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Last Saturday night Douglas County Historical Society lost one of the pioneers associated with our historicalsociety and the museum in Gardnerville. Debbie Byers, former acting director of the Carson Valley Museum & Cultural Center, passed away.

Debbie was actively involved with the formation of the historical society and the transforming of the old Douglas County High School building into the museum in Gardnerville. She was the representative for her high school class to the committee responsible for the grand opening of the museum. She also served as a trustee.

Although Debbie acted in the melodrama last year and in other plays the historical society has sponsored, she is probably best remembered as Grandma Auguste Hellwinkel. She portrayed Grandma Auguste at the Gardnerville Cemetery Tours and as recently as Student Day on Sept. 1 this year.

Debbie had painted scenery for exhibits and, with her sister Irene, was instrumental in making the farm boards representing all the original farms in Carson Valley. She was currently in the process of designing invitations, posters and menus for the upcoming holiday tea.

When I talked with former DCHS President Marlena Hellwinkel, she said, "Whenever there was a job to be done, Debbie would do it and she always did everything cheerfully. She will be sorely missed."

Current DCHS President Grace Bower said, "When Debbie was acting museum director, she always made you feel very welcome. She was always there to do whatever needed to be done. We will miss her."

Laurie Hickey, another society pioneer, remembered Debbie as "one of the best directors this museum has ever had."

But Debbie wouldn't want us to forget the museum and there are a lot of events going on this time of year. "The Curse of the Hanging Tree" is just a week away. There are still tickets available at both museums.

The Genoa Candy Dance is Sept. 29-30 and the Court House Museum closes for the season Oct. 7.

Then, too, there is the September photo contest. The historical society will start accepting photos next Monday and will close the contest on Sept. 28.

Coming up in October will be another photo contest. This one will be for what most typifies October in Douglas County. Remember, we are counting on your photos to let us know what you love most about each month in our beautiful county so we can compile them into the 2009 calendar. If you win any month's contest, your photo will represent that month in our calendar.

Also coming up is your opportunity to sign up to decorate one of the Christmas trees for the museum in Gardnerville. Each year DCHS sponsors a contest for the best tree. Anyone or any group in the community can enter a decorated tree. Starting in October, we will be taking applications for this year's trees. This can be a fun project for a family, club or group or any who would like to participate.

Applications will be available at the Carson Valley Museum & Cultural Center in Gardnerville.

If you have any questions about anything mentioned here, please call the Douglas County Historical Society at the Carson Valley Museum in Gardnerville at 782-2555 or the Genoa Courthouse Museum at 782-4325 or go to

And, if you have the time, both museums are always looking for interested volunteers.

-- Contact Ellen Caywood by e-mail


or 790-1565.


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