo Center is supported by sponsors, corporate patrons, and annual donors. The Center also has 250-plus volunteers who, in one recent year, donated more than 32,000 hours of service to help operate the facility. Since 2009, the Center has thrived under the leadership of Chief Executive Officer Lynn Dickerson and her outstanding staff. Lynn maintains a high standard of excellence for the Center while making sure the operation remains on financially solid ground.

The Center has attracted more than 1.5 million patrons since it opened, including tens of thousands of school children, who attend arts education performances for $5 per ticket. Through 2016, approximately 250,000 students from more than 350 schools have participated in the Center’s Pathways to Creativity program. The annual economic impact of the Gallo Center in downtown Modesto and the surrounding area is estimated at $10 million, while its impact on the culture, education, and quality of life for residents of Modesto and the Central Valley is inestimable. The Gallo Center for the Arts will serve as a beautiful landmark for the region for decades to come. Gallo Center for the Arts is located at 1000 I Street in Modesto and at




Above: A meeting of the 1923 Rotary Club. .

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The Modesto Rotary Club has been an important part of the Modesto business and philanthropic community since it was organized on March 26, 1920. Sponsored by the Stockton Rotary Club, membership began with twenty-three Modesto businessmen who recognized the importance of forming an organization where people could join forces to make the community a better place to work and live.

Like the larger organization known as Rotary International, the objective of the Modesto Rotary Club is to promote the idea of service as a basis of worthy enterprise. In particular, Modesto Rotary seeks to: · Encourage and foster the development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service; · Support high ethical standards in business and professions; · Recognize the worthiness of all useful occupations and dignify each Rotarian’s occupation as an opportunity to serve society;

T O U C H S T O N E S : L iI fFe E a A n dN DT i m T Ie M s Eo Sf M O oFd eMs tOo D E S T O

· Endorse the ideal of service by every Rotarian to his personal, business, and community life; and · Advance international understanding, good will, and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional people united in the ideal of service With nearly 250 members, the Modesto Rotary Club is the largest club in District 5220. The district includes fifty-one clubs, more than 2,200 members, and includes Stanislaus, San Joaquin, Merced, Calaveras, Tuolumne, and Mariposa counties. The Modesto Rotary Club has a long history of working with clubs in other countries, including art and youth exchanges with Tokyo Nihonbashi, youth exchanges with Kurume, Japan; and Laval, France; and matching grant programs and friendship exchanges with Aguascalientes, Mexico, a sister Rotary Club. In 1987, Modesto Rotary Club welcomed its first female member. Modesto Rotary has vigorously supported the efforts of the Rotary International Foundation to eliminate polio. In 1987-1988 and 20032004, Modesto Rotary donated more than $280,000 for the Polio Plus and Polio Eradication Campaigns. The Modesto Rotary Club raises money for service projects through the Modesto Rotary Club Foundation. Funds are raised by the annual Foundation Auction, the December Community Service Fund Appeal, International Night fundraiser, and our annual concert, MoRo at the Gallo. The Modesto Rotary Club has donated untold time, money, and talents to the Modesto community. Individual members serve the local, national, and international communities, bringing renown to themselves and, Modesto Rotary. Past President Peter Johansen served as a Group Study Exchange team leader in New Zealand in 1971. In 1975, Jerry Ammerman led a Rotary team to Belgium and Luxembourg. Three years later, Larry Bailey led a team to India. In 1983, John Bree led a team to South Korea and, in 1998, John B. Mensinger led a team to France. The club’s contributions to Modesto’s growth are numerous. In 1979, Modesto Rotary helped build The Salvation Army Red Shield Recreation Center in south Modesto. In 1981, Modesto Rotary built Rotary Pavilion in Graceada Park,

dedicating it to Past District Governor Ernest F. Soderstrom. In 1985, Modesto Rotary added playground equipment to the park and, in 1988, completed a $140,000 picnic area in Beyer Park. Modesto Rotary continued its philanthropic ventures in 1988-1989, replacing Mancini Band Hall with a new $270,000 senior meeting and band practice facility. Beginning in 1986, Modesto Rotary supported the Santa Marta Orphanage in Baja California, with more than $10,000 in food, building materials, and machinery delivered annually. In 1989, club members planted a ten-acre orchard and installed a drip irrigation system. In April 1992, Modesto Rotary planted twenty Valley Oak trees in Tuolumne Regional Park, which became known as Dochterman Grove in honor of Cliff Dochterman, a member of the Stockton Rotary Club and international president from 1992-1993. In that same timespan, Modesto Rotary provided playground equipment for Robertson Road Park and built a basketball court at a cost of more than $80,000 for the distressed west side of Modesto. The club’s contributions to the area continued. In 1993-1994, Modesto Rotary painted the interior of the YMCA and established a Rotaract Club. In 1995-1996, Modesto Rotary built classrooms for the Red Shield Center and installed playground equipment in Westside Park. In 1996-1997, Modesto Rotary donated $14,000 to the Salvation Army for the Modesto flood relief and continued with the annual Senior Stride, involving more than 300 seniors from throughout the community. The year 1999 marked the beginning of an $80,000, two-phase project to install playground facilities for Welfare-to-Work Daycare Centers at the YMCA and the Salvation Army. The Oregon Park reconstruction project, valued at more than $230,000, was launched in the spring of 2002. Modesto Rotary provided half the money, most of the volunteers, and supervised construction. Also in 2002, the foundation contributed $100,000 to the Gallo Performing Arts Center over a four-year period. More recently, Modesto Rotary Club Foundation has donated $21,000 to the Salvation Army to purchase bunk beds for the Haig Berberian Homeless Shelter, along with a donation of a new commercial-grade washer

and dryer. Additional monetary support has been provided for the following: · $25,000 for the Helen White Trail in west Modesto; · $50,000 for the Miracle League Field, enabling disabled individuals to enjoy the experience of playing softball; · $50,000 to the Stanislaus Youth Soccer League; · $10,000 to the Veterans Foundation; and · Five Little Free Libraries through out the community The Modesto Rotary Club Foundation continues to support numerous local nonprofits with grants. The motto for all Rotarians is “Service Above Self.” The members of Modesto Rotary Club continue a long tradition of putting these words into action and will continue to do so in the decades ahead.

Volunteers hard at work in their community.

S hQa U r iAn Lg I tThYe O H Fe r iLtIaFg Ee ✦



Above: John Stuart Rogers. Right: Mary Stuart Rogers.

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The Mary Stuart Rogers Foundation strives to perpetuate the spirit of the woman for whom the foundation is named by supporting organizations that help people who help themselves. The lifelong homemaker and mother of four was committed to providing opportunities to needy individuals motivated to succeed. Mary Stuart, an heiress of the Carnation Milk Company, created her foundation from the sale of her stock when the company was sold to the Nestle Corporation in 1983. She kept a low profile and did not divulge the foundation’s existence until her death in 1993, placing her sons, John Stuart and James William Rogers, in charge. James died a year after Mary, leaving sole responsibility to John. The foundation’s interests in education, women, children, the homeless, and the blind closely reflect the concerns of its founder, who established the foundation in 1985, eight years before her death. The foundation contributes to youth and human service organizations and sponsors the Mary Stuart Rogers Scholarship Program to help students at schools ranging from the elementary to the university level. The foundation has endowed funds at several institutions to underwrite scholarships given mostly to minority students who have completed at least two years of college. Along with giving more than 200 scholarships each year, the foundation makes grants to private, nonprofit, tax-exempt organizations supporting twenty-five to thirty projects each year. To foster the beliefs of Mary, numerous


grants are made to religious organizations, including several private Catholic schools in Stanislaus County, where funds are used to help pay tuition. The foundation has supported a wide range of organizations, such as Ronald McDonald House, Lucile Salter Packard Children’s Hospital, and Learning Quest—Stanislaus Literacy Centers, which, among other things, helps adult students earn GEDs and find jobs. The foundation has supported the Children’s Crisis Center of Stanislaus County, Parent Resource Center, Sierra Vista Child & Family Services, Community Hospice, and Guide Dogs of the Desert. It also supports the arts with grants to organizations like the Modesto Symphony Orchestra and the Gallo Center for the Arts. One of the two theaters at the Gallo Center is named for Mary Stuart Rogers.

Each year, the foundation provides scholarships and grants to many students and charitable organizations. In the past, when the foundation’s investments generated more income, it donated funds to help build several university buildings, such as the Mary Stuart Rogers Educational Services Gateway Building at California State University, Stanislaus; Rogers Music Center at Willamette University; the Student Learning Center at Modesto Junior College; and the Graduate School of Education building at Lewis & Clark College. The board consists mostly of family members who are dedicated to continuing to fulfill the intent of Mary, who believed God helps those who help themselves.

In April 1931, under the leadership of founder and conductor Frank “Proof” Mancini, seventy-four teenagers, adults, and professional musicians assembled at First Presbyterian Church for the Modesto Symphony Orchestra’s first public performance. By the time the concert concluded, Modesto had become the smallest city in the United States to have a symphony orchestra. With a population of just seventeen thousand people at the time, Modesto embraced the idea to form a symphony after Mancini sent a letter to area musicians in December of 1929 inviting them to help Modesto “be the only city of its size in the United States that can boast of having a symphony orchestra. We aim to give several concerts this winter and play the best music there is.” Today, Modesto Symphony Orchestra is a fully professional ensemble; striving to reach new artistic heights, while welcoming worldrenowned musicians to Modesto to help enhance the community’s cultural fabric. Currently consisting of 75 to 85 professional musicians from the Central Valley and San Francisco Bay area, the symphony—through dedication and hard work of musicians, staff, Board members, and music lovers—has become what one music director described as Modesto’s “greatest cultural asset.” David Lockington, who

began his tenure in September 2007, is the orchestra’s eighth music director. Perhaps the symphony’s most well-known event and largest annual community concert, “Picnic at the Pops,” attracts roughly four thousand people from the Central Valley and beyond each September. Held on the grounds of the E. & J. Gallo Winery in Modesto, “Picnic at the Pops” invites guests to enjoy an evening of symphonic music underneath the stars and provides a change from the symphony’s usual performance venue at the Gallo Center for the Arts. In addition to concerts, the symphony’s reach has expanded to include a youth orchestra, a community chorus, and various educational initiatives. Ryan Murray serves as music director for the Modesto Symphony Youth Orchestra, which continues to expand in both size and quality, while the Modesto Symphony Chorus, founded in 2001 and directed by Dr. Daniel R. Afonso, Jr., has grown to nearly 150 singers. The Modesto Symphony Orchestra has enjoyed a strong bond with Modesto and is fortunate to have experienced continuous growth and support since its inception. The orchestra’s continued commitment to excellence and the community’s unwavering support ensure a bright and lasting future for both.


Above: Conductor Frank Mancini with the orchestra during rehearsal. PHOTOGRAPH BY THOMAS D. QUINN.

Below: Modesto Symphony Orchestra and Chorus at a 2016 performance. PHOTOGRAPH BY DIANE MOODY.




In 1970, Head Rest opened its doors as a drop-in center for young drug abusers in Stanislaus County. They employed one paid staff member and nine volunteers. Within one year, Head Rest had grown to three paid staff and twenty dedicated volunteers. Through state funding, community support, and a desire to help our community, Head Rest continued to add programs and staff and shifted focus from programs reacting to issues in our community to a broader, educational approach aimed not only at young drug abusers, but the whole family. In 1984, Head Rest became Center for Human Services (CHS). Their service capacity continued to grow as they added funding sources and several programs for youth and families. As one of Stanislaus County’s largest nonprofit organizations, CHS employs hundreds of staff and volunteers working in every community in the county. CHS continues to offer programs to strengthen and support youth and families. They believe all people have the capacity for change and growth, and everyone deserves access to resources that will help in times of need.

Modesto is taking the right road into the future. PHOTOGRAPH BY WILLIAM HARRIS, WILLIAM HARRIS PHOTOGRAPHY.

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CHS has a long history here, and does all they can to respond to the needs of this community. In turn, the community has always supported them, for which they are thankful.

The McHenry Museum Store has become a community treasure under the management of Press and Publications, McHenry Museum & Historical Society. When the Society began, there was no store, and docents volunteered to sell a few history books from behind one of the lobby counters. Eventually, a small space was set up for books and a few gifts, and income was used to replenish the inventory. The space has been improved, and the variety of gifts and collection of local history has made the store a unique shopping experience. A manager now handles scheduling and purchasing. All profits go toward store expenses and the cost of new publications. Below is a sample list of local authors and their historical works. Many more such histories are available in the store. Annals of Stanislaus County by I. N. “Jack” Brotherton–Here is the exciting story of Stanislaus County’s three major rivers and the early ferry days. It is a definitive history of the men and women who settled the region and made their livings transporting people, produce, and livestock across the Stanislaus, the San Joaquin, and the Tuolumne Rivers. It is illustrated with rare historical photographs and detailed maps. Bibliographical sources and a detailed index are included. Early Modesto and Nearby Towns by Colleen Stanley Bare–A collection of columns about Modesto, Copperopolis, Farmington, Merced, and Turlock from 1870 to the present, all originally published in The Modesto Bee. Each is really a nonfiction short story, recounting what happened to some of our early pioneers. The challenges of forming new towns, establishing city and county governments, and coping with violence are found in these stories, along with documentation of the customs, celebrations and parties, education, and transportation of the past. History of Stanislaus County with illustrations 1881 by L. C. Branch. San Francisco: Elliot & Moore Publishers, 1881–This is the 2012 reproduction of the original hardbound cover and contents. This classic nineteenth century history of Stanislaus County is a balance of text and lithographic illustrations in a coffee table size format. It covers topics such as the early Spanish and Mexican history of the county area; early county history; mining; agriculture; weather; county seat; natural resources; pioneering; and

biographies of prominent residents, with illustrations of their homes and farms. There is a personal name index. Modesto: Then and Now by Colleen Stanley Bare–This book encompasses one hundred and thirty years of Modesto history, up to and including the 1990s, in a chronological narrative from a wide variety of written sources. Each chapter covers one to two decades of history. It includes an appendix with several lists of facts about the city and an index. The Stanislaus Indian Wars by Thorne Gray– Journalist Thorne Gray tells the story of the obliteration of a tribe of California native peoples, the Laquisimas, a subgroup of the Northern Yokuts, who lived along the Stanislaus River near present-day Modesto. The story begins in 1806, when the Spanish first reached the Stanislaus River, and ends in 1933, when the last Laquisima, Charley Gomez, dies at Knights Ferry. It is a chronicle based on the lives of three important tribal chiefs: Estanislao, Yoscolo, and Jose Jesus. The author draws from letters, manuscripts, government documents, and published materials to write this history. Keenly written, this account will stir the reader’s emotions as it recounts the tragic plight of the Laquisimas.


A community treasure and unique shopping experience.




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THE MARKETPLACE M o d e s t o ’s re t a i l a n d c o m m e r c i a l e s t a b l i s h m e n t s offer an impressive variety of choices Va r n i B ro t h e r s C o r p o r a t i o n . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 0 4 A l m o n d B o a rd o f C a l i f o r n i a . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 0 6 The Save Mart Companies ..............................................................208 M o c s e C re d i t U n i o n . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 1 0 M i t c h e l l ’s M o d e s t o H a r l e y - D a v i d s o n . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 1 2 P r i m e S h i n e C a r Wa s h . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 1 4 Gianelli &Associates .....................................................................215 A m e r i c a n C h e v ro l e t . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 1 6 Bank of Stockton ...........................................................................217 Ambeck Mortgage Associates ...........................................................218 Mistlin Honda ..............................................................................219 Helbling, Inc. dba Miracle Auto Painting & Body Repair .....................220 D a m re l l N e l s o n S c h r i m p P a l l i o s P a c h e r & S i l v a . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 2 1 M c C o y T i re . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 2 2 Atherton & Associates, LLP Certified Public Accountants ....................223 R o s s i n i M e n s w e a r- F o r m a l w e a r . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 2 4 Five Minute Carwash .....................................................................225 C i c c a re l l i J e w e l e r s . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 2 6 S l a t e r ’s H o m e F u r n i s h i n g s . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 2 7 V i n t a g e C a r Wa s h . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 2 8 Concetta ......................................................................................229 McHenry Bowl ..............................................................................230 Modesto Independent Insurance Agency Association Stanislaus Insurance ................................................................231 Tr a d e w a y Tr a n s m i s s i o n s . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 3 2

SPECIAL THANKS TO Modesto Mobility Center, Inc.




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The Varni Brothers Corporation officially began in 1960, but its roots go as far back as 1933, when Attilio Varni began his beverage business on Ninth Street in Modesto, where he bottled, labeled, and delivered local wine from casks and barrels to area restaurants and taverns. Then, in 1936, Attilio was given the opportunity to purchase a franchise to bottle and distribute a fairly new brand of soft drink known as 7-Up. The drink reminded Attilio of a lemon-lime soda he had enjoyed in Italy, and so the SevenUp Bottling Company of Modesto was born. Hard work and honest customer service increased 7-Up’s popularity to the point that Attilio needed to expand his business within the building that also housed his wife Caterina’s company—Modesto Ravioli and Noodle Factory. Their three sons, Louis, John, and Fred, worked with their parents from a young age after school and on weekends, interrupted only by their service during World War II. When the war came to an end, they returned to work, helping to operate and grow the business after their father fell ill and passed away unexpectedly.


After incorporating in 1960, they seized the opportunity to purchase Seven-Up Bottling Company of Stockton in 1963 to more than double their franchise territory size. Stanislaus Distributing Company, which developed as a beer and wine distribution business, operated separately from the soft drink division, and Modesto became the sole bottling and canning facility for Seven-Up Modesto and Stockton. Like their fathers, the third generation family members worked during the summer months and after school, and many entered the business as full-time employees before moving into management. The beverage industry continued to change dramatically in the 1980s with the

7-Up parent company selling several times. Familiar beer and wine brands were eliminated due to relentless competition. The changes in the marketplace brought opportunities to expand the non-alcoholic portfolio to include new-age, fruit drink, and energy brands. John and Fred continued to lead the business into the 1990s by expanding the company’s beverage line. The third generation management team helped introduce and market more new brands and developed the Varni-owned trademark: NOAH’S California Spring Water. Distribution in Stanislaus and San Joaquin Counties continued to grow as the population in the Central Valley grew, and to keep pace the production facility in Modesto continued to expand and modernize. The new millennium brought more changes to Varni Brothers Corporation. The energy drink, Rockstar, dramatically boosted sales and production even as distribution of soft drinks continued to remain successful. Stanislaus Distributing Company began distribution operations in Fresno, servicing the San Joaquin Valley’s southern counties, selling NOAH’S Water, Rockstar, and many other brands. To accommodate its growing business, by 2006 the Modesto production facility grew to more than 200,000 square feet into a stateof-the-art beverage plant, and increased production tenfold. After acquiring neighboring property, Varni Brothers Corporation built another 27,000square-foot warehouse addition followed by another 15,000-square-foot addition in 2013, bringing the total facility footprint to 255,000 square feet. This made room for a dedicated wine production line and a new hot fill-capable bottling line for glass, PET, aluminum bottles, and CapCans for a wide variety of new production customers. The capability prompted wine bottling and canning relationships with some of the largest wineries in the world. The NOAH’S Spring Water product line expanded in 2011 with an updated logo. In addition, NOAH’S Sparkling Spring Water launched its trendy new twelve ounce sleek cans in natural lime, blueberry-pomegranate, and peach-mango flavors followed by NOAH’S Oxygenated Spring Water, and NOAH’S Sparkling Varni Almond Spring Water, the first

sparkling almond-flavored spring water, to celebrate the Varni family’s ties to their Varni Almond Ranch and Varni Nut Company huller. In 2015, NOAH’S Spring Water was the first bottled water brand offered in the eco-friendlier, aluminum twenty-four ounce CapCan. Its popularity grew into new markets, with added distribution partners throughout the West. Now, more than eighty years after Attilio purchased the 7-Up franchise of Modesto, Varni Brothers Corporation remains completely familyowned with fourth-generation involvement. Varni Brothers Corporation is California’s only surviving family-owned franchise bottler of any major soft drink brand, and, in a beverage industry that continues to change quickly, it remains well-positioned as one of the most versatile beverage packers in the United States.




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Almonds first arrived in California with Father Junipero Serra, who planted a few seeds as he established his missions in the eighteenth century. Originating in the deserts and lower mountain slopes of Asia, almonds grew wild near trade routes like the Silk Road, making them easily accessible. By 4,000 BCE, almonds were found in nearly all ancient civilizations. Almond cultivation spread from Asia to the Middle East, and from there to the Mediterranean countries of Europe, where they thrived for centuries. Commercial production began in East Coast states around 1840. It was thought that because almonds are closely related to peaches, they would grow in the same environment, but growers soon discovered that the early blooming almond succumbed to late frosts or to diseases that thrived in humid conditions. Almonds arrived in California in the early 1850s, where they grew more successfully in the mild, wet winters and dry, warm summers so similar to their Mediterranean home. In 1878, A. T. Hatch of Suisun planted 2,000 seedlings; he then grafted different almond


varieties. The fruit of these trees varied widely and he selected the best to exhibit at the Sacramento Citrus Fair in 1886. These included Nonpareil and Ne Plus Ultra, which are still planted today. In fact, Nonpareil almonds from California account for more than half of all almond sales globally. With the new varieties, almond planting increased in California. By the early 1900s, the need for cross-pollination with compatible varieties was recognized, which greatly improved production. While the statewide production was about 250 tons in 1888, it rose to 20.5 million tons by 1923. By 1860, almonds were grown from Los Angeles to Yuba City. Soon, large acreages with as many as 40,000 trees and many from 5,000 to 10,000 were common, producing about 10 pounds of nuts per tree. As production rose, profitability fell. Each grower was his own marketer, making deals with only a few buyers. With the small scale, it became clear that a central marketing organization was necessary for almond growers to have enough marketing information and clout to be successful.

It was out of this need that the California Almond Growers Exchange was founded, combining nine local associations into a central exchange in 1910 representing about sixty percent of the state’s crop. Leaders of the exchange analyzed world supply and demand and gathered market intelligence to encourage fair and stable pricing. Today, the cooperative is known as Blue Diamond Growers. In these early years, almonds were harvested and processed almost exclusively by hand. Large canvas sheets were placed under trees, and almonds were knocked off the trees onto the sheets. From the sheets, they were shoveled into large sacks for transport. In the packing shed, the pulpy outer hull was removed by hand and the nuts were sold in-shell. Hulling machinery was eventually developed and today, the process of harvesting, hulling and shelling is completely mechanized. The federal Central Valley Project (CVP), was created in 1933 to provide irrigation and municipal water to much of California’s Central Valley. In 1950, fifty percent of California’s almonds were still produced in the Sacramento Valley, but, over time, acreage shifted to the San Joaquin Valley with its better soils and climate. From 1915 to 1935, the average yields of California Almonds remained about 210 pounds

per acre of shelled almonds. But, by 1960, yields soared to more than three times that amount and since then yield has increased to more than 2,500 pounds per acre. As larger and larger crops were harvested, the California almond industry began talking about a generic advertising program to promote all California almonds. In 1950, the Almond Control Board, the forerunner of the Almond Board of California, was created under supervision of the United States Department of Agriculture. In the 1970s, recognizing a need to address market development, the name was changed to Almond Board of California. While compliance is still a crucial part of its activities, the board now engages in production, nutrition and market research, advertising and promotion in domestic and international markets, quality control and analysis, and dissemination of industry statistics. Almond acreage and crop size continued to grow over the decades, reaching two billion pounds from 800,000 acres in crop year 2011-2012. Almond production and processing are important to jobs in the Central Valley; the almond industry supports 104,000 total jobs in the state, about 97,000 of which are in the Central Valley. THE MARKETPLACE ✦



Save Mart was founded in 1952 by Mike Piccinini and Nick Tocco, brothers-in-law who grew up surrounded by the Central Valley’s agricultural community. They opened the company’s first store on Crows Landing Road in Modesto with a passion for serving people, caring for its community and a vision for bringing innovation to the grocery industry. In that first store, shoppers were offered pre-packaged meats, yard and garden supplies, plants, fresh-cut flowers and gift items, which were rung up on some of the Valley’s first cash registers—all creative concepts for the 1950s and relatively unheard of for the area—until Save Mart brought them to the Valley. The store also provided check-cashing services to its customers—a transaction that once only took place by visiting a bank. Save Mart would continue to offer innovations throughout its

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history to enhance the shopping experience for its customers. Going the extra step for its customers became a daily principle for Save Mart. The company gradually expanded throughout the Central Valley from the 1950s through the 1980s, entering the value grocery arena by opening two warehouse-style stores in Bakersfield in the late 1980s—a concept that would prove to be embraced by shoppers seeking quality groceries at lower prices. Today, FoodMaxx serves customers from Redding to Bakersfield. In 1985, Mike Piccinini’s son, Bob, purchased the family business from the Piccinini and Tocco families. Bob grew up in the family grocery business, starting as a box boy and eventually serving as the company’s chairman, president and chief executive officer. By that time, he understood the business from years of hands-on experience and active participation in all aspects of the company’s operations. The following year, when the company moved its corporate headquarters to Standiford Avenue, where it remains today, Save Mart had grown to sixty-five stores throughout Northern and Southern Central California. From the mid-1980s through the 1990s Save Mart grew substantially, bringing more stores to Northern and Central California and expanding into the San Francisco Bay Area. In the mid-2000s the company experienced the greatest growth in its history, bringing Save Mart, Lucky and FoodMaxx stores into the Metro Sacramento area, Northern California, Northern Nevada and Coastal California through the acquisition of Albertson’s stores in the area. From the day its first store opened, Save Mart has been involved in the communities where its stores are located, supporting school’s, children’s, and family-oriented events. This commitment remains alive and thrives. In the early 1990s Save Mart sponsored the Modesto American Graffiti Festival, an event that contin-

ues to this day. In 1991, the company began a partnership with Sonoma Raceway for NASCAR’s Sprint Cup racing—a partnership that continues to this day. In 2008, Save Mart launched Shares (Supporting Humanities, Arts, Recreation, Education and Sports), its most notable giving program that provided $4.5 million to participating organizations in 2015. In 2016, Shares relaunched as Shares Powered by eScrip, offering eligible organizations greater visibility to their earnings through a completely online portal. The company also runs Save Mart C.A.R.E.S., a charity foundation supporting Community, Arts, Recreation, Education and Sports. In addition, Save Mart donates thousands of tons of food products each year to community food banks. Save Mart has always been on the leading edge of innovation in the grocery industry. Today, the company has converted store lighting and refrigeration fixtures to energy-efficient sources, as well as developing sustainable organic crop fertilizer from store food waste. In 2013, Bob resigned as president; and in 2014, after celebrating his fiftieth anniversary with Save Mart, Bob retired as CEO and left the day-to-day operations to Greg Hill, Steve Junqueiro, and his daughter, Nicole Pesco. Under Bob’s leadership, Save Mart received local and national recognition for excellence in the grocery business. In 2015, Bob passed away, leaving a legacy of caring for communities, providing outstanding customer service, and innovation that remains integral to the company’s culture.

In 2016, Save Mart Supermarkets changed its name to The Save Mart Companies—creating a clear distinction between its retail operations and the parent company. Today, it operates over 200 stores under the primary banner names of FoodMaxx, Lucky, and Save Mart, two distribution centers, a refrigerated and dry transport fleet, and is a partner in two state-of-the-art dairies that supply Sunnyside Farms products to supermarkets throughout California. The Save Mart Companies private label brands include Sunnyside Farms, Sunny Select, Angus 43 Beef, Full Circle Organics, Market Essentials, Bayview Farms, and Pacific Coast Selections. THE MARKETPLACE ✦



Right: Lucille Hammer.

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Mocse Credit Union has been committed to its members and the communities it serves since it received its charter in February 1959. Seven original members with total credit union assets of $35 founded Mocse Credit Union because they recognized the fact that Modesto City School employees needed the financial services a credit union could provide. Modesto City School Credit Union was a mouthful, so the founders invented Mocse (pronounced “moxie”) as an easier-to-say, easier-toremember name. Through the years, Mocse Credit Union has grown and evolved at a remarkable pace, expanding its financial services and field of membership exponentially. Yet, no matter how much it has grown, it has retained its friendly, members-first attitude and credo of People Helping People, a philosophy embraced and preached by Mocse’s first Chief Executive Officer, Lucille Hammer. Lucille’s commitment to giving back to the community set the standard for what the credit union strives to achieve to this day. Mocse Credit Union is a not-for-profit financial cooperative owned and operated by members and designed to best serve them. Members have equal shares in


credit union ownership and benefit by receiving competitive interest rates and a full range of financial products. Mocse is proud of its past, as well as the direction in which it is headed. Mocse now serves everyone who lives, works, worships, or attends school in Stanislaus, Tuolumne, Mariposa, and Merced Counties. Mocse has two locations in Modesto and one in Turlock. Another branch— Sonora Wildcat Branch—is a student-run credit union at Sonora High School created through the Regional Occupational Program. It stands as one of Mocse Credit Union’s proudest achievements. The program was created in 2008 during a deep recession. A branch manager trains students and takes care of day-to-day operations, while educating a new group of three students every fifty minutes. Mocse’s staff created the program’s curriculum. During their allotted time, these juniors and seniors don Mocse shirts and learn a variety of tasks from Mocse’s staff, including how to work as a teller and how to open new accounts. Students receive the same training as new employees, including lessons on financial regulations and financial literacy. The program has been so successful that a number of students have gone on to work at other financial institutions in the Sonora area, as well as at Mocse Credit Union.

Supporting the financial education of Sonora High School students is only one example of how Mocse gives back to the community. It also supports local nonprofits, such as the United Way, Gallo Center, Salvation Army, American Heart Association, and Education Foundation of Stanislaus County. Mocse also supports the State Theatre, a historic and beautifully restored Art Deco auditorium featuring classic, foreign, and independent films, as well as performing arts and entertainment events. For years, Mocse has supported its local baseball team, the Modesto Nuts, and its Modesto Nuts Reading Program. Community Involvement is firmly woven into the fabric of Mocse Credit Union. It is a tradition the current CEO, Tracey Kerr, has embraced since she started at the credit union in 1979. Mocse’s dedicated, experienced staff has contributed greatly to the credit union’s

success. Employees are the most important resource in Mocse’s service commitment to members. By applying the principles of trust, honesty, respect, and commitment, not only do employees thrive in an environment of encouragement and support, but members do, too. That and the services it provides its members is why Mocse has been voted favorite financial institution more than ten times by The Modesto Bee’s readers. It is proof positive of Mocse’s pledge to provide the finest personal service with professionalism and integrity to all communities and all members.

Left: CEO Tracey Kerr.




You could say that Art Mitchell, owner of Mitchell’s Modesto Harley-Davidson, has motorcycles in his blood. The Sunnyvale native, who moved to Modesto in 1975, received his first motorcycle at age five when his father brought one home for him. Like any young boy, Mitchell fell in love with the mechanical marvel and quickly became a skilled rider who raced bikes during his high school years. It seems only natural he would go to work for a Sunnyvale Harley-Davidson store and become the owner of a Harley-Davidson store himself. Mitchell’s Modesto Harley-Davidson, an authorized dealer for the classic American motorcycle, originally opened in 1938 on

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Ninth Street. Mitchell purchased the store in 1987, eventually relocating it to its current location at 500 North Carpenter Road.

Through the years, Mitchell has become the de facto leader of the Central Valley’s motorcycle culture and Mitchell’s Modesto Harley-Davidson has become its unofficial headquarters. HarleyDavidson owners and would-be owners are drawn to the store like pilgrims to a motorcycle mecca, admiring the new and used motorcycles for sale, as well as a wide range of parts, accessories, and clothes.

No matter how high your expectations may be, Mitchell’s is likely to exceed them. Whether it is the newest fashion selections from its large MotorClothes department, the factorytrained technicians or the experienced sales personnel, you will leave impressed with the quality, quantity, and variety available. Mitchell’s can help you finance your motorcycle purchase with a minimum down payment and approved credit and, within a few hours, of picking out your bike, you can hit the road. Mitchell’s also offers an extended service plan, cycle insurance, and factory-trained technicians to take care of all your service needs from regular maintenance to full, custom engine building. Mitchell’s has a full performance facility that includes a dyno and certified dyno technician. It honors all warranty work and can handle any problem that may arise with your HarleyDavidson in an efficient, precise, and timely manner. Mitchell’s can help you make your motorcycle match you and your tastes by helping you customize your ride. The staff customizes motorcycles on a regular basis, so stop by and enjoy friendly service for all your parts and accessory needs. In addition to the Modesto store, Mitchell owns a second store in Jamestown, which he purchased in 1995, and, for the past several years, has owned Stockton Honda Yamaha. Mitchell’s is conveniently located near the areas of Stockton, Tracy, Manteca, Oakdale, Turlock, Livingston, Merced, Patterson, and Fresno. Mitchell’s offers a retro-themed restaurant, where you can relax and bask in the HarleyDavidson atmosphere. It is part of the nostalgia that draws people to Mitchell’s and the HarleyDavidson brand. The company is working to keep the best of the old models and combine them with the latest technology to give riders the best of both worlds. Mitchell’s is going along for the ride. Mitchell is the father of five and grandfather to eight. Like most Harley-Davidson riders, he does not fit into the stereotype of what a Harley rider is supposed to be. Look around the store and you will see all kinds of people from strapping young adventurers to grandmothers. Mitchell’s has been a strong supporter of motorcycle riders in the Central Valley for many years, supporting groups like the Modesto

Harley Owners Group (HOG), as well as other community organizations. In partnership with its customers, Mitchell’s has a long-standing commitment to building a strong relationship with the community. Through shop-sponsored events, Mitchell’s raises funds for deserving charities, while promoting safe and rewarding motorcycle ownership.

As one of Mitchell’s partners, HOG regularly provides security for local events and helps collect donations for philanthropic causes. Popular events include the annual Corporal Michael D. Anderson, Jr. Memorial Ride, the Sierra Hope Ride, and the American Graffiti Festival. Each year, HOG plans more than seventy rides for its approximately 170 members. With more than a few miles under his belt, Mitchell is making the transition from owner to owner emeritus, passing the mantle to his son, John Bilyeu, who you might say was born and bred for the role. Whatever the future holds for Mitchell’s Modesto Harley-Davidson, you can bet it will continue to be an integral part of the Central Valley’s motorcycle culture for years to come. THE MARKETPLACE ✦



Above: One of sixteen locations in California. Visit for the nearest location. Below: Father and son team, Norm and Evan Porges, in front of the original Prime Shine Car Wash, on McHenry Avenue in Modesto.

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Norm Porges founded Prime Shine Car Wash in 1991 with the intent to change the way Californians thought about washing their cars. Twenty-five years later, Prime Shine is California’s original and largest exterior express car wash company. Norm had built a successful career working for Fortune 500 companies around the country when yet another transfer request had him relocating away from Modesto. Not desiring another move, Norm explored several entrepreneurial options, including medical supplies, junk business, and car washing. In explaining his decision to not take the big corporate transfer, Norm told a friend, “I don’t want to leave Modesto and I’ll wash cars if I have to in order to make ends meet.” Norm was true to his word and after mortgaging his house and securing a SBA loan, on April 11, 1991, Prime Shine Express Car Wash was born on McHenry Avenue in Modesto. The business was an instantaneous hit with the Central Valley community, which immediately appreciated the new style of washing their cars. “No waiting, no wiping, only $3.95” was the company’s first tag line. Customers could now wash Prime Shine style by receiving a high-quality exterior car wash, while staying in their vehicles and enjoying the wash process from the comforts of their car. The location was colorful, high-tech, well-landscaped, and had uniformed professional attendants to assist customers. Vehicles received a spot free rinse at the end of the wash and a high-powered blow dry. This revolutionary new way to wash in California was appealing to all ages and wages. Shortly after opening the first location, Norm’s son, Evan, graduated from college and was in search of his next direction. Although originally intending to go to law school, Evan decided to come home and spend some time


learning the newly opened business. The business immediately appealed to Evan and provided him the opportunity to build something special with his father. With hard work and intense focus, father and son began a journey that would create an award-winning and highly recognized brand in the car wash industry. Today, Prime Shine has almost 200 employees and operates 16 locations in 3 counties with several locations currently in development. The stated mission is to have twenty locations by the year 2020. In 2015, Prime Shine was ranked number 14 in Professional Carwashing & Detailing’s list of top 50 car wash chains in the country. Although the number of locations and amount of cars washed is important to Norm and Evan, there are other aspects of their responsible entrepreneurship that they are equally proud of. The countless contributions of dedicated and smart employees that have been a part of the business has rewarded Norm and Evan with lifelong and meaningful relationships. Believing in the company’s vision and mission, the talented members of the team over the years have been vital to the creation and success of the Prime Shine system. Norm and Evan recognize that it is the community that has made Prime Shine a success. From day one, Prime Shine has been a recognizable force in local philanthropy. Through their eco-friendly car wash fundraising programs, nonprofit event sponsorship, and the Prime Shine and Porges Family Foundations, the company has returned millions of dollars back to communities in need. Norm has instilled this as a part of the company culture and firmly believes as a “Champion of the American Dream,” it is one’s obligation to give back.


Most people who have been as successful as Louis “Bud” Gianelli would have remained in the insurance industry rather than returning to the rigors of law school twenty years after setting aside their dream of becoming a lawyer. But Bud could not get the idea of practicing law out of his system, so with the blessing of his wife, Jackie, and his three sons, he returned to law school, passed the bar exam, and, in 1972, opened the law offices of L. F. Gianelli in Modesto. His intent: to use his years of experience in business combined with legal knowledge to fill a gap in local civil law. Today, Gianelli & Associates strives to be the preeminent Modesto law firm by helping clients with estate planning, business law, civil litigation, and family law. Although Bud passed away in 2009, all three of his sons followed in their father’s footsteps and became practicing attorneys. Michael and David eventually joined the Modesto practice and assumed control of the firm, bringing specialized knowledge that broadened services the firm provides to clients. Michael is senior counsel at Gianelli & Associates. His practice areas include estate planning, estate litigation, business law, and mediation. He is a certified specialist in estate planning, trust, and probate law with the California Board of Legal Specialization. Dave is the managing attorney at Gianelli & Associates. He has twenty-eight years of experience in business and estate planning, succession planning for businesses, business formation, corporate maintenance, probate and trust administration, and taxation. He is a certified specialist in estate planning, trust, and probate law and has an advanced master’s degree in taxation. Michael and Dave are joined by a number of associates, paralegals, and support staff. The firm exists to solve client’s legal challenges and to help them plan for more prosperous

and successful futures—for themselves, their family, and their business. Gianelli & Associates plan to continue serving its clients with the best possible legal counsel and striving to be the best law firm in the region. Gianelli & Associates is located at 1014 16th Street in Modesto and on the Internet at Gianelli & Associates— We focus on the law, so you can focus on life.

Above: (From left to right) David, Louis “Bud,” and Michael Gianelli. Today, Mike and Dave Gianelli and Eric Nielsen are the owners. They, along with 6 associate attorneys and nearly 20 other team members, comprise Gianelli & Associates, a professional law corporation.




The Chevrolet dealership in Modesto had closed three times in eight years when the Halvorson family took over the business on July 7, 1990. Poor management and equally poor customer service had earned the dealership the third lowest customer-satisfaction rating in the United States—among 4,600 dealerships. As if that were not enough, the country had entered a recession, the first Gulf War had begun, and California had entered its fifth consecutive year of agricultural drought. Not exactly great conditions for taking over a business, but the Halvorson family understood something other business owners sometimes forgot: People prefer to do business with people, not companies, and they like to be treated with the same respect and friendliness as one would treat a family member. The Halvorsons honed their business acumen at Prospect Motors in Jackson, California, where for many years they worked hard to abide by the following slogan: “The family business that treats you like family.” So, when they took over the Chevrolet dealership at 1234 McHenry Avenue in Modesto, they saw no reason not to follow the same philosophy at the newly named American Chevrolet. In the beginning, Bill Halvorson was the dealer while his son, David, served as executive

Right: David and Jim Halvorson proudly accept the award for twentyfive years with Chevrolet, c. 2015.

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manager and his other son, Jim, worked in commercial sales. Although the dealership struggled through tough times in the early years, the Modesto community soon came to believe the name “American Chevrolet” was more than just a marketing ploy. The Halvorsons and their dedicated employees believed in and exhibited the American values of honesty, hard work, and dedication to family. Equally important at American Chevrolet, the word “family” extends to employees and customers. Many key employees have been with the company almost since the beginning and have played an invaluable role in the company’s success. John Haley, service manager; Dennis Baker, parts manager; and Carol Solario, business manager, have been with American Chevrolet since 1991. In all, American Chevrolet has more than ninety “family members” who work each and every day to serve each other and, most importantly, their customers. In December 1991, David acquired the financing needed to purchase his father’s shares and became the dealer. The dealership remained at 1234 McHenry Avenue until June of 1995 when they opened a new facility on auto row at 4742 McHenry Avenue. In 1998, Jim became David’s partner and today they both operate the store. The family philosophy has worked well for the Halvorsons. So, too, has their approach of “never take more than you give,” as evidenced by their involvement with countless organizations, boards, and community activities. American Chevrolet believes it is the company’s responsibility as a business to give back, support, and be involved in the Modesto community. That makes for a great partnership: Modesto and American Chevrolet.


Left: The main office located downtown at 1302 J Street. Below: The Dale Road branch at 4204 Dale Road.

When the Bank of Stockton opened its doors in 1867, banking transactions were recorded by hand in ledger books and a visit to the bank was made by horseback or carriage on dirt roads. Since the beginning, the bank has operated under the principles of excellent customer service, financial stability, and community involvement. Throughout a century and a half of doing business, the Bank of Stockton has grown in branch locations and technological innovations. Part of this growth included the acquisition of Modesto Commerce Bank and Turlock Commerce Bank in the fall of 2003. These additional branches added over $330 million in assets to the bank and expanded its branch network into Stanislaus County with two fullservice branches in the Modesto community and one in the Turlock community. Founded in March 1998, Modesto Commerce Bank serviced primarily business customers and, at the time, was recognized as one of the best startup banks in California. Its philosophy of providing personalized service and quality banking products to its customers was a perfect fit to become part of the larger Bank of Stockton network. As a result of the acquisition, Modesto Commerce Bank customers were allowed greater lending resources, a more extensive branch network, and a broader array of financial products and services, while continuing to experience the high level of customer service they were accustomed to. In early 2017, as the Bank of Stockton entered its 150th year of doing business, the

names Modesto and Turlock Commerce Bank were consolidated into Bank of Stockton, with new signage to reflect the strong Bank of Stockton brand. The branch staff remained the same and shared in the excitement, having been part of the Bank of Stockton family for fourteen years. The name consolidation allowed customers to more easily recognize Bank of Stockton throughout its nineteen branch footprint and utilize all bank locations. Today, the bank’s customers enjoy banking in person, by ATM, through computers, smartphones, and tablets anywhere in the world. Regardless of how their customers like to bank, their old-fashioned personalized service will always be their trademark and their customers’ satisfaction will always be their greatest reward. Additional information is available at THE MARKETPLACE ✦



Above: President Patty Amador. Below: Ambeck Mortgage Associates Modesto office.

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Ambeck Mortgage Associates is a home loan and refinance specialist with an array of loan programs to meet its customers’ needs, but at the end of the day this Modesto born-and-bred company has only one product: service. Like the company president, Patty Amador, Ambeck employees are local people serving local customers, many of whom are their friends, neighbors, and colleagues. Most Ambeck employees were born and raised in the Modesto area, and many have been with the firm since the late 1980s and early 1990s. The idea for Ambeck Mortgage Associates came from Amador, who started in mortgage lending in the 1970s, working first as a loan officer and rising to the level of executive vice president for one of the companies for which she worked. Her varied job experiences allowed her to learn both the front-end side of dealing with clients and the back-end side after a loan is approved. Her experiences gave her the knowledge and skills to successfully run her own mortgage banking business. Ambeck Mortgage Associates opened its doors on July 5, 1989, with three full-time and one


part-time employee. The goal was to establish a locally owned and operated mortgage banking operation with a friendly, family feel, while offering the status and expertise of a nationally based operation. Ambeck quickly surfaced as one of the leading local mortgage bankers in the Central Valley, a status it maintains to this day. The company has locations at 4265 Spyres Way, Suite A, in Modesto, 1401 Geer Road in Turlock, and can be found on the Internet at Ambeck’s success has not been as much about major milestones as it has steady, continual growth. It focuses on service to local customers rather than scattering efforts all over the state and nation. Ambeck employees know a home purchase is a major investment and work hard to make sure clients get the loan that is right for them, at the same time making sure clients understand and feel comfortable with the lending process. The company’s future lies in increasing its market share through excellent customer service, while making sure it has the expertise to meet its customers’ needs.

Tony Mistlin will not be remembered for how many cars he sold during his sixty-plus years in the auto industry. That is not because he did not sell many. This born-salesman from England, who immigrated to the United States as a teenager during World War II, has sold more cars than anyone can remember. But, his name will be remembered because of the many philanthropic endeavors he spearheaded, helping to improve the quality of life in Stanislaus and San Joaquin Counties. Inspired by an act of generosity during World War II, Mistlin has since donated a substantial amount of his time and money for projects benefitting the cities of Modesto and Ripon, as well as the surrounding areas. The owner of Mistlin Honda in Modesto found further inspiration in 1972 when Ervin and Esther Burchell donated funds to the Modesto Irrigation District to build a fountain. He liked the end result so much he decided to follow suit. Today, fountains, sculptures, an art gallery, and a sports complex owe their existence to Mistlin’s generosity. His first major venture into philanthropy occurred when he worked with the city of Ripon to build a fountain at the entrance to Ripon’s Main Street. Designed by architect Ray Abst and completed in 1996, the Mistlin Fountain is 100 feet wide and fifteen feet high with a complex system of waterfalls and fountains. The fountain

eventually led to development of the land behind the fountain as Mistlin Park. Mistlin also financed construction of the Chief Stanislaus sculpture and the surrounding stream and fountain in front of the Stanislaus County Courthouse and funded the Mistlin Art Gallery in downtown Modesto. He also was one of the founding donors for the Gallo Center for the Arts. This performing arts center in Modesto opened in 2007. Perhaps the most impressive project Mistlin has been involved with is the Mistlin Sports Complex off River Road and Jack Tone Road in Ripon. Inspired by a fountain at Bonfante Gardens in Gilroy, Mistlin financed development of a fountain at the entrance of what would later become a sports complex. The 125-acre complex eventually included baseball diamonds, soccer fields, softball diamonds, an outdoor stadium that seats 1,000, and a concession stand. It is also home to various community events throughout the year such as the Almond Blossom Festival, Fourth of July fireworks, and Soaring Over Ripon balloon festival. His two latest ventures are one, to create a restaurant in the interior of the water tower and developing the interior so that the balconies can be used for observation and two, he is getting ready to build an indoor soccer area at the sports park. Mistlin Sports Complex and numerous other Mistlin-inspired endeavors will continue to benefit the Stanislaus and San Joaquin County communities for many years to come.


Left: Left to right, Marc Thomas and Tony Mistlin during an awards ceremony honoring Tony’s thirty-five years of service to Honda and its customers. Above: Anthony “Tony” Mistlin. Below: The watertower at Mistlin Sports Complex.





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The love of cars—both the ordinary and the extraordinary—is the motivating force that drives Miracle Auto Painting & Body Repair and the people who work there. It begins with owners Don J. Helbling and Rob Sapunor and extends throughout the entire staff, which goes the extra mile to give customers good work at a fair price. Don and Rob, who started out as detailers, personally supervise operations, often taking a hands-on role for more complicated repairs. Don went off to college and, after graduation, took a job, but returned. This is when Don and his Uncle Rob acquired the shop. Rob worked his way up in Sacramento while Don started at Miracle working for his father, Mike. Eventually, they purchased the shop and grew it into one of the most trusted auto body shops in the area. The business got its start in 1979 and has not only survived but prospered based on the philosophy of listening to customers and then doing whatever they can to help. The staff at Miracle knows when to replace a part and when to repair it and takes the extra time and effort to please the customer. This philosophy


does not lead to huge profits on the jobs they do, but it ensures happy, repeat customers who know they are getting quality work at reasonable prices. Here you will see working owners and a team of employees that work hard for each and every customer. Their work ethic has been handed down from father, Michael J. Helbling, who began the love-of-cars tradition, to son, Don, and brother-in-law and uncle, Rob. The female family members also have helped make the business a success. Jenny Miller, Brynda Miller, Vicki Helbling, Dominique Faubert, and Bridgette Helbling learned their work ethic here. Painter George Tollison began as a detailer and worked his way up. Juan Rojas, the shop’s body man, has been with the company several years, and manager Carlos Martins has held various positions, as have many employees. The shop is affiliated with major industry associations, including the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR) and the California Autobody Association (CAA). The staff meets with customers to learn the history of each car and technicians will then prepare a detailed estimate of what they will do to restore the car to pre-accident condition using one of four paint packages available. After the job is done, customers leave with a detailed written warranty specific to the services performed on the car. It is just one more example of how Miracle Auto Painting & Body Repair strives for total customer service and works hard to earn and keep our customers’ business.

Damrell Nelson Schrimp Pallios Pacher & Silva has served the legal needs of Modesto’s and Northern California’s businesses, individuals, and families for more than four decades thanks to a dedicated team of attorneys, who provide consistently excellent representation across a wide spectrum of practice areas from complex corporate litigation to estate planning. Operating from its main office in Modesto and branches in Sacramento and Oakdale, the firm maintains an AV Preeminent rating from Martindale-Hubbell, the national directory of attorneys, which is the highest ranking available to attorneys. Central Valley residents and businesses do not need to go out of the Central Valley to find full-service legal representation and sophisticated lawyers. Modesto is home to one of Northern California’s leading law firms for litigation, estate and wealth planning, trust administration, and transactional work. Thanks to the Damrell firm’s established reputation among attorneys in California, the firm’s exceptionally qualified and skilled lawyers are capable of handling even the most complicated matters, saving many clients the expense and inconvenience of seeking legal counsel outside of the Central Valley. For businesses of all sizes, the business transaction lawyers at the Damrell firm can assist Central Valley businesses in entity formation, franchising and licensing, employment and labor law. The Damrell firm is ideally situated to represent clients in the agricultural industry, handling not only real estate and business succession planning matters on behalf of agribusinesses, but also legal issues related to livestock sales and purchases, farm employment, and agricultural cooperatives. In addition, the firm provides comprehensive legal services to many vineyard owners, wineries, almond and walnut growers and processors, and dairy and livestock operations in Stanislaus, San Joaquin, Merced, Fresno, Kern, Tulare, Colusa, Napa and Sonoma counties. Beyond transactional work, the business litigation attorneys from the Damrell firm regularly engage in major commercial litigation in California state and federal courts. Its attorneys have successfully tried cases involving multiple parties and novel issues, including class actions, antitrust litigation, and complex business disputes with industry-impacting outcomes.


The Damrell firm also represents clients in the areas of personal injury, family law, and estate and wealth planning. For accident victims and their families, Damrell’s attorneys have obtained numerous high-dollar financial recoveries, establishing the firm’s reputation for jury trial victories in injury lawsuits. In family law matters and estate planning, the firm provides highly particularized legal services tailored to each client’s unique needs and goals.

Above: First row, left to right, Duane L. Nelson, Steven G. Pallios, Matthew O. Pacher, and Fred A. Silva. Second row, left to right, Angela Schrimp de la Vergne, Kathy L. Monday, Robert V. Garcia, and Kirin K. Virk. Below: Law offices of Damrell Nelson Schrimp Pallios Pacher & Silva.




John McCoy started selling truck tires in Bakersfield during the Great Depression. It was an extremely tough time for individuals and businesses. One employee, Ernie Holdsclaw, voluntarily worked for an entire year before receiving a salary, because McCoy could not afford to pay him at that time. Holdsclaw remained with McCoy Tire for more than fifty years. It shows the kind of loyalty the company earns from its employees and customers. The company survived the Great Depression, a fire in 1937, World War II rationing, a move to Modesto in 1946, and competition from scores of tire stores and national chains that have since gone out of business. McCoy Tire’s company strength is the relationships they build with their customers and their employees. Their employees are experienced, well-trained, professional, and do not work on commission. They have 3 employees with more than 30 years with McCoy Tire, 7 employees with more than 20 years, and 5 with more than 10 years.

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The goal of McCoy Tire is to perform quality auto service with honesty and fair prices to the people of Northern California. They are a leading provider of tire products and automotive services and always make sure the customer comes first. The company is still locally owned and operates from two convenient Modesto locations: downtown at 1226 Ninth Street and 3333 McHenry Avenue. Their main products and services are tires, wheels, brakes, shocks, alignments, and front end repair. They have a number of ASE-certified technicians and the most up-to-date equipment available. They offer free rotations, air pressure checks, and brake inspections on most vehicles. Their top tire brands include Michelin, BFGoodrich, Uniroyal, Bridgestone, Firestone, Pirelli, Hankook, Goodyear, and Dunlop. They buy direct from the manufacturer, which allows them to offer competitive prices along with the highest level of personal service. They supply a wide range of tire services and repairs. Their tire services include computer spin balance, flat repair, low-profile tire installation, road-force balance, and rotations. They repair axles, CV joints, drive shafts, brakes, differentials, steering, suspension, Tire Pressure Monitor Sensor (TPMS), and wheel-alignment issues. Their downtown location is open Monday through Friday between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. and from 7:30 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. on Saturdays. Their McHenry Avenue hours are Monday through Friday between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. and from 7:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Saturdays. They strive to provide the most trustworthy services for their customers in need of both products and repairs. At McCoy Tire, their dedication to making customers their number one priority will never change.

ATHERTON & ASSOCIATES, LLP Certified Public Accountants

It began with one man operating as a sole proprietorship and, almost a century later, stands as one of the largest public accounting firms between Sacramento and Fresno with more than forty accountants and support staff serving clients throughout California’s Central Valley, as well as nationally and internationally. What Robert Fitch started in 1925 evolved through the years. As the business grew, it went through several mergers and name changes. Finally, on September 14, 1993, the firm changed its name one last time to Atherton & Associates, LLP when Allen Atherton, who had retired from the firm eight years earlier, agreed to allow the firm to use his name in perpetuity, stating that he felt honored by the request. Today, Atherton & Associates is a full-service accounting firm, providing tax planning and preparation, business advisory services, full auditing capabilities, estate and trust planning, and litigation support. From business formation to succession planning and from tax planning to retirement and estate planning, the firm stands ready to help clients achieve their business and personal financial goals. The firm has the resources and experience to identify its clients’ needs, as well as the skilled professional staff to help them realize the results they desire. Atherton & Associates’ vision is to help the world become more financially savvy one relationship

at a time. Its motto, “Work here, live here, play here. Invested in our community,” is demonstrated by its deep involvement in the community through a variety of service and charitable organizations and events. Since moving to its current location at 1140 Scenic Drive, Suite 100 in Modesto in late 2006, the firm has continued to grow. The firm’s partners are committed to continue this growth through industry outreach, community involvement, talent recruitment, and commitment to the firm’s core values. Those values are integrity, commitment, innovation, teamwork, and excellence. By believing in hard work, and pursuing its vision to help the world become financially savvy one relationship at a time, Atherton & Associates is dedicated to helping clients achieve long-term prosperity no matter how challenging the business climate may be.

Above: Left to right, front row, Pete Bertozzi, Romain Schonhoff, Joe Fulford, B. R. Fitch, Vernon Withun, Allen Atherton, Wayne Rostomily, Peter Jeppson, Bob Gidley, Irv Daugherty, and Merdith Hamilton. Back row, Virginia Mallard, Thea Roberts, Rosalie Nunez, Dorothy Nelson, Jackie Thorkelson, Betty Edson, Marge Smith, and Jan Martinson, April 15, 1964. Below: Current location of Atherton & Associates, LLP.




The Catholic nuns in the small Italian town of Bittrito knew how to train girls to be good wives. The nuns taught Rosa, who would later marry another Bittrito native named Michael Rossini, to sew. With additional training and experience she became so good she earned a reputation for performing top-quality work.

By that time, she and her husband had immigrated to the United States by way of Chicago and then, in 1960, Modesto, bringing their two sons with them. Rosa worked as a seamstress for a dry cleaner, and as her reputation grew, she and her husband decided to open Rosa Rossini’s Tailor Shop in 1965. She sewed and Michael handled the bookkeeping, pressing, and sales. They decided to rent tuxedos and provide custom-made service. This was a decision that eventually led to Rossini Menswear-Formalwear, a Modesto institution for more than half a century.

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Today, the 6,100-square-foot store is owned and operated by Joe Rossini, the youngest of the two sons. It sells menswear, rents formalwear, and provides tailoring services. He began working at the store as a young boy, serving as janitor, shoe shiner, and assembler for tuxedo rentals. Joe was sixteen when he started working on the sales floor. His brother, Michael, Jr., also worked in the store, although he eventually fulfilled his dream of becoming a surgeon. Joe later learned to mark and measure to make custom clothes; a service the store continues to offer to this day. When his father died in 1977, Joe had to decide whether to take his father’s place or continue going to college. Joe decided to do both, working full time at the store, while completing college at night. Then, a month after Michael, Sr., died, the region’s first big mall opened in Modesto, altering (no pun intended) the Modesto menswear business forever. Although Modesto had several menswear stores, they eventually closed, leaving Rossini Menswear-Formalwear as the lone survivor. They survived, in large part, because they followed a good customer’s suggestion to specialize in high-quality brands. In 1978, they moved to their current location at 3224 McHenry Avenue, eventually expanding to their current footprint. Rosa retired in 1992, leaving Joe in charge of shoes to hats and everything in between. He oversees a staff of five people dedicated to exploring new avenues for sales—such as the website—and keeping up with the latest trends in menswear and tuxedo rentals.

The Five Minute Carwash started from a dream at a time in America when anything was possible. Charles P. Fenley realized his goals in June of 1963 in the community of Modesto. With the hard work of the family, the business continues to be successful after more than half a century of uninterrupted service to Modesto. In the words of our founder, “Service is our Business.” The first location was on McHenry Avenue. The facility was built in short order and contained cutting-edge equipment and amenities to service our patrons’ vehicles. Automated car washing and drying equipment washed cars while customers waited indoors or outdoors. The facility included a diner, comprehensive automotive accessories, gift shop, and even eight-track tapes. It also had a full-service shoe shine parlor staffed with the best equipment. Full-service gasoline has been continually offered to customers, and after many successful years, a second facility was opened in Bakersfield. The southern location was equipped comparably. In 1978, the third location opened in Modesto on Old Oakdale Road and continues operations to date. Currently two carwashes, oil change facility, and a convenience store operate under the brand Five Minute Carwash. The flagship location on Oakdale Road encompasses fullserve and self-serve gasoline with a convenience store, full-service car washing operations, oil change facility, smog shop, luggage shop, and full-service restaurant operated by My Garden Café. My Garden Café is open seven days a week except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years’ Day at 6:00 am until 5:00 pm, serving the “Best Breakfast in Town.” The second carwash is a drive-thru exterior facility on the west side of town. Five Minute Carwash has several options to clean your car—from a simple exterior wash to complete detailing. A quick visit to the Internet at and you will see the many options along with prices and locations. This will be “The best 5 minutes your car will ever have!” The family business is currently operated by the second, third, and fourth generation. Mike Fenley grew up working in the business from day one. Mike’s son, Brandon Fenley, also grew

up in the family business. Today, even Charles Fenley’s great grandson, Duncan Fenley, works full-time in the carwash business. At ninety-two years young, Charles still expresses interest in the car washing business and what the future holds for our business in the local area. Throughout the years, the Fenley family has made many longstanding friends and acquaintances. The challenges of a family business with four generations of family have been met, and a common goal among all members still is, and will always be, to provide the best car washing experience we can for all our customers.





Top: Carla and Greg Ciccarelli. Below: Ciccarelli Jewlers storefront. Bottom: A family atmosphere.

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Greg and Carla Ciccarelli opened Ciccarelli Jewelers in May of 1990. They had a vision, “We want our store to be the way businesses used to be. One where we get to know our customers and have them become lifelong friends, building a relationship that will last for generations to come.” Greg and Carla met when they were both store managers for the same jewelry company. Carla ran a store in Reno and Greg ran a store in Modesto. Greg was born and raised in Modesto and had lived in several other cities in California, but came back to his family roots in Modesto. Five years after getting married, they left their solid careers to open their own store. Against their banker’s advice, they used all their savings, obtained an SBA loan, and borrowed money from Greg’s parents, Ernest and Joan Ciccarelli. They followed their hearts. They knew they would have to work seven days a week and many, many hours for a few years. They knew they would obtain their dream–a business built on integrity, with their strong commitment to family. Greg’s grandparents on his father’s side, Antonio and Assunta Ciccarelli, were married in Pescara, Italy, in 1909. They came through Ellis Island on their honeymoon, moving to San Jose first. They later moved to the Modesto/Salida area around 1917. They knew the land and climate here were very similar to Italy. They wanted to be farmers and create a better life for their ten children. Greg’s grandparents on his mother’s side were Johanna and Antone Rattos, who had come from Genoa, Italy. Joan’s father, Antone, started Ratto Brothers Produce in 1905, which is now operated by the third and fourth generation here in Modesto. When Ciccarelli Jewelers first opened, there were just three people–Greg, Carla, and Greg’s sister, Sandy, running it. Within six months, they added four more people: Leslie Swartwood (another of Greg’s sisters), Janine Ratto (a cousin


of Greg’s), and their manager, Rosanne Wimberly. Next, Carla’s mom, Wilhelmina Willemse, a GIA graduate gemologist, joined their ranks. Wilhelmina had owned her own jewelry store in Las Vegas, and one in Bishop, California. Carla had grown up working in her mom’s store until she left to go to college in Reno. Over the next few years, Ciccarelli Jewelers added Brad Wimberly and then Mike Baker. The shortest time anyone has worked at our store is twenty years. We know that, “We have the most experienced and knowledgeable staff anywhere!” In the last few years, the most wonderful thing happened for the jewelry store. Two of Greg and Carla’s children, Brett Ciccarelli, who has a master’s degree in business, and Alexandra Ciccarelli, who went to the GIA School for gemology, came back to the business. They both had grown up working in the business and moved away for college. Together, they will ensure that Ciccarelli Jewelers will continue on for the next generation. At Ciccarelli Jewelers, we have the privilege of bringing you the very best customer service, provided in a warm and comfortable family atmosphere. We have the latest technology, but keep our traditional family values. We believe in supporting and giving back to the community by donating to over 100 local charities and fundraisers every year. We specialize in custommade jewelry and carry the newest in fashion, along with the timeless classics. Greg and Carla always say, “We have the most fun and joyful business there is! You only receive jewelry when someone really truly cares for you.”


Slater’s Home Furnishings is a family-owned and -operated business that has been in the Slater family for more than a century. Louis Slater, who emigrated to the United States in 1905, founded the store in 1912 in Fresno. After World War II, one of his sons, Matt Slater, returned to open a second location in Merced. Matt picked a good time to go into the furniture business. During the war, people had gone without commodities like nylons, refrigerators, tires, and other goods. As soon as consumer manufacturing returned, people were eager to buy things they had done without. Shortly after the Merced store opened, Matt would arrive at work in the morning to find a Slater’s delivery truck loaded with merchandise waiting behind the store. In front of the store, he would find a long line of people waiting to find out what had been delivered so they could purchase it. Business was fabulous. In 1953, Slater’s 15,000-square-foot, premier-quality Modesto showroom opened at Sixteenth and J Streets. Today, the company’s longstanding tradition of excellence continues, as clients from near and far enjoy Slater’s firstclass merchandise, friendly staff, and sterling reputation among manufacturers and clients. With the largest selection of fine furnishings, accessories, and décor in the Central Valley, Slater’s Home Furnishings offers clients an exceptional buying experience. Their unsurpassed service and quality are evident from the moment a customer enters their exquisite showrooms to the day the order arrives.

As a Slater’s client, you have access to the expertise of an interior design consultant. With thousands of fabrics, styles, colors, and finishes to choose from, you can achieve an exciting new look that reflects your personality and lifestyle. Slater’s offers an exclusive combination of product lines found nowhere else in California. The growing list of satisfied clients relies on Slater’s for the stylish, upscale furnishings not previously available in the area. Once your order arrives, Slater’s capable warehouse and delivery team ensures each piece is delivered in immaculate condition and is placed correctly. Stop by showrooms in Modesto or Merced to find exactly what you are looking for, and enjoy the knowledgeable staff, outstanding service, vast selection, and incomparable value. At Slater’s, your satisfaction is guaranteed.

The Slater’s Home Furnshings showroom is located at 1605 J Street.




Vintage Car Wash is located at 1801 Standiford Avenue in Modesto.

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Vintage Car Wash was founded by the Pete Giambanco Family and opened on June 26, 1985. More than three decades later, the business continues to flourish by adhering to the same principles and providing the same high level of customer service on which the company was founded.

This full-service car washing business allows customers to exit their vehicles, relax, and shop while Vintage Car Wash equipment and personnel clean their car inside and out, resulting in a finished product that far exceeds what most people can accomplish on their own. Cars are vacuumed, washed, waxed, and dried to the customer’s specifications. We also apply protectant dressing to the tires, so the vehicle looks clean and shiny on all surfaces. We sell Shell gasoline from our three 10,000gallon underground tanks. Vintage Car Wash employees have always believed in hard work and treating customers right. Everything is done to the best of our ability and with caring and respect for all. While your car is being pampered, you can enjoy a fantastic lunch in the Vintage Deli, where you will find freshly made sandwiches and salads along with breakfast sandwiches, coffee, and smoothies. We offer many varieties of coffee


drinks served hot, cold or blended, according to your taste, and we sell numerous popular snacks you can enjoy here or take home. In 2009, a Protein Shake Bar was added to accommodate our customers’ growing interest in protein drinks and other healthy drinks. In addition to offering several flavors, we can add vitamins, muscle builders, and other healthy ingredients to craft your protein shake to meet your dietary and workout needs. Inside Peddler Gift Shop, you will find unusual, hard-to-find items not available in other area shops. We sell everything from art work to purses and wallets to candles and pottery. The shop also carries a variety of jewelry lines, Archipelago products, and Lollia creams and perfumes. We know what our customers like and strive to keep up with the latest products and gift items. We also keep up with the newest equipment and supplies to expedite your car cleaning experience. A clean car is our customers’ most important need. Remembering this and always putting customers first have been, and always will be, the key to our success.

Paul Tremayne and Concetta restaurant have been serving Modesto for decades, offering good food, an array of wines, and a pleasant dining experience that can be as familiar as you like or as varied, depending on your tastes. Hard work and stints at a variety of California restaurants laid the groundwork for the success Tremayne enjoys at Concetta, which has grown from a single space to a second and third, to accommodate a steady increase in customers. Concetta is known for the good food it serves and the quality and variety of wines, from the best and most popular California wines to French vintages savored by sophisticated customers, many of whom travel to France regularly.

Tremayne began his restaurant career at Barnwood, which also did a lot of catering, an experience that serves him well at Concetta. He later worked at a wine bar (Valley Cellars) where he began his education in wine and spent the next four-and-a-half years at Benni’s, an italian restaurant formerly on Yosemite Boulevard. There he worked for well-known Chef Christopher Bonora, who taught him about the restaurant part of the business. His restaurant ventures also led him to involvement with Tresetti’s and a downtown Modesto coffeehouse. That may seem like a full plate—and it is— but Tremayne learned the value of hard work from his parents. That is fortunate for Concetta fans because the restaurant, which opened in 1999, took a few years to catch on. It became truly popular around 2005. Tremayne works to keep up with current trends, while remaining bold enough to offer new dining experiences. Modesto residents can enjoy many of the foods and wines

served in the best San Francisco restaurants without dealing with big-city hassles. Concetta prides itself on serving what Tremayne calls “real food,” which means it is cooked from scratch at the restaurant.

Concetta takes pride in the steady stream of regular customers, many of whom have followed Tremayne throughout his restaurant career. He enjoys cooking for regular customers and keeps his ears attuned to customers’ desires. Giving diners what they want and surprising them with the occasional new offering are keys to maintaining Concetta’s comfortable-yet-vibrant dining atmosphere. Tremayne never planned on becoming a restaurateur, but fortunately for Concetta regulars and newcomers, the industry beckoned and embraced him, resulting in a clientele that will be forever grateful.


Above: Concetta is located at 1205 J Street in Modesto. Left: Wine special menu printed daily.




Owner and operator, Garrad Marsh.

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Bowling alleys have been a part of Modesto since before 1900. By 1910 there was a six lane alley in the basement of the building on Tenth Street between I and J in the building now occupied by Greens on 10th Restaurant.

From about 1930 to 1950 the main bowling alley was Mission Recreation. It was located on Eleventh Street between I and J, where the current parking garage is located. The Mission was pool hall, cigar stand and lunch counter on the first floor and ten alleys of bowling in the basement. Following the end of WWII, Jerry Marsh returned to Modesto after serving four years as a pilot in the Army Air Corps. He served as an air instructor and flew the “Hump” from Burma into China from July of 1944 to the end of the war. Marsh had been in college at Stanford and was a member of the Stanford Bowling Team. When the war broke out, he left Stanford following his junior year and enlisted. His love of bowling never ceased, and upon returning to Modesto in 1946, he encouraged his mother, Iris Kewin (then owner of United Lumber Company), to build a modern bowling alley. In 1948, following the removal of construction restrictions that followed the end of the war, Modesto Bowl at 1120 Thirteenth Street was built. It was a state-of-the-art facility, with sixteen lanes, pool, billiard, and snooker tables. Bowling was so popular, and with the advent of automatic pinsetters, in 1955 the pool,


billiard and snooker tables were replaced by six more bowling lanes. Modesto Bowl was both the sporting and social center of Modesto life. “Everyone” bowled. Leagues in the evenings, “housewives” during the day, and “juniors” on the weekend. Major employers had teams, if not full leagues under their sponsorship. The alley was the gathering place in downtown Modesto with its popular lunch counter and the Turtle Creek Saloon.

Filled to capacity, Marsh and Art Sanders of Sanders Construction teamed up in 1959 to build the twenty-four lane McHenry Bowl, at the time two miles outside of town. The mid-1960s found bowling struggling, but the centers held on. By the 1970s business was again on the upswing, and the McHenry center expanded in 1974 to thirty-six lanes. Marsh sold Modesto Bowl to his manager, Gene Cox, in 1976. McHenry Bowl expanded again in 1982-1983 to its current fifty-two lanes. Garrard and Dallas Marsh purchased the McHenry Bowl from his family in 1986.

MODESTO INDEPENDENT INSURANCE AGENCY ASSOCIATION STANISLAUS INSURANCE The Modesto Independent Insurance Agency Association is one of the oldest independent associations in California. This century-old trade group began in 1918 as a way for local insurance agents to share in commissions. This included the City of Modesto, Modesto Irrigation District, Modesto City Schools, and, later, the Yosemite Junior College District (Modesto Junior College.) Originally known as Modesto Insurance Agents Association, the organization amended its name in 1951 to its current format. Giddings Brothers, Inc., (now CAPAX) oversaw commissions and the placing of business. Each December, the association met and disbursed commissions among agent members. The association continued in its original purpose until 1973 when Stanislaus County, in a joint agreement with the association, began to self-insure, which meant it no longer required the association’s services. The association then expanded to become a networking group of independent insurance agents and brokers, providing classes, events, and giving back to the community through charity and event sponsorship that drew attention to Modesto and educated the public regarding insurance. The association sponsored motorcycle safety events, junior marshall fire programs, golf tournaments, and advertised in local papers. It also sponsored high school events such as “DUI and You,” “Sober Grad Night,” and the “Every 15 Minutes” program. Through the years, the association has been honored for its philanthropic efforts.

In the 1980s, the association expanded to be an arm of the State Independent Association, continuing in the same vein, but expanded to have a voice in legislative issues of interest to the industry. In addition to agent members, the association expanded its membership to include associate members that consisted of insurance carriers and vendors involved in the industry. The association continues to meet once per quarter. Some members are second- and thirdgeneration agency members. The Modesto Independent Insurance Agency Association is proud to have served the Modesto area community and plans to continue its spirit of service into the next century. THE MARKETPLACE ✦



Top: Roger Rickett, owner/operator of Tradeway Transmissions. Below: Tradeway Transmissions is located at 308 Motor City Court in Modesto.

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On the day in 1967 when Roger Rickett walked into Tradeway Transmissions for the first time, it changed his life and, as it turned out, the lives of many in Modesto’s business community, as well as residents living in the greater Central Valley area. Looking for a way to advance his career in the automotive industry, Roger approached one of the owners of the business to see if he would be interested in selling. Coincidentally, the two men who had started the company in 1959 were in the mood to sell, so Roger purchased the business located on Yosemite Boulevard. Roger had moved to California to pursue a career in professional baseball. Raised on a Nez Perce Indian Reservation in Idaho, Roger had been a good athlete who played college baseball and enjoyed working on hot rods. After his attempt to play professional baseball fell short, he wound up in Modesto and took a job at Farish-Herzog Pontiac, where he worked his way up from new car prep mechanic to service manager. Driven by ambition, Roger wanted both a greater challenge and to earn more money. Tradeway Transmissions, which he purchased in 1967, provided the opportunity. Realizing Modesto’s business center was moving to McHenry Avenue, Roger purchased five acres at the intersection of McHenry and Pelandale Avenues for $500,000 and, in


1990, built the existing buildings for $2.7 million. Motor City Auto Center, as the five-acre complex is known, is home to Tradeway Transmissions and several other businesses, the majority related to the automotive industry. Tradeway Transmissions has built a reputation for honest, quality work. Much of its business comes from local auto dealerships, especially Ford and Toyota, which value Tradeway Transmissions’ expertise and fair prices. Tradeway also has numerous regular customers who come to them for transmission and other automotive services. Through the years, Roger has supported little league baseball and soccer teams, bowling teams, and other community events. He owns a hot rod restoration business at Motor City Auto Center, and regularly supports car shows and other automotive-related events. Because of this, his name has become synonymous with hot rod restoration. Roger is both an avid patriot and Christian whose oldest son served in the first Gulf War. He and his wife, Shari Rickett, who has been his partner in life and business, have given several vehicles for charitable purposes through the years. They help feed the homeless on a regular basis and converted a bus into a mobile shower facility, allowing the homeless to shower and receive new clothes. Roger is past the age of seventy now, but has no plans to retire. He enjoys his work and looks forward to more years of serving customers and spending time around cars and the people who love them. For more information about Tradeway Transmissions, please call 209-529-1230 or visit

The Modesto Junior College production of The Elephant Man. PHOTOGRAPH BY DAVID TODD. COURTESY OF MODESTO JUNIOR COLLEGE.



The AT&T Building. Modesto was a testing ground for mid-century modern architecture. PHOTOGRAPH BY CARL BAGGESE.

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BUILDING A GREATER MODESTO M o d e s t o ’s s e r v i c e p r o v i d e r s , s m a l l b u s i n e s s e s , real estate developers, construction companies, heavy industries, and manufacturers provide the economic foundation of the city J . S . We s t & C o . , I n c . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 3 6 Delta Sierra Beverage ....................................................................240 D i re c t A p p l i a n c e , I n c . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 4 2 Champion Industrial Contractors, Inc. ............................................244 J . M . K e c k l e r M e d i c a l C o m p a n y, I n c . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 4 6 MTC Distributing ..........................................................................248 The Zagaris Family .......................................................................250 Silkwood Wines.............................................................................252 C A LT E C A g I n c . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 5 4 C l a s s i c W i n e V i n e g a r C o m p a n y, I n c . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 5 6 Wille Electric Supply Company .......................................................257 C e re s P i p e & M e t a l . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 5 8 Modesto Junk Company ..................................................................259 H e n n i n g s B ro s . D r i l l i n g C o . , I n c . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 6 0 Nicolau Farms ..............................................................................261 Arnold Cement, Inc. .....................................................................262 Modesto Irrigation District .............................................................263 G a r t o n Tr a c t o r . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 6 4 C o S o l C o m m e rc i a l R e a l E s t a t e . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 6 5 B u rc h e l l N u r s e r y . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 6 6 S i e r r a P a c i f i c Wa re h o u s e G ro u p ModestoView .........................................................................267



J. S. WEST & CO., INC.

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James Stewart West was born in Bentonville, Ohio, on February 20, 1856. Although his father ran a sawmill for a while, the family soon moved to a farm, where J. S. spent his boyhood years. Following the Civil War, the family moved to Nebraska, which at that time was a frontier state, where J. S. became interested in education. He graduated from the state’s Normal School in Peru, Nebraska, and taught school for two years. He then decided to become a lawyer, securing a job in Lincoln, Nebraska, at the law firm of Talbot and Bryan (the latter being William Jennings Bryan, the three-time Democratic nominee for president). J. S. studied law while working at the firm and two years later was admitted to the bar. J. S. met his future wife, Nona H. Lesh, an education student at the University of Nebraska around this time. They were married on June 11, 1889. Soon thereafter, J. S. relocated his office to Benkelman, Nebraska, just a few miles from the Kansas border on the Republican River. Two years after moving there, the citizens of Dundy County, where Benkelman was located, elected J. S. to serve as county judge, a position he held for the next nine years. His service, however, was not without drama. Twice a man bent on revenge for a judgment J. S. had made tried to kill him. The first attempt on his life occurred in his office and the second occurred while J. S. was hunting. In 1898, during the Spanish-American War, J. S. worked to help organize an Army unit known as the Third Nebraska Regiment. Bryan


served as colonel, and the regiment’s men elected J. S. to serve as first lieutenant. They drilled in Indianola, Nebraska, before traveling to Omaha for additional training. Lieutenant West passed his first physical, but before reporting to another military base in the South was examined again and determined to have a weak heart. Not long afterwards, J. S. resigned his judgeship and moved to Lawton, Oklahoma, a new town where 10,000 potential new citizens were living in tents. J. S. bought property lots and set up a law practice. After a short time in Lawton, J. S. moved to Wellston, east of Oklahoma City, and bought a fruit farm. He was appointed to be the town’s postmaster by

President Theodore Roosevelt. His role here did not last long because, at the age of fifty-two, he was diagnosed with a respiratory disease known as consumption and decided to relocate his family to California because its dryer climate would be better for his health. By 1908, he and his wife moved their family of five—Vera, 18, Virgil, 15, Norman, 13, Nona, 10, and Don, 6 months—to Modesto, traveling by train. J. S. had been to Modesto two years earlier when he was searching for a place for his family and looking for business opportunities. He found the conditions in Modesto appealing and liked the fact that the public owned the water and power supplies. In 1909, J. S. purchased a small warehouse on the west side of Frost Street, or Ninth Street, between G and H Streets, from Merced Milling Co. This remained the headquarters for J. S. West & Co. through the years. During the dry months, J. S. sold feed (predominantly brands provided by Albers Milling Co. or Sperry Milling Co.) and hay to farmers. In the wet months, J. S. secured wood and coal and put his sons to work hauling them. J. S. later spent $25,000 to build an ice plant on the Ninth Street site and hired people to service ice boxes in the area. The ice business

endured until 1950 when it was sold for $35,000. The building burned down seven years later. Like all successful companies, J. S. West & Co. transformed its operations many times to keep up with technological changes and to diversify the company’s services. During the 1920s through the 1940s, motorized vehicles such as the Model T replaced horses in retail work, and as electrical appliances became commonplace, J. S. opened an electrical appliance store at the Ninth Street location. Liquid propane replaced coal fuel and was delivered to residences that needed it for heating and cooking. The store later closed due to market pressures caused by increased competition. A Mobil gas station with four pumps opened on H Street and, in the 1940s, a tire shop began selling General and U.S. Tires. It stayed in business for thirty years.



J. S. retired in 1925 at the age of sixtynine, turning the business over to his son, Norman, who through the years took in family members as partners to help run the ever-expanding business. C. Harvey Benson was introduced to the business in 1926 when he married Nona West, one of J. S.’s five children, adding the fuel oil business to the coal and wood department. In 1930, the partners decided to build a feed mill and manufacture livestock and poultry feeds, a decision that proved crucial to the company’s success back then. J. S. died in 1942 at the age of eighty-six when the car he was driving collided with a train. Two of his sons—Norman and Donald— along with Benson, assumed ownership of the company. Three years later, the new owners

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formed three corporations and divided the stock according to the partnership interests: J. S. West & Co., operating ice, appliances, LPG, and fuel oil departments; J. S. West Milling Co., operating feed manufacturing and sales; and J. S. West Tire Sales and Service, which included the service station. Today, the company operates under an Employee Stock Ownership Plan in which the employees own part of the company. Two descendants of J. S. maintain controlling interest in the company—Gary West (third generation, son of Donald) and Michael West (fourth generation, son of Gary). A third— James S. West (third generation, brother of Gary) worked as vice president until his death in March 2016. He was an integral part of the business for more than sixty years.

J. S. West & Co. now consists of the following business enterprises: • The company is one of the largest distributors of propane in Central California with seven branch offices serving twentythree counties in and around the Central Valley. With twenty-four hour on-call service, exceptional technical support, and competitive pricing. J. S. West is the propane supplier of choice for commercial and residential customers. • The company’s egg facilities produce and process 1.2 million of the freshest eggs every day, which are sold exclusively throughout California, Nevada, and Hawaii under the NuCal brand and various private labels. • J. S. West is a partner in NuWest Milling Company and Sierra Grain Company, which produces 340,000 tons of chicken feed each year, making it the largest grain terminal west of the Mississippi. • At its Retail Feed Store, the company carries a variety of animals, a full line of animal feed, pet and veterinary supplies, and a variety of outdoor goods. The store is located on the site where J. S. purchased his first milling building in 1909. As the oldest business in Modesto, J. S. West & Co. is committed to providing its customers, employees, resources, and the area a business that offers value, fairness, integrity, and a concern for individuals. As a business providing both products and services, the company pledges to: • Assist all customers with concern and respect;

• Provide quality products, services, and knowledgeable assistance; • Create an atmosphere of quality and interest so customers will have a pleasant shopping experience; • Provide a fair and pleasant environment in which to work and treat everyone with compassion and respect; and • Be a good citizen by contributing time and money to community affairs. In return for these commitments, J. S. West & Co. believes a profit will result, and through this profitability it will be able to continue offering good products, create employment, and grow with the community. It is the company’s passion for the community that leads it and its 300 and growing employees to support charitable programs that directly impact the communities in which it operates. J. S. West has been family-owned and locally operated for more than a century with the third and fourth generations of family members managing the business. The company is proud and privileged that customers continue to place their trust in it and “Go West with Confidence.”




Ben Santi, a Swiss immigrant who arrived in Merced, California, in the early 1900s, could not have known that taking a job at a local dairy would plant the seeds for a company that would eventually employ more than 280 people. Nor could he have dreamed that someday his efforts would provide the groundwork for a company that would sell more than eight million cases of beer and other products to more than 2,600 retail accounts in all or part of eight California counties. But that is exactly the path Santi embarked upon when, three years after taking the job, he purchased it from the owner in lieu of back wages. Within a few years, Santi expanded his product line to include ice and ice cream and changed the company’s name to Merced Dairy and Ice Company.

Above: Ben Santi picking up milk at local dairy, c. 1919. Right: Ben Santi as young man.

By 1933, with the repeal of Prohibition, Santi added beer and wine to his distribution portfolio. In 1945, Don Stewart, met Santi’s middle daughter, Betty, while attending Stanford University, and three years later they married. Santi decided to groom Stewart as his heir apparent. By 1950, Lucky Lager had become the region’s hottest selling beer and so the company changed the beer distributorship portion of its business to Lucky Distributing Company, 240 ✦


with Stewart as a partner. In his new role, Stewart decided to add the products of a growing national brewery, Anheuser-Busch, to the distribution system.

In 1957, Merced Dairy and Ice purchased a well-known local dairy called Sunshine Farms. The dairy began operating under the Sunshine Farms name while the ice company split off to become Merced Ice. With the popularity of brands like Lucky Lager and Regal Pale, along with Budweiser, the beer business grew rapidly. The company expanded to the Modesto area in 1963 with the purchase of Delta Distributing Company and then Giahos Distributing. Meanwhile, in 1966, the Merced distributorship changed its name to Sierra Beverage. The Modesto operations were known as Delta Brands, Inc. Les Vick, who would play an important role in the success of Delta Brands, Inc., for the next thirty years, joined the company in 1966. Thanks to his efforts and the work of others, the beer business grew so rapidly that in 1976 Stewart sold Sunshine Farms to Foster Farms in order to concentrate on selling beer. Through the next several decades, the two companies grew under the leadership of Stewart and, later, Don Stewart, Jr., at Sierra Beverage and Vick and, later, Robert Stewart, at Delta Brands, Inc. In 2007, Sierra Beverage Company and Delta Brands, Inc., consolidated to form Delta Sierra Beverage, with Robert as president. The Merced warehouse was closed and all operations transferred to the Modesto facility in the Beard Industrial Tract. The improved efficiencies of the merger, along with continued industry consolidation, made the acquisition of additional territory attractive.

On January 30, 2009, Delta Sierra Beverage merged with two Anheuser-Busch-owned distributorships in Stockton and San Andreas. This allowed them to more than double their volume and add new products to the company’s portfolio. In 2011, Delta Sierra bought out Anheuser-Busch’s share of the business and was once again an independent operator. Today, the company sells more than 100 brands of beer—the majority of which are Anheuser-Busch products—along with many imported and craft beer brands and Jarritos Mexican Soda. The company’s goal is to sell and deliver the right product to the various licensed retailers with which it does business, helping to market products through custom signage, proper shelf-space management, and promotional activities. Delta Sierra Beverage has grown through the same hard work and integrity that Santi demonstrated when he started the company. This is enhanced by a positive corporate attitude where teamwork is stressed and employees work with a strong sense of common purpose. This positive attitude has played a big part in

the company’s growth through the years from 12,000 cases of beer sold in 1954 to approximately 8 million cases sold in 2015. No one knows for certain what the future will bring. Fate has its way of determining the future no matter how much planning one does, but one can be certain that as the Central Valley grows, Delta Sierra Beverage will be there to serve its growing needs. The business is now owned by Don Stewart’s five children who collectively have thirteen grandchildren, providing hope that the Stewart family ownership will endure for many generations to come.

Above: Don and Betty Stewart. Don served as company president from 1957-1997. Below: The Delta Sierra Beverage facility in 2016.




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Who knew a little appliance store started in 1995 in Modesto would become the largest independent appliance sales, service, and remodel store in the area! Certainly not Direct Appliance owner Ron Winter. Winter worked as a delivery, sales, and service man when the original founders—the late Jack and Cyl Ugar—opened with just themselves and Winter as employees. Direct Maytag Home Appliance Center opened on the corner of McHenry and Floyd, where the business still stands. Offering a small selection of Maytag appliances, the Ugars anticipated a small mom and pop operation supplying reliable appliances. Both the Ugars and Winter had extensive experience in appliances, and they believed the three of them could do just fine operating the small store. It was not long before community support helped the store expand by leaps and bounds. Soon they became a multi-brand store, adding other brands and employees to the lineup. Sadly, at the height of business, Cyl passed away in 2000, and Jack followed in late 2001. Because the store was privately owned, it closed


while the estate determined if, and how, the store would carry on.

In January 2002, the store reopened as a corporation under the leadership of two former employees—Winter and Melvin “Bud” Heller and their wives, Colleen and Alice, respectively. They incorporated so that if anything happened to any of them, the store would continue to operate. As agreed when the store reopened, Heller retired in 2007, but continues to work part time.

“Jack and Cyl were like family to us,” said Winter. “They had put so much into the store, that we wanted to see continue. We kept the same name they had selected, and not a day goes by that I do not think of them and how they would be proud of what we have done over the years.” Today, Direct Appliance has more than doubled its footprint on McHenry Avenue. The store has a gorgeous living showroom featuring seven live kitchen vignettes of high-end brands, including SubZero, Wolf, Monogram, Thermador, Viking, Dacor, and Jenn-Air. They host the Modesto Junior College Community Education cooking classes; served as location shoot for a regional SaveMart Supermarket television commercial, as well as many video and television shoots for community chefs; and provide free appliance product demos for customers. In 2009, Winter formed a partnership with Samuel Garrett, a local entrepreneur, to form Direct Flooring & Home. Specializing in complete kitchen remodels, Direct Flooring & Home, which operates as a separate store in the same location, offers sales and installation of countertops, cabinets, flooring, and fixtures through its own construction company. “The business is a complement to the appliance store,” said Winter, “and frankly, we were growing tired of delivering appliances to homes that had cabinets from the big guys, and getting calls that the appliances wouldn’t fit. We directly intended to go head-to-head with the box store mentality of remodeling kitchens. With Sam’s expertise, and that of his crews, we have done that and more.” Direct Appliance also opened an outlet location at 701 K Street in the downtown area. “When the economy dropped in 2008-2009, some people felt they couldn’t afford our appliances. We wanted to let them know that we are here to meet the area’s needs, whatever they may be! The outlet offers all-new open-box items with a steep discount—and all backed by our service department.” Direct Appliance is the only appliance store in the area to fully operate its own service department for its customers, something many other stores feel is a great expense, but one that Winter feels is a necessity to truly care for customers after the sale. “When our customers need service

Left: Direct Appliance Flooring & Home at 2426 McHenry Avenue. Below: Direct Outlet Store at 701 K Street.

on their appliances, they are not forced to call 1-800-HOLD. They call us directly.” Direct Appliance also has a growing authorized contractor/builder division offering special pricing and coordination for builders with large projects. Most employees have been in the industry for years. “Our employees tend to be the ones who live and breathe appliances and remodeling,” said Winter. “When various other stores closed down over the years, many of their employees came to us looking for opportunity and we tried to bring on the best, even though we could not employ them all,” he said. “We have employees from former stores, such as Youngdale’s, which was in business seventy-nine years in Turlock, and a couple of employees even owned their own stores at one time.” Knowledge, expertise, and caring are some of the traits that set Direct Appliance and Direct Flooring & Home apart from their competitors. “We hope we are being good stewards in our community,” says Winter. “We, and our employees, live here and raise our children and grandchildren here. Although we rarely publicize the fact, we sponsor a tremendous number of activities and projects and give back in the form of donations to many, many events and organizations. The community has been very supportive to the store from the day Jack and Cyl first opened, and everyone here works hard every day to deserve and preserve that trust.” BUILDING A GREATER MODESTO ✦



Champion Industrial Contractors, Inc., formerly known as Hansen’s, Inc., has provided the Central Valley with industrial HVAC, plumbing, and electrical work since 1933. Originally owned by George Hansen and his wife, Gladys, the company eventually was purchased by James C. Champion, who worked for the company seventeen years prior to George’s death. James grew up on an Oklahoma farm starting out as a welder, but was introduced to sheet metal work while serving in the U.S. Navy Seabees during World War II. Following his discharge in 1946, James moved to Modesto, landing a job at Hansen’s, Inc., as an apprentice sheet metal worker. At Hansen’s, he worked his way through the ranks from journeyman to foreman to estimator and department manager. After George’s death, Gladys asked James to take over the job of running the company as president and chief executive officer. The request surprised him, but James proved equal to the task. He later purchased one-seventh of the company and, through the next several years, bought out the other owners. After becoming sole proprietor, James kept the Hansen’s, Inc., name because he considered it a trustworthy brand. But in 1987, the Rotary Club he belonged to convinced him that “Champion” would make a great name for a 244 ✦


company. The name not only honors the man who built it into the success it is today, it also speaks to the company’s reputation among colleagues, clients, and competitors. Today, the company continues to be family owned and operated. Although James no longer runs the day-to-day operations, he stays involved by serving as chairman of the board. His son, Darrell Champion, serves as president, and grandson, Eli Champion, as vice president. They are joined by John Walter, chief operations officer, and Ashveen Singh, chief financial officer.

They continue to preserve the company’s long history of successfully meeting the special challenges of industrial, commercial, institutional, and public works projects. Although founded as a plumbing, electrical, and sheet metal firm, the company has expanded its areas of expertise and is now one of the state’s largest mechanical contractors. As such, they strive to provide their clientele with everything necessary to accomplish their construction goals and needs. Modern day mechanical and industrial systems are sophisticated and complex. They require a contractor with advanced mechanical capabilities and experienced and trained personnel. At Champion Industrial Contractors,

journeymen have gone through a minimum of five years of apprenticeship and foremen have a minimum of ten years of experience. Most have advanced training in specific areas, and the company’s superintendents represent hundreds of years of experience in construction, process, mechanical systems, and fabrication. The Central Valley would not have developed as it has without the many projects that Champion Industrial Contractors has been involved in. This includes several Modesto schools and hospitals throughout the San Joaquin Valley, many Stanislaus County buildings including the courthouse, the convention center, and numerous churches. Other projects include the Beyer High School complete campus HVAC change-out, HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital design/ build, Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, an Atomic Energy Commission facility west of Tracy, and various copper roofing projects throughout the valley. The company maintains the latest in machinery and supplies, but its people make Champion Industrial Contractors the success it has become. Employees spend several years in apprenticeship training before working alone, and many spend hours in specialized

training away from work to learn and enhance their skills. All the technicians in the Champion Industrial Mechanical Services Division have completed the HVAC Excellence and UA S.T.A.R. training and certification process. This division provides professional air conditioning, refrigeration, and cold-storage service and repair. Champion’s service journeymen have a minimum of six years of field experience and are trained in the latest equipment, service bulletins, and environmentally safe techniques. Regardless of the brand name or configuration, Champion can provide comprehensive surveys to evaluate the client’s needs in all areas. Champion’s list of clients includes many regional stalwarts, such as Sutter Health Memorial Medical Center, Doctors Medical Center, Blue Diamond Almonds, Stanislaus Food Products, and Modesto Irrigation District. It also includes a “Who’s Who” of nationally recognized companies, such as ConAgra Foods, Del Monte, General Mills, Kraft, Amazon, and Target. As for the future, Champion Industrial Contractors plans to continue playing a central role in the development of Modesto, the Central Valley, and beyond.

Champion Industrial Contractors, Inc. is located at 1420 Coldwell Avenue in Modesto.




Above: J. M. Keckler Medical Company, Inc., Oakdale office. Right: Founders: J. Michael and Susie Keckler.

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Mike and Susie Keckler founded J. M. Keckler Medical Company, Inc., in 1973 in Modesto with a dream and a rock-solid dedication to hard work and customer service. Beginning with a strong will and little-to-no investment capital, they began the process of building a company that has set the standard in the healthcare industry for state-of-the-art medical equipment and unsurpassed service to customers. The company got its start when Mike was working as a salesman for a local medical company and Susie was working at Doctors Medical Center. One day, Mike went to his job of eight years and learned the company had been sold. Not wanting to work for a large corporation, Mike resigned that day despite having four kids to support and a large monthly mortgage payment staring him in the face. Call it confidence or call it faith, but it never occurred to Mike and Susie that they might not make it when Mike decided to start his own medical supply company. They borrowed $3,000 from Susie’s aunt to help fund the new business and started the company out of their garage. Susie continued working at Doctors Medical Center during the day and taking care of the kids at night, while Mike sold medical supplies and equipment in the mornings and contacted manufacturers in the afternoons to fill the orders. Susie also handled the books at night, the kitchen table serving as her office. God quickly rewarded Mike and Susie for their hard work and faith. Unlike most new businesses, they covered their costs the first month and the business that started from almost


nothing grew. Today, J. M. Keckler Medical Company is an award-winning medical and surgical equipment distributor that has earned national recognition for its dedication to sales expertise, reliable technical support, and knowledgeable customer service. J. M. Keckler’s mission is to partner with its “primary influencers” to achieve sustainable growth in hospital capital equipment sales and service in the acute care industry. Its vision is to be the premier supplier in providing hospitals and surgery centers with efficient operating rooms and acute-care procedure-and-support rooms, where capital equipment is part of the package. This package also includes information technology software and outstanding biomed service to help hospitals and surgery centers get and remain operationally effective.

Now headquartered in Oakdale, J. M. Keckler is a registered veteran-owned small business serving all of Northern California and Nevada. It is a distinguished medical equipment supplier, providing hospitals, surgery centers, and physicians with a full spectrum of quality operating room and acute-care equipment. J. M. Keckler Bio Medical Services provides rapid response to customer needs. J. M. Keckler continuously seeks products and services that will enhance and refine its offerings to customers. Its focus areas run the gamut from general operating room equipment to emergency services equipment to chemical environmental surface disinfection, as well as the NICU. Its sales team has garnered a national reputation for superior product knowledge and its “Start to Finish Care” means J. M. Keckler

will be with you from beginning to end. Turnkey projects from start to finish are its passion. J. M. Keckler partners with manufacturers who set the standard in their respective industries, and its complete product line is available for sale and/or rent. Once the sale is made, the company’s service team continues the spirit of excellence by providing maintenance and repair to medical capital equipment twentyfour hours a day, seven days a week, so its customers’ facilities remain operationally efficient and effective. Its certified technicians cover California from Santa Barbara to the Oregon border and Nevada as well. One of the company’s most valuable offerings is its preventive maintenance contracts that provide timely routine service for equipment, reducing downtime and ensuring the equipment meets manufacturers’ maintenance specifications. J. M. Keckler also offers preowned equipment for medical facilities tasked with providing excellent care with the best available equipment on a tight budget. The company’s 25,000 square foot warehouse provides a large selection of pre-owned medical equipment that is cleaned, safety checked, and function tested. Even with a multitude of national, state, and local awards, the company focus goes

beyond the bottom line. Since its inception, J. M. Keckler has always been about giving back. In partnership with local and worldwide organizations, such as Rotary International and World Vision, the company has forged decades of history—making significant contributions in developing countries through capital equipment donations and technical training.

Above: J. M. Keckler Medical Company, Inc., Operating Room Training Center. Below: J. M. Keckler Bio Medical Services Inc., service fleet.

The company would not have enjoyed the success it has without the many faithful and long-term employees—known as Team Keckler— who have given their time and efforts to grow the company. No team member has been more important than Jana Ollar—Susie’s sister—who is a partner in the company and has worked to make it one of the best in its industry. Throughout its existence, J. M. Keckler, led by Mike and Susie, has been blessed by God and motivated to do good things through their work, the communities they serve, and the people who have made J. M. Keckler Medical Company, Inc. the success it has become. BUILDING A GREATER MODESTO ✦



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MTC Distributing’s growth since its inception almost a century ago mirrors that of Modesto and the rest of the Central Valley. Herbert P. Eakin, a sales manager for the William Gundst Cigar Company, founded the Modesto Tobacco Company in 1921. He felt there was a need for an additional cigar distributor in the valley, and he also thought it would be a wonderful place to raise his family. In 1932, Herbert’s son, William, took over the business and charted a path for its growth over the next five decades. William was very active in the local community. He served on the board of several nonprofit organizations and felt strongly about giving back to Modesto. The path for Modesto Tobacco was not always an easy one. The Great Depression had an impact on the valley. World War II had a


dramatic effect on Modesto Tobacco. Rationing and shortages on key commodities made it difficult, if not impossible, to have any products to sell its customers. The doors remained open while William was away fighting for his country. He enlisted and joined the Army as an officer. “It was a very tough time for the company and my father,” William’s son and current owner, Tom Eakin, explained. “My dad’s generation absolutely believed in service to your country. He owned a business that was doing fairly well, he was the only son, and he was well past draft age, yet he never gave the thought of enlisting in the Army a second thought. He was always very proud of how many people in this area did the same exact thing. And none of them were drafted, either.” William returned from the war, married Frances Gosney, and had three sons: William Stephen, Tom, and David. The company flourished over the next decades, adding product lines other than tobacco. With a name change to The Modesto Tobacco and Candy Company, the geographic area serviced was greatly expanded. In 1986, the Eakin family sold the company to Tom. The name was changed to MTC Distributing to better reflect an expanded product line, which now includes groceries, snacks, fresh foods, frozen foods, beverages, health and beauty aids, automotive supplies, and a full line of convenience store equipment and fixtures.

In 2002, MTC moved to its current location on Stoddard Road. It is a fully modernized, automated 150,000 square foot warehouse that stores more than 10,000 items in dry, cold, or frozen space. Tom purchased other distributors and greatly expanded MTC’s service area like his father. While other much larger distributors were streamlining costs, and removing traditional salespeople from the field, Tom focused on exemplary customer service and hired and trained sales specialists to help each MTC customer sell more product and become more profitable. One way to do this was to design a system that allows convenience stores to place orders on the web, create reports, and track inventory automatically. “I was at MTC when we got our first computer in the seventies,” Tom said. “It was mind-boggling what that computer did to our business and the industry. Today, we can’t make a move without technology. It drives everything. From roadway efficiency to product ordering and handling, everything is done with technology. I have no idea how we ran this business sixty or seventy years ago!” The vision for the future of MTC and its 250 employees is to provide services to its retailers and vendor partners that no other distributor can match. That vision will never include being the biggest, but will always be about trying to be the best.

“I know that the foundation of MTC in 2017 is exactly the same as it was for Modesto Tobacco in 1921,” Tom concluded. “It all starts with the great people who have worked for this company for the last century. We have truly been blessed to have so many people put their trust in the hands of our family.” And the future? “I was in a meeting last week and we were talking about all of the amazing new products coming to the convenience store industry. The various platforms the c-stores are using to sell their products to the consumer are changing daily. I told our folks that MTC smells and looks like a startup company. We’re just getting started!” BUILDING A GREATER MODESTO ✦



The son of Greek immigrants, Paul M. Zagaris was forced to drop out of school and work in the coal mines of Wyoming after his father died in a mining accident.

After serving in the Pacific Theatre during WWII, he brought his wife, Liberty, mother and younger siblings to Modesto. Upon arriving in Modesto in 1947, Liberty taught elementary school and Paul launched a career as a real estate agent with Bomberger Brothers Real Estate. Paul became a partner in Bomberger Brothers and years later founded PMZ Real Estate. Under

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Paul’s leadership, the firm grew to become Modesto’s leading real estate brokerage. At the time of Paul’s death in 1980, the firm had fifteen agents and annual sales of $10 million. After Paul’s death, his children Michael, Steven, Jon, and Paula worked together to continue the family business. The Zagaris children faced an extraordinarily difficult business environment with mortgage rates climbing to over eighteen and a half percent. But, by working together, they continued to build the business and today PMZ Real Estate has sixteen offices in Stanislaus County, San Joaquin County, and other nearby counties and over 700 agents and employees with annual sales exceeding $2 billion. In addition to its involvement in residential brokerages, the family has created PMZ Commercial/Ag Real Estate and Liberty Property Management as divisions of PMZ Real Estate. The family has been involved in land development and building over the years. Many of Modesto’s most sought after neighborhoods were developed by the family. Sherwood Forest, Eastridge, River Heights, Westridge, and Dutchhollow are just a few examples of the neighborhoods developed by the family. Steven focused on the design and construction of custom and merchant built homes in Modesto and surrounding communities. Many of his homes won prestigious awards given by the Building Industry Association. Steven was president of the Building Industry Association of Central California. Steven passed away in 2000 and his legacy lives on in the beautiful structures he designed and built. To better serve the needs of their clients, the Zagaris family has established numerous other successful affiliated businesses: • Scenic Oaks Funding, the family’s mortgage banking company, was launched in 2008 and is now the leading provider of home loans in Modesto and Stanislaus County. • Cypress Title Company was launched in 2005 and currently has offices in Modesto and Turlock. The Zagaris family founded Cypress Title with two strategic partners. • River Oaks Insurance Services is a joint venture launched by the Zagaris family and a strategic partner in 2012 to provide property and casualty insurance.

The Zagaris family has also developed numerous commercial projects: • Thousand Oaks Executive Center on Scenic Drive in Modesto is currently comprised of four professional office buildings. • PMZ’s headquarters building located in the Thousand Oaks Project won the prestigious Gold Nugget Award at the Pacific Coast Builders Conference for the best Office/ Professional Building under 60,000 square feet in 2006. The Zagaris family is proud to give back to the community. Mike cofounded the Leadership Modesto Program, helped build and served as chairman of the California State University, Stanislaus (CSUS) Foundation Board, was active on the board of governors of Doctors Medical Center as chairman, led the effort to save Modesto’s State Theatre, and is currently on the board of directors of the Realty Alliance, and the board of directors of Opportunity Stanislaus. Jon is currently president of the Modesto Junior College Foundation and has served on the Board of Directors of the Building Industry Association of Central California, has been recognized by the Modesto Association of Realtors as Realtor of the Year and by the Building Industry Association of Central California as

Builder of the Year and served as president of the Modesto Association of Realtors. Paula was on the CSUS Foundation Board, the Memorial Hospital Foundation Board, and the Board of Omega Nu. Today Michael, Jon, and Paula, together with two of Paula’s children, Duke and Hilary, and Jon’s son, Steven, and an extraordinary staff of administrative and sales professionals continue to build the Zagaris family businesses.




Left: Menus of Silkwood’s first Chardonnay release served at the Reagan White House, as well as French, Canadian, and Mexican Summits. Right: Judie and John Monnich with a wine thief at a tasting of Petite Sirah.

There is an old saying that goes: You can’t keep a good man down. The same could be said for Silkwood Wines, now in its third incarnation, having been shut down first by disease and, later, by a catastrophic fire that wiped out its entire inventory.

Silkwood Wines first began in 1979 with a Chardonnay produced at Spring Mountain Winery in St. Helena, Napa Valley. It won great reviews and was served frequently in the White House when Ronald Reagan was president. President Reagan and his wife, Nancy, Ed Meiss, Michael Deaver, and George Bush also served it and transported it aboard Air Force One to French, Canadian, and Mexican Summits. The grandfather of owner, John Monnich, produced Alicante Bouschet in 1920 until

Other awards have been won: • 2007 Satin & Silk • Double Gold Medal, 2012 Florida State Fair • Double Gold Medal, Denver Wine Competition • Gold Medal, 2012 Lodi Consumers • Gold Medal, 2012 Orange County • Recognized by wine judges, writer as one of the 21 Best Wines in the World • Que Sirah Syrah • Silver Medal, 2010 San Francisco International Wine Competition • Bronze Medal, 2010 San Joaquin Valley Wine Competition • 2008 Chardonnay • 90+ Points Gold Medal, 2010 San Joaquin Valley Wine Competition • Bronze Medal, 2010 San Francisco International Wine Competition • Bronze Medal, 2010 National Women’s Wine Competition • 2011 Chardonnay with innovative glass cork. • Gold Medal San Joaquin Valley Wine Competition • 2008 Syrah • Platinum Medal, 2012 Lodi Consumers • NV Red Duet • Gold Medal, 2012 Lodi Consumers • 94 Point Gold Medal, 2011 San Francisco Wine competition • 94 Points—Gold Medal, OC Fair California • 2007 Petite Sirah • Double Gold, Best Red Wine Houston

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phyloxera—a sap-sucking pest similar to the aphid—wiped out the vines. He planted rice, which controlled the pest, and made eight barrels of wine a year from a few vines of AB and Muscat. To this day, the family continues to produce rice in Northern California. Ultimately, Silkwood Wines closed, although the Monnich family farmed 540 acres in Modesto for the Jesuits of Novitiate Winery in Lost Gatos, plus perennial crops of its own.

John and Judie Monnich restarted Silkwood Wines in 1988 with small lots of Petite Sirah. This continued in St. Helena at Rombauers Winery for a number of years until a fire wiped them out, including the ’98 Petite Sirah bottled the previous day. Its ’99 Petite Sirah was awarded the Best Wine from the Napa Valley in 2002 by the California State Fair.

• Best of Class, 2012 Indianapolis Wine Competition—Best of Class • Gold Medal, 2012 Sunset International Wine Competition Gold • Awarded handmade chaps for Best Red Wine • Gold Medal 2008 International Wine Competition • Gold Medal, 2012 Orange County Fair Gold • 2004 Syrah • 98 Points Double Gold Medal, 2007 San Francisco International Wine Competition • 98 Points Double Gold Medal, 2007 California State Fair • 94 Points Gold Medal, 2007 Central California Wine Competition • Silkwood 2001 Syrah Selected Reserve • Gold Medal, American Wine Society • Silkwood 2001 Syrah • Best of Show—Gold Medal, Lone Star International Wine Competition • Gold Medal, 2005 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition • Gold Medal, 2005 Texas Wine Competition • Silkwood 2000 Syrah • Best of Class—Gold Medal, California State Fair • Gold Medal, California State Fair • Gold Medal, American Wine Society • Alicante Bouschet • Best Red Wine, Houston • Silkwood 1999 Petite Sirah • Best in California, California State Fair • Best of all Wines—Napa Appellation, California State Fair


The latest version of the company started in 1998 with a grower partner in the Modesto area. The Central Valley’s microclimate is the perfect environment for allowing grapes the time needed to mature naturally without concern for rain. This allows the vintner to take the time to produce and age wines for maximum “hang time” needed by seeds and stems to mature from green to a nice, toasty brown, ensuring optimum flavors and firm, smooth tannins. Letting the fruit hang until it is ripe and then placing it in a tight-grain, oak wood barrel of a selected species for four to five years is critical in making better-quality wine from warm-climate grapes. These factors contribute to the outstanding final product for which Silkwood Wines is known. They custom crush their grapes in Lodi after harvesting vineyards in the Tuolumne River and Dry Creek areas of Stanislaus County just east of Modesto.

Monnich serves as a board member of the San Joaquin Valley Wine Grape Growers Association. The association works to support and promote the area as one of the finest grape-producing areas in the world, as evidenced by the fact that a number of valley wineries are recognized for their worldclass wine status, including Silkwood Wines. Seventy-one percent of all California grapes are grown in the Central Valley. Monnich is also past president and board member of P.S. I Love You, a Petite Sirah advocacy group, and president of CALTEC Ag Inc., an innovative company servicing production agriculture throughout the United States.

Above: Silkwood Wines barrel room in Lodi, California. Left: John Monnich preparing an oxtail stew marinated for twenty to twenty-four hours in Petite Sirah and then slow cooked for six hours with more Petite Sirah. Below: A bottle of Silkwood Wines Alicante Bouschet in a huge wineglass at a marina tasting in San Diego.

Silkwood Wines’ grapes have consistently received double gold and gold medals, including Best in California for its Petite Sirah and two 98 Points/Best in Region for its 2004 Syrah. Japan Airlines recognized its Syrah by making it the only U.S. red wine to fly JAL First Class for five years. Silkwood now produces approximately 10,000 cases per year, shipping to major states, Japan, and Hong Kong. BUILDING A GREATER MODESTO ✦



CALTEC Ag Inc. LED lights in Firebaugh, California, tomato field.

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CALTEC Ag Inc. has been helping agricultural clients in California and throughout the United States since 1982. Services range from providing beneficial insects for weed control to a wide range of high-technology products and services. Our farmer-friendly insects assist growers in eliminating weeds that threaten many crops, primarily cotton, grapes, and almonds. Our research and development arm researches environmental impact in production agriculture—all with an eye toward helping customers produce products without damaging the environment. Emphasis is on biological insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides developed as a result of genetic modification. New crops and seed treatments are also major areas of activity with major seed companies, as well as with distributors. CALTEC Research and Development personnel are highly experienced in California’s rich agricultural fields, as well as in major crops in the rest of the United States. California provides an ideal proving ground for researching new technology. Company scientists have experience in all of the western states’ 350 commercial crops, including the 40 crops in California that are not produced commercially anywhere else in the United States. CALTEC conducts research on an array of environmental concerns at numerous locations, and is a commercial resource with some of the most progressive growers in the U.S. CALTEC offers crop production clients from around the world an array of services designed to help them bring their products to market. Pest Control Advisors (PCAs) will not recommend a new product until they are convinced it is effective and non-phytotoxic. Their credibility—and their license—are at stake every time suppliers recommend a product, so educating clients regarding new products is critical. CALTEC trains PCAs,


crop advisors, and crop consultants in the proper use of our clients’ new products, working with them to develop confidence in the product so they will recommend it. We also guide clients through the registration maze, helping them coordinate registration efforts throughout the western United States. CALTEC’s high profile in California agriculture allows us to help our clients in many ways, including recommendations regarding the best advertising media for products, as well as assisting in direct mail campaigns and social media to PCAs, growers, resellers, and distributors. We represent our clients’ products and companies at farm shows, conferences, and continuing education classes. CALTEC Ag Inc. assists clients with regulatory services in states throughout the U.S. for commercial and specialty fertilizers, packaged agricultural minerals, auxiliary soil and plant substances, packaged soil amendments, and organic input materials. Our regulatory services include: • Review of product labels to meet specific requirements per state, including organic products; • Obtaining heavy metals and other lab analysis as required by each state for product registration; • Assisting in obtaining fertilizer licenses for clients based on state requirements; • Submittal of product labels and accompanying documentation to obtain label approval/product registration, per state requirements; • Assisting in preparing product registration applications for organic input materials; • Direct contact with state agencies to streamline the approval/registration process; • Resubmittal of revised labels based on states’ requirements, if necessary; and • Submission of all product registration renewals upon expiration.

When a client is ready to field-test to validate a new product or technology, CALTEC Research and Development personnel will: • Establish new technologies in crops with its highly experienced team; • Utilize protocol with GLP-qualified scientists; • Develop and coordinate trial plots with client, university, and experiment station personnel; • Conduct field demonstrations for personnel, other researchers, resellers, or growers; • Maintain complete confidentiality; • Identify major resellers in specific crop markets; • Establish a distribution system through qualified resellers; • Identify competitive products; • Develop marketing strategies; • Establish centralized warehousing; • Recommend formulations; • Packaging sizes for product; • Pricing and margin structure; • Obtain order for client billing; • Registration support; • Research and development; • PCA liaison and training services; • Project management; • Biological insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides; • Beneficial insects; and • Advertising and marketing program. CALTEC Ag Inc. is very innovative and works to aid new client concepts in Advanced

Technologies by: • Testing drones with unique cameras and sensors to identify “stressed” areas; • Testing a machine from Germany that blows out sheets of air heated up to 400 degrees into crops to push out humidity, reducing pesticide needs. Kills soft-bodied insects and modifes genome expression, which has improved the quality of fruit, juice, and brix in grapes in numerous trials; • Testing a root imaging device to instantly visualize root flush, root knot nematodes, microbial colonies, and fertilizer timing; • LED light systems used night and day to increase daylight hours to shorten crop cycles by reducing pesticides, fertilizers, and water; and increasing crop yields. • From a unique start-up company, CALTEC Ag Inc. is testing novel new products from a mobile fermentation unit to produce consistent soil products which increase crop yields. CALTEC Ag Inc. has fifty years of experience in marketing innovative products to production agriculture beginning with an exclusive marketing agreement with Monsanto to introduce the herbicide Roundup on an exclusive basis, as well as rice herbicides for Rohm and Haas, and Monsanto. CALTEC Ag Inc. has taken a very successful marketing position with some companies where it identifies a unique ag product that provides unique benefits to CALTEC Ag Inc. distributors.

Left: Root imaging tubes containing cameras viewing root growth, Nematodes, Microbe colonies, etc. viewed on an IPAD from vehicle or office. Right: Conducted in Firebaugh, California, processed tomatoes tworow Agro Thermal heat unit for insect control.




Top: Left to right, Tim, Ella Rose, Jenny (Tim’s wife), Donna, Walter, Jr., Joseph IV, Liz (Walter III’s wife), Dominic and Walter Nicolau III. Above: Tim testing the quality of vinegar. Bottom: Redwood aging tanks.

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Agriculture is the heart and soul of the Central Valley of California. We are the fields, orchards, dairies, farms, and vineyards that produce an incredible agricultural bounty. Walter and Donna Nicolau purchased the Classic Wine Vinegar Company, Inc. twenty-five years ago as a weekend hobby, along with sons, Walter “Sonny” III, now a farmstead goat cheese maker, and Tim, now the head vinegar maker. We currently bottle vinegars for seventy-five different labels, and continue to grow. We manufacture wine vinegars using the oak barrelaged process called the “Orléans method.” This technique is considered the premium vinegarmaking style in the world, based on a method developed in Orléans, France, during the Middle Ages. We are one of the few Orléans vinegar-making companies left in California. Classic Wine Vinegar has expanded into manufacturing many types of vinegars, including rice, fruit, and distilled vinegars. We also bottle extra virgin olive oils, flavored dipping oils, and are a certified organic facility. In the past few years, wine vinegar has become a prized specialty item. With an increase in the popularity of the Food Network, where Classic Wine Vinegar was spotlighted on the Good Eats show with Alton Brown, knowledge of food has led to the desire for less-acidic vinegar. Red wine vinegars made with varietals like cabernet, zinfandel, and sangiovese are robust vinegars and are ideal for salad dressings and steak marinades. Producing exceptional wine vinegar starts with quality wine sourced from grapes grown locally by vendors we know and trust. Carefully cultured bacteria convert the wine into vinegar in a controlled environment.


We do not use preservatives and we do not pasteurize, which can affect the taste. Like good wine, good vinegars take time. Our wine vinegars age slowly over a period of twelve to twenty-four months. Unlike most mass-marketed brands, which are produced in stainless steel tanks typically within twenty-four hours, we will not extract our vinegars until they are ready. Tim’s vinegar-making experience ensures every batch is a superior product. With the move to the new facility in Ceres built in 2005, came an opportunity for Donna to expand her gourmet food and gift shop. Donna and her staff’s passion for providing customers with the best service and finest gift items has led her store to be known as the “Best Kept Secret” in Ceres. Along with vinegars, olive oils, and gourmet foods, you also can find exquisite salad bowls, servers, imported towels, glassware, and seasonal gifts. Over the years, Classic Wine Vinegar has continued to be able to maintain its loyal customer support and growth potential. With the acquisition of a bulk ingredient supplier in 2013 and the well-known local favorite Copper Kitchen’s sauces in 2015, we find ourselves in need of more space. We began the planning of another facility adjacent to our current location. This addition will give us more square footage and the capabilities of continuing our quest of producing the highest quality products available. This modern facility will be environmentally friendly and will contain the latest technological equipment in our industry. California’s heartland offers one of the state’s best authentic food experiences–and we are proud to be a part of it.

Carl Wille, a native of Victoria, Canada, started Wille Electric Supply Company in 1922 after purchasing the electrical department of a local hardware store. Although only twenty-two years old at the time, Wille opened a small location on I Street in Modesto and began repairing products and selling new products to customers. The Victoria, Canada, native fit right in with his new neighbors thanks to hard work, a commitment to great customer service, and fostering one-on-one relationships with customers. Today, almost a century later, the people at Wille Electric Supply Company continue to abide by Carl’s business philosophy, and the results are obvious.

This people-first philosophy has allowed the company to expand its business to other locations and cities. After moving twice to larger facilities, in 1969 the company moved to its current location on Seventh Street. It added a second location in Stockton in 1983, and, in 2004, expanded the business by acquiring San Leandro Electric Supply. Wille Electric is now one of the few remaining independent multi-branch distributors in Northern California. Despite growing competition, the company continues to thrive by adhering to a successful business model, while continually searching for ways to improve. Thanks to the company’s efforts, Wille Electric has never laid off a single employee— not during the Great Depression and not during


any of the more recent recessions. This, along with enviable corporate stability, has led to a retention rate that any business would be proud to have, with many employees having stayed with the company for several decades. So, too, have many customers, who appreciate the company’s large and consistent inventory. It is this dedication to maintaining products customers need that is among the qualities that set Wille Electric apart. No matter how unpredictable the economy might be, the company has always maintained high stock levels. As an independent distributor, Wille Electric has the ability to address issues immediately and act upon them now rather than next week. The company leadership—as well as the rest of its employees—believes in true customer service and maintains a large outside sales staff that is knowledgeable, well-trained, and eager to meet customer needs. Sales calls are made in person, a tradition that began with Carl and continues to this day. The company remains family-owned and -operated. Larry Robinson serves as president, Rob Robinson as vice president of sales, and Seth Neumann as vice president of finance. This leadership team works together to make sure the company is an exciting place to work, while serving as a one-stop destination for customers in all industries. For hours or locations, please visit their website at

Left: Carl Wille.




Above: Founder of Ceres Pipe & Metal, Barry Highiet, standing in the pipe yard. Below: Doug and Barry Highiet.

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Ceres Pipe & Metal, as the name suggests, got its start in the nearby community of Ceres, but the company has been in its present location on South Seventh Street in Modesto for over fifty years. This family-owned business provides new and used steel and pipe for agriculture, industry, and hobbyists. The company owes its existence to Modestoborn and -raised Barry Highiet (1925-2014). He was the youngest of three children of immigrant parents, Alex and Nettie Highiet, who established Modesto Junk Co. in 1920. Upon his graduation from Modesto High School and after a year at Modesto Junior College, he joined the U.S. Navy and was honorably discharged at the end of the war. Barry went on to finish his studies at Stanford University before moving back to Modesto to work in the family business, Modesto Junk Co. After several years of gaining valuable insight in the business of recycling metals, he received his father’s approval to venture out on his own, leading to the founding of his own company, Ceres Pipe & Metal. In the mid-1970s, Barry’s son Doug joined the company, and the focus soon changed to an emphasis on new and used steel with less involvement in scrap metal. By the 1980s, Ceres Pipe & Metal had completely exited the scrap metal trade to concentrate exclusively on new and used steel sales.


The company has since added a sales showroom with ornamental iron supplies and accessories, in addition to the wide range of steel including sheet, bars, tubing, and pipe. At the present time, Ceres Pipe & Metal buys new steel from domestic steel mills and imports from around the world. The company also specializes in buying secondary materials from manufacturers’ closeouts and insurance cargo claims. Much of this growth and success is attributed to knowledgeable and friendly employees and to a wonderful Central Valley with its diverse agricultural history.

The word “junk” is not used in the scrap metal processing and recycling business these days. Nonetheless, Modesto Junk Company has retained the word as part of the company’s name, in part out of respect for the company’s founder. Alex Highiet, a Latvian native who immigrated to the United States in 1913, founded Modesto Junk Company in 1920. His brother, George, joined him in the business for a year before returning to Stockton to run their uncle’s junk yard and where Alex had previously lived. Alex decided on Modesto for personal, as well as professional reasons. His wife, Nettie, wanted to live closer to her family, and Alex believed he could make a living pretty much anywhere. A couple of years after starting the business, Alex moved it to its present location on Ninth Street to be closer to the railroad, leasing land from Southern Pacific for eighteen dollars a month.

Back then, Alex purchased bottles for three for a penny, wool at eight cents a pound, and hides for eighteen cents, traveling door-to-door by horse and buggy. This early enterprise set the stage for the scrap metal processing and recycling business that continues to this day, making Modesto Junk Company one of the oldest businesses in Modesto. Although the company is nearing the century mark, its methods are state-of-the-art. Today, the company purchases scrap iron, copper, brass, aluminum, stainless steel, junk batteries, aluminum cans, plastic bottles, cardboard, and other related scrap for recycling purposes. Operations include cutting-edge processing equipment and computerized technology that, combined with professional, courteous staff make Modesto Junk Company large enough to get the job done and human enough to care. Since 1920, the company has maintained a tradition of leadership in the scrap metal industry, as well as in the Modesto community. This privately owned company has benefited from the work of four generations of Highiets, beginning with Alex and continuing with his son, Harvey, his grandson, Jeff, and now his great-grandson, Keith. Alex, who worked well into his eighties, would be proud of the legacy he has created and the work his offspring have done to preserve and enhance it. The company plans to continue to grow and expand to meet the ever-changing needs of the scrap metal industry and its customers, and it is committed to remaining the most successful scrap metal processing and recycling business in Modesto and the surrounding area.


Above: Founder of Modesto Junk Company, Alex Highiet. Below: An aerial view over Modesto Junk Company.




Above: Madeline and Sean Roddy. Below: The Hennings Bros. Drilling Company yard located at 1930 Ladd Road, Modesto, California 95356.

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Hennings Bros. Drilling Co., Inc. has been serving Modesto and the surrounding Central Valley since 1947. The company was started by Bill and Howard Hennings and is currently owned by Madeline Hennings Roddy, daughter of Bill. Current Vice President Sean Roddy, Madeline’s son, will be the third generation to own the company. Madeline started working in the family business in 1972, and Sean started working in 1988. Sean has managed the operations since 1998, while Madeline is CEO/CFO and president. Bill and Howard came from very humble beginnings. Born and raised in Minnesota, they ventured out in different ways. Bill worked in California for a time, but returned to Minnesota to marry and become a farmer. Howard stayed in California, married, and worked in the gas and oil drilling fields. In 1943, Bill decided to spread his wings, sold his farm in Minnesota, and moved to Modesto. He and his wife, Irene,


purchased a peach orchard and started a new farming adventure. Eventually, the brothers decided to unite and form another business, water well drilling. With Howard’s expertise in drilling and Bill’s business acumen, they started Hennings Bros. They purchased a mud rotary rig, which was something new for the Central Valley in the mid 1940s. Obviously, it was a successful venture and the business is still thriving to this day. Water well drilling—domestic, irrigation and industrial—is still the heart of the business. Creating a high volume, efficient, and sandfree well is what they strive to accomplish for every customer. Today, Hennings Bros. employs twenty people and has expanded the services of the company. Hennings Bros. also provides drain-well drilling, and cleaning, well abandonments, well maintenance, including video inspection, sonar jet cleaning, jetting, brushing, and swaging. Rehabilitating wells is an important service they also offer and something they pride themselves in doing for their customers. Recently, the company moved their facilities to 1930 Ladd Road, after being on Pelandale Avenue for thirty-nine years and previously located at the corner of Rumble and Conant Avenue for thirty years. The new Hennings Bros. location is on the same property where Bill and Irene lived and farmed their peach orchard. Sean and his family live in his grandfather Bill’s house on the property. Madeline and Sean feel very blessed and proud of their accomplishments over the years. They know “Grandpa Bill” would be pleased as well with their continued success and cannot wait to celebrate seventy years in business in 2017.

Family. Farming. Food. These are the touchstones that define and inspire Nicolau Farms. More than a century after his great-grandfather, Jose Nicolau, emigrated from the Azores to dairy farm in Stanislaus County, Walter Nicolau III remains committed to the strength of family and culture, the value of land and livestock, and the pride of handcrafting the finest cheese. At his farm south of Modesto, Walter and his wife, Elizabeth, produce a variety of specialty goat and blended-milk cheeses. They make more than a dozen varieties of cheeses using different processes, ages, and molds. During peak season, Nicolau Farms produces around 4,000 pounds of cheese monthly. Making award-winning farmstead goat cheeses requires balancing science and art. The highest-quality cheeses begin with the freshest milk produced by contented, healthy goats nourished with nutritious grasses and forages, all grown and baled at the farm. We are proud to be an all-natural goat dairy. We never use antibiotics, hormones, conventional medicines, or harmful chemicals. At Nicolau Farms, our milk is pasteurized in small batches on a daily basis. It is never altered or standardized. By relying on the older method of pasteurization, the milk does


not taste “cooked” and retains the beneficial components needed for making cheese. Mildly heated to 145 degrees Fahrenheit, the pasteurized milk is cultured for twelve hours, which

allows the lactic acid to separate the milk into curds (solid) and whey (liquid). The curds are hand-ladled into cheese cloth and left to drain for another twenty-four hours. The resulting chevré is then blended with less than one percent sea salt. Other fresh ingredients, such as herbs or fruit, may be added, depending on the final flavor desired. The cheese is immediately packaged, refrigerated, and prepared for shipping. Our aged cheeses begin with the same traditional pasteurization process. Following pasteurization of the fresh goat milk, the type of bacteria, rennet (coagulant), make and aging processes used will determine the final taste, texture, and appearance. The cheeses are then stored until matured. The cheese plant is the heart of the process that turns the finest “white gold” (goat milk) in the world into delicious artisanal cheeses. Vat pasteurization, small batch production, age-old skills, and labor-intensive attention to detail all ensure the freshest, highest-quality cheeses. Whether it is fresh or aged cheeses, we rely on imagination, determination, tradition, and state-of-the-art sanitation to achieve a benchmark business dedicated to providing an artisanal product that is both enjoyable and successful. As Walter III has said many times, “We turn grass into milk into cheese into happiness.”

Above: Nicolau Farms 2017 collection of aged goat cheese and mixed milk cheeses. Bottom: Walter Nicolau III in his aging room.




Above: Lowell Arnold. Right: Rick and Michael Arnold.

Lowell and Rick Arnold began Arnold Cement, Inc., in 1984 with an old work truck out of Lowell’s garage. Initially, they focused on the residential market; digging, setting, placing, and finishing concrete. Through hard work, dedication, and attention to quality, the company has grown in the past three decades into a highly regarded concrete company serving the greater Modesto and Ceres communities. Today, Arnold Cement is owned by Rick and his son, Michael Arnold. Michael grew up in and around the company ran by his father and grandfather, who created a family legacy that takes pride in their work, giving customers quality workmanship at an honest price. To get real value in concrete work, there is no substitute for a company with decades of experience in the right way to do things and solve problems coupled with a focus on maintaining its reputation for quality results and satisfied customers. With the family name on the company, they make sure every customer is completely satisfied with the services they receive before the job is considered finished. 262 âœŚ


Arnold Cement has extensive experience with commercial, residential, and custom jobs. They provide expert service on driveways, foundations, patios, walks, and steps. They also specialize in stamped and colored concrete, retaining walls, building slabs, parking lots, mow strips, and custom concrete benches. Delivering quality results is an attitude instilled in all employees. Each employee is taught to provide every customer with the same quality they would want at their own home or business. Taking short cuts is not something that one would find at Arnold Cement. They pride themselves in giving honest bids, even if it means the loss of business to other companies. In the old days, business was conducted on a handshake and a man had to be as good as his word. Even though Arnold Cement works with written agreements these days, they continue to abide by the philosophy that a handshake and a promise mean something. Whether it is a small concrete slab at a home or a big commercial job, Arnold Cement, Inc., treats each job as though it is the most important job they have ever done.

The founding fathers of the Modesto Irrigation District (MID) had the foresight to construct a reservoir to store water, a conveyance system to provide irrigation water to farmers, and a powerhouse to help supply the community with electricity. In 1887, MID was formed as the second irrigation district in California. Their forefathers’ vision was clear and their determination profound as they began transformation of a desert wasteland into one of the nation’s most productive regions. After sixteen years and battling some opposition, the irrigation water that had been promised entered a newly constructed canal system moving water from east to west and providing irrigation to the early tracts of land. Property values climbed, land was subdivided, and wheat fields were transformed into vineyards and orchards. By the 1920s, Modesto Reservoir and the original Don Pedro Project were built and helped MID bring nearly 60,000 acres into irrigation. Building on the success of providing irrigation water to an otherwise barren landscape, MID’s forefathers’ vision was not yet complete. By 1923, the first electrical pole was installed and MID embarked on a pathway to provide power. MID provides electricity via a mixture of owned and purchased resources, including wind, solar, large and small hydro, and natural gas. In addition to hydroelectric generation at Don Pedro Reservoir, MID owns several natural

gas generation facilities. Electricity is transmitted and distributed over more than 1,800 miles of power lines throughout MID’s 560 square mile service area. Fast forwarding to 1994, MID partnered with the City of Modesto to provide safe, reliable drinking water and built the Modesto Regional Water Treatment Plant. To date, MID has provided close to 230 billion gallons of treated surface water to the City of Modesto, significantly reducing their reliance on groundwater and improving water quality for more than 250,000 area residents and 6,000 businesses. Today, 130 years later, MID still relies on the foresight of its forefathers—providing electric service to more than 120,000 customers, irrigation water to more than 3,000 agricultural customers and treating and delivering drinking water to the City of Modesto. MID continues to look for ways to enhance water and power service, work to protect its senior water rights, diversify power resources, and monitor and respond accordingly to increasing regulatory pressures on the water and power industries. Throughout its existence, this publicly owned utility has worked to deliver the highest value of service at the lowest possible cost through teamwork, technology, innovation, and commitment. It is a mission the Modesto Irrigation District plans to continue to fulfill in the years to come.


Below: MID installing an electrical pole by the Strand Theatre.




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Since 1954, Garton Tractor, Inc. has provided equipment, parts, rentals, and service to the agricultural and light construction industry. Family-owned and -operated, the fourth generation continues to provide the services our customers deserve. The Garton Tractor family has grown from a single store selling Ford tractors to over 230 employees and ten California locations supplying the industry with New Holland, Kubota, and many other manufacturers. The company roots started when Bud Garton met and married Carole Cornforth. Carole’s father, Bill Cornforth, the family’s first generation farm equipment dealer, had the Ford tractor franchise in Reedley. Bud’s background included family ranching in Squaw Valley, serving his country in the Navy, and working as an accountant. Bill hired his new son-in-law, who would soon become the second generation family member to sell Ford tractors. Soon after, Bill purchased the Ford tractor franchises in Turlock and Modesto and assigned Bud to run the parts department at the Modesto store. In 1954, Bud was transferred to the Turlock store as general manager. In 1957, Bill decided to sell the establishments in Turlock and Modesto. Bud, his father Leonard Garton, and Roy Nance bought the two stores. They remained partners until 1960, when they divided the businesses,


with the Gartons taking over the Turlock store. The company branched out to Los Banos, where Leonard operated the location. When Leonard retired in 1969, the store was closed and the Turlock location expanded by moving from Center Street to its current location on Golden State Boulevard. At the time, it was in the country and Golden State Boulevard was Highway 99. The third generation began employment in 1979 when Bud’s oldest son, Bill, graduated from the University of the Pacific. In 1983, Bud’s other son, Tom, graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. There is currently three fourth generation family members—Ben (University of Alabama), Grant (Cal Poly San Luis Obispo), and Drew Garton (University of Southern California) in various managerial positions. Over the years, many farm equipment manufacturers have consolidated and the dealers have expanded to multiple locations with many owned by investment groups. Garton Tractor’s expansion to additional locations began with Newman in 1989 followed by Stockton, Tulare, Santa Rosa, Modesto, Ukiah, Fairfield, Merced, and Woodland in 2017. From the initial Turlock store through the expansion to ten locations, the values have stayed the same–honesty, integrity, and treating others with respect. We are proud of the people we have in our organization and grateful for our customers. At Garton Tractor, Inc., we have positive attitudes and strong work ethics to ultimately help you, the customer, in the best and most efficient way possible. Quality People Quality Products®, that is Garton Tractor, Inc. To learn more about us, please visit

CoSol Commercial Real Estate is one of Modesto’s leading commercial real estate companies. CoSol is a highly focused brokerage company that prides itself on outstanding customer service and developing long-term relationships with its clients. The company’s founders, both locally grown products, know the area well, and through the years, have developed a wealth of information and experience that benefit retailers, property owners, and investors alike. With experienced principals and in-depth knowledge of the regional marketplace, CoSol Commercial Real Estate provides full-service capabilities catered to the need of its clients, whether they are a large corporate entity or an individual with an interest in real estate. The company was founded by Modesto businessmen Tim L. Bettencourt and Thomas C. Solomon who combined have more than sixty-five years of experience in the real estate business. In 1994, as a logical extension of their business, they formed CoSol Management Group. They invited Janet Akard to join as an associate agent and later made her partner

in the management arm, primarily responsible for the day-to-day operations of the management group. Jake Maiorino joined CoSol as an associate in May 2006, and Bowen Cardoza joined in January 2013. Thomas Solomon, Jr., joined the firm in June 2014. CoSol’s client list includes a long list of national, regional, and local entities. Their business spans a wide range of clients including retail, office, medical, governmental, school districts, industrial, and others. Their experience and local knowledge make them premier brokers for landing major retailers interested in locating in Stanislaus and south San Joaquin counties. CoSol Commercial Real Estate’s reputation for repeat client business with proven success is based upon its ability to effectively satisfy its clients’ needs. This includes project marketing, project management, assistance in the development process, and buyer/tenant representation. CoSol prides itself on personal attention, while providing the best possible service to its clients. This philosophy is borne out in its company motto: “Our Success Follows Our Client’s Success.”


Above: Tim L. Bettencourt is involved in the sales and leasing of retail commercial properties in the market area of the San Joaquin Valley of California. Below: Tom C. Solomon is a lifelong resident of Modesto. Tom prides himself on “allowing my success to follow that of my client’s success”.




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Irvin Burchell began his business with an acre and a half of good, Central Valley land on the outskirts of Modesto, and, applying his degree in pomology—the science and culture of fruits—from the University of California at Berkley, began growing peach trees. By adhering to his philosophy of honesty, growing the highest-quality trees, and selling with the highest integrity, Burchell and his descendants grew his business from an acre and a half to more than 1,000 and from 10,000 trees to more than three million. Today, Burchell Nursery, Inc. grows more than 300 varieties of peach, nectarine, cherry, apricot, plum, prune, apple, almond, and walnut trees, patenting more than eighty varieties. It also grows fig, pomegranate, citrus, and olive trees. Irvin’s focus on quality, which he taught to his son and grandson, as they joined him in the business, led to development of California’s own tree certification program. Beginning in the 1960s, Burchell Nursery worked to eliminate viruses from commercial tree varieties and establish clean sources of bud wood. In 1970, the year the first Earth Day was celebrated, his son, Bill, took over the company.


Under his guidance, Burchell Nursery grew dramatically, and by 1975, the company had added 700 acres in Oakdale, while continuing to farm the land around Modesto. Bill continued to expand the company throughout the next decade, opening the Fresno branch in 1983, and by 2000, the first greenhouse became part of the business. By 2004, the third generation of Birchells had taken the company’s reins. Tom Burchell has continued to grow the business. With a renewed focus on research, he has pioneered the development of the nursery’s container tree lines. His stewardship also has advanced the firm’s breeding program, which now holds more than seventy patented varieties to its credit and with more coming each year. Burchell Nursery has been growing quality fruit and nut trees for more than seventy-five years, producing fruit and nut trees for the agriculture market. No matter who runs the company, you can count on continued dedication to the founder’s and the family’s belief in honesty, integrity, and service. You can look to Burchell Nursery, Inc. to provide the healthiest, most vigorous bare root and container trees anywhere.

Sierra Pacific Warehouse Group is proud to be a family-owned business based in Modesto. Our history is our future. Founded in 1987 by Mike McNulty and Roy Atkins, we deliver excellence in the warehousing and logistics industry with a specialty in foodgrade storage; from frozen to ambient conditions with certified food safety and organic programs. As a company that serves global customers, our roots are in Modesto and we make a point to be involved in our community, championing the things that make Modesto a great place to live. In 1997, Chris Murphy and Sierra Pacific collaborated with local Internet and technology specialists to found ModestoView as a guide to all things that are positive in the community. With a single webcam in downtown, ModestoView was born. Twenty years


later, ModestoView is a leading, positive voice in the central valley, featuring one of the largest monthly magazines in the area, a website, and an amazing social media network that “Serves Civic Pride Daily.” The Sierra Pacific/ModestoView team created the Modesto Historic Cruise Route, Modesto Music History, and co-founded the Modesto Area Music Association, the Modesto Area Music Awards (MAMAs), and the Classic Community Murals program. Each day, we are proud to deliver Modesto and California to you.

“Short Stack and a Side Order of Alco.” PHOTOGRAPH BY TED BENSON.



Ensuring the future we want. COURTESY OF THE CITY OF MODESTO.

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FAMILY HERITAGE Families whose businesses, products, and legacies continue to shape the future of Modesto B e a rd F a m i l y C o m p a n i e s . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 7 0 M a p e ’s R a n c h . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 7 4 A & L P i r ro n e V i n e y a rd s , I n c . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 7 8 E. & J. Gallo Winery .....................................................................280 S t a n i s l a u s F o o d P ro d u c t s . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 8 2 Fiscalini Farms & Cheese ...............................................................284 R a t t o B ro s . , I n c . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 8 6 Ulm Farms, Inc. ..........................................................................288




Right: Thomas Kennan ‘T. K.’ Beard and Grace Ada Lewis’s wedding day on September 17, 1878. Below: T. K. and Grace’s house built in 1888, one mile east of Modesto. This photograph was taken in 1893. This location is now Santa Cruz Avenue.

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The success of the Beard Family Companies cannot be attributed to a single person or even a single generation, but the seed that sprouted into one of the Central Valley’s successful families— and business enterprises—bore the name of Elihu Burritt Beard, who arrived in California in September 1850 hoping to earn his fortune in the gold fields. Elihu and his wife, Ann Eliza Kennan, had seven children, the eldest of which, T. K. Beard, inherited his parents’ vast holdings and, in 1915, closed his contracting business to focus on managing his and what had previously been his parents’ assets in Stanislaus County. T. K. and his wife, Grace Ada Lewis, had ten children, ensuring the perpetuation of the Beard family name and sowing the seeds for what would become a successful family of companies. Elihu can be credited with much of the success of the family and its business holdings. It is because of him that the family moved to the Modesto area in the first place. But the Beard family history extends beyond California and can be traced as far back as around 1710, when John Beard, his wife, and their two sons, Richard and John, immigrated from Devonshire, England, arriving on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts. The island’s inhabitants


included the Wampanoag Indians and several Quaker families, who had fled religious persecution in England. The Beard family, who were also Quakers, lived on Nantucket Island until troubles between Massachusetts and the British threatened to boil over into violence.

Many Quakers, who were pacifists, fled the impending Revolutionary War for Guilford County, North Carolina. This included Richard Beard, Jr., and his family, who made the exodus in 1767. Richard Beard, Jr.’s son, thirteenyear-old George Beard, was destined to become, among other things, Elihu’s grandfather. The Beards and other Quaker families did not settle permanently in the South. Their antislavery stance made them unpopular among their Southern neighbors, and so, in 1817, three generations of the Beard family moved to the border area of Indiana and Ohio. George Beard settled in Wayne County, and his son, William Beard, settled just to the south near Liberty in Union County, Indiana. William served as a preacher in the family’s new church, treated his neighbor’s injuries and illnesses, and farmed their 1,000-acre spread. It was on this farm that William and his wife, Rachel, gave birth to Elihu, who adopted his middle name while attending college to honor Elihu Burritt, a Quaker leader in the international peace movement. Rachel Pierson Beard, Elihu’s mother, was born in Rowan County, North Carolina, to a Quaker family. Although they did not have Nantucket Island roots, they too left North Carolina and settled in Indiana, two counties to the north of where William and Rachel settled. Cincinnati, located on the Ohio River, served as the transportation hub for the region. Since the river served as the boundary between slave and free states, the city became the focal point for the Underground Railroad, which spirited escaped slaves to freedom. Elihu’s father, William, served in the leadership of the Underground Railroad. In 1826, Levi Coffin, also a Quaker, moved from Guilford County, North Carolina, to Indiana, settling thirty miles north of the Beard family near Newport, Indiana. Both he and William, who were cousins, became leaders in the Underground Railroad, offering their homes as stations in the network of safe houses providing refuge to escaped slaves. Elihu entered college in 1845, spent five semesters at Oxford College in Miami, Ohio, (now Miami University), taught school for six months, and returned to school to finish his education, graduating from Farmers College in

what is now College Hill in 1849. Then, like many others at that time, he was drawn to California and the recently discovered gold fields. Elihu worked to raise the funds needed to make the journey, tending livestock for a group headed for California. They followed the Oregon Trail through Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Idaho before arriving in California in September of 1850. Elihu began his prospecting career in El Dorado County and for the next two years worked there and in Tuolumne and Fresno Counties. In 1852 he purchased his first parcel of land on Dry Creek in what was then Tuolumne County and would later become Stanislaus County. He planted grain and grazed sheep. After the land became part of Stanislaus County, Elihu was elected county assessor and first county superintendent of schools. Four years after purchasing land on October 7, 1856, Elihu married Ann Eliza Kennan, originally from Missouri. Their first house was located on Dry Creek at a site known by the family as “Graveyard Bottom,” which served as the family’s burial site. A road between Stockton and the southern mines ran along the property, and travelers began using it as a stopping point. To this day, descendants of Elihu and Ann own the property. Elihu did well as a farmer and after selling his crops each year would buy land to increase his holdings and his ability to earn more money. In a ten-year period between 1860 and 1870, Elihu increased his real estate holdings by ten times. Because they owned large tracts of land, the Beards were able to enter into sharecropping contracts with other farmers or to hire farm managers. This freed them from work, allowing them to pursue other activities. For instance, Elihu was appointed as the first superintendent of schools in Stanislaus County, served in the California State Assembly for three years, and donated his time and talents to various community endeavors. In 1873, the Beards bought a home site on the northwest corner of Twelfth and I Streets in Modesto, which later became the post office. A year later, they built a home across I Street from the Stanislaus County Courthouse, and in 1880 bought two lots in Pacific Grove for a vacation home. Beard family descendants own the home to this day.

Above: Elihu Beard at age sixty, San Francisco, 1885. Below: Ann Eliza Beard at fifty-six, San Francisco, 1885.



Beard family home built in 1913 at the corner of Sycamore and Needham Avenues in Modesto. Sold in the late 1920s, it was torn down in 1956.

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Although they fared well in business, Elihu and Ann endured many personal hardships. By 1892, only two of their seven children were still alive: T. K. and their unmarried daughter, Alice, who suffered from the same weak lungs that had claimed the lives of some of her siblings. To preserve her health, Alice eventually moved to the Kona Coast of Hawaii, and after visiting in 1901, Elihu developed pneumonia and died on May 7 at the age of seventy-five. Eleven years later, Alice also passed away, and two months after that—on November 6, 1912—Ann died from pneumonia at the age of eighty-three. The Beard family might have faded into history had it not been for T. K., who had promised his parents their lineage would continue after their deaths. T. K. fathered ten children. They all survived their parents and lived well into adulthood, thus allowing T. K. to keep his promise. After a four-year stint in the Pacific Northwest, T. K. and Grace returned to Modesto and built a home diagonal to the home of Elihu and Ann. Like his father, T. K. bought land whenever he could, including what is now the Beard Industrial District. T. K. played an important role in irrigating the Central Valley. It took hard work and diplomacy to convince residents to see the value of irrigating and to invest the money in making it happen. T. K. and his son, Walter, went into business creating early reservoirs and canals. T. K. served on the Modesto Irrigation District from 1901 to 1907. T. K. later inherited his parents’ land and spent the rest of his career managing the family’s Stanislaus County assets. The family’s legacy lives on through two parks built on


land donated by the family—Graceada Park (given in conjunction with the Wisecarver family) and Beard Brook Park, and a Modesto school—Elihu Beard Elementary School—also bears the family name. Following T. K.’s death in 1925, Grace lived another thirty-two years. She encouraged her children to keep the family assets together as a family corporation, which they did. The majority of the family’s assets are in Stanislaus County, but it does own property in Southern California and Walnut Creek. Today, the Beard Family Companies is led by Beard Land & Investment Company, which holds the majority of the family’s real estate assets and is owned by more than 180 shareholders. Beard Land and Investment Company plays an integral role in a multitude of businesses in Modesto’s Beard Industrial District, which is home to several Fortune 500 companies and employs several thousand area residents. The company continues to serve as an industrial property developer and leasing company with properties located mainly within the Beard Industrial District, which borders the City of Modesto. Many of the industries in the Beard Industrial District, which is composed of more than 2,000 acres zoned and developed for commercial and industrial use, are food-related and most sites are rail served by Modesto & Empire Traction Company, established October 7, 1911, a subsidiary company that operates a short-line railroad within the Beard Industrial District. Although its main line is only five miles long, it operates and maintains an additional thirtyeight miles of track within the Beard Industrial District, which serves numerous customers, and facilitates rail shipping throughout North America through daily interchanges with BNSF Railway and Union Pacific. More than 100 years later, the Beard Land Investment Company continues to be family owned and governed. Branches of the family have a representative on the board and were proud to celebrate its 100-year anniversary in 2011. To this day, the family strives to adhere to the philosophy espoused by T. K., who recorded in his journal: “And now abide us these three: Faith. Hope. Love. Causing us to look up and not down; forward and not back; out and not in; and lend a hand.”

Above: T. K. and Grace Beard with their ten children, Thanksgiving Day in 1922. Left: Grace with her ten children in 1946. It was Grace who encouraged her children to create the Beard Land and Investment Company in 1926, a year after their father’s death.




Below: Bill Lyons and the Mape’s Ranch ‘Half-Circle-Bar’ branding iron. Bottom: Edward Thomas “E. T.” Mape in the 1930s.

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Edward T. Mape had a grand vision when he combined twenty-eight ranches to establish the original Mape’s Ranch—west of Modesto in 1923. With help from his nephew, William “Bill” Lyons, Sr., Mape added thirteen additional ranches, creating what is now a 10,000-acre farming and ranching operation consisting of farmland, orchards, grazing land, cattle operation, and wildlife habitat. Even Ed could not have imagined his ranch, nestled between the Stanislaus, San Joaquin, and Tuloumne Rivers, would someday be widely regarded as a leader in the California agricultural community, as well as a model that demonstrates how agricultural and environmental partnerships can co-exist and result in mutually beneficial outcomes. Throughout the past ninety-three years, the Mape’s Ranch has integrated various practices of sustainable agriculture and resource management by incorporating modernized systems and cutting-edge infrastructure into the management of the ranch. Presently, farming operations consist of 5,000 acres of corn, alfalfa, wheat, barley, winter forage, watermelons, pumpkins, beans, tomatoes, grapes, almonds, walnuts, and rangeland. In addition, the ranching operation consists of 2,500 head of Angus cattle. The Mape’s Ranch is proud to stand behind its storied brand, the Half-Circle-Bar, which backs their slogans of “Breed the Best and Forget the Rest” and “Home of the One-Ton Bulls.”


This fourth-generation family farming and ranching business continues to adhere to the beliefs on which its success has been built—strong family values, hard work, and dedication—and is committed to continuing the conservation values embraced by Bill and his wife, Mary. Bill and Mary’s appreciation and respect for nature led to the adoption of farming and cattle-ranching practices that helped enhance the overall ecosystem. The Lyons’ family became very successful caring for the land while operating a profitable agricultural business. Following the passing of his father and with his mother’s encouragement, Bill left home in Minnesota at age sixteen to join his Uncle Ed in California to live and work on his ranch. Uncle Ed, who had no children, treated his nephew as one would a son. Ed, who had a number of other business endeavors that kept him quite busy (including music and gambling ventures), turned the responsibility of running the ranch over to Bill, where he developed a very strong work ethic and commitment to the land. In 1949, Bill married his college sweetheart, Mary Houghtaling from Minnesota. Bill and Mary lived on the ranch where they raised their six children: Bill, Jr., Jane, Lynne, Ed, Chuck, and Louise. Life on the Mape’s Ranch was always a family affair. From a very young age, their children often went to work with their dad. “When there was work to be done on the ranch, the kids were always involved,” Bill once said. “It was nice having our children there. Not just because they worked hard, but because they were family.” Through a combination of hard work, dedication, and his Uncle’s tutelage, Bill became a savvy businessman whose ingenuity transformed the Mape’s Ranch into the agricultural success it is today. Following the passing of Ed in 1973, the ranch expanded in size and stature under Bill’s leadership. The cattle herd grew, the ranch acreage increased, and the crops became more diversified. The Lyons family eventually expanded and diversified their business operations by purchasing shopping centers, industrial warehousing developments, and other business ventures throughout a four-county area. This business growth made Bill and Mary amongst the largest private landowners in the San Joaquin Valley, as well as two of its most influential citizens.

Left: Ed Mape (left) and Bill Lyons working the ranch in the 1940s. Below: Ed Mape (left) with Mary and Bill Lyons and their six children, left to right: Bill, Jr., Lynne, Ed, Chuck, Jane, and Louise in 1962.

Bill and Mary are considered pioneers in the agricultural community, devoting their time, money, and land to conservation efforts by developing sanctuaries for geese and other waterfowl, as well as native habitat restoration. Their love for nature and their belief that agricultural practices and environmental preservation could work hand-in-hand are part of their legacy. These commitments were passed down to their six children and remain an integral part of the Mape’s Ranch operation to this day. These traditions continue to be passed down to Bill and Mary’s twenty-one grandchildren and thirty-five (and counting!) great-grandchildren. In conjunction with running the agricultural operations, the Mape’s Ranch has partnered with environmental groups and public agencies for the protection and restoration of wildlife, fish, and plant habitat with an eye toward maintaining the area’s biological riches. Among the many highlights of their success has been the effort to help save the Aleutian Cackling Goose (formerly known as the Aleutian Canada Goose), which was declared endangered in 1967. Because the Lyons family was committed to the cause and the environment, they planted corn and special migratory waterfowl-friendly pasture mix and provided wetland environments for the geese to flourish. Through these actions and their partnership with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, FAMILY PORTRAITS ✦


Bill and Mary Lyons on the ranch in 2000.

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the population of the Aleutian Cackling Geese has grown from a mere 800 in 1975 to over 100,000 today. The results of the Lyons’ efforts were so strong that the Aleutian Cackling Geese were removed from the Endangered Species List in 2001, becoming one of only thirty-six species to be “de-listed” since 1982. This partnership also resulted in additional restoration projects on the ranch that protect, restore, and enhance hundreds of acres of wetland habitat for other wildlife and waterfowl, such as the Sandhill Crane, Bell’s Vireo, and the Riparian Brush Rabbit. In addition to their commitment to environmental conservation, the Lyons family continues to strive toward making the ongoing farming and ranching operations more efficient and achieving long-term sustainability. Over time,


they have implemented many programs and practices to achieve these goals, and continue to stay on the cutting-edge of agricultural and environmental technology. The Mape’s Ranch has a long history of updating its irrigation infrastructure to conserve water while working to improve water quality. Installation of comprehensive Tailwater Return Systems to maximize irrigation efficiency and minimize the impact of runoff, coupled with innovative infrastructure management has achieved considerable results in improving water and air quality. The Mape’s Ranch also employs a number of programs to maximize soil and resource management. The ongoing investment in scientific analysis of the soil has resulted in higher quality crops and the preservation of environmental quality. For over twenty-five years, the Lyons family has partnered with Stanislaus County on the Food Processing By-Product Re-Use Program to divert fruit, nut, and vegetable by-product (stems, peels, leaves) from the county landfill to the Mape’s Ranch to be applied to the soil as an organic fertilizer and soil amendment. To date, over two million tons of by-product has been diverted from the landfill. The Lyons family was nationally recognized for their participation in this program, which allowed the county to qualify for diversion credits, while giving food processors a sustainable method to remain competitive in the international marketplace. Bill and Mary have received numerous awards for their many contributions to the community. Among them, the Center for Human Services honored Bill and Mary with their Distinguished Leadership Award and they were ultimately inducted into the Stanislaus County Ag Hall of Fame in 2000. Bill received the Cattlemen of the Year Award, the Modesto Chamber of Commerce President’s Award, and the Fred Price Memorial Good Egg Award among many others. The Lyons family members have also played an important role in the agricultural community by serving as members and/or leaders in organizations such as the California Farm Bureau, Stanislaus County Farm Bureau, Western Growers, California Cattlemen’s Association, Almond Alliance, and 4-H/FFA, to name a few. In 1999, Bill and Mary’s eldest son, Bill, Jr.,

was appointed Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, where he served for five years. The Lyons family has always been deeply involved in their community and have been long time supporters of many local organizations and charities. These include the American Cancer Society, the Salvation Army, Children’s Crisis Center, Howard Training Center, State Theatre, Central Catholic High School, and many other community programs promoting the arts, leadership, youth sports, and disadvantaged

youth. The family’s involvement in conservationrelated organizations includes participation in groups such as the National Audubon Society, Ducks Unlimited, Tuolumne River Trust, and River Partners. Bill, Sr., managed the Mape’s Ranch daily operations with his sons until his passing in 2003. Mary, her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will continue to ensure that their commitment to the land and the storied legacy of the Mape’s Ranch lives on for many generations to come.

Above: Photograph from Modesto Bee article, February 2001. Below: Mape’s Ranch main yard.




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The word “vineyards” in the name A&L Pirrone Vineyards, Inc., might sound like a misnomer for this agricultural enterprise encompassing 325 acres of walnut, 275 acres of almond, and 100 acres of cherry trees. But search deeper into the story behind the business and the family that owns it and you will discover a family history rooted in wine and the grapes from which it is made. Frank and Angelina Pirrone get much of the credit for this American success story. Frank emigrated from Sicily in the early 1900s and, after marrying Angelina, they had five children: Frank II, Rosalie, Joseph, Alfred, and Francis. Frank and Angelina started making wine, a move spawned during Prohibition by the overwhelming thirst that sprung up throughout America as a result. All but Francis, the youngest daughter, were involved in the business in some way during their lives. Frank, a self-taught architect who also owned an insurance company, began making wine in New Jersey and, in 1936, moved his family to California. Frank incorporated the business in 1947 as F. Pirrone and Sons, Inc.


He built a winery north of Salida while maintaining a distribution center on the East Coast. Frank II was in charge of sales, Alfred headed up production, and Joseph, who died at an early age, was in charge of the distillation and fortification of the sweet wines. At first, they made bulk wine and shipped it to the East Coast to be bottled and distributed and later moved the entire operation to California, where they built a bottling factory and in the 1940s and 1950s made, bottled, and sold wine. Frank died around 1955 and the sons who had begun working with him decided they could not work together. Alfred bought out his brother and changed the name from F. Pirrone and Sons to Pirrone Wine Cellars. He became well-known in the wine industry, serving in the 1960s as president of The Wine Institute. By 1968 the business consisted of a winery, a couple hundred acres of grapes, and a contract with Ernest and Julio Gallo to make wine. Alfred got along well with Gallo’s owners and eventually went to work for them, serving as vice president for 12-15 years. His son, Alfred M. “Butch” Pirrone was not interested in farming when he went off to college at the University of California, Davis, but by the time he graduated in 1973, he had earned a degree in agriculture sciences and management. After working two years at Gallo, Butch came home to work with his father, raising grapes for Gallo on the 600 acres he had amassed by that time. Then, in 1974, they formed A&L Pirrone Vineyards, Inc. (“A” for Alfred and “L” for his wife, Lois), with Butch as manager, surviving on a small profit per acre. Although they likely would have done better had they diversified, Alfred was loyal to grapes, wine, and Gallo and resisted the temptation. Finally, in 1984, they planted a few acres of

apples, which did well for a time, and then planted cherries, walnuts, and almonds, which continue to do well to this day. When Alfred died in 2008, they pulled the last 140 acres of grapes and planted walnuts. He might have died in debt had Butch not discovered a document in a safe his father had forgotten he had. In the document, the Salida Sanitation Department had promised to bring sanitation to the original eighty acres owned then by the Pirrone Family, and eventually land owned by fifteen to twenty farmers was rezoned to allow for development. Alfred sold about 125 rezoned acres to developers, which allowed him to pay off his debt. Since that time, the company has never gone back into debt while growing from 400 to 700 acres. Today, the business is owned by Butch, who serves as president, his two sisters, who own thirty percent each, and Butch’s son, who owns five percent and serves as manager. The company employs twelve full-time employees. Plans for the future are to continue growing the farming operation and diversify into commercial real estate by purchasing and managing developed property. FAMILY PORTRAITS âœŚ



Left: Ernest and Julio Gallo at groundbreaking. Right: Ernest and Julio Gallo, co-founders. COURTESY OF E. & J. GALLO WINERY.

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produced by the wine industry in the years following the end of Prohibition was not of good quality. The wine was made from grapes that were poorly grown and were not the best types for making wine.

When Ernest and Julio Gallo began the E. & J. Gallo Winery at the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, there is absolutely no way they could have envisioned the growth and success of their company. The original winery building, which was rented from the Beard Family for $60 per month, is located at 11th and D Street in downtown Modesto, and was only about 10,000 square feet. It was there that the two young brothers, armed only with the hands-on experience of growing grapes, a few informational pamphlets on how to make wine from Modesto’s public library, which was the McHenry Public Library, and an idea that an opportunity existed in the wine business, took a chance that forever changed their lives and popular culture. When Ernest and Julio began, their biggest asset was their unbounded self-confidence. Their resources were meager—only $5,000 in capital and very limited knowledge about the wine business. The odds against them were formidable. The country was in the midst of the Great Depression. They were facing larger, established, and well-financed competitors. They did not know how to make wine commercially. When they began their business, their first goal was simple—survival. They wanted to establish a business that would provide for themselves and their families. Then, as Ernest and Julio’s company began to succeed, their goals evolved into a vision—to transform a beer and whiskey drinking nation into a wine drinking culture. The realization of this vision faced enormous obstacles. First, was perception. At the time, wine was perceived as an elitist beverage, which only rich and sophisticated people would drink. The second obstacle was that much of the wine


Ernest and Julio worked extremely hard to overcome the twin obstacles of perception and poor wine quality, and they made great progress. Along the way, they achieved many milestones for the wine industry: • They were early adopters of television to advertise their products; • They introduced brand management and modern merchandising to the wine industry; • They established their own national salesforce; • They offered long-term contracts to encourage growers to plant premium grapes that made better wine; and • They were pioneers in producing high-quality wines that deliver value to the consumer. As E. & J. Gallo Winery became successful, Ernest and Julio began to focus on establishing a wine drinking culture. They strongly believed wine had been mistakenly marketed as a unique beverage to enjoy only during celebrations and special events. Consequently, from its earliest days, E. & J. Gallo Winery sought to make its wines approachable to all consumers, while giving wine drinkers the confidence and information needed to purchase wine more frequently. This transformation was hardly an overnight success. While great strides have been made during the company’s more than eighty years, there is much more to achieve in the years ahead!

The second generation of the Gallo family, led by Joe and Bob Gallo and Jim Coleman, has continued Ernest and Julio’s vision. Under Joe’s leadership as president and CEO, the second generation has taken the company to the next level through major investments in brand acquisitions, new brand development, product innovation, global expansion, infrastructure investment, and direct to consumer marketing. In 1977, E. & J. Gallo Winery, for the first time, acquired fine wine vineyards in Sonoma County with the completion of its purchase of the Frei Brothers Winery. In the early 1980s, E. & J. Gallo Winery produced its first vintagedated wines. Realizing American consumers were becoming more wine confident and knowledgeable, E. & J. Gallo Winery sought to provide new wines from new places. In 1996, it introduced Ecco Domani, the first foreignsourced brand it had developed and imported. It would later follow this up with acquisitions of respected wineries and brands, including Louis M. Martini, Mirassou, Bridlewood, Barefoot Cellars, William Hill Estate Winery, Columbia Winery in Washington, J Vineyards & Winery, and Asti Winery. With its recent purchase of the Ranch Winery in Napa County, E. & J. Gallo Winery now owns fifteen wineries strategically located in premier wine regions throughout California and Washington. It has also added premium and luxury offerings to its portfolio to provide consumers with a variety, style, and price point for every occasion.

When E. & J. Gallo Winery saw that the spirits industry was growing in popularity, it moved swiftly to leverage its brandy expertise and, in 2008, entered the market with New Amsterdam Gin. This was followed in 2012 with the introduction of New Amsterdam Vodka, which sold more than one million cases in the first twelve months, making it the fastest growing spirits brand in history. As consumer tastes in spirits evolved, E. & J. Gallo Winery responded by successfully introducing flavored vodkas. Most recently in 2015, E. & J. Gallo Winery announced it will now offer imported Scotch whiskies from Scotland’s Whyte & Mackay. Today, more than 6,000 people work for E. & J. Gallo Winery, including members of the third and fourth generations of the Gallo family. The Gallo portfolio is comprised of more than eighty unique brands selling in more than ninety countries around the world. More than eighty years since the company’s humble beginnings, wine consumers around the world can enjoy wine as a complement to their everyday dining experience and at more occasions than ever before.

Top: Administration building of E. & J. Gallo Winery in Modesto. Above: Ernest and Julio Gallo.




Stanislaus Food Products was founded in Modesto by the Quartaroli family back in 1942. The company’s fresh pack tomato cannery, while much larger today, is still located at the corner of 12th and D Streets.

Because Stanislaus focuses exclusively on supplying premium quality tomatoes and sauces as ingredients to the restaurant industry and does not produce supermarket-sized cans, many locals are unfamiliar with the company’s name

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and reputation. But, to quality-oriented Italian restaurants and pizzerias across the United States and Canada, the name “Stanislaus” stands for the highest quality fresh packed tomatoes they can buy. In fact, more family-owned Italian restaurants and pizzerias make their own signature sauces from Stanislaus tomatoes than any other company’s brand, imported or domestic. Today, the company is proudly owned and operated by the Cortopassi family and locally employs roughly 250 people year-round in its Modesto office and warehouses. Seasonally, the company also directly employs another 1,800 loyal employees annually during its threemonth summer “fresh pack” tomato season. That is when the company is a beehive of activity, transforming millions of pounds of fresh, locally grown tomatoes into a variety of Italianstyle canned tomato products and sauces. Indirectly, the company also contributes millions of dollars to the region’s economy and helps support thousands of additional yearround and seasonal jobs throughout Modesto and Stanislaus County. Those businesses include local farms growing fresh tomatoes and seasonings, local steel can and corrugated box manufacturing plants, local trucking companies used to haul tomatoes from the field to the cannery and, then, finished canned goods from the cannery to its warehouses, local electrical contractors and equipment fabricators, and utility workers from MID, PG&E, and the City of Modesto, etc. Stanislaus’ long dedication to making superior quality tomato products began with the company’s founders, Ralph and Edna Quartaroli, back in 1942. Prior to founding Stanislaus, Ralph had a successful career sourcing fresh tomatoes on behalf of other California canneries. With the outbreak of World War II in December of 1941, there was a sudden surge in demand for shelf-stable canned goods to feed American troops overseas. This led the Quartarolis to start their own cannery at the

corner of 12th and D Streets in Modesto, in a rented tin shed with used cannery equipment. Steam was provided by a pair of steam locomotives rented from the Modesto and Empire Traction Company (M&ET) based nearby. After the war, the company freshpacked tomatoes in consumer-sized cans to supply mom and pop grocers located in Italian-American neighborhoods throughout New York City, Buffalo, Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Under the leadership of Frank Piciullo in the 1960s and 1970s, Stanislaus began exclusively focusing on fresh-packing tomato products in #10 (gallon) cans used by qualityoriented restaurateurs. The company was purchased in 1978 by its current owners, the Cortopassi family. Thanks to the vision of Dino Cortopassi, Stanislaus began introducing its products directly to the type of quality-oriented mom and pop restaurant owners who recognize superior quality tomatoes and are willing to pay a bit more for them to improve the flavor of their own signature sauces. The company also began reinforcing those new relationships with a personalized service approach. This included a newsletter, which shares proven business-building ideas with

independent restaurant owners, Christmas greetings, and even an annual phone call from its Modesto employees to thank them for making Stanislaus tomatoes part of their restaurant’s success. Today, the company is led by President Tom Cortopassi, Dino’s nephew, and long-time Executive Vice President Bill Butler. Cortopassi and Butler both give credit for the company’s enduring reputation for excellence to the dedication of the company’s quality-oriented employees, many of whom have been with Stanislaus for decades. FAMILY PORTRAITS ✦



The Fiscalini family has been producing milk on its land since 1914 when John Baptiste Fiscalini started a dairy farm with ten milking cows on 160 acres in Modesto. John Baptiste purchased the land after learning of plans to build the Don Pedro Dam in Northern California, which meant there would be open land that could be irrigated and farmed. He was not the first family member involved in agriculture. His father, Mateo Fiscalini, after emigrating from Switzerland in 1886, had settled in Cambria, California, joining family who had settled there. He went to work with family members at the Chorro Diary, raising his family and sending his son, John Baptiste, to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where he earned a degree in irrigation. John Baptiste did not need a degree in irrigation to understand the importance of the Don Pedro Dam, but his education helped him work

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the land and maximize its potential, mixing dairy and farming operations. But all the knowledge and expertise in the world cannot prevent bad things from happening and, in 1930, a tuberculoses outbreak forced him to slaughter his entire herd. The state mandated the land remain animal free for two years, a period in which John Baptiste focused on farming. By 1933 his love for cows and a strong desire to be a dairyman led him to Wisconsin, where he purchased thirty registered Holsteins to start a new herd. He returned to California with his prized cows, keeping a watchful eye on them by riding in their boxcar, making sure they were fed and milked along the way. Five years later, John Baptiste died of complications from appendicitis, leaving his wife, Anne, and their son, Matthew, to manage the Mrs. M-Jay-Bee Fiscalini and Son Dairy. They were soon joined by Marie Weisner, who became Matthew’s wife, and the family-owned business continued to grow the dairy operation and purchase neighboring land for crop production. Matthew and Marie raised three children, including John Fiscalini. John graduated from Oregon State University with a degree in microbiology and returned home to join the partnership and participate in management of the farming operation, which by this time had grown to 530 acres, including wine grapes and walnut trees. Construction of

the current state-of-the-art facility began in 1992, including a milking parlor and the dairy’s first stall-free barn, and the next year, the dairy grew from 500 to 800 milking cows. Dairy operations might have continued as always had John not made a trip to Lionza, Switzerland, in 2000 to get in touch with his family’s roots. While there, he learned that his ancestors had earned a living through the art of making cheese. Deciding to follow in their footsteps, after returning home he began processing cheese with a portion of the milk produced by his herd, building a cheese plant thirty feet from the dairy to ensure freshness. As fate would have it, a year later he was introduced to Mariano Gonzalez, a cheesemaker from Paraguay by way of Vermont, who offered to share his knowledge and craftsmanship. Mariano had learned to make cheese from his uncle in Paraguay and years later moved to Vermont, where he took a summer job working at Shelburne Farms. Within a few years, he became the company’s head cheesemaker, winning numerous awards and securing national recognition for their cheeses.

One year after Mariano began making cheeses with John, their Fiscalini Bandage Wrapped Cheddar won Best Farmstead Cheese in North America, and today Mariano continues to manage and grow the company’s product line, while winning awards for his handcrafted masterpieces. Similar to a winemaker, Mariano is involved in the cheesemaking process from start to finish, overseeing his creations as they evolve during the aging process. The addition of ingredients and the temperature are perfectly balanced and closely monitored throughout the laborintensive process. Although making cheese by hand is a time consuming process, it is worth it once the final product is achieved. Today, a portion of the milk produced by Fiscalini Farms is used to make batches of handcrafted cheeses and the rest is sold to Nestlé. The business that began as a dairy farm is now an artisan cheesemaker committed to quality, animal welfare, environmental sustainability, and an artisan tradition focused on crafting the best-tasting cheeses in the world. FAMILY PORTRAITS ✦



Above: Top row (from left to right):, Frank “Babe,” Antone “Bud,” Jr., and John “Jack” Ratto. Bottom row (from left to right): Leonard “Lenny,” Antone L., Sr., and Raymond “Ray” Ratto. Below: Left to right, David, Ronald, Frank, and Raymond Ratto, Jr.

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The Ratto Bros., Inc., has been owned and operated by the same Italian-American family since 1905, when Antone L. Ratto, Sr., began a vegetable business on Bay Farm Island near Oakland. He started his business delivering produce to customers from a horse-drawn cart and was blessed with five sons who followed in his footsteps. It was said that to gaze upon a fully loaded truck—the array of vegetables perfectly arranged by color—was like gazing at a work of art. It also was said that Antone and his sons were so skilled at farming they could magically make water run uphill to irrigate crops. Stories like that serve


as testament to the quality of the final product produced by Antone and his sons. Although water does not run uphill these days, the company Antone founded is still highly esteemed. More than a century later, the Ratto family still grows its own vegetables—greens, herbs, lettuce, cherry tomatoes, watermelons, and specialty produce—and cultivates personal relationships with each of its customers. The sons of Antone formed Ratto Bros., Inc. in 1957, and looking to expand their operations, gravitated to the fertile San Joaquin Valley near Modesto. It was there in 1962, they added several hundred acres of prime farmland to their operations. Through the intervening years, the company has built on its rich history to earn a reputation within the produce industry as a trusted and valued partner who can be relied upon to provide the best and freshest produce available. Now in the fourth generation, operations in the fields, cooling and distribution facility, sales office, and corporate headquarters are still family run. This new generation of Ratto Bros., Inc., has modernized and expanded the business in a way that has enhanced the company’s reputation for excellence. Ratto Bros., Inc., now farms more than 1,400 acres of prime farmland near Modesto, using progressive farming practices and the latest in cold-chain management technology. These modern innovations help the company produce the safest and freshest herbs, fruits, and vegetables on the market.

As part of its ongoing commitment to providing the highest-quality produce on the market, Ratto Bros., Inc. added a 70,000-square-foot cooling and packing house located minutes from its fields. The facility allows the company to more effectively establish and maintain the cold-chain needed to keep produce fresh longer. Post-harvest research has shown that every hour between harvest and cooling reduces the shelf life of produce by one day. That is why Ratto Bros., Inc. has invested in the best in post-harvest technology, which includes hydro, vacuum, and forced-air cooling methods. Ratto Bros., Inc. also will “top-ice” produce boxes and pallets for shipment when requested by customers. Having a variety of precision-temperature management tools so close to its field ensures immediate cooling allowing Ratto Bros., Inc., to prevent backlogs and eliminate delays in the cooling process. Once cooled and cleaned, produce is moved to refrigerated loading areas, where it is placed on refrigerated trucks owned by the Ratto Bros., Inc., as well as their customers, and delivered with minimum interruption to market—typically within hours of being picked. Ratto Bros., Inc., is proud of its new facility and its reputation as an industry leader in using the latest technology to enhance the quality and safety of its products. But, it takes more than technology to produce quality foods. It takes the heart and soul of a farmer who takes

pride in his work; a quality that every member of the Ratto family possesses. This passionate family work ethic is passed on to employees— from farm workers and warehousemen to truck drivers and office staff—who share the family’s quest for excellence. The company has retained a horse-drawn cart on its logo as an important reminder of the company’s proud heritage. Customers are invited to come see for themselves. Ratto Bros., Inc. invites all their customers to pay them a visit and tour the farm and other operations. At Ratto Bros., Inc., everyone is family.

Above: Fresh produce from the Ratto Bros., Inc., farms. Below: Left to right, Raymond, Jr., Anthony, Frank, Ronald, David, and Geoffrey Ratto.




Above: Bill and Don in 1962. Below: Three generations of the Ulm family: Bill, his son, Tom, and grandson, Robert, c. 2012.

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The Ulm Farm has been owned and operated by the Ulm Family for several generations, beginning when William F. Ulm and wife, Mary, moved to Modesto in 1943 from Southern California, where he worked as a contractor designing and building small single-family homes. William and Mary brought with them their three sons: William C. (Bill), Donald, and Jerald Ulm. William, Sr., bought 300 acres west of Modesto on Highway 132 and Texas Road for $400 per acre. William and Mary wanted their boys to grow up in a rural town and experience life in the country. William and the boys transformed the


old barn, built in 1904, into a working dairy, which still operates to this day. Bill was involved in various political organizations including Farm Bureau president, California Milk Advisory Board secretary, and Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors from 1973 to 1983. Bill was so integral to the region’s agriculture industry that, in 1999, he was inducted into the Stanislaus County Ag Hall of Fame. Bill’s wife, Marilyn, served as a 4-H Leader for ten years, in which all three children became very active. Marilyn also taught music and played violin with the Modesto Symphony Orchestra for thirty-nine years. In 1981, when Bill’s son, Tom, graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Bill and Don decided it was time to incorporate and formed W-D Ranch Inc. including Tom and Don’s son, David. In 1991, Bill and Tom split from the dairy and formed Ulm Farms, Inc. With 210 acres and the proceeds from half the cow herd, Bill and Tom planted 55 acres of almonds and 16 acres of walnuts in 1993. In the split from the dairy, Ulm Farms, Inc., also acquired seventy acres of wine grapes, which was Tom’s specialty. In 2002, the wine market crashed for the Ruby Cabernet variety of wine grapes, so they were pulled out and the acreage was replanted with thirty-five acres of Tulare walnuts. The other planting of wine grapes remained until they were thirty-three years old and were pulled out in the fall of 2014 to plant thirty-five acres of Chandler walnuts. Meanwhile, the family of Tom and his wife, Irene, continued to grow with the marriage of their daughter, Tiffany to Mike Alexander. Ten weeks later their son, Robert, married Michelle Ott. Tiffany now has a fourteen-month old girl, Zellie Grace, and is expecting a boy in December of 2016. Robert’s wife is expecting a boy in August of 2016. Tiffany is living on the ranch in the house of Bill and his wife, Marilyn, who have passed. Robert has taken over management of Ulm Farms and is planning to build a home on the ranch in the near future.

SPONSORS A&L Pirrone Vineyards, Inc. .....................................................................................................................................................278 Almond Board of California........................................................................................................................................................206 Ambeck Mortgage Associates......................................................................................................................................................218 American Chevrolet....................................................................................................................................................................216 Arnold Cement, Inc. .................................................................................................................................................................262 Atherton & Associates, LLP Certified Public Accountants ...........................................................................................................223 Bank of Stockton........................................................................................................................................................................217 Beard Family Companies ............................................................................................................................................................270 Burchell Nursery ........................................................................................................................................................................266 CALTEC Ag Inc..........................................................................................................................................................................254 Center for Human Services.........................................................................................................................................................200 Central Catholic High School .....................................................................................................................................................190 Ceres Pipe & Metal ....................................................................................................................................................................258 Champion Industrial Contractors, Inc. ......................................................................................................................................244 Ciccarelli Jewelers ......................................................................................................................................................................226 Classic Wine Vinegar Company, Inc. ..........................................................................................................................................256 Community Hospice, Inc. .........................................................................................................................................................192 Concetta.....................................................................................................................................................................................229 CoSol Commercial Real Estate ....................................................................................................................................................265 Damrell Nelson Schrimp Pallios Pacher & Silva..........................................................................................................................221 Darroch Brain & Spine Institute of Doctors Medical Center........................................................................................................188 Delta Sierra Beverage..................................................................................................................................................................240 Direct Appliance, Inc. ...............................................................................................................................................................242 Doctors Medical Center ..............................................................................................................................................................186 E. & J. Gallo Winery ..................................................................................................................................................................280 Fiscalini Farms & Cheese ...........................................................................................................................................................284 Five Minute Carwash .................................................................................................................................................................225 Gallo Center for the Arts ............................................................................................................................................................194 Garton Tractor............................................................................................................................................................................264 Gianelli &Associates...................................................................................................................................................................215 Helbling, Inc. dba Miracle Auto Painting & Body Repair ............................................................................................................220 Hennings Bros. Drilling Co., Inc. ..............................................................................................................................................260 J. M. Keckler Medical Company, Inc. .........................................................................................................................................246 J. S. West & Co., Inc. ................................................................................................................................................................236 Mape’s Ranch .............................................................................................................................................................................274 Mary Stuart Rogers Foundation ..................................................................................................................................................198 McCoy Tire ................................................................................................................................................................................222 McHenry Bowl ...........................................................................................................................................................................230 McHenry Museum Store.............................................................................................................................................................201 Memorial Medical Center ...........................................................................................................................................................182 Mistlin Honda ............................................................................................................................................................................219 Mitchell’s Modesto Harley-Davidson ...........................................................................................................................................212 Mocse Credit Union ...................................................................................................................................................................210 Modesto Independent Insurance Agency Association/Stanislaus Insurance..................................................................................231 Modesto Irrigation District .........................................................................................................................................................263 Modesto Junk Company .............................................................................................................................................................259 Modesto Mobility Center, Inc. ....................................................................................................................................................203 SPONSORS ✦


Modesto Rotary Club .................................................................................................................................................................196 Modesto Symphony Orchestra....................................................................................................................................................199 MTC Distributing .......................................................................................................................................................................248 Nicolau Farms............................................................................................................................................................................261 Prime Shine Car Wash................................................................................................................................................................214 Ratto Bros., Inc. ........................................................................................................................................................................286 Rossini Menswear-Formalwear....................................................................................................................................................224 The Save Mart Companies ..........................................................................................................................................................208 Sierra Pacific Warehouse Group/ModestoView..............................................................................................................................267 Silkwood Wines .........................................................................................................................................................................252 Slater’s Home Furnishings ..........................................................................................................................................................227 Stanislaus Food Products............................................................................................................................................................282 Sutter Gould Medical Foundation...............................................................................................................................................184 Tradeway Transmissions .............................................................................................................................................................232 Ulm Farms, Inc. ........................................................................................................................................................................288 Valley Heart Institute of Doctors Medical Center ........................................................................................................................189 Varni Brothers Corporation ........................................................................................................................................................204 Vintage Car Wash.......................................................................................................................................................................228 Wille Electric Supply Company ..................................................................................................................................................257 The Zagaris Family .....................................................................................................................................................................250

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ABOUT THE EDITOR KEN WHITE Ken recently retired from the worlds of advertising, corporate communications, and interactive entertainment to concentrate on writing and community service. He received his A.A. degree at Modesto Junior College, his B.A. and teaching credential at UC Davis, and his M.A. at San Francisco State University. He has taught mass communications and film appreciation at Modesto Junior College. Born in Lathrop and raised in Modesto, California, he continues to live in his home town. He is married to Robin and has two adult step-sons, Tyler and Eric. He has written novels, screenplays, short stories, stage plays, children’s and non-fiction books. Most of his stories are about his home town and the Central Valley heartland. Ken White.






John has created imagery for corporate clients like Apple and Microsoft, entertainment companies (Disney and MGM/United Artists), publications (Time and Fortune), and institutions (Harvard and Stanford). He has received over 150 awards, including gold medals from the Art Directors Club of New York and the New York Society of Illustrators. His poster for The Rocketeer was selected as one of the one hundred best movie posters of all time by the American Film Institute. His work is in the Broad Museum and the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. He has been a guest on Jay Leno’s Garage and has done eleven stamps for the U.S. Postal Service. Although John says he will always be “An Empire Guy,” he was born at Memorial Hospital in Modesto, and graduated from Thomas Downey High School in 1970. He received his BFA in illustration at the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena. He has two children and two grandchildren and lives on Telegraph Hill in San Francisco.

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ISBN: 978-1-944891-38-1

Historical Publishing Network

Touchstones of Modesto  

A contemporary book of the life and times of Modesto. Published by HPN Books with Ledge Media, Inc. for the McHenry Museum in Modesto, CA.

Touchstones of Modesto  

A contemporary book of the life and times of Modesto. Published by HPN Books with Ledge Media, Inc. for the McHenry Museum in Modesto, CA.