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This month we are featuring CVV Founding Member, Gloria Utley.

I was born in Honolulu, Hawaii at the Kapiolani Maternity Home.I moved to the Mainland a while after Pearl Harbor was bombed when the U S Military evacuated a lot of the women and children from the islands. Passenger ships were taken over for military use on this project. I spent my school years in San Francisco and attended Guadalupe Elementary School that was a few blocks from my house. I lived in the Crocker Amazon district. If we climbed the hill across the street from our home, we could look down on the Cow Palace. A favorite pastime, weather permitting, was to open up cardboard boxes and ride them from the top of the hill to the bottom. Lots of fun. There were days when we came home from school to find cowboys rounding up cows that had wandered too far from their pasture lands to our front lawns.

I attended James Denman Jr. High School for the 7th through 9th grades. This was about 1-½ miles from home and we walked it every day unless it was raining. Balboa High School is next door to Denman so the distance was the same. That is where I became interested in football. I attended every game I could. When Bal won their first city championship, I was there. The trip back to the school football field and the post-game celebration was great. Very good memories. I attended City College in San Francisco and graduated with a degree in Dental Assisting with a minor in business. One of my graduation presents was a trip to Hawaii for the whole summer. I stayed with family in the beginning and then moved to a duplex on Waikiki Beach for the rest of the time. As some of my friends in San Francisco were surfers, it was natural to hang around with them on Waikiki as well.

While I was managing Adobe Savings & Loan, I returned to college for a BA in Business Management. I attended Saint Mary’s College in Moraga. I entered the extended education program in 1984. However, since I could not carry over some of the units I had earned from my junior college major, it took more than the usual amount of time to complete my degree. I finished my upper division classes on schedule while working a 40-60 hour week. I then had to attend Diablo Valley and Los Medanos Colleges to complete my lower division classes. I was the first one in my family to earn a college degree.

While in Jr. College, I worked for Bank of America. After college, I worked as a Dental Assistant. After that I worked in Insurance until I came down with a major lung infection. I then returned to banking until I got married. When my children no longer needed major care during the days, my husband and I along with a school friend and her husband bought a craft shop in Clayton. It was Clayton Arts & Crafts. I learned a lot about crafts, participated in shows and eventually produced several Art and Craft shows. I returned to banking and worked at Adobe Saving and Loan. I went in to be interviewed for putting on an Art & Craft show for promoting new customers. When they learned that I had banking experience, they hired me to work for them. I was able to use the staff for help with the Adobe Days Art & Craft shows. As Interior Design was one of my hobbies, I then spent a few years in Interior Decorating with New York Fabrics.

My husband Lanny and I celebrated our 49th anniversary a few weeks before he passed away. We have two children a boy and a girl. My husband had two boys from a previous marriage who spent time with us as well. We also had my sister’s two children for a number of years. Wherever we lived I always had a house full of kids: ours, his, my sister’s and their friends. I have 5 grandchildren, 2 step grandchildren, 4 step great grandchildren and 1 great grandchild.

Currently I belong to the Clayton Business & Community Association (34 yrs.) and Clayton Valley Village. I am on the board of Directors for Soroptimist International of Diablo Vista (member 34 yrs.); Clayton Valley Garden Club, Diablo Foothills District Garden Clubs and California Garden Clubs, Inc. I am a member of and have served on the Board of Directors for the Clayton Historical Society. In the past, I have served on the boards of Wren Avenue Elementary Parent’s Club, and the Diablo Banking Women’s Association. I was a member and leader of Girl Scouts of America (15 yrs.), and a leader for Boy Scouts of America and the Morgan Territory 4H Club. I have served on the Housing Element Advisory Committee, chaired the Keller House Advisory Committee and the 25th Birthday Committee for the City of Clayton.

As a civilian worker for the U S Navy, my husband's job took him to several states over the years. I had the opportunity to explore many of them with him. We loved to cruise and visited, several different countries as well. The idea of unpacking and repacking only once per trip was very enticing. We moved to Concord to be closer to Mare Island where my husband worked. After a few years, we moved to Clayton. We had the craft shop and it was such a quaint little city. Where else could we go where downtown was only 3 blocks long. There were no sidewalks or fences in a lot of places. The population was 1,400. We found an old Victorian farmhouse that was built in 1890 with some land and a creek running through it. The house we had in San Francisco was basically Victorian as well. It was built in 1910 to replace the one that was destroyed in the 1906 Earthquake. We always had fixer uppers. It just felt like home.

I first heard about the Village movement from Sonja Wilkin a few years before we started to develop CVV. After dealing with some elderly people who could have stayed in their homes longer and been happier, I thought it was a great concept. I told Sonja that I would definitely be interested in a project like that.  (Click here to read more about Gloria's history.)

When the women and children were evacuated from Hawaii during WWII, the men were there to stay. My father, uncles and cousins were working for the war effort. When Pearl was bombed, my father worked on the Kaneohe base, and his brothers worked at Pearl Harbor and Hickam Field. My father’s family had been on the islands since the mid 1800’s. Both his father and mother’s side came from different islands in the Azores and Madeira. His mother’s grandfather was a whaler who spent most of his time in the islands. There were no Portuguese women in the islands and the men from the ship spoke no English. They sent for a shipload of Portuguese women. My Great Great-grandmother was one of them. They settled in Honolulu. I still have a coconut shell ladle with whalebone inset into a carved wooden handle. It is a little beat up, but it is all that I have from him. My Great-grandfather on my Dad’s mother’s side was the personal tailor to King Kalakaua. He made all of the King’s western attire for when he had to visit the Mainland or greet dignitaries. He also designed and made the uniforms for the horse drawn streetcars for the city of Honolulu. Great-grandpa also made custom suits for foreign dignitaries including President William McKinley. In his later years, he taught tailoring. My Great Grandmother was the 1st or 2nd Portuguese woman born in the islands. She was born in 1867 and died in 1957. They didn’t keep records of immigrants coming into the islands until 1878. All four of my Great grandparents from the islands died in their 90’s. Hopefully, I will live just as long.

On my Dad’s father’s side, my Great Great-grandfather owned quite a bit of land on the island of Maui. He traded for land and cattle. I have a picture of him entertaining Princess Likelike and her handmaidens with children. They are all seated on a large lahala mat on the beach. My father’s cousin discovered it as a mural in back of the registration desk for United Airlines. He was shocked, as he didn’t recall ever seeing it before. He wanted to know where they got it because it was a picture of his uncle. The photograph is on file in the Bishop Museum in Honolulu. My Great Great-Grand-parents were parents of 21 children. None were stillborn. A few died in infancy and at early ages due to diseases. One of my aunts died at 23 years of age. There were no multiple births. They did have a live-in mid-wife. My Grandfather was one of the remaining 16 that lived into old age. As the oldest great grandchild, I had the opportunity to know 13 of his siblings.