September 12, 2006 > The Roeding Family
The Roeding Family
Frederick Christian Roeding was born in Germany in 1824 and came to San Francisco in 1849 by way of South America. He briefly tried gold mining but decided his future was in banking in San Francisco, his profession for next 60 years. He also headed a German syndicate that purchased 80,000 acres of bare land near Fresno. Eventually the land was divided; Roeding took his share of the divided holdings and formed Fancher Creek Nurseries in Fresno.
Frederick married Marianna Lazarus in San Francisco. They had five children, George Christian, Fred, Henry, Emma and Marie. They all grew up and attended school in San Francisco. With encouragement of the family, Frederick and Marianna donated land that became Roeding Park in Fresno.
George Christian was born in 1868 and graduated from San Francisco Boys' High School in 1885. He worked at his father's Fancher Creek Nurseries, became manager and developed the Roeding Home Place. In 1897 he married Elizabeth Evelyn Thorne, daughter of Fresno County's first treasurer. Their children were George, Jr., Marianna, Eleanor and Evelyn.
George, Sr. became a very famous nursery man, held many positions and received many honors. He was responsible for the establishment of the fig wasp that led to commercial fig production in the United States. At age 14, George, Jr. came to Niles in the summer of 1916 to work at the California Nursery. When his father came to visit, he liked the nursery so much that he sold the Roeding Home Place in Fresno in 1917 and bought the nursery. In 1927, his health declining, George Sr. turned over management of the nursery to George, Jr. and died the next year. A list of his achievements was chronicled in the book George Christian Roeding, published in 1930 by the California Association of Nurserymen.
George Jr. attended Thacher Boys' School in Ojai where he met Frances Baldwin of Maui, an outstanding tennis player who was playing in a tournament. Her parents were William A. and Mina Prime Baldwin. George and Frances were married in 1927-the same year he became manager of the nursery.
Under George, Jr.'s capable management, the California Nursery had the largest collection of fruit trees in the west. The Nursery also furnished many of the trees in Golden Gate Park, State Capitol plantings and introduced 50% of the ornamental and fruit varieties into California. George Jr. not only restored the Vallejo Adobe and led the Nursery's annual bulb and flower shows, but reproduced the historic Vallejo Adobe for the 1939 World's Fair on Treasure Island. He was a recognized leader of nurserymen and served as president of the California and Pacific Coast Association of Nurserymen.
George, Jr. and Frances resided in Niles for 68 years where they raised their children Bruce, George III, Gerald and Diane. The children attended Niles Elementary School, Bay Area high schools and often helped at the nursery.
Bruce attended Cornell University then worked in the family business, becoming manager, and part owner of the nursery. He is still active running the business as a limited retail, domestic and foreign mail order operation. The company furnishes fruit trees and stock seeds for commercial growers in the northwest.
George III married Diana Weaver in 1960. They have two daughters, Gretchen and Michelle, and four grandchildren. George, a graduate of U.C. Berkeley, is a certified arborist and does casualty loss appraising. Diana was a teacher in the Fremont Unified School District for many years.
Gerald was active in the nursery business up to 1997. He died in 2002.
Diane worked for IBM and now lives at the family home.
George, Jr. was an effective community leader over a period of many years. He served as president of the Washington Township Historical Society, was the first chairman of the Fremont Recreation Commission, a director of the East Bay Regional Park District, president of the Washington Township Taxpayer's Association and chairman of the committee that saved the Alameda County Fairgrounds from being sold to private interests.
George and Francis both died in 1995. Bruce, George III and Diane all live in Fremont.