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Gold in the Silver State

Zajick, Dolora – Reno, Washoe

Dolora Zajick
Born in Salem, Oreg., but raised in Nevada, Delora has attained a stellar career at the international level in opera.  She is known, worldwide, for her dramatic mezzo-soprano voice. After receiving both undergraduate and master’s degrees from UNR, Dolora went on to attend the Manhattan School of Music.  In 1982 she won the Bronze Medal at the 7th International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. ...
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Weber, Dorismae – Reno, Washoe

Dorismae Weber
Born in Chicago. Ill. in 1929 at the start of the Depression, an interesting facet in Doris’ life was playing professional baseball for the Parichy Bloomer Girls baseball team; one of six professional women’s baseball teams that played in the Chicago centered National Girls Softball League (1944-1954). At the end of that “career,” she headed west to San Francisco, eventually finding work with th...
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Moon, Jane – Reno, Washoe

Jane Moon
Jane was born in New York City where, in 1952, she married William Moon.  A member of the armed forces at that time, he was soon transferred to San Francisco, Cal.  Their children were born in San Francisco. William, became a manager of Schwabacher Fray in 1969 and was transferred to Reno, Nev.   Jane joined local organizations such as the Reno-Sparks NAACP, Eastern Star, Reno Soroptimists, and ...
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Melton, Marilyn – Reno, Washoe

Marilyn Melton
Reno, Nevada artist and philanthropist, Marilyn Melton has participated in countless organizations, as well as serving as a board member of many.   In addition to her association of over 20 years with Nevada Humanities, Marilyn served as Trustee for the John Ben Snow Memorial Trust, a national foundation whose funding was brought into Nevada, through her deceased husband, Rollan Melton, a former...
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Loper, Diane – Reno, Washoe

Diane Loper
Diane, an early activist in the domestic violence movement, says she has always been involved in human issues. She was born in Montana but came to Nevada in 1967 when husband, Keith was hired as the UNR wrestling and assistant football coach. She has been a driving force behind the enactment of much Nevada legislation concerning domestic violence and other women’s and social issues. Diane was a ...
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Bernard, Carolyn – Reno, Washoe

Carolyn Bernard
Carolyn Bernard was born in Yerington and is proud of her 4th generation Nevada Heritage. As a stay at home mom until her children were of school age, Carolyn said that her first real job outside the home, was volunteering to help her uncle, Wilson McGowan, in his successful campaign to become Nevada State Controller.  She then became increasingly active in community organizations. She was instr...
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Wilson-Rodriguez, Isabelle – Reno, Washoe

Isabelle Rodriguez Wilson
Isabelle is a California native who has enjoyed a fascinating career. From 1993 to 1995, Isabelle served as Senior Advisor to President Bill Clinton directing details associated with domestic and international event, activities, travel, and protocol for both the President and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.  She produced and directed Washington, DC’s “Million Mom March” in 2000, as well as se...
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Williams, Joan (Sister Joan) – Reno, Washoe

Joan Williams (Sister Joan)
Kentucky born Joan Williams, moved to Cincinnati, Ohio as a young girl after the death of her mother. The effects of WWII had a great influence in her life as, “it just made life more serious.” She found a book on Teresa of Avila in her boarding school library, and from that time on, she knew she would become a Carmelite contemplative nun. Sr. Joan entered the Carmelite Monastery of the Resurrec...
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Wagner, Sue – Reno, Washoe

Sue Wagner
Maine native, Sue Wagner moved to Arizona with her family at age 10. Sue said that her family had always been politically oriented; her father serving as a Maine State Chairman of the Republican Party. She graduated high school in Tucson and went on to graduate from the University of Arizona. She received her master’s degree from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Sue, husband, and i...
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Tors, Jane – Reno, Washoe

Jane Tors
As Director of Research Communications at the University of Nevada, Reno, Jane Tors contributes her considerable skills to the University’s enhanced reputation and capacity as a high-impact research university. Jane was born and raised in Lovelock, Nevada and earned a Bachelor of Journalism Degree from University of Nevada Reno. Before her present position, Jane served as the University’s Direct...
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Thornton, Barbara – Reno, Nevada

Barbara Thornton
Tonopah native, Barbara Cavanaugh was attending high school in San Francisco when she received word that her home in Tonopah had burned to the ground. Her parents moved to Reno where Barbara graduated from the University of Nevada Reno with a bachelor’s degree and a then a master’s degree in Political Science. Now married, Barbara headed off to the University of Utah with her youngest child in t...
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Suenaga, Florence – Carson City, Carson City

Florence Suenaga
Florence was the thirteen-year-old daughter of Japanese immigrant parents living a typical American life at the start of WWII. Shortly after December 7, 1941, the family was uprooted from their Gilroy, California farm, taken to the local fairgrounds and then transported to a Japanese Internment camp in Poston, Arizona. Florence’s detailed story of WWII internment replicates the experiences of so...
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Sokol, Claire (Sister Claire) – Reno, Washoe

Claire Sokol (Sister Claire)
Sister Claire came to Reno from the Seattle, Washington St. Joseph Carmelite Monastery in 2001. A Seattle Washington native, she was born into a musical family, and after college graduation from Indiana University, she played professionally in orchestras and chamber music ensembles. Upon entering the convent in 1982, Sr. Claire successfully wove her love of music into her cloister life. She has ...
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Satre, Jennifer – Reno, Washoe

Jennifer Satre
Jennifer first moved to Reno from California in 1975. Her record of community service in Reno was interrupted by a nine-year hiatus as a resident of Memphis, Tennessee in 1991, where she served on many committees and boards in that city. Returning to Reno in 1999, Jennifer quickly resumed her community involvement. Some of her many activities include, founding board member and former Chair of th...
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Mullins, Bertha – Reno, Washoe

Bertha Mullins
Bertha Mullins’ father brought his family to Nevada where he found work at the Hawthorne Army Depot during WWII.  The family, then moved to Reno where she attended local schools and graduated from University of Nevada Reno. Bertha helped develop and implemented a community health center for low income and disadvantaged families in northeast Reno, as well as designed and implemented a podiatry cl...
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Miles, Ann – Kingston, Lander

Ann Miles
Ann Miles, PA-C, daughter of a Carson City doctor, started a medical clinic in the tiny town of Kingston, thirty miles southwest of Austin. Austin had lost its medical clinic and the closest medical services were located at a Gabbs mine, sixty miles southwest from Kingston and one hundred forty miles from the closest hospital in Battle Mountain. Ann recounts the many undertakings necessary to qu...
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McKay, Anna Burkhardt – Eureka, Eureka

Anna Burkhardt McKay
Anna, at age thirteen, was to graduate from eighth grade when her school was bombed. She recounts the rigors of living in Germany during and post WWII years (1939-1945). At the age of fourteen she went to work for the Americans at an “enlisted men’s club” for occupation soldiers. Those positions were highly sought after by German girls because that gave them access to food, a commodity very scar...
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Lee, Fern – Fallon, Churchill

Fern Lee
Fern typifies a rural Nevada woman who left Nevada but returned and set out to give back to her community through service. Fern started out in Fallon in the banking business early in her career, about the time computers were becoming commonplace in the banking industry.  She had an aptitude for interacting with the public and ultimately was promoted to an Operations Officer. This was in the deca...
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Koyle, Denys – Baker, White Pine

Denys Koyle
Nevada is fortunate to have individuals choose Nevada as their home, and who make substantial contributions to the state. Denys typifies that woman. Taking over a run-down gas station located on the Nevada-Utah border in the late 1970s, she has turned it into a productive restaurant, motel, and gas station complex. Denys is also a co-founder of the Great Basin National Heritage Area, the only na...
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Keller, Vida – Silver Springs, Lyon

Vida Keller
Silver Springs resident, Vida Keller is a California native whose drilling business brought her initially to Southern Nevada. On a business trip to Northern Nevada she fell in love with Lyon County while passing through. Vida moved to Silver Springs some time later and has been involved in business and community development for over thirty years. She has been both a Lyon County Commissioner, as ...
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Johnson, Abigail – Carson City, White Pine Counties

Abigail Johnson
Abby, raised in Connecticut, came to Nevada partly by accident. While working for John Anderson’s presidential campaign she was sent to Northern Nevada in 1980 as a campaign staffer. After Anderson’s defeat, Abby returned to the east coast but by then had fallen in love with Nevada. She accepted a position with Citizen Alert, an organization that works to assure public participation and governme...
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Holub, Pat – Carson City, Carson City

Pat Holub
Pat moved to Nevada with her family from California in 1958. She took painting lessons from some of the best local artists in the Reno/Carson City area and she stresses that she is a “location” painter, not a “studio” painter. Her paintings of buildings and landscapes, done throughout the state over five decades, now have gained historical relevance, as they illustrate how those scenes have now ...
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Holmes, Dorothy Nash – Reno, Washoe

Dorothy Nash Holmes
Dorothy Nash Holmes is a native Nevadan born in Reno, Nevada. She is a graduate of the University of Nevada Reno and held a variety of jobs before deciding to go to law school. Dorothy has been a lawyer for more than 33 years and was the 75th woman to be licensed to practice law in Nevada. She was the first woman to do prosecution in the Washoe County District Attorney’s Office, and she holds th...
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Hilts, Ruth – Reno, Washoe

Ruth Hilts, Reno
Ruth is not only an accomplished longtime artist, but she is also a fount of historical knowledge of the city of Reno. She was born in 1923 when Reno, Nevada’s largest city had a population of about 20,000 and she has participated in all facets of Reno’s community growth as it has reached its current population of 237,000. Not only does Ruth recount her long history in the Reno art community, bu...
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Helming, Deann – Austin, Lander

Deann Helming
Wyoming native Deann Helming moved to Austin in 1981. Her interview illustrates the self-reliant life of a rural Nevada woman raising a family in a small town (population 192) hundreds of miles away from larger towns, such as Ely (population 4,000) or Fallon (population 8,000), with more shopping opportunities. Clothing, groceries, medical appointments, as well as high school age children’s athl...
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Fox, Ada (Sister Michael Fox) – Reno, Washoe

Ada Fox (Sister Michael Fox)
Sister Michael entered the Carmelite Monastery of the Resurrection in Indianapolis, Indiana and transferred to Nevada in 1956 to help in the building of the Carmel of Reno Order, which had been established just two years before. Although she intended to stay just one year, now more than sixty years later she is still here. Sister Michael is blessed with a wonderful artistic talent and is the art...
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Ericson, Fritsi – Reno, Washoe

Fritsi Ericson
Fritsi is a third generation Nevadan born in Reno, Nevada. A former educator and staff member for Congressman James D. Santini (1975-1983), Fritsi’s interest in women and children’s well-being led her to become a founding member of the Nevada Women’s Fund, and in 1984 she became its chief administrator. Fritsi retired in 2005 as president and CEO. As a community activist, Fritsi has held numerou...
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Emm-Smith, Cheri – Schurz, Lyon

Native American, Cheri Emm-Smith was born in Schurz, Nevada. A graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno, and Arizona State University, College of Law she is presently (2017) serving as Yerington Municipal Court Judge, as well as engaged in private practice. Cheri has served as District Attorney of Mineral County and Deputy District Attorney of Churchill County. Cheri wears another hat, also. S...
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Damele, Arlene – Eureka, Eureka

Arlene Damele, born in Elko, has lived in rural Nevada all her life. She and her husband ranched in Eureka County, where common amenities such as telephones were nonexistent. If she had an emergency when her husband had their only car, she was to light a pile of old tires, stacked for such a reason, to signal for help. Later they moved to the town of Eureka where she worked for the Eureka County...
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Cafferata, Patricia – Reno, Washoe

Educator, State Legislator, attorney, State Treasurer, and author of numerous Nevada books and articles, Patty has had a diverse career in law and politics. She was the first woman elected to a constitutional office in Nevada when she was elected State Treasurer in 1982. Patty is a lifelong resident of Reno and is active in recording and preserving the history of Nevada. Patty Cafferata...
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Bennett, Kay – Silver Springs, Lyon Co.

Kay came to Nevada from California in 1978 and shortly after, took the position of Director of Surgery at Carson Tahoe Hospital. She has been active in community government affairs since then, as well as aviation. Kay has served on numerous boards including the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and Carson City Board of Supervisors. A pilot and former owner of Silver Springs Airport, Kay is a member...
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Batjer, Marybel – Reno, Washoe

Carson City native, Marybel’s job experiences have taken her to Washington DC and California, as well as Nevada. She has held Pentagon and White House positions in both the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations. Marybel has worked for 3 Governors; Nevada’s Kenny Guinn, and California’s Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown. She also served as former Vice President of Public Policy and Corp...
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Baker, Gretchen – Baker, White Pine

Gretchen came to Nevada in 2001 from Indiana to work as a biologist at Great Basin National Park and never left the area. Having resided in Baker (town has no relation to her name) for over 15 years, she is the author of three publications; Great Basin National Park: A Guide to the Park and Surrounding Area; The Great Basin for Kids; and a Nevada cave-based mystery, An Un-Conventional Murder. S...
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Atcheson, Lynn – Reno, Washoe

Through her community leadership and professional achievements, Lynn has contributed to the health and vitality of the Truckee Meadows and Washoe County for many years. A native Nevadan, born in White Pine County, Lynn has spent most of her of her adult life in Reno. She has held leadership positions with Sierra Pacific Power Co. (now Nevada Energy), Harrah’s, as Director of Public Affairs, and ...
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Adin, Lucille – Sparks, Washoe

Lucille Adin, Washoe County
A native of South Carolina, Lucille and her husband came to Nevada in 1962. A stay-at-home mom with her small children, Lucille, nevertheless, found she was always volunteering at her children’s schools. Volunteering was still a part of Lucille’s life even as she worked full-time for Washoe County School District when her children were older. After her retirement she became even more active in ...
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