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April 13, 2004 > Alumni Hold Silent Auction to Benefit Niles School

Alumni Hold Silent Auction to Benefit Niles School

by Helyn Sparkman

118 attendees came from throughout California and Nevada for a Niles School alumni reunion. A check for approximately $1,600 was presented for the purchase of books for the library.

The following were recognized for their contributions to the school:

Moses Olivera: Moses was born in Niles and graduated from Niles School in 1939. He joined the 11th airborne paratroopers, served in Luzon and Okinawa, earned the Bronze Star and 2 Purple Hearts. He was a prisoner of war.

Jean Mecham: Jean graduated from Niles School in 1946. She attended Highland School of Nursing, and retired from St Rose Hospital after 35 years.

Bea Chivers: Bea's family came to California from Massachusetts in 1853. Bea was very active in PTA, FFA, and the Scouts. All of her children attended Niles School. Bea was the gray lady for the Red Cross, and drove veterans to the doctor and anywhere they needed to go.

Winifred Enos: Winifred was a student at Niles School. She then taught at Niles School for 28 years and retired in 1989. She was choir director for years at Corpus Christi Church in Niles. She now spends her time painting with watercolors and several of her paintings are on display in some of the shops in Niles.

Edna Mesquite Rogers Gamba: Edna's family came to Niles in 1912. Edna was born in Niles. Her family owned a ranch with an Apricot and Cherry orchard on it. Three generations have attended Niles School, Edna, daughters Marlene Rogers Swartz, and Carolyn Rogers Caminada, and grandson Jeffery. Edna is very active and has her own guitar group the "Fremontaires".

Enis DelGrande Havey: Enis has lived in Niles for 80+ years. Enis and her sister Susie DelGrande DiGiulio attended Niles School, as did her daughter, Pauline Dingacci Ferrito.

Bea Pine Hudgel: Bea traveled from Carson City, Nevada to attend the luncheon to be honored and see her childhood friends from Niles.

Jessie Lee Hodges Odom: Jessie was a Niles Schoolroom mother and active in the PTA for over 20 years for her 5 children. Not only Jessie's children but many of the other children in her children's classes enjoyed the countless baked cookies, cakes, and cupcakes that Jessie made. Jessie loves to dance, taught her children to dance and crashed her son David's class reunion dancing to her hearts content and turned out to be the belle of the ball.

Alex Olivera: Alex attended Niles School from 1932 until 1940 which was the first graduating class from the new school. Alec can name all of his teachers. Alex joined the Navy in 1943. Alex and his wife, Evanna, have lived in Niles for 57 years. Alex said that he has been retired longer than he worked.

Mildred "Millie" Olivera: Millie graduated from Niles School and owned and operated a grocery store in Niles for many years. The Oliveras have been in Niles since the late 1800's.

Leal Sorenson: Leal has lived in Niles for over 40 years. She taught at Niles School and Hopkins. She loved teaching with her whole heart and soul. Leal still loves a good political discussion, is a fabulous seamstress, avid gardener, and just loves life in general.

Digiulio Family: Dates back to 1908. They started the American Garage in Niles in 1926, which turned into Digiulio Pontiac in 1948 by Louie and Caesar Digiulio. Digiulio Pontiac moved to Centerville in 1963. Louie was one the people responsible for the Niles sign on the hillside of Niles. The cement blocks used for the letters were taken up the hill by horse drawn sleds in 1935.

The event was so well received that it will now be held annually.

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