Tri-Cities Voice Newspaper - What's Happening - Fremont, Union City, Newark California

July 5, 2006 > Earlene Maloney Walker

Earlene Maloney Walker

DECK: First city manager's secretary

Alice Carlson was born and reared in Livermore where she met Bob Meyners. They married in 1917 and moved to Oakland where daughter Earlene was born. Bob had a job with the Southern Pacific Railroad, but when the railroad went on strike, he secured a position with Leslie Salt and moved his family to San Mateo in 1922.

Alice worked as a waitress and operated a rooming house during the depression. Earlene attended both elementary and high school in San Mateo, graduating in 1935. Two years later, she graduated from San Mateo Junior College then took a job with Royal Indemnity Company in San Francisco, commuting daily by train.

One of Alice's boarders was a man named Harry Maloney whom Earlene first met there. Harry moved away but soon returned to visit Earlene and they began dating. Earlene left her San Francisco job after a year and took a position with the city of San Mateo where she worked for another three years. Harry and Earlene were married in 1941 and lived in San Mateo.

WWII intervened when Harry was drafted in February 1943. Their first child, daughter Willene, was born the following August. Earlene and baby went with Harry to Texas in 1944. The family didn't get back to San Mateo until the fall of 1945. Son Dennis was born the following year. Harry took advantage of the G.I. Bill and learned to be an electrician. He worked at the shipyard in South San Francisco.

The family moved to the Frank and Annie Copeland farm on Copeland Lane in Irvington where Earlene had attended dinners and gatherings in her youth. Frank, Earlene's great-uncle, had married Annie Lyon, whose family originally owned the property. Willene and Dennis attended Irvington Elementary School. Willene went on to graduate from Washington High School. Dennis chose Irvington High. During those years, square dancing at Niles Elementary School and picnics at Hidden Valley Ranch were among favorite family activities. Harry worked for Builder's Electric Company in Hayward which did the first wiring of Glenmoor Homes.

A friend of Earlene's, Gladys Williamson, invited her to an Irvington business function in 1952. Among others, Earlene met Carl Christensen, manager of the Central Bank in Irvington. The next day, he offered her a job which she kept until 1957. The Maloney family moved to a rented house on Union Street so Earlene could be closer to the bank.

Tragedy struck in 1954 when Harry was severely injured in an automobile accident on Mission Boulevard. He lingered in a coma for six months before succumbing. The community held a benefit dance and raised $1,000 to help Earlene and the children.

As the city of Fremont incorporated in 1956, one of the founders, Wally Pond, tried to get Earlene to apply for the job of city manager's secretary. She was reluctant to make a change, but did apply about a year later. She started as secretary to Public Works director Warren Gonnason, then advanced a few months later to the post of secretary to Robert Coop, Fremont's first city manager.

Earlene fondly recalls working in the old Mission San Jose School building when it was Fremont's first City Hall. The few employees worked well together, but they battled obstacles such as broken heaters, insects, hot weather and rodents. Back in a time when "mouse" was not a word for a computer device, one secretary solved a problem with her typewriter by bringing her cat to the office. Everyone moved to a new city government building in 1968, where the offices were spacious, but somewhat cold and drafty. Employees missed the closeness and friendly atmosphere of the old school building.

Earlene would go on to work for three city managers, Bob Coop, Howard Reese and Don Driggs, before retiring in 1977, taking a lifetime of friendships with her. She remembers the excitement of watching the city's growth in the early decades.

Even apart from her work as an employee, Earlene immersed herself in a host of civic activities. During her kids' school days, she volunteered with the Irvington P.T.A., Girl Scout Brownies and Pink Ladies at Washington Hospital. She has worked in various positions at the Sisters of the Holy Family since 1956 and served as a volunteer for the Museum of Local History; board member and docent for Mission Peak Heritage Foundation and the Committee for Restoration of the Mission San Jose. Earlene also served as secretary and board member of Fremont city's Association of Retired Employees.

Earlene has always liked living in the area and treasures the many friends she has made through work and volunteer activities. These days, she enjoys traveling and living in her second home in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. She is especially fond of visiting with her family including four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

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