BARBARA C. BURKHOLDER, April 30, 1914 â€" Oct. 10, 2012
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Barbara Burkholder, known as Bobbi or Bubba to her grandchildren, passed away quietly Wednesday evening, October 10th, 2012, after a brief illness, at the age of 98. She was the second daughter, second child of four, of parents James D. Culbertson and Bertha Eldredge Culbertson, of Santa Paula, Calif.
The family lived on the Limoneira Ranch in Santa Paula where her father was the General Manager of this large citrus and avocado farm that still is a successful, publicly traded enterprise. She attended the Briggs School until 1925, when her father left the Limoneira Ranch to pursue his own business interests. The family moved to Santa Paula where she attended Isbell School. She graduated from Santa Paula High School in 1931, where she was the valedictorian of her class. She attended Pomona College, Claremont, Calif., where she participated in Womenâ€™s Sports, Student Government, and Glee Club. She graduated from Pomona College with a B.A. in 1935. Unusual for those days, both Keithâ€™s and Bobbiâ€™s parents all graduated from Pomona. Some families considered education for women a luxury or even unnecessary in that era, but not the Waldens and Culbertsons.
In 1938, she married R. Keith Walden, son of family friends, also a graduate of Santa Paula High School, 1930, and Pomona College, 1936. They lived at the Limoneira Ranch where Keith was working with the citrus disease department. They started the beginnings of Farmers Investment Co. (FICO) in 1937 with a citrus nursery on leased land to grow replacement citrus trees. In 1940, Keith moved to manage the Ford-Craig Ranch in San Fernando when its owner joined the military. (Keith was draft exempt due to polio he had had as a teenager, so he was asked to keep the ranch producing to support the war effort). When the owners sold the ranch after the war, Keith and Bobbi moved to a house on the west side of San Fernando, all the while continuing to expand Farmers Investment Co.
In 1949, Keith and Bobbi, along with sons Dick and Tom, moved to Continental, Ariz., 25 miles south of Tucson, after FICO acquired the Continental Farm from the Intercontinental Rubber Company. During those early years Bobbi was the FICO bookkeeper, housed in a tiny adobe office at Continental. She often told friends she had gotten a better grade than Keith in the accounting course they both took at Pomona College! In those days in rural Arizona, the Waldensâ€™ closest â€œsupper neighborsâ€ were the Keith Browns, 12 miles away at the Santa Rita Ranch. The Walden boys and Brown kids would help each other with chores, then pile into a pickup and end up at either Mrs. Waldenâ€™s or Mrs. Brownâ€™s door. Both women become expert at stretching a dinner to feed the hungry gang. There were no local supermarkets, so Bobbi kept a cow and chickens, and prepared the familyâ€™s milk, cheese, eggs and beef the old-fashioned way. Ranchers shared a party phone line with specified rings for each family. Since there were no local hotels, Bobbi often had house guests related to the cotton, cattle, sheep or grain operations of FICO.
During the early years at Continental, Keith and Bobbi traveled the world promoting cotton, especially pima cotton, a high quality, long staple cotton grown in Arizona. Bobbiâ€™s good friend, the late Tucson fashion/apparel mogul Cele Peterson, designed original cotton ensembles for Bobbi to wear during these trips and trade events.
Bobbi became active in the Republican Party, and was a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1956. She was a member of the Tucson Medical Center Auxiliary, serving as the Auxiliary president and then on the Tucson Medical Center Board of Directors for seven years. Bobbi also served on the Tucson Childrenâ€™s Home Society Board.
In 1967, Bobbi moved to Corona Del Mar, Calif., where she lived for 10 years. While there she continued her volunteer work and travelling. One ritual she enjoyed with her San Francisco friend Carol Moore was an annual week at the Santa Barbara Biltmore where they met every September, including last year.
In 1977, Bobbi met and married Robert S. Burkholder of San Francisco. They lived in a wonderful flat at the top of Lombard Street on Russian Hill for 15 years. Bob was active in Classic Car circles including serving as the president of the Northern California Rolls-Royce Owners Club. This led to more travel, especially to England and Australia, to participate in Classic Car activities. Bobbi relished travelling to foreign lands and meeting new friends. She equally enjoyed the opportunity to entertain her friends when they visited the states. Once she arranged a nanny position for her Swedish friendsâ€™ daughter, Kathy. When Bobbi discovered that Kathy was unhappy with her American family, she found her a new host family. She also took Kathy on a driving tour to the Grand Canyon and Disneyland, a treat Kathy, now in her fifties, remembers well to this day.
In 1992, Bobbi and Bob moved to La Posada to be near her son, Dick Walden, the President and CEO of Farmers Investment Co., the worldâ€™s largest integrated grower/processor of pecans. Sadly, Bob passed away in 1994. Bobbi lived at La Vista at La Posada for 19 years until she moved to La Joya in 2011. During these years she continued her travelling, including an around-the-world jet tour with her good friends Kim and Laurel Kruger of Green Valley. The trip had been booked for months, but happened to depart just after Sept. 11, 2001. When Dick asked her if she wanted to reconsider travelling at that time, Bobbi, then age 87, replied, â€œAt my age I donâ€™t have time to reconsider. Iâ€™m going!â€ That trip marked the second time she had visited and climbed the stairs at the Temples at Angkor Wat, Cambodia.
Bobbi participated in many La Posada activities such as the Council, the Foundation, the Library Committee, and the Fresh Flower Committee. She was an active duplicate and social bridge player, often winning enough money to cover the tips for her hair dresser, which delighted her. She was an avid reader keeping a lifelong reading list, and maintained her interest in government and community affairs.
Bobbi was computer literate, keeping her bookkeeping skills sharp with the aid of Quicken. She kept in touch with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren via email. She created personalized cards for anniversaries, birthdays and holidays for family and friends. She was adept at needlepoint, producing lovely pillows, one-of-a-kind Christmas stockings, and scenes.
She is survived by her son, Richard S. (Dick) Walden; daughter-in-law, Nan Stockholm Walden of Sahuarita; grandson, Richard T. (Rich) Walden, Sahuarita; granddaughter, Deborah Walden Ralls, her husband, David Ralls, and great-grandsons William T. Ralls and Jackson D. Ralls of Chandler, Ariz.; and two brothers, Warren â€œToopsâ€ Culbertson of Sahuarita and James Culbertson Jr. of Ventura, Calif.
Bobbi will be laid to rest next to her late son, Thomas Eldredge Walden, (1944-1973). At her request no public services will be held. The family appreciates donations in her memory be made to Pomona College, c/o Barbara C. Burkholder Memorial Fund, Office of Gifts, 333 N. College Way, Claremont, CA 91711. Tel. (888) 736-9425. Donations can also be made online: www.pomona.edu/give.
Published in Green Valley News & Sun on Oct. 13, 2012