Name Dropping: Family reunion for the ages & SUPPORTING OUR FURRY FRIENDS

By Justine DaCosta, Santa Cruz Sentinel

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The Packer family reunion was Dec. 6. The siblings are standing youngest to oldest starting on the left: Morris Packer; Nancy Comstock; Larry Packer; Donna Drozen; Vern Packer; Barbara Butolph; Ardith Gladson; Jim Packer; Marlene Kester and Marv Packer — and for the record, Marlene and Marv are standing out of order. Contributed

On Dec. 6, 2014, the 10 Packer siblings gathered in Soquel to celebrate family along with several of their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

The reunion was held in the Soquel Glen Mobile Home Parks Community Center. A delicious buffet was provided by Ristorante Italiano of Santa Cruz.

The Packers moved to Santa Cruz from South Dakota in March 1950. Their parents, Floyd and Gertrude Packer, sold their farm in Revillo, South Dakota, and headed west to join Floyd’s parents, Arthur and Blanch, who had moved from Iowa two years earlier.

Floyd and Gertie loaded up their nine kids (No. 10 would be born later in California) in their 1941 Chevy two-door coupe, and a few days later joined the senior Packers in Soquel. Within another few weeks, they bought 13 acres in Scotts Valley with a house and a chicken ranch known as Oaknoll Poultry Farm and Hatchery. This was the family home until Gertrude died in June 2005; her husband Floyd died in 2000.

The honored guests at the reunion were Marv and Sally Packer of Willmar, Minnesota; Marlene Kester (Packer) and husband Virgil of Abilene, Texas; Jim and Lynette Packer of Saratoga; Ardith Gladson (Packer) of Soquel; Barbara Butolph (Packer) and husband Stan of Soquel; Vern and Janet Packer of Aptos; Larry and Linda Packer of Scotts Valley; Donna Drozen (Packer) and husband Danny of Santa Cruz; Nancy Comstock (Packer) of Aptos; and Morris and Julie Packer of Soquel.

There was lots of reminiscing and picture-taking as the afternoon went on, and lots of stories about the “good ol’ days” growing up in Scotts Valley and Santa Cruz. Most of the Packers attended Scotts Valley Elementary School, Mission Hill Junior High and Santa Cruz High. A few of the younger ones went to Soquel or Harbor High.

The “spark” that ignited this event came from Morris’s wife Julie, who a year ago, said to him, “Next year you’ll be 60, Vern will be 70 and Marv will be 80. We should have a family reunion.”

And so they did.


The Coastal Dog Owners Group recently announced that Unchained will be a recipient of a $2,000 donation, with funds raised from the C-DOG Spring Dog Festival, an annual event held in mid-May.

Unchained is a program that helps to shape the lives of youth and save the lives of dogs by matching at-risk youth and shelter dogs. The youth learn positive communication and interaction through teaching dogs good manners, social skills and basic commands. This training increases the dogs’ chances of becoming adopted.

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C-DOG board members present a check to Unchained. Left to right: C-DOG members: Jude Waage, Cindie O’Hare, Sandi Pensinger, Laura Guillory and Elizabeth Lange, and Unchained members Michelle Mattson and Melissa Wolf. Contributed

“The generous grant from Coastal Dog Owners will allow Unchained to advance its programs and help more youth and dogs,” said Unchained Executive Director Melissa Wolf.

Sandi Pensinger, president of the Coastal Dog Owners Group, said the award is a celebration of the human-canine bond.

“It takes a village to improve the lives of our youth and our dogs,” Pensinger said. “We are delighted that the Spring Dog Festival is able to collaborate with Unchained.”

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