Obituaries for the week of 12/20/2013

Robert ‘Bob’ Merriman

Emilio Folchi

Mary Ellen Witham



Robert ‘Bob’ Merriman passed away peacefully with his wife Karyn by his side on Dec. 7. He was born in Omaha, Neb., in 1936 and moved to southern California when he was 12. He attended Canoga Park High School where he learned his love of baseball under the coaching of Doug ‘Mac’ MacKenzie, one of the best high school coaches in California at the time. He played against Don Drysdale and Robert Redford of Van Nuys High School, a rival school. After high school, he played semi-pro baseball with childhood friend Gary Hauck. They joined the Army and played baseball together all over Europe for two years. Bob’s dad was disabled and he found a mentor in Willie Sutton, a little white-haired wiry guy who coached kids in bowling, horse shoes, all sports, as he had no sons, just one daughter. Bob married that daughter, MaryAnn, in 1957. They had a daughter Bonnie and son Rod before divorcing years later. Willie remained family and came to live with Bob when he was 89 until his death at age 97 in 2002. This was proof that Bob had a big heart and even remained friends with MaryAnn, referred to as Karyn’s ‘wife-in-law.’

After the Army, Bob delivered bread for DelCarlo Baking Co. and Wonder Bread in the San Fernando Valley from 1961 to 1971. In 1971, he moved to Chester and went to work for Amerigas where he met and married Karyn in 1975. After several years, he worked for Collins Pine and in 1989 started Blue Star Cleaning for carpet and floors. He retired in 1998 and turned the business over to his son Rod. In 1999, he came out of retirement to work for the new Almanor Bowl and stayed until it closed early this year. He loved bowling, working in the pro-shop and most of all, the patrons.

He really enjoyed coaching the senior (teenage boys) baseball team for several years and played on the local men’s softball team in the 70s and 80s. One of his greatest joys was playing on the same team with his son. When video cameras were a novelty, he videod his son’s basketball and football games and the team would cram into his small living room to watch the games over and over, frontwards and backwards.

He loved golfing, bowling and watching most sports on TV. He had a heart as big as the outdoors that he loved. Moving to the mountains and discovering great air, great water out of the tap and very friendly people, things not familiar to him in the city, changed his life forever.

The love of his life was Karyn but his ‘baby’ was his red and white ’57 Chevy, often seen parked at Almanor Bowl.

He was dearly loved by his children and grandchildren and all who knew him. He is survived by his daughter Bonnie (Victor) Andazola and granddaughters Leilani and Olivia, of Susanna Knolls, and Amanda Williams, of Lancaster; son, Rod (Susan), of Chester, and half-sister Dorothy Hale, of Arizona; step-daughter Tamara White; grandchildren Alex, Electra and Lucy of Berkeley; his extended family since grammar school, Marilyn Hauck and Susan King, of West Hills, Gary Lewis, of California City, and Chuck and June Endres, of Redding. He was preceded in death by his parents, four sisters and two brothers.

Bob had a great sense of humor, was fair, honest, warm, easy-going and will be missed for his hugs. He loved music, his pets and watching wildlife in his yard.

A celebration of life will be held in June at the Almanor West rec area with a potluck, music and old cars, all things he enjoyed.



Emilio Folchi, 93, of Portola, passed away peacefully Monday, Dec. 9, 2013, at the Community Living Center of the Veterans hospital in Reno, Nev.

Born on the Folchi ranch, October 26, 1920, the fifth of seven children, Emilio lived his entire life in Sierra Valley and Portola, except for the years of his military service in World War II.

Emilio is survived by his loving wife of 54 years, Betty Folchi; his sister Rose Romano, of Redwood City; his sons Jack Folchi, of Santa Clara, and David Folchi, of Portola; his three granddaughters, Sara Folchi, of San Jose, Mary Folchi, of Seoul, South Korea, Erin Olsan, of Ventura; his grandson-in-law, Brad Olson and his great-grandson, Luke Emilio Olson, also of Ventura.

He will be missed by all, especially the many stories he enjoyed telling about his teenage years on the Sierra Valley ranch, the Hot Springs School, the surrounding towns like Loyalton, Portola — the “boomtown” in the 1930's,his World War II experience, and all that came after.

Emilio helped on the family ranch and milked cows in the summer for neighboring ranches.He graduated from the 8th grade at the Hot Springs School in 1935.

He was drafted during World War II and served in the Italian campaign where he was wounded by a German bomb explosion near Groseto with his commander in a Jeep.His injuries required years of treatment by the VA for his knee and almost total loss of hearing in one ear.Returning home after the war, he lead the family from the failing small dairy industry to raising beef cattle.

He married Betty Lou Wilkinson in 1949 and ran the ranch for twenty-eight years.Upon retiring, he sold the last of the family ranch to his nephew, Gary Romano, and moved to Delleker Park.He helped re-organize the Railroad Days and build booths for it.He helped found the Jim Beckwourth Museum and acted as a docent for many years — often telling stories of the history of the valley to the visitors.

Per Emilio’s wishes, he will be cremated and ashes placed in the family plot at the Vinton Cemetery.The family plans a memorial service sometime in the future when the weather is warmer.Memorial donations may be made in Emilio’s name to the Jim Beckwourth Museum, c/o Betty Folchi, P.O. Box 2367, Portola, California 96122.


Mary Ellen Witham, 67, of Quincy, died Dec. 7, 2013, at Enloe Hospital in Chico.

She was born Dec. 27, 1946, in Pendleton, Ore.

She is survived by her husband, F.R. (Pete) Wiltham.

Following cremation, no services are scheduled.

Memorial donations may be made to the Feather River Grange in Quincy.


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