Delphine Rose Gorder led an expansive life in a narrow locus, dwelling always in the mountains and valleys of Central California.
She was born on July 19, 1922 near Yosemite Valley at Big Oak Flat to Carrie McFarland and Harry Terwilliger. She attended schools in Madera, El Portal and Sonora, where she graduated from high school. Returning to Madera, Delphine met Sydney Gorder who was stationed at Camp Pinedale before shipping out to the Pacific. (He naively assumed they would move back to his hometown in Minnesota after the war. … It never happened.)
Delphine descended from early settlers and during her long life, exhibited those traits of tenacity and endurance common to hard working pioneers. (Of course, those were leavened by a sunny nature and charming dimples.)
She always worked: as a teenager, she waitressed at the Aragon Cafe in Madera for $.17 an hour (plus lunch). She was a war-time “Rosie the Riveter.” In 1948, she and Syd moved to Chowchilla where they stayed happily for the rest of their lives. She was a telephone operator (our telephone number was 961W). Among other interesting work, in 1978, she was teaching art at the summer school where “the Chowchilla school bus kidnapping” occurred. Even past retirement age, she managed an antique mall.
She enjoyed good health and lived independently, caring for her large home and yard (and over-watering blithely).
Delphine died peacefully at her home of 57 years on June 1. She was preceded in death by her husband Sydney and her sister Nedra Atkins. She is survived by son Chris Gorder, Elk Grove; daughter Dana Hallett, Midpines; six grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.
One of her grandchildren, who has the gift of seeing those who have recently passed, was visited by Grandma Dell. Her message was, not surprisingly, “If I had known it was this much fun, I would have died a long time ago.”
A gathering was held at her home to honor and remember her on June 16. Sydney and Delphine’s wishes were to have their ashes scattered together. So, on June 17, family and friends traveled to her cousin Alan Haigh’s ranch in Coulterville. On a lovely hilltop under a large spreading oak tree, the ritual scattering took place. — Together again.