On Aug. 9 the Eureka Conservation District honored Mrs. Ellen Marie Rand by planting a tree in her memory. A plaque was placed by the tree with an inscription saying: “This Canada Chokecherry is dedicated to the life of Mrs. Ellen Marie Rand, Master Gardener, and volunteer in public service.”
The date Aug. 9, is significant, as Ellen’s birthday was Aug. 9, 1930. Participating in the memorial gathering were her friends and relatives. Family in attendance was Ellen’s sister, Eileen Penrod, daughters, Patti Benson and Leora Betschart, son in law David Betschart, granddaughter Jessica Betchart Kodesh, grandson Craig Benson, and great grandson Dean Benson. Friends present for the dedication were Commissioners JJ. Goicoechea and Jim Ithurralde, Conservation District board members Patsy Tomera, Gary McCuin, and Jake Tibbitts (Patti Benson is also a member), board secretary, Janet Self, and Witz Bailey.
Early in childhood Ellen lost her mother. Reminiscing with daughter, Patti Benson, Ellen told of the scary feeling the first day of school and the miles long walk from the outskirts of Red Bluff, California to get there, later riding a bicycle made the miles long trek much easier.
After marrying Joseph Leo Rand, Ellen and Joe worked for his cousin Witz Bailey at the Bailey Ranch located on the Saddler Brown road. They also lived at Henderson where Joe rode the Roberts Creek Mountain area during the summer to keep cattle away from Larkspur, a poisonous weed.
After Bill Rand, Joe’s father, purchased the Pony Creek Ranch in Pine Valley, Joe and Ellen worked the ranch for many years, eventually buying the ranch from Joe’s dad. In that beautiful area they raised three daughters and worked the Pony Creek Ranch for twenty years. Later the couple ranched and farmed the Twin Falls Idaho area where they improved every property they owned by hard work, innovative ideas, and planting many a successful crop.
Ms. Benson remembered her parents as veracious readers. Learning from landscaping books, trade journals, and reading on horticulture techniques lead to trying new ideas. The entry way to their home in Diamond Valley displays a tiered mound of dirt with trees and shrubs aligned from shorter to larger trees and shrubs. Ellen designed their home in Diamond Valley with an attached greenhouse which displays Ellen’s talents in growing varieties of garden greenery and beautiful flower foliage. The Eureka County Fair was familiar with Ellen’s entries of home grown flowers, self-made floral arrangements, and garden vegetables.
Ms. Benson recounted the experience of climbing Mt. Lassen with Ellen and how “Mom was the pacesetter!” The trail is quite the hike and is approximately a 5 mile round trip. The summit is 10,457 feet above sea level. “I’m so glad we did it when we did”, Patti said . “The memory of this experience relates to her life as inspiration to reach for great heights with perseverance and perfection!”